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Community Garden On Hold

A 1997 hotel agreement has delayed garden construction.

The Burlingame Community Garden hit a roadblock this week, leaving Burlingame Garden Club members uncertain as to when construction on the garden can begin.

Club members came before the council Monday defending their garden location choice of 40 of the 234 parking spaces in the parking lot. However, it was not the council that stood in their way.

City Attorney Gus Guinan announced that just hours earlier, he received word from the former city attorney of a 1997 agreement between the City and the  near the Golf Center lot.

“[That agreement] paid for the construction of the entire parking lot…it continues to pay 50 percent of annual upkeep of the lot maintenance,” Guinan said. “[The] agreement does not preclude the placement of a community garden at that location. The wrinkle, or the problem, would be that the agreement would have to be renegotiated.”

 The hotel pays an annual license fee for availability in the lot based on the value of the land parcel. With the use of 40 spaces for a garden, Guinan said city staff estimated a $5,000 to $6,000 loss in revenue per year to the City once a new fee was negotiated.

Regardless of financial loss, construction must wait until after the negotiation, which could take several weeks.

“I don’t think we can further discuss this when we don’t know what’s going to happen with the Doubletree,” said Councilmember Ann Keighran. “I would just hope that we can try to be expedient.”

Both Keighran and Councilmember Jerry Deal suggested in the meantime other options for garden location are re-examined, in case a backup plan is necessary.

Mayor Terry Nagel commended Burlingame Garden Club President Leslie McQuaide and other members of the club for all the work they have put into the project thus far.

“I know it’s going to happen,” Nagel said. “We just have to be a little patient.”

In January, a survey found the majority of Burlingame residents in support of a community garden, and in February, the City Council gave the Burlingame Garden Club the go ahead to start seeking out a location for the garden. Since then, the club has been working with the City to finalize an agreement and construction plans.

Councilmembers agreed using the 40 spaces would minimally impact parking availability at the Golf Center and adjacent soccer fields, if at all.

Of the entire parking lot, John Taylor said “we’ve taken the liberty of counting the number of vehicles parked there on five different occasions, and the number of vehicles has ranged from a low of 37 to a high of 77,” he said. “Turning specifically to the 40 spaces that would be displaced…the maximum number of vehicles we’ve observed parking in those spaces is one.”

Visits to the lot were made at various times, including noon on a Saturday with teams for two soccer games present. 

The Burlingame Garden Club currently has 40 members. Twenty-five are signed up for plots, and 15 are on the waiting list for when more plots become available.

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