The Main Street looked sad. Along both sides of it, many storefronts were empty. On the street, garbage blew along with the wind past small groups of people dressed in clothes which were dirty, and gang tagging marks along the street and walls. The park in the center of town was missing many chairs, and the ones there were filled with people looking listless and bored. It could be Half Moon Bay, but it’s not.

Last Saturday, we met some friends from out of town at Mac Dutra Plaza and we took a walk through the city, which was alive and busy. We went past the bustling farmers market, thanks to the work and care of local farmers, the City Council and volunteers. The streets were lined with eye-grabbing, colorful hanging baskets, I assume thanks to the City Council and the Beautification Committee. There was no garbage, thanks in part to the contract the city has with Abundant Grace where people at risk for homelessness are employed. The many filled storefronts were open after almost three years of the pandemic, thanks to brave and persistent entrepreneurs as well as the Revitalizing Downtown effort of the City Council.

No gang tagging was seen, partially because our community has many positive activities for young people to engage in. In many stores children were encouraged to enter and participate looking for “Waldo,” thanks to Ink Spell Books and other businesses getting together to give the children something to do. The Library has many programs, and summer sports leagues and camps are busy, as well as the Boys and Girls Club and Park and Rec.

Walking through the town felt very safe. One of the programs the City Council has fostered, Coastside Cares is available to respond to non-police emergencies and hook people up to mental health and drug and alcohol services. People who are homeless now have Abundant Grace to fall back on, as well as the new homeless shelter.

Our walk extended to the south Main Street, past the senior complex, Main Street Housing and a renovated Ocean View Plaza, created thanks to decades of meetings and work, and collaboration, between Senior Coastsiders, the Coastside Adult Day Health Center, Mercy Housing and Mid-Peninsula Housing. Obviously, there are many unseen volunteer board hours.

When the pandemic happened, Coastside Hope, Ayudando Latinos a Soñar and Abundant Grace joined forces very quickly to provide a safety net so that there was food and a separation from desperation.

So in this world of too much energy being diverted in fear and political divide, we are indeed fortunate, but it is clear that the good fortune is not accidental. It is a result of dedicated and hard-working people on the City Council, local agencies and local businesses working hard with the county and each other to face the real needs and problems and do concrete things to address them.

Now it is up to all of us to help avoid the first tale and help the second tale to continue. How? Buy local, give a dollar, lend a hand and be appreciative of our HMB City Council members: Debbie Ruddock, Deborah Penrose, Robert Brownstone, Joaquin Jimenez and Harvey Rarback.

MaryEm Wallace

Half Moon Bay

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(2) comments


What a powerful poignant article. Mary Em Wallace the author of this article was/is a strong influential woman in this Tale of Two Cities equation!

Thank you Mary Em for all your hands on effort in the past, along with your behind the scenes input in the now!

Great to visualize your optimism once again!!

John Charles Ullom

If you want to see a tale of two cities, check out what is happening on the bike path under the bridge. Check out the homeless encampments upstream and down stream of Carter Park.

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