Caltrans Herbicide Spraying Raises Concerns in San Mateo County

A battle is brewing in San Mateo County over the use of herbicides.

Caltrans is scheduled  next week to spray vegetation near Highway 84 between Skyline Boulevard and Highway 1. The transit agency said spraying is needed to cut down fire danger, but many residents who live along Skyline Boulevard said the chemicals pose a bigger risk.

"I'm frustrated -- it's all this toxic threat that is not necessary," said Patty Mayall, who has lived in the coastal mountains in San Mateo County for decades.

Last year, Mayall spearheaded an effort to ban the use of herbicide spraying in the county, which is no in effect. However, the ban does not apply to land owned by the state.

Bob Haus of Caltrans said the scotch broom plant is a fire danger, and when overgrown can also threaten drivers' visibility.

Some residents have suggested the agency mow the vegetation. Caltrans, however, said mowing is not an option.

"We just don't have the manpower, the resources to take care of this problem other than spraying," Haus said.

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