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Mel’s Bowl Development Scrapes Through

Redwood City councilmembers reject two separate appellants’ appeals and approve construction of new housing. Do you think this was the right decision?

The vacant former Mel’s Bowl site is going to become a 141-unit apartment building. But it was a tough battle for the developer amidst council questioning and a slew of union workers in attendance Monday night.

The Redwood City City cCuncil upheld the Planning Commission’s approval of the building development 5-1, with Vice Mayor Jeff Gee dissenting and Councilmember Rosanne Foust abstaining. The six councilmembers rejected two appeals over the project’s lack of affordable housing and an absence of a prevailing wage for the construction workers.

However, the Building and Construction Trade’s Council's highlighting of several environmental concerns prompted Councilmember John Seybert to temporarily shelve approval for another motion. He proposed to delay a decision for two weeks to allow for more time to analyze the environmental impact report.

Councilmember Jeff Ira emphasized the soundness of the report, and city staff clarified that the proposed project complied with the city’s General Plan and zoning ordinances. Legally, the city cannot require private developers to provide any units of affordable housing or demand a prevailing wage for the laborers hired.

Seybert eventually revoked his motion, stating that the short two-week delay would not provide an extensive environmental analysis needed.

 “It could be another 20 to 30 years before another development like this comes along,” Ira said of the appealing factors of this particular development.

Palo Alto-based Urban Housing Group promised a restoration of the surrounding El Camino Real neighborhood, including cleaned up store fronts of the six surrounding businesses and a .

“These community benefits might not take the traditional form of affordable housing, but the bookstore being gone is amazing,” Ira said. He added that he appreciated the developer's outreach to the community.

"The of this," he added.

Councilmember Barbara Pierce added, “We need housing. And there are no jobs without developers. They need to get their needs met, too.”

She thanked the developer for supporting the local residents by searching for Redwood City contractors.

 

A Dearth of Affordable Housing

Urban Housing Group voluntarily promised five affordable housing units after the Planning Commission’s approval. As a private developer that is not using any public funds, they did not ask for any density bonuses or building concessions and thus did not have to provide affordable housing units.

However, many housing advocates believed these five of 141 units, 3.5 percent of the project, was inadequate.

“It’s like a pole vaulter asking for a gold medal after stepping over a fallen branch,” said James Lee of Occupy Redwood City. “This does not qualify as affordable housing.”

Joshua Hugg of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, which advocates for lower-income housing, cited the median price of $2,000 monthly rent for a two-bedroom, a market rate that many working families could not afford.

Appellant Diana Reddy, also of the Housing Leadership Council, said that providing more affordable housing would draw more seniors to the development, who are the highest users of public transportation and frequent businesses. Residents over 65 make up 11.4 percent of Redwood City and have a median income of $22,976.

However, Redwood City does not have a law requiring developers to offer any affordable housing units. When redevelopment funds still existed, cities had much more bargaining power and could fund 15 percent of the units below market rate. But since the state yanked the funds in July 2011, the city has little financial flexibility to offer these units.

Bill Ekern, the city’s community development director, added that the project complies with the city’s General Plan, or city’s blueprint, and the zoning assignment. California’s Housing Accountability Act states that if a development project meets the city’s housing plans and zoning regulations, a city council cannot reject a proposal.

Affordable housing advocates argued that establishing an affordable housing requirement should be the council’s next priority. Many aim for 15 percent of units at below market rate. 

“A community is judged by how well it takes care of the neediest,” Reddy said. She argued that giving people the chance at a roof over their head is imperative.

 

Seeking a Prevailing Wage for Workers

The second appellant, Redwood City Citizens for Responsible Development—including the Building and Construction Trades Council of San Mateo County—contended two points: that the developer would likely not provide prevailing wages to the hired laborers and that the environmental impact report failed to address several significant impacts to the surrounding community.

Several dozen union workers packed to demonstrate their concern that whichever contractor the developer hired would not pay its workers prevailing wage. The city is not required to mandate that developers negotiate a certain contract.

Elaine Breeze of the Urban Housing Development explained her company's bidding process. They advertise in the Builders Exchange Magazine and identify all interested parties in Redwood City and the surrounding nine counties in the Bay Area. Once bids are placed, and if a Redwood City union contractor is within 5 percent of the lowest bid, it’s theirs.

