Can you hear it?

Fisherman line the jetty at Pillar Point Harbor near the foghorn in a photo taken in December. Adam Pardee / Review

In an effort to respond to noise complaints while maintaining safety of the coast of San Mateo County, the U.S. Coast Guard is experimenting with sound plugs on the foghorn at the entrance of Pillar Point Harbor.

The Coast Guard placed three plugs, or baffles, on the foghorn on May 24. They will remain in place through July. Based on feedback, the Coast Guard will decide whether to keep the plugs permanently, Chief Warrant Officer Mickey T. Price wrote in an email to the Review.

The signal emits sound in 360 degrees. Each of its eight ports emit sound at 45-degree segments. The three plugs cover 135 degrees and should block some sound headed north, northeast and east, Price said.

The Coast Guard has been researching the foghorn for years, most recently since November 2020. It received more than 80 responses from the local community in December after asking mariners and residents about the sound.

The plugs also serve another purpose. They boost the sound in the opposite direction toward the ocean, which might actually improve navigational safety, according to Price.

“We are interested to see if there might be any slight changes that may best serve navigational safety (which is the purpose of the signal), while at the same time slightly lessen perceived negative impacts which can be interpreted as ‘noise,’ and still maintain the aesthetic of the signal which is dear to many in the community,” Price said.

(27) comments

Cid Young

I am writing to PROTEST the baffling of the Princeton Foghorn. I live nearby and I would like to hear the moaning of the Foghorn as it warns ships as well as those on land, of foggy conditions along the Coast. I have lived in Seal Cove, on the West side of Moss Beach, since 1988. The sound is soothing to me. It is far more annoying to hear the continuous roar of private plane engines overhead, doing touch and go's from the Eddie Andreini Airfield nearby, at all hours. At least the Fog Horn only sounds off in bad weather.

I grew up in Duxbury, MA, a small town south of Boston, and no New Englander worth his salt would have dared complain about such a thing.    I am sure that Keet Nerhan has something to do with the "complaint side of the issue" but, as the infamous line from Bob Dylan goes.... "Money doesn't talk, it screams"       

I'll bet that you have not even begun to hear screaming until you decide to permanently baffle that foghorn. Like people say when folks complain about the incessant airplane noise. "You knew it was there when you bought your house"   Well, I knew the Foghorn was there too, and I find the sound enchanting. Keet Nerhan also knew it was there when he started buying up properties at the harbor, so he needs to put in some better soundproofing on his Harbor Village Mall and Oceano Hotel, rather than deprive the rest of us from hearing the foghorn.  I hope everyone will write a letter, rather than just commenting here.

Zack B

"In an effort to respond to noise complaints while maintaining safety of the coast of San Mateo County, the U.S. Coast Guard is experimenting with sound plugs on the foghorn at the entrance of Pillar Point Harbor. The Coast Guard has been researching the foghorn for years, most recently since November 2020. It received more than 80 responses from the local community in December after asking mariners and residents about the sound."

Exactly who complained? Is this recent "research" the source of the complaints? If so, how many of the 80 responses were complaints? Was was the response rate? 80 responses out of how many surveyed?

Reminds me of the subdivision on the other side of the highway that received speed bumps after a single resident claimed he conducted a "survey" of the residents and took it to the city engineered as "proof" of the speeding issue he perceived as a problem.

I moved here decades ago escaping the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley and the foghorn was the antithesis of that.


Can't believe people think it's noise. I lived in hmb most of my life and one of the most comforting sounds I ever heard was the fog horn. If you all can't stand the " noise" don't live next to the ocean. Simple. The whole idea of living next to the ocean is to heard the sounds of the water and the surrounding things that are there, like the lighthouse and foghorn. Come on don't be so snobby that you need to silence what is there for piece of mind.

Think about it before you decide to destroy the one thing that makes the coast home 🏡.

Cid Young

Tina - YEP! The sounds of the Seals during mating season when they are 'barking" from the reefs below my house. The gulls flying over or the eerie sound a Night Heron makes when roosting in a Cypress tree, overhead. The two hooting owls calling out from above as I fall asleep at night. People have the right to gripe, but not to stomp out the sounds of our Coastal environment.

here ya' go

So glad to see folks are so focused on the big issues of the day. And tell that helicopter pilot to stop rattling my windows. Those sea lions barking must be silenced! And the tsunami warning siren tests are so frustrating!

