San Mateo County, California
This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2013)
San Mateo County
|County of San Mateo|
All of California in One County
|Incorporated||April 19, 1856|
|Named for||Saint Matthew (English translation)|
and largest city by area
|Largest city by population||San Mateo|
|• Body||Board of Supervisors|
|• President||Don Horsley|
|• Vice President||David Pine|
|• Board of Supervisors|
|• Chief executive officer||Mike Callagy|
|• Total||744 sq mi (1,930 km2)|
|• Land||448 sq mi (1,160 km2)|
|• Water||293 sq mi (760 km2)|
|Highest elevation||2,603 ft (793 m)|
|• Density||1,704/sq mi (658/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-8 (Pacific Time Zone)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-7 (Pacific Daylight Time)|
|Area codes||415/628, 650|
|GNIS feature ID||277305|
San Mateo County (/ / (listen) SAN mə-TAY-oh), officially the County of San Mateo, is a county located in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 764,442. Redwood City is the county seat, and the third most populated city following Daly City and San Mateo. San Mateo County is included in the San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA MSA (metropolitan statistical area), Silicon Valley, and is part of the San Francisco Bay Area, the nine counties bordering San Francisco Bay. It covers most of the San Francisco Peninsula. San Francisco International Airport is located in the northeastern area of the county and is approximately 7 miles south of the city and county limits of San Francisco, even though the airport itself is assigned a San Francisco postal address. The county's built-up areas are mostly suburban, and are home to several corporate campuses.
San Mateo County was formed in 1856 upon the division of San Francisco County, one of the state's 18 original counties established at California statehood in 1850. Until 1856, San Francisco's city limits extended west to Divisadero Street and Castro Street, and south to 20th Street. In 1856, the California state government divided the county. A straight line was then drawn across the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula just north of San Bruno Mountain. Everything south of the line became the new San Mateo County while everything north of the line became the new consolidated City and County of San Francisco. San Mateo County was officially organized on April 18, 1857 under a bill introduced by Senator T.G. Phelps. The 1857 bill defined the southern boundary of San Mateo County as following the south branch of San Francisquito Creek to its source in the Santa Cruz Mountains and thence due west to the Pacific Ocean, and named Redwood City as the county seat. San Mateo County then annexed part of northern Santa Cruz County in March 1868, including Pescadero and Pigeon Point.
Although the formation bill named Redwood City the county seat, a May 1856 election marked by "unblushing frauds perpetuated on an unorganized and wholly unprotected community by thugs and ballot stuffers from San Francisco" named Belmont the county seat. The election results were declared illegal and the county government was moved to Redwood City, with land being donated from the original Pulgas Grant for the county government on February 27, 1858. Redwood City's status as county seat was upheld in two successive elections in May 1861 and December 9, 1873, defeating San Mateo and Belmont. Another election in May 1874 named San Mateo the county seat, but the state supreme court overturned that election on February 24, 1875, and the county seat has remained at Redwood City ever since.
San Mateo County bears the Spanish name for Saint Matthew. As a place name, San Mateo appears as early as 1776 in the diaries of Anza and Font. Several local geographic features were also designated San Mateo on early maps including variously: a settlement, an arroyo, a headland jutting into the Pacific (Point Montara), and a large land holding (Rancho San Mateo). Until about 1850, the name appeared as San Matheo.
Japanese Americans in San Mateo
The Japanese first arrived in San Mateo County and were part of a group guided by Ambassador Tomomi Iwakura in 1872. A number of male Japanese students came to San Mateo to learn English and many other helpful skills to bring back to Japan. These students were also some of the first Japanese to join American students in the Belmont School for Boys. These students had to work for their housing and food before classes and in the evenings. Many of the first Japanese immigrants were able to find jobs as gardeners and landscapers In San Mateo. Most of them had a good educational background from their homelands, but their lack of knowledge of the English language made it difficult for them to find other jobs in the beginning.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 741 square miles (1,920 km2), of which 448 square miles (1,160 km2) is land and 293 square miles (760 km2) (40%) is water. It is the third-smallest county in California by land area. A number of bayside watercourses drain the eastern part of the county including San Bruno Creek and Colma Creek. Streams draining the western county include Frenchmans Creek, Pilarcitos Creek, Naples Creek, Arroyo de en Medio, and Denniston Creek. These streams originate along the northern spur of the Santa Cruz Mountains that run through the county. The northern and eastern parts of the county are very heavy densely populated with largely urban and suburban areas, with many of its cities as edge-cities for the Bay Area, while the deep south and the west-central parts of the county are less densely populated with more rural environment and coastal beaches areas.
