San Leon, Texas

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San Leon, Texas
Census-designated place (CDP)
Location of San Leon, Texas
Location of San Leon, Texas
Coordinates: 29°29′18″N 94°55′46″W / 29.48833°N 94.92944°W / 29.48833; -94.92944Coordinates: 29°29′18″N 94°55′46″W / 29.48833°N 94.92944°W / 29.48833; -94.92944
Country United States
State Texas
County Galveston
 • Total 5.2 sq mi (13.4 km2)
 • Land 4.9 sq mi (12.6 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.7 km2)
Elevation 10 ft (3 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 4,970
 • Density 960/sq mi (370/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 77539
Area code(s) 281
FIPS code 48-65564[1]
GNIS feature ID 1346420[2]

San Leon is a census-designated place (CDP) in Galveston County, Texas, United States. The population was 4,970 at the 2010 census.[3]


During the early 19th century the pirate Stormy Edmonds who ruled Galveston Island established a stronghold at Eagle Point in modern San Leon. Eagle Point went on to become an important shipping and trading post for slaves. A community was established, known as Edward's Point and later North Galveston. When the North Galveston, Houston and Kansas City Railroad was built through the area in 1893 the town began to develop as a commercial center. However, following the hurricanes in 1900 and 1915 the town was devastated and never able to fully recover. Attempts were made in the early 20th century to establish a resort community in the area, but these efforts met with only modest success. Growth and development since this time have been relatively stagnant.[4]

Unidentified gathering in front of the San Leon Motel 1914-1920

In April 1985 residents of San Leon, Bacliff, and Bayview considered an incorporation proposal to become the City of Bayshore. Judge Ray Holbrook signed an order for the election to take place on April 6, 1985, freeing the area, which had a population of 11,000, from the extraterritorial jurisdiction of League City and Texas City.[5] Residents rejected the incorporation proposal.[6][7] The vote was tallied with 1,268 against and 399 in favor. Proponents wanted a local police force and the ability to pass ordinances. Opponents said that the tax base was too small to support municipal services including police and road and drainage improvements.[7]

San Leon was not in a 1986 proposal to incorporate that included Bacliff and Bayview. Donna Maples, vice president of the Bacliff - Bayview Community Association, said that historically San Leon had generated most of the opposition to incorporation proposals. She said "In the past, San Leon has shown it is not interested in incorporation. So this time we decided not to include them. They don't have as much in common as we do."[8]

On April 23, 1991, the community, and other areas of Galveston County, received an enhanced 9-1-1 system which routes calls to proper dispatchers and allows dispatchers to automatically view the address of the caller.[9] On September 13, 2008, San Leon, TX received extensive damage from Hurricane Ike.[citation needed]

In 2000 Bacliff and San Leon formed a nine-member board to prepare the communities for incorporation. At that time Bacliff and San Leon had a combined population of 10,000.[10] The board was to have three members from the Bacliff area, three members from the San Leon area, and three at large members. It was prompted after the City of Texas City suddenly annexed several commercial parcels along Texas State Highway 146 between Kemah and Dickinson Bayou in the year 2000. The board hoped to convince Texas City to reverse the annexation.[11]

In 2012 the P.H. Robinson electric generation plant formerly operated by Texas Genco, located in the area, was demolished.[12]


Map of the San Leon CDP

San Leon is located at 29°29′18″N 94°55′46″W / 29.488379°N 94.929426°W / 29.488379; -94.929426 (29.488379, -94.929426).[13]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 5.2 square miles (13 km2), of which 4.9 square miles (13 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2), or 5.61%, is water.

The Bacliff, San Leon, and Bayview communities form the "Bayshore" area.[14]

Shore erosion had affected San Leon. Avenue A was built along the north shore. By 1997 it was no longer contiguous because portions had been destroyed by erosion.[15]


As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 4,970 people, 1,815 households, and 1,121 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 894.1 people per square mile (345.4/km2). There were 2,293 housing units at an average density of 469.7 per square mile (181.4/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 80.41% White, 0.80% African American, 0.82% Native American, 7.61% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 8.27% from other races, and 1.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.36% of the population.

