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August 13, 2015



More from Jen, Burlingame's unofficial Queen of the Trees.

Caltrans is of the opinion that their widening turn channel project will not adversely affect the trees and environment of the Howard Ralston Historic Tree Rows DISTRICT. They have submitted their application for a “Finding of No Adverse Effect” to the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) for review. Caltrans is indeed proceeding with widening project. 14 tree (rather than stated 13—they’ve made an error that they’ve since acknowledged) will be removed for good in the widened portion of 644 ft. on the eastside and 427 feet on the westside. Just 5 trees (those of the large eucalyptus or elm family) considered “contributory” will be replaced with elm saplings elsewhere on the highway, but not there.

Though an attempt is made in the application to compare the Big Gap they are creating, with smaller gaps in other areas of El Camino Real, it is not mentioned that the other “gaps” typically have some trees in them (sycamore, smaller eucalyptus, etc.). Elms were prohibited from being planted for decades in California, and so for following the law, we are now being punished.

Mature trees, regardless of type, visually contribute to the original pattern, rhythm and intent of the original plantings, and more importantly, with time and attrition, can and will be filled with new elm saplings, considered historically correct and “Contributory” to the resource.

Conversely this new stretch of several hundred feet is not plantable. There is no mention in the document that area will be void of trees, forever.

There is also no mention of the CO 2 absorption of the big trees, nor any mention of wildlife in the trees being affected. The roadbed will be widened for the first time since its paving in 1913, from 43 ft. to roughly 60 ft. There is little doubt that this project will set a precedent facilitating Caltrans' ultimate, longterm goal of widening El Camino Real for its entire length through our city.

Barring some as of yet undisclosed plan of Caltrans’ to purchase permanent tree-well easements (doubtful), there is no room for planter strips, and just a the bare minimal-width sidewalk (I suspect 5 feet). Notably, pedestrians and properties will no longer be protected by the trees from cars jumping the curb. Though this Finding deals only with the damage to the trees, the Historic Tree Rows District as a whole, the environment and tangentially the defining character feature of Burlingame, it is the linchpin needed for Caltrans to move ahead.

In 1948, in one of many notable widening attempts, Caltrans made plans to double the width of the highway all the way through the city, and the citizens and city fought back.

These days, the widening is done incrementally, and before we know it, there is nothing left. Caltrans has not addressed numerous letters from our city and citizens including actual up to date accident rates, or tried any “Operational" solutions, such as signal timing, no lefts eastbound, one ways, etc. All these taken alone, or in combination should have been tried on a test basis, during the past two years,at the latest, if the issue they are trying to improve is truly one of safety, before resorting to something that cannot be undone, that permanently mars our beautiful city.

Personally, I have no doubt that the widening will result in higher speeds in the only curved segment along our highway, thus likely making it more dangerous. Additionally, it will become far wider to cross back and forth for pedestrians, exposing them to new dangers.

Don’t wait on this one, time is running out for the trees. If you want to register your Objection to the Finding of no Adverse Effect, write to the SHPO reviewer (and also cc to our own city: [email protected] and copies sent to Jerry Hill, and other local representatives would not hurt.

Council meeting Monday August 17th, Deadline for SHPO response contesting the “Finding” is: Friday, August 21st. -

Natalie Lindquist at the State Office of Historic Preservation:

[email protected]

and hard copy to:

Julianne Polanco, State Office of Historic Preservation
1725 23rd Street, Suite, 100
Sacramento, CA 95816
ATTN: NATALIE LINDQUIST, ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE RE: Floribunda Intersection Safety Improvement Project


And from Pat G.

I urge you to join me on Aug. 17th @ 7pm @ City Hall to ask Council if it plans to roll over and play dead while Caltrans does what it wants without having acknowledged the citizens and the Council requests for further study and looking for alternate solutions.

I'm assuming the City will cave because they fear our transportation funding will be held hostage if it stands in the path of Caltrans' project just as it was and continues to be unless we develop more housing.

I urge you to stand with me as I request that Council take legal action against the project. It is important that every seat is filled on Monday night.

The TBSP-Traffic Safety and Parking Commission meets tomorrow night, Aug 13 @ 7pm in City Hall and will discuss and take public comment on the issue. Again, it's paramount that the room is PACKED.


If anyone ever had any doubts regarding what the "Grand Blvd. Initiative" really is about....

