Residential Street Cleaning

  1. Street Sweeping Schedule
  2. Moving Your Car for Sweeping
  3. Schedule Pickup of Leaves
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
1. Street Sweeping Schedule

Here are some general guidelines about our street sweeping schedule:

  • Residential streets are swept twice a month. Our goal is to complete each route within 2 hours.
  • The Downtown Area is swept 3 times a week from January to November, and daily from November to January.
  • El Camino Real is swept 16 times between March and September and 10 times between October and February.
  • We sweep every day of the year except for City Holidays.
  • Our mechanical sweepers 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.

MyStreet, our interactive online map system, will tell you when the street vacuums come down your street.


2. Moving Your Car for Sweeping


Most neighborhood routes do not have signage restricting parking during street sweeping.

With your cooperation, we can keep our streets and gutters clean. The City of San Mateo requests that residents voluntarily move their cars and large items such as garbage cans and basketball hoops from the roadway during street vacuuming hours.

Email Notification - Get a reminder to move your car off the curb.
The City of San Mateo has an online tool that can send email reminders before your street sweeping. 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 sweeping.

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 sweeper has passed your street or not, please follow the no parking guidelines for the full duration posted.

Violation Fine Amount: The violation fine is $40.00.


3. 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 sweeping 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.


4. Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Why doesn’t the street sweeper pick up all the debris from the street and gutter?
A1: Our sweepers 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 street sweeper sweep in front of my house at 10:00 am when all the vehicles are gone?
A2: Our operators sweep over 1000 miles of curb line a month. This is accomplished with two sweeper operators. We do our best to sweep the neighborhoods in the morning, however it is necessary that some routes be swept earlier than others.

Q3: Why did the street sweeper drive down my street at 25mph without the brooms lowered?
A3: Our sweepers must travel down residential streets to get to their next assigned route and may not be sweeping your street at that time.

Q4: Why does the street sweeper stop at the corner of my street for a few minutes and then drive off?
A4: The City has two sweeper operators and four back-up operators. Occasionally, the back-up operators must review the routes before proceeding to the next assigned area.

Q5: Why do I pay for street sweeping if the area in front of my home is never swept?
A5: Our mechanical sweepers 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 sweeping and leaf pick up on my street?
A6: The best way is through the MyStreets interactive online tool. You can also contact the Public Works Department.

Q7: Why doesn’t the street sweeper sweep on rain days?
A7: Our operators will sweep during a light rain when there are no puddles in the gutter. If the streets are too wet, the dirt to be vacuumed up will stick to the street and the sweeping is not effective. Instead, operators will drive smaller utility vehicles to pick up palm fronds, tree branches and other debris that are blocking storm drains.

Q8: I put the leaves out in a pile in the street and the sweeper drove around the leaves. Why?
A8: Our sweeping 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 sweeper 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 sweep the gutter. This could be low hanging trees or branches, garbage cans, or basketball hoops. We actively work with the City of San Mateo Parks Department to trim City-owned trees.

Street sweepers have to drive around low branches from city or private trees. If this is occurring the home owner should contact the City regarding City-owned trees, and trim their tree if it is privately-owned.

Q11: Waste material (trash) cans are in the roadway and street sweepers 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 sweeping 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 sweeper routes to follow trash pickup to promptly collect any trash that gets loose while being picked up by the garbage trucks.

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