« Downtown Power Outage | Main | Knock-Knock Crime »

April 12, 2013



Here is an article about how another Peninsula community is looking at set backs fro major projects:



I added the photo of the new construction. Is that enough setback for you???


The following Op Ed from John Horgan is spot on--I'm just glad Burlingame didn't have a hand in this one.

Somehow it hasn't clicked with people that Zero Setback, translates into no trees, or in the best case, only small cylindrical types: "obedient trees" that don't take up valuable space. This one will forever be bleak.

The theory is that people who live here should go to a communal area, or perhaps a public park to enjoy real trees.

I don't think anyone could argue that its previous use, as a defunct auto dealership, was a good use of space, but this one is truly overwhelming from all aspects.

The TOD movement that started about a decade ago claims to be green, but I have my doubts if, in practice, that is really true. You can bet that most of the future inhabitants living there or in other TODs in the suburbs will still have (and need) cars to get somewhere.

At the end of the day, if I wanted to live sandwiched between railroad tracks and a busy street, I'd rather spend my money for the same in a larger city with varied public transportation and cultural amenities already in place rather than hoping for the same someday in the suburbs-

New complex is example of reasonable idea gone sour

By John Horgan
San Mateo County Times

Updated: 04/24/2013 05:32:20 PM PDT

There is a well-meaning mania loose in some San Mateo County cities these days.

"Transit-oriented" development as espoused by its loyal supporters is supposed to provide decent housing along well-traveled transportation routes, such as SamTrans and Caltrain.

It's a noble notion. However, in practice, it can be something else. Witness what's occurring on the San Mateo-Burlingame border at Peninsula Avenue and North San Mateo Drive.

Although it's not finished, the most recent results are not entirely encouraging. In fact, they're downright jarring. But it's a portent of things to come unless local planners get the message fairly soon.

The San Mateo apartments rising a stark four stories above the intersection in question are monolithic, bulky and crammed as close to the sidewalk as they can get.

There is very little buffer (no townhouses, no tiered effects, for example) to ease or mask the sheer mass and height of the development (some foliage is planned, though).
It's as though the investors and planners decided to jam as many units onto the front of the site as possible without much regard for the appearance of the eventual structures.

Creativity has taken a holiday.

Ah, but the project adheres to the "transit-oriented" mantra because it's located right on a busy SamTrans bus route and the Caltrain rail line.

So, apparently, it doesn't matter what it looks like, how massive it is or how intrusively close it is to the sidewalk so long as it fulfills the new, trendy definition of what makes sense in today's go-go suburbia.

Then again, maybe this project will be somehow marginally improved since it's not yet complete. It's due to begin renting later this year.

But the basic architecture isn't going to change. That's a done deal.

In the end, maybe this complex will serve as a wake-up call, an example of a potentially reasonable idea gone sour that should not be repeated. Surely, we can do better along the Peninsula.

Is this appraisal too negative? Check out the project yourself and you be the judge.


A friend got the details on this nearly completed project from the City of San Mateo:

On 3.1 acres, they are constructing 155 units (studio, and 1-2 bedroom rentals).

One-third of the project is "open space" (52K ft2) but that includes private, sidewalk, resident and outdoor amenities. So a little bit of massaging happened on that number. They are required to have 223 parking spaces, but are providing 288 spaces and 192 bike storage spaces.

Per the plan it is only 40 ft. tall.

At some point we might get the total number of bedrooms since that is the real gauge of size of a project.


Whatever the project turns into, we will get used to it.
Isn't there a law that requires a percentage of Section Eight tenants, or is that just for condos?
I was hoping that somehow, someway that section of California Drive would be wided. Especially now that so many more drivers will be using it.
Did that fact enter into the "project plan?"


I hate to say it, but this project resembles a prison complex to me, particularly due to the corner tower and all the faux stone. The colors of the veneer seem very artificial, as if out of a Lego castle set. As far as any widening, Holy, I think that would actually make matters worse. People race along SM Drive and California Drive as it is. Today I even saw a road rage incident that started near Steelhead and went south several blocks. Crazies.

Peter Garrison

Well, a prison is high-density housing...

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

About the Voice

  • The Burlingame Voice is dedicated to informing and empowering the Burlingame community. Our blog is a public forum for the discussion of issues that relate to Burlingame, California. On it you can read and comment on important city issues.

    Note: Opinions posted on the Burlingame Voice Blog are those of the poster and not necessarily the opinion of the editorial board of the Burlingame Voice. See Terms of Use

Contributing to the Voice

  • If you would like more information on the Burlingame Voice, send an email to [email protected] with your request or question. We appreciate your interest.

    Authors may login here.

    For help posting to the Voice, see our tutorial.