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Archive for the ‘development’ Category

Marina housing project OK’d

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Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
December 19, 2007

A scaled-down version of one of the most controversial projects in city history won unanimous support from city leaders, but groundbreaking could be a year or more away.

Peninsula Park, the project formerly known as Marina Shores Village — the high-rise residential project overturned by voters in 2004 — includes a plan to build 796 townhouses, 10,000 square feet of retail space and a 200-room hotel on Peninsula Marina, near Pete’s Harbor.

The Redwood City Council on Monday unanimously approved an environmental study of the project’s potential impacts, zoning changes that would allow residences to be built on the site and an agreement with developer Glenborough-Pauls that would ensure that the company provides its fair share for roadway and school improvements and builds 40 affordable units within the site.

“We’re pleased we’ve gotten as far as we have, but we have a long ways to go,” said Glenborough-Pauls partner Paul Powers. Now, Powers must obtain federal and state permits to build on Peninsula Marina, which is a federal and state waterway. The permit-securing process could take another year, said Redwood City planner Blake Lyon.

If all those permits go through, construction could begin in 2009 and build-out could take 10 to 15 years, depending on the housing market, Lyon said.

The Friends of Redwood City, the resident group that fostered the referendum against Marina Shores Village, criticized the project’s plan in 2004 for 1,930 residential units in 17 towers up to 240 feet tall. Leaders of the group say Peninsula Park is a better plan, but maintain that it’s still too far from public transit.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but we shouldn’t have housing in an isolated spot like that,” said resident Ralph Nobles.

Powers sees the project as an opportunity to bring more housing closer to the 52,000 jobs in Redwood City. Right now, 43,000 of those are held by people who live outside the area, he said.

“The jobs/housing imbalance is a real problem on the Peninsula, and we will reduce vehicle-miles traveled and carbon dioxide dramatically if we place housing in close proximity to existing jobs,” Powers said.

As Peninsula Park is built, the first preference for home sales will be given to buyers who live within four miles of the marina and who agree to commute via public transit four days a week or who have no commute, Powers said. The developers will also provide a shuttle to the downtown Redwood City Caltrain station.

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

December 19, 2007 at 10:22 PM

As city builds the future, it must preserve the past

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Beth Winegarner
Daily News Staff Writer
July 29, 2005

Just two blocks east of El Camino Real, a row of hundred-year-old homes stands as a reminder of Redwood City’s working-class roots.

As downtown redevelopment continues, residents are asking the city to keep those changes from damaging the Centennial Neighborhood where those houses stand by designating it as a historic district. The neighborhood is so named because it’s one of the city’s oldest.

“We are encouraging the city to take a look at the whole area and see if there isn’t some interest in preserving the nature and character of the neighborhood,” said resident Peggy Bruggman.

The Centennial Neighborhood is bounded, roughly, by Veterans Boulevard to the east, Whipple Avenue to the north, Arguello Street to the south and Brewster Avenue to the west.

The 700 block of Brewster Avenue boasts the greatest number of intact houses. On other streets, some homes have been torn down to make way for homes and apartment buildings in the 1960s and 1970s.

While individual houses may not qualify as historic landmarks, the neighborhood could receive some kind of designation, Radcliffe said. Among other things, it was the place Redwood City founder Simon Mezes called home.

“We’re trying to keep the character of Redwood City true,” said Planning Commission member Nancy Radcliffe. “This is the working man’s neighborhood and we think it’s worth preserving.”

The city will hire an architectural historian to survey the area sometime in August and make recommendations, according to city planner Jill Ekas.

A recent proposal to build a 10-story condominium complex where Whipple Avenue meets Fuller Street alarmed Centennial Neighborhood residents, who asked the city to keep the district’s historic character in mind as downtown Redwood City undergoes its revitalization process.

The neighborhood’s denizens are frequent downtown visitors, providing a reminder of just how important it is for people to live in and near downtown, Radcliffe said.

But the city must also be careful what it builds near the older homes.

“We want the downtown to be cohesive,” she said.

Bruggman has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years and loves its historic homes and working-class nature.

“I’m excited to see new things, but the city has to be careful not to overrun existing neighborhoods,” she said.

This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.

Written by Beth Winegarner

July 29, 2005 at 9:09 PM

Leaders admit name change was wrong

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Beth Winegarner
Daily News Staff Writer
July 7, 2005

Redwood City officials say they took a wrong turn when they proposed changing the name of part of Middlefield Road to Theater Way.

For nearly three years, the city has planned to rename the section of Middlefield between Winslow Street and Broadway in honor of the 20-screen megaplex opening next year. Not anymore, according to Redevelopment Agency Director Susan Moeller.

“We have listened to the concerns of those opposed to the change,” Moeller said.

Moeller recently discovered that the idea had been included in a parking-facilities agreement between the city and the retail-cinema project’s developer, she said this week at a Downtown Business Group meeting.

Renaming the street was intended to provide a conceptual link between the cinema, at Broadway and Jefferson Street, and the county parking lot on Middlefield Road near Veterans Boulevard, Moeller explained. This would encourage theatergoers to use the county lot and walk to their destination.

