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I Represent a Partnering or Supporting Agency

The Burlingame General Plan is an important document for many partner and support agencies. This is because many land use, mobility, and environmental decisions have regional importance and the actions taken by the City of Burlingame can affect neighboring jurisdictions. In addition, some agencies such as Caltrans, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, San Mateo County, and school districts have jurisdiction over certain areas, activities, or projects within the city limits. 

The Healthy People and Healthy Places Element includes numerous policies and programs providing guidance for how residents, the private sector, and local government can conserve energy. Policies in this element encourage the use of renewable energy, energy-efficient retrofits of existing buildings, and net zero energy use in new buildings.

The General Plan addresses Sea Level Rise as both a land use and public safety matter. As a land use matter, Policy CC-6.7 in the Community Character Element requires new and existing development along the Bayfront to make provisions for sea level rise and flood risks, which may include efforts to build a unified defense system. As part of this strategy, new development is required to maintain ample setbacks from the shoreline to provide space in the future to accommodate sea level rise and flooding defenses.

As a public safety matter, Goal CS-5 in the Community Safety Element includes a series of policies to protect vulnerable areas and infrastructure from flooding related to rising sea levels. This includes preparing vulnerability assessments both locally and regionally, and coordinating with regional, state, and federal agencies on flood control improvements and sea level rise adaptation.

The Community Safety Element establishes goals and policies designed to protect public health and safety, provide for sound emergency preparedness planning, and build in resiliency. Fire protection is part of a broader strategy of community safety that also includes Police Protection, Emergency Preparedness, and Disaster Response and Resilience. Goal CS-2 includes a range of policies to ensure coordinated and effective fire and emergency medical services to maintain the health, safety, and well-being of the Burlingame community. This includes fire prevention education, maintaining adequate water supply and infrastructure for fire suppression, and code enforcement programs that require private and public property owners to reduce or remove fire risks.

The Burlingame School District (BSD) services elementary and intermediate students in Burlingame. The BSD comprises six elementary schools and one intermediate school. Burlingame High School (BHS), located in Burlingame is one of seven high schools in the San Mateo Union High School District (SMUHSD). New homes in Burlingame would be occupied by a variety of households, including those with school-aged children. Both the BSD and SMUHSD monitor growth in Burlingame and update their facilities plans as needed to identify new needs, including locations, timing, and funding for expanded or new classrooms and related operations. Both school districts collect development impact fees from new housing as provided for in State law to fund expanded facilities. Moreover, all new non-residential development is also required to pay appropriate impact fees established by the BSD and SMUHSD Boards.

While the City of Burlingame and the respective school districts are separate government entities with different roles and responsibilities, the General Plan Engagement and Enrichment Element includes a number of policies that encourage working with the districts as appropriate to ensure program and facility needs are met, including assisting districts in identifying potential school locations to serve enrollment.

The effort to update the General Plan was named “Envision Burlingame” because it represented the community’s opportunity to describe a vision for the future. When the City initiated the Envision Burlingame process in 2015, it had not comprehensively updated the General Plan in over 30 years. Envision Burlingame presented the unique opportunity to engage the entire Burlingame community and ask: “How do we want Burlingame to look, function, and feel 25 years from now?” The process had three broad objectives:

  1. Develop a vision for Burlingame in the context of an evolving and increasingly dense San Mateo County and Bay Area, with particular attention paid to opportunities for focused change that responds to local and regional needs.
  2. Update policies and regulations to ensure they address all applicable regional, state, and federal requirements.
  3. Create an updated and digital General Plan that is easily accessed, understood, and applied by residents, property and business owners, and decision makers.


The General Plan Principles establish the foundation for the entire plan. They address a multitude of issues and describe the future envisioned by the community. They are:

Principle 1: Balanced and Smart Growth – Recognizing the need to grow in a manner that supports inclusivity and access while protecting established neighborhoods and community assets.

Principle 2: Community Character/Urban Forest – Ensuring that Burlingame’s cherished tree groves and urban forest, distinct neighborhoods, business districts, and historic structures and resources are respected and enhanced.

Principle 3: Connectivity – Providing a well-defined multimodal transportation network that accommodates a range of travel choices, allowing residents and visitors to access the full range of services and amenities the City offers.

Principle 4: Economic Diversity and Vitality – Recognizing the importance of a diverse economic base to provide sustainable, reliable revenue to the City and access to economic opportunity for residents.

Principle 5: Healthy People, Healthy Places – Planning for community resilience, and the physical and social health of the community.

Principle 6: Great Schools and Life-long Learning – Fostering educational opportunity for all residents.

Principle 7: Civic Engagement – A commitment to healthy civic dialogue for all issues of public interest.

Rising housing prices and the general lack of affordable housing is an issue in most Bay Area communities. To comply with California state law, Burlingame must identify enough available land within its boundaries to meet the housing needs of all income groups. The amount of affordable housing Burlingame is required to accommodate is assigned by the State and regional agencies every eight years. Currently, for the period from 2013 through 2022, Burlingame must accommodate 863 units across a range of income groups. Burlingame’s plan for accommodating more affordable housing is in the Burlingame General Plan’s Housing Element. The City of Burlingame does not ordinarily build housing, but the Plan helps encourage the construction and preservation of affordable housing by identifying appropriate sites, providing incentives to developers, and reducing regulatory barriers to housing development.

The City of Burlingame is required by State law to prepare an Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP) every five years. The City Council adopted the most recent UWMP in 2016. The primary purpose of the UWMP is to support long‐term water resource planning and determine the availability of water supplies to meet current and future demand. The City operates an extensive water distribution system using water largely supplied by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) via the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System. According to the most recent UWMP, the SFPUC has enough water to supply its wholesale customers in typical years, but may need to rely on rationing or finding supplemental supply in dry years.

