Former two-term Councilman Jerry Deal lauded for design influence

Courtesy of Bob DoerrJerry Deal previously served seven years on the Burlingame City Council and one year as mayor before stepping down from the council earlier this month.

Ask Jerry Deal what he's most proud of accomplishing during his two terms on the Burlingame City Council and he'll refuse to take much credit.

“I think people make a mistake when they say 'I did this, I did that.' It's what we did as a council,” said the former councilman, who recently stepped down more than a year before his second term expires.

Deal said he and his wife, JoAnn, have sold their home in Burlingame and purchased another home near Medford, Ore., where they will be closer to his daughter and son-in-law. The couple will continue to live most of the time at their home in San Francisco.

Deal's history of civic engagement includes seven years on the City Council, a one-year term as mayor, 13 years on the Planning Commission, and membership on the boards of several agencies, including SamTrans and Caltrain. Although Deal has left the City Council, his home-design firm remains in Burlingame, and he says he plans to keep working in town for about three weeks out of each month.

Deal's passion for design has defined his life. Born in Modesto and raised in Redwood City, he was drafted during the Vietnam War and became a technical illustrator in the Army. He married his first wife, Cheryl, when he was just 21 years old, and they raised two children.

After graduating from UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design, he launched his design business and says he wanted to apply his architectural expertise by serving on Burlingame's Planning Commission.

Vice Mayor Terry Nagel said she considers Deal to be the city's “Father of design review” who stopped “monster houses” from being built in Burlingame. Councilwoman Ann Keighran, who served with Deal on the Planning Commission, takes a step further, describing him as the “King of design review,” and crediting him with influencing much of the city's style. Both women agreed that Deal's wisecracks often brought a welcome sense of humor to city meetings.

Among the accomplishments that Deal insists the entire council should be proud of are balancing the city's budget, beautifying Burlingame Avenue, and maintaining high standards of police and fire service. But Deal is reticent about commenting on what he thinks his former City Council colleagues' biggest challenges will be as they move forward.

“My belief is that when you go off into the sunset, you go,” Deal noted.

Keighran believes some of those challenges include unfunded needs, such as the demand for more parking downtown and a community recreation center that's overdue for replacement and seismic upgrade. The councilwoman noted that the city has found creative solutions to funding issues in the past, such as getting landlords to cover one-third of the cost of the Burlingame Avenue improvement project.

Rather than hold a special election, which could cost as much as $100,000, the remaining council members are expected to appoint a candidate to serve out the remainder of Deal's term, which expires in November 2015.

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