Green Streets and Parking Lots

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Roads, parking lots and other “impervious surfaces” provide important opportunities for managing rainwater because they constitute as much as 70 percent of the total impervious land area in ultra-urban landscapes. In most cases, streets and roads are a major part of delivering stormwater from our communities into local waters, including the S.F. Bay and Pacific Ocean. Green streets and parking lots are designed to mimic natural processes, allowing water to soak into the land, rather than runoff into streams untreated. Pollutants are removed as stormwater runoff flows into "rain gardens" or swales, where it can soak into the ground as plants and soil filter out pollutants. Green streets and parking lots can turn stormwater into a resource that revitalizes the lanscape and replenishes groundwater.


This innovative approach to stormwater management can also enhance pedestrian and bicycle access and safety, contribute to traffic calming, add urban green space and wildlife habitat, enhance neighborhood livability, increase community and property values, help deepen residents' sense of connection with the natural environment, and control localized flooding and heat island effects.


View the map above and click on individual green infrastructure projects throughout San Mateo County to learn more about local green streets and lots in your neighborhood – and take a look next time you’re out for a stroll!


San Mateo County Sustainable Green Streets and Parking Lots Design Guidebook


Link to the First Edition: January 2009

 Download the full guidebook or individual chapters and pages



Link to Book Layout Edition

Download the full guidebook in book layout format, with updated and revised graphics (note: large file, 52mb)

Winner of Three Awards!

Winner of American Society Of Landscape Architects 2011 Professional Awards,

Honor Award in the Communications Category


Link to ASLA Professional Awards webpage

Link to ASLA magazine, which features San Mateo County on page 137


Two Awards for "Innovation in Green Community Planning: 

2009 Award of ExcellenceAmerican Planning Association California Chapter

2009 Outstanding Planning Award, American Planning Association California Chapter Northern Section


In 2007, the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG) enthusiastically supported the recommendation from its San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program Technical Advisory Committee to develop this Sustainable Green Streets and Parking Lots Design Guidebook.


The guidebook provides designers, builders, municipal staff, and other interested groups practical and state-of-the-art information on creating low-impact development roadways and parking lots within San Mateo County.


Link to California Chapter Awards Program webpage



For more information, click on each project below

Daly City: Serramonte Library


City Of Burlingame: Donnelly Avenue


Funding for these projects and the Green Streets and Parking Lots Design Guidebook was provided by a countywide vehicle registration fee allowed by Assembly Bill 1546 authored in 2004 by the Assembly Member Joseph Simitian, and subsequently extended with Senate Bill 348 in 2008 by Senator Simitian.


View posters about the sustainable streets initiative:

Poster 1:Introduction to sustainable streets and parking lots

Poster 2:Visual simulations of sustainable street opportunities


Additional Information


Putting Parking Lots To Work, Estuary News, August 2010Slow It, Spread It, Sink It Estuary News, August 2009


American Planning Association - California July-August 2009

Green Streets/Resilient Watersheds, San Francisco Estuary Partnership: Ways that green streets and parking lots protect the bay and delta.


Green_Streets_Flyer Sept2009


Other Resources:


Green Infrastructure, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Green Roofs, Rainharvesting, Downspout Disconnection, Planter Boxes, Raingardens, Permeable Pavements, Vegetated Swales, Infill and Redevelopment, Green Parking, Green Streets and Highways, Pocket Wetlands, Urban Forestry, Riparian Buffers, and Green Infrastructure Design.


EPA Parking Lot Pervious Surface Study This project will allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide a scientifically defensible estimate to municipalities on the performance of the three permeable surfaces: porous concrete, porous asphalt, and interlocking concrete pavers.