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January 02, 2010



I think this would a really bad idea.
The City of Burlingame, County of San Mateo, State and Fereral goverment spent millions of dollars and years to cap the toxic dump that the golf center sits on.
I am not stating that was a good investment of tax payer money!
Nevertheless, if the City of Burlingame considers giving any Corparation "Carte Blanche," the entire council and management should be recalled.
The capping of that toxic dump-next to the SF Bay was for benefit to the people of Burlingame.
Not a corparation from Abu Dubai.
There is a HUGE site open for development about ONE MILE down the street.
But guess what everyone?
The Corparation from Abu Dubai will have to invest THEIR OWN money into infrasture, instead of riding the coat tails of our tax dollars we paid for the capping of the "Old City of Burlingame Dump!"


sorry about the spelling


Considering the building of a convention center is a good idea. But this particular idea seems shaky at best.

Admittedly, I am playing Monday morning quarterback and I don’t have all the information including the staff report. That admission said, here are some simple and quick thoughts that I hope our council will consider:

a.) What is our return on investment. In other words, we give the developer a $20 million piece of property—how long does it take for us to get our investment back and then some?
b.) How do you build on a site that has an environmental cap on it? I once suggested that we do a landscaped sign promoting Burlingame on the sites freeway facing hill—sort of like you see in Colma at Cypress Lawn for example or Bush Gardens—something that says welcome to Burlingame said in flowers or boh hedges or something like that. I was told it wasn’t possible to plant deep rooted plants because of the clay cap. How can support structures be placed at the same spot?
c.) Along the bayfront there are currently other parcels that are vacant and have been for years. Why are we considering destroying a “going concern,” one that generates revenue on its own as well as supports the hotels that are already there when the opportunity to develop land that has been fallow for a generation is left to hold wrecked rental vehicles or nothing at all?
d.) What partnerships are being made with the hotels? They are the major benefactors for such an endeavor.
e.) Typically, performing arts centers and convention centers are not big money makers. In fact, they are more likely to lose money. Is there a long term business plan for this project that can prove or demonstrate what kind of audiences will use the facility and how it will generate operating revenue as well as profit for themselves and the city?
f.) The lure of a community asset is great. We need a theater, but developers won’t invest in a theater alone, so again, what percentage of local use comes with the building of such a community asset? Or is it really not an asset of the community never gets to use it? (This has become an issue from time to time with the scheduling of swim classes at our private/public aquatic center at Burlingame High as an example.)
g.) Freeway Access? Broadway is already a mess, rated at an "F" if I recall. Is there a plan to improve access to this site if built?

Perhaps some real research is needed first. For example many of these questions have been asked before. For example, International Journal of Hospitality Management article. It can be purchased on their site, so I will not post or link to it here, but here is an abstract:

Convention center operations: some questions answered.
By George G. Fenich, School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management
Convention centers continue to be built or expanded, worldwide. But, with all these new and expanded centers coming on-line, which ones will succeed and which will fail? Is there an optimum sized city that would do well to have a convention center? Is it only the large sized centers that can compete effectively? What type of management structure works best and helps insure the success of a center? The current study answers some of these strategic questions in convention center planning and development.

An abstract form Washington DC and there new convention center:
Convention Center Not Living Up to Lofty Goals
Declining Attendance Limits Economic Impact
By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer

Nearly four years ago, city officials opened the $850 million Washington Convention Center with a string of superlatives. The largest publicly financed project ever built in the city, they said, would attract more than a million visitors a year, fill hotels and set off an economic boom.
Instead, convention attendance is dropping, the surrounding neighborhood is yet to be transformed by the promised new development, and conventioneers are filling fewer hotel rooms than expected.

The debate about convention centers rages across the country.

From Tuscon: http://tucsongrowup.com/2009/01/27/do-we-really-need-another-convention-center/

To Nashville: http://blogs.nashvillescene.com/pitw/2009/10/convention_center_discourse_pu.php

To San Diego:

To Waterloo, IA:

It’s not just Burlingame. Let’s think long, hard and carefully about this one. And let’s consider, if it is part of the equation how we can make the Golf Center do better if it stays. This is a subject that also needs some serious attention.


Here is a bit of the editorial from the Daily Journal http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=opinions&id=122461:

First of all, the facility itself is built on a former dump site that has issues with land stability even with its current light use. City officials already report that there are sizable sinkholes caused by the weight of facility users that must be constantly addressed. Placing structures on it will likely take significant effort to both stabilize it and ensure its safety. There is a reason why former landfills are capped. It is extremely costly and hazardous to move the material that will naturally settle over time.

Second, the city spent millions of dollars and years of planning and development to create the 14-acre recreational golf center with a well-used soccer field in a community that purports to place a high value on such facilities. The city has a described need for a convention center and a performing arts facility that might accompany the proposal. Several community groups have expressed a stern need for new performing space. But eliminating a recreational use area for such a quest may not have the community’s overall best interests in mind. Convention centers and performing arts centers are expensive to operate and there is little evidence to indicate that it would be self-sustaining. With the economy in its current condition, the city has no money to entertain even the possibility of a subsidy.

Third, there may be other locations such as the long-vacant Burlingame Drive-In site that may better fit. Developers, however, maintain that such a site is too far from hotels and has too little usable land. However, a little creative planning could ameliorate that challenge. (end of quote)

I know a bit about convention planning and logistics and by far the best spot is the closed movie theatre location. People can walk from the major business hotels and the restaurants that are on the row. As soon as you have to add busses from hotels or force attendees to rent cars, the desirability drops off.


Also in today's Daily Journal http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=opinions&id=122458 is this letter to the editor:


I am shocked and dismayed at the Burlingame City Council’s majority’s choice Monday night to have given Condor & Araxa even one year to “toy” with their plan for a convention center on top of the driving range. Insufficient thought was given by the council to the content and the outcome of the 1991 Convention Center study, outdated though it may be for today’s market conditions.

In my view, the Parks and Recreation Commission should have been briefed on this proposal before it landed on the laps of the City Council. In this case, I believe their position as an advisory body to the council was usurped. For Park and Recreation are the body that monitors community recreation needs and services. Charity begins at home — our own people’s daily sports needs should come before all other entertainment services.

But I must congratulate Mayor Cathy Baylock and Vice Mayor Terry Nagel for standing staunchly behind community sports needs. In doing so, you put our people FIRST, and you respected the dictums of other councils, as far back as 1960, when these lands were committed to future community sports needs by then Mayor Andrew Byrds’ resolution.

Rosalie M. O’Mahony

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I think it is extremely costly and companies to move the material that will naturally settle over time.

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Convention centers and performing arts centers are expensive to operate and there is little evidence to indicate that it would be self sustaining.

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