We were very disappointed to learn that the Redwood City Planning Commission approved a recommendation to amend the Downtown Precise Plan allowing ground floor office spaces in the downtown core and entertainment district.
It's only been in the last several months that the "feel" of our downtown is heading in the right direction: a mixture of retail, restaurants and entertainment that will draw the community.
Is office space a part of an ideal downtown formula? Absolutely! But not along the main corridor.
If you wander down University or California Avenues in Palo Alto, Laurel Street in San Carlos or Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park you will see models of what we should be striving for. Office space should occupy side streets and the second floor (and above) of multi-story buildings.
Our downtown is already hampered by the major presence of many county buildings and services whose staff and clientele take up a mid-day, mid-week presence (parking and frequenting lunch locations) but vacates our downtown in the evenings and on the weekends. Adding an additional office space presence along Broadway will only further a "ghost town" feel by creating dark, inactive storefronts that add no pedestrian draw in the evenings and on weekends.
Everyone needs to be patient and stick to the original plan. The Peninsula and Silicon Valley are on the cusp of another boom thanks to companies like Apple, Facebook, Zynga and others.
Home prices and incomes are rising. The rental market in San Francisco is very competitive; people are looking for attractive, affordable alternatives. Redwood City could service this need by providing relatively "affordable" commercial and residential spaces AND a lively, appealing downtown atmosphere.
Finally, our home is within one mile of the downtown core. Not only do we enjoy the proximity for our own use, but the state of the downtown reflects on our home value. We've invested a considerable amount of money in our home and it is in our best interests, as well as the interests of our community, to see that the downtown grows into a thriving, attractive city center.
We encourage you to vote AGAINST the Redwood City Planning Commissions' recommendation to amend the Downtown Precise Plan.
-- Bret and Tiffany DiMarco