Pg. 2 DEIR--SAFETEA-LU act, enacted in 2005...provided the following expenditures on or near SR 82:

1. High Priority Project #1942: SR82 "GRAND BOULEVARD" Initiative in SM County- $3,000,000

(It appears this project is largely funded through GBI)


I am sure the bottom line of this project is tied in with HSR.
The years it will take to complete HSR will have a huge effect on traffic and business in Burlingame for at least6-7 years until completion.
What does the Park & Rec Director have to say about this?


What a shame that the council wasted so much time on so-called affordable housing when they could have been doing something to reign in Caltrans. There plenty of examples of wasted effort at the expense of things the actual current residents care about.

Peter Garrison

$100 for a "No Left Turn" sign.



And just to be clear, this is not just involving "the corner", there is a significant area involving in widening, that will result in 14-15 trees being clear cut between Oak Grove to south of Floribunda, right going into the big (and only) curve. NO room for replanting, thus no tree barrier, and the sidewalk replacement will be a mere 4 feet wide.


The Daily Journal recap of Monday's meeting is here http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2015-08-19/burlingame-bands-together-over-tree-fight-residents-officials-oppose-caltrans-plan-to-remove-trees-from-historic-grove/1776425148713.html

Burlingame residents joined the City Council in railing against an effort by Caltrans to remove a chunk of the city’s historic eucalyptus tree grove lining a stretch of El Camino Real.

City staff and officials agreed during the council meeting Monday, Aug. 18, to draft a letter opposing the removal of the trees, and send it to the California Department of Transportation.

The root of the ongoing bout is the state agency’s desire to widen a stretch of the road near Floribunda Avenue to make space for a left-hand turn lane, which Caltrans officials claim is necessary to ensure safety for drivers on El Camino Real.

Five trees, which are part of the Howard-Ralston row identified on the National Register of Historic Places, are being targeted for removal by Caltrans, which has jurisdiction over El Camino Real.

Suggestion: Forget the letter drafted by city staff and get a high-profile CEQA lawyer to draft it........seems obvious.

Bruce Dickinson

Well, Bruce Dickinson gets invited to Michael Dell's Big Island property in Hualalai, Hawaii, and next thing I know when I get back on monday night, we have yet another agency trying to poop all over Burlingame with their ludicrous plans. I've said this time and again, why is Caltrans creating a problem when driverless cars will relegate its agency to pretty much paving roads and road work within 7-10 years? I had my A/V guy pull up the Council meeting tape and wowwowow, what a dynamite defense of the trees with both fact and passion, an unbeatable combo! And the two who stole the show: Mrs. Baylock and Jen-Baby (nice seeing what you look like in person Jen), and I gotta tell ya, I was right in some of my past comments when I said these are the grand dames of Burlingame, ya know what I mean?

Alas, I digress, Mrs. Baylock stole the show in puns, humor and analogies that had this Dickinson chuckle. What is the deal with Brownrigg, who along with the rest of the Council was upstaged and his bitter, snarky comment about Mrs. Baylock never afraid to speak her mind on the other side of the podium seemed to harbor some envy and resentment. Sorry Brownrigg, but to put it plainly, that comment just made you look like a weenie, plain and simple. Seriously, he seemed to have issues with being out-witted and out-humored by Mrs. Baylock who had the audience in complete command and got her points across in a succinct fashion. I tell ya, it's always the good ones who leave and I would be remiss if I didn't say she appears to be having great time back in the public. Cathy, baby, we really need to meet in person someday, and maybe that Joe guy can tag along for a little while maybe for a pre-dinner drink. I kid, I kid. I know Joe gets sensitive around these issues, and I don't blame him.

And Jen-baby, wow, talk about the Burlingame Historian extraordinaire, and I don't mean the person who takes pictures for the yearbook, ya know what I mean?. Documented written history that provides the context for Caltrans' decades long defecatory behavior and I gotta tell ya, you can't argue against the facts and at least Council unanimously seemed to be on the same side of residents for a change.

Time to take that cowbell and put it right up to Caltrans' ear and play the hell out out of it, slamming the drumstick on it as hard as possible, of it until it drives them bonkers. That's what we need, and maybe we can recruit Brownrigg to redirect some of his whining to do what great lawyers do, namely never stop talking in an annoying, complaining fashion so as to exasperate the opposition into submission.

