Pacifica, California

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Pacifica, California
Aerial view of Linda Mar District in Pacifica
Aerial view of Linda Mar District in Pacifica
Official logo of Pacifica, California
Location in San Mateo County and the state of California
Location in San Mateo County and the state of California
Pacifica, California is located in California
Pacifica, California
Pacifica, California
Location in the state of California
Pacifica, California is located in the United States
Pacifica, California
Pacifica, California
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 37°37′22″N 122°29′8″W / 37.62278°N 122.48556°W / 37.62278; -122.48556Coordinates: 37°37′22″N 122°29′8″W / 37.62278°N 122.48556°W / 37.62278; -122.48556
CountryUnited States
CountySan Mateo
IncorporatedNovember 22, 1957[1]
 • MayorSue Beckmeyer
 • Mayor Pro TemporeMary Bier
 • Total12.59 sq mi (32.61 km2)
 • Land12.58 sq mi (32.59 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)  0.01%
Elevation82 ft (25 m)
 • Total37,234
 • Estimate 
 • Density3,063.34/sq mi (1,182.78/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
94044, 94045
Area code650
FIPS code06-54806
GNIS feature IDs277613, 2411351

Pacifica (Spanish: Pacífica, meaning "Peaceful")[5] is a city in San Mateo County, California, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay.


The City of Pacifica is spread along a 6-mile (9.7-kilometer) stretch of coastal beaches and hills in north central California. The city comprises several small valleys spread between Sweeney Ridge in the east, Montara Mountain to the south, and the Pacific Ocean's rocky bluffs to the west.

Surfing at Rockaway Beach, Pacifica

Pacifica is well known regionally as a popular surfing destination. Surfers and families often visit Linda Mar Beach. Rockaway Beach is a scenic location and offers recreation, shopping and dining. 2005 marked the opening of the top ranked Pacifica Skateboard Park. Pacifica is also a popular mountain biking destination, with many trails crossing the hillsides that surround the city, including Pedro Mountain Road, Sweeney Ridge, and areas of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Fishermen frequent the local beaches and the Pacifica Pier, often catching striped bass and salmon. Pacifica is also a popular place to hike, with many trails that wind along the beaches and bluffs, including Mori Point, San Pedro Valley County Park,[6] the Sanchez Adobe, Milagra Ridge, and the privately owned Pacifica quarry. For live local theater and performing arts, Pacifica Spindrift Players is a local and popular favorite, in addition to Pacifica Performances which regularly provides both musical presentations and performing arts as well. Pacifica is also home to the Sharp Park Golf Course,[7] which was designed in 1931 by architect Alister MacKenzie. The world class bromeliad nursery, Shelldance Orchid Gardens is located just off Highway 1 in Pacifica, adjacent to the Sweeney Ridge hiking trailhead.

Pacifica is divided into roughly eleven districts from north to south:

  1. Fairmont
  2. Westview (Pacific Highlands)
  3. Pacific Manor (Manor)[3]
  4. Edgemar
  5. Sharp Park [4]
  6. Fairway Park [5]
  7. Vallemar
  8. Rockaway Beach
  9. Pedro Point [6] and Shelter Cove[7] in the south west,
  10. Linda Mar, Linda Mar Valley, (formerly Pedro Valley or San Pedro Valley) in the south.
  11. Park Pacifica in south east portions of the city (called the Back of the Valley).


The Sanchez Adobe in Pacifica is the oldest structure in San Mateo County.

Before European settlers arrived, Pacifica was home to two significant Ohlone Indian villages: Pruristac located at San Pedro Creek near present-day Adobe Drive, and Timigtac on Calera Creek in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood.

Former seal of Pacifica.

Pacifica is the location of the oldest European discovery of the San Francisco Bay. An expedition led by Gaspar de Portolà sighted the bay by climbing the hills of Sweeney Ridge in Pacifica on November 4, 1769.[8] Before then, earlier Spanish maritime explorers of the California coast Juan Cabrillo and Sebastian Vizcaino had missed the San Francisco Bay because heavy fog so frequently shrouded its entrance from the Pacific Ocean (the Golden Gate). Sighting the San Francisco Bay accelerated the Spanish colonization of Alta California because it was the only large, safe, centrally located harbor on the Alta California coast. The Spanish had known about Monterey Bay since the sixteenth century, but, unlike San Francisco Bay, it was too exposed to rough currents and winds to be used as major harbor for their trade between Asia and Mexico. In the Spanish era, Pacifica was the site of the San Pedro Valley Mission Outpost (1786–1793) of Mission Dolores. That was dissolved when a newly independent Mexico secularized the mission system. Pacifica is also the site of the still-extant Mexican-era Sánchez Adobe, built in 1846. The city is located on a part of the Mexican land grant Rancho San Pedro given to Francisco Sanchez in 1839.