San Mateo County straddles the San Francisco Peninsula, with the Santa Cruz Mountains running its entire length. The county encompasses a variety of habitats, including estuarine, marine, oak woodland, redwood forest, coastal scrub and oak savannah. There are numerous species of wildlife present, especially along the San Francisco Bay estuarine shoreline, San Bruno Mountain, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and the forests on the Montara Mountain block. Several creeks discharge to the San Francisco Bay, including San Mateo Creek and Laurel Creek, and several coastal streams discharge to the Pacific Ocean, such as Frenchmans Creek and San Vicente Creek.
Año Nuevo State Marine Conservation Area and Greyhound Rock State Marine Conservation Area are two adjoining marine protected areas off the coast of San Mateo County. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.
Flora and fauna
The county is home to several endangered species including the San Francisco garter snake and the San Bruno elfin butterfly, both of which are endemic to San Mateo County. The endangered Ridgway's Rail is also found on the shores of San Francisco Bay, in the cities of Belmont and San Mateo. The endangered wildflower Hickman's potentilla is found near the Pacific Ocean on the lower slopes of Montara Mountain. The endangered wildflowers White-rayed pentachaeta, Pentachaeta bellidiflora, San Mateo Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum latilobum, Marin Dwarf Flax, Hesperolinon congestum and the San Mateo Thornmint, Acanthomintha duttonii, are found in the vicinity of the Crystal Springs Reservoir.
In May 2014, a California condor was spotted near Pescadero, a coastal community south of San Francisco—it was the first California condor spotted in San Mateo County since 1904. The condor, tagged with the number "597", and also known as "Lupine", is one of 439 condors living in the wild or captivity in California, Baja California and Arizona. The three-year-old female flew more than 100 miles (160 km) north from Pinnacles National Park, in San Benito County, on May 30, and landed on a private, forested property near Pescadero, on the San Mateo County Coast, where it was photographed by a motion-activated wildlife camera. Harold Heath, Professor Emeritus, of Stanford University was responsible for the 1904 sighting, 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the University campus.
Tule elk (Cervus canadensis nannodes) were native to San Mateo County and among the "favored foods" of the Ohlone people based on ethnohistoric and archeological evidence there. The discovery of two elk specimens made news in 1962, one a royal elk (royal elk bulls have six tines per antler) from a peat bog excavated in Pacifica's historic Laguna Alta, and now in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology collection. These may date from the time of Spanish settlement. Laguna Alta lay just south of the Interstate 280 and Skyline Boulevard intersection, east of Mussel Rock. The California Academy of Sciences also has an elk skull fragment collected one mile inland from the mouth of Purisima Creek in 1951. Additional coastal elk remains dating from the Middle and Late Periods in Northern California were found in at least five more late Holocene archeological sites in San Mateo County: SMA-115 (Montara State Beach site), SMA-118 (Bean Hollow State Beach site), SMA-244 (Butano Ridge site), SMA-97 (Año Nuevo Creek site) and SMA-218 (Año Nuevo State Reserve site). On the eastern side of the San Francisco Peninsula, elk remains were also unearthed at multiple archaeological sites along San Francisquito Creek.
