Task force proposes bold plan for a greener Burlingame

An ambitious proposal by a powerful Burlingame group of city officials and environmentalists could push the city to provide residents with a city-owned car sharing service to pay for solar panel installations and lobby grocers to buy locally grown food.

The 12-member Green Ribbon Task Force, including elected officials such as council members Terry Nagel and Cathy Baylock, city staffers and local environmentalists, released a slew of environmental initiatives recently that it wants implemented this year by such government bodies as the City Council and Planning Commission. The task force also includes planning commissioners Stan Vistica and Michael Brownrigg, and city staff member Gordon Gottsche. The group plans oto add members of the building and planning departments.

“We have a voice in City Hall and on these commissions,” said task force member Mike Kerwin, a certified green builder. “We’ve got a group of people who can get this done.”

The team is looking to mimic a program from the city of Berkeley in which the city would pay for home solar panels. The city would purchase bonds, which residents would pay back over 20 years at a cheaper interest rate via property owner’s taxes if they chose to install solar panels. If Berkeley’s plan proves unsuccessful, the task force will turn to a more modest goal of signing up 100 residents for a group discount on home solar panels, Kerwin said.

Another goal of the task force is to improve local transportation. The team is working on a city car-share program similar to the Zipcar service in San Francisco, said task force member Pat Gray.

The task force is also trying to outlaw “upward pouring” sprinklers, the automatically timed devices that pop up from lawns. The sprinklers’ water rarely reach the lawn’s roots and are a major waste of water, the group claims.

To alleviate ongoing issues with city flooding caused by its aging storm drain system, the task force wants to implement several green building codes. Members are lobbying for all hard walkways in the city, such as driveways and sidewalks, to be pervious so that less water goes into the storm drain system, Kerwin said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com  

City’s green plans

» Price cuts to residents who want solar panels

» Locally grown and sustainable foods

» City car-share program

» Pervious concrete for new surfaces

» Outlawing “upward pouring” sprinklers

» New shuttle system

» Increase hotels’ recycling

» Reduction in number of cars parked on streets

» Separated bike paths

» Change recycling pickup from biweekly to weekly

» Encourage kids to walk or ride bikes to school

Source: Green Ribbon Task Force

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