During World War II, the area around the present-day Sharp Park recreational area held the Sharp Park Detention Center, an INS processing facility for Japanese Americans, Japanese nationals, and other "foreign enemies" during Japanese internment.[9][10] The Stanford professor Yamato Ichihashi spent six weeks in Sharp Park. He described the facility, writing, "The ground is limited by tall iron net-fences and small in area; barracks 20' x 120' are well-built and painted outside and inside and are regularly arranged; there are 10 of these for inmates, each accommodating about 40, divided into 5 rooms for 8 persons each; if double-decked (beds), 80 can be put in."[11]

Pacifica was incorporated in 1957, relatively recently in the history of San Mateo County. Its first elected mayor was Jean Fassler, one of the first women mayors in California. It was the union of nine previously separate, unincorporated communities–Fairmont, Westview, Pacific Manor (or just Manor), Sharp Park, Fairway Park, Vallemar, Rockaway Beach, Linda Mar and Pedro Point–some of which were stops on the short-lived Ocean Shore Railroad.[12] The name "Pacifica" was chosen from Thomas Barca, by vote[citation needed]; "Coastside" was a close runner-up[citation needed]. In 1960, the city seal was designed by resident Ralph Barkey, who was inspired by Ralph Stackpole's towering "Pacifica" statue produced for the 1939–1940 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay.[13]


An aerial view of Pacifica's geography. Pacifica State Beach is just left of center.


Pacifica straddles San Pedro Creek which flows from the western slope of Sweeney Ridge. The far eastern portion of Pacifica includes San Andreas Creek which flows down the eastern slope of Sweeney Ridge. The Portola expedition followed these two creeks in the discovery of San Francisco Bay. Calera Creek runs through Pacifica Quarry and is protected as ESHA Environmentally Sensitive Habitat.


Pacifica, California
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Erosion and spring

Pacifica has a warm summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb) typical of coastal areas of California.[14] The National Weather Service has maintained a cooperative weather station in Pacifica since November 1, 1983. Based on those records, average January temperatures range from 45.8 °F (7.7 °C) to 56.7 °F (13.7 °C) and average September temperatures range from 53.9 °F (12.2 °C) to 71.8 °F (22.1 °C). There are an average of 3.0 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 0.2 day with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The highest temperature on record was 102 °F (39 °C) on October 5, 1987, and the lowest temperature was 23 °F (−5 °C) on December 22, 1990. Annual precipitation averages 30.29 inches (769 mm) and has ranged from 15.88 inches (403 mm) in 1990 to 43.17 inches (1,097 mm) in 1996. The most rainfall in one month was 18.05 inches (458 mm) in February 1998 and the most rainfall in 24 hours was 5.00 inches (127 mm) on December 27, 2004. There are an average of 66 days annually with measurable precipitation, most of which falls from October through May. Summer fogs often produce light drizzle in the night and morning hours. Condensation from the fogs also produces fog drip from trees overnight. No measurable snowfall has been recorded since records began.[15] The southeastern portions of the municipality, such as Park Pacifica, are known to be much sunnier than the rest of the city.[16]

Climate data for Pacifica, California (Pacifica 4 SSE averages: 1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 74
Average high °F (°C) 58.1
Average low °F (°C) 45.3
Record low °F (°C) 32
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.14
Source 1: [17]
Source 2: [18]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)38,546[4]3.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[19]


At the 2010 census Pacifica had a population of 37,234. The population density was 2,941.1 people per square mile (1,135.6/km2). The racial makeup of Pacifica was 55.6% white, 16.8% (6,243) Hispanic or Latino of any race, 976 (2.6%) African American, 206 (0.6%) Native American, 7,230 (19.4%) Asian, 315 (0.8%) Pacific Islander, 1,703 (4.6%) from other races, and 2,638 (7.1%) from two or more races.[20]

The census reported that 37,052 people (99.5% of the population) lived in households, 64 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 118 (0.3%) were institutionalized.

There were 13,967 households, 4,511 (32.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 7,385 (52.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,592 (11.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 709 (5.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 869 (6.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 237 (1.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 3,126 households (22.4%) were one person and 1,098 (7.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.65. There were 9,686 families (69.3% of households); the average family size was 3.12.

