El Camino Real

Map of General Plan Land Use Designations for El Camino Real sub area

El Camino Real

The El Camino Real sub-area is the central corridor of the city, extending more than two and a half miles from northwest to southeast. It has a mix of land uses, though retail is the most common use. It contains approximately one-tenth of the city’s entire population, and its residents are less likely to be children and more likely to be seniors.

The General Plan aims to create a dynamic and accessible boulevard for all. El Camino Real transforms from a regional thoroughfare to a “Grand Boulevard,” complete with comfortable accommodations to facilitate multiple modes of transportation and generous street furniture, signage, and landscaping that enhance the appearance of the corridor. Improved bicycle, pedestrian, and transit connectivity provide opportunities for non-auto travel along and to the corridor. A new street will connect El Camino Real to Sunshine Gardens, improving connectivity to and from the El Camino Real sub-area.

The General Plan pinpoints strategic locations to support increased housing density and mixed uses along El Camino Real. These activity centers are the South San Francisco BART station, the El Camino Real/Chestnut Avenue area, and the South Spruce Avenue area. The activity centers are imagined as complete neighborhoods, will include spaces for social gathering, shopping, and entertainment to enable residents, employees, and visitors to meet their daily needs. The three activity centers already have many of these complete neighborhood components, including anchored institutional uses, and the potential for intensification of office, retail, and residential uses.

The South San Francisco BART station area has potential for more housing production and increased daily services to serve new and existing residents. The General Plan imagines this area as a transit-oriented community, where residents have ample opportunity to use transit and active transportation to reach their destinations. To achieve this vision, improved connections are needed from the BART station to nearby destinations, including the Costco and other retail along El Camino Real, the Centennial Way Trail, and El Camino High School.

Housing in El Camino Real

The El Camino Real/Chestnut Avenue area activity center will be anchored by the South San Francisco Community Civic Campus. The Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Orange Memorial Park, the Centennial Way Trail, and retail along El Camino Real are other major attractions in this area. Maximum allowed building heights for new buildings in the El Camino Real/Chestnut Avenue area would be reduced from presently-allowed maximums under the El Camino Real/Chestnut Avenue Area Plan in order to create harmonious height transitions from adjacent residential uses.

The South Spruce Avenue area includes major auto-oriented commercial centers, including the Brentwood shopping center and the shopping center at the southeast corner of El Camino Real and South Spruce Avenue with the currently vacant anchor tenant space (formerly occupied by Safeway). It also includes the See’s Candy factory, a legacy industrial use in South San Francisco. Due to its proximity to the San Bruno BART station and the SamTrans bus corridor along El Camino Real, this area also has potential for more housing production in areas that comply with San Francisco International Airport land use compatibility regulations.

Vision Statement

A dynamic and re-envisioned boulevard that is a safe and healthy place for transit riders, pedestrians, and cyclists, with a diverse mix of commercial and residential, and open space uses.

Goal SA-8

Goal SA-8:

A range of housing types are produced for different income levels and household types along El Camino Real and throughout the corridor.


To produce a diversity of housing types along El Camino Real.
Policy SA-8.1: Housing diversity on El Camino Real.
Ensure a mix of affordable and market rate housing on El Camino, targeting the creation of 5,000housing units.
  • Action SA-8.1.1: Remove ground floor retail requirement.
    Update the Zoning Ordinance to remove ground floor retail requirement along the corridor to allow for residential-only buildings with a focus on active ground-floor uses and design.
Policy SA-8.2: Develop high-density housing.
Develop high-density housing on sites designated as Urban Residential, which emphasizes higher-density, multifamily residential development.
Policy SA-8.3: Encourage parcel aggregation along El Camino Real.
Encourage flexibility in allowing non-residential developers to aggregate parcels.
Policy SA-8.4: Inclusionary housing along El Camino Real.
Encourage developers along El Camino Real to use State and City inclusionary housing programs to develop housing for different income levels and household groups.
Policy SA-8.5: Leverage publicly-owned land along El Camino Real.
Leverage publicly-owned land for future affordable housing development.
  • Action SA-8.5.1: Facilitate affordable housing development on the Municipal Services Building site.
    Facilitate development of affordable housing with community-serving amenities, such as open space or recreational facilities, on the Municipal Services Building site.
Goal SA-9
Goal SA-10
Goal SA-11
Goal SA-12
Goal SA-13
Goal SA-14
Goal SA-15

Other goals related to El Camino in other Elements include the following:

  • Policy PR-4.7: Publicly accessible, private open space.

  • Goal LU-1: Create complete neighborhoods, where residents can access most of their everyday needs within a short walk, bike, or transit trip.

  • Action LU-9.1.2: Form-based codes.