While other Peninsula cites are grumbling about state mandates designed to encourage local housing development, Redwood City is working to get more homes built within its boundaries.
More than 1,700 residential units are either under construction or in the planning phase, half of them in the downtown area, according to city officials. And the vast majority are within multi-unit buildings, said Planning Manager Blake Lyon.
Much of the construction surge is a result of the city's Downtown Precise Plan, whose passage in early 2011 spawned zoning that allows for up to 2,500 new and high-density housing units in the downtown area, along with new office space, shops and other retail businesses.
The building activity also complies with the city's Housing Element, a document the state requires all municipalities to produce every five to eight years with the aim of ensuring that the residential stock in California keeps pace with population growth and is priced for all income levels. Redwood City's 2009-2014 Housing Element sets a goal of 1,856 new residential units.
Although cities are not required to build the homes, they have to identify sites for housing and develop programs to encourage construction, according to the state law.
Just planning for new home construction has provoked controversy in other Peninsula cities. Menlo Park, which scrambled last year to identify potential sites for as many as 1,975 homes after it was sued by
And in Portola Valley, which has a goal of 88 new homes in its 2009 Housing Element, residents last year organized against a town plan to put eight to 12 below-market rate houses on a 1.68-acre parcel, saying the density would ruin the area's rural feeling.
Lyon said Redwood City has embraced its commitment to try and get housing built for everyone. Where other municipalities have not had the "political fortitude" to encourage housing growth, "Redwood City has stepped up and taken responsibility," he said.
There are "trade-offs" to squeezing more residents into a city, Lyon acknowledged, but Redwood City is allaying some of those concerns by encouraging transit-oriented housing downtown and getting more units per acre by targeting some housing for younger adults without families and senior citizens. In exchange, the city hopes to bring more vitality to its downtown while also increasing its property tax base.
Among Redwood City's new construction projects, the 249-unit One Marina development off Bair Island Road is being built in phases, with 43 homes already occupied, according to development spokesman Hugh O'Donnell.
The two- and three-bedroom upscale townhome style condominiums have been quickly snapped up, including units unavailable until August, he said. While boasting of the quality of the One Marina's homes -- priced from $558,000 to $793,000 -- O'Donnell acknowledged that the Peninsula's housing shortage is a factor in the development's success.
"You have countless people coming in saying there's nothing on the market," O'Donnell said.