Community Priorities Progress Report

Prepared by Singer Associates, Inc. – Spring 2023

San Bruno, California is a vibrant and thriving community, and its residents and businesses are the driving force behind its success.  As the city continues to grow and evolve, it is important to ensure that its development priorities reflect the needs and aspirations of the community.

The Tanforan For San Bruno effort continues the conversation that began in 2021 with the publication of the Land Use Fact Sheet, an assessment of San Bruno’s needs and a framework for conversations around future development at the Tanforan site.

This report presents the results of a robust and meaningful consultation with residents of San Bruno and the broader community, aimed at identifying key, shared priorities for the future. Through a series of in-person open house events, office hours, and digital surveys and exercises, this report gathered and presents insights and perspectives from a diverse cross-section of the population. These findings offer valuable insights on public priorities as the City considers this and future development opportunities.

*The findings of this Community Engagement Priorities Report should not be interpreted to reflect the sentiment of a statistically significant portion of San Bruno’s population. This report’s findings relied on respondents’ self-attestation in feedback provided.

Purpose of the project

Over the decades, Tanforan has evolved many times to meet the changing needs and desires of San Bruno’s residents. The San Bruno community has grown and changed as well.

This site has stories. Learn more about its history at

Times Change.

  • Retail Decline
  • COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Housing Shortage
  • New Ownership

On July 27, 2021, the San Bruno City Council adopted the Reimagining Tanforan Land Use Fact Sheet which articulated a vision for a redevelopment of the 44-acre site including office, hotel, retail, entertainment, and housing.

On October 5, 2022, the City received a preliminary project application for a mixed-use development to include an innovative life science campus, 1,000 housing units as well as new modernized retail space. The project also seeks to retain and upgrade Target and keep and modernize the Century at Tanforan movie theater to accommodate the modern movie-going experience.

Conceptual renderings produced by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc.’s architect, Gensler

Due to the site’s importance as a multi-modal transportation hub and its historical significance, the City launched an engagement effort known as Tanforan For San Bruno to explore Tanforan’s past, identify the City’s emerging needs and opportunities, and help articulate what matters most to the community.

Process of the approach

The Tanforan For San Bruno engagement effort that ran from November 2022 through February 2023 utilized a variety of outreach methods to not only increase awareness of the proposed project, but also to solicit the public’s feedback regarding the future of Tanforan. An informative and dynamic website, in-person events, direct mail, flyers, frequent social media posts, regionally targeted digital advertising, and promotions in The Shops at Tanforan’s and the San Bruno City Manager’s eNewsletters were included as tools through which engagement opportunities were promoted to the public.

  • 13 events hosted
  • 19,700 website visitors
  • 609 survey responses
  • 137 registered in-person visitors

This outreach was designed to stimulate responses to a survey and other quantitative and qualitative feedback activities, regardless of whether that engagement took place digitally on the website or in-person at the public engagement center.  In fact, the digital and in-person engagement experience presented community members with equally accessible and identical opportunities to provide feedback.

Results of the Engagement

What do you love most about San Bruno?

Survey Respondents:

“It’s a great middle-class city.”

“I live in San Francisco and find it more convenient to shop in San Bruno.”

“I grew up in San Bruno during the early years of the mall in the 70s.  There was so much to see and do. As a kid I used to participate in the Hot Wheel races in front of Sears. My first part time job was working the parking lot sales for the Emporium. I remember when they built Shelter Creek and moved the Fireworks in the 2 empty fields across from Sears Parking lot. Pulling pranks on my friends from the second level. Going to the theaters and hanging out with friends who worked there.”

-Survey Respondent

Complete Community

Engagement Demographics:





Survey respondents represented a broad and diverse array of geographic locations, age groups, genders, and living situations.

Retail Realities

Across the various demographics, nearly all respondents were familiar with declining trends in retail.


The majority of respondents have been visiting The Shops at Tanforan for ten years or longer


Three quarters of the survey respondents come to The Shops at Tanforan at least once a month.

What is the most important priority in planning for San Bruno’s future?

Survey Respondents:

  • “Economic vibrancy.”
  • “Housing and moving away from car dependence.”
  • “Public safety and promoting local businesses.”
  • “Things that make it easy to get our necessities (Target), fun and safe activities for youth and elders, restaurants.”
  • “Lowering housing costs. People who work in important but unfortunately low-paying jobs need to be able to afford to live in our community.”

Project Priorities

The Tanforan For San Bruno public engagement effort incorporated input from not only residents of San Bruno, but also from our broader, regional community. Both sources of feedback are important factors for the City of San Bruno to weigh as it considers Tanforan’s future.

Overall, respondents expressed a strong priority for new retail, followed closely by jobs and businesses. However, the priorities for respondents living in San Bruno were more evenly divided among four categories that received almost identical numbers of “extremely important” and “very important” votes.



Engagement Activities

In addition to the survey, two engagement opportunities provided in-person and digital participants with the opportunity to provide further qualitative and quantitative feedback.

QUALITATIVE: Community Memories

  1. The Shops at Tanforan has been a part of San Bruno for 51 years. What experiences here do you treasurer most?
  2. What makes San Bruno great? Share the best part of living in the City with a Heart!

