Based on the master design set by John McLaren and George Howard Jr.,
San Mateo Park is home to 62 islands, each planned with its own unique horticulture and character.


Three islands are being replanted and renewed:

  • Hurlingham, mid-block between W. Bellevue and W. Poplar: Pines in our area are succumbing to beetle infestations. An alternative, resistant pine species, Canary Island, is being planted. These are gorgeous trees that will maintain the presence of pines in the Park and perpetuate our distinctive, tall tree profile.
  • Occidental at Westmoreland: Failed hawthorns are being removed, and coast live and valley oaks planted. Complementing the oak already there, these oaks will eventually fill this large island far more effectively.
  • Clark at El Camino Real: City grounds crews conducted a cleanup last fall of this entrance island. They also installed an efficient, targeted irrigation system that ensures the young elms on the island's perimeter get the water they need to establish and thrive.

* These renewals are part of a wider review the Board is undertaking to determine which islands need redirection and improvement.


This spring, our islands have been as weedy as we have seen them in some years. The good news: this is a consequence of rain, at last. The bad news: the City has not kept up due to weed abundance citywide, crew shortages, equipment down for repair, reassignment of all ground crews to re-landscaping at City Hall, etc. Our islands are also classified as “medians”, which are at the bottom of the priority list. * For immediate maintenance, Park residents are encouraged to pitch in weeding and picking up litter.

* The City is in the process of revamping its approach to grounds maintenance, including possible outsourcing. The SMPNA board will continue to look for supplemental options amenable to the city for visible improvements in both the short- and long-term.


Street sweeping around our islands

San Mateo street curbs are swept once a month.  Islands in SMP are scheduled for sweeping when there is a fifth week in the month, so they are swept four times a year.

– Those fifth weeks are when sweeping equipment gets maintenance, if needed, which can interfere with our island service.
– The sweepers aren’t efficient in collecting pine needles.  Some residents may enjoy the natural feel of a grove of pine trees and the visual softening of our concrete curbs that those needles provide.
– Sweepers also are not particularly effective when leaves are wet from recent rain, and they are not sent out during heavy rains.
– In the event of heavy rain, curbs are raked and leaves collected by hand. Pressing “storm duty” problems can interfere with rainy season sweeping and the hand work required can mean that not all curbs are completed. Under those conditions, Public Works does its best.

A number of neighborhood volunteers regularly sweep islands nearby. The Parks Dept. ground maintenance crews strongly request that we NOT deposit swept up leaves on the islands, as they may contain oil and other pollutants from the street. Please deposit in your trash compost bins.