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October 29, 2013



Way to go Red Sox, Boston Strong! (Sorry Joe... didn't want to let this post sit there all by its little lonesome.)


So, it is rare when I agree with Fred, but for the sake of having some fun, let's carry his idea a little further and make it collaborative idea-- what a concept.

Here we go.....Fred, feel free to edit, but here is the concept.

I suppose with the historic covenant on it, the USPO building might be in the 8 million range. I thought originally it was predicted to be in the 5-10 million, so let's just say 8, for fun.

We (the city) buy that building for Burlingame City Hall, right back across the street from where it started in the first place. The lower floor and reconfigured sorting room and some (new) upper floors are used for city offices- water, PW, Building, Planning. The City Attorney, Manager and Clerk get the cool retro offices on the wings. The rest of the structure core at the sorting room is built up a few floors for council chamber (but one that can be also be used for other events, like small theater) other offices, conference rooms, etc., some recreation center classrooms, too, taking the burden off of what will be built in the park "someday". These spaces and also some office space can also be rented to others from the city for meetings or other events.

Can't this project be done in-house?? The PW department have so impressed me with their work they've done together with the contractors on the streetscape--can't they do some regular construction, too??- please, let me dream on.......

Parking initially is surface level, we regain several spaces on that service road next to Carr McClellan (for city hall employees and visitors). That old garage comes down as it is not under the covenant, and the original USPO employee parking area on Lorton, we add back for public parking needs. I'll even throw in another 20 feet from that huge lawn, for one more row of parking, since it is probably a larger open space than we really have to have. 'Not sure how many spaces that gives us, but it is a lot more than what we have now. Without a housing complex there, it is a good start to add some back in, without causing a ton of the congestion. Since the whole parcel remains ours, we can adjust, later, depending on how development goes downtown.

Leave the lawn(s), front and back for our open space- they can just be left alone- or If we want a "design" we sure have some very capable community volunteers and landscape designers who can come up with great concepts that maybe our Parks Dept. could handle, inhouse. We just want an area that gets lots of use and attracts people; that is the point, no??

I know it could be, well, a beautiful, a place to hang out and listen to concerts, etc. And best of all, it's OURS!! We control it.

Here is the rest of the story (I'm kind of making this up as I go along...). We need money to pay off the USPO parcel, so we sell the current city hall parcel to a developer for a multi unit housing project, it is (and has always been) zoned for 75 ft. tall structure, and the lot is quite large. That way, we keep the traffic congestion of so many units, out of the core.

A pipe dream? Well, maybe.......maybe not?


Community center and some additional parking. If the city can't afford it, they certainly can't afford to give up two parking lots to private developers.

Burlingame Betty

Jennifer -

I love this idea - sign me up....


NOW that is a great idea and makes much more sense!!!


That post office needs to be preserved, period. How to let that building go and have a clear conscience is a travesty and really shows you that most of the city officials would do anything in a heartbeat that involves development $$$. 100 condo units and tear down the post office? with a parking garage? seriously? in burlingame's downtown area and literally destroy the 100 year old downtown and its charm that so many before have preserved. The ex city officials must be turning in their graves hearing this crap.

Also, while I want to preserve the post office, I also am not in favor of giving a monument to city officials--I'm sorry but all this power has gone to their heads and the last thing they need is another thing that reinforces their power trip. When I see Keighran's campaign signs plastered with the hand holding people that actually looks like a crown from afar, I am reminded that many city officials literally think their election is really a coronation!!

Pete Garrison

Like the idea a lot!


But oops! Kleines Problem. Now our city would have to bid for the USPO building/parcel against the Grosvenor developer$$$, the ones with whom we're signed the arrangement with for the parking lot--darn!

I know, I know, just a dream but one I can actually imagine as a good project.


So, since Joe set up this nice spot for "Parking Woes", I'm moving the last several posts over this way. Sorry Joe, I know this isn't the right way to do it, but it's the only kind of "redirect" I can manage.

Put a third or fourth story on the Donnelly parking lot.
Turn the post office into a park.
Everybody relax.

Posted by: Pete Garrison | January 05, 2014 at 05:02 PM

I guarantee J.Mir a parking spot any night of the week at peak times in Lot H. Guaranteed. Walk from there to the whole Avenue in under 4 minutes. Guaranteed. Did I mention it was guaranteed?

Posted by: resident | January 05, 2014 at 05:51 PM

F has spaces also. It's the Mommies and their mini-vans who need more parking. And the valet at Il Fornaio is for all the restaurants not just that one. I don't want to spend a bunch of Burlingame money for Mommies, lazy asses and out of towners.

Posted by: James | January 05, 2014 at 08:02 PM

James baby, listen, it sounds like you're an old timer like me, but let's face it, the mommies are paying for the services of this city that everyone enjoys, plain and simple. Yes, Bruce Dickinson does pay a ton of property taxes, and such is the price for making gold records for 50 years, but for the most part its the rich mommies (or hubbies / daddys) that pay all the property taxes in Burlingame. We're not talking Prop 13 folks, but those who paid 1-3+ million dollars for their lovely houses and their 2-3 fancy sport utility vehicles and minivans.

