San Mateo’s public works department has proposed taking $1.4 million budgeted for a downtown parking garage and using the money to bolster flood prevention in neighborhoods south of San Mateo Creek.
Officials said the parking structure is a longer-term priority while there is a pressing need to shore up four levees to reduce the risk of flooding for about 8,000 properties.
The flood-control effort is budgeted at $8.4 million. About $6 million in bonds will be issued, and the city expects to recover $1 million in reimbursable expenses.
This leaves a $1.4 million shortfall that the parking funds could cover, if the City Council approves the proposal.
Larry Patterson, San Mateo’s director of public works, told the council on Nov. 15 that the city did not want to take on additional debt to fund the flood project and decided that shifting the parking money was a better strategy. Construction of a new downtown garage probably wasn’t feasible for another decade anyway, he said.
“We have a high-priority project now which is eligible for redevelopment,” said Patterson. “It’s better to take a portion of those funds and invest it, and then come forward with a plan to replace [the funds] later.”
In April 2008, the 8,000 properties experienced a significant increase in insurance premiums after they were deemed to be located in a flood zone.
Once the South Bayfront Levee Improvements Project is completed, all of the properties will be able to get flood insurance at much lower standard rates, and 6,000 will be waived from mandatory flood insurance requirements altogether, according to the public works department.