SAN MATEO, CA – The San Mateo City Council will consider a buffer zone ordinance to prevent aggressive harassment and intimidation or obstruction of patients seeking care at the San Mateo Planned Parenthood Clinic.
“Access to reproductive health services is under attack and we must do everything we can to ensure all of our residents have open and unfettered access to care,” said San Mateo Deputy Mayor Diane Papan. “I have worked with Planned Parenthood and city staff to help craft this ordinance to both help local residents continue to access care, protect clinic staff, and to firmly assert our rights – at least in our community.”
The ordinance will be introduced for a first reading at the Monday, May 16th meeting of the San Mateo City Council. Specifically, the ordinance will establish a buffer zone within one-hundred (100) feet of the entrance of a reproductive health care facility to protect access, prohibit approaching within eight (8) feet of any person seeking to enter or exit the reproductive health care facility, or any occupied motor vehicle seeking to enter or exit the parking lot of such a facility, without the consent of such a person or vehicle occupant, for the purpose of harassing or intimidating such person or vehicle occupant. The ordinance also prohibits obstructing access to or departure from any entrance to a building or driveway of a reproductive health care facility.
Regionally, buffer zone ordinances are now under consideration or have been adopted by numerous cities, most recently Walnut Creek. The County of San Mateo is also considering a buffer zone ordinance for the unincorporated areas. The San Mateo ordinance reflects standards established in a range of communities both in California and nationally.
Since at least 2014, individuals seeking services at the Planned Parenthood health care facility in San Mateo have experienced protestors aggressively approaching them and engaging in harassing behavior. These have included:
• On December 9, 2014, a woman jumped in front of a moving vehicle to prevent a patient from entering the parking lot.
• On January 23, 2015, protestors blocked the driveway leading into the clinic, thereby obstructing vehicular traffic on Baywood Avenue.
• On June 12, 2015, a person dressed in a white doctor-style coat was in front of the facility and aggressively engaging with people entering the facility.
• On August 19, 2020, a protestor grabbed the arm of a person who was escorting a patient from the parking lot into the facility.
• On October 7, 2021, a person wearing a white lab coat and a stethoscope flagged down a patient entering the facility claiming that they were a doctor with Planned Parenthood.
• On December 1, 2021, a protestor was shouting at the driver of a car entering the Planned Parenthood facility parking lot, thus blocking the driveway and preventing a third party from walking down the sidewalk.
“Protecting patients for harassment, invasions of privacy and intimidation is fundamental to preserving access to critical health care services,” said Papan. “While many states are taking access to reproductive health away, our community must stand up for our residents and ensure anyone can get the care they need.”
ABOUT DIANE: Diane Papan grew up in San Mateo County and is a long-time civic leader, currently serving as San Mateo City Councilmember. A graduate of UCLA, Papan received her law degree from Hastings Law School. She is also a Director of John’s Closet, a Peninsula nonprofit that has provided new clothes, scholarships, and essential items to over 15,000 school age children and young adults. Diane and her husband Dan are proud parents of daughter Alexa.