John Charles Ullom

All this anger directed towards neighbors who don't agree. This issue is so freaking minor. Yet look at the demands folks on both sides are making. Notice the use of localism both sides!!

Try listening to this. It will help put it all in perspective: --

Life is good. Don't let a fog horn provoke anger.


you made the comment about people living here 30 years and not doing anything to improve the area. to start out with I have lived here for 65 years,my mother her whole life and my grandmother and grandfather there whole life. We have all done our share along with all of the others that you can call real coastsiders to make Half Moon Bay better. We have tried to keep the newbies like you from coming here and changing everything that has been here before you and is history and part of the area. I would suggest that you and anyone considering moving to the coastside get on your computers before you do and search and listen to a old song by Merle Haggard called The Fighting Side Of Me. This is how most of the older residence feel about Half Moon Bay. Also for the real and caring Coastsiders that read this a thumbs up or something to show support for this reply. With the song and support maybe it will calm down the cry babies and persuade them to go try and change things somewhere else


Sound like crying babies are the ones claiming to have lived on the Coastside for decades. Complain to the ancient Indians and the native animals. No entitlement for seniority and pseudo nativism. It's not about you or your personal sleeping aides, it's about public safety and what makes sense. I am sure those "newbies" pay more share of the property taxes than you to voice themselves. Indians have tried to keep newbies like you from coming, and you put a loud foghorn, train, and burning happy non-native trees. Now the newbies will eventually replace the oldies. So face the reality, your numbers don't compute. I am sure the homeless is very happy here, great job.




It's about time. Modern technology uses GPS, not sound. No more human synthetic noise. Plug the remaining while at it. Those who need to live with it can move back to where they came from or record it to play back in their headset, 24/7. Or one can YouTube it the last remaining sound before it's taken down.

John Charles Ullom

Can you do something about the guy on the other side of the Highway who lets his dog howl all night? Shall I demand he move? Adn what about that dang cow that bellows at the sunrise once in awhile? GPS can't fix that. Who do you think should leave town?


Every 7 seconds!! There is plenty of Coastline in the world you can live wout it.


8, actually




AMEN AMEN AMEN...... How about getting the skunks from stinking, the traffic from honking their horns. For gosh sakes..... you moved by a harbor, the ocean!!! Just like people who complain after moving by the train tracks or airports about the noise. It is a real shame how people think they are entitled their every whim.


The Coast is a wonder of nature as is. Its unparalleled scenery, that morning ocean whiff, the unique climate, the ecosystem in the water… that is what makes this place special. Not just today, but for centuries before and after us. Maybe I am missing something, but I feel little attachment to an artificial sound that was installed decades ago. I wonder what we would hear at night if we introduce more quietness.


You would hear the ocean waves, the birds flying overhead, boats and ships navigating the seas and our harbor. You would hear people that live hear enjoying the sound of the fog horn sometimes lulling them to sleep. This is why we live hear. I cannot express it better than if you don't like what our Coastside has to offer different from car noises, horns, traffic and multiple amounts of people you need to move back where you came from and find someplace that better suits you. Don't come here and try to change what is beautiful and enjoyed.




Once again the wealthy who are eroding our community and treating locals like dirt are trying to eliminate something that has been part of our history for decades. What gives them the right to change our community and shame on the coast guard for cooperating. I have lived here 30 years and one "over the hiller" tried to shut down the horn years ago and did not succeed. Don't let the new people with all the money control our community.The foghorn is not a problem, fixing our roads or controlling beach waste is. So, if you don't like the foghorn, go back where you came from.


Well said


So you lived here for 30 and has not done much to improve? Well, then let someone who can. If you don't like improvement, then go back to where you came from.

John Charles Ullom

Wow. Kind of mean thing to say. It is just a horn. I like it. Others don't.

Haven't we gotten past love it or leave it ism? Sad how folks are using a silly issue like this to call out members in their community.


Keep the foghorn at full strength. After over 20 years on the Coastside, I still love hearing it at night for it lulls me to sleep.


If you move to an area and dont like the sounds that have been there for Decades, ie.. airports, factories or FOG HORNS, Move back to where you came from, YOU made the mistake not the others around you. YOU ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT or SPECIAL!


Neither are you. Move back to where you came from.

John Charles Ullom

My goodness. Shocking amount of uppercase angst on display here.

John Charles Ullom

May 28, 1998: --

Here we are, 23 years later. Same Bat time. Same Bat channel.

This will not stand!!! Blow the Horn!!!!

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