Letter to San Mateo City Council members about planned increase in parking in downtown San Mateo.
Hello Mr Matthews and Mr Lim
I read about the recent parking meeting in the SM Daily Journal and wanted to contact you with my thoughts as a resident, father of 3, driver and cyclist. I think the idea of adding even more parking and more cars to the down town area is the opposite direction San Mateo needs to go. A city our size should be looking at reducing access to cars down town and bolstering it's walkability and rideability.
We live in the Highlands, so visiting downtown usually, not always, involves a car drive. We also ride in by bike from time to time, during less peak times only, because it's unsafe otherwise.
There is too much parking in downtown San Mateo already. There are too many cars in downtown San Mateo. Not enough pedestrian and bike friendly access. The sidewalks are narrow. Adding yet more parking to San Mateo isn't going to make the area more attractive for couples or families to linger and enjoy the downtown area. It will simply add more cars to the downtown area, making it even more unpleasant for people looking to do more than an in-and-out of one shop and go home.
Less parking and more pedestrian space means a better sticky reason to stay in the area, rather than zoom in park and leave. There's already plenty of parking in the surrounding area of the downtown that goes empty during peak hours.
San Mateo downtown is unsafe to walk around due to all these cars. It's also unbearably unsafe to ride a bike around unless you are an experienced commuter and an adult. During the evening I would never feel safe taking my family into town in the evening by bicycle to have dinner and see a movie and possibly do some shopping later and yet I would LOVE to do this and I know other families would also love to be able ride in to downtown and explore rather than have to get into a car, find a parking spot and so forth.
And- there are actually cities who enable this and promote this. Let's follow their lead and get out of our 'car brains' for a bit.
To become an actual destination where people will want to shop and linger, downtown needs a larger pedestrian area, more bike lanes and more out door activities. Look at what is going on in Redwood City and other towns where they've created a reason to actually get out of a car, shop and enjoy a downtown area.
Instead of a downtown flooded by cars between 6 and 8, try to imagine a down town with families and couples streaming in by bicycles during these times, because they are want to really enjoy an evening. Let's see some bands playing out doors in the square in front of the theater. This is what I see in Redwood City around those times and on weekends. Let's promote and build that.
We have great weather in San Mateo. Rather than pay nearly $4 million on 400 new parking places in the next ten years, put that towards building and promoting a walkable and rideable downtown. So what if we have to walk a little further to get to a restaurant or the movies. The end result is so much more healthy for people and the town itself.
San Mateo, CA