Sisters of Mercy Campus: Burlingame, California

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

These “Frequently Asked Questions” incorporate common questions the community has asked over the period of 2017 to the present. These questions will be updated when new information exists or new questions are added.

At the end of February 2020, an interactive website was launched in order to share as much as possible with the community while creating a vehicle to gain input and respond to questions. That website, Co-urbanize, is in the process of being discontinued. Because Mercy High School Burlingame will be individually applying to the City of Burlingame for construction for its Athletic and Student Life Center, the Sisters of Mercy and the High School now will each have a website for its planning information and outreach. Please use this website to check for updates and to submit your questions.

Campus Planning Objectives

1. Why are the Sisters of Mercy looking to make changes on the Mercy Campus? What are their goals for this planning?

The Sisters of Mercy purchased the original 40 acres, known as “The Oaks”, from the estate of C. Frederick Kohl in 1924 as the home for their Motherhouse and novitiate. Over the years, new ministries, activities, and uses have been added to the campus. In 2017, the Sisters of Mercy engaged in an internal visioning process to determine how best to continue long-term good stewardship of the Campus. After significant reflection and discussion, the following goals were established to guide future planning.

  • Create new, accessible housing to meet the current and long-term housing needs of the Sisters.
  • Protect the legacy and advance the educational and spiritual ministries of the Sisters of Mercy.
  • Address the future needs of Mercy High School Burlingame with an Athletic/Student Life Center.
  • Protect and enhance the historic and “woodsy” character of the campus while keeping it available to the public.
  • Explore the opportunity to assist in addressing the housing needs of the broader Burlingame community.

We take our stewardship responsibility very seriously, and it is our desire and our intention to plan both for the future care of the sisters and the future of the campus. Sisters of Mercy across the country, as well as other religious congregations, are involved in similar planning efforts with regard to their often historic “Motherhouse” properties.

We are genuinely grateful to the neighbors and community members who are engaging with us in this planning process.

Entitlements

1. What are the current City of Burlingame regulations for the existing Mercy Campus uses?

The Amended Conditional Use Permit for 2300 and 2750 Adeline Drive, Effective August 5, 2010, includes the following:

  • Mercy High School – 540 students, 83 faculty/staff (current enrollment is 400)
  • Morning Glory Montessori – 30 students
  • Motherhouse – 50 residents; Lodge – 4 residents
  • Mercy Center – 97 guests
  • Marian Oaks – 40 residents

Community Engagement

1. Please review the community engagement process and how the community will be kept informed.

With the move back to this original website, we also will continue sharing various ways to update the community and adding new FAQs. Input for the first series of Listening Sessions in April 2020 was invited through the website, by mail, and by phone. A summary of the findings from the Existing Conditions Land Use Analysis was presented at virtual community meetings on June 22nd and 25th, 2020, and community input was received during those meetings. Videos of the meetings and the presentations themselves can be found in the “More” section of the website.

One of the best ways to be kept informed of any planning updates is to periodically check on this website. We have researched a number of alternatives looking for the best aging-in-place option for senior housing on the Campus for the Sisters. One approach possibly would integrate senior housing and care services, another integrating housing with the existing Marian Oaks retirement, and continuing to research other options. As noted before, we continue to explore a range of alternatives.

We continue to welcome your feedback by whatever form of communication you prefer:

  • Mail Address to Sisters of Mercy, 2300 Adeline Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010, c/o Campus Planning.
  • Phone Call 650-373-4515 and leave a request for a return call.
  • E-mail You can contact Jean Hastie at jhastie@sistersofmercy.org with any questions or comments.

We anticipate that in the future, virtual and/or in-person community meetings will be hosted at major benchmarks in the planning process. We will continue to seek additional ways to involve our neighbors and the broader community, and we welcome your suggestions on how best to engage and communicate with you.

Planning Process Specifics

1. What is the schedule for this process?

We are continuing integrating the future needs of the sisters, the findings of the Existing Conditions and Land Use Analysis, overall financial feasibility, and community and neighborhood input to create the outlines of a balanced, responsible plan that achieves our primary goals as stated earlier. At this time, no estimate for filings of any applicable applications is known.

2. What studies have been done to date and how will we learn of their findings?

“Planning for the Future” page on this website updates the status of the current planning process specifics. We completed the Existing Conditions and Land Use Analysis in mid-2020 to better understand the property and how we care for and use it. The analysis included a geological study, an arborist report and tree survey, as well as a utilities and site survey by a civil engineer. The analysis findings were shared at the June virtual community meetings and may be found in the “More” section of the website.

3. Can you share any specifics of your plan?

Please refer to the “Planning for the Future” page for the current status. As indicated on that page, we are continuing to explore a range of alternatives.

To prevent confusion about the previous information shared on the Co-urbanize website, we are removing that previous information from this question. Sisters of Mercy have no defined plan as now. Mercy High School Burlingame has a defined plan in regard toward the building of the Athletic and Student Life Center. Its project will be separate of whatever Sisters of Mercy campus-wide projects may plan in the future. More information on the specific High School project can be found on the Mercy High School Burlingame website.

4. How will the Sisters’ long-term housing needs be met?

The provision of housing and care services for the Sisters of Mercy is our paramount planning goal. Currently, we are studying a program that would involve adding new, accessible apartments and associated support spaces to the campus and integrating these new structures with the existing Marian Oaks retirement complex. This approach would provide integrated senior housing and care services for the sisters as well as provide high-quality, professionally managed housing with care services to members of the local community. The number of apartments, access points, circulation, parking, and other details are being analyzed.

5. What are the plans to protect the tree canopy and replace any lost trees?

We cherish all that the property offers including its trees and open space. Feedback from the community has been clear that the tree canopy and accessible open space are important amenities in the neighborhood. You will see that one of the primary objectives of the planning effort is to “protect and enhance the historic and “woodsy” character of the campus while keeping it available to the public.” At a minimum Mercy will replace protected trees in accordance with the City’s Tree Ordinance. The Ordinance provides that each protected tree removed be replaced by three fifteen-gallon size or one 24-inch box size or one 36-inch box size tree. It is also important to note that any work related to the trees will be done under the guidance of a certified arborist.

6. Will there be enough on-site parking?

There is not yet a proposed plan, so we do not know the specifics of the on-site parking to be provided. We can assure you that it is our intent to provide sufficient on-site parking to meet the demands of the campus based upon a comprehensive parking assessment. Properly meeting the parking needs will also be a requirement of the City’s entitlement and environmental review process.

7. How will current traffic issues be addressed, and will future impacts be mitigated?

We understand that traffic is one of the primary concerns of the neighbors and it will be integral to any plan that we advance. There will be an assessment by a traffic engineer of the potential traffic impacts of all proposed future uses and a mitigation plan will be developed based on that assessment. Comprehensively addressing traffic impacts will also be a required element of the City’s entitlement and environmental review process.

8. Will the Campus remain open to neighbors for their continued use for light recreational activities such as running, walking, and use of the labyrinth?

One of the current goals of this planning process is that neighborhood residents continue to feel welcome on the campus.