The San Mateo City Council’s decision to reopen the “Safe Streets” (June 28 article in the Daily Journal) was a nice gesture, especially considering the cost ($100,000 the first year, $50,000 every year after, or $4,000 a month).

I drive in and near the streets noted in the article daily and cannot fathom those costs, considering the only visible changes were what was shown on the front page of the newspaper. Two barriers blocking half a lane at each intersection where the “Safe Streets” were in effect. Except for the initial cost of the signs and paying an already employed public works employee to stage the signs, somebody explain to me a $4,000 per month expenditure for maintaining signs that never moved during the closures. And I never saw anything, other than street cleaning, being done to maintain the streets. So where were the cost expenditures? I rarely, if ever, saw anyone walking, jogging or riding a bike on those streets any more than what I saw on adjoining streets.

In addition, it may have forced drivers to reroute themselves, however, that just caused more vehicles to use the other streets. How does that add safety to the overall neighborhoods? It didn’t take any more cars off the road. Drivers still drove their cars, vans and delivery trucks in and around the neighborhood, even down the supposedly closed off streets ignoring the signs all together.

In my opinion, this endeavour is just another publicity, picture-taking event for our elected officials to get their names and quotes into the newspaper so come reelection time they can point to this circus act as one of their commitments to “improving our community.” Even spinning the absolute failure of this “Safe Street” initiative into a positive per Amourence Lee’s quote, “I really think it served an important purpose. It was a very  community driven process (read councilmembers), and at this point in time, I don’t think that the cost justification is there. Ya think Amo?

Bob Wackerman

San Mateo

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(1) comment

Terence Y

Thank you for your letter, Mr. Wackerman. Maybe someone from the SM City Council will enlighten us as to why the costs are so high for a few barriers. Perhaps the cost of a new “Safe Streets” czar position is $50,000 annually? The costs of annual studies to determine the best location of safe streets and barrier locations? The added costs for street services folks to get out of their vehicles, move the barriers so garbage or streets are cleaned, and then return the barriers to their correct location? Monies that are actually put into a slush fund for off-the-books expenditures?

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