Council race tangles over taxes

Raising the city’s hotel tax to pay for sidewalk repairs, building a downtown parking garage and making their city greener are justsome of the ideas from the five Burlingame City Council candidates.

Mayor Terry Nagel and Councilmember Russ Cohen will be looking to protect their seats against three challengers on Nov. 6. Their opponents are Planning Commission Chair Jerry Deal, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Peter Comaroto and former Traffic, Safety and Parking Commissioner Gene Condon.

Nagel and Deal said they would like to raise $1 million for sidewalk repairs by increasing the city’s hotel tax from 10 percent to 11 percent. Residents pay for their own repairs, many of which are caused by aging trees.

Condon and Comaroto, who has based much of his campaign on sidewalk repairs, both said they would find funds available without using taxes.Cohen, meanwhile, said he would take money from other parts of the budget to pay for sidewalks if the community expressed it was a priority.

The candidates also unveiled plans to make the city greener. Condon said he would like to see the city use reclaimed water; Cohen said he wants building codes to encourage property owners to be more environmentally friendly; Deal said he is interested in making recycling centers easier to get to; Nagel said she wants to organize a group deal to make solar panels less expensive; and Comaroto would like to see waste reduced during construction projects.

Comaroto and Condon also want to include a multi-level parking structure to the downtown specific plan, the downtown guidelines currently being set for the next 20 years.

Cohen and Deal, conversely, expressed that the current parking situation is adequate, citing the more-expensive spots close to the core of the downtown and the cheaper spaces on the periphery, which they say has spread out cars.

Nagel said she considered adding bigger lots and taking a few away, as opposed to the current system of smaller, scattered lots throughout the area.

The contenders alsoshared their ideas on keeping Burlingame’s small-town feel in the face of rising property costs. Nagel cited an effort to liven up Howard Avenue, which she sees as a cheaper alternative for “mom-and-pop” stores. Condon said he thinks mixed-use development downtown would allow residents to continue to walk around to businesses while keeping rents down.

Cohen suggested that adding more buildings would keep rent down. Comaroto said the key to keeping Burlingame’s small-town feel would be a new community center.

Russ Cohen

» Age: 48

» Years in Burlingame: 13

» Endorsements: Councilmember Cathy Baylock, Assemblymember Gene Mullin, State Sen. Leland Yee

Peter Comaroto

» Age: 40

» Years in Burlingame: 26

» Endorsements: Retired Burlingame Intermediate School Principal Bob Welch, San Mateo County Association of Realtors, Political Action Committee

Gene Condon

» Age: 48

» Years in Burlingame: 48

» Endorsements: State Sen. Leland Yee, San Mateo Central Labor Council, San Mateo County Association of Realtors

Jerry Deal

» Age: 58

» Years in Burlingame: 30

» Endorsements: Vice Mayor Rosalie O’Mahoney, Councilmember Ann Keighran, community member John Root

Terry Nagel

» Age: 58

» Years in Burlingame: 29

» Endorsements: Councilmember Ann Keighran, former Burlingame mayors Marti Knight, Frank Pagliaro and Mike Spinelli

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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