Bruce Dickinson hopes that the response to Caltrans has some real teeth in it and makes it clear that when you see big razor sharp teeth, guess what? they're made to bite! As the saying goes, when you swim with the sharks, you either eat or be eaten. It's time for the Burlingame Jaws of talent to have a little Caltrans for breakfast!

Nice job folks, activism like this makes Bruce Dickinson proud of this town, and coming from me, that means a lot!

"Jerry", The 800 Lbs Gorilla

First of all...hats off to Cathy and Jennifer, because I'm sure that they put a lot of efforts into their Save the Eucs presentation, and I'm sure that it was the best that anyone could have done to stop the bulldozers.

Now then.

Folks, you vote for Dictocrats, and then you are bummed out when the government dictates to you how it is going to mow down 100% of those Eucs when it shoves The Grand Boulevard Initiative down your throats.

Seriously, I was the first person to break the news of the GBI and highlight the problem with "Regionalism", which the various surrounding mayors are totally brain-washed to love.

I actually learned of the problem of regionalism vs. true democracy (or at least having a city be run by the city council and having the city council really listen to the voice of its citizens, instead of only to the voice of Jerry Brown and the EPA) by a friend of mine on the San Carlos city council who supports "restoration of Constitutionally Limited Government at the Federal level, and the establishment of state/local government consistent with the principles of the greatest Individual Liberty, the sanctity of Private Property, Fiscal Responsibility, and a Free Market Economy."

You get what you vote for, folks.

People don't care which attorney drafts a letter. Sac, Jerry Brown & Co and the rest of the 800 Lbs Gorilla all the way down to Burlingame City Council has their Agenda - and they're sticking to it, unless you vote them out of office.

Good luck with that. Game over.

Here's your list of letter recipients, because it isn't just Caltrans that you answer to, its John Root and Ricardo Ortiz and the rest of the GBI board (formerly occupied by Brownrigg).



I had the privilege of listening to an interview regarding Mr.Dickenson on the Radio this afternoon.

It was very funny.
Ozzy Osborne's wife hired @ 200 Mexican kids to throw a carton of eggs each, at Bruce Dickenson' and his band.
I really like the fact that we have a "Divo," in our community that is a Bone Fide Celebrity.
(There is a lot more to the interview than what I am posting)
It can give the BV contributors the opportunity to speak to, and experience the fact that Mr. Dickenson "Bangs the Cow Bell" just like everyone else at this site..
I believe the comments by Sharon Osborne were just a Fun event, to share with the audience.
Was the band called Iron Maiden?
If so, I have to sample some songs from Amazon to figure out if I ever heard any Iron Maiden.
Thank you Mr. Dickenson

Cathy Baylock

It was a distinct pleasure to appear before our City Council to defend our magnificent and historic trees rows on El Camino Real. I appreciate your kind words, Mr. Dickenson and Joe B has given me permission to partake in a cocktail or two with you…It was also a delightful surprise to see our city take a strong stand via its e-news posting about our Eucalpytus grove. See below:

Protest Caltrans Project at Floribunda
Deadline is 5:00 p.m. Friday, August 21

The City of Burlingame urges everyone who cares about protecting the ambience and historical character of El Camino in Burlingame to write by 5 p.m. Friday in opposition to the plan proposed by the California State Department of Transportation (Caltrans) that would cut down 15 trees (five of which have historical status) and widen the intersection at El Camino and Floribunda Avenue to allow a dedicated left-turn lane.

The City has submitted an official response to this project. Specifically, the City has been asked to respond to Caltrans' finding that no adverse effects would impact the Howard-Ralston Eucalyptus Trees Row Historic District (listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2012) as a result of the project. The City argues that it would irreparably damage the historic district by widening the road in the protected district for the first time since 1913; and destroying the safety, cultural, historical and environmental benefits of trees that contribute to this unique stretch of El Camino, which has been a defining hallmark of Burlingame for more than a century.

The City believes Caltrans should address safety issues at the intersection by first trying less-invasive solutions that our city has suggested, such as split-phasing of the traffic signal and implementing no left turns for southbound traffic on El Camino at the Floribunda intersection.