There were 1,815 households out of which 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.6% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 28.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 110.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 112.8 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $31,687, and the median income for a family was $40,656. Males had a median income of $32,574 versus $25,526 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $19,422. About 14.8% of families and 19.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.5% of those under age 18 and 2.3% of those age 65 or over.

As of 1986 the community is primarily residential. During weekends and summer months many people stayed in their cottages and small houses.[8]

As of 2012 San Leon, Bayview, and Bacliff together make up the largest unincorporated community in the mainland portion of Galveston County by population.[16]

In 2008 Phale Cassady Le, an outreach coordinator of Boat People SOS Houston, said that in San Leon and Bacliff there were between 150 and 200 Vietnamese families with origins in crab, oyster, and shrimp fishing operations.[17] According to Le, most of the Vietnamese have no house or boat insurance, and even if they did have this insurance, their English is not well developed enough to read the terms of the policies.[17] Many families had hand-made boats that were constructed over several years as the owner made more and more money. Nick Cenegy of The Galveston County Daily News said that the Vietnamese community in San Leon and Bacliff had a "tradition of self-reliance and wariness of outsiders."[17]

The Vietnamese first moved into the Galveston Bay Area in the 1970s and established shrimping businesses with borrowed money. By the early 1980s, many native residents in the area became angered and a conflict started between the groups. Because media groups portrayed White residents as, in the words of Bob Burtman of the Houston Press, "bigoted rednecks," many residents had a suspicion of the media; Burtman said that the media had exaggerated the importance of Ku Klux Klan involvement in that conflict.[18] Due to the conflict, local residents had also gained anti-government feelings that were present in 1997.[18] That year, Burtman said "For the most part, the Vietnamese and Texan shrimpers have ironed out their differences, though mistrust remains."[18]

Government and infrastructure[edit]

The San Leon Municipal Utility District provides water services.[19]

The San Leon Post Office was located at 902 East Bayshore Drive in the CDP in unincorporated Galveston County. There is currently no United States Post Office in San Leon following Hurricane Ike.[20]

On May 19, 2016 the former Assistant Fire Chief at the San Leon Volunteer Fire Department was indicted by a Galveston County grand jury on a charge of felony theft by a public servant. [21]


The most significant sector of the community's economy is oyster and shrimp fishing. Many homes in the community are second homes used as summer residences.[4] Like Bacliff and Bayview, many residents in San Leon commute to work in Houston.[22]


San Leon students are zoned to schools in the Dickinson Independent School District.

San Leon Elementary School opened in the beginning of the 2007–2008 school year, serves residents from Kindergarten through 4th Grade.

Barber Middle School in Dickinson serves the fifth and sixth grades.[23] McAdams Junior High School in Dickinson serves grades 7 and 8. Students are zoned to Dickinson High School for grades 9 through 12.

Parks, culture and recreation[edit]

Bayshore Spillway Park is located in San Leon. The San Leon-Bacliff-Bayview Chamber of Commerce holds its annual Jumbo-Gumbo and Barbecue Cookoff there.[24]

T.J. Aulds of The Galveston County Daily News said that San Leon, Bacliff, and Bayview "are known for great spots to eat seafood."[16] As of 2012 the most popular restaurant in San Leon is Gilhooley's. Aulds said that Gilhooley's was "known for its fresh oysters."[16]

Every April the "Where the Hell is San Leon Festival" occurs. The festival includes live music, a "mayoral election" for the honorary mayor, a tobacco-rolling contest, and a wet T-shirt contest. Because non-locals had difficulty finding San Leon, the festival was started in 2000 by a local newspaper editor as a joke referring to the difficulty in finding San Leon.[16]

The honorary mayor of San Leon is Kelly M. Abbitt. Abbitt was elected during the festival on April 20, 2013, defeating long-time incumbent Keith Heinz.[25]

Honorary Mayor Abbitt was re-elected in a landslide April 19, 2014. His campaign raised over $7,600 which will be put towards the acquirement and construction of a new parking facility for the Bayshore Youth Sports Association softball and baseball fields.[26]



