These citizen 'extras' play key roles in Redwood City government

Housing top priority in State of The City

in Community/Featured/Headline

Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain boasted a long list of city accomplishments in 2018 during Monday’s State of the City address. That paved the way for a council discussion on priorities for 2019, which includes, in this order of priority, housing, transportation and children and youth.

A video played during the State of the City showcased accomplishments made under seven strategic priorities, such as:

  • Expansion of Neighborhood Watch in alignment with Neighborhood associations
  • Expanded inclusive programs and recognized as a model statewide
  • Enhanced library early childhood technology activities
  • Began construction on the Magical Bridge Playground
  • Advanced the Veterans Memorial Senior Center City- YMCA project
  • Established a Retail Task Force and adapted recommendations to develop a Downtown retail vision
  • Implemented a cannabis-related permit regulations and new tax
  • Designated as a Green Power Community by the EPA
  • Ranked #7 nationwide for Green Energy Consumption
  • Implemented the City’s new inclusionary housing ordinance
  • Generated funds for affordable housing through developer fees
  • Approved $6 million in funding to support two 100% affordable housing projects
  • Fire Department received prestigious Class 1 ISO rating
  • Increased training for police personnel to interact with those experiencing a mental health crisis

Following the video, all seven city council members gave their comments on their priorities for Redwood City this year. Three focus areas were selected for the coming year: housing, transportation and children and youth.

HOUSING

Housing is the city’s top priority. As is elsewhere in the region, high demand  and short supply for housing units have led to skyrocketing prices and displacement. Currently, the city is working on three housing rehab projects that will preserve over 150 affordable units. In addition, council recently allocated $6 million in affordable housing funds will advance housing projects “building 297 low or very low-income level housing units this year,” the city said.

Affordability remains a problem, however, as skyrocketing rents have led to protesting. Some housing advocates say renter’s protections installed by the council last year aren’t doing enough.

The city says it is assessing the impact of the recent regulations and looking at new approaches to support renters. It also aims to inspire more accessory dwelling units by making them easier and less expensive to build, to seek new sources of affordable housing funds from both the state and local employers, and, in the longterm, create more affordable housing via developer fees and affordable unit mandates on new development.

TRANSPORTATION

Specific priorities include moving forward with installing ferry service to Redwood City, the U.S. Highway 101 Managed Lanes project, and various rail projects including Caltrain electrification and modernization, High Speed Rail, and the potential Dumbarton Rail project. The city also wants to work with employers to reduce the number of people driving solo to work in Redwood City by developing a Transportation Demand Management program.

Other projects noted: U.S. Highway 101 Pedestrian Undercrossing; U.S. Highway 101/84 Interchange; Middlefield Road Improvements and Utility Undergrounding; El Camino Real Corridor Plan; Broadway Street Car Study and Transit Center; and Whipple Grade Separation.

CHILDREN, YOUTH

The city recently launched an interactive map of childcare and preschool centers to help parents identify childcare. It also unveiled plans to increase the number of quality childcare spaces in the community. The City is working with developers and local partners and expects to create 500 childcare spots for local children over the next five years.

The City is also exploring more family fun venues and open space, and expanding community amenities, including developing three sites in the Downtown to create a large, linear park that extends from Downtown to the bay, and opening the Magical Bridge Playground and the Pirate Ship Imaginative Art Area.

OTHER PRIORITIES

Other major themes discussed by the council Monday: ensuring the city’s financial health and economic development, strengthening the City’s governance practices and campaign finance initiatives, further public safety priorities such as a new Community Emergency Response Team program in partnership with San Mateo County, and training for police staff who interact with those experiencing mental health crisis.

Mayor Bain also discussed updating the City’s General Plan and addressing the threat of sea level rise.

“We have to think of the future and figure out what we will allow and which areas,” the mayor said. “We have established a sea level rise committee that will work closely the county to coordinate against efforts between the two.”

He recognized a few notable dignitaries in the crowd: Former Mayor Jeff Gee, Belmont Mayer Davina Hurt, as well as Redwood City Fire and Police Chief.

You can watch the full State of the City Address here.

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