San Mateo County’s DPW Rx for Roadside Vegetation Management


By on Sat, March 10, 2012

    According to page 5 of Exhibit A of San Mateo County’s Director of Public Works “Executive Summary, Vegetation Management Plan,” there are “only a handful of people” asking for San Mateo County to begin a Mow Only Program with only very minimal use of herbicides to manage unincorporated San Mateo County roadsides.

“Recommendation #24 Hire facilitator to work with staff and citizens to improve communication -  low prioritization ‐ Cost: $25.000 ‐ $30,000 - This could be considered in the future.  However, we believe several other communication enhancements are an appropriate first step, especially in light of the fact that there are no more than a handful of residents who have expressed concern in this area.”

This Tuesday, March 13, at 9:00 a.m., the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, will vote Yes or No on the following statement found on the last page of San Mateo County’s Director of Public Works, “Executive Summary, Vegetation Management Plan,” which is posted on the internet at: To view the Executive Summary, click on:
then click on REGULAR AGENDA #12:
PUBLIC WORKS 12. Resolution authorizing the Director of Public Works to supplement current vegetation management practices through the implementation of a program enhancement plan.

then click on the PDF link in the right-side window.

“NOW THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY DETERMINED AND ORDERED that the San Mateo County Department of Public Works continue to manage roadside vegetation through a combination of mowing and spraying, but supplement its practices with the enhancements identified in the Department’s program enhancement plan.”

This statement does not establish Just Say Mow (with minimal use of herbicide spray), as more than a handful of residents have requested.  Over 600 unincorporated county residents have asked the county to cease and desist the use of spraying herbicides within the La Honda ~ San Gregorio Creek Watershed.  For about ten years, Pescadero Creek Watershed roads have functioned just fine with a mow only program and without the county spraying any of its roads.

The county sprays herbicides along the roadsides of county-managed roads as found on the map posted as page 16 of the above-referenced Executive Summary.

CalTrans District 4 uses broadcast herbicide spray along Highway 84, but not along Highway 1 due to the population of human residents and the agricultural uses of fields that border the highway.  CalTrans does not use broadcast herbicide spray along Highway 92 due to the amount of human activity/traffic impeding a safe time when to spray.
The statement to be voted upon above, asks that DPW be allowed to continue to use herbicide spray.  This will then allow CalTrans to continue its use of herbicide spray along Highway 84.

The supplemental practices, the enhancements to the mow/spray program, are detailed on pages 1 - 8 of Exhibit A of the above-referenced Executive Summary.
Of the 34 Enhancements and Recommendations, all but one Recommendation support the continued use of Herbicide Spray for roadside vegetation management.  Only Recommendation #11 received a Pro/Con Comment of “No downsides.”

“Recommendation #11: Continue to investigate on an on‐going basis, alternative herbicide products, including organic and natural products - high prioritzation ‐ discussed but not specifically presented among the Baefsky report recommendations.  TBD.  Work towards achieving greater efficiencies, cost savings and greater program effectiveness.  Comment:  No downsides.”
All the other 33 Recommendations are Pro-Spray, and, even if a Recommendation is proposed as No spray - Pro Mowing, the Recommendation is negated in the Pro/Con Comment, such as:

“Recommendation #27 Upgrade and Replace Old Mowers: one every two years
- medium prioritization ‐ Cost: $100,000 annually - We will create long term mower replacement plans.  However, a new mower is approximately $135,000 and we do not believe the program could absorb such costs every one to two years.”
Why would a new $135K mower need to be replaced every one or two years?

You can read all the 34 Recommendations on pages 7 - 14 within the above-referenced Executive Summary.
Sign the Just Say Mow Petition at:

Directly write your San Mateo County BOS asking them to please not vote Yes to this statement on Tuesday, and instead to require the SMC Department of Public Works to open itself up to the possibility of an Herbicide-Free Coastal Zone:
SMC Board of Supervisors to contact :

President Adrienne Tissier

; phone: 650-363-4572
Vice Pres. Don Horsley

; phone: 363-4569
Supervisor Dave Pine

;  phone: 363-4571
Supervisor Carole Groom

;  phone: 363-4568
Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson

;  phone: 363-4570

The Baefsky Report on San Mateo County’s Roadside Vegetation Management can be found on page 7 at: Quality/2012/EQAgenda_20120117.pdf