The age distribution was 7,707 people (20.7%) under the age of 18, 2,842 people (7.6%) aged 18 to 24, 10,011 people (26.9%) aged 25 to 44, 12,155 people (32.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 4,519 people (12.1%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 41.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

There were 14,523 housing units at an average density of 1,147.2 per square mile, of the occupied units 9,545 (68.3%) were owner-occupied and 4,422 (31.7%) were rented. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0.9%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.8%. 26,567 people (71.4% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 10,485 people (28.2%) lived in rental housing units.

Demographic profile[21] 2010
Total Population 37,234 - 100.0%
One Race 34,596 - 92.9
Not Hispanic or Latino 30,991 - 83.2
White alone 20,703 - 55.6%
Black or African American alone 902 - 2.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 123 - 0.3
Asian alone 7,045 - 18.9%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 285 - 0.8%
Some other race alone 155 - 0.4%
Two or more races alone 1,778 - 4.8%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 6,243 - 16.8%


At the 2000 census there were 38,390 people in 13,994 households, including 9,655 families, in the city. The population density was 3,038.9 people per square mile (1,173.6/km2). There were 14,245 housing units at an average density of 1,127.6 per square mile (435.5/km2).[22]

Of the 13,994 households 32.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.5% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 21.2% of households were one person and 6.4% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.21.

The age distribution was 23.2% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 26.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% 65 or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,737, and the median family income was $48,361 (these figures had risen to $52,000 and $62,463 respectively as of a 2007 estimate[23]). Males had a median income of $50,761 versus $40,261 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,183. About 1.2% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.

The oldest person to ever live in Pacifica is Rose G. Rosenthal who was born on April 8, 1901, and died December 27, 2008.

The Reverend Herschell Harkins Memorial pier was constructed in 1973 and was designed to carry sewage piping out to sea. It was closed in 1992 due to corrosion of some of the structure. Since then the pier has been repaired and is a well known fishing spot; on July 8–9, 1995, over 1,000 salmon were caught from the pier.


Top employers[edit]

According to the city's 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[24] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Pacifica School District 349
2 Safeway 227
3 City of Pacifica 225
4 Jefferson Union High School District 90
5 Recology of the Coast 49
6 Rite Aid 42
7 Ross 30
8 North Coast County Water District 20


Governed by a city council of five elected members, with each council seat in turn serving as mayor for a one-year term. A city manager, city attorney and city clerk are appointed and serve in support of the council to enact the ordinances passed by the council, which meets biweekly on the second and fourth Mondays of the month.[25]


The major City departments, ranked by cost:[26]

  • 32% - Police and Communication Services
  • 23% - Fire and Emergency Services
  • 6% - Development and Engineering
  • 6% - Childcare programs
  • 5% - City Attorney
  • 5% - Public Works
  • 5% - Parks, Beach & Recreation
  • 5% - Finance and MIS

As of August 1, 2011, the South San Francisco Police Department took over the Pacifica emergency calls dispatch.[27]

State and federal representation[edit]

In the California State Legislature, Pacifica is in the 13th Senate District, represented by Democrat Josh Becker, and in the 22nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Kevin Mullin.[28]

In the United States House of Representatives, Pacifica is in California's 14th congressional district, represented by Democrat Jackie Speier.[29]

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, Pacifica has 25,029 registered voters. Of those, 13,404 (53.6%) are registered Democrats, 3,290 (13.1%) are registered Republicans, and 7,154 (28.6%) have declined to state a political party.[30]


The local weekly newspaper, the Pacifica Tribune,[31] is mailed out every Wednesday. It is part of Coastside News Group, a locally-owned California Benefit Corporation that includes the Half Moon Bay Review [32] and Coastside Magazine. It originated as the Coastside Tribune early in the twentieth century.

Other media include:

  • The San Mateo Daily Journal[33]
  • The Coastsider,[34]
  • Coastside Magazine, published by the award-winning Half Moon Bay Review,[35]
  • Pacificariptide,[36]
  • Peninsula Press - a project of Stanford_journalism.[37]

Pacifica Community Television, Pacifica's Emmy Award-winning local public-access television cable TV channel 26, has continuously operated for 30 years, featuring community based television.

The pornographic movie The Pleasures of a Woman (1972), directed by Nick Millard, was partially shot on location at Coral Ridge Drive in the Edgemar district and on Rockaway Beach.


