[Editor's note: The following was submitted by Kate Parnes.]
By Kate Parnes
Citing their mission to “listen to the residents” and “be a good neighbor”, the Redwood City Planning Commission last night voted 7-0 directing the Community Development Department to investigate other alternatives for the construction of a 750,000 gallon water tank. The current plan detailed the 23’ high by 80’ in diameter tank, on California Way and Tum Suden Way in Emerald Hills, to be built at grade level. The Commissioners requested that options to be researched and analyzed should include, but not be limited to, an underground tank, and one set into the hillside. The Commissioners suggested that the possibility of the creation of a park should also be investigated.
The two and a half hour hearing included testimony from local residents and the Emerald Hills Homeowners Association. The residents indicated their understanding of the need for expanded water infrastructure, but not in the manner presented in the current proposal. They provided testimony on aesthetic and green space, safety concerns, and security issues. In addition, they provided multiple examples of minimal impact storage tanks that have been built in cities in California, including two underground tanks in Redwood City.
The Commissioners questioned at length the private consultants responsible for the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration of the project. The Commissioners expressed concern that the aesthetics element of the report did not adequately capture the impact a structure this size would have on the neighborhood. One commissioner stated that the Planning Commission would not approve plans for a house of this size, why would they approve a tank, which is a solid cylinder having no architectural nuances.
No specific timeline has been set for the next review of the project. The Commissioners indicated that it was most important that time be taken to complete a thorough analysis.
The Commissioners encouraged the residents to continue their involvement in the project, providing input to them and the technical staff. “While this is a first step victory for the area, we know there will be many more steps in this process. “ stated Libby Albanese, whose home is located across the street from the currently planned tank. “We will continue our commitment to partner with the city throughout this process. We believe this is an opportunity for the city to develop a model of local collaboration that, in the end, will meet everyone’s goals”, said Carl Cobb, a Redwood City resident and a presenter last night.
For now, it is back to the drawing board.