Because I pay such close attention to the status of the many proposed and in-process development projects within Redwood City, I am acutely aware of the long gaps that often occur between the various project stages. For many of them, one of the longest gaps occurs right at the beginning: between when the project initially appears on Redwood City’s Development Projects web page, and when it finally comes before the appropriate body (generally, the Planning Commission and/or the City Council) for approval. Other gaps occur at later stages. The Broadway Plaza project, for instance, first appeared on the list of projects in July 2016. It took just short of three years before it was finally approved by the City Council, in May 2019. Demolition got underway in July of that same year, but although there has been some work on the surrounding streets (primarily Broadway and Bay Road) that I presume was to ensure adequate utility hookups for that massive office and residential (with a small amount of retail) project, actual construction isn’t likely to get underway until later this year. In the mean time, we get to enjoy (not) the sight of the empty lot where the bulk of the Broadway Plaza shopping center once stood:
When a project seems to go nowhere even after approval, I find myself questioning whether the project will ever actually get built, and speculating about which behind-the-scenes issues are preventing it from ever coming to light. For a long time I questioned whether the proposed Holiday Inn Express & Suites hotel, planned for 1690 Broadway (currently home to the rapidly deteriorating 18-room Garden Motel) would ever actually get off the ground. It was originally proposed back in mid-2017, and approved in October of that year. Permits were applied for, but were never granted — and nothing visible happened on site. Then, the plans were reworked somewhat to add more rooms (upping the total from 90 to 112) and the project was resubmitted — and the project was approved yet again in March 2019. Still, though, nothing happened. Then, just last month, the same basic plans from 2019 were resubmitted for reapproval. This time, though, while the project awaits approval yet again, the owner has erected construction fencing around the property:
So although there is little actual work that can be done until a permit is issued, it appears that the property owner is anticipating at least receiving their demolition permit (which they applied for nearly three months ago). Until then, people still appear to be living on the property — but I’m guessing that they’ll soon be on their way out. This is the first concrete sign of movement on this particular project since it was first submitted almost five years ago.
Along similar lines, back in September of 2019 the Planning Commission approved a developer’s proposal to replace a single-family home on a pretty good-sized lot at the corner of Center and Linden streets with seven for-sale townhouses. I’ve been keeping an eye on 31 Center Street ever since it was approved, but again there have been no signs of activity. The last time I was there, there still wasn’t — but that may change, given that at their most recent meeting the City Council approved the various legalities that are required for a project like this to move forward. I now expect to soon be able to report actual movement on this project, in the form of the demolition of the house that stands there today:
Once demolition does get underway, I’ll write a full description of this project, and show how you can squeeze seven new homes (each with a two-car garage!) onto a lot where a single family home and garage once stood.
A project of a different type that I’ve been anticipating for quite some time now — the Hopkins Avenue Traffic Safety Project — is also at long last showing real signs of moving forward. The project to calm traffic on this busy residential street, with its very popular Stafford Park, should get going in earnest in just a week or so, but already there has been some movement. The islands and bulb-outs that had been installed using temporary materials have all been removed (the speed humps remain, though), leaving little but brown patches where the center islands were standing for the last couple of years:
While walking along Hopkins Avenue I noted a couple of temporary notices posted on light poles close to Stafford Park. It seems that the crosswalks at the intersections at either end of the park — at King and Lowell streets — may be reconfigured somewhat, and so the city is asking for community feedback. Because the city plans to install new curb bulb-outs only on the two park corners and the corners across them from Hopkins Avenue (these are the corners with the flashing safety beacons), and not on the other two corners of those two intersections, the city is proposing to eliminate the painted crosswalks that run across Hopkins Avenue on the west side of Lowell Street and on the east side of King Street. Pedestrians will still be able to cross there, of course, but the idea is to strongly encourage people to use the two crossings at either end of the park, where thanks to the bulb-outs the length of the crosswalk will be shorter, and where there are flashing beacons to alert motorists to the presence of pedestrians.
Here is what the project plans originally showed for the intersection of Hopkins Avenue and Lowell Street (the park is in the upper right corner of this image):
In this image, Hopkins Avenue runs left-to-right and Lowell Street runs top to bottom. Note how the two crosswalks spanning Hopkins Avenue are of different lengths; the one on the right is shorter thanks to the bulb-outs, which are shown as curved lines at the intersection. The idea is to only paint the two crosswalks that span Lowell Street, plus the shorter one spanning Hopkins Avenue. Like this:
As I noted, you can still cross at any of the four corners of this intersection; just because the crosswalk is not marked doesn’t mean you won’t be able to legally cross Hopkins Avenue along the west side of Lowell Street. But this de-clutters the street slightly, and of course encourages people to use the safest — and, frankly, most popular — crossing.
