San Mateo is embarking on several parking mitigation programs to address North Central parking removal caused by the North Central Bike Lanes Project, with Public Works Director Azalea Mitch planning other long-term initiatives.
“The intent here is to continue to work with the community over the long term to determine how best to meet parking needs, particularly the parking supply issue,” Mitch said.
North Central residents are now eligible for programs that offer front driveway parking, red driveway tilting and handicap parking options. For tipping, city crews may place red curbs on either side of a driveway at the request of a local resident to prevent others from blocking it. The city introduced the programs after complaints about cars blocking driveways. Residents living in a single family home or semi-detached home with eligible street parking may have their driveway blocked. The vehicle must be parked parallel to and in front of the driveway, with any cars blocking the sidewalk facing fines or towing. Eligible residents can now request street-accessible parking next to an ADA-compliant curb ramp closest to their address. Residents must complete an application for the ADA program.
“We’re trying to respond to the challenges we’ve heard from the community,” Mitch said.
The city is currently evaluating other parking options in North Central, including overnight parking and a parking permit program. San Mateo is considering converting the Martin Luther King Community Center parking lot on Monte Diablo Avenue to a nighttime use. The Department of Public Works and Department of Parks and Recreation are coordinating options. Parks and Recreation manage the facility and have programming needs for parking making finding a solution difficult. City officials will present potential ideas for a viable parking permit program at a community-led meeting on April 13, with possible council direction in June.
“The [permit parking] Program can be structured in many different ways. We want to share these ideas with the community and ask for feedback so we can decide what type of program to go ahead with,” Mitch said.
Mitch was optimistic that several effective options being considered could work with the right feedback and long-term planning.
“I think we can come up with a viable program. The question is what the community prefers,” Mitch said.
The mitigation programs stem from the installation of bike lanes in North Central along Humboldt Street and East Poplar Avenue that removed 214 parking spaces. Bike lanes will be added on East Poplar Avenue from El Camino Real to North Delaware Street, North Delaware Street from East Poplar Avenue to Indian Avenue, and Humboldt Street from Peninsula Avenue to Fifth Avenue.
A bicycle boulevard would be added on Indian Avenue from Delaware Street to North Humboldt Street, Poplar Avenue from Delaware Street to Eldorado Street, and Eldorado Street from Poplar Avenue to Indian Avenue. Approximately 170 parking spaces will be eliminated on the west side of Humboldt Street from Peninsula Avenue to Fifth Avenue and 43 on the south side of Poplar Avenue from El Camino Real to Delaware Street. The council voted 3-2 to approve the controversial project at its February 22 meeting amid public pressure. Teams began paving the area in late February and will complete the project in late April.
The reduction in parking has prompted a neighborhood campaign by some North Central residents in recent months to stop the project. Those opposed say the loss of parking spaces will make parking more difficult for people, particularly the elderly and disabled. Local residents were also concerned it would lead to more parking problems on surrounding streets and for those forced to park in North Central. Others were concerned about the city’s lack of upfront communication and raised concerns about equity in infrastructure projects compared to other San Mateo neighborhoods. Local residents were demanding significant parking mitigation measures such as parking permits due to the loss of parking spaces. The public reaction led to the city council prioritizing parking reduction measures in its strategic plans and city employee direction, with the city council seeking solutions this year.
The city has made expanding cycling infrastructure a key priority in its Cycling Master Plan, which calls for improvements in cycling and walking infrastructure. The project would reduce the city’s carbon footprint and encourage fewer cars. By removing cyclists from shared lanes, cyclists and pedestrians would likely experience improved safety and potentially reduce the risk and frequency of future collisions. From 2017 to 2021 there were 11 bicycle accidents on the project corridor and 30 in the neighborhood.
The programs are now available following an ongoing door-to-door mailing campaign about the programs. Mitch said the city plans to use the project’s budget to pay for the programs. However, the budget requirements for the programs also determine the costs and how the city pays for them.