Neighborhoods: Friendly Acres

For some time I’ve been meaning to do a series of articles focusing on Redwood City’s different neighborhoods. Lately the City Council has taken a more visible interest in our numerous Neighborhood Associations, and so I’ve decided to periodically write an article highlighting one of those recognized neighborhoods. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in part of the Friendly Acres neighborhood, so I’ve elected to focus this, the first of my “neighborhood posts,” on that particular neighborhood. I recently made a couple of walks through and around the area to more thoroughly familiarize myself with it, and in this post I hope to give you a flavor of Friendly Acres.

In case you aren’t aware, the city is currently divided up into seventeen neighborhoods:

  • Bair Island
  • Canyon
  • Centennial
  • Central
  • Downtown
  • Eagle Hill
  • Edgewood Park
  • Farm Hill
  • Friendly Acres
  • Mt. Carmel
  • Palm
  • Redwood Oaks
  • Redwood Shores
  • Redwood Village
  • Roosevelt
  • Stambaugh-Heller
  • Woodside Plaza

I’m guessing that whereas some of the above are familiar to those of you who live in Redwood City, others may not be. And I’m guessing that many, if not most, Redwood City residents aren’t even clear in which of these neighborhoods they actually live. Fortunately, the city has a map that defines the different Redwood City neighborhoods. You’ll find it on the Redwood City website, of course, at http://www.redwoodcity.org/residents/neighborhoods/neighborhood-associations.

The above web page not only shows the city divided into the various neighborhoods, it also contains links to pages for each neighborhood association. For each, the corresponding web page includes a somewhat more detailed map of that neighborhood along with information about who chairs the association and when and where they meet (if they have a board that has meetings; not all associations do). Friendly Acres, for instance, is one that has a working association that seems to meet monthly.

Here is the city’s map showing the extent of the Friendly Acres neighborhood:

[click the above for a larger version]

As you can see, this particular neighborhood is, with some minor exceptions, neatly bounded by Woodside Road at the north end, Marsh Road at the south end, Bay Road on the West, and the bay itself on the East. There are a couple of extra properties that stick out to the West, and as you can see, the southeast corner does not go all the way to the bay lands. That bit of gray on the east side of 101 near the bottom of Friendly Acres lies within Menlo Park, and is home to (among other things) two new large apartment complexes (Anton Menlo and Elan Menlo Park). Across from these apartments, in that small strip of red right up against highway 101, you’ll find Redwood City’s own Carlsen Porsche and Tom’s Outdoor Furniture.

Staying on the east side of Highway 101, but moving northward, much of the property between the highway (actually, East Bayshore Road, which largely parallels the highway on the other side of the sound walls) and the bay consists of mobile home parks. Although many Redwood City residents may not have visited those particular residential communities, most of us have seen them on the news: they are where the city has historically had its most significant flooding issues.

Continuing northwards, you’ll find both Hayward Lumber and a handful of mini-storage facilities. What you won’t find are grocery stores or restaurants: just housing surrounded by light-industrial properties. This, with some exceptions, is the pattern followed by the Friendly Acres neighborhood as a whole: it consists of a large chunk of housing—mostly single-family homes, but also a large set of townhomes built by Habitat for Humanity, and some subsidized housing out near the freeway—and a bunch of light-industrial buildings. There are a few shops and restaurants, but they are largely confined to two of the extensions to the otherwise fairly clean shape that defines the neighborhood. I’ve highlighted those two parts of the neighborhood—parts that almost seem to have been chosen in order to give the neighborhood some retail to call its own—in the following:

Section B is almost not worth noting: most of the block is consumed by that tall AT&T tower you can see from many parts of the city. But here, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Spring Street, you will find a 7-11 convenience store. This block also boasts a hardware store, an Akido studio, and Nazareth Ice Oasis, one of the peninsula’s only remaining ice skating rinks. Adjacent to this block, and still within the neighborhood boundaries, you’ll also find Hacienda Taqueria and a combined Mobil gas station and Tacos El Grullense E&E #3:

The section I’ve marked “A” on the above map is where the bulk of Friendly Acres’ retail lies: it’s where you’ll find the Marsh Manor Shopping Center. This center has a recently remodeled Delucci’s Market & Delicatessen, Squeeze In (a breakfast and lunch place that claims to have the “best omelets on the planet”), Freewheel Brewing Company, a Starbucks, and several other businesses of the type you typically find in a residential shopping center.