National protected areas
- Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (part)
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area (part)
Marine protected area
The County of San Mateo Parks Department operates 22 parks, trails, and historic sites spread throughout the county:
In addition to the county-operated parks, San Mateo County voters created the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in 1972, administered by the Peninsula Open Space Trust, which owns several protected spaces within San Mateo County (as well as within Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties). San Mateo County protected spaces administered by POST include:
- Coal Creek Open Space Preserve
- El Corte de Madera Creek
- La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve
- Long Ridge Open Space Preserve (partially within Santa Clara County)
- Los Trancos Open Space Preserve (partially within Santa Clara County)
- Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve
- Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
- Ravenswood Open Space Preserve
- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
- Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve
- Teague Hill Open Space Preserve
- Thornewood Open Space Preserve
- Windy Hill Open Space Preserve
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Race / Ethnicity||Pop 2010||Pop 2020||% 2010||% 2020|
|White alone (NH)||303,609||275,902||42.26%||36.09%|
|Black or African American alone (NH)||18,763||14,701||2.61%||1.92%|
|Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)||1,125||1,021||0.16%||0.13%|
|Asian alone (NH)||175,934||227,783||24.49%||29.80%|
|Pacific Islander alone (NH)||9,884||8,840||1.38%||1.16%|
|Some Other Race alone (NH)||2,709||5,840||0.38%||0.76%|
|Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)||23,925||38,969||3.33%||5.10%|
|Hispanic or Latino (any race)||182,502||191,386||25.40%||25.04%|
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
|Population, race, and income|
|Black or African American||20,507||2.9%|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||2,469||0.3%|
|Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander||10,556||1.5%|
|Some other race||47,756||6.7%|
|Two or more races||31,017||4.4%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||177,003||24.9%|
|Per capita income||$45,346|
|Median household income||$87,633|
|Median family income||$104,370|
Places by population, race, and income
|Places by population and race|
|Asian||Black or African
|Hispanic or Latino|
(of any race)
|East Palo Alto||City||28,077||54.3%||15.5%||3.0%||17.5%||9.8%||62.1%|
|Emerald Lake Hills||CDP||4,273||86.3%||1.8%||10.9%||1.0%||0.0%||4.6%|
|Half Moon Bay||City||11,228||84.7%||10.4%||3.7%||1.1%||0.0%||29.8%|
|North Fair Oaks||CDP||14,666||70.1%||22.6%||4.0%||1.7%||1.6%||74.3%|
|South San Francisco||City||62,822||41.5%||16.8%||35.9%||2.4%||3.5%||33.7%|
|West Menlo Park||CDP||3,600||84.0%||3.7%||10.2%||2.2%||0.0%||5.6%|
|Places by population and income|
|Place||Type||Population||Per capita income||Median household income||Median family income|
|East Palo Alto||City||28,077||$18,014||$50,137||$49,974|
|Emerald Lake Hills||CDP||4,273||$82,988||$172,619||$176,250|
|Half Moon Bay||City||11,228||$47,909||$96,208||$120,357|
|North Fair Oaks||CDP||14,666||$22,273||$53,868||$50,480|
|South San Francisco||City||62,822||$31,563||$75,543||$84,027|
|West Menlo Park||CDP||3,600||$78,879||$132,009||$183,355|
The 2010 United States Census reported that San Mateo County had a population of 718,451. The racial makeup of San Mateo County was 383,535 (53.4%) White, 20,436 (2.8%) African American, 3,306 (0.5%) Native American, 178,118 (24.8%) Asian (9.8% Filipino, 9.0% Chinese, 1.9% Indian, 1.2% Japanese, 0.8% Korean, 0.5% Vietnamese, 0.3% Burmese, 0.1% Pakistani), 10,317 (1.4%) Pacific Islander (0.6% Tongan, 0.3% Samoan, 0.2% Fijian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian), 84,529 (11.8%) from other races, and 38,210 (5.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 182,502 persons (25.4%); 15.7% of San Mateo County is Mexican, 2.7% Salvadoran, 1.2% Guatemalan, 1.2% Nicaraguan, 0.7% Peruvian, 0.6% Puerto Rican, 0.2% Colombian, and 0.2% Cuban.
|Total Population||718,451 - 100.0%|
|One Race||680,241 - 94.7%|
|Not Hispanic or Latino||535,949 - 74.6%|
|White alone||303,609 - 42.3%|
|Black or African American alone||18,763 - 2.6%|
|American Indian and Alaska Native alone||1,125 - 0.2%|
|Asian alone||175,934 - 24.5%|
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone||9,884 - 1.4%|
|Some other race alone||2,709 - 0.4%|
|Two or more races alone||23,925 - 3.3%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||182,502 - 25.4%|
|Population reported at 2010 United States Census|
(of any race)
|San Mateo County||718,451||383,535||20,436||3,306||178,118||10,317||84,529||38,210||182,502|
cities and towns
(of any race)
|East Palo Alto||28,155||8,104||4,704||120||1,057||2,118||10,694||1,358||18,147|
|Half Moon Bay||11,324||8,580||82||71||490||9||1,710||382||3,563|
|South San Francisco||63,632||23,760||1,625||395||23,293||1,111||9,598||3,850||21,645|
(of any race)
|Emerald Lake Hills||4,278||3,655||39||5||322||15||56||186||288|
|North Fair Oaks||14,687||7,060||235||143||548||219||5,728||754||10,731|
|West Menlo Park||3,659||2,983||28||2||416||4||52||174||201|
(of any race)
|All others not CDPs (combined)||15,806||11,667||156||74||1,608||85||1,583||633||3,542|
As of the census of 2009, there were 714,936 people, 258,648 households, and 174,582 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,753/sq mi (825/km2). There were 284,471 housing units at an average density of 789 per square mile (305/km2). 7.4% were of Italian, 7.1% Irish, 7.0% German and 5.3% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 46.9% spoke English, 28.4% Spanish, 6.2% Tagalog, 4.0% Chinese or Mandarin and 1.1% Cantonese, and other language 4.2%, as their first language from estimate census 2009.
