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New Planter Boxes an Effort to Beautify Downtown

City leaders are hoping the initiative will get more business owners to take part in beautifying San Mateo Avenue, which could make the downtown area are attractive to shoppers.

The city's Beautification Task Force and Chamber of Commerce have come up with a new way to get more shopping activity on San Mateo Avenue: new planter boxes.

The first new planter box was installed last week in front of in an effort to make the downtown area more attractive—something it has been lacking for years.

Councilwoman Irene O'Connell, who serves as the council liaison to the task force, said the committee and the chamber are now looking to get more business owners to help beautify the downtown area in the same way.

"It increases the merchant's awareness of the affects the outside of their businesses have on customers," O'Connell said about the planter boxes. "Hopefully, the efforts to beautify downtown will seep into other areas, making it more alluring to shoppers."

The city paid for the flowers in front of Diddalidoo, while the business owner has agreed to do the upkeep.

O'Connell said the effort is similar to the "broken windows theory."

"In essence, small problems, if left, get bigger," she said. "So, in reverse, if we start making the street more pleasing, the idea will catch on and soon the whole street will be more beautiful and attractive to shoppers."

Other efforts have been made in past, including the annual Operation Clean Sweep event, the garden artwork on the old Wells Fargo site and business facade program.

Barbara LaRaia August 28, 2012 at 09:25 PM
P.S. I failed to mention in my last post that it was a Sunday morning downtown when I saw the garbage overflowing. As is so happened, I ran into one of our councilmembers that Sunday morning downtown, and pointed out the trash to him. He looked around, and said he would look into it, and I have not heard back about the issue. Barbara
Claudia Quinn August 29, 2012 at 08:40 PM
I agree with all the previous posters. I am the owner of a kid-based business on San Mateo Avenue. I have moms tell me that they cannot walk the 1 and 1/2 blocks to Starbucks with their children without stumbling over trash on the street and avoiding people hassling them. This is mid-day! Others have said it is The Tenderloin. It pains me to hear this. I started trying to grow flowers in the planter in front of my store a year ago. I have had setbacks with garbage being tossed in - and sometimes "throw-up" from people's over-imbibing. The business owners need help from the City - not tons of rules and regulations that attempt to generate income. Better help from the garbage company, better patrols late at night when the karioke places and bars close, and some energy and enthusiasm to help small businesses succeed. This in turn would attract larger stores and more people. And yes- I do appreciate those who do come and support me. I think it will take more than flowers in the planters - but I agree it is a small start. So when can I expect my flowers?
Martin Ricard August 29, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Thanks for that suggestion, Marty.
Martin Ricard August 29, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Good point, Claudia. Do you think having a downtown business association would help? I've heard a lot of talk about creating one, but I'm not sure if anything has been established yet. There is always talk about how disjointed San Mateo Ave. feels. Perhaps a business association would provide the business owners with a bigger voice. At the same time, I'm curious how often the city asks the downtown merchants what is really needed. Seems like there still are different visions for what the Avenue should look and feel like.
Claudia Quinn August 30, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Martin - I think a downtown business association would be great! No - I've never heard from anyone in the city about what is needed. It's frustrating - and from the various comments on this post, one can see that the issues are complex. I think it is interesting that after the Director of the Chamber of Commerce left - there were no immediate plans to replace her. Even though we are members of the Chamber - and pay dues, etc. I think we do feel like the Stepchild of the City Council and everyone else!

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