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March 31, 2019

Comments

Cindy Cornell

With 1.5 million square feet of commercial development in Burlingame's pipeline which translates to around 6,000 new jobs, and only 1,300 new housing units (primarily unaffordable) in the pipeline, what could possibly go wrong?

Phinancier

Some fool in Sacramento could push through rent control.

JP

I miss the Olde English Garage over there with all of the old cars and full-service gas.

hollyroller@gmail.com

I miss the 1920's.

 It Don't Come Easy

I just rented out my next door unit at a very high rent. Normally, I would rent about 20% below market rate to ensure a long stay
tenant. But since rent control may be inevitable in 2020, I felt compelled to seek the maximum amount. Dopey politicians out for "feel good" legislation never understand this.

hollyroller@gmail.com

I do not believe a word you posted.
With Respect-sort of...

Christopher Cooke

This site is going to be a 4 story apartment building

Joe

I forgot to include the link to the post that had the original project description. It is

https://www.burlingamevoice.com/2017/05/lyon-hoag-emergency.html

I think it was scaled back a bit from where it started. Jen or Laura will know the details.

hollyroller@gmail.com

I spent some time his afternoon-while watching the SF Giants fail again, looking into the "Redevelopment" in this section of Burlingame.
How in the world can the City of Burlingame continue to go through with the Wreck & Park Center removal and Replacement?
From a casual observation, there will be so many people-Hospital Patients, New Condo Owners, the streets may have to become walking only. That would be kind of nice-European.
Is the Wreck and Park Center Removal and Replacement still going forward?

Laura

It has changed from its original submittal. It is now 128 or 9 units and it has been broken into four buildings, I believe. They have also saved the heritage trees. Though not ideal, this developer listened to the residents and scaled it back some and changed the design to fit the neighborhood. They also scaled back the rooftop garden and it's on the rail side, versus the residential side.

SB50, working its way through Sacramento, was one reason we were happy the developer worked with some residents and tried to address our concerns. If SB50 passes in Sacramento, the next developer, won't have to listen and can build what they want with no City input. At least with this one, we had "some" impact. The next one, if SB50 passes, we will have no say.

Bruce Dickinson

Nice job, Laura and Lyon-Hoag neighbors! It's become increasingly clear that residents need to take matters more into their own hands if they expect better outcomes. I expect much better representation from the City Council in this regard, though Bruce Dickinson has been pretty pleased with the Planning Commission decisions in general over the past couple of years. Those guys (and gals) get it and are not blindly caving into Sacramento pressure on every single issue.

Lyon Hoad Resident

On the Myrtle and Bayswater project. The developer only gave some light concessions in my opinion. The main point was the mass of structure which went down from ~140 to ~128. Sure it's a reduction, but really it's the same project just now dressed up a slightly nicer (and with some more trees).

I'm not happy with the result. I wasn't able to go to the second city council meeting, so I was surprised when it was approved. I thought the community had a pretty strong showing from the first turnout. So I'm not sure what happened, but again I wasn't able to go the second meeting so I recognize some of the blame is on me.

Four stories is simply too big for the neighborhood. Even when contrasting to new development areas (such as Bay Meadows in San Mateo), those are mainly 3 stories with a lot more mix of townhomes and open space.

What hurts for me the most is:

1) Knowing that these developers won at racking and stacking in our neighborhood. In the initial meeting with the community I stayed to the very, very end and listened to the apartment representative and developer smugly talk about (a) how they have put massive buildings in others areas with lots of community pushback and (b) how we have little power other than architecture. It made me very sad that they in the end were right.

2) It's seen as a "success" by our leaders. During the Lyon Hoag meeting, one of the directors (Kevin Gardiner I believe) touted what a great development it was for our community and how much they listened. I approached him later and explained to him what I heard in (1) above. He just said "Okay" not even looking me in the eye and walked away. It was pretty rude and disrespectful in my opinion.

