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Council vote: Sheriff will patrol HMB

 | Published on 4/4/2011



In an emotional vote, the Half Moon Bay City Council unanimously approved contracting out police services to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office to save the city about $510,000 annually.

The 5-0 vote took place in a special meeting Saturday.

“I knew all along we would have to outsource police,” Mayor Naomi Patridge told the Daily Journal Sunday. “It was very emotional for me.”

Patridge had to take a break from Saturday’s meeting before calling the vote to gain her composure, she said.

The council also voted Saturday to outsource parks and recreation services to the city of San Carlos to save about $185,000 annually.

Half Moon Bay faces a $1 million ongoing structural deficit and a failed sales tax on last November’s ballot, meant to save the police department, forced the city to look elsewhere to provide police services. The city’s total operating costs are about $10.6 million annually.

Last year, Half Moon Bay spent $3.5 million on its own police force. The Sheriff’s Office proposes to provide the service next year for about $2.4 million. 

The council weighed two bids for the service, one with the county and the other with the city of Pacifica.

Pacifica’s lowest proposal to provide the service, however, was about $2.9 million.

“Half Moon Bay is now at the forefront of the shared services movement with contracting recreation with the city of San Carlos and police services with the county,” said Councilwoman Marina Fraser.  

With the downward economy it has forced cities to start to look at alternatives in how to deliver quality services to the community, Fraser said.  

“As it is sad to give up the identity of having a local police department, economics are forcing this realization to save money, particularly with smaller cities,” Fraser said.

The Sheriff’s Office recently took over police services in San Carlos and patrols Woodside, Portola Valley and coastal communities north and south of Half Moon Bay. In San Carlos, sheriff’s deputies patrol the city in cars marked with the city’s decal. That arrangement could also be the case in Half Moon Bay, although those details have yet to be discussed.

Half Moon Bay has suffered a 45 percent reduction in staff since 2005 and already has the lowest staffing ratios in the county, according to the city manager’s office.

The city was also hit with court-ordered settlement in 2209 related to the botched Beachwood development that is costing it about $1 million a year for the next 30 years.