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January 10, 2016



How nice of Mr. Horgan to get on-side, as the Brits would say. Where has he been for the last ten or fifteen years? Some of his other wishes are not quite as brilliant, as the Brits would say.

Cathy Baylock

Here is the outcome of Monday night's Planning Commission hearing on 988 Howard Avenue: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2016-01-13/officials-deny-burlingame-office-building-commissioners-say-project-is-too-big-for-existing-neighborhood/1776425156689.html


This is an excellent piece in today's SM Daily Journal. I think Jon Mays hit it right on the mark:
What Will Define our Era of Architecture?

John Muskin

New Islamist Center:

I am just wondering in their proposed building at 1722 Gilbreth Rd why this new Islamist Center in Burlingame makes a point to put up such a large American flag in its rendering.


The Daily Journal is noting a trend we have been talking about for some time - the pace of construction in the neighborhoods:

A recent uptick in the popularity of home improvements and renovation projects is evident in a significantly increased workload for Burlingame’s small planning department, according to its department head.

The city’s staff of roughly six, including a part-time worker and an intern, currently faces processing more construction applications than any year in past decade, said Planning Manager Kevin Gardiner.
The hike in demand became so substantial Gardiner said city staff was recently forced to ask members of the Planning Commission to consider holding longer meetings featuring agendas brimming with home owners seeking design review approval for their project, said Gardiner.

Further to the point is the impact on the examination of larger projects like Summerhill and the ones noted on this original post

From the DJ: To his surprise, Gardiner said planning commissioners were amenable when asked to consider hosting longer meetings twice a month, rather than running shorter sessions which could have resulted in a backlog of applications.
In preparation for meetings, which occasionally can span into the early morning hours due in part to extensive agenda, Gardiner said the work associated with processing applications consumes a majority of the city staff’s time, leaving little left over for assessment of larger projects which may require greater investments of time and energy.

The rest is here:


Bruce Dickinson

As Bruce Dickinson has mentioned many times before, the city LOVES big capital projects, and this is further evidenced by the bias against residences and in favor of businesses, transportation projects, and multi-family units. I remember when Tesla moved in, the giddiness from the City was off the charts! Why not? Time spent on large capital project has a better bang-for-the-pay-for-your salary, benefits, healthcare, underfunded pension and job security-buck!

C'mon, Burlingame is a residential suburb. Just hire more staff, or alternatively make it clear to developers what will and won't be tolerated so that all the work is done at the front end and fruitless debate sending projects back for re-design are few and far between. Another idea is to dedicate some staff to the big capital endeavors and others to easier residential stuff. This isn't rocket science here, folks.

Also, lengthening meetings to marathon 4+ hour sessions only serves to tire decision makers out and effectively dissuade the public from attending and making public commentary. In the footage that my AV guy compiled, the long sessions clearly show a tired commission and those commenting from the public start to leave the room. By 10 pm, it's usually the developer who is up and the commission. And the commission typically looks like they can't wait to get out of there. Do those circumstances result in better decision making for things that really affect our community?

I've heard this numerous times from my staff and contacts who report to me on goings on within the city offices: City staff are highly motivated and incentivized to build, build, build. Our City Council needs to keep a vigilant eye on some of these deep biases.

Another thing to wrap your noggins around: maybe it is the City's strong encouragement of development that is making developers think they can push the envelope, the developers make it past the low bar of the city screening process, then they come for the public hearings, and there is outcry from the commission and public, again creating more work.

Granted, yes, there is a real estate bubble going on and construction activity is at a near-high but I believe there are other ways to deal with workload, better screen developments prior to public hearings, and improve the public participation process. Making the commission meetings longer seems to defeat the intent of having productive public hearings in the first place!

Just some thoughts from your community watchdog, Bruce Dickinson. Woof!

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