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October 29, 2014



You flatter me, Joe. I'm definitely not a tree 'expert', but I've learned a lot over the past decade or so.

It is important to say, however, that issue goes far beyond trees and types thereof. It is all about the general desire and pressure (since about 2005) coming from Caltrans and other agencies to increase capacity on Highway 82 and speed up traffic flow-- we just don't fit that norm, and for good reason. El Camino in Burlingame has ALWAYS been a Residential District.

Early Burlingame residents fought long and hard nearly a century ago to establish our non-commercial, residential zoning of the highway, bucking the prevailing trends that began in the 1920s. With few exceptions, we have remained as such.


Isn't there a possibility of just not allowing left hand turns at certain intersections?
It may be a hassle for a while, but it seems to be a very simple solution to a problem that seems really "overblown."
I believe Jennifer is a Tree Expert too.
She is a great communicator, and single handily has kept those small trees planted on El Camino alive through keeping an eye on them for the City Arborist, and the City Elders.
bless you Jennifer.

Bruce Dickinson

Listen, folks, just when you thought that the pooping on Burlingame stopped, between greedy developers and their cheap architecture, HSR barreling down our railroad tracks, high density transit housing for fictitious public transportation, no apparently that is not asking for punishment enough. Now we have the Grand Poobah of Poopers, namely Cal-trans, to come and defecate all over El Camino Real in a twisted punishment that belies some sort of deviant sickness. Why can't they be satisfied with all the public works crap they are doing in Millbrae and San Mateo? No, they want to turn Burlingame into that look as well. Ironically, the very same arguments that are made for high density housing, namely more public transportation, are completely ignored by Cal-trans, who believes that you need to make it safe for all the cars that nobody will ride anymore. Makes no sense to me.

Anyway, is widening only that part of El Camino really going to solve problems? what about prohibiting left turns? Maybe take a couple of trees out for better visibility? Seems like a poor excuse to do another rectal exam with a fake diagnosis rather than something that can satisfy all stakeholders in a reasonable way. I hope that our City Council will take a stand and put an end to this nonsense!


This is the perfect issue for John Root to dig into. His old (really old) campaign signs had a tree that must have been a heritage tree. Here is his chance to show he is not a door mat but a playah. Root for Root to save roots! Let's go, John. Let's go, John.


The residents on Burlingame's side of Floribunda have been complaining about speeders and aggressive driving through their curvy street for a long time.

One of the many comments-suggestions by this community to Caltrans last year was restricting left-hand turn(s) into Floribunda.

Here is their written response:

"No Left-turn Alternative...." Pg. 11
Prohibiting the left-turn movement from SR 82 onto Floribunda Avenue was considered but was determined to be impractical from an operational and safety perspective as the two local agencies (Town Hall of Hillsborough and City of Burlingame’s City Hall and their fire and police stations) are situated on both sides of the intersection. Fire trucks, police, safety, maintenance and related emergency response vehicles from both local agencies would need to make left-turn movements at the intersection. Prohibiting left turn movements may delay emergency and public safety response and it is anticipated that there would be enforcement challenges on closure implementation. The prohibition of left-turn movements at SR 82 and Floribunda Avenue would most likely shift the occurrence of left-turn traffic accidents to the intersections of Willow Avenue heading north and to Bellevue Avenue heading south of Floribunda Avenue."

So, I'm not even sure this is correct information. Didn't the fire station close at Floribunda a long time ago? Also, why doesn't this mention Oak Grove as a very handy alternative to Floribunda eastbound? Furthermore, don't police and fire have the ability to enter streets (even one-way streets) or travel against opposing traffic in emergencies? This seems to be one of the weakest arguments in the document.

It seems to me that for the price of a sign ($100, maybe?) that option could have been tried out for awhile. This suggestion may take care of two issues at once--

....And speaking of campaign signs, I seem to recall that Sup. Dave Pine ran for Burlingame City Council when he first came to town, and if I'm not mistaken, he had a tree as his logo, too!

Peter Garrison

Here's the deal: A no left-hand turn sign would solve the problem. But Caltrans has money to spend – our money by the way – and a limited time in which to spend it. So they want to spend it. A no left hand turn sign would make the residential area – and it is a residential area – slower and therefore safer. If Caltrans wants to spend money then come back with a plan to fill all the potholes, dips and dangerous puddles along the margins of El Camino Real.

The reason Burlingame is more beautiful than the surrounding areas is because our citizens and church council have fought diligently to thwart the incursions of makework project both by government and the over reach of some private builders.

