San Mateo County, California

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San Mateo County Overview

San Mateo County Overview

Wealthy, growing San Mateo County is one of the nine counties bordering the San Francisco Bay. Just south of San Francisco and near Silicon Valley, it is mostly suburban and urban, and is, according to the 2010 US Census, the wealthiest county in the United States. According to the US Census, 41.7% of San Mateo County's residents are between the ages of 19 and 44, and desirous of living in locations that have plenty of support for those raising families.

San Mateo County Population numbers

County elections in 2020

  • According to one section of the San Mateo County website, elections that will be taking place in 2020 include the Board of Supervisors in Districts 1, 4 and 5. Upon further research, however, only confirmation that District 5 is holding an election was found.
  • However, according to the California Secretary of State, there are no elections in 2020 scheduled at this time! A telephone call made to the San Mateo County Clerk's office to clear up the matter was not answered.

Neighborhoods with creative workers, young families with spending power, retail hubs, etc.

  • Of the many (many!) neighborhoods in San Mateo County that has creative workers, young families with spending power, and retail hubs, three of the most interesting are Burlingame, Steinberger and San Carlos.
  • Burlingame has a mixed urban and suburban feel, with many families and young professionals. There are numerous restaurants, coffee shops and parks, and elementary schools are highly rated. gives Steinberger essentially the same review as it gives Burlingame, while says Burlingame has some of the best public and private schools in the area, as well as one of the "best retail districts in all of northern San Mateo County." Finally, San Carlos is densely suburban, with many families, and a wealth of restaurants, coffee shops and parks.

County ID Card program

  • San Mateo County does not appear to have a County ID Card program.

A question to San Mateo County leaders

  • Does San Mateo County have any plans to launch a County ID Card program?
  • Does San Mateo County have any initiatives regarding housing, which is very expensive for young families?

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San Mateo County Business Community

The San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA) and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) are two initiatives to promote small businesses in the region. Three local merchant associations in the county include the San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce, the Redwood City Chamber of Commerce, and the Daly City-Colma Chamber of Commerce. The county participates in such community partnerships as the San Mateo County One Day Homeless Count and Survey, Get Healthy San Mateo County, and Special Olympics Northern California. Request for proposals (RFP) ranges for San Mateo County are not publicly available without a membership account or written request.

Business Promotion Initiatives

San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA)

  • SAMCEDA was founded in 1953 to "promote business issues that enhance and sustain the economic prosperity of [the] region and its local communities." It offers entrepreneurs in San Mateo County access to strategic partnerships, as well as research and information, that can help them develop their businesses.
  • It advocates for San Mateo County businesses on issues like economic development, transportation, housing, education, and communication.
  • SAMCEDA connects businesses with over 30 different resources and development agencies at national, state, regional, and local levels.

San Mateo Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

  • The San Mateo SBDC is a nonprofit organization that provides "expert no-cost advising, low cost workshops, and small business training" for local entrepreneurs. It assists new businesses as they get started and helps them grow.
  • It offers local businesses two specialty programs: the Tech Futures Group and International Trade Initiative. These programs provide small businesses with resources like expert advice and information about export opportunities.

Local Merchant Associations

San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce

  • The mission statement of the San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce is "to create an environment for businesses to start, grow, and succeed."
  • Its members participate in public policy development, have access to business promotion and networking opportunities, and can receive exclusive business consulting and assistance.
  • The chamber's resources include local directories and city guides, certificates of origin, labor law posters, and chamber logos, as well as access to valuable business information in connection with the city of San Mateo, community colleges, Silicon Valley, and the Hillside Shopping Center.

Redwood City Chamber of Commerce

  • The mission statement of the Redwood City Chamber of Commerce is "to promote economic prosperity for [the] community through business representation and advocacy."
  • Its membership benefits include an annual Progress Seminar, business recognition and networking events, special committee participation, business training and workshops, and access to expert advice.
  • The chamber also offers a 10-month leadership program that aims to help local entrepreneurs develop and grow new businesses. The program's tuition costs $1,500.

Daly City-Colma Chamber of Commerce

  • The mission statement of the Daly City-Colma Chamber of Commerce is "to encourage business development and networking [by] providing members with useful information and services."
  • Its members have access to seminars, networking events and mixers, an annual golf tournament and Fall Festival, a newsletter, and business publications. Members are also included in a local directory and participate in community events like job fairs, education committees, and employer breakfasts.

Community Partnerships

San Mateo County One Day Homeless Count and Survey

  • In January 2019, San Mateo County Human Resources Agency (HRA) collaborated with city officials, local businesses, and private citizens to put together a team of 400 volunteers that conducted a county-wide biannual census to determine how many people in the region were experiencing homelessness.
  • The survey results indicated that 901 San Mateo County residents were living in their cars or on the streets, while 611 citizens were living in homeless shelters or "transitional housing programs."

Get Healthy San Mateo County

  • Between 2015 and 2019, San Mateo County partnered with more than 160 businesses in the region to "use policy change to prevent diseases" and advocate "equitable opportunities to live a long and healthy life." Examples of community partners included Stanford University, San Mateo Public Schools, and Seton Medical Center.

Special Olympics Northern California

  • San Mateo County has been partnering with Special Olympics Northern California since 2001 to offer competitions in soccer, basketball, and track, as well as a program for young athletes.
  • Today, 67 San Mateo County schools are involved in the program with 1,315 participating athletes.

Request for Proposals

  • While the San Mateo County website does have a dedicated RFP page, access to price ranges is not publicly available without a membership account.
  • Completed RFP results are also available with a "written request... filed through the Purchasing Office."

Question for County Leaders

One question for San Mateo County leaders might be:
  • Do you have any plans for 2020 and beyond to promote the support of local businesses through any special events, strategic partnerships, or incentive programs?
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San Mateo County Issues & Challenges

Solid Waste Mismanagement
  • According to San Mateo's Civil Grand Jury, "the county's biggest challenge is meeting state's waste reduction." According to a July 2019 report, San Mateo and its cities are faced with significant challenges in managing their recycling and disposal needs.
  • California aims to cut down on the amount of organic waste that end up in landfills by 75% in the next five years. However, San Mateo does not have the capacity to process about "300,000 tons of organic waste," at an unknown cost, to achieve this goal.
  • Another problem is that local waste management programs do not meet the new requirements by foreign recyclables buyers that are now rejecting loads of waste with "mixed material types." Furthermore, the recyclers in the county that manage to find buyers for their recyclables are forced to sell them at very low prices, which affects their profitability.
  • The situation is so dire that RethinkWaste, San Mateo's largest recycling company, informed the Civil Grand Jury that it currently "landfills all plastic types Nos. 3 through 7 that are collected through recycling programs."

Importance to Community

  • According to the report, San Mateo County is running out of space for its waste. Ox Mountain, the only landfill in the county, will be full by 2034 and it could take between 10 and 15 years for the county to acquire permits for a new and/or expanded site. It would also be too costly for San Mateo to use another county's.
  • Additionally, San Mateo's 20-year-old "Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan (CIWMP)," responsible for the county's policies on waste disposal practices, is considered outdated. Its goal was to divert 50% of the waste from landfills, which is no longer enough by modern standards.

Actions Being Taken

  • The Civil Grand Jury directed that a new, more comprehensive CIWMP that addresses the current waste problems should be prepared by San Mateo's Office of Sustainability by 2021. The report also recommend that the county should consider banning organic waste in landfills altogether.
  • After the report, San Mateo's Sustainability Program Manager said that the Office of Sustainability is "already in the middle of the review process for the CIWMP."

Stakeholders Involved

  • San Mateo's "Environmental Compliance Program" administers pollution prevention and waste management programs through a set of mandatory and voluntary "Best Management Practices (BMPs)." The program is also responsible for the implementation of the CIWMP.
  • The San Mateo County health department's "Environmental Health Services’ Solid Waste Program" ensures that all entities in the county adhere to the local, state, and federal permitting requirements and standards for handling and disposing solid waste. It also monitors local landfills and solid waste sites for compliance.

Ineffective Public Transport Network

  • According to the San Mateo's Civil Grand Jury, lack of coordination between the county's train (Caltrain) and bus (SamTrans) schedules has rendered the public transportation system ineffective.
  • According to two reports from the jury, train and bus schedules should be aligned to "minimize wait times for transferring riders and Caltrain should take on a more proactive role in advancing grade separation projects throughout its corridor."
  • SamTrans service Caltrain stations with 16 'Caltrain Connection' buses during commute hours but the bus company seems to make no effort to coordinate its buses' arrival and departure at the train stations with the train schedules.
  • An optimal wait time between offloading of passengers at train stations and taking off of the next train should be from five to 15 minutes, states the report. Currently, only about 35% of SamTrans’ connection buses arrive at train stations within that time and about 43% are scheduled to depart between five and 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival of the previous train.

Importance to Community

  • Approximately 8,000 of San Mateo's residents travel South or North each workday using the San Mateo Caltrain stations. About 10% of whom take the bus while about 30% drive to the train stations. The latter group of train commuters contribute significantly to the worsening traffic congestion in the county.
  • The Civil Grand Jury believes that better coordination during commute hours would increase the number of people who use buses to Caltrain stations, which will in turn decongest the county's road network.
  • Additionally, many San Mateo commuters miss their train connections because of the congested roads or ineffective bus schedules. When this happens, they are forced to wait up to 1.5 hours for the next train.

Actions Being Taken

  • SamTrans says that it has "undertaken a comprehensive operational analysis study, known as Reimagine SamTrans, to better understand ridership markets." The 18-month analysis of the ridership and operational conditions of San Mateo's bus system began in June 2019.
  • SamTrans says that the analysis will enable it to better "frame and prioritize the route scheduling and transfer points in the system." The company expects that the results will be implemented shortly after 2021.
  • Also, San Mateo County and SamTrans approved the Measure W initiative which will "raise $80 million per year over thirty years to address pressing transportation challenges across San Mateo County."

Stakeholders Involved

  • As mentioned above, the San Mateo County and SamTrans are at the forefront in the improvement of the transport situation in the county.
  • Also, the situation has caused the formation of private coalitions such as the "Transportation Equity Allied Movement Coalition (TEAMC)." This is a group of "26 different organizations that envision a transportation network that moves more people with fewer cars, opens up opportunities for residents, and improves the safety and health for all."
  • Additionally, the San Mateo County Transit District is working to make both the bus and train operations more effective in the county.


From Part 02