Economic Development Program Update

Marketing & Brand Development, Supporting Retail, and Future Land Use

A. Objective Description:  Complete the Zoning Code Update (Implement the General Plan Update – “GPU) 

Pursuant to state law, the Town of Colma is required to amend its zoning code and zoning map after the adoption of the Town’s GPU 2040. The GPU and zoning must be consistent with one another.  Colma planning staff began the Zoning Code Update (ZCU) process in late 2022 and is scheduled to make two presentations to the City Council in the spring/summer of 2023 (Study Session & Public Hearing).

STATUS (as of 6/30/23):  The ZCU’s study session is scheduled for the July 26, 2023 City Council meeting, with the public hearing for the adaptation of the document by the Council tentatively scheduled for August 23, 2023.

B.  Objective Description:  Engage with Property Owners – GPU Commercial Core Opportunity Sites 

Staff’s primary focus has been on the “Town Center” site, and specifically Kohl’s long- term intentions for their Colma store. With the help of The Retail Coach (TRC) we have been tracking Kohl’s “right-sizing” initiative across their national retail portfolio. Because of the size of the Colma store (90,000 sq. ft.) and the expanse of the property’s parking lots, we believe that this store may be a good candidate for an internal feasibility assessment by Kohl’s real estate team. To that end, TRC initiated discussions with Kohl’s several months ago and has provided a Colma land use information package to their real estate executives. We are anticipating follow-up discussions over the next three to six months.

STATUS (as of 6/30/23):  TRC has reached out, connected with and had calls with Kohl’s Corporate Real Estate team on several occasions to pitch the Town Center concept.  As it stands they currently do not have interest in downsizing the existing location in Colma.  Kohl’s has acknowledged Colma’s interest and stated they will contact TRC should their planning shift toward downsizing.

C.  Objective Description:  Facilitate Card Room Expansion Process 

The City Manager has maintained regular communications with Lucky Chances ownership and management with focus on industry trends and Lucky Chances evolving ideas of their future business model.

STATUS (as of 6/30/23):  Staff has been meeting with cardroom ownership to assist in their wish to expand operations within the Town of Colma.

D. Objective Description:  Advance Hotel Development Feasibility 

An analysis of recent public/private hotel projects on the Peninsula was carried out in the summer of 2022. Staff then met with a local economic development consultant who had facilitated several competitive processes for cities who desired to enable hotel developments via land leases and a mix of financial incentives. A phone interview with a specialty hotel deal-maker revealed that the single most effective tool to bring hotels to cities is to provide land at deeply discounted sales prices or land lease terms. Since Colma does not own a property suited for a hotel use, it was suggested that the Town secure the services of a commercial real estate company with a specialized hotel market analysis team to determine the viability of Colma’s market sphere to attract and sustain a hotel enterprise – to be located on privately owned land, on a site to be determined. In recent conversations with TRC, they have indicated that they can help with an initial market assessment and advise on subsequent feasibility steps.

STATUS (as of 6/30/23): TRC team is transitioning a new account manager into the Colma contract.  This objective will be discussed in Q3-2023, in sync with continuing work on objectives 1-c and 1-e.

E. Objective Description:  Hillside Blvd. Commercial Overlay District 

Staff began discussions with the landowner in late 2021, with the intent to confirm interest in the creation of a commercial overlay district on lands North and East of Hillside Blvd. By the time the General Plan Update (GPU) was approved by the City Council in March 2022, staff had determined that the Town would need to create and provide a process roadmap or “development framework” to the landowner for the creation of the Overlay District, once the GPU was in place. By Fall 2022 the framework was finished and Town staff had completed most of the tasks associated with the Town’s authority as the land use agency. A summary of the Framework’s tasks:

  • Define the purpose of the District (completed – Colma GPU)
  • Identify the areas that make up the District (completed – Colma GPU)
  • Clarify the Town’s land use priorities (completed – Town staff)
  • Standards anticipated to apply to new uses in the District (completed – Town staff)
  • Identify the capacity of the District (completed – Town staff)
  • Complete due diligence with utility providers (Town staff – in process)
  • Continue to work with landowner developing a Master Plan for the overlay district

At this juncture staff understands that the property owner has initiated an internal planning process to determine long-term land use requirements for their core business, which should in turn define available land that could be utilized for new commercial uses.

