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Downtown San Bruno: For Sure Not a Better Place

I've grown up in San Bruno as a small business owner. I love and respect the city and its people. But these are my true feelings about downtown.

This is the first time I've done this, so please bear with me. I believe I have something important to say.

My name is Mary An, and I own Carma Hair Company, located on El Camino Real in San Bruno. We have been in this location for 18 years. I have worked in San Bruno for past 25 years. I NEED to express my concern for the decline of San Mateo Avenue in downtown San Bruno.

I want to know why The Avenue is being ignored. I want to know why San Bruno's downtown is ugly—no trees, no park benches to sit and watch people and eat ice cream.

I want to know why it smells like urine at Newells or 40's or whatever that bar is called. I want to know why A LOT of businesses have left The Avenue. I want to know why after taking a survey of my clientele, of which 85% live in San Bruno, have been with me for the last 17 or so years and DO NOT shop in downtown.

I want to know why the farmers market was moved to Tanforan. Farmers markets are encouraged to be in a downtown of a city to promote business in that area. What happened there?

What happened to the Art and Wine Festival, which would encourage people from the surrounding cities to visit us and maybe spend time in our downtown. What happened to all the promises made to create a beautiful downtown comparable to Millbrae, Burligame, San Carlos and Redwood City? With a great plan, South San Francisco has improved their downtown immensely!!

I have seen with my own eyes the BIG, thick redevelopment plans for San Mateo Avenue. It was beautiful! What happened to those plans? What happened to the living quarters with storefronts that were supposed to replace the old theater?

What happened to the downtown where we once shopped? Why does it now look like a ghost town? And most of all, WHY isn't ANYONE doing anything about it?

San Bruno was a great town in which to start my career, and I'll most likely finish my career here as well. San Bruno has been VERY good to us and our small FAMILY business.

I actually get VERY emotional knowing and talking about the kindness of the people of San Bruno. Three generations of families are our new clientele. Carma Hair Company has PROUDLY grown up in San Bruno. We want the very best for the city. We are impressed with the growth of Tanforan. The Crossing is a welcoming site. City Park is one of the most beautiful places in our city. Our senior center is envied.

Please, let's not forget downtown. It deserves better. It is the core of the city.

