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June 22, 2015



Read the entire report on the City of San Mateo's website. Close to 25 commercial parcels would be lost thru eminent domain under both Alternative 1 and Alternative 2. Major utilities will have to be relocated such as gas, electrical, sewer and water. Preliminary cost estimates $56 million plus under Alternative 1, Over $70 million plus under Alternative 2 which would have to acquire a large apartment building on N. Amphlett. This will have a negative impact on our neighborhoods. San Mateo keeps pointing at Burlingame regarding office development at the drive in site. Burlingame and San Mateo neighbors again need to unit on this one!!


Well, San Mateo is right to point at Burlingame because Burlingame is the PROBLEM. It is time to wake up and get rid of the PROBLEM. Drive in. Post Office. Car dealer site on Carolan. 5 story apartments near City Hall. That is the PROBLEM.


[Let's see how long it takes "Fred" to tell us how stupid Burlingame was to resist this plan the first time when it first appeared nearly a decade ago, because it only involved two parking spaces.....]

The report is worth the read, as they seek multiple design exceptions, mainly involving substandard site distance-- obvious to those of us familiar with that sharp curve in the freeway-- in either alternative, property takings are huge, as noted several years ago. Nothing has changed. Some tidbits (NOT including traffic impacts on Burlingame, as these are nowhere to be found, nor mention of what certainly will become 4-lanes of Peninsula Ave. --thus likely no more parking on Peninsula and spillage into side streets of both cities...etc. etc.):

"...US 101 from south of Peninsula Avenue to East Poplar Avenue may be at periodic inundation risk ...from sea level rise in 2030, and the entire project area along US 101 at risk to sea level rise by 2050. raising the grade of US 101 is not considered reasonable, but a potential adaptive action may include use of construction materials that are more resilient to sea water inundation."

"Community Impacts: The affected community consists primarily of commercial business uses north of Peninsula Avenue, and multi-family units south of Peninsula Avenue. The primary community impacts associated with the project alternatives will be property acquisition and relocation. Both alternatives will impact existing commercial businesses between Howard Avenue and Peninsula Avenue. Most of these structures in the segment fronting North Amphlett Boulevard and US 101 will have to be removed, and the businesses relocated. These include service businesses such as cleaning, supplies, auto repair and service, and small warehouses. Both Alternative 1 and 2 would require acquisition of most, if not all, of these businesses."

"Residential uses that previously viewed or adjoined these commercial buildings will have new views of the freeway and areas to the north. The level of effort needed for the analysis of impacts should allow for the preparation of visual simulations of the alternatives.

Residential areas that will be exposed to the freeway will be evaluated for noise abatement and assuming they qualify, a soundwall would be constructed along the freeway right-of- way that will again block direct views of US 101. North Amphlett Boulevard would be shifted to parallel the realigned southbound off-ramp.

“Environmental justice”: Alternative 2 would require residential acquisitions and relocation of residents. The housing between Peninsula Avenue and East Poplar Avenue will be exposed to construction activities. The Community Impact Assessment (CIA) will need to include evaluation of the community residents and neighborhood characteristics, and an assessment of Environmental Justice effects.

"The retaining wall supporting the ramp will rise up to approximately 25 to 30 feet in height at Peninsula Avenue. For the southbound on- ramp, the same sequence of retaining wall and soundwall will be constructed to replace the existing soundwall. For residents north of Peninsula Avenue, residents will again see a masonry wall, but it will be closer due to the realignment of North Amphlett Boulevard to accommodate the new on-ramp."

"With Alternative 2, the view of the proposed ramps will be similar, but the compound curve of the ramp will place the retaining wall/soundwall closer to the remaining residents between the unnamed alleys and North Idaho Street. Residential units south of Peninsula Avenue will be acquired and removed, and residents along the alleys would see the retaining wall for the southbound on-ramp and a soundwall on the edge of the ramp."


Unfortunately Hillsider, you are correct. It is those projects as well as other projects in the works that most of us haven't even heard of yet, that is the driving force. I'm shocked at all the potential developments I've been hearing about since researching the Peninsula overpass. All of these projects have the potential to change Burlingame from the quaint small town that we all know and love, to a congested mess of high rises and traffic.

State dollars and Sacramento is the driving force and unfortunately, our City is conforming to whatever Sacramento wants which is high density, low income housing along the traffic corridor. It doesn't matter that there is no water, no mass transit or the infrastructure to support it. Everyone needs to pay attention to what is going on or else before you know it, the Burlingame we know today, will be gone.


Once again, San Mateo has conveniently "forgotten" why this proposal was killed back in 2007. The Hexagon consulting report from then specified that Peninsula Avenue needed to be widened to two lanes on each side, to support all the new traffic from the full interchange.

