Openings and Reopenings

In case you hadn’t heard, all of Redwood City’s playgrounds are reopening by Tuesday, October 13. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything will be magically safe. The city’s Parks and Rec department has established a set of mandatory rules that will sound rather familiar:

  • Everyone 2 years and older should wear a mask that covers both their mouth and their nose.
  • Individuals from different households should stay at least 6 feet from one another.
  • Wash (or at least sanitize) your hands ahead of time.
  • No food or drinks.

There are some other rules, but those are the big ones. Yes, they’re a bit inconvenient, but following them should be a lot easier than having to live with someone who has COVID-19. If you can’t live with them, please, please stay away from our playgrounds. But for those of you who have been itching to cross the yellow safety tape that has blocked off our public playgrounds for many months now, your time has come!

I’m sure that many of you are hoping to let your kids (and others!) loose within the Magical Bridge Playground in Red Morton Park, but note that the key word in my opening sentence is “reopening.” By next Tuesday the playgrounds that were in operation prior to the shelter-in-place order are indeed being reopened, but the Magical Bridge Playground, which was under construction when the shelter-in-place was imposed, will not be among them. Fortunately, however, you won’t have to wait for very long: as I write this crews are putting the final touches on the playground. The Magical Bridge Foundation is shooting for a mid-to-late November opening of this truly wonderful addition to Redwood City. In case you are wondering what still needs to be done, the latest update from the Foundation notes that the poured-in-place rubber surfacing was defective and has to be replaced; that the “laser harp,” which is coming from New York, had been held up do to quarantine restrictions but is now on its way; and that three shade structures are currently being fabricated and should be installed next month. Personally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well and that we’ll be able to cross under this bridge while the weather is still reasonably good:

(I should note that the above picture is an older one that I took from roughly in front of the Armory building; I presume that the landscaping is in by now. But in the above, which shows the main entrance to the playground, you can see the “magical bridge,” which spans the entrance.)

On the subject of Red Morton Park, I was in the area today and noticed that the county has installed a ballot drop-off box in the parking lot of the Parks, Recreation & Community Services offices at 1400 Roosevelt Ave.:

They’ve placed this box so that you can simply drive by and drop your ballot off without having to get out of your car. In fact, as I was taking the above picture someone did just that. Personally, I’m not quite ready to turn in my ballot yet — we have a lot of propositions on our ballot and I’m still working my way through them — but I must say that San Mateo County seems to be making it convenient for people to drop their ballots off rather than mail them in. (And given all of the recent issues around our Postal Service, I won’t be mailing my own ballot in but instead will be dropping it off.) This box is just the latest that I’ve come across; there is also a drop-off at the County Center in downtown Redwood City, and there is one right in front of City Hall (at 1017 Middlefield Rd., which is at the corner of Middlefield Road and Jefferson Avenue):

I’m sure that there are more; these are just the ones I personally have stumbled across so far.

Inside City Hall, the city remains hard at work. Unfortunately, the pandemic is starting to impact the city’s budget, and one result is that the city has decided to put the new Veterans Memorial Building, slated for the Madison Avenue side of Red Morton Park, on hold until at least 2021. The YMCA, which was planning to build a companion project next to the new Veterans Memorial Building, is following the city’s lead and putting their project on hold as well. According to a recent article in the San Mateo Daily Journal, the city had hoped to break ground in May, but “faced with an uncertain bond market due to COVID-19” it is putting the project on hold for the foreseeable future. Once the bond markets improve, the city will consider relaunching the project.

Following my visit to Red Morton Park earlier today, I then found myself heading down El Camino Real in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood. I was interested to see that the multi-family affordable housing project at 2821 El Camino Real is having its final touches applied. One of those final touches is signage, which is advertising the project’s official name: “Fair Oaks Commons.”

