In a dramatic upset victory for residents and sustainability and health advocates, the San Bruno City Council voted 3-2 against proceeding with the next phase of the Skyline Boulevard Widening Project, a $450,000 environmental review. San Bruno city staff and San Mateo County Transportation Authority (SMCTA) officials had hoped to get the required Caltrans Project Initiation Document (PID) finished by late 2018 to qualify the widening for grant funding.
Widening Skyline Boulevard from Sneath Lane to San Bruno Avenue, as proposed, is estimated by a June 2016 study to cost between $35 and $44 million. City Council member and SMCTA Board member Ken Ibarra reported at the meeting that SMCTA is actually now estimating a $66 million cost for the project.
But residents said HECK NO at the Tuesday October 10 City Council meeting. Shocked by the city’s brazen proposal to widen the safe and quiet Eucalyptus-lined two-lane Skyline Boulevard, neighbors showed up in force to fight back. 16 residents spoke against the widening project. No one spoke in favor of it.
“Widening Skyline will just bring traffic off [Highway] 280,” said City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (C/CAG BPAC) member Malcolm Robinson.
“Any change is really a waste of money,” said City Council candidate Laura Davis. “It’s a beautiful scenic area.”
“This idea was born in the 80’s when we had more of an automotive mentality,” said City Council candidate Michael Salazar.
The City Council was split. Marty Medina came out swinging against the widening project. “This isn’t a solution, we don’t even have the money to maintain our streets,” he said. “We need a shuttle [to and from Skyline Boulevard] and we need to fund bicycle and pedestrian safety projects.”
“My direction to staff will be not to proceed,” said City Council member Rico Medina, seated to his fellow Medina’s right.
But Mayor Jim Ruane and City Council member Irene O’Connell favored proceeding with the environmental study. “To do the study gives us information,” said O’Connell. “It doesn’t commit us to anything, and it doesn’t cost us anything.” “I think it’s worth looking at,” said Ruane.
Caltrans would have completed the study by late 2018 if it had been approved, and the widening project would then qualify for a number of state and county grant programs. The SMCTA Measure A Highway Program would pay for up to 90 percent of project costs, with the city on the hook for coming up with the remaining 10 percent, according to new funding policy adopted by the SMCTA Board on October 5.
“I was torn on this,” said Ibarra. “I’m going to stay with what I decided at the Surface Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting. Let’s look at other improvements for Skyline Boulevard.”
The small crowd of about 25 in attendance erupted in applause. Three votes against the project essentially kills the widening project, which the next San Bruno City Council is unlikely to revive given that all three candidates in the November 7 election, Michael Salazar, Marco Durazo, and Laura Davis, attended the meeting and spoke against it.
Democracy is alive and well in San Bruno!