Small amount of retail may join Burlingame’s east side 

Having opted against housing on the city's Bayfront east of Highway 101, officials are now considering allowing more retail there, hoping to add a new ingredient to the mix of hotels and restaurants.

Three spots on Bayshore Highway between Malcolm Road and the Broadway overpass are being eyed as retail geared specifically toward visitors and employees. The area is home to the city’s hotels, some offices and "destination restaurants," as they are called in the 2004 Bayfront Specific Plan.

The proposed plans call for no more than 5,000 square feet of retail in existing buildings. Any or all of these spots could have retail, as the city just wants to keep the door open for any interested businesses, senior city planner Maureen Brooks said.

The City Council is expected to vote on the issue at its Aug. 21 meeting, which would conclude two years of zoning discussion for the Bayshore Highway area, City Manager Jim Nantell said.

The Bayfront Specific Plan was adopted 25 years ago. In 2004, the city decided to amend it because the area was evolving and the city wanted to encourage local residents, not just hotel guests, to visit the area as well, Brooks said.

Initial talks on updating the Bayfront plan included a heated debate about whether to allow housing on that side of town — an issue that even came up as a debate topic during city elections.

Officials ultimately decided against it because the area, separated from the rest of the city by Highway 101, would be too far removed from the shopping and government services almost entirely on the other side of the freeway, Brooks said.

"It just didn’t make sense," Brooks said.

Because the Broadway overpass is the only connection between the two sides, the area, largely filled-in bay lands, developed almost independently of the rest of the city, according to the 2004 plan.

Burlingame Chamber of Commerce Chairman David Lewin said the board hasn’t yet discussed the possible retail on the east side of town. But speaking as general manager of the Hyatt Regency at San Francisco Airport on Bayshore Highway, Lewin said he’s happy to see more shopping options for his guests.

"Any development on this side is a positive for business," Lewin said. "We’re always happy to have more."

tramroop@examiner.com

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