Since 1979, Burlingame has been awarded Tree City, USA, status by the Arbor Day Foundation. Its run as such is among the longest of any city in the United States. (The program began in 1976.) Cities receiving this designation have a strict set of guidelines and receive support from the foundation and the USDA Forest Service. Other peninsula cities designated as such include Atherton, Belmont, and Palo Alto.
To qualify as a Tree City USA community, a town or city must meet four standards established by The Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. These standards ensure that every qualifying community has a viable tree management program. They include a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program, and an observance of Arbor Day.
The Burlingame Beautification Commission often advises on matters relating to tree protection and reforestation plans. The commission was first appointed by the city council in 1968 to serve as the public appeals board on staff decisions related to tree removals.
Among the commission’s powers and duties are:
To act in an advisory capacity to the city council, the city manager, and director of parks and recreation in all matters of city trees and protected private trees
To recommend, develop, support and implement programs and activities to promote community awareness and participation in city beautification
To recommend a master street tree plan and official street tree list for adoption by the city council
To recommend or comment on plans and programs for the planting, maintenance and removal of all street trees in the city
In 2008, to “help maintain the historic beauty and charm of these blocks for future generations,” the Burlingame City Council established 126 street tree–themed blocks, where one defined species of street tree is established and maintained indefinitely. The Beautification Commission recommends themed blocks to the City Council, in cooperation with property owners.
The Urban Forest Management Plan adopted by the city of Burlingame and managed through its Parks Department includes guidelines for and lists of tree-themed streets.