Most neighborhoods in Burlingame will not see significant changes between now and 2040. The General Plan will maintain and enhance the qualities of Burlingame’s neighborhoods. Most of the new growth in Burlingame will take place in the following areas:

  • Downtown
  • The northern portion of El Camino Real, in the vicinity of the Peninsula Medical Center and Burlingame Plaza
  • The northern portion of Rollins Road, within proximity to the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station
  • The Bayfront area along Old Bayshore Highway and Airport Boulevard

Each of these areas has polices that describes the type and location of development allowed. For more information on these areas of the city and how they will develop and change in the future, see the Community Character Element.

The City does not have direct control over school administration or curriculum, but by developing strategic partnerships it has the potential to support schools and educational opportunities for all residents. The Education and Enrichment Element establishes goals and policies aimed at solidifying and enhancing local educational, arts, and public engagement offerings focused on education and lifelong learning.

Traffic is both a local and regional issue, and the General Plan contains policies and implementation programs to address traffic at both scales. At the local scale the General Plan introduces the concept of “Complete Streets,” which are streets designed and constructed to serve users of all modes, ages, and abilities. Complete streets policies can make it safer and easier for Burlingame residents to walk, bike, and take transit in addition to driving in order to reduce traffic congestion. See the policies and implementation programs of Goal M-1 for the range of policies set forth to achieve and maintain a citywide circulation network that provides safe, efficient, and convenient mobility for all users and modes of transportation.

Communities across the Bay Area contribute to traffic on state and federal highways, such as Highway 101 and Interstate 280. The General Plan contains several policies and implementation programs to reduce Burlingame’s contribution to regional traffic problems. Goal M-5 calls for the City to adopt strategies for reducing rush hour traffic by providing more options for both commutes and local trips. Policies M-5.1 and M-5.2 focus on creating different strategies in different parts of the community.

The Housing Element includes maps indicating vacant and underutilized parcels in Burlingame. The General Plan has been updated more recently than the Housing Element, so additional housing opportunities presented by the General Plan have not been fully reflected in the Housing Element. Housing Elements are updated on 8-year cycles determined by the State; municipalities in the Bay Area including Burlingame are required to adopt updated Housing Elements by the end of 2023.

The Housing Element contains policies and implementation programs that describe the incentives the City provides for building lower-income housing. The City’s Density Bonus Ordinance allows developers to build at higher densities if the project includes a certain amount of affordable housing. In the North Rollins Road and North Burlingame Mixed Use areas the City also encourages affordable housing by allowing greater residential densities and building heights in conjunction with community benefits such as open space.

Most of the residential neighborhoods in Burlingame will not see significant new growth; those neighborhoods will be preserved and enhanced. New growth will be directed to areas that will decrease dependency on the automobile and allow more people to walk, bike, or take transit. Most of the new growth in Burlingame will take place in the following areas:

  • Downtown
  • The northern portion of El Camino Real, near the Peninsula Medical Center and Burlingame Plaza
  • The northern portion of Rollins Road, near the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station
  • The Bayfront area along Old Bayshore Highway and Airport Boulevard

Historic preservation ensures a community’s built heritage is passed on from one generation to the next. Historic preservation efforts can also produce local jobs, promote heritage tourism, and increase local property values. Furthermore, restoration of an existing building can have less impact on the environment than demolishing the building and replacing with new construction. The Community Character Element Goal CC-3 outlines a range of policies intended to protect the character and quality of Burlingame’s historical buildings, tree groves, open spaces, neighborhoods, and districts.

Burlingame first addressed greenhouse gas emission in its 2009 Climate Action Plan (CAP), and an updated Climate Action Plan was adopted in conjunction with the General Plan Update. The CAP sets a framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the City has made considerable progress over the years in climate actions and sustainability. The General Plan is built upon a strong sustainable development foundation that will move Burlingame forward in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meet updated reduction targets. The CAP compiles all the climate action related goals and policies found throughout these chapters into a one-stop climate action plan.

The overall objectives of these policies and implementation programs are to reduce Burlingame’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040, and 80% by 2050.

Over the course of urbanization in the Bay Area, the region has experienced periods of both abundant rainfall and severe drought. Residential water consumption rises and falls depending on current water availability, but with the region’s population continuing to grow and water resources being somewhat finite, consistent water conservation practices in Burlingame will moderate impacts when the next drought occurs. Goal HP-6 includes a number of policies to protect local and regional water resources through conservation, preservation, and sustainable management practices. These include promoting best practices for water conservation throughout the city, supporting water recycling, and requiring water conservation in new development projects.

Burlingame is located in an area that is susceptible to a variety of potential disasters, including earthquakes, landslides, coastal flooding, sea level rise, and wildland fires. The Community Safety Element provides goals and policies that address the risks and responses to all of the potential hazards in Burlingame and its surroundings. This includes policies regarding disaster preparedness and the response of emergency service personnel.

The Burlingame General Plan includes policies and implementation programs that specifically address the unique needs of residents of all stages of life. For example, the Engagement and Enrichment Element includes goals for early childhood development as well as goals for lifelong learning. The Healthy People and Healthy Places Element includes the policy of “Aging in Place” to support opportunities for Burlingame residents to remain in their community as they age, and furtherincludes a policy for “Safe Routes to School,” a program that improves walking and bicycling safety for kids on their way to school.

The health of Burlingame community members is affected by land use policy, project design, and equitable access to health resources. The Healthy People and Healthy Places Element outlines policies and programs that will ensure the continued health of the community, both in terms of preventative measures such as promoting active lifestyles and healthy foods, as well as access to parks and other areas for physical activity.