Foster City is a planned community created from what was once tidal salt marshes. By 1898 levees turned these salt marshes into Brewers Island, used for cattle grazing and salt ponds. Then in 1958 a developer named Jack Foster had a bright idea — to create a beautiful city out of this barren, marshy island. By 1971 it was incorporated.
Over a period of 6 years during the early 1960s, Foster had 14 million cubic yards of material pumped in from the bottom of San Francisco Bay to raise the elevation of Brewers Island up from sea level to an average of 4-7 feet. To solve flooding problems on this low-lying land a central lagoon-like drainage basin was placed in the middle of the City. Now, if ever needed for flood protection, lagoon water can be pumped back into the Bay at a rate of up to 250,000 gallons/minute. As a bonus the lagoon greatly enhanced the attractiveness of Foster’s new city.
Unlike most cities which grow helter skelter, Foster City is a master planned community, Therefore, provisions were made from the start for plenty of parks with a focus on the maintenance and appearance of both private and public property. The end result is today’s beautiful and liveable city.
Foster City is surrounded by water which adds greatly to its beauty and recreational opportunities. San Francisco Bay is on the north & east, Belmont Slough lies southeast between Foster City and Redwood Shores, and Marina Lagoon (Seal & O’Neal Sloughs) lies southwest between Foster City and San Mateo.
Within the city itself wanders over 16 miles of man-made canals (operating as drainage channels in fact) known as the Foster City Lagoon. They provide water frontage to many houses which creates a resort-like atmosphere. This lagoon contains 425 million gallons of water covering 218 surface acres to an average depth of six foot. Its temperature stays about 60 degrees in the winter and 69 degrees during summer.
Excellent water quality is maintained through regular testing. You can swim in it. It is not very salty to the taste even though the lagoon water is exchanged with water from the Bay on a regular basis . Dogs will even drink it. Small bait fish and water fowl, especially during migration season, are common.
The beautiful blue color comes from an environmentally safe pond dye whose purpose is to block sunlight and thus disrupt photsynthesis in plant life including algae. This impedes the growth of aquatic weeds which otherwise might take over during the summer.
Weather is usually excellent, often Mediterranean resort-like. Summers are dry and warm with the average maximum temperature in July of 80.8 degrees. Winters are mild but cooler and wet. The coldest month, December, has an average minimum temperature of 38.6 degrees. The wettest month is January with an average rainfall of 4.20 inches.
During most of the year there will be a breeze peaking around 3-5 pm in the afternoons, usually from the west through the mountain pass (Highway 92) to Half Moon Bay. We’ve also noticed that Foster City has many small micro-climates. While out in the open or on the windward side (of a group of buildings or trees) it can get very breezy (especially near the golf course where they kite surf) and cold … while on the leeward side it can be quite warm and pleasant. So, by moving around the city or even around a building you can usually find your own perfect temperature.
By the way, water temperature in the lagoon is about 60 degrees in the winter and 69 degrees in the summer.
Foster City has more parks per capita than any other city in California. It boasts over 160 acres of park (21 parks within city limits) and open space land including walking & bike paths, dog exercise areas, a lighted softball field, numerous soccer and youth baseball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic facilities, bocce ball courts, a wildlife refuge and the multi-use San Francisco Bay Trail.
Foster City’s lagoon system with its 16 miles of waterways provides numerous water sports opportunities. Sailing, paddleboarding, kayaking and windsurfing on the beautiful blue lagoon are some of the most popular. Rentals & lessons are available at some sites.
RECREATION PROGRAMS top
In addition to hosting over 20 community events a year, the City Parks and Recreation Department offers a variety of classes, camps, and programs for all ages to enjoy! Most are held at the City Recreation Center in Leo J Ryan Park.
- Water related regulations – Boating, fishing swimming. Power boats are prohibited at all times within the City (but are allowed in Marina Lagoon nextdoor in San Mateo … see below).
- Marina Lagoon Regulations – Marina Lagoon, part of San Mateo, lies immediately to the west of Foster City roughly parallel to Highway 101. Powerboats are allowed.
- Dog Regulations – Dog rules vary from park to park, but all require that you clean up after your dog and keep animals on leash unless specially designated. The off-leash fenced-in Foster City Dog Park is open from 6 am – 10 pm daily. There are also five other parks where dogs may be off leash in designated areas from 5 am – 8 am daily.
- Facility Regulations & Rentals – Athletic Field Regulations, Park Rentals, Community & Recreation Center Rentals
Foster City is one of the nation’s safest cities. The city-data.com crime rate for 2012 was 69.9 as compared with a U.S. average of 301.1 and a 411.8 average for San Francisco (lower means less crime).
The Police Force is far more effective than anywhere else we have lived. It is well staffed and, unlike some other places where police are hard to find, Foster City Officers almost seem to be everywhere looking for trouble no matter how small.
Here are some other advantages which help make Foster City a safe place:
- Because the City is surrounded by water police can easily block the four bridges if needed to prevent the escape of serious perpetrators. Of course gangs and other smart criminals know this so they tend to avoid hanging around.
- The City is full of children whose parents always keep an active look out for strangers. Trouble makers are usually spotted quickly and reported to quickly responding police.
Foster City is surprisingly close time-wise (e.g., usually less than 30 minutes except during rush hours) to the most of the Bay area including San Francisco, Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay and East Bay. It is located near the east end of San Mateo Bridge where Highways 101 and 92 intersect. All you have to do from where ever you are is to find either Highway 101 or Highway 92 and then head the right direction.
To go to the Central Lake Lagoon at Leo J Ryan Park (map) we usually get off Hwy 92 at Foster City Blvd heading south. That will save you from hitting a few stoplights. Or you can head east off Hwy 101 at Hillsdale Blvd. If you are going to a big special event check parking.
RELATED LINKS top
- Creation of Foster City
- Levee and Lagoon Facts
- Lagoon Water Activities & Water Quality
- Parks and Water Information – Includes dog park, park rental and athletic field information
- Parks & Recreation Department – Includes classes, leagues, youth/teen/senior activities
- Extensive statistics on Foster City including crime data. Also maps put out by the City.
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