College Of San Mateo Garden Paving Blocked

Ann McClure's picture

A half-century-old garden at the College of San Mateo, where an ancient Bunya-Bunya tree resides alongside a rare Fragrant Pitcher Sage, will get a reprieve from the parking lot pavers because trustees didn't do a proper environmental review, a judge ruled Tuesday.

San Mateo Community College District trustees failed to adequately study the environmental impact of demolishing the garden and a 6,000-square-foot structure of the same vintage that once housed horticulture classes, according to Judge Clifford Cretan of San Mateo County Superior Court.

The ruling was a victory for Friends of the College of San Mateo Gardens, which sued the trustees in June to stop them from turning 13,500 square feet of tangled greenery into a garden of fresh asphalt. The trustees saw it as a prime location for a couple hundred parking spots.

"I'm ecstatic!" said Shawn Kann, a physics student who helped form the garden group last year. "It's a great day for the campus and the community at large. We have to be aware of these (environmental) laws before we decide to demolish and get rid of gardens."

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