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November 18, 2004

Comments

Fiona

An interesting update not on the Emmett House, Belmont but A.P. Giannini (Bank of America founder) house on 20 El Cerrito, San Mateo. It is now being sold for $1.4.


One of our council members sniffed that a house wasn't important just because an important person owned or slept in it. She is wrong. Interestingly the City of San Mateo threatened to sue the charity that owns the house if they did not protect the house from further deterioration.


Hopefully someone will appreciate this home because an important person in California history owned it and it has architectural historical value according to Mitch Postel of the San Mateo County Historical Association. Even the fireplace is interesting because after the 1906 earthquake, Giannini and his bankers disguised themselves as farmers and hid the money in the fireplace until it was used for loans to rebuild San Francisco.


Thank you to all in San Mateo who thought this house was important enough to save for a new home owner who will appreciate its history and its architecture.


But what would the City of Burlingame have done with an historic house?

What is going on with the old house on Chapin that used to be the Burlingame Garden Center?

Will the new owners be demolishing it too?

fred

It will be an office building and the new owners are adding on to the back.

Joe Baylock

"What would Burlingame do?" is the wrong question.

I lived in Belmont for the first five years of my time on the Peninsula back in the early '80s. I loved it. I biked, walked or drove past the Emmett House almost every day. Downtown Belmont was different then. Later, after moving to Burlingame I still made the trip to Belmont to indulge my antique-hunting urges at the Pink House and the Emmett House before heading down El Camino to San Carlos' treasure troves.

We have a similar situation right here in Burlingame at this time. The Little Red House is for sale. I met the older lady who ran the antique store a couple times and then dealt with her son at the shop a few times before the hours became erratic.

But the right question is "What will Burlingame do?" It's late 2006 and we still do not have any action towards a Significant Properties List. The only structure in Burlingame that has any protection at all is the Burlingame train station. Why is that? The regressive Council of the "Dark Ages" is gone now. We clearly have five members who are engaged and care about the town. But yet we have no progress on protecting anything from anyone. So I invite:

Cathy Baylock (my wife, the mayor)
Russ Cohen
Ann Keighran
Terry Nagel (vice mayor)
Rosalie O'Mahony, and

any aspiring 2007 Council members like Dan Andersen, John Root, Gene Condon and Paul Prendiville to:

Post your current thinking here about a Burlingame Significant Properties list.

It's not an agenda item so I doubt there is any danger of a Brown Act violation. I just really want to know. I have no idea if the Little Red House would qualify or not--and that is not the question on the table--it's more generalized than that. I have a pretty good sense of what Cathy thinks, but let's all hear it straight from all the horses' mouths. Where do you each stand?

How much is the Little Red House? I can't find the listing.

Regarding your question, I'd like to see a significant properties list in our downtown areas. I also think it would be important for the city to provide some guidance as to how the Mills Act has been used to benefit property owners who choose to renovate, rather than destroy older properties. Owners of private homes also need to know that there may be options for them, other than starting from scratch.

I was also very encouraged that one of the groups of architects during the Charrette, actually envisioned a park-like setting for a block of original homes on Howard. Also, two or three Council members have suggested awards that would acknowledge outstanding design,in renovation/restoration and new construction, and I think such action would reinforce the value that this community has put on our heritage, as well as appropriate and appealing aesthetic for the city, whether modern or traditional.

Also, to jbennett's question, I will add to Fred's comments that the historic clinker brick Farrell Home, which dates from 1905, will remain intact (except for an upstairs bathroom). The stain-glass window, the fireplaces, brickwork, etc. will all remain. The office building behind it will be very modern in design, but from essentially the same materials (full brick) that were used on the Farrell Home. I think that there is also a pedestrian walkway that will connect Chapin to the back sides of properties on Burlingame Avenue, so the the public will retain some access. Parking will be in the rear.

I personally am very disappointed that this special property will be basically off-limits to the public, and wish that it could have remained either a retail space, with more retail added to the property in the back, or a restaurant/beer or wine garden with performance area for intimate concerts, but that is the stuff of Charrettes........And, I do miss the Garden Center horribly.

I think it would be a violation of the Brown Act for all council members to post their thoughts about an Historic Properties List, but I would welcome a discussion about the idea at a council meeting.

We council members have many projects in motion and are looking to community members to take ownership of some of the things they would like to see happen in Burlingame.

Message from Admin: We have deleted this comment from this location. It still appears where it was originally posted. Please do not post the same comment on multiple blog entries, especially when the comment is not related to the topic being discussed on the thread.

Joe Baylock

In view of the concern expressed over possible Brown Act implications of my question, I have referred the question to the City Attorney for his professional opinion. It should make for an interesting civics lesson for readers. Here is the link to the Wikipedia entry about the Brown Act (Open meeting law) for those who wish to do their own homework

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Act

Joe Baylock

As promised here is the response from our very capable City Attorney:

City attorneys caution councilmembers and members of boards and commissions about becoming involved in blog communications. The worry is not that the official is giving his or her opinion to constituents or the public. Instead, the concern is that if the opinion of a quorum or more of the legislative body is posted on a site, it can become a discussion of an agency issue outside a public meeting each member is seeing what the other members think and it can then devolve into a free-for-all discussion among the members. Even when the responses are simply posted, the Brown Act would seem to identify it as a serial meeting if the members could see what each other said. Majority of members cannot discuss agency business among themselves? is the standard. If somehow the responses were individually solicited without communicating what another member said (or allowing the other member to see what another said) and then simply posted (not solicited thru the blog), it might be possible to say that no interactive discussion of any kind has occurred.

That is our cautionary advice, and the State Legislature has not given us any amendments to the Brown Act that would shield blog participation (the State Legislature has not brought a lot of the Brown Act and Public Records Act up to date with regard to electronic communications).

So my interpretation of Larry Anderson's response is:

--The Brown Act is woefully out of date
--If someone asked each Councilmember to respond individually and only posts the responses after they have collected all of them, and
--If the Councilmembers do not get into a blog discussion

Then everything should be fine.

So that is what I will do. I have one email response on the Significant Property List question already. I will solicit the other four responses and will not post any of them until I have a complete set. The wheels of government may turn slowly, but they do turn. My thanks to Larry Anderson for his prompt, clear and helpful response.

Joe Baylock

Here is the text of the message that has gone out to our City Council this evening:

Dear Councilmembers:

As usual, Larry Anderson has been most helpful in clarifying the language that helps run our fair City.

If you care to visit http://burlingamevoice.com/blogs/index.php?blog=2p=431c=1page=b2edit.phpmore=1tb=1pb=1disp=single
you will find his clarification of the Brown Act implications of blog communications.

The net of it is that if you respond to my question on a Significant Property List individually and I wait until I have all 5 responses before posting any of them (which I will do) then the Brown Act requirements will be satisfied. I feel as if we are breaking new ground here because we have a popular, intensely-local blog that gives each of you a forum for your thoughts presented in their entirety. This is quite an advantage over the press.

I look forward to your responses.

Joe

Blog on!

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