But union laborers distinguished between local contractors and local laborers. Contractors based in Redwood City don’t necessarily hire laborers from Redwood City.

Union laborers demand pensions and health care to achieve a standard quality of life while non-unionized workers are able to under cut other workers and potentially work for minimum wage.

“We’re just looking for a guarantee of the prevailing wage,” said Mark Leach of the Electricians Union.

Prevailing wages range amongst different trades, he said.

“Please stand up for the workers of Redwood City,” asked Edward Evans of the Carpenters Union Local 217. “Large projects like this propose to use the cheapest labor available.”

 

Environmental Concerns Cause Council Hesitance

On the affordable housing and prevailing wage fronts, the council was not legally bound to any obligations. But Seybert expressed concern over the soundness of the environmental impact report.

“I may be gun shy,” he said of project approval, “but I think it would be worthwhile to delay approval to ensure that we don’t go through months of litigation.”

In 2007, the city over a shadow report that delayed its Downtown Precise Plan for two years and cost the city more than $841,000. Seybert cautioned the council that this was a recurring possibility if it eagerly approved any development project that made its way to the dais.

The appellant’s attorney pointed out that there is an over 10 in 1 million cancer risk connected with the project, which is defined as a significant health and safety issue.

However, the California Environmental Quality Act states that this risk only be recognized then mitigated, according to the appellant’s attorney, Tanya Gulesserian of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo.

Vice Mayor Jeff Gee had several issues with the language in the document. In the section addressing noise, the report stated that no construction would be conducted on weekends or holidays. Gee expressed skepticism of the estimated completion timeline of 19 months with these limited construction times.

The developer’s attorney then clarified that “no construction” would not exclude painting and interior work.

Gee also expressed a desire to further explore the traffic analysis—or lack thereof. The developer’s attorney assured that at peak traffic hours, there would be fewer than 100 trips—the threshold that requires mitigation. However, Gee pointed out uncertainties in the report, such as which direction occupants would be driving, particularly with the new Facebook building moving to Menlo Park.

He also criticized the developer’s lack of recycled water usage. Currently, there are 1,000 gallons of water being used, which would increase to 20,000 gallons once construction begins.

“Disappointed is a polite word,” Gee said. “And any other developer that comes through here better have a plan to use recycled water.”

These concerns caused Seybert to make a motion to extend any approval decision until the next council meeting in two weeks so councilmembers could clarify environmental hiccups.

Former planning commissioner Gee liked the idea of having more time to scour the environmental impact report for other potential unidentified significant impacts that could place the city in another legal debacle.

But councilmembers Ira and Pierce vehemently supported immediate approval because of the proposal’s adherence to the law and the need for housing.

 

Placing Value on Their Values

Throughout the night, there was no argument over whether affordable housing and prevailing wage was important to the community.

But with this particular project, the council had no legal obligations. Yet that didn’t stop councilmembers from pushing the conversation forward on ways to establish city guidelines on these two issues.

With several development proposals in front of city staff awaiting Planning Commission approval, affordable housing advocates and union workers are pressuring the council to propose action if it truly values these two issues.

Councilmember Ian Bain looked to the Housing and Human Concerns Committee to suggest ways to provide more affordable housing despite no more redevelopment funds. To ensure prevailing wages for hired contractors, he encouraged more communication between developers and unions.

“If this needs facilitation, I’d be happy to do that,” he said.

