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A Year to Remember in Half Moon Bay

With a Mavericks death, tsunami, multiple gang shootings and the dissolution of the police department, 2011 was a year Half Moon Bay residents won't easily forget.

A year of top-headline news kept Half Moon Bay in the spotlight throughout 2011 and local residents on their toes.

The events that unfolded in the city and along the surrounding Coastside from Montara to Pescadero made waves as far as Hawaii and Hollywood, questioned residents' assumptions about the place they call home, and changed Half Moon Bay forever.

With three major incidents at the big wave surf break and another shakeup in the contest administration that put founder , Mavericks was never far from locals' lips in 2011.

Standout surfer from Hawaii while catching the last waves of the season at Mavericks in March after being held down by two big waves. Just two months earlier, Southern Californian Jacob Trette was rushed to Stanford Hospital after a at the break. He survived. Rounding out the year, Hollywood star Gerard Butler was also in December after being held down at Mavericks while filming final scenes of the movie "." Butler also survived.

Less than a week before Milosky's death, Half Moon Bay was shaken by a that hit local shores as a result of the in Japan. San Mateo County officials issued a voluntary evacuation of hundreds living in low-lying coastal areas, and the roads leading out of town with concerned residents.

Though there was no significant visible damage where the tsunami hit the area at , the city of Half Moon Bay declared a .

A week later, staff at the California State Parks ranger station at Francis Beach (a part of ) observed what one experienced meteorologist called a . Witnesses observed a picnic table turning cartwheels as its force swept through the area. A tree was downed and a fence uprooted.

In January, Francis Beach was the scene of a monthlong saga that began when the Phyllis J crabbing boat and landed on its shores. A multiagency response team and worked against the tide to the boat up the beach and what was left of the vessel. Local residents were captivated by the and celebrated when it made its way back to owner Larry Fortado's yard in Princeton in the middle of the night.

Not all of the year's top news stories were centered at the coastline. Over the summer, Half Moon Bay entered a after dissolving its recreation department and police department, while Pacifica Community Television El Granada-based Midcoast Community Television in September as the Half Moon Bay Coastside's public television provider after over 20 years. Recreation was to the city of San Carlos and the police was to the San Mateo County Sheriff after an emotional vote by the city council and Mayor , who worked as the 's first police matron.

The Sheriff's Office had barely gotten settled in their new home in Half Moon Bay when in the city's Arleta Park neighborhood in August.  Deputies rushed to the scene. Hours after the shooting, authorities confirmed that the incident was gang related. Norteño Christian Serrano DeLeon emerged as the prime suspect for allegedly shooting at three rival Sureño gang members.

One was shot in the chest and another was shot in the foot (and possibly grazed in the hand); both survived. Two months later, one of the victims was as a suspect in a Sureño on Norteño shooting in an apparent retaliation.

Weeks after the first shooting, hundreds packed a held jointly by the city and the Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Greg Munks and his deputies spoke to residents about how to interpret and .

In an unlikely coincidence, two individuals with ties to Half Moon Bay suffered on the Hawaiian island of Maui over Labor Day weekend in September. Former deputy city attorney Celestial Cassman in an alleged homicide and domestic violence incident while vacationing on the island with boyfriend and Santa Cruz resident Gerald Galaway. Galaway was arrested as a in the case and pleaded not guilty during his arraignment.

Just two days later, Half Moon Bay resident John Caughlin lost his right arm and hand after it got caught in a passing boat's propeller wash during the Maui Channel Swim. Less than a month later, Caughlin reported on his blog.

Come back soon for the second part of Half Moon Bay Patch's 2011's year in review for news on the Half Moon Bay Coastside.

To receive news feeds about Half Moon Bay and the unincorporated Coastside between Montara and Pescadero, visit Half Moon Bay Patch on Facebook and "like" us here. Follow us on Twitter here.

Marcia Traversaro December 30, 2011 at 03:55 PM
As we welcome mysterious 2012, it would be helpful to review the positive actions of 2011, in addition to the major negative headlines. I believe we can rejoice in the many blessings our communities offer and delight in the countless actions of kindnesses and helpful programs we have in place. It would be nice for news agencies to allow space for the joyful, so we may redirect our focus and celebrate our accomplishments.
Laura McHugh December 30, 2011 at 07:05 PM
It was a big year in HMB and on the coast. Feels like a time of transition. The year, in general out there, was difficult economically and politically with the outfall of the 2008 market crash continuing to hit in deeper and more significant ways. People are hurting, more and more as conditions don't pick up as swiftly as we would all like. I hope 2012 is a time when more positive things happen that are worthy of the top headlines.
Kristine Wong December 31, 2011 at 03:31 AM
Thanks for your comment and sharing your point of view on this, Marcia. I agree that making space for the kind of news you mention above is important. The events highlighted in this piece were not chosen specifically as "negative" news but rather as what stood out as major incidents over the last year. It's a coincidence that most of the content here is gloomy, but Part II will have up notes as well. Here at Half Moon Bay Patch we publish stories despite whether they might be uplifting (or the opposite) on any given reader as our goal is to inform and spark discussion that may lead to deeper insight and understanding of what takes place at a local and regional level.
Kristine Wong December 31, 2011 at 03:34 AM
This is true, Laura. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

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