County may give money to businesses hurt by lane-reduction project

Businesses report a drop in sales during San Mateo County's project to reduce Middlefield Road from four lanes to two. Post photo.

BY EMILY MIBACH Daily Post Staff Writer

San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum is considering giving county money to small businesses after he met with over 20 business owners who say they have seen business plummet due to the county’s lane reduction project along Middlefield Road in North Fair Oaks. 

Slocum met with over 20 mostly restaurant owners about two weeks ago and they told him about how difficult it was to stay open during the construction along Middlefield Road, which has lasted 15 months — longer than expected.

San Mateo County is reducing the number of traffic lanes from four to two, and creating a center turn lane. The construction is happening between Pacific and Fifth avenues. Construction has been going on since 2021. 

Business owners complained about the project to the North Fair Oaks Community Council, an advisory board to the county government, on June 22. 


Jose Alvarez, who owns an ice cream shop said he’s seen business go down 70% due to the construction and customers can’t find parking. He asked the council for help. He said construction crews for the project are always in front of his business and he doesn’t know why. 

Erica Hernandez was there representing a restaurant, which she said had to close on days it is usually open due to construction. Some employees can’t cash their checks because business is down 80%, losing $22,000, she told the council. 

Ducelina Cruz, who runs a beauty salon on Second Avenue, asked for help from the county because she has had many cancelations from clients who can’t get to her business for their haircuts. 

Funding needs approval of supervisors

All three were worried about making their rents and seemed impatient to wait until the Board of Supervisor’s July 11 meeting, which is when county representatives said the board will be voting on Slocum’s proposals.

Slocum told the Post yesterday he plans on suggesting the county give the businesses money. He likened the plan to the county’s “grants” for small businesses, many of which were in North Fair Oaks, to survive during the Covid shutdowns. 

Slocum said the list of ways to help the businesses was in the process of being hammered out yesterday but are generally around parking and working with the county’s public works department to get construction to move quicker. 

Construction on Middlefield Road has been going on for about two years now, but the already completed construction on the west side of the road, heading toward Atherton, was done incrementally, while the current construction on the east side, headed toward Redwood City, is happening all at once. 

The project was supposed to be completed in April, but Slocum says the storms this winter caused construction delays. The current estimate is the project will be done in November, but Slocum hopes the project will be done before then. 

In addition to reducing the travel lanes, the road will have parallel parking, bike lanes and wider sidewalks. Utility lines are being moved underground between MacArthur and Fifth avenues. Sewer lines are being replaced between Douglas and Sixth avenues, with 8-inch pipes taking the place of most of the existing 6-inch lines.

The $25 million project was initially approved by the Board of Supervisors on April 11, 2017. However, construction did not begin until 2021 due to environmental review and various delays.