The only way to do this, is to raze all the homes, schools and businesses on the north side of Peninsula (i.e., Burlingame) from Humboldt all the way to California Drive. Back then, the estimated cost of doing just property acquisition for this was north of $25 million (probably a heck of a lot more today)

There is no mentioning of the widening of Peninsula ave in this proposal, which just focuses on adding the on/off ramps at Peninsula. I wonder if that is an oversight or the plan.


Jennifer, I have never called anyone or the city as a whole stupid. I said it was a huge mistake because a lot of Caltrans money was left on the table that would have gone towards this project. The two parking spots are all Burlingame has to give up. San Mateo has to give up commercial properties and an apartment complex that has been the location of gang activity over many years. The project is inevitable because it makes too much sense.

Peter Garrison

One traffic cop during rush hours.


Yes, there is no mention of widening Peninsula on the Burlingame side because that essentially will be Burlingame's problem.

I well remember the Hexagon Report back in 2007 when both cities paid equally for this report. Peninsula southbound ramps was deemed too expensive to warrant further study.
So what has changed? It is even more expensive now!

Preliminary eminent domain costs in current report are listed as $12 million under Alternative 1 and $19 million under Alternative 2. Difference is whether to take the entire apartment building south of Peninsula. Mind you that apartment building alone sold in 2008 for $12 million.

Again driving force behind all this is development which means money money money for our cities which frankly is happening all up and down the Peninsula.

So we either rise up to a challenge or sell our multi million dollar homes(if still worth that)and get out of dodge or simply do nothing.

So get ready for more traffic, more fumes, diminished quality of life, crowded schools and the list goes on and on.


I still don't understand why they don't just do all of this at Poplar. Instead of taking homes and businesses they could take the DMV property (one state agency for another) and put in the biggest clover they could imagine.


Too close to schools


You are right Joanne, we either need to speak now, sell or we will be forced to live with the consequences of inaction. There is more big development in the works for the Lyon Hoag area that in addition to the overpass, will bring even more traffic through our neighborhoods and I'm not talking about the Carolyn development or the Post Office. Please be aware of what is going on in our City and make your views know to the City Council.


Fred, seriously, are all the monies Caltrans "leaves on the table" really worth taking?? That is OUR taxpayer money!! Sorry, but I don't understand the logic of approving some of the most destructive projects in our state because they have been "funded". God help Caltrans when their project list dries up. How will they justify their existence and jobs? But there will always be another bridge to build (or massively repair), won't there?


I am with you on Caltrans Jennifer.
They do not have a problem with looking for ways to spend our tax dollars so their engineers are kept busy!

I would like to know what other developments are in the works for the Lyon Hoag area as my family owns homes on both the San Mateo and Burlingame side of Peninsula.

Light up the switchboards

If this is how so many Bay Area residents feel about the Tax-Spend-Absurd-Debt-Level gov't, then why does only about 25% of the residents bother to vote? And for those who do vote, why keep the Tax-Spend-Absurd-Debt-Level political machine in power here?

The City Council is there to be your representative, not your ruler.

Light up the switchboards and the emails and the lunch meetings with these resident reps!

To email each of the 5 city council members:

[email protected]



All projects in the locking up property stage or at planning (and still a slim chance they don't get bought or built) but developer is combining multiple lots, from 1/2 way down the block at Bayswater at Myrtle to the start of the auto shops towards Howard. The proposal is to build multiple condos with parking for 110 cars, three or four stories, can't remember now, but thought it was four. Then a 45'high office building with underground parking at the gas station on Howard and East Lane. I think it was three stories of office. Combine that with the other projects in Downtown Burlingame, it doesn't take much to see where the cars are going to get to the freeways and what they are going to need to get them there.


Well those townhouses at the corner of Bayswater & Anita quickly sold at over a million each one block from the train tracks and across the street from the fenced off storage lot.

Another rumor I heard was turning Burlingame's auto row into high density housing. Any truth to this??


They will never get rid of the car dealerships as they are a huge contributor to Burlingames budget. I have always heard that they would like to add housing above the auto dealerships having auto sales on the first floor and units up above. Don't know if that's a pipe dream or an actual fact in progress. In addition to the Post office site development, another office high rise is being considered next to Christies at the old consignment store and kitchen cabinet building on California. More traffic, more congestion. Again, all this growth and the cars that go with it, lead to the Peninsula overpass project more than likely being supported by our City.

Light up the switchboards

Look at the city website and planning maps. The city would like to encourage auto dealers to move to Adrian to potentially generate more sales via visibility. I agree that this would work, however, retail sales are driven by critical mass/gravity, so that entire cluster of the current auto row would be too cumbersome to move so many dealers unless it was really orchestrated aggressively by the city. Yes, Jerry Brown & Co have mandates for new housing in each city and his clan are all bought into TOD as the solution to more affordable housing and a greener way to grow the economy. Those absorbitant pensions at 50-then-get-another-job-on-top (haha) are kinda like a Ponzi scheme, they completely fail to pay out unless there's steady growth to the economy.

