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January 23, 2020


Jennifer Pfaff

Thanks for posting this. You pretty much described it properly, except the plan does include several recommended tree types meant to emulate the look we have now, but with a much smaller girth for improved visibility. These are citriodoras, and elm hybrids (comprising the majority) and others: cork oak, sycamore, brisbane box, zelkovas. The biggest improvement is the intent is to bury all the utility lines-- much safer and more attractive, but a lot can happen between then and now. It's very expensive to do.

As good as the plan could be, future generations will find themselves right back to where we are now, if there is not a rock solid contract of some sort in place between Caltrans and this city, particularly with regard to maintenance, so that when little saplings are run over, vandalized, or simply wash away, they are replaced promptly, and in a timely manner. These issues haven't been Caltrans' strong suit.

Bruce Dickinson

Putting power lines underground sounds like a lot of digging, and a lot of digging means existing trees are more vulnerable. Bruce Dickinson hopes this isn't part of a disguised "Grand Boulevard Initiative" with the ultimate goal of turning El Camino into the traffic engineer's dream, which is what Millbrae and San Mateo are, but are also quality-of-life nightmares not to mention complete eyesores. Remember the whole left turn at Floribunda thing which Caltrans took as an excuse to rip out a far too excessive number of trees, as if salivating for any small opportunity to take back some "turf" for their not-so-grand plans.

Bruce Dickinson and my talented assemblage of able-bodied staff will be taking a very close look at these proposals and any attempts to railroad any GBI nonsense down our throats will be met with swift and decisive battles. I hope our City Council will match the perseverance and fortitude of someone who is almost eight decades old, but I would be remiss if I didn't say, that admittedly, I am setting a high, yes very high, bar.

Also, Jen-baby, please keep us updated with your opinions of the proposals. Bruce Dickinson feels you have a very even-keeled perspective on these matters and of course we all recognize your prescience years ago in working to have the tunnel of trees along ECR as a historical resource.

We are well aware of Caltrans' historical agenda and past actions and must do everything to protect what makes Burlingame special!

Barking Dog

Good Luck Jennifer, sounds like its gonna be a tough negotiation. Much thanks for your efforts!


Thanks, Jen. As we discussed in the meeting with the mayor, the REAL QUESTION is do we really have to do the full project as envisioned by Caltrans which involves cutting down all of the original Eucs (correct me if I am wrong here, please) and starting over with a planned replacement by one or more other species. If they could bend the rules and just fix drainage (call RotoRooter) and pavement that might just, maybe, could be...enough.

Jennifer Pfaff

Yes, that is indeed the real question. I would have been much more comfortable with a "pilot project" area, first, for a number of reasons-- not the least of which would be to see if they could improve their heretofore abysmal record of followthrough and maintenance.

If you say you are going to replace sick, missing or otherwise damaged trees, and ground out huge stumps so replanting can happen, then it needs to get done. It's not that the maintenance people (should I say "person") aren't trying their best, it's just that they don't have enough people in this region and are too stretched. We cannot fix that for them.

So, if they are unable to be good stewards now, it's really hard to imagine a much larger, major undertaking being better.

And yeah, a "Renewal" project intended for all infrastructure elements: sewer, sidewalk, roadbed, by default means we will lose most of the sentinel trees because their root systems probably will become compromised during all the construction.

It's a real bummer, and because the transparency with this government agency (and most agencies) is poor, and their staff frequently changes, it is not a good foundation for trust.

Thank you Bruce for the comments. Regarding the former widening proposal at Floribunda, they finally have officially tabled that one, seeing that the accident rate dropped with the No Left turn. That one was a no brainer--

But even to negotiate (in fact, force the issue) to get them to consider a sign installation, rather than a 3.5 Million project that would permanently make the area devoid of trees, took years, and lots of moxie from TSP, staff, our Council, and in particular Mayor Brownrigg.

This huge undertaking is going to be very challenging to negotiate and get right, so that we aren't left with a future landscape devoid of trees, because they couldn't (or wouldn't) keep their end of the deal.


One reason there are @200 less trees being planted are the "COB Special Interest Groups." The City of Burlingame Special Interest Groups" take an inordinate amount of R&P Management's time for "Their Special Needs: Soccer, Softball, Field Maintenance, Dog Park, Bocce Ball Soil, etc.now all kinds of new R&P things. Great Job COB Management.
HOWEVER- The City of Burlingame "People" believe, for the most part, Trees Grow By Themselves. They do not.(in an Urban Environment)
Take care of your COB Gift. You will never regret it.
PS Calm Down Everybody.

Jennifer Pfaff

Holly, I actually am referring to the El Camino Real replacement trees lacking, and that is the responsibility of Caltrans, since it is their property.

But as far as the general public taking our street tree canopy for granted, I definitely agree with you. Particularly when the trees are newly planted, or in drought years where they'd need help (and a hose), it's really sad. Typically, our Parks Dept. goes the extra mile in warm weather with the hand-watering truck, and it shows...


Straight from Caltrans funding document. Project budget and milestones. Anticipated start of construction is August 2024.

Project 0K810

In the cities of San Mateo and Burlingame, from East Santa Inez Avenue to Murchison Drive. Rehabilitate roadway, improve drainage, and upgrade existing curb ramps and sidewalks to ADA standards.

Complete prelim design/environmental 11/1/2021
Complete design/ROW certification 11/1/2023
Advertise Contract 2/1/2024
Begin Construction 8/1/2024


Construction Cost: $86 M
Total Project Cost: $121M (including design, right of way, environmental, construction engineering)

Source - Caltrans 2018 SHOPP (p 381 of 409)

J. Mir

As one who recently sacrificed a car to the angry ECR gods RIGHT AT Floribunda, I promise it it still isn’t safe. Nor the ECR sidewalks there fit for pedestrian use ($1000 medical bills for my kids broken foot). Traversing this piece of paradise is now my worst nightmare - it’s to me same as rolling through a lush yet tiger-infested jungle with a dune-buggy, or walking through a rainforest unawares that one is about to be squeezed to death by a giant python and swallowed, slowly (that’s what 10 weeks in a foot cast feels like). But, the Tunnel-o-Trees is more important.

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