Carter park illustration

Plans for Carter Park were bolstered by an influx of cash from the state budget. Illustration courtesy city of Half Moon Bay

One of Half Moon Bay’s more underutilized parks got a major contribution from the state last month that the city hopes will speed up development and bolster the local arts scene.

Thanks to some last-minute efforts and ongoing relationships between the city and state Assemblyman Marc Berman, the state budget has designated $4.75 million for the John L. Carter Memorial Park Renovation Project in Half Moon Bay.

Berman, whose District 24 includes Half Moon Bay, advocated for the funding as part of Senate Bill 129 Budget Act of 2021, which the Legislature passed on June 28. Berman visited Half Moon Bay and Carter Park two years ago and noted its potential to be a community hub for music festivals and events.

The city’s Parks Master Plan identified Carter Park, located near the Main Street Bridge between the Stone Pine Shopping Center and Pilarcitos Creek, as an underutilized open space near Half Moon Bay’s downtown. The proposed development includes a new 440-person capacity amphitheater, stage, playground, restrooms and walking trail at Pilarcitos Creek. The plans also call for increased signage and a ramp near the staircase to make the park more accessible Once completed, the renovations are expected to bolster the park’s plays and musical events.

The $4.75 million is expected to go toward construction. In total, the project is estimated to cost $6 million. The city has raised more than $550,000 for the project but doesn’t have all the funds to cover those remaining expenses. City officials say they will likely need other grants or slowly raise funds to pay for completion.

City Manager Bob Nisbet told the City Council in mid-June that staff received notice from Berman’s office that it had three hours to apply for Carter Park funds. The city formally sent a letter with Berman to the governor and the State Budget Committee on June 16.

“If it slips through this year, because it’s one of those budget years, that would be an enormous coup for the city,” Nisbet told the council on June 15.

The city has been hoping the state would fund the renovations since 2019 when it asked Berman to request $1 million for planning costs. Those funds were not cleared two years ago, and the pandemic delayed further progress last year.

August Howell is a staff writer for the Review covering city government and public safety. Previously, he was the Review’s community, arts and sports reporter. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon.

(4) comments

John Charles Ullom

We have a park which nobody uses. Obviously if we spend a few million of OPM, people will use it!! Right?

Converting the park into a homeless encampment would be a better use. heck, planting weeds put there and letting nature reclaim it is a better option then spending money on a park nobody uses.

I would ask the question, "Why does nobody use the park." I would ask that because there is no use in spending money if it does not address the reason as to why nobody uses it.

Belay that thought. Our council would hire a consultant for $29,500 who would tell them exactly what they wanted to hear. Then they would spend the OPM anyways. So, nix the idea of figuring out the best way to spend the money to attract folks to a park nobody uses. Just spend it. After all, money is free and it's not like anybody has to actually pay for anything our wise leaders bestow upon such as we.

Steve Hyman

I think we need to send City Hall and our Council to rehab.

They are suffering from long term spending addiction with money they don’t have. And let’s not forget the City had to get debt relief on our library and then when out and borrowed more money to buy again the $3 million parking lot and Ritz like garage their building for $1 million.

Sure it would be nice to fix up the park. But get your finances in order first.


Why don't we start with some basic improvements in the area instead of overblown and costly projects? The place is a dump and has been for a long time with little to no upkeep despite repeat requests to the city. The bushes towards the creek are overgrown, full of trash; we have seen homeless camps and I see the park regularly used as a toilet. It stinks. The mall area next to it is rundown and dirty with trash overflowing every single weekend for days. How about we start there to make this area appeal to locals before going big and again attract people from all over?


Boy they sure no how to spend other people's money! Seriously that much money on a small Downtown park? Hey buy another no problem.

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