There were 258,648 households, out of which 30% had children under the age of 18, 48.6% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.7% were non-families. 31.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.79 and the average family size was 4.44.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 28.6% under the age of 18, 15.9% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 21% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 97.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.1 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $69,306, and the median income for a family was $77,737. Males had a median income of $48,342 versus $45,383 for females. The per capita income for the county was $36,045. About 6.42% of families and 9.51% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.01% of those under age 18 and 8.52% of those age 65 or over.
San Mateo County has a five-member Board of Supervisors, representing five geographic districts, elected at-large until November 2012. On November 6, 2012, Measure B passed to amend the San Mateo County Charter so that each member of the Board of Supervisors will cease to be elected by an at-large vote of all the voters in the County, but is instead elected only by the voters of his or her district.
- the 19th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Phil Ting,
- the 22nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Kevin Mullin, and
- the 24th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Marc Berman.
Presidential election results and voter registration
|Population and registered voters|
|Registered voters[note 3]||360,786||50.7%|
|Peace and Freedom||735||0.2%|
|No party preference||92,158||25.5%|
Cities by population and voter registration
|Cities by population and voter registration|
|Democratic||Republican||D–R spread||Other||No party preference|
|East Palo Alto||29,314||35.9%||57.4%||6.1%||+51.3%||4.4%||32.1%|
|Half Moon Bay||12,932||58.4%||47.7%||18.3%||+29.4%||5.6%||28.4%|
|South San Francisco||67,789||48.6%||53.5%||10.9%||+42.6%||3.5%||32.1%|
The California Secretary of State, as of February 2019, reports that San Mateo County has 404,958 registered voters. Of those voters, 202,341 (50%) are registered Democratic, 60,045 (14.3%) are registered Republican, 15,834 (3.9%) are registered with other political parties, and 126,738 (31.3%) declined to state a political party preference. Every city, town, and unincorporated area of San Mateo County has more registered Democrats than Republicans.
The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense[when?].
|Population and crime rates|
|Motor vehicle theft||1,988||2.79|
Cities by population and crime rates
|City||Population||Violent crimes||Violent crime rate
per 1,000 persons
|Property crimes||Property crime rate|
per 1,000 persons
|East Palo Alto||28,766||333||11.58||587||20.41|
|South San Francisco||65,006||111||1.71||1,321||20.32|
A July 2013 Wall Street Journal article identified the Facebook initial public offering (IPO) as the cause of a change in the U.S.' national economic statistics, as San Mateo County—the home of the company—became the top wage-earning county in the country after the fourth quarter of 2012. The article revealed that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average weekly wage in the county was $3,240, which is 107% higher than the previous year: "That’s the equivalent of $168,000 a year, and more than 50% higher than the next highest county, New York County (better known as Manhattan), which came in at $2,107 a week, or roughly $110,000 a year."
As of the fourth quarter of 2021, the median value of homes in San Mateo County was $1,247,070, an increase of 11% from the prior year. It ranked fourth in the US for counties with highest median home value, behind Nantucket, Manhattan, and Santa Clara.
Additionally, San Mateo County hosts the headquarters of Visa Inc, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Electronic Arts, YouTube, Genentech, GoPro, and Gilead Sciences, as well as a hub of venture capital firms in Menlo Park and several other technology-related companies.
In 2016, Peninsula Clean Energy began providing electricity to 20 percent of residential customers, all municipalities, and all small- to mid-size businesses in the county, as a Community Choice Aggregation program, an alternative to Pacific Gas and Electric.
