Redwood City: Our Community, Housing and Our Future Blog Series (Part 1)

Information about actions underway or recently approved to help support our community and housing, and details about community conversations coming up

We are all connected. What happens to one part of the community impacts us all. Safe and affordable housing is important to our well-being. For parents with families, housing relates to good schools, a quality education and successful futures for their children. For working professionals, housing close to their employer means more living and less commuting. For those retired with adult children, affordable housing means that your children can have children and live close by. Affording a home in Redwood City and the broader Bay Area is becoming increasingly more challenging. The lack of affordable housing threatens our community’s well-being and our vision of a community for all ages. Achieving housing security for all in the community is a priority for the City and why the City Council recently approved three goals to help address this issue.

This two part blog series shares how we all fit into the housing puzzle, provides an in depth look at five community conversations taking place (in partnership with Home For All, the County of San Mateo Initiative, Redwood City 2020, Library Foundation) and details actions underway or recently completed to help support our community, housing and our future.

ONE VISION, THREE GOALS

The City has been a leader in the region producing market rate and affordable housing and implementing programs to keep existing housing affordable. City programs, policies, and affordable housing investments have produced 769 units of Below Market Rate (BMR) housing of which 594 are rental and 175 are ownership units. All 769 units will stay affordable for 25 to 55 years because of the City’s investment. The City has assisted with the rehabilitation of 2,800 homes owned or owner occupied by low-income residents, of which approximately 2,500 are multi-family units, and 300 are single-family units.

While these efforts have helped many Redwood City community members afford to live here, housing for all is a big vision. A vision that by working together, we can achieve. The City Council knows there is more to be done to address this important community issue, which is why the City Council recently approved several housing items and is considering other actions soon. These actions support the City Council’s three affordable housing goals established in 2015, including:

1. Supporting programs and new policies aimed to ensure housing stability for community members

2. Creating new funding sources, regulations and incentives to produce new affordable housing

3. Increasing the overall supply of housing, particularly the production of deed restricted affordable housing units

In addition, concerns around housing affordability prompted the City Council in 2016 to add housing as one of their seven Strategic Initiatives. Redwood City’s Strategic Plan provides ensuring statements of the critical and ongoing work of the City to accomplish the mission of “Building a Great Community Together”. Under Council direction, the Strategic Plan’s initiatives ensure department objectives align with the City Council’s vision. The adopted Strategic Initiatives are community building and communication, community for all ages, economic development, government operations, housing, public safety and transportation.

A recent community engagement effort where nearly 300 residents and business owners took part in one of eight events to discuss the City’s future, named Redwood City Conversations, echoed the City’s Strategic Initiatives as values for the community’s future. Some of these community values included support affordable housing programs, enhanced mobility, increase City park and public spaces for community enjoyment and multipurpose uses, maintain a small town feel and ensure inclusiveness. For a list of all the themes discussed by our community during this process, go here.

To support the community and City Council’s values to achieve housing security for all in the community, a number of affordable housing efforts and solutions are underway and more are coming up for Council consideration.

HOUSING SOLUTIONS THROUGH COLLABORATING PARTNERSHIPS

We know housing is a complex issue. As a result, the City is collaborating with housing experts and our community who are all a part of the larger puzzle supporting housing for all in our community. Community collaborators including housing service providers, housing developers, non-profit affordable housing agencies, and other local, state and federal agencies are all working together to address this complex issue.

Before we highlight some housing solutions here is a look at how we all fit into the housing puzzle. What can the City do about the lack of affordable housing supply? What is the State or Federal government’s role in addressing housing in our community? Here is a basic list of how these separate groups work together to address the housing challenges before us.

What the City does to support housing:

· Make land-use related decisions

· Require developers to pay fees to build affordable housing

· Require affordable housing in new housing developments (now allowed due to 2017 change in State law) *The City Council will be considering this requirement later in the spring. See more details later in this blog post.

