To help address neighborhood traffic and overcrowding issues related to the Eucalyptus Avenue holiday celebrations, the San Carlos City Council Monday will discuss potential extra policing and safety enforcement to mitigate growing problems and ease resident concerns.
The meeting 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 13, is to discuss and potentially approve spending $110,550 this year and the same amount next year from the city’s general fund to address public safety issues, for a total of $221,100. Police staffing will cost $32,000, security staffing $17,000, traffic control devices $50,000 and portable restroom facilities and trash removal $11,500.
The Eucalyptus Avenue celebration is a yearly event around Halloween and Christmas, featuring blocks of Eucalyptus Avenue homes in San Carlos decorated with lights and decorations. Most houses in the area participate, leading to Eucalyptus Avenue becoming a well-known stop for visitors during the holiday season. People from throughout the Bay Area come to visit, and it can often take 45 minutes to drive through the street while people stop to look in their cars.
The growing celebration, particularly in 2020, led to the city receiving many complaints about lights in December, leading to substantial community outreach for potential solutions over the past year, according to a staff report. Concerns about large events during the pandemic also led to additional worries about the spread of COVID and public safety. A community survey of 106 responses from San Carlos addresses found 67% were concerned about crowd size, 54% safety for pedestrians and emergency personnel access and 54% for trash. Many expressed concern that it had grown beyond a small, local community event like in years past. Others reported the holiday lights were getting out of hand and commented, “we are the victims of our own success.”
Outreach found crowds were exceptionally large last year, possibly due to no other events because of COVID. More people are also coming from outside the Peninsula due to publicity on social media and holiday event lists. Concerns about public safety revolved around children’s safety, traffic accidents, parked cars hit, lack of emergency access, air pollution, visitors acting unsafe and possible COVID spread.
The city held two community meetings in May and July for residents to gather resident feedback. It developed a list of actions for potential implementation based on the resident’s concerns.
The community said it appreciated the family-friendly nature and holiday spirit, noting they enjoyed spending time with family and friends, creating community tradition and holding an event unique to San Carlos. However, they suggested increased police presence, additional sanitary options, limiting the days and hours of operation for lights and restricting access to San Carlos community members. Others wanted to make Eucalyptus one-way, bus visitors over, shut down at 9:30 p.m. and more city involvement. There were also significant calls for city permits to be issued for putting up lights and putting on the event, with some saying the celebration was now a crowded event that required city approval and control.
The public can watch the meeting on Zoom or local television. People can go to the city’s meeting portal at sancarlosca.iqm2.com/citizens/default.aspx to find out more about the topic.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102