QUANTITATIVE: City-wide Preferences

Participants were asked to consider the following question add rank four categories according to their perceived level of importance:

The future we imagine together will build on core principles that will better integrate Tanforan into the neighborhood, improve transportation, address our local and regional housing crisis, enhance our sustainability, and benefit the entire city. In addition to the retail we all know and love, what do we consider to further benefit our community?

  • HOUSING: We can help San Bruno become more livable – affordable housing reflects both our roots and pressing needs.
  • ECONOMICS: We can help San Bruno become more economically robust – continuing as a strong contributor and driver for jobs, tax revenues, and city services.
  • PUBLIC SPACE: We can help our community become increasingly beautiful – featuring more open spaces, public parks, and greenbelts for recreation.
  • CULTURE: We can help our city become culturally vibrant, with ample opportunities to experience art, theater, cinema, music, and more – for locals and visitors alike.

Each category was ranked 1 – 4 according to its priority level to survey respondents. Categories scoring 1 represented high priorities, while categories that scored 4 represented low priorities. Scores were weighted by rank and then divided by the total number (n) of surveys to establish a mean rank score (MRS) for each category.

Insights from the findings

The City of San Bruno’s Tanforan For San Bruno community engagement effort solicited the public’s feedback in both quantitative and qualitative forms. Both data types provide the City of San Bruno with compelling perspectives on community priorities for the Tanforan of tomorrow. AS this information was evaluated, a number of high-level takeaways can be gleaned from the results.

How can a new Tanforan benefit the broader San Bruno community?

  1. Economics: The results demonstrate a clear mandate that the site’s use must help to drive San Bruno’s economic engine. The public was vocal about Tanforan’s capacity to ensure future prosperity, spur new development and improvements to infrastructure, and promote job creation.
  2. New Retail Options: Qualitative data suggests that respondents’ fond memories at Tanforan centered around social interactions, relationships, and community. On the other hand, quantitative data reflects a definitive public priority in modernizing retail experiences at the 44-acre site.  Taken together, the community has expressed a desire to see an array of retail options that balance life’s necessities with unique dining and entertainment options.
  3. Community Gathering: Many San Bruno residents and local organizations desire increased publicly accessible open spaces for gathering and building unity through education and the arts, providing accessible areas for community members to come together, learn, and experience different cultures, thereby promoting a greater sense of connection.

We need a safe place for our community to hangout that has outdoor covered areas, small play spaces, cafes and snack shacks.

-Survey Respondent

  1. Housing – While concerns related to housing reflect an acceptance that the region is suffering from an affordability crisis, generally the public viewed the amount, size, and type of housing proposed in the Preliminary Project Application as appropriately balanced. The results illustrate a public enthusiasm for housing at various income levels adjacent to transit and jobs.
  2. Sustainability – Respondents expressed a demand for Tanforan’s future to include sustainable features that reduce environmental impacts. Quantitative data reflected interest for energy and water efficiency measures to be included in the project’s development.

Summary from the City of San Bruno


The Tanforan For San Bruno community engagement process represented the City of San Bruno’s effort to develop a shared public vision for the Tanforan of tomorrow. This outreach intentionally started an important dialogue about our future – and while that conversation is just beginning, it has already shed light on how a new Tanforan can benefit the broader San Bruno community.

The early datapoints in this report suggest that the community’s priorities for the 44-acre site continue to align with the City’s framework laid out in the Reimagining Tanforan Land Use Fact Sheet.

This process revealed an apparent public enthusiasm and excitement around Tanforan’s future. Engagement with the survey not only reflected the community’s robust and thoughtful approach to weighing future uses at the site, but also a public investment and trust in the project’s expanded review process warranted by its unique location. Tanforan’s proximity to San Francisco International Airport, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Caltrain, I-280 and I-380 underscored the project’s immense importance to the community’s future.

Where do we go from here?

This Community Engagement Priorities Report will be presented to the San Bruno City Council on March 28, 2023 as the City’s technical and environmental review of the proposed project begins. The City has retained Good City Company and ICF International, Inc. to provide consulting services related to the project’s planning entitlement processing including the environmental review required under the California Environmental Quality Act and the override of land use restrictions associated with the site’s proximity to San Francisco International Airport.

While this report’s completion marks the conclusion of the community priorities identification portion of the Tanforan For San Bruno community engagement process, ample opportunities to share additional feedback with the City and developer teams lay ahead. This includes, but is not limited to, official public comment period associated with the project’s planning and environmental reviews.

To stay up to date, please visit and stay connected with the City’s official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

Thank You

The Tanforan For San Bruno team extends our deepest gratitude to the members of the public that participated in this outreach and engagement process.

Thank you to all who attended in-person events and also to those that participated digitally. The success of this effort was tied to the input received, and we appreciate the public’s commitment to the success of San Bruno’s future.

Learn more

Tanforan over Time

Where we’ve been, and where we’re going

Latest News

Get the latest news and stories about Tanforan

Community Priorities Progress Report

Public priorities for San Bruno’s future

Tanforan for San Bruno, dedicated to keeping our community informed of community engagement for the City’s planning process.