The $3 million project to reduce traffic lanes and parking along North San Mateo Drive is known by planners as a “road diet” — but business owner Michael Luzzi sees it as starvation.

“It’s going to put us all out of business,” said Luzzi, 71.

He’s been at the 700 N. San Mateo Drive address since opening Tri Audio Sound in 1978 and believes a squeeze play is underway.

“They want me out of here,” Luzzi said.

An adjoining business closed after the city pursued code enforcement on parking at the site, he recounted.

At a third business, California Autobody & Repair, technician Keith Mackenzie talked about how already difficult vehicle access to the business will worsen with the city project.

“When they shut down two lanes it’s going to be a mess,” Mackenzie said.

San Mateo sees housing for the future of North San Mateo Drive and the days of independent automotive businesses along the road are numbered, he said.

Ilya Rosenthal, owner of California Autobody & Repair, is skeptical of government and its plans.

“I’m from Russia,” Rosenthal said. “I know it’s all B.S.”

At the City Council meeting Jan. 6 plans for the project won praise from Adam Loraine who said the work is a great example of what San Mateo needs to do if it wants to meet goals in the city’s climate action plan to reduce emissions.

San Mateo resident Loraine said Wednesday that he rides his bike along North San Mateo Drive to Burlingame and that the city project brings the potential for more customer traffic along the road.

An additional traffic signal, enhanced striping and extending curbs further into the street to make pedestrians more visible are also part of the “sustainable street” proposal that will reduce traffic down to two lanes from four, with a center turn lane.

The City Council was told Jan. 6 that about 20 parking spaces will be removed in the project along North San Mateo Drive from Peninsula Avenue to Baldwin Avenue.

North San Mateo Drive is slated to be a major route for bicyclists through San Mateo and into Burlingame.

San Mateo Councilwoman Diane Papan said at the January meeting that a bike tour with Public Works showed the route to be one of the more treacherous areas in the city.

“I’m absolutely delighted it’s going forward,” Papan said of the project.

Brad Underwood, Public Works director for San Mateo, said Wednesday that the project is part of the city’s effort to accommodate other modes of travel.

About 4% of parking spaces along the 1-mile project will be eliminated.

“There’s going to be minor impact to parking,” Underwood said.

He said of the lane reduction that, “We don’t believe that has an effect on businesses at all.”

Traffic on San Mateo Drive does not exceed the need for more than one lane in each direction, Underwood said.

The fate of land along the route — including whether housing is built — is a decision landowners make rather than the city, the Public Works director said.

“Whether it gets developed,” he said, “is up to individual property owners.”

The North San Mateo Drive work scheduled to start in the spring is not a new project, Underwood added.

“This project has been in the making for many years,” he said.

Audio Sound owner Luzzi doesn’t believe the road diet work can be blocked.

“There’s no way we can stop a $3 million project,” he said.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

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