Most of all, what can I do? Let me know. Thanks for listening. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Robert Riechel November 14, 2012 at 08:44 PM
When is the "Walk With Mayor Jim Ruane"?
Mary an Stanley November 14, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I'm with you Susan!!!
J. Rivera November 16, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Earlier this year the City collected a check for 70 million dollars for the PG & E settlement. Even if they only used 1% of that money to make changes downtown, we could be on par with San Mateo and Burlingame. Unless the necessary improvements are made we can't attract the kind of businesses needed for a vibrant downtown. Sadly the City Council and City Manager are once again out to lunch
Mary an Stanley November 16, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Yes J, the Mayor told me that fact on a telephone conversation this morning. He also said some of that money will be used for the Downtown. The Mayor was true to his word and called (back) this morning. He addressed all of my questions I had asked on my blog. And is willing to speak in detail to us about our Downtown. I do believe this is a start. I will not let this go and I hope others will not either. I am asking everyone I know to please comment on how they feel about their DownTown and what THEY think should be done. Its a start. I will speak more on this this weekend.
Mary an Stanley November 16, 2012 at 05:27 AM
We haven't made a date . I did tell him there's a lot people who would be joining us on our walk. I'm looking forward to setting a date.
Claudia Quinn November 16, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Count me in. I will do whatever I can to improve The Avenue. Thanks Mary an for airing this issue and thanks Mr. Mayor for listening.
Mary an Stanley November 16, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Awesome Claudia!! Your support is overwhelming !!
John Hanson November 16, 2012 at 08:58 PM
J , if we haven't spent the P.G.E. money yet, where did we get the $1.4 million for the Hotel lot?
Susan November 16, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Good question John. Still waiting for the answer, where did we get the $1.4 and WHO made this decision?
Mary an Stanley November 16, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I'm not sure but is the hotel a "for sure " deal? And I do you believe we can ask The Mayor.
John Hanson November 16, 2012 at 09:31 PM
It is a for sure deal. The City is shopping for a Hotel to build on the Lot . Kind of backwards. Meanwhile we are paying property taxes on the land while we wait. Maybe the Mayor will tell you where they got the money?
John Hanson November 16, 2012 at 09:38 PM
The S.F. Giants gave the City $100,000 dollars.
Susan November 16, 2012 at 09:48 PM
According to the San Bruno Focus and I will quote " In August, the City purchased a 1.5 acre development site at the Crossing designated for a hotel. Development of a hotel within the 20 acre Crossing area has long been a high priority of the community. Funds for the purchase of the site came from development impact fees generated from the Crossing development and other projects. No General Fund money was used." It does go on "the city's goal is to attain a high-quality, select service hotel, with at least 120 rooms and meeting/conference space capable of accommodating larger events...." Doesn't Millbrae and the airport have that covered? There is no mention of who pays the property tax, who pays for the hotel and many other concerns I have read. I am still trying to make sense of the "high priority of the community" statement. Certainly I am a member of the community, but do not seem to be the only one that considers it a Low priority. When we get around to this committee for PGE money it seems there is more than enough to give us all a downtown we can be proud of! Anyone else out there that would like to see this the "high priority"? Thanks for keeping this going!
John Hanson November 16, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Good work Susan. Thanks for the info. I too was never asked. I hear a lot from the City using the word We. Who is We?
Susan November 16, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Thank you John. I agree with your comments as well. Thanks to Mary an for giving us all a voice! I won't be so bold as to say WE want A FAMILY FRIENDLY, VISITOR FRIENDLY DOWNTOWN......NOT A HOTEL!!!!!!!!!! BUT I will say that I, a lifetime resident of San Bruno want it and I am not alone!
Chris Kiely November 16, 2012 at 10:37 PM
You need to get the property owners involved too. There's always tough trade-offs between businesses and rents and getting new business and protecting old ones. Money has been spent to re-beautify several times. Unless someone comes up with a good idea to change the mix down there, spending money on new curbs and planter boxes doesn't fix anything. It may be that the changed zoning under the new transit corridor plan will finally break the deadlock, but that is still a few years away from having real impact.
John Hanson November 16, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Chris it seems like you would be the perfect guy for the job.
Robert Riechel November 16, 2012 at 11:14 PM
How much of the discussion by the Council on the hotel question was discussed in one or more open City Council meetings before any money was spent?
Chris Kiely November 18, 2012 at 02:26 AM
John you are right. I went by that Prudential site today. It doesn't look like an active groundwater cleanup site anymore. Now it looks like an abandoned oil field.
Robert Riechel November 20, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Mary An etal: Who will be in attendance and a participating member of the audience TONIGHT = Tuesday at 7 PM at the Senior Center when the Planning Commission discusses and ACCEPTS comments from the public? www.planbruno.org then Final staff report can be found at the link here: http://planbruno.org/tcp/planning-commission-mtg-for-transit-corridors-plan-112012/ I hope everyone who has posted their questions and complaints shows up AND speaks up. I will be there
Claudia Quinn November 20, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I am hoping to attend. This is a busy next few days for me as I have lots of kids booked (with schools having Thanksgiving holidays). Trying to make my December rent.
Mary an Stanley November 20, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Unfortunately I will not be able to attend tonights meeting. There are previous plans I cannot cancel. Otherwise I would be there. I am looking forward to the new merchants group staring in January. I am planning on opening my schedule for this new group.Knowing the dates prior is essential in my business . With my clientele I am thankfully booked 3 months in advance.
Robert Riechel November 21, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Which of the posters to this blog were in attendance at last night's planning commission when they spent over one hour explaining and answering questions on the Transit Corridor plan? Only 4-5 persons actually asked questions. The meeting was televised but watching on TV did not allow asking questions.
John Hanson November 22, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I watched on T.V. They were in a hurry to pass their plan. Existing residents near the project will eventually have to pay to park in front of their house. Vote No on raising height limits. I am sure most people that will be voting to raise height limits don't live in the neighborhood. Can you think about traiffic and noise? Oh I forgot they did a study. As for downtown, it's going to be a along time coming. Fix what we have. They are more concerned about new business and residents. What about the people that already live here.
John Hanson November 22, 2012 at 06:20 PM
For people that live in upper San Bruno, where will they park when taking the Train.? How many parking spaces will there be at the new train station?
Mary an Stanley November 22, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Hi John, what exactly did they say about downtown?
Robert Riechel November 22, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Mary An ---- I attended the Planning Commission meeting and the minutes were taken and should eventually show up here http://www.sanbruno.ca.gov/comdev_planningComm.html and the agenda and agenda packet is already there About 5-6 persons asked questions and Mark Sullivan and Laura Russell answered their questions. They took over an hour to discuss this subject. Since it was broadcasted live on San Bruno Cable 1, you can contact Miriam (mschalit@ci.sanbruno.ca.us ) at San Bruno Cable to find out when it will be re-broadcast. With the Planning Commission voting to confirm that the proposed project concepts meets the required state and federal requirements, it now goes to the City Council where a similar presentation will be made with another chance for the public to show up and ask more or the same questions.
Chris Kiely November 22, 2012 at 08:34 PM
This was the plan they were working off of, not sure if it has been revised. http://planbruno.org/transit-corridors-plan/overview/ This is part showing ideas for Downtown. http://planbruno.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Catalytic-Sites-Appendix-B.pdf Looks like the idea is to do specific developments at the South end (the triangle between SM Ave, ECR, & Jenevein) and the North end (Huntington from the Legion Post building up to SB Ave, as well as around the new train station. I guess the idea is that if there are new "catalytic" developments at the ends, bringing in new residents, businesses, and services to the area, it will have ripple effect throughout downtown, give landlords incentive to fix up properties, etc.
John Hanson November 22, 2012 at 09:00 PM
The City revised the plan, but did not share it with the public yet. Hopefully they will have it for the City Council meeting. How many members from the Planning Commission and City Council live on the East side of El Camino?
John Hanson November 22, 2012 at 09:04 PM
The City should show another plan in case voters, Vote No on increasing height limits in San Bruno.

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