San Mateo’s first woman mayor, Jane Baker, spent years of her life in a passionate effort to save Sugarloaf Mountain from development.
Although she died nearly two years ago at the age of 88, her legacy to preserve the hillside between San Mateo and Belmont will live on as the city just received a $50,000 gift from her trust to preserve and maintain Sugarloaf Mountain.
The gesture prompted Mayor David Lim to request a study session to consider renaming Laurelwood Park to “Jane Baker Park” along with a plaque that highlights her efforts.
“Sugarloaf would not be there without Mayor Baker’s efforts, so naming the park in her honor would be a fitting tribute,” Lim wrote in an email.
Her husband Bill Baker unexpectedly paid a visit to City Hall Wednesday and asked to see City Manager Susan Loftus.
He handed Loftus the check and a note that read the money was a gift, including the principal and any interest earned, for the maintenance and preservation of the city-owned area known as Sugarloaf to keep it in its natural state.
Loftus asked Bill Baker to come to a City Council meeting for recognition of the gift, but he declined. He told Loftus he just wanted to make sure the money went to good use.
The city had already planned to acknowledge the Sugarloaf volunteer trail makers at a City Council meeting in July since it will be Parks and Recreation Month and will likely recognize the Baker gift at that meeting.
Baker was first elected to the City Council in 1973 and served on it for 20 years. Called a “trailblazer” by her former colleagues, Baker was the likely impetus for term limits in San Mateo after winning five elections.
She also lobbied hard to be called a “councilwoman” rather than “councilmember” as her male counterparts on the council took the title of “councilman.”
She was known to be anti-development and began her political career in the campaign to save open space on Sugarloaf Mountain in San Mateo in the early 1970s.
She was only the second woman to be elected to the council and was appointed mayor six times.
Before moving to San Mateo, she was the hostess and producer of a television cooking show in San Francisco.
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