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Top Priorities/Issues

My top priorities for the next four years if elected:

  • Meet quarterly in all District 4 neighborhoods to solicit citizen input
  • Complete the Hwy 1 East Side Trail from El Granada to Moonridge
  • Complete recycled water planning
  • Develop and begin implementing a long-range plan for our sewer treatment facilities
  • Support SamTrans on-demand transit service pilot project in 2023
  • Work with County to implement nighttime-only quarry truck trips and pumpkin farm traffic mitigations
  • Support continued investigation into SR 92 aerial tram service
  • Pursue a master lease agreement with CUSD for use of school grounds for recreation
  • Increase opportunities for Pickleball
  • Secure commitments for local urgent care and lab facilities
  • Improve local internet and phone services and redundancy
  • Implement policies to support local small businesses including home-based businesses 
  • Support diverse housing types and opportunities for workforce, seniors, and families
  • Begin implementing the Smith Field Park master plan
  • Support independent citizen oversight of the Sheriff’s Office
  • Adopt a policy of equity in all policies and programs
  • Complete the Main Street Corridor Revitalization Plan
  • Complete renovation of Carter Park


I am committed to prudently managing the city's finances, while at the same time continuing to provide high quality services the community expects and deserves.

The city adopted a balanced budget this year and each of the previous years during the pandemic.

The city's independent auditor has issued a "clean" opinion of the city's financial statement for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021.

Half Moon Bay's current General Fund reserves are 50% of annual operating expenses. The Government Finance Officers Association recommends a reserve of at least 17% of annual expenses.

In 2020 the State Auditor ranked Half Moon Bay #126 out of 423 cities (top 30% of CA cities) on factors related to municipal financial health. This ranking is bound to rise as the city's primary revenue streams are roaring back post-pandemic.

The city has very low employee pension obligations and unfunded liability as compared to many other CA cities due to contracting with the county sheriff for public safety services.  

During the first 16 months of the pandemic, the city cut approximately $7 million in expenses while still delivering high quality of services. By July 1, 2021, spending was restored to pre-pandemic levels and the city is steadily increasing services and community programs.

Property tax, sales tax, and transient occupancy tax -- the city's three main revenue sources -- are all predicted to be at record highs this fiscal year. 

The council led Coastside Recovery Initiaitve is starting to pay off financially. The county has offered $2.5 million to develop and operate an Economic Advancement Center. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has approved a $400,000 grant to support agricultural innovation.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier has tentatively secured $2 million in federal funding for bike trails and traffic improvements on Highway 1. This amount was the second most she received for community projects in her district this year.

The city's most recent bond rating in 2018 was AA+ (Standard & Poor).


As a small town at the gateway of Highway 92 and Historic Highway 1, with access to beautiful beaches and rolling coastal prairie, every year millions of people visit our town from places like Modesto, Oakland, and San Francisco. Yet, we lack legal control over the roads into town and unlimited resources to get things done. My biggest frustration as your Mayor is how hard it is to get all of the different agencies who do have control to work together to help the Coastside. But I work on this issue every day for the good of our community. 

Here are some practical things I am already working on that will fundamentally improve traffic on weekends and during your daily commute:

  • Fix the choke points on Hwy 1 and Hwy 92
  • Get more cars off the road along Hwy 1
  • Elevate the conversation. Literally.

Two of the most feasible and relatively quick things we can do to improve congestion and safety on SR 92 is fix the chokepoints: (1) work with our new District 3 county supervisor to implement a nighttime-only schedule for quarry trucks, and (2) work with our new District 3 supervisor to better mitigate pumpkin farm traffic. As for widening SR 92, the county, which has jurisdiction over most of the highway, proposed 20 years ago to widen the road to four lanes from 280 to the summit and straighten the road from the city limit to the uphill passing lanes. The estimated cost then was $200 million for widening and $100 million for straightening, plus millions in environmental mitigation. The county shelved the plan. We know the cost in today's dollars would be enormous. Maybe there is smaller scope plan that would provide benefit, but Right-of-Way would still need to be acquired. If this is something Half Moon Bay residents want to revisit, we can do so, but tradeoffs will need to be considered. County, state and federal transportation dollars are not unlimited. These sources of funding also help pay for SR 1 improvements, bike lanes and pedestrian projects, and roundabouts. We can have an in-depth community conversation about the tradeoffs. The consequences impact not just vehicular traffic safety and convenience but also community character and pedestrian safety.

In addition to cost considerations, there is plenty of research showing that we can't pave our way (add new travel lanes) out of traffic congestion. Research consistently shows that adding capacity doesn't alleviate congestion for long, because it actually increases vehicle miles traveled. See Increasing Highway Capacity Unlikely to Relieve Traffic Congestion | National Center for Sustainable Transportation ( Wide roads also make it more challenging for pedestrians and cyclists to get around. Would you rather walk around Pacifica or Half Moon Bay? State DOT policy has shifted from prioritizing congestion reduction to prioritizing reductions in vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions. The DOT also has adopted a policy of "Fix if First" rather than building new road capacity. These policies shape the eligibility of projects for state and county transportation grant funding. Would widening SR 92 compete well in this policy environment? In addition to fixing chokepoints, we are working to get more cars off the road. 

