Burlingame merchants to clean up downtown 

Downtown merchants are gathering bright and early this weekend to help Burlingame Avenue shine a bit brighter for the upcoming holiday season.

Several volunteers are expected to help with the cleanup starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, the first major trash clearing and weeding effort since the Burlingame Avenue Business Improvement District disbanded in May.

The BID disbanded in response to merchants’ concerns that the assessed fees — which ranged from $50 to $1,000 annually — were being used on items such as costly Web site services and too-pricey parking lot signs, among other expenses.

City officials remain concerned that the absence of a formal BID could leave some of the programs and efforts that are supported by the organization unfunded, but merchant Linda Zimmerman says the volunteer-based organization, dubbed the Downtown Burlingame Business Association, is the better way to go.

Zimmerman, director of Quent Cordair Fine Art on Lorton Avenue and a staunch opponent of the assessments levied under the BID, says she thinks the newly formed DBBA is less restrictive and therefore has garnered a better response than the former method.

"Downtown merchants decided to spruce up downtown Burlingame in time for the holidays," Zimmerman said, noting that the annual holiday open house is still planned for Dec. 1. "It’s time to put our best foot forward.

Public Works Director George Bagdon said the city contributed litter bags, gloves and shovels to the cleanup effort but is still brainstorming permanent, regular ways to keep the whole city, particularly downtown, tidy.

Steam-cleaning the Burlingame Avenue sidewalks more than the usual five times per year is still an option, as is using the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Work Program, Bagdon said.

Under the program, people convicted of infractions can work off their penalties by cleaning up certain areas, Bagdon said. Burlingame has used participants in the program in the past to help clean the Mills Canyon area, according to City Manager Jim Nantell, but the city has not used it in highly visible areas downtown.

Councilman Russ Cohen said he still thinks the Sheriff’s Work Program is a viable option.

Bagdon said he expects the City Councilto revisit the options for regular cleanups sometime early next year.

Volunteers for the DBBA cleanup should meet at 8 a.m. Saturday in Quent Cordair Fine Art, 346 Lorton Ave. Complimentary coffee and continental breakfast is available for volunteers.

Call (650) 344-1134 for more information.

tramroop@examiner.com

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