Committee to craft vision of Burlingame Safeway 

A six-member committee will be formed over the next two weeks to discuss what a new Safeway on Howard Avenue should look like.

The group will include one representative from Safeway and five community members, including representatives from Citizens for a Better Burlingame, the Chamber of Commerce, merchants, homeowners within the city’s southwest area and petition signers who supported a new store.

The committee is intended to prevent another debacle for Safeway. In June 2003, the Planning Commission rejected a proposed 70,000-square-foot plan because it was too big and did not fit into the downtown. The City Council followed suit the following year, capping what became a heated political debate.

It could take about seven months before ideas will be translated into a preliminary design, said Safeway representative Candace Hathaway, who specializes in mediating land-use disputes.

If everything goes smoothly, a proposal could appear before the Planning Commission in two years, she said.

City Manager Jim Nantell acknowledged that it’s possible not everyone will be happy with the result.

"Candace’s approach is, if somebody is not supportive, then that is included and noted as it moves forward," he said. "They don’t get to hijack the whole process by keeping it from moving forward."

Charles Voltz, co-chairman of Citizens for a Better Burlingame, the group that led the fight against the former Safeway plan, called the new approach constructive.

"The lesson learned from the last go-around is we don’t want to do that again," he said. "That was more adversarial than desirable. This is meant to be collaborative and open-minded."

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