Smoke Break

We could certainly use a break, don’t you think? I was out of town over the weekend, fortunately, and so got a brief respite from our smoke-filled air, but upon my return on Monday I found a climate that is definitely not “best by government test.” I normally do a lot of walking to do research for both this blog and for my weekend columns in the San Mateo Daily Journal, but such activity flies in the face of what our county health officials are urging us to do, which is to stay indoors as much as possible. Fortunately, I discovered our government’s AirNow system, which provides a consolidated snapshot of local and national air quality along with a forecast for the following day. By monitoring AirNow’s data for Redwood City, I determined that Wednesday was going to be my best day to be out (our air quality for most of that day was classified as “Moderate,” although later it deteriorated into “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.”). While waiting I put together a list of things I wanted to check on, and then spent a good part of Wednesday out doing research. My timing turned out to be just about perfect: as those of you who live here know, Thursday turned out to be our absolute worst day as far as our air quality is concerned: for a good part of that day our air was classified as “Very Unhealthy.” Thank goodness that we don’t live in the Livermore area: as I write this (with our air labeled “Unhealthy”), there is a large patch just east of Livermore that is classified as “Hazardous.”

As it turns out, I did have to go out for a bit on Thursday, so for all of you readers who aren’t currently in Redwood City and who are wondering just what “Very Unhealthy” air is like, here is a picture I took looking west from the top floor of our newest apartment project, Huxley:

This was taken about 2:15 in the afternoon. Normally the sky would be a clear blue, of course, and you would see hills, which are only about a mile away from my vantage point.

Fingers crossed, the forecast for Saturday has us back into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” range. They’re projecting that we’ll be at the very bottom of that range, so we might even slip into “Moderate.” Here’s hoping…

Towards the bottom of last week’s post I speculated that perhaps work on the Magical Bridge Playground project, which is slated to be built at the Valota Road end of Red Morton Park, might have been held for the Zoppè Italian Family Circus, which as usual was sited within the park adjacent to where the playground is to be built. That indeed seems to have been the case: on Wednesday I paid a visit to the park and was delighted to see construction fencing and heavy equipment:

The old play equipment, which was first installed in 1999, is being pulled out. As well, some of the trees you see in the above picture will be going. Fortunately, the new playground will sport plenty of new play equipment — equipment designed to accommodate kids and adults regardless of ability or disability — and a number of new trees. The playground is slated to open to the public late next summer, so watch for it. If you haven’t visited their flagship playground in Palo Alto (in Mitchell Park, close to the E. Charleston Road end) I recommend doing so: it really is a truly magical place. Our playground, which will be the Magical Bridge Foundation’s second, will be even larger than Palo Alto’s, and will incorporate lessons learned from that playground. I’m very excited to see what is revealed to us next summer (although naturally I’ll be keeping a close eye on the construction throughout).

Some time ago I noticed a sign indicating that a portion of Redwood Creek was slated to undergo restoration, and this week I noticed that work has apparently begun. The small section between Main Street and Veterans Boulevard has largely been cleared, leaving only what I presume are native plants. In addition, a number of oak trees were planted along the creek’s bank. I was pleased to notice that it appears that these trees have dedicated irrigation, meaning that they should thrive in their new homes.

I presume that the section of the creek between Bradford Street and Main Street will be done in conjunction with the 707 Bradford St. project, which will result in a 7-story, 117-unit affordable senior housing project along the creek’s bank. As for the largest section of the creek in this area — the section that snakes from Veterans Boulevard, then behind the old Toys ‘R Us center, and out to Highway 101, that will presumably be done later: the creek restoration project isn’t scheduled to be complete until September 2021.

While in the area I wandered over to the nearby site of Kaiser’s latest project, Medical Office Building 2, or “MOB2.” For some time now contractors have been digging for the underground parking garage, and recently a tower crane was erected on site. From the creek I could see that the crane was actively being used, and I wanted to see what was up. I was interested, but not altogether surprised, to see that apparently the digging is pretty much complete, and that some concrete for the lower level of the underground garage is already being poured. I cannot see into the pit, but I’m guessing that they aren’t yet pouring the floor of the new garage: they are likely just pouring concrete for pilings. I base this on what the crane was doing: it was lowering relatively small loads of concrete into the pit, one bucketful at a time:

They’re going to need a lot of concrete once they start pouring the garage floor, and for that they’ll likely run hoses from street level down to the bottom of the garage. In any case, if you were wondering what that white tower crane over in the vicinity of Veterans Boulevard (it’s actually closer to the intersection of Marshall and Maple streets) is for, for now it is lowering loads of concrete to the bottom of what will someday be the two-level parking garage beneath MOB2.

In downtown news, the future home of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative — the building rising up at the corner of Broadway and Jefferson Avenue — has reached its highest level. Although the entire fourth floor had not been built when I was there on Wednesday, from the intersection the view gives us a good idea of just how large the building will be, and thus how it will or will not loom over the surrounding area:

I do like how this building’s curved corner mirrors that of the Century Theaters building, just across Jefferson Avenue. It’s a nice touch.

Before heading home, I headed out of downtown and over to the intersection of El Camino Real and Hopkins Avenue, where KB Home is building its 33-unit townhouse project. All traces of the former Honda dealership at that location have been wiped from the earth, and the soil is being leveled in preparation for the foundations. It doesn’t look like much, yet, but KB Home appears to be doing a nice, neat job. Hopefully this is indicative of the end product.

I should note that this project isn’t scheduled to be complete until Fall 2020, so expect to see the surrounding construction fences stay up for quite a while.

Enough for this week. Even though the air quality here these days is pretty poor, as you can see projects around Redwood City continue to make good progress. All of that smoke, though, serves as a real reminder of the unfortunate folks up in Paradise and in surrounding areas who have been so tragically affected by the devastating fires. When you go outside and notice our poor air quality, take a moment and think about those unfortunate people and their suffering. What is a little bad air compared to what they have been going through?

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