Bruce Dickinson

Resident, no surprise here from Bruce Dickinson. Let's just say it's an open secret that the City of Burlingame (the City staff) are very pro-development. Why is this? Because they know they have unfunded pensions and post retirement benefits with the City (all significantly under-funded), so of course they want the tax base to grow, grow, grow and not only ensure their jobs and salaries are safe, but most importantly the lifetime healthcare and pension benefits so valuable to public sector employees. Of course, being in their shoes, most people would act the same way they are.

Couple that with a City Attorney's office that is far too conservative in the way that they advise the Council: on almost any issue, they emphasize the minimization of the possibility of getting sued especially, because getting sued costs money and is somewhat unpredictable (debatable point though, if you have good lawyers). Any money used to fight lawsuits or worse, lose lawsuits will not be available for pensions and benefits!

The only check-and-balance to this is the City Council, which is the client of the of the City staff and the staff is in existence to serve the representative bodies of Burlingame, especially the Council. Most importantly, the City Council is supposed to serve the residents of Burlingame, meaning properly reflect their representative views in good faith.

This is why Bruce Dickinson does not mince words when criticizing the current regime...who is exactly serving whom and for what purpose!??! Are they REALLY representing YOUR views?

Lyon Hoag Resident

Thanks for the response, Bruce. Also for not calling out that I spelt the name of my neighborhood wrong in my signature :) I read this blog often and hardly post, but enjoy your commentary and value your opinions on the site.

The way you described the overall incentives was mind blowing for me. It does make me feel slightly more cynical than I want to be about the ones in the position to do the work to make our city better. I do hope there is also balancing thinking that they want to make the city sustainable long term for their pensions also, but I admittingly think that's a bit too altruistic myself.

One last point I do want to make, is that I'm also considered about the quality of discussions for the traffic calming measures for Lyon Hoag. It was my first time attending anything like this, but the lack of direction from the presenters in the city was concerning to me.

I felt like they were asking us for our opinion on how we can make the streets better w/o giving us the adequate tools or knowledge on what the impending threat to the neighborhood. For example, a simple question like how much more traffic should we expect? They dodged and weaved a bit and gave us current traffic conditions when it's the whole point of the meeting is about the future concerns on approved projects.

My personal opinion is that we need to be thinking more creatively here, I don't think the challenges we face can be fixed by adding a few stop signs. If we don't want Howard, Bayswater, Dwight and Humbolt to be a roadway, we've got to start thinking bigger.

Bruce Dickinson

Resident, please rest assured that this isn't the first time that Bruce Dickinson has blown minds 'round these parts! Someone on another thread attempted "prove me wrong" but then after I quickly dispensed of him, he had to hibernate for a few weeks to cobble together a weak attempt to retort to my obviously superior command of the facts and ended up essentially agreeing with me!

Anyway, all kidding aside, Bruce Dickinson realizes that our City Council, like you and me, also resides in Burlingame and therefore feels the same pressures we do and they do try to push back to a certain degree. But, why push back TOO hard? For one, the Council positions are essentially volunteer work (with free healthcare for life), and all the Commissions are all volunteer work with no renumeration. Given that the Council membership isn't really a full time job for most (nearly all of them have other jobs), there's really no strong incentive to do all this work and fight, when it's much easier to take a path of less resistance. And if the City hands you an answer on a silver platter (an answer that may be heavily biased by their own self interest), then the decisions and actions you describe start to make a lot of sense.

So council members have choices to make, and we've seen examples of other Burlingame council members in the past make very different sorts of choices. Some were strong fighters, who had the energy and vitality to fight for Burlingame residents, even if it meant taking some risk and even if it was unpopular with the other Council members. Others were clearly working 80+ hours per week across two jobs and only seemed exasperated by tough decisions and tough fights. Yet others were intellectually lazy and would not make much of an effort to learn about things outside their very narrow comfort zones, resulting in "empty suits" who would rarely say anything insightful and only vote with the majority.