Given the context described above, the city has focused on a comprehensive approach that includes multiple components, including, but not limited to, completing the SR 1 East Side trail from El Granada to Moonridge; timely road and street maintenance; operational improvements at intersections (potentially including roundabouts); safety enhancements such as improved crosswalks; investing in more bike lanes and expanding the Coastal Trail; and supporting the SamTrans on-demand shuttle service pilot program that will begin in early 2023. We are discussing school start-time scheduling and school bus service with the school district. The city also has adopted a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and an aggressive grants program aimed at securing state and federal transportation and infrastructure dollars to implement the plan.

Currently I am working with a small team of experts and residents to investigate an aerial tram over Highway 92. Engineers who build these systems estimate the cost of a SR 92 tram system at $80-$120 million, a fraction of the cost of road widening. Such a system could provide multiple benefits, including emergency services support and evacuation and piggybacking of phone and internet utilities. 

For more information about the city's current portfolio of traffic-related projects click on this link:

Recycled Water 

The city council unanimously identified moving forward with recycled water as a top priority and in August 2022 approved a letter to the water district supporting its efforts to develop water reuse and recycling on the Coastside. Our success will require the cooperation and collaboration of the Sewer Authority Mid-Coastside (SAM), San Mateo County, Granada Community Services District and Montara Water and Sanitary District, Ocean Colony Partners (operator of the golf courses), and others given the regional benefits. The program likely would be phased, starting with water for landscape irrigation, and may include a pilot project at SAM to serve the Ocean Colony golf courses, a project that would reduce the courses' reliance on 1.2 million gallons per day of potable water. 


It is a priority for me that Half Moon Bay residents feel safe in their homes.

2021 stats from the Public Policy Institute of CA (PPIC), the latest available, show property and violent crime ticking up statewide but down modestly in San Mateo County, less than 2%. We don’t have the stats yet for the Coastside. However, it seems we’re seeing more property crimes – bicycle thefts, thefts from vehicles, thefts of Amazon packages, and thefts of catalytic converters, etc. These are larceny crimes, the unlawful taking of someone else’s personal property.  If you look at trends from 2016 to 2021 larceny crimes are up overall, largely as a result of Prop 47 in 2014, approved by the voters to reduce pressures on jails and prisons. Prop 47 lowered criminal sentences for drug possession, theft, shoplifting, identity theft, receiving stolen property, and others to misdemeanors that often bring minimal jail sentences. A 2016 study by PPIC found that police frequently ignored crimes that brought minimal punishment. Of larceny crimes, public safety agencies statewide are focusing on crimes with high social impact, like fentanyl related crimes.

I – and you—have heard from our sheriff’s deputies that these crimes are hard to prosecute, that they need to catch the perpetrator in the act, and even if they are caught, these crimes are misdemeanors resulting in a citation and release or minimal jail time and release.

What is the solution? First, what is the SMCo policy for policing priorities? We certainly don’t want to undercut attention to violent and narcotics-related crimes, and it makes sense to focus resources on crimes like catalytic converter thefts that involve criminal gangs. Is there anything that can be done about petty thefts involving bikes, packages, and vehicle smash and grabs?

We could pay to add deputies and patrols, but could we actually add enough to make a meaningful difference and do so cost-effectively in this Prop 47 context?

The sheriff’s office recommended CCTV cameras for SRs 1 and 92. The city council discussed installations of these cameras a couple of years ago, but the public and council rejected their use due to privacy and equity issues. The council could bring the topic back for discussion.

Each of us can take steps to reduce crimes of opportunity. Are we responsibly storing and protecting our stuff? Do we routinely lock our doors, gates, and sheds? Do we remove our laptops and notebooks from the car before heading for a run on the Coastal Trail? Store our tools safely during and after work hours? Do we have a safe place for Amazon deliveries while we are away? We can take advantage of public safety home security inspections and add outdoor/indoor security cameras. We can make use of an older concept and organize Neighborhood Watch groups to monitor neighborhood activity. Any remedy for petty crime in our town must involve taking personal responsibility for our stuff.

Public Safety 

The city signed a contract with the Sheriff's Office in 2011. Replacing the city's police department with the SO saves taxpayers millions of dollars every year and provides access to a broad array of community policing programs.  We can do better in the area of equity, transparency, and accountability, and we look forward to working with our new sheriff Christina Corpus on these important issues, including de-escalation practices and transparency of traffic stop data. I support establishment of an independent citizen's commission to provide oversight of the Sheriff's Office. More targeted community policing and the new Yanira Presente and CARES mental health crisis response programs will help reduce tensions over policing and increase trust. 

