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

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?

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.


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
Morning Glory Montessori 30 students
Motherhouse 50 residents
Mercy Center 97 guests
Marian Oaks 40 residents
The Lodge 4 residents
2. 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.

Community Engagement

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

At the end of February, we initiated this interactive website in order to share as much as possible with the community while creating a vehicle to gain input and respond to questions. The website is continuously updated with the status of our planning process and it provides the opportunity to share your thoughts, have your questions answered, and/or request a virtual conversation with representatives of the Sisters.

for the first series of Listening Sessions in April 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 , and community input was received. Videos of the meetings and the presentations themselves can be found within the “More” tab of the website. (

The best way to be kept informed of any planning updates is to “Subscribe” to the website and receive emails advising you of new information. Additionally, updates and information will continue to be mailed periodically to neighbors who live within 500 feet of the campus, those who live on streets that could be affected by any campus changes, and other interested parties. All neighborhood communications, as well as the mailing map, are included on the website within the “More” tab.

Of course, we continue to welcome your feedback by whatever form of communication you prefer. Website ( Updates are provided regularly.

Mail Address to Sisters of Mercy, 2300 Adeline Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010, c/o Campus Planning. Phone 650-373-4515.

E-mail You can contact Jean Hastie at 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 currently considering 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 hope to have initial conceptual plans to share with the Burlingame community by late Fall 2020.

2. What studies have been done to date?

How will the community and neighbors learn of their findings? We have completed the Existing Conditions and Land Use Analysis which is helping us 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?

We do not yet have specific plans for the campus. As noted at the June virtual meetings, the existing Coolock building could be converted to between 65-75 one-bedroom and studio apartments for low income seniors, funded through county funds as well as state and federal tax credits. We hope to have initial conceptual plans to share with the Burlingame community in late Fall 2020. (The Coolock building is to the left as you walk west on the lower/back road.)

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

In that we do not yet have a plan, this has not been determined, but it remains one of the primary objectives of this planning effort. One concept being studied is the construction of new housing which could be designed in relation to Marian Oaks, the adjacent sisters’ residence.

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. On the “Info” page of this website, you will see that one of our primary objectives of the planning effort is to “protect and enhance the historic and “woodsy” character of the campus while keeping it open to the public.” Accordingly, 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. The results of the arborist report are included in the Existing Conditions Land Use Analysis.

6. Will there be enough on-site parking?

There is not yet a plan, so we do not know the specifics of the on-site parking to be provided. We can assure you that there will be enough 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.

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 goals 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.

Affordable Housing

1. What is affordable housing?

The purpose of affordable housing is to enable a household to pay for their housing costs, while still having money left over for other necessities like food, transportation, and health care. This is typically defined as housing that is affordable when rent is no more than 30 percent of a household's income. Affordable housing is restricted to those with incomes between 20% and 80% of the Area Median Income, which for a single individual in San Mateo County is $24,360 to $97,440 in 2020.

2. Where will affordable housing be built, and can any existing buildings be repurposed to meet the Sisters’ objectives?

The affordable housing that has been discussed would be senior housing to be located in the existing Coolock building. This would involve a total interior renovation and could provide 65-75 one bedroom and studio apartments for low-income seniors. Typically, these seniors would have incomes in the range of 20% to 60% of the Area Median Income and this housing could partially address one of the Sisters’ Campus Planning Objectives related to meeting housing needs in the broader Burlingame community.

Mercy High School

1. 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 currently planned 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.

2. Will members of the community be able to use the athletic center facilities?

It has not yet been determined how neighbors would be able to use the Center. However, the high school administration is committed to exploring those opportunities with the city and the community.