[Editor's note: The following was submitted by Kathryn Thomas Parnes.]
A usually quiet neighborhood in the hills above Redwood City has become center stage for a battle between the residents and the city of Redwood City. At issue is the proposed building of a 750,000-gallon water tank and adjacent pump house in the middle of the neighborhood. The project, which will be reviewed at City Hall by the Redwood City Planning Commission on Tuesday, October 1 at 7 p.m., is meant to address the inadequacy of the present system and provide additional support in the event of a fire. The tank is to be 28 feet high and 80 feet in diameter. It would be built on California Way and Tum Suden Way in unincorporated Redwood City on land presently housing a retired pump house.
The dispute centers not on the purpose of the tank, but rather, the size and location. Residents living across the street from the proposed project, and in the adjacent neighborhood have requested that the city revisit the plan. Specifically, the residents are asking that the City build the tank underground or within the hillside, as has been successfully accomplished with two other water reservoirs in Redwood City, and in the cities of Palo Alto, Los Gatos, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. “Building underground or in the hillside makes sense in the long run because it eliminates security and long term maintenance issues. In addition, it meets the city’s goals, as stated in the Redwood City General Plan, to maintain the beauty of the city with all new infrastructure projects. It’s a win-win for both sides.,” says Emerald Holzwarth, one of the residents.
Over the last several months, the residents have been meeting with project staff and officials in Redwood City. The city contends that building underground would increase the construction costs significantly, but the residents respond that those costs will be made up by reduced security and maintenance costs. “Although they are aware of other construction options, they have not shown an effort to analyze them. They have given us the impression that other options are completely off the table,” states Jay Parnes, Emerald Hills resident.
The next step in the process is the review on October 1 by the Redwood City Planning Commission of the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration completed at the request of the City of Redwood City. At that time, the Emerald Hills residents will have another opportunity to voice their concerns and ask for further study. “Imagine looking out your front door and seeing what is essentially a 3 story building mass across the street. It should not even be a consideration for a city to impact a residential neighborhood in this manner,” says Elizabeth Albanese, whose house is across the street from the planned project. The residents would like to partner with the city for a creative solution and support the city’s goals of beautification while providing solid infrastructure.
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