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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Grand Boulevard Initiative?

What kind of organization is the Grand Boulevard?

Well then who is in charge?

What is the time frame to implement GBI?

Who pays for the Grand Boulevard Initiative?

Are all 19 cities on board with GBI – what if some opt out?

Where will the parks be located which will serve the increased population along the corridor? Can they be accessed by transit?

I'm concerned about property owners and their property rights. Are they forced to give up property? How do you acquire the property needed to widen the sidewalks and do the landscapes and bike lanes? How much taking of private property will there be under eminent domain?

El Camino is a thoroughfare of commerce used by people to commute and carry on commerce. What is the volume of traffic that the renovation will permit on El Camino as opposed to what flows now?

We keep using the word "corridor." This seems to equate to a narrow strip. How do we get people not directly on the El Camino to access and use this?

How do we address concerns regarding multiple property owners, parcels, and developments in varying sizes along El Camino Real?

How does the Grand Boulevard Initiative take into account SB 375 and the sustainable communities' strategy that is required to be drafted by MTC and ABAG?

What is the Grand Boulevard Initiative?

The Grand Boulevard Initiative (GBI) is a collaboration of public, private, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to revitalizing the El Camino corridor in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

What kind of organization is the Grand Boulevard?

The Grand Boulevard is unique in that it is not a legal entity. All of the people, jurisdictions, and organizations that participate in the Grand Boulevard do so voluntarily. This is a very important aspect of the Initiative's character and a main reason for its success. The GBI is often referred to as a "coalition of the willing."

Well then who is in charge?

The Grand Boulevard Task Force is the main policy-making body for the Initiative. The Task Force is made up of elected officials from each of the jurisdictions along the roadway and representatives of transit agencies, regional planning agencies, developers, private businesses, and labor groups, among others. The Task Force co-chairs are the General Manager of the San Mateo County Transit District (Michael Scanlon) and the president of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network (Russ Hancock)

What is the time frame to implement GBI?

The Grand Boulevard Initiative is a long-range visionary effort to transform and revitalize the El Camino Real corridor. It functions as a forum through which cities, counties and regional agencies coordinate their planning to assure maximum effectiveness. The Grand Boulevard Initiative does not have a timetable and relies on cities and counties to implement the changes that will bring the vision into reality. The timing of individual redevelopment and improvement projects and services is set by the local cities and responsible agencies. The Grand Boulevard Initiative member cities and agencies continue to make strides towards implementing the transformation, including completed pedestrian access and safety improvements on the El Camino Real roadway and surrounding cross streets, a mix of new homes and jobs near existing public transportation facilities, and improved transit services.

Who pays for the Grand Boulevard Initiative?

The Grand Boulevard Initiative is not a formal organization or legal entity. As such, work performed under the Grand Boulevard Initiative is supported by the respective Initiative member agencies and organizations and by grant funding. The Grand Boulevard Initiative is funded by various federal, state, local, and private grant programs and foundations. As of March 2012, the Grand Boulevard Initiative has secured $8.6 million in grant funding from programs and agencies such as the U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER II Grant Program, the California Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Climate Initiative Program, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Local funding also is provided by the San Mateo County Transit District, which covers administrative expenses, and from the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which provide the local matching fund requirements for the current grant work.

Are all 19 cities on board with GBI – what if some opt out?

The intent of the Grand Boulevard Initiative is to provide a forum to bring together all jurisdictions (cities, counties, and other local, regional, and state agencies) having responsibility for the El Camino Real corridor. The GBI member organizations and jurisdictions have joined together around an overarching vision to influence the revitalization of the El Camino Real corridor while maintaining their respective responsibilities and authority. There are 19 member cities from Daly City to San Jose that participate in the Grand Boulevard Initiative. As of March 2012, 16 of the 19 member cities have adopted or are in the process of developing plans and policy documents that further the Grand Boulevard Initiative Vision. It is important to note that the level and type of involvement of each member organization varies and that participation in the Grand Boulevard Initiative is voluntary. The Grand Boulevard Initiative Vision and Guiding Principles were crafted to be global in nature and to provide flexibility to fit the local context of each community and allow each city to adapt them under a consistent vision.

Where will the parks be located which will serve the increased population along the corridor? Can they be accessed by transit?

Specific parks and public space locations will be determined by each local jurisdiction. The Grand Boulevard Initiative encourages vibrant public spaces within the El Camino Real corridor, but does not define the location, size, or form of such spaces. The Grand Boulevard Initiative El Camino Real Corridor, which is defined as Β½-mile on either side of the roadway, contains existing public transportation service, including Caltrain, BART, VTA Light-Rail, and SamTrans and VTA bus service. Parks located within the El Camino Real corridor could be accessed via this existing public transportation network.

