The moved forward with securing funding for Burlingame Avenue Streetscape Improvement Monday night by approving initiating the formation of an assessment district and increased parking meter fees in the downtown area.
Public Works Director Syed Murtuza stressed that Monday did not signal the formation of an assessment district, but rather the beginning of a plan to implement one, ultimately determined by how property owners vote.
Back in January, after a year of monthly meetings with property owners, merchants and other stakeholders and three community meetings discussing streetscape design, the council chose an option for a renovated Burlingame Avenue.
However, that makeover and utility upgrade comes with an estimated price tag of $15.9 million, so downtown property owners are being asked to reach into their pockets and help out with a project believed to benefit them, as well.
“We are a premiere shopping area between San Francisco and, let’s say, Palo Alto, but we’re not going to be the premiere anymore if we don’t do these improvements,” said Vice Mayor Ann Keighran, adding that upgrades are necessary for future development and vitality of the area. “If we miss this opportunity now, we may not have it again.”
The cost includes streetscape and utility upgrades, for which the city can fund $11.475 million through various funds, such as the state gas tax, Measure A grant, and parking meter rate increases.
The assessment district would impact 50 parcels along Burlingame Avenue, and each would be assessed using a point system based on size for an estimated annual total of $335,787, or an average of $6,716 per parcel for 30 years.
City staff and project managers have reached out to all affected property owners and met with most of them, explaining the assessment and ballot process.
Notices of the proposed assessment district must be mailed at least 45 days before the scheduled public hearing, currently set for May 21, including a ballot. If a majority of property owners protest, the district cannot be formed. Ballots are weighed based on the proposed amount each parcel pays.
“I know it’s difficult and nobody wants to put money out of their pocket if they don’t have to, but it takes a big vision,” said downtown merchant and property owner Sam Malouf. “We’ve got to find a way to make this happen.”
Councilmember Michael Brownrigg pointed out that under the current financing plan, property owners pay about $1 for every $3 from the City—a deal most likely non-existent in the future.
The new streetscape will include 50 percent more sidewalk space, parallel parking, intersection bulb-outs with shorter cross walks for pedestrian safety, new street trees and street lights, bicycle racks and benches, hanging flower baskets and landscaping, more signage and gateway entry columns. Outdated water, sewer and storm drain systems will be replaced, and the road and sidewalks will be repaved.
In terms of parking meters, the City Council approved a resolution including the following changes:
- Change Lot K from 10-hour parking to two-hour and four-hour at $1 per hour.
- Change two-hour and four-hour meter rates in Lots A, A-3, B-1, C, D, E, K-1, L, J, M and V from 75 cents per hour to $1 per hour.
- Change the nine-hour and 10-hour meter rates in Lots A, A-3, B-1, C and O from 25 cents per hour to 50 cents per hour.
- Change the pay-by-space rates in Lots B, F, G, H, N, O and W from $1 or $2 per 10 hours to $3 per 10 hours.
The council additionally introduced and approved an ordinance altering parking rates and time limits on Burlingame Avenue and other downtown Burlingame streets:
- Change the time limit for Burlingame Avenue to two-hours with $1 for the first hour and $2 for the second from 75 cents for a maximum one-hour or 30 cents for a maximum 24 minutes.
- Change the one-to-four hour meters on California Drive, Chapin Avenue, Donnelly Avenue, Lorton Avenue, Highland Avenue, Howard Avenue, Park Road, Primrose Road and South Lane from 75 cents per hour to $1 per hour.
- Change the 24-minute meters on California Drive, Chapin Avenue, Highland Avenue, Howard Avenue, Lorton Avenue, Park Road and Primrose Road from 30 cents per 24 minutes to 40 cents per 24 minutes.
- Change the 10-hour meters on Bellevue Avenue, Carolan Avenue, Chapin Avenue, Donnelly Avenue, Howard Avenue, Lorton Avenue, Park Road and Primrose Road from 25 cents per hour to 30 cents per hour.
The increases are expected to generate $450,000 annually, offsetting the costs of the Burlingame Avenue Streetscape Improvement.