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November 27, 2013


Jesse R

Joe, I don't think the compromise is good for the reasons you stated. To me, it looks like a logistics nightmare in comparison to the current location. Didn't we run into problems with the Broadway Farmer's Market on Thursdays with the street closure? I think the idea was floated so it looks like a compromise was offered.

What perplexes me is some of those quotes in the paper. As example, "The current location doesn’t benefit the street at all and the financial impacts were too large". Based on what analysis? Maybe, it's because I do testing in my work, but I see it very difficult to prove the presence of these food trucks has caused financial harm to Broadway businesses. That's not to say they haven't had an impact. There are too many factors that can influence business and there hasn't been enough time to isolate those factors and prove. I think this is a case where people are confusing correlation with causation.

I'm equally confused by the comment "it’s hurtful to hear community members saying there’s nothing compelling about Broadway merchants. He believes the city turned the community against Broadway." Sorry, I've been engrossed in an old Dale Carnegie book and haven't kept up with local events. Did I miss some event like the City of Burlingame taking out an ad on Mike Harvey's big electronic sign? Or did I mistakenly throw out the "boycott Broadway" insert that came with my water bill from the city?

The only organized communication I've seen is by "Off the Grid" in enlisting their customers for support via the postcards and their Change.org petition. While the petition isn't binding, I have to applaud the company for getting the public involved. They're being proactive. I'll admit there are some comments in Change.org that may be disappointing for merchants to see, but the merchants are smart enough to know what's fact versus fiction. We can thank Yelp! for teaching us how to read reviews and sort the good ones from the shills.

I think this comes down to a few merchants that are looking at this scenario as a problem and fail to see the opportunity. My take is "Off the Grid" has created demand and hasn't taken away from the merchants. It's a different type of event that allows people to mingle outside and enjoy good food while the weather permits. But, if I want great kibi, I'll go see Nadal at Taste of Mediterranean or if I want an organic wrap, I'll go see David at Earthbeam. And if I'm not in the mood for food trucks, I don't go.

Personally, I wouldn't blame Off the Grid for leaving. No one likes negative neighbors. I'm sure OTG has got the stats to know their customer acquisition cost and lifetime value. They probably also know the impact of moving to another location. Those that are food truck lovers will still support them and go to Millbrae or San Mateo. (Yes, I suspect those 2 towns are salivating now over the prospects of getting this business.)

If I were a Broadway merchant I would've been down there Day 1 with unique coupons for each truck and asking how we could work together. If I weren't a restaurant, I'd see if I supplied anything the trucks need and offer to deliver. I would be watching the people and learning.


So it looks like most of the businesses on Broadway aren't opposed to the idea, unlike many on this board believed, in putting words in the merchants mouths saying all merchants would be hurt. Common sense says of course it would help the merchants, obviously was vetted to the business association as they seem to be supportive.

Rather than close down Broadway just close down a part of the couple of 1-way side streets on either side of Broadway, where the trucks can park. People can walk to the trucks. They don't need to get by each other as food trucks often line up in alleys and stay there until the whole thing is over. Better yet, park the trucks along 2-3 of the one way streets, on both sides of Broadway, as will make people walk along Broadway to check out all the truck options. Would greatly increase foot traffic to all businesses.


Here is the resolution from last night's council meeting from the Daily Journal--link to the full piece at the bottom

The Burlingame City Council wants Off the Grid food truck events to remain after local businesses requested it be shifted to Broadway so customers aren’t taken away from the main commercial strip.

The council last night directed staff in a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Jerry Deal voting no, to prepare a letter for the mayor’s signature requesting Caltrain to extend the agreement with Off the Grid for use of the Broadway Caltrain parking lot located adjacent to the Broadway train station at California Drive and Carmelita Avenue, but shifting it to Tuesday night and asking for yearly city review of the company...

“It really is like synchronized swimming when you’re shutting down an area like that,” said Burlingame police Sgt. Don Shepley. “We would need to get signage and traffic direction. If we look at what it takes to shut [Broadway] down, it would be six officers at six and a half hours and it comes out to $4,700 per event. If the police department were to absorb it, it would be a little less.”

More details here:


Timothy Hooker

At Stanford one of my Professors Huggie Rao in partnership with Robert Sutton wrote a book on Scaling Up Excellence. It uses case studies of companies who failed to successfully maintain excellence while scaling their organizations and those who were successful at scaling.

The book should be read by all of our city leaders to understand just how to scale our city larger while maintaining our Excellence.

So far this city clearly seems to always put the cart before the horse and implements short gain solutions to make people "feel-good" as opposed to studying the ramifications of their decisions and how life-quality is impacted.

My opinion: before you even tackle parking, Post Office development, Food Trucks, etc. First think what impact the decision is to have on your "Citizens Quality of Life".

Downtown remodeling is good but now you have traffic nightmares, parking is inadequate, pollution is at a all time-high from all the cars, and frustrated citizens and businesses are paying higher taxes. Maybe there are some people who prefer this way of life.

Before this city gets further down-the-road I suggest we document what standards we wish to maintain for our citizens in terms of quality-of-life, pollution, traffic, noise, and overall peace before you implement another large project.

Once you document your strict Quality-of_life Standards, then you build around those.

Here is where you can buy the book: http://scalingupexcellence.com/

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