Several business owners along Middlefield have approached Moeller in recent months, however, angry at the proposal — and at the fact that they didn’t hear about it sooner.

“We are recommending that, rather than renaming the street, we use a sign program to meet the intent to make that direct link [between the cinema and the parking lot],” Moeller said Tuesday.

The item will go before the City Council Monday, July 11.

Jeff Filippi, one of the business owners outraged by the name change, said he hadn’t been told the city was changing its recommendation.

“I’m getting a petition together — we’re ready for a fight,” Filippi told the Daily News. He met with Moeller this spring, and spoke before the City Council in June to oppose the plan, saying it was inconsiderate and would cost business owners money.

Now, “It appears obvious that common sense has prevailed,” he said regarding the new recommendation. But he added that some business owners are distrustful of Redwood City’s government, staff and consultants.

Using signs and waymarkers, rather than formally changing Middlefield Road’s name, was a suggestion Filippi and others brought to Moeller, he told the Daily News.

This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.

Written by Beth Winegarner

July 7, 2005 at 9:02 PM

Judge rules quarry must be a better neighbor

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Beth Winegarner
News Pointer Editor
April 13, 2004

A Marin County judge has ordered county officials to take responsibility for overseeing and regulating activities at the San Rafael Rock Quarry.

During a court hearing last week, Judge John Sutro said that he did not wish to shut the quarry down for its violations and impacts on neighbors, but that he would monitor the county’s oversight to make sure it is keeping the operation in line.

“I think the judge clarified that he expects the quarry and the county to work together to ensure neighborhood compatibility,” said John Taylor, the attorney representing the quarry. “We’re prepared to work in the direction outlined by the court.”

Sutro has agreed to sign the decision he made in January, in which he limited quarry-related truck traffic on Point San Pedro Road to 250 trips, or 125 trucks, per day and only allow trucks in and out between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., and forbade workers from dumping excess and waste rock in the northwest part of the site.

At that time, he also gave the quarry six months to file an amended reclamation plan — its 1982 plan has been outdated for years — and comply with the new plan. According to quarry spokeswoman Aimi Dutra, that amendment will be delivered by the deadline of April 27.

“He made it very clear the county has been lacking severely in its oversight of the quarry,” said John Edgecomb, the attorney representing the San Pedro Road Coalition, a collective of quarry neighbors. “He expects all sides to go back to the county for an administrative process, both to update the reclamation plan and to revisit permit conditions. If the parties don’t like the outcome, they can come back to the judge and there will be a more full administrative record.”

The downside for neighbors, Edgecomb said, is that the judge’s decision “allows the quarry to continue mining the main pit as long as it is economically feasible. It’s disappointing, because we disagree with that holding.”

The quarry is also being sued by the county of Marin, the state of California, the San Pedro Road Coalition and neighbor Amanda Metcalf. The coalition is a group of residents who have worked, over the years, to bring the quarry’s violations to the attention of the county. The suits allege that the quarry is operating outside the confines of its 1982 reclamation plan and that its blasting, dust and truck traffic constitute a public nuisance.

The quarry first began operations in 1900 and has continued to be a major operation since. In 1972 the quarry’s owners, Basalt Mining Co., owned by Dillingham Corp., obtained a state mining permit, and in 1982 Basalt filed a reclamation plan with the county of Marin saying its resources would be exhausted by 1993. When the Dutra Group purchased the quarry in 1986, however, the owners discovered more rock.

In 1942, the land was zoned as M-2 (industrial), but with the reclamation plan in hand, in 1982 the county rezoned the land as Residential and Commercial Multiple Planned Development, allowing residences to be built in the neighborhood. The quarry was allowed to continue operations under the banner of a “legal non-conforming use.” As residents moved in, the county continued to trust that the quarry would shut down within a few years. Meanwhile, the quarry expanded its operations.

In addition, the nearby Peacock Gap neighborhood incorporated the quarry’s reclamation plan into its own plan, which was folded into the Marin County General Plan.

When the 1982 plan was accepted by the county, the Planning Department was directed to monitor quarry operations to ensure that work did not expand beyond the scope outlined in the plan, and that the property would be left in reclaimable condition. The quarry was to supply an annual topographic map of mining operations and a report to show its compliance. Three years before the anticipated end of the mine, clean-up operations were to begin. However, the operation has continued and intensified.

“We’re being thrust back onto the county,” Dutra said. “Our goal is to have an agreed-upon set of operation conditions that balances the needs of neighbors, our business and the industry our business serves. We’re trying to bring some balance.”

She added that the quarry is in full compliance with the operating restrictions imposed by Sutro in January.

Another trial, to determine whether the quarry constitutes a public nuisance, is scheduled to go to court in February 2005.

“[This week’s decision] will probably wind up with the judge again at some point,” Edgecomb said. “We’re looking to the county to do a thorough investigation of the impacts of the quarry on the neighbors.”

“The message is: he’s watching,” Dutra said. “The message to the county is: you’ve got to resolve these issues.”

This article originally appeared in the San Rafael/Terra Linda News Pointer.

Written by Beth Winegarner

April 13, 2004 at 6:47 PM