The City of Pacifica is spread along a six mile (10 km) stretch of the north central California coastal beach and hills, nestled in several small valleys spanning between Sweeney Ridge above on the east, Montara Mountain to the south, and the Pacific Ocean's sandy beaches and rocky bluffs to the west.
Pacifica is well known regionally as a popular surfing destination with Pacifica State Beach/Linda Mar Beach often crowded with surfers. 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, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Fishermen frequent the local beaches, and the Pacifica Pier, catching fish including Striped Bass and Salmon. Many people also enjoy hiking and going barefoot in Pacifica, either along the many beaches and bluffs including Mori Point, or on the hillsides including San Pedro Valley County Park, the Sanchez Adobe and Milagra Ridge. For live local theater arts, Pacifica Spindrift Players is consistently popular, in addition to Pacifica Performances which regularly serves up both musical presentations and performing arts. Pacifica is also home to the Sharp Park Golf Course designed in 1931 by famous golf architect Alister MacKenzie. The world class bromeliad nursery, Shelldanceis located just off Highway 1 in Pacifica, adjacent to the Sweeney Ridge hiking trailhead.
Pacifica is divided into roughly twelve distinct neighborhoods from north to south:
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 Tuesdays of the month.
As of the census of 2000, there were 38,390 people, 13,994 households, and 9,655 families residing 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/sq mi (435.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.51% White, 3.27% African American, 0.49% Native American, 15.29% Asian, 0.69% Pacific Islander, 4.18% from other races, and 6.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.61% of the population.
There were 13,994 households out of which 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 all households were made up of individuals and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the city the population was spread out with 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% who were 65 years of age 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 $71,737, and the median income for a family was $78,361 (these figures had risen to $82,000 and $102,463 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). 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 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 1000 salmon were caught from the pier.
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 November through April. 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.
In the state legislature Pacifica is located in the 8th Senate District, represented by Democrat Leland Yee, and in the 19th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jerry Hill. Federally, Pacifica is located in California's 12th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +22 and is represented by Democrat Jackie Speier.
The local newspaper the Pacifica Tribune is published weekly, and originated as the Coastside Tribune early in the Twentieth century. The Tribune was locally owned until its purchase by the ANG Newspapers in 1999. A Usenet news server group Pacifica-L has covering local politics, local news and other Pacifica related topics since 1994. The blog Pacifica Riptide also actively covers local Pacifica news.
Pacifica Community Television, Pacifica's Emmy Award-winning local cable channel 26, has continuously operated for 30 years featuring community based television. Especially popular are the broadcasts of local governmental meetings plus education and entertainment programming including The Bruce Latimer Show, Ian Butler's Laugh Locally, Footprints of Pacifica and Down To Earth with Mel Zucker.
Most Pacificans associate PCT's early days with Jeff's Best, a popular DJ and quiz show hosted by Jeff Gracia from 1978 to 1997. The show was a popular destination for kids and teenagers and featured live phone calls, trivia questions and a roulette wheel.
In 1987, Jon Sullberg produced and Directed the documentary film Unknown Pacifica, a story told by the people who lived there and were part of or witnessed: rum running, speakeasies, houses of prostitution, distilleries and other vices of the times.
Prehistorically, Pacifica was home to two significant Ohlone Indian villages including Pruristac located at San Pedro Creek near present day Adobe Drive and Timigtac on Calera Creek in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood.
Pacifica is the location of the oldest European history of San Mateo County, discovered by Gaspar de Portolà October 31, 1769, and is home of the Sánchez Adobe originating in 1842 and of the San Pedro Valley Mission Outpost (1786-1793) of Mission Dolores. The city is located on a part of the Mexican land grant Rancho San Pedro given to Francisco Sanchez in 1839.
Pacifica was incorporated in 1957, relatively recently in the history of San Mateo County, as the union of nine previously separate, unincorporated communities, including Edgemar, Sharp Park, Pacific Manor (or just Manor), Vallemar, Rockaway Beach and San Pedro Terrace-By-The-Sea, stops on the short lived Ocean Shore Railroad.
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 is also a private school, Alma Heights Christian Academy which offers kindergarten through 12th grade.
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 Alma Heights Christian Academy 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 traditional institution. Alma Heights Christian Academy is a private K-12 school located 5 minutes from popular Linda Mar Beach.