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|San Mateo County, CA||November 6, 2001 Election|
A Vision For San Bruno
By Gary FlemingCandidate for Councilmember; City of San Bruno
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San Bruno has been limping along haphazardly for the last 12 years with no clear direction. To utilize our resources effectively we need a vision for what we want our City to become. I propose the use of a San Bruno: 2020 Vision Committee to accomplish this task to set priorities for development and infrastructure improvements through the year 2020.Need for San Bruno Vision
On June 12, 2001 the San Bruno City Council approved an initial expenditure of $300,000 to begin the process of updating the General Plan for the City. The General Plan is one of the most important documents in the City as it is used by the Planning Commission and the Planning Department when analyzing applications for new developments, land uses, etc. State law mandates that the General Plan be updated every 10 years. The current San Bruno General Plan was adopted in 1984, nearly 17 years ago. I compliment the City Council and the City staff for taking the initiative now to perform a task that is long over due.
In order for the General Plan to be effective and relevant to the citizens of San Bruno there needs to be some indication about the future of the City and what we, as the citizens want our City to look like 20 years from now. To do this, some strategic planning needs to be performed that results in a very clear, executable vision for the future of the City. The City Council and the City staff have already gone through one process of strategic planning which led to many shorter-term goals and objectives as well as a vision statement. The vision statement adopted, "The Peninsula City of Choice to live, learn, work, shop and play" is a nice statement but provides little practical guidance towards the direction of the City.
A detailed or "grand" vision needs to developed that indicates whether San Bruno is going to be a "bedroom" community or will become a high intensity conglomeration of office buildings, hotels and apartment buildings. Further, direction for the future of the business district on San Mateo Avenue needs to be provided. Some work has been performed on this in the past but the plan for downtown needs to be incorporated into an overall plan or "vision" for the entire City. A vision needs to address all of the communities within the City with specific goals and objectives to be strived for over the next 20 years. The City needs to look long-term to assure an affordable, economically viable community for our children and grandchildren. San Bruno needs to be able to combine high intensity development with low intensity residential areas in a "smart" way and with proper planning for growth. The vision for each community in San Bruno needs to be coordinated so that there will not be conflicting goals and developments, for example, not approving developments that detract from the revitalization of downtown. The General Plan update provides us with the opportunity to do this, but it needs to start with a vision for the future.
A vision will assist the City Council in setting priorities in infrastructure improvements, will assist in limiting inappropriate land uses that will interfere with the overall vision for a specific portion of the community and it will place all of the major issues and hurdles to overcome on the table for the City to discuss, debate, and, if necessary, vote. Noted Strategic Planning Consultant John Bryson states in his book, Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations (Jossey-Bass), that vision should embody an appropriate degree of tension to prompt effective change, vision should be widely disseminated and discussed to help guide decisions, and a vision should be inspirational. Bryson further states that an inspirational vision should focus on the future, encourage hopes, dreams, and noble ambitions, build on history and culture to appeal to high ideals and common values, clarify purpose and direction, state positive outcomes, emphasize uniqueness and character, emphasize the strengths of the community, communicate enthusiasm, kindle excitement, and foster commitment and dedication.
As stated by management consultant John Kotter in his book Leading Change (Harvard Business School Press), there are pitfalls that can occur while developing and implementing a vision. These pitfalls include allowing too much complacency, failing to create a sufficient powerful guiding coalition, underestimating the power of vision, undercommunicating the vision by a factor of 10 (or 100 or even 1,000), permitting obstacles to block the new vision, failing to create short-term wins, declaring victory too soon, and neglecting to anchor change firmly in the culture. Unless San Bruno starts with a vision for the future, the pitfalls will be engrained in the process and the community will not have a unique character nor will future development be cohesive with future economic and community goals.
A vision for the future of San Bruno should not be limited simply to areas of economic growth. A vision should find ways that allows for the development of additional cultural resources (library, performing arts center, community center, etc.) that can also support the economic goals of the business community. The question could be asked whether it would be better to have a library on San Mateo Avenue or a concert quality Performing Arts Center that would attract larger crowds that would provide increased levels of foot traffic on San Mateo Avenue, which would provide a direct benefit to the businesses located there as well as providing added revenue to the City. Should Tanforan remain as a shopping center requiring redevelopment funding to be revitalized or would it be better used for a different purpose, such as hotels or a conference center, or both? While I am not making these specific suggestions at this time, the City Council and concerned citizens should be asking these questions.
Position Paper 3
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