STATUS (as of 6/30/23):   Landowner has authorized TRC to release a retail site development opportunity flyer to their network of commercial developers.  Town staff will assist the landowner with responses to any initial, informal requests for information, as well as provide guidance to the TRC as needed.

F. Objective Description:  El Camino Real Commercial Overlay District 

This newly established overlay district is associated with a three-acre vacant land parcel fronting El Camino Real, near the Colma Bart Station. Staff has engaged the property owner in discussions leading up to the City Council’s recent adoption of the Housing Element. Ultimately this property was not included in the Town’s potential housing sites inventory. However, should the property owner initiate a development master plan for the property in the future, some housing could be included in a mixed-use development plan.

STATUS (as of 6/30/23):   With the Commercial Overlay zoning designation of the property, a master plan could utilize the Planned Development (PD) of the zoning district, which encourages production of mixed-use development – Colma Municipal Code Section 5.03.130(b)(5). The location of the site, across from Colma BART station, is imperative for the future proposal as the three-acre property would be considered a Transit Oriented Development (TOD), utilizing potential environmental economic benefits and state density bonuses generally associated with TODs.

A. Objective Description:  Branding Campaign – Conduct Professional Services Procurement Process  

The 2012 Economic Development Plan identified several strategies within the framework of the study. One of the strategies was to create Branding and Promotional Materials emphasizing Colma’s commercial activities. Phase 1 of the project will be to prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP) and hire a consultant to develop a community branding campaign. The process will involve local outreach, surveys, interviews with business leaders, and other research, and utilizing this information to establish creative options for the community’s brand. Phase 2 will be to launch an expanded image and branding campaign highlighting Colma’s brand through logo, marketing brochures, letterhead, streetlight banners, promotional campaigns, advertisements and tag lines. This program was identified as a priority program on the 2020-22 Strategic Plan however it was delayed due to Covid pandemic and change in priorities. The City Council also put this project on hold in June 2022. 

STATUS (as of 6/30/23):  The Branding campaign continues to be a program in the Strategic Plan and is funded for FY2023-24, however it remains “on hold.” Staff will revisit the Branding campaign at the next Strategic Plan update in early 2024.

B.  Objective Description:  Determine Feasibility and Process for New CalTrans Signage 

This objective is to build consensus with the business community along Serramonte Blvd. in an effort to change the name of the roadway to Serramonte Auto Row. Assuming consensus is established and Serramonte Blvd. name has been changed, staff will petition CalTrans for the street name change on southbound highway 280 at the Serramonte Blvd. exit. 

STATUS (as of 6/30/23): Staff has fleshed out the scope and concepts for the proposed name change, and has received some preliminary feedback from some dealerships.  Next steps:

  • Prepare and conduct a presentation of the proposal for all potentially affected business;
  • Reach out to adjacent communities for feedback and input;
  • Establish a formal consensus process to determine feasibility for businesses;
  • If businesses indicate agreement with and support for the proposal, seek City Council approval of the name change;
  • Request approval of signage changes on Hwy 280.
C.  Objective Description:  Develop Options for a New Town-Owned and Operated Freeway Sign 

Staff was directed to research the feasibility of a freeway sign along highway 280 promoting the Town of Colma commercial areas. Staff will have to engage with CalTrans and possibly a consultant to determine feasibility. e future, some housing could be included in a mixed-use development plan.

STATUS (as of 6/30/23): Preliminary reconnaissance of municipality-owned signs was completed in Q2-2023.  Additional research and analysis is on hold pending next steps on objective 2-b.

A. Objective Description:  Administer the Retail Coach Contract 

In 2021 the Town entered into an agreement with the “Retail Coach” a consultant that provide market analysis of commercial areas and recruits commercial businesses to shopping centers with high vacancies. Since retaining the Retail Coach there has been a higher level of communication with Kimco’s 280 Metro management directly by Town staff and reinforced by regular check-ins by The Retail Coach. A snapshot of progress filling vacant retail spaces is provided in the table below: 

The Retail Coach has confirmed that under the Ross lease, no more than five food businesses may occupy 280 Metro spaces. 

New businesses already opened or in the process include Boot Barn, DashMart, Pet Club, Good Feet, and Raising Cane. 

Q2-2021 Sales tax revenues from 280 Metro showed an estimated shortfall of approximately 20% due to the eight vacancies at that time. Seeing the closing of that gap clearly will not likely appear in quarterly reports until late 2023. 