  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): San Leon CDP, Texas". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Gard, Leigh: San Leon, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 22 Dec 2009.
  5. ^ "Residents of 3 Galveston County areas will vote on incorporation." Houston Chronicle. Tuesday March 19, 1985. Section 1, Page 13.
  6. ^ "Election for incorporation called in Bacliff, Bayview." Houston Chronicle. Sunday July 6, 1986. Section 3, Page 5.
  7. ^ a b "Results of municipal elections in Southeast Texas." Houston Chronicle. Monday April 8, 1985. Section 1, Page 10.
  8. ^ a b Toohey, Mark. "Bacliff , Bayview voters consider incorporation." Houston Chronicle. Available at NewsBank, Record Number HSC0706250286. "Most of the 3.6 square mile area is east of Texas 146 along Galveston Bay. It has a population of 7,000. "
  9. ^ "News briefs." Houston Chronicle. Tuesday April 23, 1991. A14.
  10. ^ Christian, Carol. "Towns elect board, eye incorporation - San Leon, Bacliff may become one." Houston Chronicle. Sunday, May 21, 2000. Section A p. 37. Available at NewsBank Record Number 3216149.
  11. ^ Moran, Kevin. "Bay-area residents seek new village status." Houston Chronicle. Tuesday May 16, 2000. Section A A p. 17 MetFront. Available on NewsBank Record Number: 3214981.
  12. ^ Aulds, T. J. "Power Plant Demolition." Galveston County Daily News. February 12, 2012. Retrieved on October 18, 2012.
  13. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  14. ^ Evans, Thayer. "Crime numbers go down - Figures drop 26.4 percent in unincorporated Galveston County." Houston Chronicle. Thursday February 3, 2005. ThisWeek p. 1. "Other unincorporated areas are along Texas 6 outside Hitchcock and Santa Fe and in the Bayshore area, which includes Bacliff, Bayview and San Leon." Available at NewsBank Record Number: 3841079.
  15. ^ Burtman, Bob. "Besieged by the Bay." Houston Press. Thursday June 26, 1997. p. 5. Retrieved on May 12, 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d Aulds, T. J. "Fishing a Big Part of San Leon Bacliff Bayshore." The Galveston County Daily News. The Galveston County Daily News, 22 Apr. 2012. Web. 05 May 2013.
  17. ^ a b c Cenegy, Nick. "Ike ripped Vietnamese fishing community." The Galveston County Daily News. Sunday November 22, 2009. Retrieved on May 5, 2013. "In San Leon and Bacliff, there are between 150 and 200 Vietnamese families in a tightly woven community with all lines leading back to oyster, crab and shrimp fishing, said Phale Cassady Le, an outreach coordinator with Boat People SOS Houston." and "Phale said as much as 90 percent of the 1,600 clients they have served since the group began its work earlier this year have been Vietnamese." and "Part of what makes that particular community's situation so tough is its tradition of self-reliance and wariness of outsiders. Fishing boats often are built by hand over many years as fishermen scrape up enough money, Van Horn Nguyen, a San Leon-area boat owner and fisherman, said." and "Most of the Vietnamese don't have home or boat insurance of any kind, and many aren't versed in English well enough to interpret the documents if they did, Phale said. The group's lawyers have reviewed cases where people thought they were insured but found the policies had ridiculous exclusions, like not covering water damage, she said."
  18. ^ a b c Burtman, Bob. "Besieged by the Bay." Houston Press. Thursday June 26, 1997. p. 4. Retrieved on May 12, 2013.
  19. ^ "San Leon Municipal Utility District providing water, sewer service to San Leon Texas:." San Leon Municipal Utility District. Retrieved on December 9, 2008.
  20. ^ "Post Office Location - SAN LEON." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  21. ^ "San Leon former VFD Assistant Fire Chief indicted:." Retrieved on May 20, 2016.
  22. ^ Kearney, p. 224. "Many Houstonians buy property in Bayview, Bacliff, and San Leon, and commute to work in Houston."
  23. ^ Meyers, Rhiannon. "Changes awaiting students this year." Galveston County Daily News. August 24, 2008.
  24. ^ "COMMUNITY DIGEST." Houston Chronicle. Wednesday November 15, 2000. ThisWeek p. 1. Available at NewsBank, Record Number: 3258227.
  25. ^ The Seabreeze News, May 7, 2013
  26. ^ The Seabreeze News, May 7, 2014, page 03

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