Redwood City’s Transportation Advisory Committee will be meeting to discuss this potential change to the Lowell and King street intersections on June 14 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers in City Hall. Those who are interested or who want to comment on it are welcome to either attend the meeting in person, or via Zoom or simply by calling in to the meeting using a telephone. You can also submit comments via email or postal mail, as long as your comments are received by the Community Development and Transportation Department no later than 4 p.m. on June 14. For all the details, look for the “Notice of Crosswalk Removal” postings along Hopkins Avenue at either end of Stafford Park.
Speaking of Stafford Park, the ever-popular Music in the Park concert series will be starting again soon. This year the series will run from June 22 through August 24, on the usual Wednesday evenings from 6 – 8 p.m. (on August 17, the concert will begin at 5:30 and end at 7:30). Personally, I look forward to this series every year, and hope to make it to a number of the free outdoor concerts. I will be curious to see, though, how the Hopkins Avenue project does or does not interfere with these concerts. Although work on that project won’t be taking place during the hours when the concerts are going on, undoubtedly there will be some disruptions to the street that may make getting there and parking a bit tricky for those who drive to the park. Don’t let that dissuade you from going — the concerts really are great — but just be aware that you may want or need to take an alternate route.
If you can’t wait until June 22 to get your live music fix, I’ll also note that the city’s Music on the Square series is right around the corner: this year it’ll run for a full 14 weeks, from June 3 through September 2. These concerts, which of course are also free, are held at Courthouse Square in downtown Redwood City on Fridays from 6 – 8 p.m. There appear to be some amazing bands on the schedule, so do take a look at the lineup.
If even June 22 is still too far away, might I recommend the city’s newest event series: a set of family-friendly concerts and “movement activities” at the Magical Bridge Playground in Red Morton Park on select Sundays? The first one is this very Sunday, May 22, from 4 – 5:30 p.m. and will consist of “Magical Music & Motion with The Soul Providers.” They are a “10-piece high-energy dance band”; if that sounds like something you might be interested in, head on over to the Valota Road end of Red Morton Park, where you’ll find them on the playhouse stage.
Finally, while I’m on the subject, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Classical Series (which this year only has one concert — is that a series?), Sounds of the Shores (in Redwood Shores’ Marlin Park — three concerts this year), and Kids Rock!, which this year will consist of three different concerts. Not that into music? Don’t overlook Pub in the Park (four Saturdays this year) and, of course, Movies on the Square, which will consist of free double features shown in Courthouse Square on Thursday nights from June 9 all the way through September 8.
There is always a lot to do during the summers in Redwood City — that is one of the things that makes this city special — and this year the city looks to be going all out to provide us with a wealth of options. Do take advantage of them: they’re free! (Except for the food and beer at Pub in the Park, of course.) You may want to bookmark the city’s Events page, where you’ll find all of these events, and more.
Monday, May 30 is Memorial Day. I can think of no better way to commemorate the day by attending the Memorial Day Ceremony at Redwood City’s Union Cemetery, which begins at 10 a.m. It’s on my calendar…
This weekend is your last chance to apply to be on one of the city’s many “BCCs”: boards, commissions, and committees. These advisory bodies are appointed by the City Council (or by the Planning Commission in a couple of cases) and provide important recommendations to both the Council and to city staff on a variety of issues affecting the quality of life here in Redwood City. There are a number of BCCs, each with its own area of speciality. A very few have some special requirements, but most are open to anyone who is a Redwood City resident, who is eligible to vote, and who is at least 18 years old. The deadline to submit applications (which you can easily do online) is this Sunday, May 22, at 11:59 p.m. Go here for more information on the various BCCs, and for a link to the application.
The city is having a tough time to fill the 30 open seats it currently has across all of the BCCs — see my OpEd column in this weekend’s Daily Journal if you want to know more about that — and its up to us to help keep this city functioning smoothly by stepping up and helping out. Joining one of these BCCs is a great way to do just that. I urge you to look into the available opportunities and give serious consideration to applying. Note that although there is a term of office, you aren’t committed beyond that — unless you choose to be. Joining a BCC can be a stepping stone to higher office, if that is something you are interested in, but there is absolutely no obligation to take further steps in that direction if politics is not your thing. But BCCs are a great, relatively low-key way to do more than just complain about how the city is being run: you can actually help shape our city’s future. So do look over the list, investigate the various BCCs, and give thought to applying. Just don’t wait too long…