Pat Kitano, Other/Just Looking in 94118

Half Moon Bay may go bankrupt. Without city services, would real estate suddenly become much less desirable?

Asked by Pat Kitano, 94118 Tue Dec 18, 2007

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1. I've been hearing "they aren't making any more real estate" for my entire life and wish realtors would put a can on that red herring. It just doesn't help anyone.


Japan is FAR more densely populated than the U.S. and the 'lack' on land didn't hold back a 12-year obliteration of real estate prices.

In the meantime we're sitting on a glut of overbuilt home supply (thanks to bubble pricing encouraging unnecessary built-out) and plenty of land to spare.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 28, 2009
I don't think Half Moon Bay's leaders and residents will allow the city to go bankrupt; will take strong leadership, negotiation and communication skills moving forward. That being said, we don't know what the future holds and sellers will want to disclose this to prospective buyers. The city services that may be most affected would likely be police and public works, i.e. the Sheriff's office would take over (now covering El Granada, Moss Beach and Montara), and street, storm drain work, etc. could be under County jurisdiction, which may mean that road issues take longer to address. I wouldn't anticipate a sudden drop in desirability as there is a uniqueness about living here that transcends this challenge - such as the coastal lifestyle, the views, the trails, the people, the Harbor, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Montara Mountain, the bluffs, beaches, Mavericks, the beauty, and more. If city services were to be eliminated, I see the community coming together more than it ever has before in an effort to regroup and move on.

I am hoping tht the Council involves the community in finding the right solution. In my opinion, it would be a smart move for the City to provide to the community an easily accessible means of two-way communication to minimize fear and increase creative thinking. I know there are many residents who are not able to attend the local meetings. A dedicated website devoted to this issue would be helpful. Also, a link on the City's homepage,, could be easily created. The technology is here, Realtors(s) are embracing it to become more transparent; it's timely for our City government to do the same. Having worked in the legal field, I would hope there could be a balance between sensitive information pending ongoing litigation and public relations. There are some very tech saavy folks on the Coastside who may be willing to put this together as a community service. I could certainly rally my resources also.

If you or anyone you know would like to tour the area to see our community first hand, I'm sure your local Realtor(r) would be happy to show you around, or Nate who also provided an answer and is a local colleague, or me. Thanks for the question.
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2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 27, 2007
1. I've been hearing "they aren't making any more real estate" for my entire life and wish realtors would put a can on that red herring. It just doesn't help anyone.

2. There are substantial issues facing the coastal communities, including infrastructure issues like adequate water supplies (and its cost). The current financial crisis isn't going to make addressing them any easier, especially with regard to issuing debt or raising taxes.

3. Half Moon Bay is substantially larger than Montara or El Granada, so I'm not sure I see a comparison.

4. I would be very cautious, you are starting to ask some of the right questions. Be just as cautious in parsing through the answers you get.

5. My personal opinion (admittedly unscientific) is that property on the coast, in general, is still overvalued. Is a house a bargain when it's selling for 25% less than the peak of the market but 125% higher than it did 10 years ago?? 10% annual appreciation is way out of line with historical values, so be very careful. It's a new world out there and there are a lot of people trying to keep "talking" the market up on the coastside.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 28, 2009
Hi Pat,

Not likely.
There are many other more important factors (supply, demand, low growth/slow growth/no growth climate, other nearby unincorporated communities that don’t have HMB city services, Pacific Ocean ambiance-with all those "negative ions", etc.) which play a role in determining desirability of our HMB real estate.
To my knowledge, no one is making anymore real estate, over here, and the Pacific Ocean doesn’t look like it’s going away, anytime soon.

Jim Hargis
Coldwell Banker-Half Moon Bay
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 4, 2008
That's a really interesting question. There are several districts on the coast that are not actually incorporated as a city. Their services are provided by the county. In the case of a bankruptcy, the county would then take over the management. It may make some buyers feel uncomfortable; but because it's an established practice there already, I'm not sure that it would make much, if any, impact.

I'd be interested to hear other perspectives on your question.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 19, 2007
I noticed that the newest answers to this question are still almost 1.5 years old now, and HMB hasn't gone bankrupt. The housing market here did take a huge hit in 2008-9, and even now seems to be very slow.

Its great being blocks from the ocean, and the value of that is not going away. Of course, placing a value on it is very subjective. In my neighborhood here in HMB, few houses are selling but this summer there is a lot of remodelling and upgrading going on. I think the people who live here who might otherwise have sold to upgrade are just improving their existing homes. If / when the economy improves, the prices may not come back to the pre-bust levels for many years, but it looks like further declines have stopped, at least for now.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 18, 2010
I just want to add to my answer, because I don't want to come across as unrelentingly negative. The coast is its own microcosm. It is a pretty small market in a surprisingly isolated area (given how close it is to San Francisco and the Peninsula).

There are plenty of scenarios that could play out. Maybe prices will only deteriorate another 5-10% (that's still $30K-$60K on a $600K home--which is not a very expensive home in this area). The question you have to ask yourself is: if I find a house that I love and I'm certain where I want to live, am I willing to live with equity loss and the possibility of a flat flat flat market for who knows how many years?

The one thing that gives me pause is that there seems to be a fair number of pricey new constructions in the area and non-subprime ARMS are just starting to kick in (and there will be another wave in about 4 years of prime ARM resets), so a lot has to do with how the job market goes for these upper middle class folks and how long they're willing to keep paying on a house that is worth a great deal less than it was 2 years ago. For example, a quick search on Montara on a real estate site shows 22 homes for sale and 6 foreclosures. That's a lot of volatility for such a tiny market (population approximately 3,000). Your call. Good luck. I'd rent and scope it out.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 31, 2009
Maybe some city services will be at risk but not all of them. The county will not allow it. Half Moon Bay is a key component to our counties' infrastructure and is a work horse community that drives its economy. I have heard this directly from congressman, assembly members and other governmental officials.

Vicki has a great point, as northern communities on the coast, such as El Granada, Moss Beach, and Montara are unincorporated, while property values are still close to the other parts of the Bay Area. These communities, however, are sometimes subject to assessments and there are a few currently.

In regards to desirabilty, according to one of my colleagues, who works for C-21 and writes occasionally for the Half Moon Bay Review, stated in a recent thread on the TalkAbout section of HMBREVIEW.COM "Its uncertain how many new people are going to want to move into a potentially bankrupt town that faces being dissolved if they lose." His keyword is UNCERTAIN...

The bottom line is that this lawsuit has been appealed and we just have to sit back and watch and hope that CURRENT (note that part of the reason we are confronting this issue is because of poor leadership in the past) city council, property owner and the respective lawyers NEGOTIATE.

Should the city go bankrupt, as REALTORS, we will most likely have to disclose it. But, in the meantime, we are not and we will just hope for the best and hope that this certain property owner gets what he wants...the opportunity to build.

For more dialogue, go to and click on TalkAbout. You can get a taste of the dialogue amongst citizens over here.

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 19, 2007
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