Support for Local Businesses

Helping our local businesses and revitalizing our downtown is a key priority. I supported creating the outdoor dining "parklets" on Main Street and would like to see them continue to flourish. Our updated Local Coastal Program encourages and focuses housing development downtown, which will also stimulate business activity and help incentivize business-friendly infrastructure. The city provided funding support to the Chamber of Commerce for its new Business Development Center, and the county has awarded the city $2.5 million for an economic and workforce development center. I'd like to see the city provide more support and flexibility for home-based businesses. While tourism will continue to be our economy's key driver, support for small businesses of diverse types will increase local innovation and sustainability and create economic opportunities for residents.

Housing and Homelessness

I believe having diverse housing types for all income levels is key to creating a sustainable community. While housing costs and rents on the Coastside remain beyond the reach of many, the city is committed to reducing barriers and taking steps to create diverse housing opportunities. I favor affordable housing approaches that help residents build equity. The city's recently updated land use plan prioritizes new residential development within the downtown area and close to existing office and retail centers and highway corridors. It provides for a mix of housing types for families, singles, seniors and members of our local workforce. There are several mixed housing and commercial projects underway in our downtown. The city also adopted an ordinance permitting and encouraging accessory dwelling units ("in-law units) and instituted tenant protections for renters.

Coast House, established by the county and operated by LifeMoves, provides transitional housing for unsheltered singles and families while providing wraparound support services. Currently the city is participating in discussions with ALAS, a housing non-profit, and the school district for development of farmworker and teacher housing projects. While the city has limited financial resources for provision of housing, it can provide support in other ways. We recently hired a dedicated housing specialist to facilitate and coordinate local housing solutions.

Homelessness is a growing and complex problem for the state and nation that requires a comprehensive effort to address. The city council supported establishment of Coast House and for several years has funded the Abundant Grace Clean Team, paying unhoused residents to clean beaches and adjacent areas. The city also provided a loan to Abundant Grace to establish a workforce center. The center links clients to employment and support services. The newly established CARES program is available to respond to the needs of this community. Beyond these initiatives, there will be a continuing need to remove encampments that threaten the health of Pilarcitos Creek and other sensitive areas. The city will continue to engage with Abundant Grace, LifeMoves, the county, and CalTrans to conduct cleanups in a compassionate manner and to partner on other actions and programs as appropriate.


Creating an economy of diverse business types, economic opportunities and housing, achieving water reuse and recycling, and protecting our agriculture lands and open spaces will be key components of long-term sustainability. The Coastside Recovery Initiative is an exciting new effort of city hall, the county, local businesses and non-profits to build and support community and economic vitality and resilience. The council will begin review of a draft Climate Action Plan in Fall 2022. Recommendations are being drafted after more than a year of public outreach and will focus on near, mid-term, and long-term actions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to a warmer, drier climate, more intense storms and flooding, erosion and sea level rise. The city will welcome more community input during council review to assure all measures are sensible, equitable, and sensitive to financial circumstances. We need to add more EV charging stations and assure their timely repair. I supported limiting electrification to new construction, though the city will work to ensure federal rebates and tax incentives are available for residents who want to make the shift from gas to electric appliances and solar energy. 

Emergency Preparedness and Health Care

The city will complete an emergency communications plan in Fall of 2022. The city meets and coordinates regularly with the County Office of Emergency Services, fire districts and other cities in the county on countywide emergency, hazard mitigation, and evacuation planning. Staff will also develop a plan that provides more specificity on local emergency actions. I am a member of CoastsideCERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and encourage others to join to help protect our neighbors in the event of a disaster. 

Access to emergency health care on the coast remains a serious problem. Half Moon Bay needs an urgent care clinic/lab and at least one additional ambulance. I support ongoing efforts to secure extension of the Sequoia Health Care District, but I also think there are other potential options to explore.  One possible model is the Coast Life Support District in northern Sonoma and Mendocino counties, a rural coastal special district that funds and manages ambulance service including air ambulance, urgent care and other ancillary health services. For the Coastside, such a district might also fund beach safety and mental health crisis response programs.  

Aging Services

I support the goals of Age-Friendly Coastside Half Moon Bay. In an age-friendly community, policies and programs are designed to support successful aging and make communities more livable for people of all ages. I will support opportunities, resources, and services that meet the needs of our elders of all ages and capacities, that enrich their lives, and foster independence. 

Implementing our Land Use Plan

One of my proudest achievements is the City's new Land Use Plan, which was approved unanimously by the California Coastal Commission without amendment. This general plan provides a long-term vision and policy guidance that will enhance our small-town character, protect our open space, and support and expand the network of trails up and down the coast. The plan prioritizes new development in the downtown corridor. By doing so, it gives our community the time and space to acquire undeveloped property outside of downtown for permanent protection. While our plan has received accolades across the state, our implementation requires that we update our zoning code and our other ordinances in a way that respects individual property rights but gives the community at large what they want. This is delicate work!



Paid for by Debbie Ruddock for City Council District 4 2022, FPPC ID# 1450420
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