Finishing up the retail picture, at the far north end of the neighborhood along Woodside Road you’ll find Smart & Final, a small warehouse-style grocery store. But that’s about it. The now-mostly-shuttered shopping center just north of Woodside Road, with its still-open CVS drug store and its Denny’s and Jack in the Box restaurants, is beyond the bounds of the neighborhood, for instance. Not that the neighborhood boundary means much in practical terms, of course: just because one lives in a particular neighborhood doesn’t mean that they are confined to that neighborhood. But when characterizing Friendly Acres, retail and restaurants make up very little of the picture.

I mentioned housing. If you look back at the map, it is pretty clear where most of Friendly Acres’ housing can be found: in the lower portion where all of the small, regular streets can be seen. Most of this area consists of single-family housing, although there is an apartment building or two, such as this one immediately adjacent to the Stanford Medical Outpatient Clinic:

Amidst the housing you will find Taft Elementary School, on a campus along with the Redwood City P.A.L. Community Center and KIPP Excelencia Community Prep. The Taft campus has some large playing fields that undoubtedly get used by community members on weekends and off hours. This makes up for the fact that Friendly Acres has little in the way of parks—just little Andrew Spinas Park, which I’ll get to in a moment.

Friendly Acres is also the home of Summit Prep, a charter High School located in the light-industrial part of the neighborhood, at the corner of Broadway and Charter Street. And then there is this odd little attachment to the neighborhood:

This is one of those places where the city boundaries get really squirrelly. In the circled section the five red parcels are in the city, while the gray parcels that largely surround them are on county land. Of those red parcels, the uppermost one (which sits, like Summit Prep, on Charter Street) contains a large warehouse-style building where Rocketship Education, a private charter school company, hopes to house Redwood City Prep, a K-5 charter school that today is housed on the John F. Kennedy Middle School campus. Rocketship has been working hard to gain the necessary approvals to convert its building and the next-door parking lot (which is actually on county land) into a school, but they are encountering fierce opposition from the surrounding businesses, many of whom point out that siting a school in an area where large trucks make deliveries and pickups at all hours of the day would be both physically and environmentally unsafe for the children attending that school. Thus, although the school has managed to gain approval from the city’s Planning Commission, that approval has been appealed, and thus Rocketship’s future here is as yet uncertain.

In addition to a wide variety of small-to-medium-sized businesses in the light industrial section of Friendly Acres, the neighborhood also boasts our main post office, a large 24-hour Fitness, and Motostrano, a shop that purports to have the “largest inventory of electric bikes in Northern California.” Here, too, you’ll find both Pets in Need and the offices and warehouse for Rebuilding Together Peninsula, a charitable organization that uses donated materials and volunteer labor to improve the homes of low-income homeowners. But anyone who is at all familiar with the area knows that I have yet to mention the neighborhood’s 600-pound gorilla: Friendly Acres is, of course, where you’ll find both the Stanford in Redwood City project (about which I’ve written much; see my post Strolling Along Fifth Avenue for the most recent) and the Stanford Medical Outpatient Center. I won’t say much about those here, other than to note that they occupy a significant percentage of the land that makes up the Friendly Acres neighborhood, and that the construction that is currently taking place on both properties must be difficult to endure for the area’s residents.

Once the Stanford in Redwood City campus is complete, though, it will bring some welcome benefits to the neighborhood. Not only will Stanford be running a free Marguerite Shuttle between Redwood City’s downtown and the area—a shuttle that will be free for area residents to use—but the new campus will include a fair amount of public space that can be enjoyed by neighborhood residents. In particular, the small (about 1.5 acres) Andrew Spinas Park, which is located at Second Avenue and Bay Road, abuts Stanford’s property, and Stanford’s plans call for a large area of open space adjacent to that park. Although this open space will remain the property of Stanford University, it will consist of grass, trees, benches, and paths and will connect directly to the park. Its large open grass field should, in particular, complement the existing park very nicely, which today is largely made up of a tennis court, a half basketball court, and a couple of nice play structures.

