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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.

Peter Carey August 21, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I gave up complaining about the broken window(s) at 400 San Mateo Ave. half a year ago.
Greg August 21, 2012 at 02:51 PM
And no matter what they do, San Bruno looks bad straight away, when you exit off of 380 onto El Camino, or enter 380 from El Camino. There is trash everywhere, it looks like a ragged city. Too bad.
Robert Riechel August 21, 2012 at 05:15 PM
The Chamber and the Beautification committee are making very small positive steps
henry a chaff August 21, 2012 at 08:08 PM
san mateo ave has nothing to attract shoppers
Victor Montoya Jr. August 21, 2012 at 11:06 PM
There needs to be more on San Mateo ave to attract shoppers. There are a few baby shops, good sushi places, burritos, and two local watering holes. Oh and Artichoke Joes but nothing that would make anyone from outside the area want to go past the casino.
Kathy August 22, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I agree with Victor and Henry. A few planter boxes aren't going to help the fact that there's nothing of interest there.
bc August 22, 2012 at 06:13 PM
They should do something about those homeless people that drink and pee all over the ave.
Will Stevens August 22, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I disagree that there is nothing of interest down there, and I think this is a step in the right direction. If you want the ave to change there is something very simple that you can do: Go down there and buy something. I love the chow fun and General's chicken at Mings. I do my banking down there. I get my hair cut down there. I love the sushi at Hiro. Sushi House is good, too. Get a sandwich from the guys at Grand Leader. Stop and ask them about the neighborhood. They know all about it. Buy something just for fun at the dollar store. etc etc.
Zentrifugal August 23, 2012 at 06:52 PM
I think the planters themselves are part of the problem. Most cities plant trees directly in the ground. Those oversized concrete planters on San Mateo result in spindly trees that look unhealthy. It is true that downtown really needs a shot in the arm. I hope that the Transit Corridors Plan recommendations are followed and that more modern retailers will move in.
Martin Medina August 26, 2012 at 09:32 PM
A very small step indeed yet something is better than nothing... for those that remember there was a city project to revamp downtown about ten years ago... That's when all of the messy large trees were cut down and the small trees in the pots were installed. No landscaping was ever included in the pots. But isn't really up to the city to maintain the "Avenue's" appearance. The pots are the city's property. Relying on the merchants will likely result in varying care and appearance. How much redevelopment money was actually used downtown? Martin, can you find out? Maybe a story on the future outlook for the successor agency? More leadership is needed to improve downtown than a few flowers... It is Extremely naive to think shoppers will be that easily influenced. It is going to take leadership, vision, and investment to make a significant difference. The parking lots' pavement is deteriorating, numerous storefronts are empty, someone mentioned the homeless earlier too, more help is needed. Where will the funding come from now?
Barbara LaRaia August 28, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Some years back I asked two councilmembers to do something about the trash cans overflowing onto the sidewalk downtown on weekends. I found out the garbage company did NOT empty garbage cans on weekends. I was there one Sunday morning, and the trash was overflowing onto the sidewalk and streets. I lobbied to get the city to ask for garbage pickup on the weekend, but to no avail. I even called neighboring cities, and was told YES, they do have garbage pickup on weekends at their downtowns. I keep experiencing the same situation on weekends. How are we going to attract people to the downtown with trash overflowing, and the City Council not enforcing its codes downtown (something I have asked for for years). Our city has always favored Tanforan Mall over the downtown, and even has done favors for Tanforan like "Tax Forgiveness" (re: sales tax) for long periods of time with the remodeling. I have always said that the downtown is the "Stepchild" of the City Council, and Tanforan Mall is the "fair-haired child". We need new leadership - the three councilmembers have been there about 17 years, and what improvements have been made downtown? There is such potential downtown, being close to the airport and all, but a few planter boxes is not the answer. Barbara LaRaia
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 (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Thanks for that suggestion, Marty.
Martin Ricard (Editor) 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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