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October 11, 2013



Here are a couple more tidbits from the article:

With a 20-man crew, Rebuild Green dismantled one home in three days. The final tally: 85 tones of debris, 73 tons of which were diverted from a landfill.

Typical time is 8-10 days.

Use IRS Form 8283 for the deduction.

Makes the plastic bag ban look puny doesn't it!


What a great idea and something that Burlingame should adopt immediately and would also be a nice though small revenue source. Why haven't some members or candidates for city council not thought of this nor even discussing this?? Maybe because it would be burdening developers with an extra $40k that would eat into the profits of their $2.6 million dollar houses.

Coddling developers is really staring to annoy people, myself included and its pretty obvious that some members of the current city council are so focused on this that its stifling any innovative thinking let alone rational thinking. Really getting sick of the high density transit oriented mumbo-jumbo that is going to turn Burlingame into San Mateo or even worse, Millbrae. Problem is if that happens, better kiss the prospect of selling $2.6 million houses goodbye, as the only escape from it all will be in Palo Alto or Menlo Park. Sadly, so many of the city council candidates take the high density housing thing as a given rather than critically analyzing whether it actually makes sense for Burlingame.

Poppy Guy

On a related note, it would be awesome if there were fewer tear-downs and more retention of the original buildings, of course. I know it's been mentioned countless times on this blog.

My specific point here is that I wish the code were changed to encourage build-outs in a smarter way. Currently, because of FAR limits and the desire to squeeze as much square footage onto the typical B'game lot, we get all these frankly boring and not so attractive new homes. They are to a tee all basically a large box with some ornamentation and nominal setbacks to try to hide the fact that they are in the end boxes built just small enough to fit into the FAR limits.

Of course families want more home for their functional needs, but why not encourage better use of existing structures, like attic buildouts, additions rather than teardowns, and getting over the worry about converting separate garages into living spaces?


Yeah, some of these new houses look a little contrived...I dunno maybe about 10-15% where something is off, the rest actually look pretty good and in most cases look significantly better than what they replaced. Problem with the add ons too is that you don't want to get these Winchester Houses with disjointed architecture, weird add ons or floor plans that have no flow, 1 bedroom downstairs, 2 middle, 1 up for example or a bedroom with a 45 degree pitch with no headroom because its in an attic. Thanks but no thanks. Usually also ends up in wasted square footage just to get things to kind of work.

Most of the time tearing down is the better way to an overall better design more likely to meet the needs or residents and families and if right materials and design is used can be made to look really nice.

Also, problem with these 1920s houses is that the foundations are terrible and in many cases outright rotting especially in the case of people who really don't maintain the houses. Every 1920s tear down I see happening the wood siding is dry rotted and the foundation looks pitiful, water damaged, crumbling and also not bolted to foundations, and poor pier structure. Also no shear walls, strong walls etc...not the greatest recipe for safety in earthquake country especially if are near a creek. You have to consider other factors that are beneficial to the people actually choosing to live in these houses, including safety factors.

FAR rules don't seem unreasonable to me when considering the historical context of higher density suburban areas such as the Sunset District, Burlingame, Mill Valley or Palo Alto. 33% was the historical FAR lot coverage on average in these areas, so not unreasonable in this context.

Poppy Guy

Mark, You're making a bit of a straw man argument. Not every addition has to be poorly laid out, and not every older home has a shoddy foundation and/or poor upkeep. Moreover, I disagree that it's only 10-15% of new construction where "something is off." IMO it's 10-15% of new construction that actuall looks nice curb-appeal-wise.


Good point- there is an adverse selection aspect going on here with the rebuilds--first houses to be torn down will have more issues, and those are the only ones that I see with the foundation probs and dry rot. If a house is properly maintained can go for 100-120 years but after that, its going to be difficult with wood frame construction and high water table and moisture areas. As we are pushing this limit in Burlingame Park and Easten Add, if you don’t like tear downs, you better get used to them or move out because that is cold reality as the stock ages it will need to get replaced or totally rehabbed which can get more expensive

in regards to houses with no curb appeal, you can argue-the only way to really get closer to the truth is to ask other opinions from out of area visitors who have far fewer biases. Whenever I take out towners from either in the bay area (some of who live neighorhoods with a lot of character) or from other parts of the state or country into Burlingame park or Easton, I hear nothing but compliments on some of these neighborhoods, old and new properties alike. I get the strong feeling from many locals there are ‘big house envy’ emotions that are causing biases against anything more expensive and new compared to what they have and looks way better than what was replaced. There are exceptions no doubt.

There will always be someone who lives in a bigger/newer house than me, but rather than be bitter or envious, I’m happy for these neighbors as they choose Burlingame to live raise families and see the same things we do that make the city so special. Also these newer properties do nothing but actually increase the value of existing stock which benefits all homeowners but you never hear complaints about that - 8000 square foot dirt is worth a million bucks plus because of the rebuilds not in spite of them.

Poppy Guy

I think the bottom line is that there are plenty of good-looking new builds, but plenty of ugly new construction as well in Burlingame. There are beautiful old homes that are wonderfully kept up, and there are old homes beyond saving.

Overall, Burlingame has done a really good job, especially since the implementation of the most recent building codes. My original point is that simply, there are tweaks in the code that I think could hopefully encourage owners from tearing down beautiful older homes, while at the same time the code can be refined to discourage some of these boxy new homes.

As an aside, I don't think the point was ever about being envious of a bigger house being built next door - it's about the aesthetics and preserving the great neighborhood feel.

I suspect we're in agreement on that.

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