Meeting on toxic spraying issue postponed

Activist wants earlier meeting

By Barbara Wood

Special to the Almanac

A meeting to discuss a consultant's report on ways San Mateo County can control unwanted vegetation on roadsides and in parks without using toxic chemicals has been postponed until January.

The meeting of the county Board of Supervisor's environmental quality subcommittee had been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 6. Last week, however, county residents who have been pushing the county to halt roadside spraying of herbicides were told the meeting has been postponed until Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m.

Peggy Jensen, a county deputy manager who works with the subcommittee, said in an email that the meeting has been delayed so further work can be done on the report by the consultants, Baefsky and Associates, before it is presented.

County residents who had been waiting for the report are unhappy. Patty Mayall of La Honda, who has been active in the fight against herbicide spraying, said she is worried the county might put pressure on the report's authors to change their conclusions. She has asked that the meeting be rescheduled in December instead of January.

In a letter to the supervisors, Ms. Mayall wrote: "Please re-schedule an EQC meeting for December, give the existing, unchanged, report to the supervisors and to the public, and let the process proceed. We have waited long enough."

Ms. Jensen promised in her email that the county will not do any weed work until the report has been reviewed by the subcommittee.

Local residents are concerned because while the county has put a moratorium on roadside spraying until the report can be considered; the California Department of Transportation, which has control over many county roads, has not stopped spraying.

On Nov. 21, despite the protests of county residents, a request from County Environmental Health Director Dean Peterson and warnings from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, Caltrans sprayed herbicides along Highway 84/La Honda Road between Skyline Boulevard and the coast.

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