The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) came out with revised estimates for housing requirements in the Bay Area and the good news is that it dropped about 6 percent overall. The bad news is that Redwood City's requirements went up 28 percent. That means by 2040, Redwood City is expected to build more than 8,000 housing units neat transit centers by 2040.
To put that into perspective that means we have to build about 60 housing developments similar to the Marshall Street project over the next 28 years, more than two per year, in and around the Caltrain station or near interchanges on Highway 101. For and idea of what that would look like, see the accompanying artist rendering of the Marshall Street project, and imagine 60 of them lining El Camino from 5th Avenue all the way past ... on both sides of the street.
What happens if we don't? We can lose transportation funding that currently keeps public transit going, improves and repairs roads that are necessary just to keep us, as we currently are, from falling into traffic chaos.
Some municipalities are balking against these requirements. Corte Madera is thinking about pulling out of ABAG altogether and Palo Alto is inches away from saying "keep your money" because they don't want to see their downtown turned into eight-story residential canyons. And the more communities that feel that way means the more pressure on communities -- like Redwood City -- to build even more housing so we can persuade people living in the Central Valley and commuting here (tends to put a lot of greenhouse gases into the air, don't you know) to live here instead.
As of right now, Redwood City is keeping up with the quota with the , and projects, and there are three or four more in discussion phases. But I can't help but wonder: Where the heck are we going to find additional space for the whole 60+?
Now some of you may think this is going to be a pitch for the Saltworks project, but not so much. You see, if Saltworks was approved tomorrow, it will be a good 15 years from the start of that project before the first shovelful is turned to build the streets the new homes will go on. It could be 20 years before the first residents move into their new homes. Saltworks won't provide a tenth of the homes we need built within the timeframe ABAG wants.
So maybe we need to follow Palo Alto's example and just say forget it, we're out. That's OK if you don't care about the environmental issues of commuters (40,000 in and out of Redwood City every day), or you don't care about the price of housing (the more supply the lower the cost), or you think it should be someone else's problem (yeah, Atherton will pick up the slack, right?) But as our environmental friends keep claiming, we're all in this together. The problem is not going away. We need to come up with some real answers to the housing problem.