I must say, this building appears to have come out really well, and I’m hopeful that the residents of this new 67-unit fully affordable housing community feel the same way. (Interested parties can submit their contact information here. That isn’t how you apply for affordable housing in the building, however; for that, I believe that you start at http://www.smchousingsearch.org.) In taking the above picture I realized that I had never walked around the block to see the building’s backside, so I did that. The building looks rather nice from rear, on Blenheim Avenue:

For completeness sake I also took a picture of the side of the building facing the next-door Eco Clean Auto Green facility (which has been empty for years, and is pretty run-down — but has served nicely as a staging area for the contractors working on Fair Oaks Commons):

Right in the center of this picture you can just make out the building’s outdoor space. Those blue walls appear to hold up what appears to be a pair of natural wood pergolas that presumably provide shade on hot days. Given that the outdoor space is located, as you can see, on an upper level, the building’s residents should have a nice degree of privacy while sitting outdoors.

Given that it is only a short walk to the south, after examining the Fair Oaks Commons building I headed down to check in on the Sunrise Senior Living facility being built at the corner of El Camino Real and E. Selby Lane. This place, which is being billed as an Assisted Living and Memory Care facility, has recently topped out at a whopping three stories. In the following picture the building looks as if it is going higher, but it isn’t really; that structure on the roof is just a bit of decoration that will likely also serve to hide some rooftop mechanical equipment:

This building shares the block with our local Planned Parenthood office. Between the two will be a service alley for this building; I braved the busy street (as you can see in the above picture, the sidewalk is being rebuilt, forcing me into the street) and walked up to that end of the building to see how it looks from there. It looks like this:

What is dirt today will be a paved private driveway off El Camino Real for use by delivery vehicles and trash trucks. The wall on the left side of the picture is part of the Planned Parenthood building.

The contractors are making good progress, but the building still has a long way to go. According to signs posted on the construction fencing, expect this facility to open in late 2021. Oh, and if you or someone you know might be interested in taking up residence here, head over to https://www.sunriseseniorliving.com.

Keeping with the theme, thanks to a tweet from County Supervisor Warren Slocum I learned that Arroyo Green, an affordable senior housing project being built on Bradford Street in downtown Redwood City, will be taking applications between October 12 and November 9. According to the flyer he included with his tweet, of the project’s 117 affordable apartments, 89 of them will be Section 8 Project-Based Voucher (PBV) units. Those units will range in size from studios up to two-bedroom units. For more information (including income limits), see the flyer. To apply for one of this building’s apartments, head over to https://www.mysmchousing.com.

The fact that Mid Pen Housing (the folks bringing us this building) are taking applications is a really good sign; while the Arroyo Green building is still very much under construction, presumably it means the the building will be finishing up in a couple of months. For reference, here is what the building looks like today:

When the building itself is done, the bit that I personally am looking forward to should then get done: the public pathway that will run along Redwood Creek beside this building. This path will be an important part of the Redwood Creek trail, a trail that is being built one small piece at a time. Another key piece will be constructed along with the nearby affordable housing building that is being built at 353 Main Street. That building, though, has a very long way to go yet:

Someday this will all become a single continuous trail (with a couple of street crossings) that will connect downtown Redwood City to our waterfront. Personally I long for the day when I can walk it from end to end. Right now I occasionally duck behind the Township apartment building at 333 Main St. to walk the one section that is complete and open to the public. This section:

Of course, this one section is only as long as the Township building is wide, and thus doesn’t go anywhere interesting — yet. But the new section coming with the 333 Main St. building will connect to the section you see here, making the one part that exists today a little less pointless…

Before I close, I did want to mention that Zareen’s, Redwood City’s new Pakistani and Indian restaurant at 2039 Broadway (between Jefferson Avenue and Main Street) quietly opened in the evenings for takeout and delivery, plus outdoor dining, last Saturday. They’re having their “official” opening next Friday, October 16, at which time they’ll expand their hours and also support both indoor and outdoor dining to the level allowed by the county. However, you don’t have to wait for their grand opening if you want to give them a try. Check out this highly regarded restaurant by visiting their website or by paying them a visit in person:

This is Zareen Kahn’s third restaurant (she began in Mountain View and expanded to Palo Alto). Zareen’s is one of the very few Peninsula restaurants to make the San Francisco Chronicle’s annual Best 87 Restaurants list, so I expect that this new place will be something really special.

1 thought on “Openings and Reopenings

  1. Imagine if we lived in Harris County (Houston), Texas, with population of 4-5 Mil; there would be only ONE ballot drop-off box allowed in the whole county, by decree of the Republican governor.

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