STATUS  (as of 6/30/23):  280 Metro Center has seen a change in Kimco staffing in the first half of 2023, with a new leasing agent now in place.  Staff and TRC are establishing regular communications as well as deepening the Town’s analysis of foot traffic and the Center’s sales tax performance.  Some observations as of the end of Q4-2022:

  • Year-over-year sales tax revenue increased slightly, with good performance in the first three quarters. However, 2022 holiday sales could not keep up with the significant sales growth in late 2021, when post-pandemic pent up demand resulted in peak sales tax revenues for the Center.
  • With inflation exceeding sales tax gain over the past quarters, it remains to be seen how 2023 will play out for the mix of businesses in the Center.
  • The cap on the number of restaurants for the Center (five) continues to be a limiting factor in filling out the remaining vacant spaces and maximizing the Center’s potential. The type of tenants that remain to be allowed are not likely to have a significant effect on performance.  Staff and TRC believe that destination-type retail or entertainment businesses are needed to drive enough foot traffic to “move the needle” of the other 94% of the Center.  Additionally, destination businesses do not typically fill spaces of 3,000 to 5,000 sq. ft. at a time: 30,000 or more sq. ft. are needed to achieve high levels of foot traffic and high-performing destinations.
  • TRC has provided a new analytical tool for Colma: Foot traffic generation.  We are now able to see which areas of the Town and which individual businesses drive foot traffic, and when the annual and weekly activity peaks are.  Staff’s work plan for FY 2023-24 includes refining the modeling of foot traffic as related to sales tax generation and performance synergies within and between difference business sectors.
B. Objective Description:  Target New Auto Dealerships 

Auto row has seen the addition of the new Cadillac dealership, the expansion of Kia’s business facilities, and soon the opening of VinFast in the vacant Acura dealership property at 475 Serramonte Blvd. 

STATUS  (as of 6/30/23):  For a variety of business reasons VinFast has been delayed in completing tenant improvements to the property, hiring staff, and setting an official opening date for this new EV dealership.  The renewal of the Temporary Use Permit was approved by the Planning Dept. on June 22, 2023.

C. Objective Description:  Coordinate with Cemeteries and Auto Dealerships to Promote Local Restaurants 

STATUS  (as of 6/30/23):   Staff sees this objective as a good opportunity to partner with the Chamber of Commerce in FY 2023-24 to design, deploy and maintain a new program in Colma.

D. Objective Description:  Process Use Permits in Commercial Districts Retain, not Replace Retail 

STATUS  (as of 6/30/23):   The Colma Municipal Code allows retail land use in Commercial zoning districts by establishing a Use Permit (UP).  Historically, the Town seeks retaining retail proposals in replacement of existing retail, which would not require a UP, and promotes replacing of existing non-retail uses to retail whenever possible.

A. Objective Description:  Continue to coordinate and program the Mayor/Chamber Walks, Business Recognition Luncheon, regular meetings with the Cemetery and Auto Row work group and create and distribute the “Colma Works” business newsletter  

STATUS (as of 6/30/23):  In 2022 the Mayor along with Staff and the Chamber of Commerce conducted three separate Mayor/Chamber Walks along Mission Road and Serramonte Blvd. In June of 2023 the Town conducted a Mayor/Chamber walk at the 280 Metro Center and is planning to schedule a second Mayor/Chamber walk in the fall of 2023.

The Town hosted a very successful Business Recognition Luncheon in 2022 and is in the planning process for the 2023 Business Recognition Luncheon.

Staff has hosted several meetings with the Cemetery work group and the auto work group since the beginning if 2022; topics included upcoming Town Capital Improvement Projects, updates from the Police Department including crime trends and the use of ALPR’s, collaboration with PG&E regarding EV infrastructure, and current events.  There are meetings scheduled for both groups coming up later in the summer and fall of this year.

Staff produces the Colma Works business newsletter quarterly, updating businesses on upcoming capital programs, events, networking opportunities, local development and most recently the Town’s 100-year Anniversary sponsorship opportunities.  The next edition of Colma Works is scheduled for August 2023.

B.  Objective Description:  Continue to update the Colma “Business tab and Colma Business Directory on the Town’s website 

STATUS (as of 6/30/23):  Staff began the process of updating the Colma “Business” tab on the Town’s website in the spring of 2023.  This project should be completed by the end of summer 2023.

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