But guess what? You pay, you play!! and if the mommies want more parking for minivans, a bigger recreation center, bigger houses, more restaurants, more cowbell, whatever, they're gonna get it, because they're paying for it. You gotta understand folks, Burlingame's demographic is changing, and the city is catering to those who pay the bills, as it should.

Yes, if you do go to dinner after 6 pm, there is a parking problem and it's pretty bad. Even Bruce Dickinson has problems locating a spot that won't get my vehicle scratched and I don't like circling around for 15 minutes trying to explore the parking spaces. Next time I'm going to follow those Il Fornaio parking attendants and see where they park, because the situation my friends has gotten way out of hand and needs to be rectified by this city A-S-A-P.

Posted by: Bruce Dickinson | January 05, 2014 at 08:56 PM

lot h and f? i'll check out lot f sometime, but lot h is a non-starter. That would be taking my life in my hands trying to cross el camino in the dark, after waiting more than a few minutes for the light. Oh well, lot h is a mere 5 minutes from San Mateo.

I love it when oldsters get all up in their pants about the "mommies" etc. Those awful new Moms! With their nose-dripping grubby-fingered rugrats, their double-wide strollers, offending the senses of the sensible, gobbling up and occupying precious 3 BR homes, subjecting themselves to the (notorious) planning gauntlet to add an addition to their 900 sqft $1M termite-ridden bungalow, commandeering ancient school sites, chopping trees for those sites, careening around in their MDXs carting kids to their (local) activities. What an outrage! Truly a nightmare for peaceable empty nesters to endure. Can't the people with kids just go "somewhere else" and leave us to enjoy our sunset years and our trees and our parking spaces?

But... those kiddies (if they're still around here in 20 years) will be caring for you in those copious amounts of senior centers that you're planning to build here. Ooops. So take care how you treat them...
Posted by: J. Mir | January 05, 2014 at 10:03 PM

Walking a block or two with the double stroller is good for them. My favorite Mommies are the ones who run with the double wides. If you think crossing from H is tough now wait til Caltrans widens EC. No more parking--just smarter parkers.

Posted by: James | January 05, 2014 at 10:16 PM


Thanks, Jennifer. It's the perfect way to do it!!!



"Some of the information city staff has includes a 1998 study which states there is a 350-space shortage downtown. Augustine Chou, a Burlingame transportation engineer, said the number has stayed pretty level in the last few years." 350 short, that sounds right.

"City data revealed 65 percent of participants were willing to walk only a block and a half to get to their downtown destinations. Thirty-five percent were willing to walk a little farther. Notably, most of those who visit downtown are from outside of Burlingame or Hillsborough, data showed."

“We’ve lost sight of the downtown plan,” said Jennifer Pfaff, president of the Burlingame Historical Society. “We’re going after money and people can learn to walk more than a block and a half. … I don’t like the idea of converging on one single lot.”

Jennifer, you once stated downtown Burlingame was yours and other residents playground. In a playground you can teach children to change their behavior patterns. However, downtown Burlingame is not a playground. It is a business district. It is a revenue source for those businesses and the city. The downtown has to adjust to the shopper's behaviors not the other way around. Otherwise it will be less than successful.

The most likely place for a parking deck or expansion is either side of Donnelly, preferably the southern part.


Happy New Year to you, too, Fred......As you know, the remark I made in another post referred to the wider sidewalks and people lingering around stores and restaurants longer. It was an observation about today's visitors to Burlingame compared with a few decades ago, and certainly not about me. I don't do much "playing" around town or anywhere, to tell you the truth.

The quotes in today's paper are in fact a conglomerate of unrelated remarks, written as one thought for brevity. BTW, none are related in anyway to the Burlingame Historical Society, so I'm not sure why it was written that way.

My personal opinion is that I think we should try to make better and smarter use of what we have, including the use of electronic devices mentioned by Ms. Simonson. IF we actually do end up needing a parking structure at some point, I think it would be smarter to locate it outside of the core, just like they do in Europe. I've forgotten the lot letters, but they may be G, F and N, along the southside of Howard Avenue.

The primary emphasis of the downtown plan was to enliven the areas on and south of Howard. What better way than to actually direct people to park there as a base. The costs of this endeavor, which were not mentioned in this article, vary pretty drastically depending on location. These lots were significantly less expensive to develop than those mentioned, and they are also easier to access.


How about moving the Burlingame Recreation Dept on Burlingame Ave to the USPS site?
Forget all about parking issues.
Just walk a little bit..
No muggings, no purse snatching.
Lots of room for a Recreation Center, playground, Art/Music/Media events and school,Elder and Child daycare. All kinds of positive human/community events.
That is what we should be arguing for....
Parking spaces-Really?
Please let me know, anyone, what the benefit vs. parking of cars has over my idea?
Walk a little.
There is an extreamly LARGE parking are in Burlingame (Railroad)


If you locate the parking outside of the core, according to the study 65% or greater won't use it. For not having any stake in this economically, you sure are quite vocal about it.

"We have a very social group of residents and visitors who enjoy meeting, and greeting and consider downtown Burlingame to be their ideal playground." It's not a playground and it is not Europe.