In the last meeting with Caltrans I was so impressed with council member Ann Keighran's defense of our city. I hope the current Council and citizens will come to this meeting and make sure our voices are heard and that this plan is stopped. It's our money let's spend it in ways that don't ruin our sense of place.

Peter Garrison

City council- not church council...

Cathy Baylock

The fire station at Floribunda closed over a decade ago with the creation of Central County Fire. All fire engines and trucks are dispersed from California Drive. As to police vehicles, they are out on patrol all over the town and would not be sent out from Hillsborough Town Hall in normal circumstances. The author of the EIR has some VERY out of date information...


We live by this intersections for the past 8 years.
It's one of the most pedestrian friendly section of Burlingame. Residents from hillsborough and burlingame (even as far as Easton Addition) use this intersection to get to downtown. It has heavy foot traffic that is absolutely not accounted for in EIR report nor consideration. By widening this junction, it is a real risk in making it less safe for pedestrians.

pat giorni



Thanks, Ms. Giorni for getting this link posted. The part of the article that notes this is interesting:

The city found 14 trees that could be affected by the project, which include five liquid ambars, four historical blue gum eucalyptus trees, two eucalyptus microtheca, one accolade elm and two volunteer trees. The state owns El Camino Real and, thus, the trees along it, City Manager Lisa Goldman previously said. Still, if any removal should occur, replacement will be required as per the understanding with Caltrans and the city of Burlingame, according to the city.

You can see the liquid ambers in the photo I posted above. The eucs are across the street.


That is a great point walnut-resident. You have to wonder if Caltrans feels any responsibility to pedestrians or is it all about the cars?


Regarding Joe's post:

Unfortunately, what appeared in the article and was surmised (regarding tree replacements) is not accurate. The Caltrans document clearly reiterates the tree replacement policy with the city, now in place for about a decade.

Though there are roughly 50 (other types of) trees that coexist with elms and heritage eucs along the highway (i.e.: sycamore, redwood, cypress and liquid amber. etc) these can be removed by Caltrans without replacement. But this is too much minutia for this blog ....I'm already offending poor Fred with my overly long posts.

The salient point is that as a result of widening 5-6 ft. on each side of the highway, there will be no space available for any new tree saplings. This creates a permanent treeless gap. It is just a matter of not enough real estate.

It's too bad, because (speaking of pedestrians) I cannot imagine feeling at ease, walking a block and a half without any trees as a barrier-- very vulnerable, and so close to a school with the little kids. Even if this city could negotiate elm replacements for all these removals (and I'm fairly certain it could do that in this case), these would not be replaced in the affected area for 500 ft. And the same would be true for any other intersection of El Camino in which Caltrans would insert turn channels. The lane and taper thereof requires several hundred feet of space to engineer, and there is no way around it.


Thanks, Jennifer. The DJ reporter (Angela) is still pretty new and may not realize that the "rest of the story" is here on the Voice. Perhaps you could give her a call and bring her current?


I just don't get all the hyped up rhetoric about high density housing near transportation corridors so supposedly people won't use their cars.
On one hand our state is pushing for more and more high density housing in the bay area while at the other end here we have Caltrans building wider and wider roadways to allow for more cars!!

Wider roadways to allow more cars will not make it safer for pedestrians! Caltrans builds roadways for cars not people! This all boils down to money.


This Thurs. evening, Nov. 13th from 6:30-8:30 is Caltrans’ Open House at the BURLINGAME REC. CENTER. It is important that Caltrans experiences many attendees so that the agency gets the clear message that our residents care about what happens to our beautiful, historic and unique highway. Representatives from the various departments will presumably be available to answer questions.

The Draft documents indicate that the only solution to left turn accidents that Caltrans intends to pursue.0 (known as the “Build” option), is the insertion of a 5th lane on both sides of the the highway, at the Floribunda intersection. This will result in widening of our residential highway for a length of approx. 500 ft .

14-15 trees need to be permanently removed to accomplish this, and there will be no room (not enough width left) for replacement plantings in that area (as per Caltrans Visual Impact Assessment report, Sept. 2014, pg. 1, under ‘Project Description’’)


To answer the question about Caltrans' responsibility to pedestrians, you only have to look at how many crosswalks there are at this intersection. There used to be 3 but now there are only 2. What happened? Well 5 yrs ago or so when Caltrans upgraded the signals at this intersection, they actually removed the crosswalk crossing Floribunda on the Hillsborough side. Why? Because they want to really facilitate as much opportunities for left turners to go towards Hillsborough and not be burdened with yielding to pedestrians who might be crossing. There was no hearing no notice.

