Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
The ECC International office building at 1240 Bayshore Highway in Burlingame is the site of negotiations for the San Mateo Union High School District for a possible site of new district offices and an alternative high school.
The long search for a new alternative high school and district office site has landed in Burlingame, at an office building just east of Highway 101, but officials are expressing concern about its use, zoning and impact on the city.
“If the school [district] buys the building, we have no say in the use of building,” said Councilman Jerry Deal. “The concern I wanted to bring up is that what do we want over in that area? From the get-go, we’ve been against putting a school over there because there are no public services over there or housing. Where’s the police or fire stations? It also takes away space for potential hotels and other businesses.”
San Mateo Union High School District officials have been actively looking for a new Peninsula High School location for about a year. The school is currently housed at aging facilities on the campus of the former Crestmoor High School in San Bruno. Additionally, officials have been seeking a site for new district offices, which are also outdated.
Peninsula High School students seek out the alternative school for a variety of reasons, one of which may be the need for a new environment. One option, locating the school on the San Mateo High School campus, drew criticism by some in the community and concern by some law enforcement officials. While another option is renovating the current location, it is far away from many students’ homes.
Scott Laurence, superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District, gave himself an October 2013 deadline to find a more central location before submitting his recommendations to the Board of Trustees.
The board has discussed the 1240 Bayshore Highway address, currently houses the ECC International corporation’s offices, in closed session.
John Kevranian, owner of Nuts for Candy at 1214 Broadway in Burlingame, said his concern would be the zoning there and also police resources if a school were to be put in on Bayshore.
“Are we going to need extra police resources for it?” Kevranian said. “How are these kids going to get to east side of freeway? It’s unsafe having kids walk over railroad tracks. Why are they [the school district] not approaching the citizens of Burlingame?”
Since the topic has only been discussed in closed session meetings, Laurence said he can only publicly discuss certain information.
“If we get into active negotiations with folks, we won’t want to negotiate in public because publicly we don’t want to reveal financial information,” Laurence said. “Buying property doesn’t happen quickly. If something serious were to happen and we were close to making a purchase, we would talk about zoning with the city of Burlingame to be good citizens.”
Bill Meeker, community development director for Burlingame, said it’s an interesting situation since the public school district is a separate government entity and can exclude itself from city regulations such as zoning.
“Zoning don’t allow schools of any sort out in Bayshore,” Meeker said. “From a professional standpoint, I’m not supportive of the idea because we went through a planning effort in mid-2000s there and the policy in area promotes office buildings and hotels. From a land use and policy perspective, it doesn’t allow new residential schools of that sort, which will be more demanding of public services. It would be beneficial for the district to approach the city and discuss this.”
Councilwoman Terry Nagel noted that services to support a school are lacking in the Bayshore area and also shared concerned about people crossing back and forth across the train tracks to pick up their kids.
Administration offices would not be a big concern since the area is zoned for office space, said Councilman Michael Brownrigg.
Mayor Ann Keighran said she would like the city to be involved in the district’s purchasing process.
“You would hope they would have respect and courtesy to talk to the city,” said Mayor Ann Keighran. “I will say I have constituents who are very concerned.”
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