That about does it for Friendly Acres. It is a neighborhood that is about half residential and half light industrial, with a large Stanford presence roughly in the middle. Friendly Acres has great freeway access, extending as it does from Woodside Road on the North to Marsh Road on the South, with Highway 101 running right through the neighborhood. It also has relatively easy access to downtown Redwood City: one need only drive right up Broadway.

Is Friendly Acres “friendly”? Only the folks who live there can tell us. Hopefully some of them will let us know in the comments. But I certainly feel comfortable walking through there, and the residential sections have a casual, neighborly feel. As for the light-industrial sections, they feel about as you’d expect. Friendly isn’t the word I’d use for those, but there are plenty of sidewalks, which I certainly appreciate. And there are interesting businesses here and there throughout, which does make a walk through that part of Friendly Acres enjoyable, if not actually friendly.

22 thoughts on “Neighborhoods: Friendly Acres

  1. Greg, thanks for this article! Since it’s my neighborhood, I scrutinized the post a bit more than usual. I have a couple short comments:

    First, I’d love to see a bit more history, as you’ve done for other posts. It’s great that people can add info in the comments, and I wouldn’t expect you to present a comprehensive historical perspective, but this post seemed lacking in this department. For example, how would one find out why the south side of Haven between Page and Rolison was subdivided into (comparatively huge) 10K sq.ft. lots (of which my family is a beneficiary) while this is difficult to find in other parts of RWC?

    Second, you mention and link to some businesses but not others. I don’t know how many people read your blog but in some sense this is a form of advertising. I happen to attend Aikido West (http://www.aikido-west.org/) and we can use all the press we can get!

    Last, as you know and have blogged about before, the Stanford in RWC project is slated to bring some 3K to 5K+ more office and facilities employees to our neighborhood. This is sure to be a blessing and a curse. Friendly Acres is already dealing with a very bad parking problem (documented extensively on Nextdoor) — worse I would say than probably almost any other area in RWC. There has been a strong push in the last year+ for parking permits. Depending on how Stanford structures their fees for parking and whether or not we finally get permits (or more importantly, whether they’re strictly enforced, which requires people and money), the ripple effect from Stanford down through the many residential streets of Friendly Acres has the makings of a nightmarish scenario. I would say “let’s hope” the city and Stanford have a plan to make things better…but hope is not a strategy.

    Thanks for your continued efforts on this blog!

  2. Very interesting article, Greg. I look forward to reading more about the different neighborhoods.

    I wonder if you would consider adding neighborhoods that are technically in the unincorporated County of San Mateo but have a Redwood City address. For example, the area to the South of Woodside Road bordering Selby Lane in Atherton (I’m not sure what it’s called, perhaps Oakleigh Park?) or Emerald Hills. We feel like Redwood City residents, too. 🙂

  3. Nice piece and I’m happy to see some recognition of this oft forgotten outpost of RWC. I’ve lived here more than 60 years and seen many changes. I even remember the building of Marsh Manor. One bit of notorious history. The NAzareth Skating Rink was financed by Donald Trump to provide a practice space for Debi Thomas when she was competing for the Olympics.

  4. I bought a home in Friendly Acres in 1970, but you excluded my area from your map. (WHY?) We had no homeowners association.
    My house was on the corner of 11th and Spring. Some of the people who lived there when i did are still there. My kids friends from that neighborhood still are friends and still in Redwood City. My dog was the Taft School track team mascot. It has changed a lot but at that time it was definitely “Friendly” Great place to l8ve and raise kids.

