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November 05, 2019

Comments

Burlingame Resident

Nothing major to add, but thanks for reporting this to help keep the community engaged. I also appreciate Mike for stepping up, clearly his voice is not alone with 1 in 4 supporting so good to have that perspective looking forward for the next 3 years.

Just Visiting

Presumably Dunham is smart enough to know that the General Plan did not up-zone the bayfront; if anything, it down-zoned it. Which makes his comment to Joe awfully cynical and consistent with the way he ran (credit for running hard): pray on people's fears about growth without owning his proposed fix: rapid housing growth.

Barking Dog

"In the end, Beach and Colson had track records, organizations and deep community roots that are the cornerstones of successful local campaigns." Well said Joe.

JV, nail on head.

I am interested to see where Mr Dunham goes from this point forward. Does he now get involved with the community as a whole, not just a housing crisis activist platform?

Mike Dunham

@Just Visiting - I'll make a rare appearance weighing in here now that the election is over and the accuracy of one of my statements was questioned.

I've heard this point on the Bayfront's prior zoning raised before, and it has always puzzled me. Burlingame City Council passed a Bayfront Specific Plan in 2004 (revised in 2006 and 2012) that set the floor area ratio (FAR) for the zoning areas east of 101: https://www.burlingame.org/document_center/Planning/General%20and%20Specific%20Plans/Bayfront%20Specific%20Plan.pdf

On page III-10 (pg. 20 of the PDF), you can see the northern part of Anza Point where the Facebook campus is under construction has an office FAR of 1.0. This FAR is codified in the city code here: https://qcode.us/codes/burlingame/view.php?topic=25-25_48-25_48_042&frames=on

Indeed, you can see in the history of the Burlingame Point project that the 1.0 FAR was actually an adjustment made by the Council in 2012 at the request of the developer: https://www.burlingame.org/business_detail_T54_R8.php . It had previously been a 0.6 FAR.

Under the General Plan passed this year, the Bayfront Commercial district where the Facebook campus is located was upped to a 3.0 FAR (see page CC-8: https://www.envisionburlingame.org/files/managed/Document/466/BurlingameGP_PublicHearingDraft_Jan2019_Chapter4%20%28Community%20Character%29%20-%20small.pdf ).

The new Innovation/Industrial zoning has an FAR of 0.75 for commercial and industrial uses (pg. CC-14 & 15). Previously, that area had a 0.9 FAR for office and a 0.5 FAR for industrial, so it was a mix of modest downzoning & upzoning.

So in summation, there was a very modest office downzoning in the new Innovation/Industrial area (0.9 FAR -> 0.75 FAR), a modest industrial upzoning in the I/I area (0.5 FAR -> 0.75 FAR) and a massive office upzoning in the new Bayfront Commercial area (0.6, 0.9, or 1.0 FAR depending on which section -> 3.0 FAR). Indeed, if the Facebook campus were proposed today, it could be 3x as dense (10,000+ jobs vs. 3,500 jobs).

My suspicion is that the two other major parcels that have been put forward for development -- the old Hyatt Cinema site (proposed in 2017 at a 0.89 FAR: https://www.burlingame.org/business_detail_T54_R31.php ) and the long-term airport parking lot near the Hilton ( https://www.smdailyjournal.com/news/local/hilton-parking-lot-targeted-for-redevelopment/article_07ecf8f2-cba5-11e9-b032-57da6f43bad7.html ) -- will both turn into tech office projects at pretty close to a 3.0 FAR. Thousands more jobs that are unwalkable from BART and Caltrain, with no homes allowed on site. We'd be lucky if they ended up becoming hotels instead.

For the record, I'd be happy with the amount of net new homes proposed in the General Plan (3,000 city-wide) if we kept job creation in any sort of balance with them. But the General Plan's Bayfront upzoning virtually guarantees we're going to add 3 or 4 jobs for every 1 home we build, worsening traffic and affordability that are already at their breaking points in Burlingame.

I made a point of making sure everything I said during the campaign was as accurate as possible, so I don't think your accusation of cynicism is fair. But I appreciate your recognition that I ran hard.

resident

Probably should have made an appearance earlier and often. Just sayin'

Burlingame Voter

Probably also shouldn’t have literally aggressively said F U to a significant portion of the population while also openly embracing socialism.
All while unemployed and without any history of community contributions to Burlingame.
Just sayin’.

Bruce Dickinson

As several of the posters above have alluded to, the most controversial aspects of recent decisions rendered by Burlingame officials have been centered on growth. Most people moved to Burlingame for the very fact it is an oasis in a highly urbanized area, with its own benefits of being one of the more "urban suburbs" in the Bay Area while also being the "City of Trees". In effect, Bruce Dickinson would characterize it as having the perfect mix of parks, trees, and bucolic, serene setting, single family, and multi family residences and a thriving commercial and hotel area close to a major international airport.

It's clearly not Hillsborough, but it's also clearly not Millbrae, San Mateo, Redwood City. In fact it has a lot more in common with Menlo Park and Palo Alto.

