Press Release - March 16, 2017

Forgotten Residents of the South Coast of San Mateo County Struggle to Meet Basic Needs, Says New Report from Silicon Valley Community Foundation

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – A short drive from one of the wealthiest regions in the world is the South Coast community of San Mateo County, where nearly 3,000 residents struggle to meet their most basic needs. Despite their visitor-friendly, idyllic setting, the four small communities of the South Coast are beset by critical problems: People are forced to live in cramped, unsafe dwellings because of a lack of affordable housing; many schools and homes lack clean drinking water; once-abundant farming and nursery jobs are shrinking; and public transportation is nearly nonexistent, further isolating these residents from essential services. 

A new report, San Mateo County’s Forgotten South Coast Residents, released by Silicon Valley Community Foundation, aims to shed light on the history, depth and impact of these problems, and to provide a roadmap to realistic solutions. SVCF has long supported the region through educational and civic grants, but its leaders have determined that the problems are beyond the scope of any one agency to handle. 

“The facts laid out in this report make it clear that a broader government, business and nonprofit coalition is both possible and necessary to substantially improve the quality of life in this vital part of our region,” said Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D., CEO and president of SVCF. “The conditions and quality of life that some South Coast residents experience would be intolerable in a developing country, and are inexcusable in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.”

The report, written by an investigative journalist with extensive background in covering regional and environmental issues in the region, identified the most pressing issues facing South Coast residents: housing, health care, education, preschool and child care, transportation and infrastructure. Told through personal stories and a study of the region’s governmental, business and civic history, the report details the problems confronting the South Coast, including:  

  • Only one third of farm laborers reside in housing designated for them. The other two thirds, who make less than a quarter of the median household income for San Mateo County, compete for housing in a high-cost, limited-stock rental market, forcing many to live in squalid conditions.  
  • The area’s only medical clinic, which opened in 2015, operates for two hours each week. The nearest emergency room is 45 minutes away.
  • There is only one bus that runs in and out of Pescadero on a daily basis, and no service at all to Santa Cruz, an essential destination for locals.
  • Sewage systems and flood-control measures are in dire need of systemic upgrades, and without them building new housing is impossible.  
  • Harmful chemicals have tainted groundwater, affecting La Honda Elementary and Pescadero Middle/High Schools. 
  • There are no child care centers, laundromats, libraries, emergency rooms, public parks or affordable grocery storesfor community residents.

Together, these problems “represent a serious and ongoing barrier to success, equity and self-determination for hundreds of individuals from the rural South Coast, as well as the dream of prosperity for its communities,” the report notes. 

The report also includes short- and long-term solutions that will require collaboration among several entities, including businesses, government and nonprofit organizations. SVCF is committed to working with these entities to improve conditions in the South Coast, a vital part of our region.

Read the full text of the report.


About Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems. As the largest community foundation in the world, we engage donors and corporations from Silicon Valley, across the country and around the globe to make our region and world better for all. Our passion for helping people and organizations achieve their philanthropic dreams has created a global philanthropic enterprise committed to the belief that possibilities start here. Learn more at