City Council hears public comment on draft EIR for Harbor View project and project alternatives

in Community/Featured/Headline

The proposed project by Jay Paul Company includes 1.2 million square feet of office space within four seven-story buildings at 320-350 Blomquist St., east of Highway 101. A general plan amendment would be needed to approve the project.

At Monday’s hearing, no formal action was taken by council. Some residents expressed concern over the potential imbalance of jobs and housing resulting from the project, along with the prospect of amending the general plan and also sea level rise.

The project’s commitment to affordable housing, along with $50 million in community benefits, are welcomed by some on council and in the public.

“This project is talking about is changing the nature of our community,” said Jim Burt, a 15-year Redwood City resident. “We would like it to go through the general process and for people to agree upon what our community should look like instead of granting decisions by exception.”

Kris Johnson, a resident and community activist, brought a presentation of his own to the council.

“The draft EIR only confirmed the incredible jobs housing imbalance that is an unavoidable by product of this project,” he said.

Alice Kaufman from the Committee of Green Foothills spoke on her concern about sea level rise.

“We should not double down on the fact that we have so much vulnerable development by making more of it,” she said. “What we can expect with sea level rise is that long before the average water level gets high enough to over top the shoreline, we will start to see seasonal impacts. We are already seeing water backing up through storm drains, during king tides. This happens on Maple Street just down the road from the Harbor View site.”

Alongside the voices of concern were supporters of the project, including Sister Christina Heltsley of the St. Francis Center and Lydia Ramirez of Casa Circulo Cultural.

Sister Christina touted the project’s community benefits, which includes $12 million to support affordable housing.

“I am here this evening because I am driven by our mission to serve the economically poor,” Sister Christina said. “One significant piece of that mission, especially in the face of rents that have become exorbitant, is to find, build, rehab, create and scrounge for every possible unit of housing that will provide safe, dignified, and clean spaces for our families.”

In the last three years, St. Francis Center has added 93 units of housing, with Jay Paul assisting with the purchase of 48 of those units.

Lydia Ramirez of Casa Circulo Cultural cited the labor that will come from the proposed project.

Councilmember Dianna Reddy expressed her concern about the project’s impacts, but thanked the Harbor View team for walking her through the project and for seeking community input.

Said Councilmember Giselle Hale, “I think it is helpful when people can concretely wrap their arms around what a benefits look like and I’m excited that the affordable housing is a shovel ready project, with a partner that has a lot of credibility in the community.”

While the council mentioned numerous public comments submitted online over concern for the Port community, no one from the Port has reached out expressing their opposition to the project.

At the end of the meeting consensus from the council was that while the community benefits are appreciated and recognized as significant contributions,  project alternatives are needed from the Jay Paul Company.