Now, when working with City staff and their hired "consultants", they are the biggest experts at "gathering opinions" but such exercises are often perfunctory with pre-ordained conclusions, just like the one with Lyon-Hoag you described. Some of these consultants do nothing but the same workshops across all these cities in California, to how to best make residents feel like they have input, put together some snazzy Powerpoint presentation, and they take it to Council showing that they've "gathered opinions" without making any real tangible recommendations that positive affect the quality of life of residents (and the consultants get paid handsomely too). Then when you start asking about data, about projections and the basis or assumptions for those, it's always blank faces, tap dancing, and cautious, couched lingo that sounds eloquent, but really has zero substance. There's an entire consultant cottage industry designed to get approvals through so that cities can check the box and say they've gathered input and move right on to the next project.

By the way, there is nothing the city loves more than the three magic words:

BIG CAPITAL PROJECT

The more of those the better, because they generate tax revenue! Bruce Dickinson recalls the City staff falling over themselves in these public hearings when Tesla was opening a dealership in Burlingame...was like the "Savior is coming to help us". Of course a few years later, Tesla is now closing all of its physical stores. Point being, watch how the staff, the council, the attorneys office, and the commissions act with all of these incentives and interests in mind, and you can practically predict their answers before they even open their mouths!

Keep up the good fight, Resident (and don't worry about the misspelling of Lyon-Hoag...Bruce Dickinson can easily tell who is genuine and who isn't!)

Lyon Hoag Resident

Haha, thank you for the sobering (yet pleasantly entertaining) reply Mr. Dickerson. Keep dropping the nuggets of wisdom! Today's lesson on incentives was well received / understood.

Laura

Lyon Hoag resident, I get it. I personally did not want this Apartment Complex being built anywhere in our neighborhood. This fight started a few years ago, when the residents fought the first developer. That developer wasn't up for the fight thankfully, and pulled out. Once one tries though, you can pretty much count on other developers, lining up behind them. The developer that finally got the project approved, came next and fortunately,the neighbors got together again and let the planning commission know their thoughts. The project was again rejected and we waited for the next Developer to come. The Hower's, who owned I believe seven of the ten lots needed, wanted to sell, which pretty much guaranteed another developer would be waiting in the wings. This property in the Cities General Plan, is zoned for multi-tenant housing, up to four stories, so they weren't proposing something the City wasn't going to approve.

SB50 then starting rearing its ugly head. SB50 was pulled out of consideration last year because it was an election year, but everyone knew it would be coming back. When the developer that had just been rejected, approached a few of us, he wanted to know what would help to get the project approved. With SB50 in mind, the City General Plan allowing this development, we felt it best to work with a developer, who wanted to make the neighborhood, somewhat pleased. It went from one massive single story building, to four buildings with green space in between. From a modern industrial look, to more of a craftsmen style that fit a bit better with the surrounding homes. From 140 plus units to 128 and other changes that may seem minor, but weren't. Planning rejected it again as they wanted higher quality materials and a few other items that I can't quite recall. They made those changes and it was finally approved.

Again, none of us that worked with this developer, wanted this project on the corner of Myrtle and Bayswater. Though I do remember his comment about building this design up and down the Peninsula, he quickly changed his mind after meeting with the neighbors. I work with developers and was pleasantly surprised at their willingness to make changes that would increase their cost of construction.
Unfortunately, if SB50 gets approved, this fight was just the beginning of many more to come.

lenny

Our view has been ruined. Look at what a the new housing and commercial development means for residents. The view from our apartments along Bayswater will be blocked. We should sue this city.

This area is trapping us in like rats.

Joe

The additional classrooms at Washington and Roosevelt are getting close to finished:

https://www.smdailyjournal.com/news/local/burlingame-campus-work-nears-finish/article_bfa7414a-6fa3-11e9-817d-c766120e1c44.html

hollyroller@gmail.com

Dear Lenny, Get a telescope for your living Room Window and you may see an entire new view.
Maybe better than before..

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