Candidates who win elections and continue onwards to be successful community representatives on the City Council will be ones that emphasize and preserve the unique characteristics of Burlingame. Let Bruce Dickinson be crystal clear to future candidates so that they don't waste their time: the Burlingame community as a whole is very much anti-"stack and pack" large, characterless multifamily housing and large commercial development. That's not to say that multifamily or commercial don't belong here (because they clearly do as they have for 100+ years)...but they do belong at a scale that reflects the small area, the 30,000 residents, and the mix of both park-like and urban elements. Look at all the community outrage at some of the more egregious proposals (e.g. Peninsula Health Care district), multifamily units in Lyon-Hoag, even the building of an elementary school (Hoover) generated quite a bit of controversy when the BSD tried to circumvent due process and ram it down a neighborhood's throat improperly. People don't want Burlingame to look anything like the surrounding communities because let's face it, they're ugly and comparatively unpleasant to spend time in and guess what? That's reflected in real estate values! Burlingame real estate is a lot more valuable compared to similar properties in surrounding cities.

Also, look at the rent control proposals that were resoundingly defeated and represented a wholesale rejection of the externalities that rent control brings to cities such as San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Santa Monica (all rent controlled cities). Again, it was Burlingame residents coming out and saying "we're different, we don't want to be like them". So despite the fact that advocacy groups and candidates try really hard to change it, they get resoundingly defeated, over and over and over again. The reason: they don't really understand the overall pulse of the community.

Finally, as an aside, Bruce Dickinson finds it rather humorous how candidates and activists really show how little they understand a problem. Is housing really the problem? Or is it something else? Was housing a problem in 1999? Yes. Was it in 2002? No! Because the .com tech bubble 1.0 burst and the whole economy came crashing down thereby solving the last temporary housing crisis.

We should be far more concerned how a company like WeWork can go from a $60 billion dollar Unicorn to a company that is on the verge of bankruptcy and worth only a tiny fraction of its original value in a matter of four weeks. Or companies like Beyond Meat, Uber, Lyft, Groupon, Peloton, Snapchat, etc with IPOs what would be characterized as nothing short of disasters at the peak of the market. When the going is great, sure they mint a lot of wealthy people who have a high demand for housing and can pay up. But guess what? When the music stops, everything begins to fall apart and you will see the effects of an economy levered to technology and real estate come to large correction...just like it did in 2000. And will we still have a "housing crisis"?

Folks, whether you build 3,000 housing units in Burlingame or 5,000 it's not going to change housing prices to any significant degree when you have this type of boom-and-bust economy. I bet that just rent control existing in San Francisco alone causes more market distorting forces in single-family residential housing in nearby cities more than any ABAG regional housing allocation decisions. And for those who think "well why should Burlingame think it's special" I would turn back and say, "well why should Hillsborough get ZERO additional housing allocation and be free rider on Burlingame assuming their housing needs allocation while allowing our infrastructure to become even more stressed?"

Far far far more complex problems than any single city such as Burlingame can solve and certainly the prescription of stop building commercial and build more multifamily residential and voila, housing crisis solved, is a massive over-simplification...Seriously, we're a lot smarter than that.

So to sum it up, what did we learn today? While money can be made and lost in an economy highly levered to technology, NEVER sell Burlingame or its residents short...it's only a loser's game!!!!!

Jennifer Pfaff

That sounds pretty spot-on to me. I'd only add that it isn't enough to pick out bits and pieces from any city's general and/or specific plan, and view them in a 2019 vacuum while characterizing this or that aspect as misguided or a "big mistake". A little humble goes a long way.

What is missing from taking the aerial view approach is the "why" part-- in particular regarding zoning specifics (in this case, re: the Bayfront) and why this or that ratio was amended over time. You get that from being around, attending, or listening to hearings, and/or reading archived minutes. I’m guessing most all of the aforementioned zoning changes were based on economics of various periods and what was feasible (or not) for a given developer, or groups of developers at the time. From what I've seen, changes/amendments considered by this city are never done lightly.

Because we (still) have some rights to self-determination as a city, everyone can participate in the input process to any extent they’d like. Policy change is gradual, and that’s probably a good thing. Nobody gets everything they want, nor as fast as they’d like, including seated Councilmembers(!).

In contrast, the sloppy scattershot of State mandates, already bound for redundancy, will result in many unintended loopholes and unforeseen problems. If Burlingame's policies were slapped together like that, we'd seriously grind to a halt.

Be careful what you wish for--top-down boiler plate mandates will only erode the nuances that define each city's quality of life.

Barking Dog

So Mr Dunham gets called 'cynical' and responds with a long data filled answer, but when asked to comment on telling 17%+ of his voting constituents to FO, he chooses 'no comment'. Just shows Mr Dunham's immaturity IMO

ress

you might be lucky to find a 94010 resident working at Oculus offices so what do these ratios matter?

Constance

I also agree that candidates should not walk in and be unopposed.
For that, I thank Mike for opening up dialog about so many important issues. IMHO, we are heading towards the full urbanization of Burlingame.

And may I say to Burlingame Voter’s unkind comment above as to the employment status of Mike Dunham. Why is this an issue with male candidates and not female candidates? Over the years, many women have run for office. Some employed and others not. I never gave it a second thought.

I wish Donna and Emily all the best. They are hard workers and deep thinkers.

resident

If only he had not spent so much time whining about not being able to afford to live here. Get a friggin' job, dude.

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