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Biological Resources

Before Burlingame was thoroughly urbanized, the Baylands and hillside environments supported a rich abundance of wildlife in wetland, mixed forest, and evergreen forest habitats. Although the City is almost completely urbanized today, remnants of these original environments remain. Along the Bayfront, marine and estuarine habitats are home to many common fish, bird, and reptile species, as well as special status species (meaning those that may be protected by State or federal law) such as the Ridgeway’s rail and longfin smelt. Coastal wetlands also support protected plant species. In Mills Canyon and along the creeks that flow to the Bay, you can find many reptiles, mammals, birds, and insects, including several species classified as rare, threatened, or endangered.

These natural habitats and the species they contain contribute to the overall environmental, ecological, and educational health of the community and region. The City recognizes the importance of preserving and protecting the areas shown on Figure HP-3 for the long term.

Goal: HP-5

Protect, maintain, and improve biological resources in Burlingame, including hillside habitats, trees and plants, shoreline areas, and creeks.

Preserve critical habitat areas and sensitive species within riparian corridors, hillsides, canyon areas, tree canopies, and wetlands that are within the City’s control. Consult with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to identify and map significant habitat areas, and focus protection measures on habitats with special status species. Protect declining or vulnerable habitat areas from disturbance during design and construction of new development. 

Agency Coordination Development Review

Identify and protect habitats that contribute to the healthy propagation of migratory birds, including trees and natural corridors that serve as stopovers and nesting places. Avoid construction activities that involve tree removal between March and June unless a bird survey has been conducted to determine that the tree is unused during breeding season by avian species protected under California Fish and Game Codes 3503, 3503.5 and 3511. 

Agency Coordination Development Review

Protect and restore riparian corridors to ensure they function as healthy biological areas and wildlife habitats. Where appropriate, restore riparian habitat with native vegetation. 

Services and Operations Development Review

Encourage the restoration and daylighting of Burlingame’s urban creeks where they have been undergrounded, and where such daylighting is appropriate for surrounding conditions. Coordinate with property owners and local interest groups in restoration efforts. Remove culverts and hardened creek channels where appropriate, and avoid future culverting or channelization of creeks. 

Partnerships with the Private Sector Agency Coordination

Continue to preserve and protect valuable native trees, and introduce species that contribute to the urban forest, but allow for the gradual replacement of trees for on-going natural renewal. Consider replacement with native species. Use zoning and building requirements to ensure that existing trees are integrated into new developments. 

Development Review Master Plans Services and Operations

Continue to adhere to the Burlingame Tree Preservation Ordinance (Burlingame Municipal Code Title 11); ensure the preservation of protected trees as designated by the ordinance, and continue to be acknowledged by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA. 

Development Review Services and Operations

Continue to update and use the Burlingame Urban Forest Management Plan, which integrates the environmental, economic, political, historical and social values for the community, for guidance on best management practices related to tree planting, removal, and maintenance, including onsite protection of extant trees and street trees during projects. 

Master Plans Services and Operations

Discourage the use of invasive plant species in environmentally-sensitve areas. Where species have already invaded and have been shown to be detrimental, establish plans for removal where appropriate. Ensure that new development obtains appropriate permits and approvals related to invasive species from the Army Corps of Engineers and other relevant agencies.

Agency Coordination Development Review

Work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Invasive Species Program to identify invasive aquatic species within Burlingame, and meet the Regional Monitoring Program’s regulatory goals to reduce exotic species that threaten Bay Area water quality. 

Agency Coordination

Maintain and improve the quality of Burlingame’s shoreline, and support regulatory programs that protect Bayfront open space. Control shoreline uses to minimize erosion, and use a combination of human-made and natural elements to establish flood barriers. 

Master Plans Services and Operations Development Review

Protect Burlingame’s canyon and hillside areas by ensuring that construction adjacent to these spaces is environmentally sensitive and preserves natural topography and vegetation.

Development Review

Preserve permanent, year-round wetland habitat and associated species in compliance with the federal “no net loss” policy. Where jurisdiction allows, establish buffer zones at the edge of wetland habitats, and restrict development in these zones. If development occurs adjacent to a wetlands area, ensure a qualified biologist has conducted a wetlands delineation in accordance with federal and State guidelines. 

Services and Operations Development Review

Coordinate efforts with the San Mateo County Flood Control District, Caltrans, San Francisco Airport, Peninsula Watershed lands, and Coyote Point Recreation Area to preserve and manage interconnecting wildlife movement corridors. 

Agency Coordination

Ensure that all projects affecting resources of regional concern satisfy regional, State, and federal laws. 

Development Review

Ensure public access to natural resources, particularly along the Bayfront and in Mills Canyon. Require new development in the Bayfront area to provide public access to the waterfront, and work with property owners to connect gaps in the Bay Trail. 

Development Review Agency Coordination Partnerships with the Private Sector