I'm concerned about property owners and their property rights. Are they forced to give up property? How do you acquire the property needed to widen the sidewalks and do the landscapes and bike lanes? How much taking of private property will there be under eminent domain?

The Grand Boulevard Initiative does not involve the taking of private property and does not force local property owners to give up their property. The Grand Boulevard Initiative provides the overarching vision for transforming the El Camino Real corridor, but the local jurisdictions, in coordination with the respective property owners and community members, will determine if any private property is required for individual plans or projects. In the event that private property would be needed for specific improvements, the local jurisdiction would comply with the federal eminent domain regulations and the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 as a matter of law.

The amount of land required to implement the Grand Boulevard Initiative Vision, in terms of housing and business development, represents a minimal proportion of the El Camino Real corridor. According to the Economic and Housing Opportunities Assessment, Phase I, approximately 900 to 2,200 acres of land would be required to implement the highest levels of development envisioned by the Bay Area's Sustainable Communities Strategy and Greenbelt Alliance's "Grow Smart Bay Area." This translates to only three to nine percent of the total land supply in the El Camino Real corridor and likely could be accommodated in property already zoned for housing.

El Camino is a thoroughfare of commerce used by people to commute and carry on commerce. What is the volume of traffic that the renovation will permit on El Camino as opposed to what flows now?

The Grand Boulevard Initiative is a visionary effort to create compact communities with a range of housing, job, and travel options. The specific corridor renovations, including streetscape improvements and new land development, are left to the individual cities and counties to decide. Under State law each plan or project, including those within the El Camino Real corridor, is required to undergo specific development and environmental review processes, which consider the anticipated traffic volumes and traffic effects of the project or plan. According to the Grand Boulevard Initiative Multimodal Transportation Corridor Plan (2010) projections, traffic on El Camino Real will be reduced with implementation of enhanced public transportation, such as compact homes and jobs within close proximity to the transportation service. The total traffic on El Camino Real would reduce with implementation of the Grand Boulevard Vision, as more travel options beyond the private automobile will be easily available and convenient.

We keep using the word "corridor." This seems to equate to a narrow strip. How do we get people not directly on the El Camino to access and use this?

The "El Camino Real corridor" includes the 43-mile stretch of the El Camino Real roadway between Daly City and downtown San Jose. The corridor is defined as the Β½-mile area on either side of the roadway and thus includes the surrounding communities. Currently, the El Camino Real corridor is dominated by cars and is often viewed as a barrier within existing communities. The goal of the Grand Boulevard Initiative is to transform El Camino Real into a walkable, bikable, livable corridor with strong connections to the surrounding communities. Revitalizing the El Camino Real corridor will enhance east-west connections across the adjacent communities. The goal is to create a corridor that is seen as a major regional destination that will attract local community residents and visitors to live, work, and play.

How do we address concerns regarding multiple property owners, parcels, and developments in varying sizes along El Camino Real?

Small, irregularly-sized parcels and fragmented property ownership present a challenge for accommodating new compact development. These types of parcels and having multiple property owners often results in parcels having less revenue and tax generation relative to their land value.
The Economic and Housing Opportunities Study (ECHO) Phase I, completed in December 2010, demonstrates the potential fiscal and economic benefits of implementing the Grand Boulevard Initiative Vision of more homes and jobs along the corridor. Currently, ECHO Phase II is identifying the barriers relating to the development of specific parcels and will provide real-world implementation strategies to help cities reach their potential for compact homes and jobs near public transportation. Case studies in Daly City, South San Francisco, Belmont, and Mountain View are underway and will address the concerns regarding property ownership and parcel size in regards to corridor development. The findings of these case studies will provide guidance for other jurisdictions along the corridor.

How does the Grand Boulevard Initiative take into account SB 375 and the sustainable communities' strategy that is required to be drafted by MTC and ABAG?

The Grand Boulevard Initiative is helping to implement the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) in order to meet the mandate to reduce state-wide greenhouse gas emissions per Senate Bill 375 (SB 375). The Grand Boulevard Initiative's significance in promoting the SCS is recognized through its status as a planned Priority Development Area (PDA) by the region's FOCUS Program. The FOCUS Program is guided by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Association of Bay Area Governments, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and seeks to strengthen existing city centers, locate more housing near existing and future rail stations and quality bus lines, encourage more compact and walkable suburbs, and protect regional open space in the San Francisco metropolitan area. The MTC-defined ΒΌ-mile buffer around El Camino Real from Daly City to San Jose is a planned PDA to encourage and leverage future growth near transit in existing communities. This planned PDA also benefits the region's SCS mission to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions through environmentally sustainable development patterns, as required by SB 375. Twelve GBI member cities also have defined PDAs in the corridor, demonstrating their support of sustainable development patterns.
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