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Roger Brina February 14, 2012 at 07:03 PM
You replied, but didn't answer my question: We both agree that RWC has never had any prevailing wage/minimum wage ordinance or any provisions for rent stabilization. So can you say with a straight face that the housing situation (in RWC, under your preferred free market model) is doing a good job of serving anyone in our city making less than the median income?
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 07:04 PM
OK, Roger, just to do you a favor, I just looked up the campaign contribution records for the last election for John Seybert (who wanted to delay the decision for two weeks on environmental reasons) and for Foust (who recused herself). Took me five minites, but I know that's a lot of effort for most. While neither received anything more than $1000 from any one contributor, with most of the donations between $100 and $250, the both received a significant number of contributions from the SEIU, Operating Engineers Union, IBEW, Plumbers and steamfitters Union, Sheet Metal Workers Union and the Roofers Union. Seybert loaned his own campaign about $3000 making him his largest donor. Jeff Ira has similar union support from the previous year but the amounts are much larger than for Foust or Seybert. All have donations from real estate PACs as well, but the bulk of their money came from unions. Nowhere are their records for donations from any developers. So it all comes down to this, the people that were there for higher union pay didn't get what they wanted, even though they gave the most money of all the groups. Sounds to me like the council did what they believed was right, not what was paid for.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Just wondering, Roger, If affordable housing advocates had given a few thou to the campaigns and it turned out the council dry gulched the developer for more affordable units, would you be claiming they were paid off?
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Roger, have to agree with you on this one. Innuendo has no place in civil discussion, especially when it's out of right field (or left, depending on your political bent).
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Roger, rent control is a wonder full idea in principal, yet everywhere it is enacted it does nothing to increase the stock of affordable housing. Even EPA is under what they need. San Francisco has some of the most strenuous rent control laws in the nation and the place is still unaffordable. What could we do with rent control that would increase the stock of affordable units... that people would want to live in. Wouldn't it be better to push the price down with supply exceeding demand?
Jack Hickey February 14, 2012 at 07:40 PM
I don't consider the "preferred free market model" to be working in this area. Government regulations, building codes and land use restrictions make a continuum of housing impossible. These are "make work" exercises promoted by unions and environmental extremists. They inflate the cost of construction. And, exorbitant school impact fees add to housing costs A man's home is his castle. If he finds it more affordable to build it with 2x3"s instead of 2x6"s (my home built in 1928 used 2x3"s) that should be nobody"s business but his own. If he want's to get a Good Housekeeping seal of approval to lower his home inurance rate, that's between him and those other parties.
Jennifer Tegnerud February 14, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I'm sorry your family can't afford to live here, but rent control and more ordinances is only going to chase developers away. How can you compare RWC to EPA? Unless there was a East RWC I don't think you can compare the 2.
Roger Brina February 14, 2012 at 07:57 PM
"Took me five minites, but I know that's a lot of effort for most." Ooh, who's snarky now? ;) In all seriousness if you can pass along the places online from whence yuo sourced this information I would appreciate you posting the link here. I'm sure I'm not the only person who'd appreciate having that reference handy. As to your point I am far more interested in the history of contributions over the council's tenure and not just in the most recent election. I am also more interested in the close relationships the councilmembers have with outside interest groups, where they have friends, etc. as knowledge of these relationships can be far more illuminating as to an elected official's actions than a reductive attempt to compare numbers to numbers. So what if a single union gave, say, $500 more to a council member than a single real estate PAC? Does this mean the union actually has $500 more in influence? Obviously not. Certainly not if a council member knows a person in the PAC and knows no one in the union on first-name terms.
Roger Brina February 14, 2012 at 07:57 PM
On the other hand, that extra $500 could be what the union perceives it needs to give to drown out the voices of for-profit enterprises that ultimately care more about their bottom line than whether or not they can hire RWC workers at prevailing wages. That the extra money spent by unions did nothing to dissuade the Council from voting against labor interests suggests not that the Council "did the right thing," but that 1. the Council's priorities lies elsewhere and 2. they understand that they can afford to ignore labor some of the time and still remain in office.
Roger Brina February 14, 2012 at 08:05 PM
There is an East RWC. It's called North Fair Oaks. It's called the mobile home parks next to 101. And well, that is the question, is it not? Is the potential loss of developer interest more important to the RWC community than ensuring that people of all income brackets can continue to live here? Do we want our city to turn into another Palo Alto where a crappy cottage in an undesirable location can go for well over a million just 'cause? (And let me point out that even Palo Alto now has provisions for below-market-rate housing in all future development.) Personally I'd rather live in a city where my family can still afford to live together and where more ethical developers who don't mind working within affordable housing laws would be interested in building in RWC, even if it means they take one kajillion less in profits that year than they would have otherwise. I realize this attitude is anathema to those who think developers' interests trump human concerns, but it's a valid attitude to have, in my opinion.
