View from Johnston Ranch uplands looking towards Half Moon Bay. (Leigh Ann Gessner)

Johnston Ranch Property

Midpen is partnering with the City of Half Moon Bay and the nonprofit Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) to continue protecting the Johnston Ranch property, on the south edge of Half Moon Bay, as open space and farmland. The 868-acre property, once slated for a golf course, is currently owned by POST. The City of Half Moon Bay owns the historic Johnston House located on the property.

On November 11, 2021, the Midpen board of directors approved the purchase of a 644-acre portion of the undeveloped uplands area of the property for $4.8 million from the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). Read the press release here. Once a lot line adjustment process with San Mateo County is complete, Midpen will own 644 acres of the upland portions of the property and POST will retain ownership of 224 acres containing prime agricultural land for future sale to a farmer, permanently protected from future development by a conservation easement. The City of Half Moon Bay will continue to own the historic Johnston House, located on the property. 

Map of Johnston Ranch property.
Icon of shaking hands with a mountain in the background.
Land Preservation
illustration of the sun setting over hills
illustration of a bird in flight next to the letters MAA
Measure AA

Goals and Objectives

Midpen has been working on the San Mateo County Coastside since 2004 to protect open space, restore the natural environment and preserve working lands and rural character. To date, Midpen has preserved more than 11,000 acres of natural and agricultural lands on the coast. The  purchase of the Johnston Ranch Property uplands aligns with: 

  • Midpen's Coastal mission to acquire and preserve in perpetuity open space land and agricultural land of regional significance, protect and restore the natural environment, preserve rural character, encourage viable agricultural use of land resources, and provide opportunities for ecologically sensitive public enjoyment and education.
  • Midpen's community-supported Vision Plan Portfolio #1 Miramontes Ridge: Gateway to the Coast Public Access, Stream Restoration and Agricultural Enhancements.

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Midpen's purchase of the Johnston Ranch uplands continues to protect 1.2 miles of Arroyo Leon creek (tributary to Pilarcitos Creek) that provides potential spawning and rearing habitat for steelhead trout. The purchase also provides opportunities for new community connections to nearby nature by expanding and connecting local trail systems. The City of Half Moon Bay is working on a pedestrian/bike trail that connects nearby Higgins Canyon Rd. to downtown. 

Future opportunities, that would require a public process and environmental review, include: 

  • Easy-access loop trail near Johnston House. 
  • Access into Midpen’s existing and adjacent Miramontes Ridge Open Space Preserve, which currently has no public access due to geographic isolation. 
  • Connections to existing trails in adjacent Burleigh Murray Ranch State Park.
Funded by Measure AA 2014 Open Space Bond


This project is funded by Measure AA, a bond passed by local voters in 2014.

Project Partners