Historical ‘gem’ feels effect of truck routes

In the 1960s, master craftsmen from Japan brought 100 crates of rare wood, woven mats and delicate rice paper to San Mateo, where they constructed a meticulous replica of the Japanese emperor’s summer villa on the Watanuki family’s property.

Today, when Laurie Watanuki runs her fingers across that rice paper, they blacken with diesel soot.

Her Fifth Avenue property is lined on two sides with busy truck routes, on which big-rig trucks roar past, spewing fumes and dust, knocking down low branches, sending volleys of tiny tsunamis across the surface of Watanuki’s otherwise peaceful pond.

And soon, Watanuki could have to contend with truck routes on all three sides of her property.

For about a year, San Mateo’s Public Works Department has been considering how to expand and clarify the city’s truck routes — roads that trucks should use to connect from freeways to commercial areas.

Watanuki, who says she’s lost sleep over this issue, says people on her street have already been hurt enough by trucks. In recent years, three cars have slammed through her fence, one nearly damaging the unique “gem” of history on her property.

As it stands, the city has very few approved routes, said Gary Heap, a senior engineer for Public Works. An expanded list would allow police to cite trucks that frequent streets that aren’t on that list, he said.

Pubic Works initially proposed to designate about 30 streets — many residential — as routes. Since then, that list has been pared down to a handful. The controversial routes would take trucks from Highway 101 to its frontage road, South Amphlett Boulevard, home to dozens of construction companies, software manufacturers and other businesses.

At issue is how to get there: on Fifth Avenue or on Ninth Avenue — both residential streets. Fifth Avenue is a shorter route, but Ninth Avenue is wider. At a recent City Council meeting, residents from each route gave impassioned arguments about why the other should be chosen as a truck route. They cited fears of noise, road damage, pollution and safety hazards to their streets.

Public Works Director Larry Patterson said the council will likely consider the issue again in May.

kworth@examiner.com

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The Rev. Norman Fong of the Chinatown Community Development Center joined San Francisco city leaders and community partners in a “Campaign for Solidarity” at Civic Center Plaza on Saturday, Apr 17, 2021. (CraigLee/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
City launches ‘Campaign for Solidarity’ to combat racial violence

Mayor London Breed, the city’s Human Rights Commission and community leaders launched… Continue reading

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs spoke to San Francisco’s new Guaranteed Income Advisory Group on April 16. (Courtesy SFGOV)
City launches task force to explore Universal Basic Income programs

San Francisco on Friday launched a guaranteed income task force that could… Continue reading

Muni’s K-Ingleside line will return six months earlier than previously announced. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
K-Ingleside train to return on May 15

Announcement comes on the heels of pressure from Supervisor Myrna Melgar

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Vigil, march honors those killed by police

Deaths of Daunte Wright, Roger Allen and others prompt renewed calls for defunding

A Recology employee stands at the comapany’s recycling facility on Pier 96 in 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
Nuru scandal: Feds charge second former Recology executive with bribery

A second former Recology executive is facing charges for allegedly bribing ex-Public… Continue reading

Most Read