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 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). 

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 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, The Retail Coach 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.

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.

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 The Retail Coach, they have indicated that they can help with an initial market assessment and advise on subsequent feasibility steps.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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


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


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  


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


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