Sisters of Mercy Campus
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
June 2020

The following questions were those asked most often in the feedback from the spring Listening Sessions, in the comments section of the website, and during individual and small group chats. From time to time, additional FAQs and their responses will be added, and an Update will be sent when they are posted at courb.co/mercycampus.

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

As many know, 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.

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

As noted above, an important goal of this planning process is that neighborhood residents continue to feel welcome on the campus. It is intended that the natural beauty of the property will continue to be a valued resource for the broader community.

3. 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
Morning Glory Montessori 30 students
Motherhouse 50 residents
Mercy Center 97 guests
Marian Oaks 40 residents
The Lodge 4 residents
4. What approvals will be required from the City of Burlingame for proposed changes to the Mercy Campus?

The campus was originally unincorporated county land and was annexed into the city in the 1950s. It is currently zoned for single family housing, and the school, retreat center, convent, and retirement residence for sisters operate under a conditional use permit. Any significant new construction or new use on the campus would require new land use entitlements from the City of Burlingame. These would include the approval of a master plan/specific plan, an extensive Environmental Review process, and a rezoning process. These reviews and approvals would require multiple public hearings before the Design Review Board, Planning Commission, and City Council.

5. What studies have been done to date? How will the community and neighbors learn of their findings?

We are nearing the completion of the Existing Conditions Analysis which will help us better understand the property and how we care for and use it. To date, the analysis has included a geological study, an arborist report and tree survey, as well as a utilities and site survey by a civil engineer. A summary of the findings will be presented at a virtual community meeting at the end of June, with the announcement of the meeting sent by mail, through the website, and by phone, when requested. The presentation will also be posted on this website along with the request for feedback and continued community input.

6. Given Shelter in Place restrictions, how will community input take place?

At the end of February, we initiated an interactive website (courb.co/mercycampus) in order to share as much as possible with the community. Input for the first series of Listening Sessions in April was solicited through the website, by mail, and by phone. Within the confines of Shelter in Place, we have continued to work hard at communicating with and gaining input from neighbors in multiple ways including the website, voice mail, two communications mailed to the surrounding neighborhoods, and many Coffee Chats both on-line and by phone. As noted above, a virtual community meeting will be scheduled at the end of June to share the findings of the Existing Conditions Analysis. The presentation will then be posted on this website with an opportunity to ask questions and provide input on the findings, as well as schedule future Chats. 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. Previous mailings are included on the website in the Neighborhood Communications tab.

7. When will you have plans to share?

We will give careful consideration to the findings of the Existing Conditions Analysis and the community input to date, as well as financial feasibility assessments, combining them to create the outlines of a balanced, responsible plan that achieves our primary goals as stated earlier. We intend to have conceptual plans to share with the Burlingame community by the end of the third quarter of 2020.

8. What information can you share about the proposed Mercy High School Student and Athletic Center?

Mercy High School's proposed Athletic and Student Life Center answers a growing need for more collaborative space for the student body, faculty, and staff to gather and build community. As the only school of the 14 high schools in the San Francisco Archdiocese that does not have its own indoor space for athletics and school-wide community gatherings, Mercy has limited on-campus indoor facilities and no current indoor space large enough for the entire student body to meet.
It is imagined that the Athletic and Student Life Center would be in the area now occupied by the tennis courts. In addition to providing much needed athletic practice and competition space, it would provide a space where the entire Mercy community could join in all aspects of student life and athletics, including meetings, rallies, and other events.
Mercy High School has a strong history and future in the Peninsula community, and the addition of an Athletic and Student Life Center will further strengthen the school's ability to attract prospective students while reinforcing the strong sense of community that defines Mercy High School.