Council explores flood control bond alternative 

The city is considering a different approach in its bidto fund flood control measures after last year’s bond measure failed at the polls.

The City Council heard Wednesday night an alternative called a "Community Facilities District" that would annually collect money from homeowners at a flat, but cheaper, rate.

Though the idea’s structure is tentative, it would charge homeowners about $175 a year and condominium owners $123 a year for the next 35 years. The council’s other option is to try and push for another bond measure, which would raise $37 million. The Burlingame Recreation Center would receive $2 million of it for seismic retrofitting.

"We’ve got $50 million worth of needs," City Manager Jim Nantell said. "This is really a decision as to what will work politically. It comes down to which method is going to get approval by voters."

Last November, Measure H fell short of the two-thirds requirement by little more than 2 percentage points. If it passes, the measure would have raised $44 million to go toward flood control, along with the recreation center and various other city projects.

"We consider the safety for the kids and seniors at the Rec Center as a priority," Councilwoman Ann Keighran said.

The Community Facilities District was outlined by a consulting firm, which also presented a survey explaining that a large majority of area residents were more willing to pay less over the long term than more over a shorter term.

The council could try again with a bond measure, which they also discussed Wednesday night. That option would charge residential lots based on a property’s assessed value. For lots with an assessed value of $559,000 and more, the annual charge would be about $194 and more. For lots marked at $200,000 and less, the charge would be about $60 and less. Councilwoman Rosalie O’Mahoney supports the bond’s structure because properties with higher assessments would have to pay more.

"There’sno way I could support something like the [Community Facilities District], because my supporters are [toward the bottom tier]," she said.

Either plan would require two-thirds voter approval, which could happen this November or next spring in concurrence with the presidential primary election. But the Burlingame School District has indicated plans for a bond measure in November. Nantell has said that two bond measures on the same ballot would be ill-advised. However, he reiterated the need to revamp the flood control system.

"We’re going to celebrate our 100th year," Nantell said. "Infrastructure, like storm drains, is generally going to last you about 70 years. We’ve been limping along with the same infrastructure that hasn’t been addressed for a number of years."

bfoley@examiner.com

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