Video: Documentary captures Coastside in 1980

Posted by on Fri, July 6, 2007

Click to view "The Mystery of Half Moon Bay"

"The Mystery of Half Moon Bay", a KCSM documentary first released in 1981, has been published free on the Web by producer Stewart Cheifet. The 60-minute documentary freezes Half Moon Bay and the Coastside at a moment shortly after the Coastal Act was enacted.

Tthe spotlight was on the eccentric characters who deeply loved rural Half Moon Bay. But there was also plenty of controversy. The show begins with the historic Chamarita, goes back to the Indians and the failed Ocean Shore Railrod and moves forward through the voices of 1980.

The Mystery of Half Moon Bay was written and produced by June Morrall, who writes the wonderful Half Moon Bay Memories blog.

No Flaming Reindeer!

Oh my god what a treat is that documentary!?!  Oh!  I love the internets!  :)

Now, admittedly, here I am on the other side of the hill, but having grown up all-along the California coast, my heart is over the hill on the coast, and I love witnessing all matters concerning the coast.

This documentary is superb!  I love the coverage of the Costanoans (Ohlone, we say nowadays), and Malcolm looks terrific (geez, has it really been almost thirty years!?), and the man describing the “autonomous island” - wonderful!  I didn’t know Westinghouse Corporation originally built the golf course.  An additional note to that “subdivision overlooking the Pacific,” is that it also overlooks the San Gregorio Fault!  The Pacinis are so dear - “Four inches!”

Oh, and the mention of the overcrowded 92, (some things never change, eh?), Ron Mikelson is spot-on that the problem isn’t the overcrowding and that widening the road (even today) is not the answer - take a look at Laguna Canyon Road (down south), and see that even adding the toll road isn’t the answer, because, if ye build it, thou will come - just keep it how it is and let the overcrowding limit anyone else from wanting to make the trek.  (Just my humblest of opinions.)

Thank you Coastsider for mentioning that this documentary is available for all to view.  Sorry my comment is so long, but but but - that was great watching.  :)

p.s. I support the Mountain’s decision, too.

Thank you, Anneliese. I appreciate your comments on “The Mystery of Half Moon Bay,” what you wrote, how you said it (you’re really good!) made me laugh because I knew you understood exactly how these folks felt.

June Morrall


This is an amazing documentary. It should be required viewing for all Coastsiders, before moving here of course.

Some notable excerpts from the 60 minute film.

22:20, Shot of Mirada Road looking North. (Note to builder Neil Merrilees: Is it painful to look at? It is for me. For a recent view of the same road, see Neil’s video at ).

25:30, HMB Review Publisher says that development should not proceed unchecked. (What? Times sure have changed!)

32:50, “Many of the newcomers are politically apathetic, but they expect local government to preserve their lifestyle.”
(They sure got that wrong. Local governments have been doing exactly the opposite for decades.)

34:10, “I was put off by the indifference of County government about anything from the Coastside.”
(Fast forward to today:

38:30, HMB Mayor makes public statement about Coastal Commission intervention in local planning decisions.
(Times have not changed.)

41:30, Local realtor advocates for widening of Hwy 92.
(Times have not changed.)

42:45, HMB Nursery owner Ron Mickelsen says that widening of Hwy 92 is not a good idea—it will just bring more traffic.
(I couldn’t agree more:

47:15, “As the newcomers moved in, they ended up destroying the rural environmnent that attracted them here in the first place.”
(Peet’s coffee anybody? Or maybe some Popeye’s Chicken? )

Hey June!  I have a question for you - I was visiting your website looking for info and couldn’t find a write-up.  I’ll email you…


You got it exactly right!

And I love the comment that is so true, “As the newcomers moved in, they ended up destroying the rural environment that attracted them here in the first place…”

It wasn’t just the rural environment, the people were fascinating, too. Real individuals. There’s someone I’m thinking of who is still here but I cannot name. He has built a very unusual living environment along the public walking trail…and recently he told me he hears what some people say as they walk by and it’s not complimentary. While he’s working outside and they don’t see him he hear them whisper that it looks like a cult or something black and negative when, in fact, it’s just the incredible work of an artist, for all to enjoy. When surburbia comes they want everything to be vanilla.

I wish it wasn’t so….

Referring back to my earlier comment, I should have said “my heart” wishes it wasn’t so…wishes that more of the ruralness could remain and not be bured beneath concrete. It would be easy to turn this into one of those places that could be “anywhere USA,” a place where the imagination has no where to run wild.

On the other hand, I have frequently heard people who haven’t seen the Coastside in awhile (10, 20 yrs), come back and drive up Highway 1 and say they are surprised that the Coastside “hasn’t changed that much.”