Montara is a census-designated place (CDP) in
County, California, United
Montara State Beach
The population was 2,950 at the 2000
census. Nearby communities include Moss Beach and Princeton-by-the-Sea.
Geography and environment
located at (37.539639, -122.506426) , approximately 20 miles
(32 km) south of San Francisco and 50 miles (80 km) north of Santa Cruz,
California. Neighboring towns include Pacifica to the north, Moss Beach, El Granada, and Half Moon Bay to the south.
According to the United States Census Bureau
CDP has a total area of 3.9 square miles (10.2 km²), all
of it land.
rare and endangered species Hickman's potentilla occurs at the
northern extremity of Montara on the slopes above Martini Creek at elevations ranging from 32 to 410 feet (10 to
Mountain, part of the
Mountains, rises to an elevation of 1,898 feet (578 m) above
The mountain is accessible by a gravel fire road.
On a few occasions light snowfall has fallen on the upper reaches
of the mountain.
is surrounded by open space (Rancho Corral del Tierra) and a
popular recreation area includes Montara State Beach.
The nearly mile long stretch of sand drops
steeply into the ocean making it hazardous for swimming. It is,
however, a fairly popular surfing destination for experienced
surfers. 10-15+ ft. waves can be common during winter storm
Montara enjoys exceptionally mild weather throughout the year.
Typical of central California, most of the rainfall falls from
November through April, normally totaling more than 27 inches
(69 cm). Due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, heavy fogs and low overcasts are common throughout
the year, sometimes producing light drizzle.
sometimes occur during the summer months, which are mostly dry.
January, the coldest month, normally has high temperatures in the
upper fifties (~14°C) and low temperatures in the middle forties
(~8°C). Freezing temperatures are extremely rare, especially near
the ocean. September, the warmest month, normally has high
temperatures in the upper sixties (~20°C) and lows in the lower
fifties (~11°C). Temperatures rarely exceed 90°F (32°C) and
whenever there are daytime temperatures above 80°F (27°C) it still
cools to the fifties (~13°C) at night. During experimental
observations by a U.S. Geological Survey volunteer (from 1985 to
1989), the highest temperature was an amazing 100°F (38°C) and the
lowest was 31°F (-0.5°C). The nearest official National Weather Service station is
at Half Moon
As of the census
of 2000, there were 2,950
people, 1,010 households, and 756 families residing in the CDP. The
people per square mile (289.8/km²). There were 1,034 housing units
at an average density of 263.2/sq mi (101.6/km²). The racial
makeup of the CDP was 89.22% White
, 1.02% African American
, 0.17% Pacific Islander
, 2.17% from
, and 3.63%
from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 9.05% of the
There were 1,010 households out of which 40.9% had children under
the age of 18 living with them, 63.4% were married couples
living together, 7.8% had a female
householder with no husband present, and 25.1% were non-families.
15.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 2.7% had
someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average
household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 25.4% under the age
of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 32.5% from 45 to
64, and 8.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was
41 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every
100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.3 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $95,326, and the
median income for a family was $100,881. Males had a median income
of $67,708 versus $50,704 for females. The per capita income
for the CDP was $44,360.
About 0.5% of families and 2.4% of the population were below the
, including 0.5% of those
under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.
In the state
Montara is located in the 8th Senate
District, represented by
Democrat Leland Yee
, and in the 19th Assembly
District, represented by
Democrat Jerry Hill
. Federally, Montara
is located in California's 12th
, which has a Cook PVI
of D +22 and is
currently represented by Jackie
Montara is an unincorporated community. All planning and
zoning is the responsibility of the San Mateo
County Board of Supervisors, which is elected at large by
the voters of San Mateo County.
is an elected advisory body to the Board of
Supervisors, is chosen by residents of Montara, Moss Beach, and El
Montara is also part of the Cabrillo Unified School District,
Coastside Fire Protection District, Montara Water and Sanitary
District, and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
Because it is in the coastal zone, Montara is under the
jurisdiction of the the California Coastal
A lighthouse was established at Point Montara in 1875. The Montara
area was first settled by farmers in the late nineteenth century. A
commercial flower farm, still in operation, was established in
1900. In 1905, Montara became a stop on the new Ocean Shore Railroad
, then under
construction. The railroad built a hotel next to the train station.
The trains encouraged weekend visitors to the area, but development
of the community was very slow. The railroad went bankrupt and
ceased operations in 1920, but the hotel remained and, although
greatly remodeled, is still standing today, between State Route 1
The Montara Grammar School opened in 1915; the historic two-story
building still stands, serving as a community center. The newer
Farallone View Elementary School, a few blocks north of the
original school, services the town's children today.
California's second paved highway, Pedro Mountain Road
, was completed in
1914, providing another connection between Montara and San
Francisco. This highway was replaced in 1937 by State
Route 1, which followed the old railroad route through the Devil's
Slide; a tunnel is being built to replace this dangerous
route, which has been closed periodically due to
Real growth in Montara began in the 1950s as more people moved away
from San Francisco during the postwar boom. As Montara has
continued to grow, the community has still maintained its generally
rural image. Most of Montara's streets were dirt or gravel until
the early 1990s; the rustic quality of the town has not been lost
since the streets were oiled or paved (only some of the streets are
In 2003, Montara
Water and Sanitary District
purchased its water system from the
German industrial firm RWE. Montara and Moss Beach residents
overwhelmingly supported a bond
for the purchase and repair of the
system. The high, spiraling rates and a decades-long water
moratorium were key motivations behind the bond measure.
Montara Light is a lighthouse in Montara, located just west of
the Cabrillo Highway at Point Montara.
Montara Light was
originally established in 1875 as a fog signal station after
several ships ran ashore in the late 1860s. The cast-iron
lighthouse was brought from Wellfleet Harbor, Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1925.
It continues to operate as an
aid-to-navigation maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The lighthouse
demarks the northern point of the Fitzgerald
Marine Reserve, a holding of Special Biological Significance owned
by the State of California.
- Colleen MacNeney, Lighthouse Digest (June 2008)
- Patrick Cassidy, "Cape Lighthouse Mystery Solved",
Cape Cod Times (June 4, 2008)
- Jonnelle Marte, "Case of the missing lighthouse
solved; beacon found away", Boston Globe, (June 4, 2008)