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January 07, 2015


john @dropcam pro review

Good to know that you're city is making progress, unlike some cities around the globe where it sits like forever.. Hope there's a gym and other facilities included

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Speaking of new rec/community center, here's the latest project schedule:


As I've stated before, let's hope it's ultimately funded equitably, not just on the backs of newer property owners via general obligation bonds!

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Pretty swanky conceptual designs for the new rec center:



Actually, the "designs" that appear on that document are photos of other community centers from all over the bay area. To take the discussion to the community and move from broad to the more tangible, these photos are for conversation only, as they can be used to assess certain priorities for a future community center in our city. For those who have not yet taken part, here is the monkey survey to express your own opinions/preferences about general architectural style and outward appearance in our park.


Bruce Dickinson

How about this for a design:


Yes, what a great metaphorical architectural style for the debtors' prison Burlingame is gonna be in with projects such as a new Rec Center and new City Hall. I can understand one project, but do we need to burn a hole in our pockets the minute we get money in the coffers? One year, we're begging MTC for their money, while the next, we're drunk on champagne in self-feclictitations, ready to throw stuff to the highest bidder (who is probably in Burlingame government...just a prediction from the King of Prescience, namely Bruce Dickinson).

Guys, before you can spend, you gotta save first. Better to buy the Hyundai or BMW and drive it till the wheels fall off and build some capital before you go out and buy the Ferrari. That's how yours truly did it.

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Saw this update posted on the city's website; makes me wonder when the students' parents will be surveyed about HOW the new community center will be PAID For, and specifically, how each parent's tax payment might compare relative to their neighbors/fellow Burlingame community center users...

"In another round of community outreach, Group 4 and Recreation Staff went to Burlingame High School & BIS during lunch to gather feedback regarding design values and program options for the new Burlingame Community Center. Over 500 surveys were collected and students were enthusiastic about this exciting project and the potential opportunities for Burlingame teens that the new building could provide."

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The following article appeared in today's SM Daily Journal in case anyone missed it:


Bruce Dickinson

Well, well, well, look who got into the taste making business all of a sudden? Yes, the Burlingame City Council of all bodies. With the Rec Center, for the first time we don’t see the brick-and-glass modern architecture that has infiltrated Burlingame like a cancer and here we have something that harkens to the high school and Burlingame train station, and now we have Association of International Architects chiming in all of a sudden! Is it just me, or does this Bruce Dickinson detect something is amiss, particularly given the scathing comments from Nagel and Brownrigg? So what gives? Is this a case of OPM versus YOM? Let me elaborate, if you will.

When it’s OPM, or Other People’s Money, namely developers proposing projects who grease the paws, of various governmental bodies, ya know what I mean? allowing council members to conveniently look away, count the tax dollars, and reserve the criticism for other stuff where they know they don’t have much downside. In the case of YOM or Your Own Money, when you gotta spend it (or in this case the money doesn’t really exist, as it were), the bar is higher all of a sudden. C’mom guys, do you have to make it so obvious? Sometimes I think government thinks they’re always dealing with an electorate that is a bag of hammers! Or is it that an outside architectural firm, not one of the local Burlingame ones, is doing the work the issue? Who knows, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter but the scrutiny and comments seem like a double standard to me. Bruce Dickinson loves the comment that the problem is from ‘crowdsourcing or democracy” as opposed to a single source (aka ‘dictatorship’ ya know what I mean)? Well I hope that view isn’t reflective of YOUR OWN OFFICE, buddy! where you were democratically elected and people expect you to act as a representative! One would think given Brownriggs diplo- background, he should know better than to say this.

Like I said earlier and as mentioned by Joe and several others that unilateral architecture, rubber stamped by our own City Council, including the property on California, that Which Wich building, the senior facility, the new monster on Carolan, some of the condos near Trousdale is where there should have been a lot more scrutiny. All we heard there was crickets chirping followed by a rubber stamp hitting the approval documents.

Call my intelligence insulted!!!

Account Deleted

I submitted the following letter which appeared in the Daily Post earlier this week:

Dear Editor:

A major issue facing Burlingame is how to address approximately $100 million of unfunded infrastructure projects, including a possible new community center.

Indeed, the question of how to fund a new community center was posed during a recent City Council candidates forum.
However, different cost estimates — $15 million and $40 million — were cited by two council candidates.

I subsequently confirmed the estimated cost with Burlingame Parks and Recreation Director Margaret Glomstad. She confirmed $15 million refers to the current estimated cost of the new building, itself. However, the new building cannot be constructed without necessary site work, which includes relocation of the current playground and creating dedicated parking.

The current estimated cost of this site work is between $8.9 million to $10.5 million.

Additionally, estimated “soft costs” for the project total between $7.7 million to $8.2 million. Thus, the total current estimated cost of the new community center is approximately $32 million to $34 million.

However, the parks and recreation director also indicated these estimates do not include the cost of a temporary facility while the new building is being constructed.

And should the city need to issue voter-approved bonds to finance the entire project, these estimates do not include bond interest, which a new tax would also need to cover.

Assuming an average 20-year bond maturity and 4% interest rate, interest could conceivably add another $15 million to $20 million to the cost.

Thus, the total cost could be closer to $50 million.


Thanks Lorne. It's a good letter, I saw it, too.