      • Indeed, 11th and Spring is outside the city boundary. It lies in an unincorporated part of San Mateo County. And I should note that it is not “my” map: it is the city’s, which you can find if you follow the link I provided near the top of my blog post (http://www.redwoodcity.org/residents/neighborhoods/neighborhood-associations).
        Of course, a neighborhood is made up of the people who live there, and I would consider you as much a part of that neighborhood as any of your neighbors, whether or not you (or they) are actually within the political boundary that defines Redwood City at this time. From your comment, and Janet Borgens’, Friendly Acres sounds like a great place to live!
        The varying character of Redwood City’s many neighborhoods is something that makes the city really interesting to me. That is something I hope to explore in this particular series of blog posts.

  5. Here’s a short video showing Rebuilding Together Peninsula working with Redwood City Code Enforcement to spruce up a Friendly Acres residence:

    • Super! I’ve been a proud participant and donor to Rebuilding Together Peninsula for many, many years. They really do great work. Perhaps I should write a column dedicated to them…

  6. Thank you for visiting our friendly acres neighborhood . I would like to add that what makes friendly Acres friendly isn’t necessarily our buildings or structures but it’s the people ,it’s the diversity of our neighborhood ,it’s neighbor helping neighbor . During the flooding all of the neighbors came together and help during fires all of the neighbors came out and help. We may, not every day socialize with each other but every day ,We are friendly .
    We also house Fire Station 11 at the corner of second and Broadway . Those Fire Fighters who work here are part of our neighborhood family.
    Also Deluccis / Marsh Plaza owners attend our neighborhood meetings and have offered help for many of our events. Like national night out . They are part of our Friendly family .
    I am proud to be a resident of this wonderful family of Friendly Acres .
    For 30 years I have watched it grow and yes change. But The Friendly part remains . Come and visit anytime😊

    • Thanks! I wanted to say something about that fire station–I love the antique fire truck that is garaged there (visible through the windows!)–but the article was getting long. Thanks for providing the background on the people who live there; it sounds really nice! I only regret that you guys have to deal with the periodic flooding. Hopefully the work that the Public Works department has done out by the bay is helping. It didn’t appear that there was nearly as much flooding in the news during last year’s rains; does that reflect the reality of the situation?

  7. This article is very factual, but you don’t talk about the people who live there, and what lifestyle they have. How they’ve been impacted by the construction, etc.

    It seemed to me that you were somewhat scared to be there? Your words “Certainly feel comfortable walking through there”

    I’m curious to see how you will write your next articles on the other neighborhoods.

    • > This article is very factual, but you don’t talk about the people who live there, and what lifestyle they have. How they’ve been impacted by the construction, etc.

      Indeed, that is something I need to work on. The blog has historically been about my personal observations, but I agree that I need to talk to people more…

      > It seemed to me that you were somewhat scared to be there? Your words “Certainly feel comfortable walking through there”

      Good point – I didn’t mean it that way, but in re-reading it I agree it certainly doesn’t come across the way I meant it. At the time I wrote that I was thinking more about the sidewalks and tree-lined streets, and how pleasant it was walking around the residential areas as compared with walking through the more industrialized sections (which aren’t scary, but you do have to watch out for trucks and such). And of course one needs to be a bit extra careful when walking around the construction zones…

      > I’m curious to see how you will write your next articles on the other neighborhoods.

      As am I… 😎

      Thanks for the feedback.

  8. Hi Greg, thanks for this. I live on 7th Avenue, right across Bay Rosd from Friendly Acres. You know it was named after the Friendly Egg Ranch, right? It was run by the Friendly family on that property before it was developed… anyway, you are right, all of the construction is a royal pain right now!

    • I didn’t know that (about the name). That’s really interesting. I was wondering about the origin of the name, but I must admit I ran out of time and wasn’t able to research that. Thank you so much for letting us know!

    • @Donna, how did you find out about the Friendly Egg Ranch? … a quick Google search for anything named that in Redwood City came up empty. If it was a book or web page, I thought it’d be nice to read more about that and anything else it had to say about the history of our area.

  9. In your walks, have you come across any spaces that are both covered/protected from the rain and open to the public? I’m planning ahead for the raining season so I’m looking for someplace protected from the weather to walk my dog, Waldo. We currently walk daily over by the Port of Redwood City.

    Thanks,
    Betty

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