Across Redwood City, the city owns millions of square feet of property. The city took inventory of its properties and highlighted parcels that developers could be interested in.
A facilitator from San Jose led a city council study session to help identify options for the properties. Kip Harkness used a discussion matrix that asked councilmembers’ where they stood on issues like time horizon, risk tolerance, speed and revenue to the city.
Economic Development Director Bill Ekern specifically identified five examples that the city could look to sell.
Parcel Total Acreage Address City Hall Parking Lot 1.32 1017 Middlefield Road Downtown Library Parking Lot 1 1044 Middlefield Road Jefferson Avenue Properties 0.41 Jefferson Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, Wilson Avenue and Franklin Street Altamont Way Property 0.17 Altamont Way and Midfield Way in Emerald Hills Inner Harbor Properties 9.65 the Bair Island Aquatic Center land, near Maple Street
From the audience, developer Kirk McKinney was already interested in helping Juanita Casillas, the owner of the , purchasing the Jefferson Avenue property.
The “Best” “Public Good”
Harkness further probed into councilmembers’ desires of how these properties could ultimately serve the public good.
“It really depends what it is,” said Councilmember Jeff Ira. “I wouldn’t sell city hall, but any parking lot is up for grabs if something better happens.”
He added that securing parking elsewhere would also be important.
Councilmember Ian Bain noted that there are several city-owned properties that are currently not benefitting the public good and that could be sold to bolster the city’s purse.
There should also be an examination of certain parcels, Vice Mayor Jeff Gee said, that are meant for public good, like parks, but could be more effective in another location.
With the term “best use” and “public good” being dropped in several councilmembers’ comments, resident Carol Wong asked that the city clearly define “best use” when making these decisions. Residents deserved to know how these decisions were being made, she said.
Resident James Jonas also asked that more visual information, such as a map of the properties, be available so there could be more public involvement and suggestions to the council.
Regarding the nebulous definition of “best use,” Councilmember Rosanne Foust noted that the charter was amended so that the city was not obligated to award any contractor to the highest bidder. The council could factor in the usage of a parcel of land, for example. This prevented “best use” being associated with the highest revenue for the city.
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