Along Redwood Creek

As you may or may not know, in addition to this blog I also write a weekly opinion column for The Daily Journal (those columns appear on the weekends; you’ll find them in the Opinion section). Last week’s column lamented the fact that Redwood City no longer has any (well, almost any; there actually is one, at least) good restaurants where one can dine while looking out over the water. Although I am quite familiar with the parts of Redwood City that are up against the water, before I wrote that column I took another walk along Redwood Creek, from where it emerges beneath downtown (at Bradford Street, near Main Street) out to beyond Docktown. In addition to confirming once again that yes, we don’t have any restaurants along the creek that face the water (and no shops, either; just housing and offices), it gave me a chance to check in on the many projects that are occurring in what I regard as a prime part of Redwood City.

I’ve written before about the short walkway that runs alongside the Arroyo Green senior housing development (and its childcare center) between Bradford Street and Main Street, but once again took an opportunity to stroll along this beautiful new section of the Redwood Creek trail. Not much has happened to the walkway itself since I last wrote about it, but something interesting has happened to the Arroyo Green building itself: it has gained a rather fascinating new mural. From Bradford Street, one section of the building has been painted with a colorful array of small objects. They are small, though, so you have to look close to see them [click the below image to zoom in on it]. 

It isn’t clear, just from looking at them, what these things are: they almost look like bits of paper or something falling from the sky. Whatever they are, they don’t prepare you for what is on the other face of that portion of the building, which is this:

This side, at least, was painted by artist Mona Caron, who, according to her website, is “best known for her multi-story murals celebrating the rebellious resilience of weeds.” Apparently, this particular plant is pickleweed, which grows in salt marshes and on beaches.

Once I reached Main Street I walked out to Veterans Boulevard and crossed over. The next project I checked up on is the 125-unit, seven-story affordable housing project being built at 353 Main St. The two-story concrete podium (which will contain the building’s 182-space parking garage, plus, on the Main Street end, the building’s lobby) is now in place, and wood framing for the upper five residential floors is well underway:

This building will have a very narrow presence along Main Street, but it extends all the way towards Redwood Creek, where it bends and widens to look something like a pork chop (you can see where it bends in the above picture). A number of the for-rent apartments in the finished building will look out over the creek — and the backside of the Kohl’s shopping center. Between the building and the creek there will eventually be another segment of the Redwood Creek trail; that segment will be constructed as part of the 353 Main Street project, but will be done at the end. So I’ll have to wait for another year or so before I can walk along that portion.

Following Main Street, which parallels the creek, I eventually came to my favorite project du-jour: the Highway 101 Pedestrian Undercrossing project. There was little activity on the Main Street side of the project, but I could see that work was taking place on the far side. Accordingly, I ducked under the freeway and then walked over to where the undercrossing will emerge. I was pleased to see that this project, which has been inching along, is at long last making major strides towards completion. The forms for the final section of the pathway itself were in place when I went by:

With that poured, I think they still may need to put in a wall here between the path and the creek (that wall is already in place towards the other end of the walkway), and they may also need to put in some streetlights to illuminate the path on this end. But it appears that the tricky stuff is done, and that they may finally hit their yet-again updated completion date — which is now July 2021.

Now that I was on the east side of Highway 101, I naturally had to check in on Strada’s 131-unit townhouse project. But first, I walked the path that follows the creek on its north side in order to see how much of the old Docktown Marina remains. The short answer? Not much:

Those two large barge-based dwellings are both slated for sale or demolition; they used to sit cheek-by-jowl among a number of such homes. Now, they sit alone, with empty slips on either side. Farther along, things don’t look much different:

Only when you get out to the very tip, where Redwood Creek forks, do you see some floating homes that appear to still be occupied:

Look closely, though, and you’ll see that the grey two-story home is boarded up, and thus is unoccupied. As is the single story sway-backed home at the right edge of the photograph. Docktown is very much a ghost town these days, with only a handful of residents.

Adjacent to Docktown is the Strada project. For the last couple of years the developer has been raising the site in order to protect it from sea level rise. Now, Strada is working with the city in order to obtain the building permits needed to actually construct the 131 for-sale townhomes. While they wait, the site sits clean and flat, with a fenced walkway running through the middle:

Strada’s site abuts the county property where LifeMoves has its Maple Street shelter; because the site has been raised, from where the townhouses will sit you currently get a good look at the shelter’s roof:

That shelter likely won’t remain in its current state (and may not remain in its current location); Redwood City is still negotiating with the county on a deal that will determine the future of this facility.

Not only does the above picture show part of the site and LifeMove’s shelter, it also shows a crane, one that is highly visible from the other side of the freeway. If you, like me, have wondered what that crane is there for, well, I took the time to walk to the end of Maple Street to investigate. As it turns out, the crane is there to support Silicon Valley Clean Water’s RESCU (Regional Environmental Sewer Conveyance Upgrade) program. This program is composed of eleven related projects that together will replace and rehabilitate SVCW’s entire “conveyance system” (which seems to be a fancy way to say “sewer pipes and pumps”).

