Downtown Quality of Life Issues on Council Agenda January 23 2013

Cameras and smoking bans downtown are some of the ideas before council to help clean up the downtown area. Your thoughts? Here is the link to the city staff report regarding the possible smoking ban & camera surveillance in the downtown area. ‘Implentation of Downtown Quality of Life Improvement Measures’

This issue will be brought before council Wednesday January 23 at 7pm and can be viewed on livestream via the city website

This article by Heather Murtagh of  San Mateo Daily Journal offers  more insight:

South City to discuss downtown changes
January 21, 2013, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal

South San Francisco officials will get an update Wednesday on efforts to rejuvenate downtown while deterring negative behavior by restricting smoking, adding cameras and working with the District Attorney’s Office to keep trouble away.

South San Francisco’s downtown has been marred by a variety of issues in recent years like homelessness and transients which officials say have been causing problems. In December, the South San Francisco City Council was introduced to four ideas Mayor Pro Tem Karyl Matsumoto put forward to curb challenges while promoting more activity. All ideas were met with enthusiasm for more study and to be brought back before the council in the future. On Wednesday, the council will get an update on the efforts.

Installing cameras was an equally intriguing idea to the council. The estimated $70,000 plan would include having cameras cover the city-owned breezeway between Grand Avenue and Third Lane, next to Starbucks, and the picnic area at City Hall on the south end of the city annex building fronting Maple Avenue, according to a staff report. If installed, the digital video would be reviewed periodically each day by the downtown bike patrol officers. Cameras could be moved to allow for different areas to be monitored if the wireless network was built out enough, according to the staff report.

The council will also consider approving a smoking ban in city-owned parks and walkways. It’s a measure to deter people who chronically create problems downtown from hanging around the area. Another tool to help keep the area clear is the city’s request to the District Attorney’s Office to consider including stay away orders as a condition of probation.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said such requests are not uncommon from cities cracking down on quality of life issues.

Lastly, Matsumoto said work with the Chamber of Commerce regarding ways to increase positive activity is continuing. There is hope to include more events and a celebration of the chamber’s 100th birthday. Partnerships to encourage more activities downtown will take planning but could include offering entertainment during lunch, offering events that support local schools or providing art to fill vacant storefronts.

At the same meeting, the council will consider extending a city-wide ban on large retail stores and grocery uses east of Highway 101.

In December, the council approved a 45-day moratorium to allow time to research if big box stores were a fit for the community. Now it will consider extending that ban for 16 months and contracting with Ascent Environmental to conduct a study about the change.

Conversations about big box stores started in South San Francisco late this summer when rumors began to circulate that Walmart was interested in moving into the Lowe’s location east of Highway 101. As a result, the council conducted an analysis of the impact the opening of a superstore would have on other retail establishments in the city. While both Walmart and Lowe’s have denied the rumors, a representative from Lowe’s did previously submit a letter opposing the proposal.

More recently, Costco submitted a letter wanting to work to make changes to the ban to allow for a new business center the company had hoped to open in South San Francisco. While the company isn’t sure the moratorium would prohibit such a business, it wanted to work with the city before moving forward, according to the Jan. 7 from Tim Rose, executive vice president of Business Centers.

Costco currently has nine business centers, the closest to South San Francisco is in Hayward. The businesses are designed to function as distributors for food service, convenience stores and post office industries working as a business-to-business operation, Rose wrote. About one-third of the business is done through deliveries. Such a center, he wrote, would generate tax revenue and create about 250 jobs.

The council meets 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 at the Municipal Services Center, 33 Arroyo Drive.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.


On the Everything South City Facebook page many shared their comments including:

Anthony Valverde Wow, talk about big brother.

Nicol Montano I hate grand ave. So ghetto

Anthony Padin smokers have rights too!!!! just cause you smell tobacco smoke once or twice in your life doesn’t mean you now have cancer and should seek to take away the right of people who enjoy it. Gas fumes cause cancer also does that mean we should put a ban on gas station locations in respect to location of children and public gatherings also?

Marguerite Santy Unfortunately, it isn’t just about cancer. Asthma and allergy sufferers are highly sensitive to cigarette smoke. Having to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke can cause difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, etc. And smokers tend to litter their smoking hangouts with cigarette butts, or worse yet, throw them out the window while they’re driving. This causes a great deal of pollution and poisoning of water supplies etc. with the tobacco and other additives that leach out of the cigarette butts. If a designated smoking area could be set up, and if smokers took more responsibility for their garbage (cigarette butts), that would go a long way to making the area in question more welcoming to all.

Anthony Padin i personally hate people who litter as i am an avid outdoor enthusiast. i make sure to purchase a cigarette disposal container for my vehicle even though CA makes it a luxury to have a smoking package in a vehicle. if you want to attack litter maybe more disposal sights could be made available instead of attacking the habit itself. people are gonna smoke, cant change that but you can make smoking sights more inviting to smokers as to limit the interactions a non smoker might have with smoke.

Jim Johnson Just say no to Walmart or the downtown will be gone then you won’t have anything to worry about

Dan Parks Grand ave ghetto? Really? Whens the last time u been to Richmond, vallejo or oakland. Christ when was the last time you been down town in sf by un plaza? If you dont like the way ssf is either move or goto city council meetings and voice your opinion

Wendy Kerbs-Keach Walmart will definitely kill off what remains of the small business owners in South City. Costco Business Center is a great idea!!! Installing cameras is another great idea… people who know that they can be seen doing things that they are not supposed to be doing will avoid the area, but eventually you will have another problem when they move their activity to another area without camera surveillance.

Angela De Benedetto I’m all for the cameras BUT police presence would be more effective. By the time the tapes are reviewed, a potential problem is long over.

As far as smoking, I’m a former smoker and I detest the smell of someone’s cigarette smoke in my face BUT people should be able to smoke just maybe not in front of windows or doors.

Furthermore, the city itself isn’t ghetto just some of the people in it.

Kathi Wendt You need to have more family friendly activities on Grand Ave. Went to see Santa at Christmas and it was a very small crowd. Were fliers posted around the WHOLE city n schools? Need to get all the SSF schools invited to activities (not just Spruce n Martin) like the Scavenger hunt and Book give aways. (That started at Starbucks)

Matt Wendt Use fire hoses to spray all the bums and junkies maybe they’ll leave then

Anthony Valverde I grew up there, my face is painted on the mural on the back of the metropolitan. Im proud of where I grew up. Its not beverly hills but it was home to me. Yuppies like nicole dont belong in ssf. Walmart needs to stay out, this subject has came up in the past.. keep downtown real, old town with pride with lots of history. There is no place like it, lets keep it that way!

Stacey Turpin City council should look at what the other downtown areas that are thriving (San Carlos, Burlingame, etc) have that Grand Avenue doesn’t. From what I see its restaurants and shops people actually want to go to on a regular basis in a safe and clean environment. The only thing that keeps me going back to Grand Ave is Buon Gusto (best gnocchi!). I also don’t think the city council should limit my shopping options – I would thoroughly welcome Walmart as a shopping option in SSF. I don’t frequent the Safeways since they are so small and outdated, I don’t need to shop for bulk food at Costco so I end up doing my shopping Trader Joes and Lunardis.

Jim Chazer I don’t think you have to be a yuppie to want the homeless, bums and gang bangers out of the area. Big fan of the camera idea. It’s like having a cop on the corner, but cheaper.

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