.

Housing Isn't Someone Else's Problem

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) came out with revised estimates for housing requirements. Redwood City is expected to build more than 8,000 housing units neat transit centers by 2040.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paul Stewart March 15, 2012 at 07:12 PM
One of the best analyses of the issue/problem I've yet to read. Thank you Lou.
Roger Brina March 15, 2012 at 08:04 PM
One of the biggest concerns coming out now with ABAG is the influence of developers in the process of coming up with these housing estimates. Palo Alto's concern is not just about residential high-rises (which, as a RWC resident, I wouldn't be too against along certain sections of El Camino) but the fact that the estimates, revised or otherwise, seem grossly inflated: RWC grew by about 12,000 in between the 1980 and 1990 censuses, and again by about another 10,000 between 1990 to 2000. But between 2000 and 2010, population growth was at 1,400. Home owners in RWC decreased by about the same amount that renters increased within that timeframe, and the number of vacant, available housing units GREW by over 300. What does this tell us? It tells us that ABAG's estimate that we'll need 8,000 units by 2040 is grossly optimistic. Not only that, but it's getting more expensive to live in RWC. More and more people share houses, rent out rooms, sublet their apartments. ABAG can force all the transit-oriented development it wants, but if it isn't affordable, people aren't going to be moving in from the Central Valley any time soon.
Roger Brina March 15, 2012 at 08:11 PM
With regard to the influence developers are having with ABAG in trying to force developments in the name of green building: Occupy Redwood City, Occupy San Jose, and Occupy Half Moon Bay members will be attending the ABAG Executive Board Meeting tonight in Oakland to advise the Board that they not include the San Mateo County coast in their "Priority Development Area" (PDA) designations. The whole point of ABAG and their implementation of SB375 was to encourage smart growth in PDAs: places where there would be development of higher density housing and along major transportation corridors served by public transit. The potential designation of the San Mateo County coast as a PDA is a blatant subversion of SB375 and an attempt by business interests to greenwash development projects on the coast under the mantle of smart growth. Where is the transit corridor and where are the jobs out on the SMC coast that would justify PDA designation? Who are the developers that cajoled the SMC Board of Supervisors to lobby ABAG for a rural-PDA (an oxymoron by definition)? If this sort of subversion of the smart-growth process is taking place with regards to coastal, rural communities, how exactly are business interests influencing the process elsewhere, such as in these housing estimates? These are the questions that need to be asked of ABAG.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive March 15, 2012 at 08:20 PM
You very well could be right, Roger. Looking forward to your documentation.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive March 15, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Those are good numbers Roger. If we extrapolate growth based on the last census numbers, we will have a need to house an additional 4000 people, translating into 2000 housing units by 2040. That's not counting the 3000 units that we need right now based on the last ABAG quotas. Of course, 2000-2010 saw the brunt of the economic downturn and the collapse of the housing market that probably had some small affect on population growth ;). So if we posit that the Peninsula economy over the next 28 years is going to be stagnant at best, your projections are dead on. And we only need to build 5000 units rather than 8,000.
Reality Check March 17, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Anyone have a link to origin/destination data for these "40,000 in and out of Redwood City every day" Lou talks about. It would be interesting to see a numbers breakdown of RWC residents commuting out (and to where) as well as the breakdown of non-residents commuting in (and from where) by mode (bike, transit, auto). I'd be surprised if the percentage of all RWC commuters the in-commuters from the Central Valley Lou talks about even breaks the single digits. Of course the O/D data won't tell us what that small subset of Central Valley in-commuters would move to RWC if we just built more TOD? The handful of super commuters I'm aware of could live on the mid-Peninsula, but _choose_ to live far from their Peninsula workplace in order to have the size of home/property they wanted in the place/environment (or "lifestyle") they wanted. (For example, I knew a woman who lived in rural Gilroy because she liked having a mini-ranch with her horses, etc. I know another man who has commuted to SF and now Mtn. View from Los Banos ... it may seem crazy to you or me, but he's used to it and is not looking to live anywhere else! There are plenty of Peninsula firefighters and police officers who live far from the Bay Area ... again, by choice.)
4freedom March 20, 2012 at 02:47 PM
The problem is these are not affordable housing projects. These housing projects such as Mels Bowl are for those making more than 100,000 a year in wages. These "housing projects" are designed to move the hard working middle-class out of Redwood City and eventually out of the Peninsula. That is why we need to say goodbye to ABAG and to say goodbye to developers such as "The Urban Housing Coalition" who want to build non affordable housing projects in our affordable city. Due to the horrible judgement of our Planning Committee and our City Council, "The Urban Housing Coalition" has already been approved to build Mels Bowl. We as Redwood City Residents need to make sure that this is the last project they will build in our city that is not affordable to the working class community. -4Freedom
Lou Covey, The Local Motive March 20, 2012 at 04:23 PM
4Freedom, wanting affordable housing is a wonderful sentiment, but I have not yet found a developer that is in business to lose money, unless it's the federal government. We've seen the results of the latter in Hunter's Point and Sunnydale up in SF. We are currently operating in a dearth of housing in Redwood City, not just for affordable housing, but even for unaffordable housing. That's one of the reasons we have thousands of people commuting into Redwood City every day. We can say good by to ABAG, but in doing so we also say goodbye to funding to improve roads and provide what little mass transit we currently get. So what's your answer to providing affordable housing that would make it attractive to developers to pursue? Have you taken that idea to the planning commission? As I said, I completely support your passion for affordable housing, But the only place it seems to be coming from are the developers and ABAG, even if it isn't enough to satisfy the need.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »