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August 16, 2017



I think I would prefer to have all Council members representing me rather than just one. I can't think of a good reason to change the format for Burlingame...


One reason to change the format would be to entice some fresh blood to run. It is easier and more affordable to run in a district than have to canvas the whole town as a new candidate.


I saw that article, too; I don't think that would be a good system for Burlingame. It seems like there is big potential for creating a very divisive governing body. We are a small city that is not too spread out, and manage quite well with the current format.

I think a better suggestion (particularly with regard to development) would be to have Council aspire to appoint at least one Planning Commissioner to the PC who lives in or near the downtown(s), that is, of course, if there are those individuals who apply. It is otherwise close to impossible to convey to people living in quiet residential areas what is happening to areas closer to downtown and the impacts felt.

For a decade or so, we had a Planning Commissioner, Stan Vistica, from the eastside, southend, and though it was well before the development frenzy we are seeing now, it was extremely helpful to have someone with a complete grasp of what it means to live close-in. There is a newer Planning Commissioner who lives fairly close to the downtown, on the south-end, so that is a good thing.

Either way, people need to speak up. What elected and appointed bodies don't know or hear about, they won't know.


It seems to me that this proposal is equal to Gerrymandering.
In areas where non citizens live, there would be no vote possible.
In areas where wealthy people live, contributions to candidate campaign's would be more than generous, they could be "Purchased."
To much under, and over representation.
I vote NO.

Bruce Dickinson

Interesting idea, but as others have pointed out, Bruce Dickinson is not sure that in a practical sense, having districted seats of 29k population city such as Burlingame would result in drastically different decisions or outcomes in comparison to what we have today (which DJT would say, are 'Bad', 'Very Bad', and 'Sad'!)

Districting is used in larger cities to make up for socio economic disparities between neighborhoods, and one way to spot this is through the school system. Burlingame's elementary schools are very homogenous. The feedback that I get from parents as well as the Burlingame School Fundraising organization is that the kids, no matter what neighborhood they live in, are basically going to one school. Also the intermediate school is very high performing. So, while there is a large rental population, that population seems to be well dispersed in each of the different neighborhoods which each have their own school. One can say that maybe the school off of Trousdale (Franklin I believe) and the new Hoover may have more single family home representation, but otherwise the test scores, teacher quality, and access to resources are the same.

The only gerry-mandering that probably have some impact is to include only those places that have big multifamily populations (ECR corridor, parts near the hospital, and downtowns Broadway and Burlingame Ave, and off of Carolan), but that would result in the funniest looking district, but in reality all these apartments are sitting right next to multi million dollar homes where everyone is using the same schools, neighborhood businesses, etc.

Also, Bruce Dickinson's biggest beef with the current City council is the lack of independence (from real estate and business interests) and critical thinking skills, which may be due to the many hours of volunteer work for limited pay (that tend to favor easy, non-controversial decisions). Gerrymandered districts are probably not going to change that aspect much (maybe by one vote, but won't break any ties), as this is a problem with many Bay Area local govt's.

Lastly, the civic engagement problem is a big one in the world of record employment and Dow 22,000 - people are worried about many other things in life and you see also this in that there are so few contenders for City Council seats, because the opportunity cost for most occupations is significantly higher and honestly, the best human capital tends to gravitate to the most lucrative endeavors (there are exceptions, of course as many people who serve in office do so as a public service).

This is too bad, as each individual bad decision, on its own, probably has a minimal impact on vast majority of people, but you continue to make bad decisions for 4-8 years before people realize it's too late, and frankly, may have at least partially adjusted to the new (but patently inferior) "normal".


These are good points (Gerald, resident, Jennifer and Bruce). I would note that I didn't include it in the post about the Post article, but Menlo Park is on 33,000 people so about the same size. If we get the same letter, this will be an issue that can't be dismissed with logic.


Awesome, and thoughtful response.

Conservative Revolutionary

Does this name ring a bell? SHENKMAN Maybe from the Socialist Communist wing of California politics?

This guys California ideas seem to be racist, in that it assumes that your opinions, and whom you vote for, depend on your skin color. BS I say.

Our elected officials interests reflect the entire community, not just the interests of one small district, or one small section of Burlingame.

A district system is bad for local governance because it means council members will be less responsive to residents. Notes from the article.


When will people stop injecting Race into every Social Conversation?
In my opinion, Race is not the problem.
The problems that come between Law Enforcement and Communities are all about greed, and ignorance.
Race is an excuse for lack of Parental Guidance and Single Parents. Quite Frankly, to many people.
There are so many Tech/Media things inundating Civilization, that other than Religious interference, Consumerism fills all the emptiness that we feel due to being Blasted 24/7/365.

Racism is only due to ignorance.
Single Parents=ignorance, and nothing to Brag about.
How many TV Shows all around the world profit from Single Parents?
Lets get ready for the Eclipse.
See you at Church tomorrow Hillsider.


The State Legislature passed a bill in 2015, signed by the Governor which allows cities with a population of less than 100,000 to have its town council or city council vote to change from "at large" to district voting. If I understand the legislation, with district elections, a city is then obliged to elect a mayor. That means Burlingame's rotating mayorship would have to come to an end and we would need to pony up funding for one more city position.
It may be that the district election dynamic can be forced upon a municipality if the ethnic makeup of the city council is seriously at odds with the demographics of its population.

1 District = 1 City Council Seat Makes Sense

District seats make sense for Burlingame and other Bay Area towns. After all, the seats are supposed to be reps of the town residents. And, has anyone every won a seat without spending a shit-ton of money ((much of which has been indirectly paid to the candidates beyond campaign limits via speaking honorariums from special interest groups (which is illegal in city council work) per Jerry Deals mouth to my ears and then with agreement by the entire past city councils' mouths to my ears))?

It is not gerrymandering like what was recently passed in San Mateo County by the Board of Supervisors.

Bruce Dickinson

RE answer to the question of money getting votes? In a word: No!


Dollars spent in aggregate or on a per vote basis seems to have no correlation to outcome. Bruce Dickinson must give props to Duncan, however. He edged out two others and was outspent anywhere from 2x to over 73x per vote!

Bruce Dickinson

2x to over 73x in aggregate I meant. Per vote, Duncan also outperformed.

J. Mir

As someone living on the neglected "north-sider's" end of town, I would support a district that more fully represents me and my neighbors. I have sensed that the council is focused and concentrated on downtown - where I spent a grand total of 30 minutes walking this year - and Broadway - slightly more time there, maybe 60 minutes YTD if i don't count all the times I filled up at that gas station on the corner.

I have noticed that council does not seem to know or care much about what is happening north of Ray Dr. Let's make a district with a straight line going from Skyline @ Mills Canyon all the way to Ray Drive, and across to the Bay. That'd make me very, very happy. You'll get a GREAT mix of "wealthy" and "affluent" homeowners of the giant ranchers off Trousdale + smaller families in starter homes near Lincoln + a ton of renters living in the apartments. These are largely not transient renters either - large numbers of Franklin families live in those apartments. Guess what - we're still Burlingame!

And why would I want this? You know there's a good-sized derelict property that used to be a car wash near us, right? You know, the one that's been here derelict longer than anyone can remember? Last I looked, that fell into Burliname city limits... And before that, there was the giant hulking rotting-away unfinished Sunrise development that stood for SIX years before some of us finally got organized and brought it to the council's attention... remember that? What about the giant development from Peninsula Health Care going up, up, and up... Anyone care about that still? And Millbrae BART is plotting (unsuccessfully as yet) to get 376 units of all-rental (read: no condos) put in right down the street from all of us... We won't get the revenue, but we'll surely get hit with the impacts, right?

I don't think we'll have anything to lose by making a North and South district. Will it make some downtown-centric folks uncomfortable? Sure, and that's ok with me.

Bruce Dickinson

J. Mir, yes, I must admit, even Bruce Dickinson gets a little over-focused in my centrally located, Burlingame Park compound and agree the north end has not gotten its fair share of needed attention. Let's face it, the city and council LOVE big capital projects, the residential stuff seems to be a quasi-nuisance because it doesn't help bring in more dollars to protect jobs, benefits and pensions, and it does't help some of the local business interests of council members.

If you're sitting in a city job, and you're working your 8 to 5 grind, are you going to spend a bunch of your time improving residents quality of life, or are you going to focus on the big capital stuff that will secure your paycheck and future benefits? Look how giddy some of the city planning guys were in that DJ article about a new bayfront hote: the fall-over-youself, gushing, over-the-top lingo and quotes made me want to vomit. The residential stuff is secondary to begin with and when it's 1.5 miles+ miles from downtown, then forget it!

Again, not sure how districting would ultimately alter the pro-business/real estate/development biases and decisions that are so strong that no one even bothers to disguise it anymore!

Bruce Dickinson

*bayfront hotel (correction)


Redwood City has gone the district election route:

Redwood City began its transition to district elections in September and after seven contentious public hearings, a protest and multiple split votes, a map of district boundaries has finally been adopted.


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