Burlingame Betty

Hollyroller - I agree that the post office area is a prime square that should be utilized for the good of the residents - and not just a place to park cars

Jennifer - I agree we need to use what we have in a smarter forward thinking way -

It kills me to think that we would actually consider parking over public space and that this rare opportunity of an open area in the heart of our downtown may fall victim to a short sighted solution - we will always need more spaces - no matter how many we add - we as residents need to get in the habit of walking a bit further to allow for those who don't live here and are not familiar with the lots.


We as a city will have to pay for it, so of course as a resident, I have something at stake...Not sure what is meant by your remark.

'sorry you've taken the word 'playground' so literally and out of the larger context, Fred. I meant it in the sense of enjoyment of the downtown spaces: walking, shopping, eating, whatever.

If you asked someone in downtown, who didn't live in Burlingame or Hillsborough how far they were willing to walk, what do you think they would have said.?!? Was there a graph of how many of those questioned had already walked more than 1.5 blocks? It would mean that they still shopped in Burlingame, despite the longer walk...

If I had been approached in downtown PA or SM (cities where I am less familiar with locations of public parking lots), and asked how far I'd be willing to walk, I'd probably have said the same thing! It could be that a bunch of these folks don't even know what parking is available or how many lots we have. Maybe a good question would be if they would park 2-3 blocks away, for half the parking rate?

The machines that identify open parking spaces in various lots have been used for decades in Europe. True, we are not Europe though we are often likened to a european city. Seems to me we should be able to install clever devices like they do. Sure would save us some $$$.


I have another great idea Fred.
When San Mateo rid did their entire downtown are around the movie theater, The City of San Mateo had 7-10 fulltime
"Downtown Ambassadors."
The Ambassadors wore uniforms and helped all the customers find parking, shops, and were able to respond to almost any question immeditally.
These were not "older people", or volunteers, they were paid well for what they did and it lasted about 2-3 years.
The Ambassadors were all "vetted" by the San Mateo Police Dept before hiring, as well as supervised by a full time City of San Mateo Policeman.
Things turned out pretty well down there.
Think Big.
Major World Wide Corparations have business's throughout the area.
I do not think it would be to difficult to get funding from the "Private Sector.".As long as the representive of The City of Burlingame knows how to sell the benefits to the business.
Are there any City of Burlingame employees that have an MBA degree?
Surely, someone in the COB Chamber of Commerce has an MBA Degree.
How about talking to The City San Mateo and asking about their past program.


I never saw an ambassador in downtown San Mateo, the only program I know of similar was looking to be launched as a volunteer basis this summer, still never seen one. However, I do know where the five story parking garage is located and it is pretty full everytime I have used it.

The facts are the facts.

#1 - Burlingame is light about 350 spaces.

#2 - People are only willing to walk a block or two.

#3 - Most of the people who patronize downtown Burlingame don't live in Burlingame or Hillsborough.

Peter Garrison

Six out of the nine motorcycle parking spaces I know of are gone.


Why are we on a race to become Emeryville? Complete with huge parking garages and a faux Main Street within the Bay Shopping Center to simulate the village shopping experience we have organically.

I'm not even sure how robust a figure the "350 parking space shortage" is. But even pretending that it is anywhere near real, shouldn't we take a look at this more broadly and determine whether our roads and ramps can realistically handle the additional demand? How is the shopping experience improved even with a guaranteed parking space at the end of your trip if you have to idle 10 minutes at Broadway and California for the train to load and unload and get across? Happens twice every hour on Saturday and Sunday and getting worse. Parking is only a piece of the puzzle.


I agree with you completely--it would be difficult for any thinking person to disagree. My only comment is that the B'way - California overpass is about to be "upgraded". Notice the old 76 station has been demolished. That is the first step. I have been meaning to get a decent photo of the demolition and an overview of the planned replacement, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Thanks for the reminder, BMW.

Peter Garrison

As I recall from the skectch of the ramp shown to the Lions Club, it will have the width and charm of 28L at SFO. People will definfely get in and out of Burlingame, but at another cost to any small-town attractiveness we have.


Thinking person, nice. Like adding to the already exisiting parking deck on Donnelly Ave or adding a deck to the lot on the other side of Donelly would turn Burlingame into Emeryville. It's a hidden utilitarian street and it keeps traffic off Burlingame Ave.

Now that crap Grosvenor is proposing for the post office parcel, that is Emeryville-esque. That and the Avenue's pavers and witch-broom trees.


Today's Daily Journal notes the TSP non-determination of a place for a parking structure--I applaud their good sense:


"The commission charged with the task of recommending parking solutions for downtown Burlingame came to the conclusion that all potential parking structure sites are problematic and wants to wait until the city has identified the $10 million to $20 million needed before making specific suggestions.

First, the commission has asked staff to report back to the commission regarding measures — including improved wayfinding — that could be undertaken to improve the parking situation in downtown, the date by which those measures can be implemented and any other impediments to implementing those recommendations.

Potential sites all have some drawbacks, the commission found."


A rare appearance of common sense from a group of our elders. Nobody has any idea where 20 million will come from.

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