Forums focus on community involvement 

The future of downtown Burlingame is in the hands of its residents, by means of a variety of public outreach efforts that continue tonight with a process similar to the city’s ongoing Safeway renovation.

The city’s Specific Plan, which will set criteria for downtown Burlingame’s appearance — maintaining small businesses and the amount of housing, among other endeavors — will be written next year. Before then, the city is asking for the public’s assistance via workshops and surveys.

"Our purpose here is to be the tool that the community uses to put their vision on paper," said Community Development Director Bill Meeker.

The second of three forums will take place tonight, with a focus on sustainable design and environment-friendly development.

Pete Gang, an architect with Common Sense Design who teaches a green-building certificate program at Sonoma State University, will be tonight’s speaker. Many cities are considering green development in their downtown areas, including overall resident awareness, he said.

"Green building or sustainability is really about the building blocks we’re going to use in the next phase of human civilization," Gang said.

Councilmember Ann Keighran compared the process to that of bringing in a new Safeway store. Before the Burlingame grocery store is renovated, a work group consisting of seven stakeholders is going through a lengthy process involving public input. An earlier proposal was denied after minimal contributions from residents.

"From past experience, if you don’t get the input ahead of time, you run into problems later on down the road," Keighran said.

Other aspects to be studied are trees, transportation, sidewalks and land use.

"It’s critical that weget the public’s input into this plan because it will provide a road map for future planning in a large section of our city," said Mayor Terry Nagel.

The process began with an economics study in May 2006 and a design session in September 2006.

The area for the plan is bordered by Peninsula Avenue to the south, Oak Grove Avenue to the north, El Camino Real to the west and the Caltrain tracks to the east.

The event will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers at 501 Primrose Road. The final workshop will be held on Nov. 7, and will be an overall downtown goals workshop.

Those who cannot attend a meeting can fill out a survey at www.burlingame.org, City Hall, the library or the recreation center at Washington Park.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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