Well just because the crosswalk isn't there anymore doesn't mean there aren't people who cross. Caltrans just made it less safe and illegal for them to do so. That in a nutshell shows where Caltrans' priorities are.


California Department of Transportation = CARS

They need to keep themselves employed right?


The last accident I am aware of happened to a City of Burlingame Public Works Supervisor.
The accident caused him to have his leg amputated.
The accident was the direct result of an SUV Driver, not focused on driving, making a left turn at Florabunda and ECR. Texting?
I think we need to take a "Hard Look" at the need of SUV's driving the streets of Burlingame.
There is really no need for those vehicles to be driving around children at the most stressful times of he day.
What happened to buses, walking?
I do not believe that there is one home in Burlingame that is not within a 30 minute walk to school.
The streets are narrow, lots of trees. Believe it or not, some kids do walk to school. While texting. How sad..
SUV's are for people like The Palin Family in Alaska. Or anyone who lives in the snow, wind, rain etc.
I think the best way for the City of Burlingame to address this issue at ECR and Florabunda would be:
-Ask the poor guy who lost his leg what he thinks.
-How many SUV's were involved vs. normal cars at accidents at that intersections?
-How many school age/"infant" children were either in the vehicle at the time of the accident, or dropped off shortly thereafter.
One more thing.
How many City of Burlingame Employees drive SUV's as part of their daily transportation?
The answer is "A Lot."
Why not a Prius, or electric car.
Happy Holidays.


Motorcycle vs. SUV.....I guess it is pretty predictable how a collision comes out- he's probably fortunate to have survived. For awhile, the price of gas seemed to make SUVs less attractive, but now I'm seeing them, again, though the size maybe is trending down (?)

I agree with you completely that bad habits are starting really, really early. Even toddlers are given I PAD devices and the like to watch movies. In the streets, adults pushing baby carts, on the phones and ignoring their babies, others texting while driving, scores of BHS teens walking across several lanes of traffic, oblivious--all are looking at their devices and not really aware of what is going on around them. It is a sad trend that I doubt will disappear anytime soon.....


Thank you Jennifer for the comments.
The texting thing might eventually pass on, like Mullets.
I have no children, but I do like to know where my pets are. I guess the same goes for parents too.
I can see in the near future3-5 years, children being implanted with "chips."
Why not?
Location, food, alcohol, drug-legal and illegal intake.
This is going to be a BIG INVESTMENT INDUSTRY.
I am sure that there are already programs like this underway.
The Human Right People will have their hands full.
They very well should.
This process is a step below the tattoos the Jews went through in Europe.


That's right, because each generation typically models after their parents' behavior and what they have witnessed. If kids grow up seeing their parent or parents distracted, never in the 'Here and Now', always leashed to a device, they won't know any better than to do the same.

Myself, I have a "dumb" phone and am too unskilled to text, photograph or do anything fancy. I don't even know how to retrieve messages off of it, but it appears most of the time these are junk pieces from service providers and the like. When I need directions, I'm not too proud to try and read a paper map, or better, ask a human being.

The day will come when we lose most of our four-way stops in town as things become more crowded. That day will be a sad one. A four-way stop is one of the last opportunities for visual niceties that we have left in Burlingame, besides pushing a shopping cart through narrow aisles of some grocery stores. A nod, a smile, a wave. These all disappear with signals; people get tunnel vision and lose all connection to the community at large.

Bruce Dickinson

Dynamite observations Holy-baby and Jennifer. Bruce Dickinson is hopeful that the good aspects of technology, such as driverless cars, will allow people to at least interact in the vehicle again, like eating a meal at dinnertime or sitting on the living room couch watching TV. With driverless cars, issues such as widening this intersection become a moot point, as it were. Moreover, will greatly reduce the stress that commuting causes with everyone. I really hope that by eliminating the need to occupy time with driving and sitting in traffic that people will come to enjoy their surroundings, other people, and smell the flowers, as it were.

If our city "experts" area really skilled at planning, they would know that all this high density, transit oriented housing, HSR, Cal-Trans widening of roads will all be non-issues in 7-10 years. Driverless technology is here and trust me, this will change everything!


Yep, driverless cars are going to be yet another bullet-point in my Caltrans DEIR comments. Now, if we could only find a quick 'fix' to mitigate all the bad driving in the meanwhile...

Drive it Everyday

I have a sugggestion for Caltrans if they would bother to listen. How about instead of putting in left turn lanes they just deal with the flooding issues up and down El Camino. We have had hardly any rain and there are still at least three flooding signs up in town alreay. Now THAT is dangerous for when we get real rain

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