Residential Street Cleaning
The fixed fee you see on your garbage bill allows the City to maintain the cleanliness of all City streets, not just the streets you live on, but also the streets you drive and walk every day. The fees help to keep the entire city clean to benefit to everyone who lives and works throughout San Mateo.
Residential roads are generally street cleaned twice per month. Our goal is to complete each route within two hours. The Downtown Area is street cleaned three times a week from January to November, and daily from November to January.
El Camino Real is street cleaned 16 times between March and September and 10 times between October and February.
We street clean every day of the year except for City Holidays. Find out why we call it street cleaning instead of street sweeping.
When is My Street Cleaned?
You can get an automatic email reminder to move your car off the curb on street cleaning days. Sign up here by identifying your location on a map, then registering your email (you may have to adjust the pin location on the map). Once registered, you’ll automatically receive a regular reminder every time street cleaning is scheduled.
A Typical Route
A typical street cleaning route for our trucks ensures that both sides of the street are cleaned on a regular schedule. You might see a truck cleaning (red lines) in your community on one side of the street, then exiting the street with its broom up (blue lines). That is perfectly normal.
You can get a reminder to move your car off the curb. We offer an online tool that can send email reminders before your street cleaning day. Sign up and you will receive an email notification. You can also click on MyStreet, our interactive online map system, which will tell you when the street vacuums come down your street.
Moving Your Car
Most neighborhood routes do not have signage restricting parking during street cleaning. With your cooperation, we can keep our streets and gutters clean. We ask residents to voluntarily move their cars and large items such as garbage cans and basketball hoops from the roadway during street vacuuming hours.
Some high traffic streets are posted with a “No Parking” sign that states the time and day of the week the street vacuum comes through. The Police Department will issue citations for violations of the posted restrictions. Whether a street cleaner has passed your street or not, please follow the no parking guidelines for the full duration posted.
Violation Fine Amount: The violation fine is $41.00.
Get a reminder to move your car off the curb. We have an online tool that can send email reminders before your street cleaning. Sign up with your address (you may have to slightly adjust the pin location on the map), and you will receive an email prior to street sweeping.
Scheduling a Pickup of Leaves
We understand that during your annual yard cleaning leaves can pile up, making it difficult for you to compost them all. From November to January, if leaves get too excessive for your own personal removal, the City will collect these loads from the gutter as a courtesy to residents.
Leaves collected by the City in this way cannot be composted because of the road side contaminants. If you wish to compost your leaves, do not sweep them into the roadway. If possible, use your green compost bin to collect the leaves from your property.
Sometimes the need for our primary street cleaning services may require our attention, but we will do our best to follow our leaf pick-up schedule. To learn the schedule for your seasonal leaf assistance, visit MyStreet, our interactive online map site. To schedule your leaf pickup, call Public Works at 650-522-7300.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Why doesn’t the street cleaner pick up all the debris from the street and gutter?
A1: Our street cleaning trucks are actually giant vacuums designed to pick up small metal particulates such as lead, zinc, and copper off the roadway rather than larger pieces of trash. They are not designed to pick up leaves and debris. The Federal Clean Water Act requires the City to ensure that these particulates such do not discharge into the San Francisco Bay from storm water drainage systems. When it rains, roadside contaminants wash into storm drains which flow into creeks and then to the Bay. These contaminants have a lasting negative impact on water quality, the local ecology and recreational use of bay waters.
Q2: Why can’t the truck clean in front of my house at 10 a.m. when all the vehicles are gone?
A2: Our small street cleaning crew cover over 1,000 miles of curb line a month. We do our best to clean the neighborhoods in the morning, however it is necessary that some routes be swept earlier than others.
Q3: Why did the street cleaning truck drive down my street at 25 mph without the brooms lowered?
A3: Our trucks must travel down residential streets to get to their next assigned route and may not be cleaning your street at that time. If you see the brooms up, it means the truck is on its way to its next destination.
Q4: Why does the street cleaner stop at the corner of my street for a few minutes and then drive off?
A4: The City has just two regular, and four back-up, operators. Occasionally, those back-up operators must review the routes before proceeding to the next assigned area.
Q5: Why do I pay for street cleaning if the area in front of my home is never cleaned?
A5: Our street cleaning trucks cannot properly maneuver on short or narrow streets (such as cul de sacs). The fixed fee you see on your garbage bill allows the City to maintain the cleanliness of all City streets – not just the streets you live on, but also the streets you drive and walk every day. The fees help to keep the entire city clean and that is a benefit to everyone who lives and works throughout San Mateo.
Q6: Where can I find a schedule for street cleaning and leaf pick up on my street?
A6: The best way is through the MyStreet interactive online tool. You can also contact the Public Works Department.
Q7: There is no street cleaning on rainy days. Are "street sweeping" parking hours still enforced when it rains?
A7: Yes. Street cleaning hours are enforced even when it rains because debris removal remains on schedule for City crews. Vehicles parked on the street during enforceable hours are subject to citation.
Q8: I put the leaves out in a pile in the street and the street cleaner drove around the leaves. Why?
A8: Our equipment is not designed to pick up leaves. They are designed to pick up metal particulates. If they leaves are piled over 4 feet high, the sweeper will spread the leaves all over the street. The City has a leaf machine that is designed pick up leaves during the November to January leaf season.
Q9: Is it okay to blow debris and leaves into the street?
A9: In accordance with the City’s Leaf Blower Ordinance, It is not legal to sweep or blow your yard debris into the street. Due to storm drain pollution, we ask residents and gardeners to use their green composting bins to dispose of yard debris.
Q10: Why didn’t the street cleaning truck clean the gutter in front of my house?
A10: There are obstacles which cause our operators to swerve into the streets and thereby not effectively clean the gutter. This could be low hanging trees or branches, garbage cans, or basketball hoops. We collaborate with our colleagues in the Parks and Recreation Department to trim city-owned trees.
Street cleaning trucks have to drive around low branches from city or private trees. If this is occurring the home owner should contact us regarding City-owned trees, and trim their tree if it is privately-owned.
Q11: Waste material (trash) cans are in the roadway and street cleaners drive around them. Can routes be changed so they don’t coincide with waste stream collection days?
A11: The number of overlapping routes for street cleaning and garbage collection make this infeasible. Placing your garbage can on the sidewalk, out of the way of pedestrians, will help. We are working to encourage the waste collection staff to place the cans back on the sidewalk after they have been emptied. We try to align street cleaning routes to follow trash pickup to promptly collect any trash that gets loose while being picked up by the garbage trucks.