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The Burlingame General Plan articulates the shared community vision for preservation and change in our community. This General Plan is a long-range policy document that guides decision-making and establishes the “ground rules” for the design and development of new projects, conservation of resources, economic development, mobility and infrastructure improvements, expansion of public services, and community amenities. As the blueprint for our future, this General Plan directs how Burlingame will look, and how residents, business owners, and visitors will experience our City today and in the future. This Plan defines our future and is intended to provide direction through the year 2040.

This General Plan represents the City’s first comprehensive planning endeavor since the late 1960s. While the General Plan of that era had been incrementally updated periodically to respond to specific needs or changes in State law, Burlingame found that the 40-plus-year-old plan continued to provide a solid and workable guide for land-use decision making. However, dramatic regional economic growth — largely driven by Silicon Valley businesses ¬— and the resultant impacts on the housing market, which made the Bay Area among the most expensive markets in the U.S., led City leaders to engage the entire community in a conversation about Burlingame’s future. How should the City plan to accommodate housing for people of all income and age levels so that the City could maintain its diverse demographic? How might business and retail districts be reimagined to respond to evolving business and shopping practices and people’s leisure preferences? How will we get around locally and regionally with the rapid emergence of new tranport modes? How might climate change affect bayfront properties and our use of natural resources? This General Plan sets forth our vision and the steps we will take to achieve the future we have defined.

State law requires that every city and county prepare and adopt a comprehensive and long-range General Plan (California Government Code Section 65300) and that the plan inform the content and application of the various programs and ordinances that are used to govern. The Burlingame General Plan and its maps, diagrams, and policies are reflected, for example, in the Zoning Ordinance, the Capital Improvement Program, and economic development strategies. Also, under California law, all specific plans, area plans, community plans, zoning ordinances, subdivision maps, and public works projects must be consistent with the General Plan.

While a General Plan can cover a variety of topics based on a community’s specific needs, each one is required by State law to address these seven topics, or elements: Land Use, Circulation/Transportation, Housing, Conservation, Open Space, Noise, and Safety. These seven elements must establish policy direction relating to: 

  • The use and development of properties citywide
  • Accommodation of all modes of transportation
  • The provision of parks and other open spaces to meet community needs
  • The types of housing available in the community
  • The use and protection of natural resources
  • The provision of public safety services and protection against natural and human-caused hazards (including noise) in the city

Preparation of a General Plan is also subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which means that local jurisdictions must analyze and mitigate (where necessary) the plan’s significant environmental impacts.