Roger Brina February 14, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Lou, unless something drastic happens the Peninsula and SF are never going to be places where supply exceeds demand. You use SF as an example of rent control that has failed without taking into account that SF is a city built on the tip of a peninsula where new building space will always be limited. Without rent control laws the situation in SF would be far worse than it is today, and the same goes for EPA. And in this case we have here in RWC, increasing the affordable housing stock is precisely what the Mel's Bowl development does not do.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Roger, that's really a defeatist attitude. What you recommend is holding back the tide and King Canute proved that was untenable. The whole purpose of rent control is to make more housing affordable and you just admitted that it doesn't work. You are correct that at the moment and for the foreseeable future we will not be able to meet the demand for future housing, affordable or otherwise, so we need to encourage building of new units, not discourage them by applying laws that ensure they won't be profitable. The next step is government funded housing and a visit to Sunnydale shows how successful that is. What Jack Hickey proposes, complete non involvement of government, is not what Adam Smith proposed in Wealth of Nations. Smith states very clearly that government should do what is best to make sure the market thrives, but not at the expense of the public. I agree with Jack that we do not exist in a free market today, but that's not all government's fault. When business asks for special consideration from government, that also damages the free market, which is exactly the problem we have in this country: bad regulations and corporate welfare. What the council is doing is trying to find that balance that makes development profitable for those doing the development, but also meets the needs of the community, all while remaining within the current structure of law. That's not easy.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 08:37 PM
As to your lack of concern for the bookstore and the strip club, I know many people who live in that community and a large majority of those people have wanted them gone for a very long time. Most of the people who live there are low income, though many own their own homes. The presence of those business drives down their property values and they are very concerned about that. But then, that keeps the properties affordable, so you support of that kind of business is understandable ;)
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Yeah, sorry about the snark. Should have added an emoticon. All campaign docs are kept in pdf docs at redwoodcity.org. All I did was type in the name of the candidate, "redwood city" and "campaign contribution" into a Google Search and the pages popped up. As far as who the candidates have for friends, that's a dangerous place to go. As you may remember, President Obama's critics like to point to his relationship with Bill Ayers as an indication that the President has terrorist, or anti-American in the least, tendencies. All I know is that all of them have very wide ranging interests and acquaintances. Singling out any single one or more relationships, with the assumption that all or most are corrupted by them is really insulting to people who have proven to be, over and over, public servants. This isn't Bell, California.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 08:55 PM
In truth, Roger, I always felt the same as most people do about politicians and you and I would probably agree more often than not about how big a stinker all of them can be. A lot of my opinion is colored from the years I worked covering national and state campaigns. In my personal experience, however, I have actually had to go meet these people that serve on the council and in their committees here in Redwood City. I've been able to compare them to similar people I have met in several other municipalities all over California. I am actually stunned and how sacrificial our city leaders are. If you ever get a chance to just have a cup of coffee with them, you might feel less suspicious.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 08:59 PM
FYI, Rog. I'm an eastsider. Have been all my life. The problems we have here are all about money. As Willy Sutton explained why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is." The city doesn't have money. The developers do. So you have to go to them and explain why they need to invest in this city. Unless you can make a compelling argument, that includes profit, you aren't going to get anything you want. And the less profit they make, the crappier the building.
COH February 14, 2012 at 09:00 PM
So - since there is no prevailing wage stipulation, all the laborers standing around on 5th Ave. will be employed. And there will be NO traffic study??? Have they BEEN on Woodside Road at peak hours between 101 & El Camino???? The ancient bridge over the RR Tracks is FALLING in - have you noticed the 2 inch (and growing) bump/dent at the connection points?? It's totally scary. Woodside Road needs to be condemned - it is filthy and too old to support that much more traffic!! When they 'fixed' the 101 freeway entrances - it was NOT fixed, it was made even worse. And why no turn lane off going east on Woodside to South Middlefield. OH LORD - Christmas will be a JOY trying to get anywhere on Woodside with Costco, etc. And furthermore - with the closing of the Bohannan Post Office in Menlo Park - forcing people to go tot eh GHASTLY post office on Broadway - traffic in and out of the post office will be a TOTAL nightmare, insteand of just a headache.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Cellene, 101, El Camino and Woodside Road are all the responsibility of CalTrans. But you make a good point. We keep building housing along the transit corridor in the vain hope that upper income people will use public transit. Hasn't happened yet. That's why we need to think about development that is working infrastructure upgrades into the planning.