And, gotta keep the construction companies and their trade associations (after all they keep Jerry Brown in office) happy, right (haha)?

The auto dealers are already getting astronomical purchase offers for their land. I tried to buy some of the semi-prime land for a billionaire-backed synagogue client of mine. We could compete with autodealers, but not against high density housing developer values...

I've also tried to buy the consignment store property. Big land parcel footprint, close to Caltrain. Yes, perfect development upside I thought.

Yes, it helps to have someone that really understands real estate and who knows all of the developers and that can be a fiduciary in public office, actually.

Pick what you want, it's your city! It doesn't belong to any political party, it doesn't belong to any trade association, it doesn't belong to any one developer. Per my post above and many others like it, hold the city council members accountable, march in the streets, boycott Burlingame Ave or only buy local, but at least get off the couch!

Burlingame is a beautiful city, isn't it?

First seek to understand, and then to be understood...

I think that it would help Burlingame residents and city employees and city elected officials to understand that while Burlingame is fending off developers and businesses (businesses want office space by the Caltrain), the rest of the Bay Area is going gang-busters. Now, Burlingame could use it's own type of gang-busting, but that's another story.

In the meantime, you might just love my friend's excellent publication on commercial and residential real estate called The Registry. http://news.theregistrysf.com/about-us/


DJ article from June 24th-

Ironically, while they cite the substandard Poplar on/off ramp (and clearly, it is), the alternatives at Peninsula seem to involve incorporation of substandard sight-lines/ and consequently reduced driver reaction time. Also mentioned is that they may advocate for an auxiliary lane to mitigate some of these issues. If I'm not mistaken, something like this was proposed in some of the earlier plans for the alley-way that runs right behind Nini's. It also appears the brand new overpass bridge they constructed there a few years ago may well have to be widened.

Although this all seems to transpire on San Mateo real estate, Burlingame residents appreciate the aesthetics of the beautiful, well-kept homes in these blocks and consider them to be an asset to our own neighborhood. The loss of a true low-income housing complex is also not desirable. The concern does not stop at our own borders. The commercial node provides us with a variety of services, including restaurants. If the vast majority of businesses there are taken through eminent domain (and such appears to be the case), the others will probably not survive. It seems to me that this is one very short step away from blight.


Is all of the high density development mentioned above possible with our building codes and zoning. I don't know much about it. Is there still R1, R2 and R3 and does R3 really mean R50 or R100?


Technically, there is no R1 anymore in the State of California, except for perhaps in Marin, where certain state mandates were successfully fought (also posted here by someone awhile back...). In this city, for example, if you have a standard parcel of at least 6,000 sq ft, the STATE entitles you to build a cottage of I think 800 sq. ft. BTW, this is also true in Hillsborough (up to 1500 sq. ft.), a city that for awhile somehow managed to work around all this. As far as R3 and R4, I think what has been changing is that there have been development bonus incentives, like more height allowed if a certain number of "attainable" units are included. And there is an entire industry built on this...It is very complicated, and I wouldn't even attempt to explain it, but the Planning Dept. can, if you are interested. Also what has changed in most areas close to downtown are the parking mandates. Prior to 2010, I'm pretty sure ground floor parking, however inadequate, was grandfathered, as long as there were no significant changes. Some people on this site talk about paying into the Parking District developed long ago (60s?), and can certainly explain that better than I.

Post Downtown Specific plan, even new construction on the ground floor is parking exempt in the downtown proper, so the parking quotas first kick in with the upper stories, and in several areas, up to 55ft. is allowed (using certain outlined design guidelines). Notably, the parking requirements have been reduced since 2010, the thought being that people would (read: 'should') use their cars less frequently if they live close in. The virtue of that part remains to be seen, but you put this together with the good economy et viola.


And I forgot to say (regarding second units), for some odd reason, I don't think they "count" towards the official numbers towards satisfying this city's density units, though I cannot imagine why not--Also, although these structures have to be constructed to abide by the same setbacks, etc. that the primary structure has to use, there is no design review whatsoever-- also a state mandate. I cannot remember about the parking--I suspect that currently it has to be considered together with the primary residence when counting spots, but I'd be willing to bet that this hindrance will also disappear, at some point because the group think of the MTC and the ABAGers is that people should be using Public Transit, even though there isn't really a 'network' at all, to speak of.


How is an full interchange at Peninsula one of the most destructive projects in the state? It makes sense, it's safer than the Poplar ramp and it services both sides of the freeway properly. Traffic mitigation like Palo Alto has is what is needed in the Lyon/Hoag neighborhood. Palo Alto handles traffic very well.


Taking big pieces of commercial and residential properties that are not blighted, demolishing them, and replacing them with freeway ramps and walls and shadowed voids, qualifies in my book; but to each, his own.

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