The people of San Mateo County may use the services of San Mateo County Libraries along with the Peninsula Library System and its dozens of branches, bookmobile and Library-a-Go-Go machine at the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station.
The county is divided into several public school districts and is also served by the local Catholic diocese and many other private parochial and secular schools. The San Mateo County Board of Education oversees early education, special education, and the court and community schools program in the county, as well as serves as an appeal board for the adjudication of expulsion appeals, interdistrict attendance appeals, and charter schools.
Some students in San Mateo County's public schools attend outdoor education in La Honda. San Mateo Outdoor Education is a residential school that teaches major concepts of ecology via exploration of forest, pond, garden, tidepool, wetland, and sandy shore habitats. The center's mascot is the banana slug, a large yellow gastropod. The school uses songs from the famous Banana Slug String Band.
K-12 school districts
- Cabrillo Unified School District
- La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District
- South San Francisco Unified School District
- Jefferson Union High School District
- San Mateo Union High School District
- Sequoia Union High School District
- Bayshore Elementary School District
- Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District
- Brisbane Elementary School District
- Burlingame Elementary School District
- Hillsborough City Elementary School District
- Jefferson Elementary School District
- Las Lomitas Elementary School District
- Menlo Park City Elementary School District
- Millbrae Elementary School District
- Pacifica School District
- Portola Valley Elementary School District
- Ravenswood City Elementary School District
- Redwood City Elementary School District
- San Bruno Park Elementary School District
- San Carlos Elementary School District
- San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District
- Woodside Elementary School District
SamTrans (San Mateo County Transit District) provides local bus service within San Mateo County. Local and commuter bus routes also operate into San Francisco.
Caltrain, BART, and SamTrans converge at the Millbrae Intermodal station.
The only deepwater port in South San Francisco Bay is the Port of Redwood City, situated along Redwood Creek, originally created as a lumber embarcadero in 1850. The San Mateo Harbor Harbor District manages the Pillar Point Harbor and Oyster Point Marina. Ferry connections connect Oyster Point to Jack London Square in Oakland and the Alameda Ferry Terminal in Alameda.
This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2016)
There are a number of well-known structures within San Mateo County:
- Carolands Mansion, Hillsborough
- Cow Palace, Daly City
- Uplands Mansion, Hillsborough
- Crystal Springs Reservoir, unincorporated central part of county
- CuriOdyssey, San Mateo
- Filoli Mansion, Woodside
- The Flintstone House, Hillsborough
- Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, which incorporates Ralston Hall
- Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero
- Point Montara Lighthouse, Montara
- Pulgas Water Temple, Woodside
- Sanchez Adobe, Pacifica
- San Mateo County History Museum, Redwood City
- San Francisco International Airport
- Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Menlo Park
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2020 Census)|
|3||† Redwood City||City||84,292|
|4||South San Francisco||City||66,105|
|11||East Palo Alto||City||30,034|
|14||North Fair Oaks||CDP||14,027|
|15||Half Moon Bay||City||11,795|
|23||Emerald Lake Hills||CDP||4,406|
|25||West Menlo Park||CDP||3,930|
- List of school districts in San Mateo County, California
- List of California Historical Landmarks in San Mateo County, California
- National Register of Historic Places listings in San Mateo County, California
- Peninsula Humane Society
- Seaport Centre
- Telephone Area code 650
- Leo J. Ryan Memorial Park
- Leo J. Ryan Federal Building
- Silicon Valley
- Thomas Bones (1842–1929), lumberman in this area
- Second Harvest of Silicon Valley
- Other = Some other race + Two or more races
- Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
- Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
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- "San Mateo County Parks" (PDF). Parks Department, County of San Mateo. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- "Coyote Point Recreation Area". Parks Department, County of San Mateo. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- "Coyote Point Marina". Parks Department, County of San Mateo. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- "Crystal Springs Regional Trail". Parks Department, County of San Mateo. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- "Devil's Slide Trail". Parks Department, County of San Mateo. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- "Edgewood Park & Natural Preserve". Parks Department, County of San Mateo. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- "Fitzgerald Marine Reserve". Parks Department, County of San Mateo. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
- "Flood Park". Parks Department, County of San Mateo. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
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- Official website
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- San Mateo County Library – 12 branches throughout the County and a bookmobile
- Peninsula Library System – serving all of San Mateo County
- Superior Court Records
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- Brisbane Baylands Project
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