San Mateo Co. waterways have a champion in Dean Peterson
The accomplishments of Save The Bay’s pollution prevention program – the Clean Bay Project – would not be possible without our many strong partnerships with Bay Area cities and counties. Among that distinguished crowd, the San Mateo County Department of Environmental Health stands out. Since 2010, San Mateo County has actively pursued both Styrofoam and plastic bag policies with smart policies and a forward-thinking, strategic process that involve San Mateo County’s cities in the process.
At the helm is Dean Peterson, Director of Environmental Health, who has truly facilitated one of Save The Bay’s primary pollution prevention goals: regionally consistent policy. Because the pollution impact on the Bay comes from all of us, and a strong policy in one community can be undermined by a weak one – or none at all – in a neighbor.
After the Board of Supervisors passed a Styrofoam ban for the unincorporated parts of San Mateo County in 2011, Peterson and his staff offered the county’s assistance to any city willing to adopt an identical policy. Offered free outreach and enforcement, many cities quickly asked, “Where do I sign up?” So far, Half Moon Bay, Burlingame, Foster City, and San Carlos have jumped at the opportunity. Redwood City is likely to pass a Styrofoam ban in a couple weeks, thanks to this enticing offer from the county.
Peterson is now working on a single-use bag policy for the county. Even in some parts of the Bay Area, moving a single-use bag ban is not an easy lift. Under the leadership of Peterson and Board of Supervisors in San Mateo, by contrast, merely gaining the support of all San Mateo County cities for a bag ban was not enough. To make this a truly regional effort, Peterson has now spent several evenings at city council meetings around Santa Clara County. Thanks to him, no less than six cities in Santa Clara County will be joining forces with San Mateo County in the fight against plastic bag pollution.
“Our vision is that by year’s end, San Mateo County will have facilitated a uniform approach to regulating single-use bags from Daly City to Los Gatos,” said Peterson.
Peterson’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. “San Mateo County is proud to be a leader in eliminating plastic pollution in our communities,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom. “Dean Peterson has gone above and beyond in fostering countywide and regional collaboration to achieve cleaner neighborhoods and a healthy San Francisco Bay.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
- Allison Chan, Policy Associate