Committee progresses with plans for Burlingame Safeway 

After years of impasse over what a new Safeway grocery store will entail, a committee tasked with designing the store is making headway and may advance negotiations into specific building design, the committee moderator said.

The Safeway Working Group, comprising seven community stakeholders, will meet today to discuss design criteria for a plan to replace the current store on the corner of Howard Avenue and El Camino Real.

The next phase of negotiations will tackle specific aspects of the design.

Candace Hathaway, a moderator who specializes in resolving land-use disputes and was hired by Safeway, said all members have made strides in hearing one another’s positions.

"The meetings have always been positive," she said. "There’s strong neutral interest in really seeing something dynamic at that site."

The attempt to build a new Safeway has fared better than in years past. The group was designed in February after its failed bid to push through a massive 70,000-square- foot grocery store. In June 2003, the PlanningCommission rejected it because it was too big and out of touch with the neighborhood. The City Council rejected it the following year.

The Working Group’s seven stakeholders are: Safeway, Citizens for a Better Burlingame, the Chamber of Commerce, pro-Safeway petitioners, nearby residents, downtown property owners and downtown business owners.

The first phase of negotiations centered on outlining each representative’s interest and listing design criteria.

For example, downtown property owners wish for a mixed-use plan that is aesthetically pleasing while neighboring residents want a design that will avoid traffic congestion.

The Chamber of Commerce wants a store that will spur business along Howard Avenue, while the citizens group desires a "green-friendly" facility.

A final preliminary design could be completed in two years.

Today’s meeting is expected to be the last one until August, when the group may hold a joint study session with the City Council and the Planning Commission.

Customers at the current store say a new Safeway is needed. Linda Goodman, who recently moved from San Mateo, where she used to go to Piazza’s Fine Foods on Hillsdale Boulevard, called it "grungy." Cindy Ann, a 10-year Burlingame resident, wants it replaced.

"It could use a better bakery and maybe a pharmacy," she said. "For Hillsborough and everyone else around here, it really needs to be updated."

The Working Group will meet at 7 p.m. today at City Hall, Room A, 510 Primrose Road.

bfoley@examiner.com


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