John Raleigh February 14, 2012 at 09:46 PM
If you want more affordable housing you need to allow higher density with less zoning restrictions. More government regulation means higher costs=less housing.
Paul Stewart February 14, 2012 at 10:09 PM
John has hit the proverbial nail on the head. In contrast, Roger Brina noted in an earlier post, "The Council would do well to speak to their neighbors in East Palo Alto. EPA actually has a strong rent stabilization board, strong rent control/affordable housing ordinances, and veteran rent control activists currently sit on their city council." And you can see how much good that's done EPA... not exactly a bastion of economic development and housing opportunities. The Mel's Bowl provides more housing since a rising housing market lifts all boats (sorry for the mixed metaphor).
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 14, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Actually, John, I learned a nifty little secret about housing developers. The higher the density, the lower the profit. That's why developers always come in with a high number of units and then negotiate lower density. Everyone gets freaked out about the idea of adding a whole bunch of people to come into a particular area so they "relent" on the number. No, when you want higher density, you have to give the developer a financial reason for going larger.
Gloria Linda Maldonnado February 15, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I am aware the council members receive $9000.00 a year for their service. It is a well known fact that people do not run for office for the salary but for the power and perks they get with the position they hold. The question remains. Did any of the council members receive donations in any form? i.e. remember Jeff Ira's trip to Monterey at developers expense from the developer, his agents, representatives, or spouses? That question has not been answered by council members yet. I am waiting for a response from council members. Gloria Maldonado
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 15, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Gloria, I do remember that trip. It was part of the Progress Seminar sponsored by the Redwood City/ San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce that brings together civic leaders from through out San Mateo and San Francisco Counties, State leaders, environmental groups and business to talk about the issues of mass transit, health care, housing, jobs... everything we want our governments to be concerned about. There are two day long sessions of panel discussions on all those topics and more. In the evening, various organizations and companies hold parties that include invitations, but are open to anyone who wants to attend who is coming from the seminar. I know that because I have attended a couple of these seminars and have crashed several of the parties. The food is great and the conversations are stimulating. All you have to do is pay the price of attendance, which is not cheap. Now I don;t know if the city pays for council members to attend, but if not, then Jeff and everyone else has to pony up that cash to attend to seminar. The parties are free and fun... but they are no where near enough to sway an opinion. And, when I have run into one of the civic leaders and asked them a question about a particular issue, I always get the same response... "I'm just hear to relax and chat." your assumption that Ira or anyone else got a junket to Monterey from developers is wrong. It was was a glass of wine and a plate of shrimp. Does that help?
Gloria Linda Maldonnado February 15, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I believe the facts speak for themselves. Mayor Ira attended a dinner party at the Monterey Bay Aquarium during the Progress Seminar which was hosted by DMB Associates. The cost of a dinner was approximately $150.34 per person. Mayor Ira's guest was his fiancee add another $150.00. According to Jay Reed, a spokesman for Redwood City Saltworks, the purpose of the dinner was to " gather business officials in a setting and educate them about the Saltworks proposal and the primary benefits of the Saltworks proposal." It is clear a trip to Monterey a dinner with influential people is part of the perks of elected officials. They didn't need to use their $9000.00 a year salary . The other note of interest is that public officials are attending meetings in places where many residents are unable to pony up $150.00 to get the access to the council members. Meetings should be held in Redwood City and open to the public in so that constituents have the same access to council members that developers with big money have. Wouldn't it be nice to have expensive meetings in Redwood City to support our local businesses and taxpayers? The question remains. Did any council members receive donations from this developer, its agents, representatives or spouses? Gloria Maldonado
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 15, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Gloria, 1. if you want to come to the Progress Seminar and go to the dinners, you are more then welcome. I do now and then and all I am is a constituent. 2. It was not a perk; Progress seminar attendance and lodging was not paid for by the developer. 3. Many people have made the same suggestion that the seminar should be held in San Mateo County, but the reason the Chamber holds it in Monterey is to make sure people show up for the whole thing. Their reasoning is if it is local, they may or may not show up because they don't have to make much of an effort to get there. I'm not entirely in agreement but I do understand it. 4. The question does not remain. It is answered. All donations are reported and the forms can be found at www.redwoodcity.org. I've already checked Ira's and he has received no donations from any developer, agents, representatives or spouses associated with DMB or Cargill. He has received significant donations from the unions. Maybe the unions have bought him off...;)