· Fund support for housing rehab programs and housing support services

· Make it easier to build homes in the community like Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) through policy decisions

· Partner with non-profits to support affordable housing

· Require rental lease terms, renter assistance and other housing policies to increase housing security for all in the community

What local developers do to support housing:

· Produce housing to meet housing demand

· Include affordable units in their housing developments

· Seek state and federal funding to support the development of housing

· Pay local fees to support affordable housing

· Invest in Redwood City community benefits like child care, building a park and other amenities

What County, State and Federal Agencies do to support housing:

· Fund affordable housing programs and developments

· Make land-use related decisions

· Support tax incentives to help fund affordable housing projects

These are a few ways that the City, local housing developers, non-profit affordable housing groups, County, State and Federal agencies work together to support housing in our community. We are proud of our regional partnerships and collaborations. Addressing housing is a regional need and regional solutions are required to support housing for all in the community.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING GOALS- A DEEPER LOOK

Housing for all is a big vision and the City Council approved three goals or solutions to help address housing challenges in our community. Here is a deeper look at the first of the three goals:

Increasing Affordable Housing in Our Community

Accessory Dwelling Unit/Granny Unit

Recently, the City Council approved new Accessory Dwelling Unit requirements to make it easier for community members to build small units constructed in residential and neighborhood areas. An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a smaller living unit on a property that has a single-family residence. It is complete with its own kitchen and bathroom facilities. Common names for an ADU include in-law unit, secondary unit, and backyard cottage. For more details on this go to www.redwoodcity.org/adu.

Downtown Precise Plan and Housing

The City Council revised the Downtown Precise Plan (the road map to Downtown land-use decisions) and required that 375 units of 2,500 housing units be affordable housing. This action seeks to encourage housing developers in our Downtown area to build affordable housing.

Affordable Housing Requirements in Developments

On May 21, the City Council will consider establishing affordable housing requirements in developments, also known as inclusionary housing (based on new state law that will allow for this). Prior state law prohibited Redwood City from requiring that housing developments include affordable housing units.

Building Affordable Housing

Bradford Street Affordable Housing Development

Bradford Street Affordable Housing Development: The new affordable housing development on City-owned property at 707 Bradford continues to move forward. This project will generate 117 very-low senior affordable units in our community, including a space for a day care center and more. For details on this project, go to www.redwoodcity.org/bradford.

Recent Housing Developments Including Affordable Units

A number of recent housing developments (some under consideration and some approved) will develop 158 affordable housing units or pay impact fees to invest and support the future development of affordable homes in our community.

A list of these projects include:

Approved Projects*

· 849 Veterans (90 housing units total, including 7 affordable housing units)

· 353 Main Street (125 housing units total, including 19 affordable housing units)

· 612 Jefferson Avenue (A Habitat for Humanity project, including 20 affordable housing units)

Projects Under Consideration*

· *1401 Broadway (includes 120 affordable housing units)

· *1548 Maple Street (Strada development of 131 housing units) will pay an estimated $4 million to support affordable housing in the community

· *611 Heller (1 affordable housing unit)

OUR COMMUNITY: HOUSING AND OUR FUTURE –A SERIES OF COMMUNITY DIALOGUES

The City, in partnership with Redwood City 2020, the County’s Home For All initiative and the Library Foundation, will co-host a series of community dialogues on housing named Our Community: Housing and Our Future.

Join community members and learn about trends and what is happening with housing in our community and share your perspectives. These discussions include a mix of community conversations and City Council discussions as they consider housing-related policies this spring.

Please consider joining us for one or all of these opportunities to discuss this important issue facing our community. For more, go here.

LEARN MORE: NEXT BLOG SERIES, ONLINE RESOURCES

Want to learn more about affordable housing initiatives in the City of Redwood City? Go here to learn more. For other housing related resources, go here.

Our next blog series will focus on the City’s two other goals including ensuring housing stability for community members and creating new funding sources and incentives to produce new affordable housing.

Watch out for our next blog post, Part 2, next week! Follow us here so you don’t miss it!