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Grand Boulevard Initiative

The Grand Boulevard is a collaboration of 19 cities, counties, local and regional agencies united to improve the performance, safety and aesthetics of El Camino Real. Starting at the northern Daly City city limit (where it is named Mission Street) and ending near the Diridon Caltrain Station in central San Jose (where it is named The Alameda), the initiative brings together for the first time all of the agencies having responsibility for the condition, use and performance of the street.

The Vision

El Camino Real will achieve its full potential as a place for residents to work, live, shop and play, creating links between communities that promote walking and transit and an improved and meaningful quality of life.

The Grand Boulevard Challenge

El Camino Real will become a “grand boulevard of meaningful destinations” shaped by all the cities along its length and with each community realizing its full potential to become a destination full of valued places.

The Grand Boulevard Task Force is a broad federation of interested public and private parties that challenges communities to rethink the corridor’s potential for housing and urban development, balancing the need for cars and parking with viable options for transit, walking and biking.

Stretching from Daly City to San Jose, the vision is of a boulevard that connects communities by a mix of land uses designed to attract people. Cities are encouraged to design for neighborhoods that include high quality building designs and diverse land uses, preserve historic buildings and places, and enhance our economic and cultural diversity, with the broad involvement of residents, workers and local businesses. Rail stations and bus facilities are valued not only as vital transportation services, but as public gathering places and assets to spur transit oriented development. Roadway improvements will be context sensitive while continuing to meet the need to move people and commerce and preserve environmental resources. Above all, change will recognize and incorporate our history and create a sense of community.

The Grand Boulevard initiative will succeed only with the enthusiastic support of public agencies, leading businesses, non-profit agencies, neighborhoods and community advocates. The Task force endeavors to coordinate planning efforts, develop incentives and other mechanisms, and secure funding to make this vision a reality.

Meeting the Challenge

El Camino Real is the most important arterial on the Peninsula, carrying more people than any other. It meets these responsibilities fairly well, though there are widespread complaints about congestion, appearance and safety. The public perception has been that the street is not well planned.

Though many localized planning efforts are underway, they remain uncoordinated. For that reason, the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), Santa Clara Transportation Authority (VTA), Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, San Mateo City/County Association of Governments (C/CAG), and SAMCEDA (San Mateo Economic Development Association) started an extensive program of collaboration, bringing together all of the agencies having partial responsibility for the street, for the first time in the history of El Camino.

The effort also includes businesses located on El Camino, environmentalists, labor, and advocates for housing, transit, bicyclists, economic development and smart growth. It features two committees, a Task Force comprised of policy makers from the public and private sector, which will make the final decisions on all matters, and a Working Committee comprised of local and regional agency staff members, which will perform the detailed research and make recommendations to the Task Force. The Working Committee anticipates widespread participation from the many interested groups.

Technically the goal is to produce a coordinated series of policy decisions that will be embraced by all jurisdictions, thereby helping El Camino Real to function and look better. But the vision goes farther: the Grand Boulevard initiative seeks to recreate the street to do a better job of connecting our communities (north-south) and of better integrating it with each of our communities (east-west.). It will transform El Camino Real into a boulevard that will stand as one of the highlights of our communities, successfully fulfilling its role as the Peninsula’s most important arterial, while bringing pride and unity to San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

To learn more about the Grand Boulevard Initiative Guiding Principles, click here.  To download a PDF of the GBI Vision, Challenge, and Guiding Principles, click here.

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