If you can back up several steps and ask yourself whether we need a new Center, or can function adequately by patching the old one, that is where the conversation should start. Did you ask for a 'tour', as I am sure you will get one if you want. After that, if you still think patching is the best use of city funds, that's okay, you are entitled to your opinion and your right not to support it. We would still need to retrofit the masonry in the auditorium (so that it can be a disaster center) and that is certainly possible-, or come up with another site to accommodate that need.

If it hasn't been done already, I think the city should do some accounting of costs over the past decade, in maintenance related items on that building. They also should start tracking how many times they've turned away rental requests, simply because they do not have space, or the room(s) cannot offer whatever is necessary for the party wanting to lease the space.

It must have been 10 or 15 years ago that the deluxe version was developed, and to satisfy the parking needs, it envisioned the purchase of at least one or two private properties across the street--lower income apts. as a matter of fact. That project started with around a $40 million price tag, without all the interest you've added on top. Then the bottom fell out of the economy, and it was all over. And that was a long time ago. So at approx. $34 million, which is the basic number I've seen, too (at least they are consistent), this seems like a more conservative project, which is appropriate for a small city like ours. The programming has not been widely publicized, but putting the building itself aside, it will be a huge improvement in that it will better address the needs of all ages. As I've mentioned before, this city has so few leasable spaces anywhere, and this center will be able to fill this void and hopefully derive a nice income from it.

We do not know the funding mechanism, but as you've mentioned, it probably will involve voter approved bonds. Some communities have philanthropic types who donate funds, or entire facilities to cities, but there are often strings attached, so if we do this, we need a Council and staff that vet any proposal very carefully. There is usually no such thing as a free lunch. This whole discussion has not even started, but from the long list of capital improvements I've seen, I think this one provides the most bang for the buck. You are a smart guy, I know you will provide plenty of input and suggestions along the way, should we go down any of these paths.

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Thank you for your comments, as well, Jennifer.

Just to be clear, my main concerns at this point are as follows:

1) Given the wide disparity in the two cost estimates that were cited the Council candidates forum, I wanted to get the facts and set the record straight, for the broader community's (taxpayers') benefit.

2) Regardless of whether the city/Council proceeds with a new building vs. patching/renovating, I'm more concerned about how these improvements would be paid for- and specifically, how the tax burden would be spread throughout the community. I'm happy to pay my fair share, but the burden should be borne equitably, particularly for a community center/asset which offers an equal benefit for all. As I've posted ad nauseam, general obligation bonds would shift the tax burden disproportionately and unfairly on newer property owners. How long someone has owned his/her property in Burlingame is not a determinant of his/her ability to pay his/her fair share for these improvements!


There is really no need or demand for services for a Rec Center that would justify spending 50 Million Dollars.
Or 30 Million.
Or 20 Million.
The current Rec center is in a residential area.
Narrow streets, convalescing hospital, Cal Train, Burlingame High School and soon HSR.
This is a ridiculous concept.
It sounds like the Director, Margaret Glomstad is not so hot on the idea either.
Plenty of room out at the Bayside.


No one will want to drive out to Bayside for the rec center. Not sure where you get the idea that Margaret is against the current location as from working with her over the years, I have NEVER had that impression. The current location allows them to walk children to pool, fields etc during summer camps and not have to put them on a bus to get them somewhere.The seniors can walk across the street from the senior home to programs. As Jennifer mentioned, go tour the facility. Once you do, you will see why we need a new one.


Lorne, I wonder if you would (very methodically-Financing Bonds 101) go through an explanation of how General Obligation Bonds work, and the way these are typically paid back...so people like myself understand. :) thanks in advance.

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Jennifer - It's very straightforward: The principal and interest on G.O. bonds are paid back with taxes based on property owner's assessed value - not current fair market value. If you need more detail than that, I'm happy to chat with you over the phone. Otherwise, you could speak with someone at the San Mateo County Tax Collectors office.

Peter Garrison

Save for a rainy day while paying down debt and the pensions. Reasons: Kids will discover Morse Code and flag semaphore- no more need for expensive apps and watches. Kim Il Jun will lobe an ICBM with a dummy warhead somewhere west of the Farallons. Earthquake. We all move to Roy, Utah.


I do not believe Ms. Glomsted has any position on where, and when, and if, a new Recreation Center be built.
Nevertheless, the need, demand, and cost needs to be foremost.
Dear Laura,
I am very interested in POV.
That is what BV is all about.
Please share with me-us your justification for spending 50,000,000.00 for a new Rec Center.
Please add in the cost of staffing-Benefits, maintenance-heat& air conditioning,$15,000.00 to &24,000.00 per month.
Seriously Laura...
Think your thoughts all the way through.
You sound like a "Trust Fund Baby."

Bruce Dickinson

Guys, answer BD this one (or two): how many square feet is this new rec center proposal? And is the funded cost (excluding interest payments) $32-$34 million dollars or $50 million dollars?

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In case anyone didn't see the article below (second link) re: a forthcoming region-wide parcel tax on the June 2016 ballot. Glad to see the SF Bay Restoration Authority (which County Supervisor- and Burlingame's own -Dave Pine currently chairs) at least opted for a flat parcel tax, as opposed to general obligation bonds/assessed value tax. If the region can use this more equitable method for bay restoration capital projects (issuing revenue bonds backed by parcel taxes), then why shouldn't we do the same for our own unfunded capital/infrastructure projects here in Burlingame?



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