One of the eleven projects involves the complete replacement of Redwood City’s sewage pumping station, which is located up against Highway 101, right behind the police station:

When the project is complete, it should look something like this:

Sewage that reaches this station is pumped through a pipe that runs northward, paralleling Highway 101. It will go into a new pipe that is being installed in the recently dug tunnel that starts at the north end of Inner Bair Island, runs beneath the San Carlos Airport, turns east, and then mostly runs beneath Redwood Shores Parkway out to SVCW’s treatment plant on Radio Road. 

This is a fascinating project that involves a high-tech tunnel boring machine that has been working away for many months now. SVCW has been blogging about the process all along, and has a nice (but fairly technical) description of the tunneling project on their site. That page not only includes a map showing where the tunneling was being done (the boring machine is just about done with its work) but also has some great videos at the very bottom of the page. I particularly enjoyed the one titled “RESCU May 2021”; it shows a flyover of the project sites, and ends at the Redwood City pump station site. I was particularly fascinated with the one that shows how the Tunnel Boring Machine works; it is quite ingenious.

After examining the progress at the pump station, I followed Maple Street back to downtown Redwood City. Along the way, I was interested to see that most of the new cars that had been stored there by local automobile dealerships had been moved elsewhere. Only Towne Ford continues to use a portion of the city-owned site (which may someday become a public park), for their Fleet Center:

Right next to Towne Ford’s small operation, I was somewhat surprised to see that the “historic water tank” that once stood high in Docktown Marina (and that for a time was located in the parking lot behind the LifeMoves shelter) is now sitting in the otherwise empty lot:

The tank is almost certain to find a new home in the immediate area, likely as part of any park that the city builds here. It won’t serve a functional purpose there, but will instead simply represent the tanning industry that once operated in this part of Redwood City.

I love walking along Redwood Creek, even when it is at its lowest, as it was when I took the photos for today’s post. Getting to the part beyond Highway 101 without a car can be tricky, but very soon the pedestrian underpass will smooth the way for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Once the Strada project is complete, from there we’ll have a lovely walkway along the south side of the creek that will lead to a tiny park where the creek forks — and hopefully to a much larger city park immediately adjacent to that. Now if we can just get a restaurant to locate somewhere along the water…

Redwood City’s Housing and Human Concerns Committee has a vacant seat and is looking for volunteers to fill out a partial term. According to an email that the city sent out, “The Committee’s goal is to advocate the improvement of the quality of life for Redwood City residents and to assure that human considerations, as set forth in the General Plan, are given adequate consideration in physical and economic decision making. The goal will be achieved through the collective leadership of the Committee in generating improved service and appropriate policy in those agencies responsible for social services. Further impact may include encouraging social responsiveness in legislation, zoning, police powers and recreation programs.” (Go here for more information).

Interested? You’ll have to move quickly: applications need to be submitted by 11:59 p.m., this Sunday (June 13). You’ll find the application here. And if you aren’t interested, or can’t participate, but know someone who is (and can), by all means let them know.

4 thoughts on “Along Redwood Creek

  1. It’s a shame that Docktown Marina houseboats and water tank had to vacate their site. I thought they brought character to the Creek. I still don’t understand the lawsuit brought by a single individual that found this Marina illegal.

    Technically, Sizzler and Erik’s DeliCafe are located on the creek, if they could set up outdoor dining tables on their backside facing the creek.

    • > It’s a shame that Docktown Marina houseboats and water tank had to vacate their site.

      It is indeed a shame. But the issue was a complex one, with the lawsuit just being one element.

      > Technically, Sizzler and Erik’s DeliCafe are located on the creek, if they could set up outdoor dining tables on their backside facing the creek.

      Indeed, as is the case with Carl’s Jr. and the new Supreme Crab (which is in the old Sakura 2 building next to Carl’s Jr). But the way all of those buildings are set up, it would be no simple matter to put tables comfortably out there. The backsides of Sizzler and Erik’s, for instance, are where they put their trash cans, etc. Not the cleanest, most pleasant of places…

      Someday, if the Kohl’s center is every redeveloped, I would hope (and assume) that more attention would be paid to the creek side of the buildings.

  2. Thanks for the update. I sometimes bike from NFO to Bair Island and will be delighted when the underpass is open. Though I discovered a little creek along Maple, with a bridge over to the RWC police Dept, which is turning out to be an interesting birding spot. Do you know if that little “waterway” has a name. And yes, noticed the “pickleweed” mural last weekend. That will be such a nice walk as the vegetation grows up.

    • I’m not sure if that little “waterway” has a name — I think it is just a low spot that accumulates water. I walk around that area a lot, although I stay out of the bushes — there are often people living in there. Soon Blomquist will cross through there, paralleling the bridge to the police station and making its way to the other end of Maple Street. And then all the rest, hopefully, will become the new city park. We’ll see about that, though.

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