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Intrigue growing over tomato plant: Parking meter in Burlingame boasts fresh fruit
August 20, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
A tomato plant began growing on a parking meter in front of Zambra Tapas Bar about six weeks ago, but so far no one knows who planted it.

A mystery tomato plant has popped up on Lorton Avenue in Burlingame and locals say it is helping brighten up the downtown.

The fruit bush, located on a parking meter in front of Zambra Tapas Bar at 248 Lorton Ave., is right around the corner from the Burlingame Avenue. The downtown main road is undergoing a makeover slated to be completed in the coming weeks. One fan of the new plant is Karen Ulrich, a hairstylist at Reconnect Hair Design on Lorton.

“It’s just been an interesting conversation piece,” she said. “The first time I saw it these little kids were squatting down and lifting it (the plant) up.”

The big question is how the plant, which appeared about six weeks ago, got there. Zambra is helping to water the green tomatoes, but didn’t plant it.

“It was a little hole in the cement next to parking meter,” wrote Zambra owner Levent Esen in an email to the Daily Journal. “I water frequently, but the thing got very big so I trimmed it a little.”

Now, the plant is getting a lot bigger, but Esen doesn’t want to tie or frame it because he doesn’t want any trouble with the city or health department.

“So far it’s catching attention from people passing by,” he said.

Although the city could ask for the plant to be removed, it should be staying put, Mayor Michael Brownrigg said.

“I’m all in favor of volunteer beautification,” he said.

Another councilmember, Vice Mayor Terry Nagel, noted Esen will “no doubt serve the freshest tomatoes in town in his Caprese salad.”

The plant has become a pet of nearby businesses, Urlich said.

“It’s just comical to think, ‘how can this plant grow on the parking meter?’” Ulrich said. “The whole thing has become a joke because people keep checking up on it.”

The tomato plant isn’t the only bit of downtown sprucing up although that is a lot less mysterious. The 14- to 16-month beautification of Burlingame Avenue includes more pedestrian-friendly features, with sidewalks widened from 10 to 16 feet, more landscaping and outside dining space. Parking is moving from slanted to parallel and the street’s two lanes will be thinned to a total of 20 feet. The $16.5 million project is expected to be completed by the end of summer.


(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: plant, parking, meter, little, burlingame, downtown,

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