Why Does No One Attend Planning Commission Meetings?

At Tuesday night's Planning Commission meeting, there were only three people in the audience.

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your articles on all the projects that are coming our way.

I’m in construction and I go to council and planning commission meetings all over the County and I try to encourage others to attend as well.

In addition to keeping pressure on the developers regarding affordable housing I believe we need to keep the pressure on them in regards to all local standards.  The workers building these projects should be able to afford to live in the area. Undercutting us to make a profit happens way too often.  I was there to see if they intended to uphold area wages and standards that local construction workers have established over many generations.

Tuesday night at the Redwood City Planning Commission I witnessed something odd.  Nobody was there. 

The Commission passed the first project to be approved in the new “” and there were only three audience members, me and my two friends.

The packed the room and next week the is sure to draw crowds but this one didn’t? Considering the effort that has been put into the “Plan” I would have expected this to be a big deal and yet it seems to have quietly slipped into the schedule after being on the back burner for some time. It started out as a condo project and has reinvented itself recently as apartments.

Really odd.  Not a single affordable housing advocate was there?  No one had questions about increased traffic?  No transit proponents came to praise the project and nobody wanted to ask about the potential conversion to condos in the future?  Really, not one opponent or supporter? 

Thankfully the Commissioners asked questions. More than one of them made comments about the lack of public in the room, and one actually asked staff if proper notice had been given. 

This is only the first of many projects that we will be seeing in the area and I hope we see more participation. Our question regarding fair wages for construction has yet to be answered so you can count on seeing me at the City Council meeting for the final vote.



Mark Leach

Redwood City resident

GD January 16, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Yes, Mark, this project has slipped in quietly and no one noticed it on the agenda. In addition, it appears that there is a pattern of many condo projects changing to apartments, now that the courts have ruled that apartment projects cannot be required to provide any affordable units. Mel's Bowl also is rental housing. A decade ago, all the apartment buildings were being converted to condos. I do believe that public comment is needed on these developments in a "Transit oriented downtown". If they continue to embrace autos, it will be just another Transit ADJACENT development.
Buck Shaw January 16, 2012 at 03:34 PM
You have nothing to worry about. OneBayArea.org will see to it that we are out of our cars and using public transportation. Living in five to seven story tall apartment building with merchants on the first floor. From San Francisco to San Jose all along "Grand Boulevard" (formally El Camino Real) with Light Rail in the center and connections to the High Speed Rail system. Using "Social Equality" they (the MTC) will see to it that Low income housing will be a thing of the past. You must trust the Regional Government and get on board. Pun intended.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive January 16, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I took the time to ask about the issue of affordable housing requirements in housing projects and learned that the requirement can only be imposed when a developer is looking for "consideration" on zoning changes. For example, the complex that went up on Woodside needed a variance for building height, among other issues. The city government has a requirement to provide affordable housing (and we are falling behind in that area) as well as a certain level of rental housing to meet federal mandates. Giving the variance benefited the city by adding a large block of housing, but because the variance was required, they were able to impose an "affordable housing" requirement to the project. In the case of the Marshall-Arquello development, no variance is required as it fits into the Precise Plan framework, so no affordable requirement can be applied. The very purpose of the Precise Plan is to fast track development in the downtown area by giving developers a clear view of what all requirements are. That's why I didn't plan to attend the meeting because I could see nothing that would cause concern. Plus, I have found I can easily view meetings online if necessary.
Claire Felong January 17, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Thanks for the concise summary on affordable housing, Lou, it's good to be reminded of these things from time-to-time. It helps people determine when and where to efforts for change.
Stacie Chan January 18, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Agree @Claire. Thanks Lou! And I'm guilty as charged for not being at last week's city council meeting, as they are recorded and can be watched at a more convenient time later. However, I'll be there tonight as they discuss another important development in our community: 640 Veterans Blvd., or the former Dodge dealership.


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