Gloria Linda Maldonnado February 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM
I did not find any info on who donated to whom. I would like a response from council members regarding donations whether or not the developer, his agents, representatives or spouses have donated money to them. I have heard the rationale for having the meetings away from the citizens they represent but that does not alter the fact that price and location make it difficult for many to attend to address concerns about our city. I don't buy it. But the fact remains it is a location far from the scrutiny of residents. When one attends an event to that attempts to "inform" about proposals in a luxurious setting it remains a perk. Two dinners at $150.00 each might be a plate of shrimp and a glass of wine to you but that is not the issue. The issue is a gift of . If labor donated to Mr. Ira I wouldn't say they bought him off . They should have looked at his voting record on labor issues before throwing money his way. It is obvious by the council members' votes that the city residents who work in construction have not been the primary concern of the city. Whether they can afford to rent or buy in Redwood City makes no difference to the council nor do the needs of residents for "affordable" housing , or for below market housing, or for traffic or environmental concerns. The question remains, Did the developers, their agents, representatives or spouses donate money to council members. I don't want your opinion on what makes a perk, $300.00 is a perk Gloria Maldonado
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 16, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Actually, Gloria, there is a version of the seminar held a month or two after the main event where a summary is given of the days discussions. It's held at the Oracle event center and most of the players are in attendance. You can come to that. whether you "buy" the chamber's reasons for having it away from Redwood City is not relevant. The Chamber can make it's own decisions. If you don't like it, join the chamber (I have) and voice your opinion. There are many meetings council members and city officials attend outside of the city, when the issues discussed affect not only the city, but the region. As far as the union donations, I'm pretty sure they are savvy enough to check the records of the politicians they support. The fact of the matter is that you are not prohibited in any means from talking to your city officials. You just have to make the effort to do so. Same for finding out about who contributes to what. It's all on record.
Barb Valley February 16, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Gloria, Councilmembers' names, addresses, email, phone and fax numbers can be found at www.redwoodcity.org. Plenty of opportunity to contact them individually and ask your questions. Campaign statements can also be found on that website. The SMC Chamber decides where their seminars are held. If it's not to your liking you can give them a call as well.
Sarah H. February 16, 2012 at 04:45 AM
I do believe that Redwood City and the rest of the Peninsula needs more affordable housing. But by that, I don't necessarily mean reduced rate apartments or homes for families that barely scrape by with close to poverty level incomes. I'm talking about the rest of us. Those of us who have good middle-class incomes, incomes that would make people doing the same job in other parts of the country envious, but STILL can't comfotrably afford to purchase a home or rent a house in this area. Those of us who make a reasonable salary tend to make too much to qualify for any sort of "affordable" housing, but not enough to actually afford to live here. Sure, many of us scrape by and cough up 50% or more of our take home pay on rent to live here. And sure, many people seem to be willing to be mortgaged to the hilt to live here (half a mil more more for a tiny house in a questionable neighborhood). And others, seeking the dream of home ownership, are willing to engage in hours-long commutes, just so they can keep the jobs here in the Bay Area that pay them so well, and make it possible to buy a nice new tract home in the Central Valley. And as long as we have plenty of homeowners who purchased their home decades ago, or inherited their homes, who sit on mountains of equity, or willing to buy in no matter the cost, housing costs around here will remain unreachable for those of us looking to buy in. It's that whole self-interest thing, you know? The whole thing seems rather dysfunctional.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 16, 2012 at 04:35 PM
All your points are valid, Sarah, but in this case, the issue is rental property, which is at an even greater premium in Redwood City. We have the lowest stocks of rental property--at any price--on the Peninsula and the greatest demand. Because demand is high, rents are also high. Adding large amounts of stock will naturally depress prices, which has occurred quite often in the south bay. Dealing with affordable real estate for purchase is a similar problem. We have a lot of people that work in Redwood City and most of them come from out of town. The estimates are we have 40,000 people commute INTO Redwood City every day. That doesn't count those commuting THROUGH. CalTrain is at capacity and lacks adequate funding to expand and local forces successfully killed the funding to do that expansion when they drove the HSR system into the Central Valley. So you are absolutely correct that we need to build more homes that can be afforded by people like you and me and get those commuters off the freeways.

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