In Redwood City, near the mouth of Redwood Creek, developers received City Council approval to build 17 multiuse high-rises that would house 1,930 condos and 312,000 square feet of office and retail space. But a coalition of environmental and community groups charges that it was wrong for the city to rezone the bayshore property and amend its General Plan to accommodate this project. The “buildings would be too tall and dense with no connection to the environment,” says Robin Smith, conservation chair for the Sequoia Audubon Society of San Mateo. According to Smith, the proposed Marina Shores Village towers, some as high as 21 stories, would be a collision hazard for birds and would destroy sensitive wildlife habitat by filling ten acres of wetlands next to recently protected Bair Island. Pacific herring, anchovies, leopard sharks, brown rockfish, and starry flounder forage, spawn, and rear young in the shallow Bay waters, and a number of waterfowl and shorebirds — including the federally endangered California brown pelican — feed and rest around the proposed site.
Cathy Moyer of People for Housing Not High-Rises (www.no-on-q.org) says the waterfront location, currently occupied by small homes and offices, lacks public access and needs redevelopment. But she argues that this proposal will snarl traffic on adjacent Highway 101, burden water supplies, and degrade wildlife habitat.
Tom Passanisi, principal planner for Redwood City, says that the project is “good for meeting the housing need” of the area. Ten percent of the units would be reserved for moderate-income households, and the developer would be required to build 97 units for very low-income households, either on site or in another location, says Passanisi.
On November 2, Redwood City residents will have a chance to vote on the project. Residents opposed to the development should vote no on Measure Q. A “no” vote will require the City Council to reverse the zoning exemptions made for the Marina Shores project.
To explore the tidal habitats surrounding the proposed site, visit Bair Island, soon to become part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. And to learn about waterfowl that dive and splash in ponds in the nearby Redwood Shores, take a bird walk with Sequoia Audubon, which holds a beginners’ hike on the second Sunday of every month, except December. Visit www.sequoia-audubon.org for more information.