The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, August 21. Emails should go to Natalie Lindquist at [email protected] and Julianne Polanco at [email protected], and a hard copy should be sent to:

Ms. Natalie Lindquist
c/o Ms. Julianna Polanco
State Historian
Architectural Review and Environmental Compliance
California Office of Historic Preservation
1725 23rd Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95816


Typos in the City ListServe! Deadline is today, Friday Aug. 21, 2015
The correct e-mails are the following:

[email protected]
[email protected]

And cc. to our own City Council:
[email protected]

Cathy Baylock

Here is my e-mail, sent to the correct e-mail address (thanks Jen!):
Dear Ms. Lindquist and Ms. Polanco,

I would like to add my voice to the number of Burlingame residents who have sent passionate letters decrying Caltrans' plan to widen National Register listed highway 82 at Floribunda Avenue in Burlingame, CA (also known as The King's Highway and the Howard-Ralston Tree Grove)

I attended your statewide meeting in January 2011 when your board approved the application to name the Howard Ralston Tree Grove to the CA state register and petition the Federal government to also include the trees in the National Register. Afterwards, a staff member approached me and shared that he believed our city's Supreme Court battle to save the trees through a restricted zoning ordinance was our country's first to protect an historic resource as the action pre-dated Charleston's ordinance by one year. Wow.

The widening of El Camino Real does not need to happen as the Cities of Burlingame and Hillsborough have repeatedly proposed several safety measures to improve safety of the intersection in question without cutting a single tree. Those proposals continue to be ignored by Caltrans which has Federal money burning a hole in its proverbial pocket that needs to be used for highway widening.

SHPO has within its power to deny Caltrans' request for "no impact" simply based on the documentation submitted by both the City of Burlingame as well as the Burlingame Historical Society to show there will be a severe and irreversible impact to this National Historic Resource.

Please exercise your power and your duty diligently and deny their request. The City has great faith in your stewardship and trust you will do the right thing.


Cathy Baylock
Burlingame City Council ( 2001 to 2013)
Mayor (2006 and 2010)
1527 Newlands Avenue
Burlingame, CA 94010


It looks as if we may finally get our No Left turn (southbound) on El Camino Real at Floribunda, at least for a trial period of 3 years (there is a typo in the following SM Daily Journal article that mentions a 3 month period).


Kudos to Burlingame Public Works Director Syed Murtuza, City manager Lisa Goldman and Attorney Kathleen Kane, as well as the current and past city councils. Let's do our best to make the No Left arrangement work and get the accident rate down so we can save these and other trees from an untimely demise. Please slow down, everyone, and enjoy the scenic drive through the trees. Ours is pretty much the last segment of highway in California where the leafy canopy still exists to savor.


And of course, thank you to all the BV readers, (with and without real names), who have taken the time during the past two or three years to write heartfelt letters, and even attended Council and Commission meetings to speak passionately about our Grove, while offering dozens of possible solutions meant to help improve safety in that area. You have really helped make a positive difference.


Great work, Jen. I'll put it up as its own post as well so we can monitor progress!

The battle is won, but the war for local control continues.

A much better solution than the removal of trees.

Now, you need to ask your city council members, "What is your position on the Grand Boulevard Initiative?"

What commitments, if any, have they made for Burlingame to comply with this regional plan?

What authority, if any, does the GBI, or any gov't organization have to force Burlingame and other peninsula cities to comply with the GBI?


Task Force Representative

Ricardo Ortiz
[email protected]

Working Committee Representative

William Meeker
[email protected]


We are totally committed to the Petite Boulevard Initiative--with leafy coverage throughout. It's way more green than that "Grand" nonsense. I will ask Ricardo the next time I see him, unless he weighs in here first!

The battle is won, but the war for local control continues.

Joe, I was participating in a community planning meeting last week that focused on El Camino Real and the traffic consultant/planner that was facilitating my table made a statement in reply to my concern about the GBI, "Well, the GBI does give individual towns SOME leeway [with widening of El Camino and high density housing and retail entitlements and skip stop bus lines in the middle, etc]".

I've never heard ANY real opposition to the GBI from Burlingame elected officials or city planners (or Daly City to San Jose which the GBI covers).

As I've brought up many times on BV for several years GBI, HSR, TOD, Global Warming, Cap N Trade, Social Justice et all - it's all the same tune playing out of different Arses.

Yep, you read that right, the biggest boosters of this tune absolutely see these initiatives of Regionalism as pro Social Justice because it will generate a sh*t-ton of new Affordable Housing supply as well as a sh*t-ton of new construction jobs for their voting constituencies and their crony construction company owners and cacophony of "consulting firms", with a big ladle of so-called affirmative action poured over the top.

Yep, it's absolutely all related...and, it's the next chapter of the war to save individual rights and responsibility and local control based on resident feedback and small town charm.

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