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DID YOU KNOW That Zoning Plans Take Time To Make Because They Require Your Input?

Photographer: Francesca Fambrough
Photographer: Francesca Fambrough
 Last year Redwood City created a visioning process for a part of Redwood City’s waterfront called the Inner Harbor originally Precise Plan now renamed Specific Plan (IHSP.)  This process includes a task force of fifteen members that represent various different stakeholder groups.  Government zoning plans take time to make because the process of getting input from each one of these stakeholder groups and reaching group consensus takes time.   For most task force representatives their commitment includes not only participation at the IHSP but after each meeting returning to their representative groups and updating the group.  True representatives need to allow the group time for internal discussion and internal consensus building as to how to proceed forward.  Then the representatives/task force members need to collect that feedback and present it back to the IHSP.   It is therefore rarely realistic to have IHSP meetings that are scheduled very close together.

During the last City Council meeting January 13th, Bill Ekern, Director of Community Development for the City of Redwood City presented a timeline for the IHSP to City Council that expected the task force to reach conclusions and be able to present to City Council by mid March.  As I noted during City Council proceedings:  “ I am here to tell City Council that the proposed staff timeline for the Inner Harbor Specific Plan is not feasible.  Already at the last Inner Harbor Specific Plan meeting there were several task force members that felt that staff and the contractors driving the IHSP were moving way to fast.  Now either the task force is meant to solicit input and build based on input from task force members;  in which case it needs to be given the time to work or the task force is a sham that is presented to cover up the fact that staff and maybe even Council have already decided what it is they want for the area under consideration. “  ( http://redwoodcity-ca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1622 minute 1:08)

Mayor Jeff Gee asked me how long the plan should take.  My response was to describe what  I explained above in the first paragraph regarding the process our representative needs to go through updating our community.   My understanding is that the Downtown plan started as the Downtown Area Plan. A year or two into it, there were law suits that delayed the process.  Then they changed it to the Downtown Precise Plan.  However to complete the Downtown Precise Plan the group had to wait until the General Plan was complete.  So overall, the Downtown plans took almost five years to complete and over nine years from plan to fruition.   In the case of the Inner Harbor we have a plan that includes several agencies with jurisdiction including the California State Lands Commission and the US Army Core of Engineers.   We are also very dependent on the outcome of the Woodside 101 Interchange plan and additional development plans within the One Marina complex.  The Inner Harbor area is probably more comparable to the Sausalito waterfront which took over seven years to complete.

Let’s set realistic time lines and allow real input from the public to be envisioned and then implemented.







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