San Mateo, CA – February 17, 2015 – The City of San Mateo has moved from platitudes about driving less to a practical manual that will change the city landscape. The Sustainable Streets Plan, which was accepted on Feb. 17 by City Council, creates a foundation to transform the streets into a first-class multimodal network and improve overall quality of the public realm.

“The city cares about peoples’ lives and [the plan] is moving us toward looking at things from a safety perspective rather than just moving people as fast as we can,” says Ken Chin, San Mateo Public Works Project Manager, in the Daily Journal. “It’s not about just getting people from A to B as fast as can be, it’s about looking at everything as a network and making sure we get people there in a safe manner.”

DNA of City Changed

The plan is noteworthy for the way it aligns policy language with design requirements, performance metrics, and analysis in a way that is rarely done. The Sustainable Streets Plan uses vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita as one of its transportation impact metrics, a direction the state is moving toward, and suggests a Sustainable Streets Fee. That revenue would fund Complete Streets and Green Streets improvements, transit infrastructure enhancements, and other projects that facilitate the development of a more balanced and safer transportation system.

The City of San Mateo also focused on redesigning and repairing streets and coping with a large volume of stormwater runoff that was contaminated with pollutants. A key element of the plan includes a network-based and green-streets reflective street typology, described in the accompanying Design Guidelines. Other key elements include the routine integration of green infrastructure, multimodal and quality of life performance metrics, and a citywide Transportation Demand Management Plan.

“In one document, you’re talking about everything from green street features that are going to divert stormwater from the sewer system, to trees, and safety, and managing transportation, and how the city looks and feels,” says Councilmember Joe Goethals.

Educational Series

The City of San Mateo won the community over with a well-attended educational series, bringing people together with free food and interesting speakers. The monthly Taste and Talk forums covered a wide variety of topics, including the link between transportation and land use and health, innovative bike/pedestrian designs, smart parking management, and how to green your streets.

San Mateo, a first ring suburb on the commuter rail line between San Francisco and San Jose, is typical of mid-sized California cities. The Sustainable Streets Plan and the outreach process could be a model for similar cities across the country.

“Innovation takes leadership, and Ken Chin was a great partner who built consensus by bringing together the community, departments and regional agencies,” says Jessica Alba, Nelson\Nygaard Principal and Sustainable Streets Project Manager. “As a downtown San Mateo resident, I can’t wait to see the recommendations realized and for my kids to grow up in a safe and sustainable place.”