Primary and secondary schools[edit]

The public elementary and middle school district, known as Pacifica School District, (formerly the Laguna Salada School District), consists of Vallemar, Cabrillo, Ingrid B. Lacy, Sunset Ridge, Ortega, Linda Mar and Ocean Shore schools, and also a home schooling program. The administration office is located at 375 Reina del Mar Avenue, adjacent to Vallemar School. Each school enrolls about 550-600 students. There are two private K-8 schools, Good Shepherd School and Pacific Bay Christian School, a K-12 school which was founded as a segregation academy.

Pacifica has one private high school and two public high schools which are part of the Jefferson Union High School District. Oceana High School in the central part of the city while Terra Nova High School and Pacific Bay Christian School are in the south. Many students in the northern part of Pacifica attend Jefferson High School or Westmoor High School nearby in adjacent Daly City. Oceana's teaching paradigm is geared toward longer classes, senior exhibitions, and mandated community service. Much larger Terra Nova is a more traditional institution, featuring numerous sports, clubs, and a broad-based and enriching educational experience.

High Schools in Pacifica
Oceana High School
Terra Nova High School

Public libraries[edit]

San Mateo County Libraries, a member of the Peninsula Library System, operates the Pacifica-Sanchez Library and the Pacifica-Sharp Park Library.[38]

Notable residents[edit]

  • Keith Hernandez MVP Baseball player and World Series Champion for the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets.
  • Rob Schneider grew up in Pacifica. In 1997, he formed the Rob Schneider Music Foundation to support its school music program, and has since donated approximately $2 million.
  • In 1971, Pacifica gained worldwide attention as the popular St. Peter's Catholic priest, Father Bob Duryea, was excommunicated, after a defiant confrontation with the church, for being married.[39]

Sister city[edit]

Balaguer, Catalonia, Spain [40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date". California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Archived from the original (Word) on October 17, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  3. ^ "Pacifica". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  5. ^ Jones, Daniel (2011). Roach, Peter; Setter, Jane; Esling, John (eds.). Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-15255-6.
  6. ^ [1] Archived April 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Wild Equity Institute - Restore Sharp Park". Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Transcription". Archived from the original on 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  9. ^ Wagner, Jim (27 August 2009). "Local history: Pacifica's Sharp Park land once housed a war-time internment camp". The Mercury News. Pacifica Tribune. Archived from the original on 2021-03-12. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Sharp Park Detention Station". Voices in Confinement: A Digital Archive of Japanese-American Internees. UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  11. ^ Ichihashi, Yamato (1997). Morning Glory, Evening Shadow: Yamato Ichihashi and His Internment Writings, 1942-1945 (1 ed.). Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. p. 152. ISBN 9780804780896. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  12. ^ "City of Pacifica, CA - Ocean Shore Railroad". City of Pacifica, CA. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  13. ^ Hunter, Chris; Drake, Bill; Pacifica Historical Society (2002). Pacifica. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 65–66. ISBN 978-0738520681.
  14. ^ Pacifica Historic Weather Averages in California (94044). Intellicast. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  15. ^ [2] Archived July 13, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "City of Pacifica, CA - Neighborhoods". Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  17. ^ "PACIFICA 4 SSE, CALIFORNIA NOAA". Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Pacifica, California Travel Weather Averages (Weatherbase)". Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  19. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  20. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Pacifica city". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  21. ^ "". Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  22. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  23. ^ American FactFinder Archived 2020-02-11 at Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  24. ^ "City of Pacifica, California : COMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT". 2015. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  25. ^ "City of Pacifica, CA - City Government". Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  26. ^ "City of Pacifica, CA - Budget Information". Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  27. ^ Pacifica City Council Approves Outsourcing Police CommunicationS to South San Francisco | Public Safety Communications. (2011-06-29). Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  28. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  29. ^ "California's 14th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  30. ^ "CA Secretary of State – Report of Registration – February 10, 2019" (PDF). Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  31. ^ " - Proudly serving Pacifica, California". Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  32. ^ "". Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  33. ^ "San Mateo Daily Journal". Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  34. ^ "Coastsider". Coastsider. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  35. ^ "Coastside Magazine". Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  36. ^ "Riptide". Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  37. ^ Yelizarova, Anna. "Multimedia, data-driven news in Silicon Valley". Peninsula Press. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  38. ^ "San Mateo County Library Locations." San Mateo County Library. Retrieved on October 6, 2009.
  39. ^ Religion: Just Plain Bob. TIME (1971-04-26). Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  40. ^ Hunter, Chris; Drake, Bill; Pacifica Historical Society (2002). Pacifica. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. p. 10. ISBN 978-0738520681.

External links[edit]