It may be an understatement to say that Redwood City has seen a lot of change over the past several years. Today, the city is a bustling center for local business, start-ups, and entertainment. For better or for worse, there has been a tremendous amount of development and the city will continue see plenty of growth and change.
In my opinion, there are some changes that could be really great for the residents of Redwood City. As a local real estate agent, I have the opportunity to talk to folks at open houses, schools, local businesses all the time, and after awhile you start to hear some themes come up in conversations. Combine that with Natalie and my 30+ years combined as Redwood City residents, nearly 10 years in real estate, and our experience over the last year running this blog, and I feel like we have a decent grasp on the pulse of the city.
Here are some of the changes that I think residents and prospective residents of Redwood City (us included!) would like to see happen.
More Affordable Housing Opportunities
With the average sale price of a home in Redwood City being just under $1.5M within the last 90 days, it's clear that it costs a lot more that what most people can afford to buy a home here. It would be nice to see some more below market rate homes being offered for sale and leased to people that live here or want to live here, but don't have in the income/savings to do so.
Earlier this year, the City Council amended the Downtown Precise Plan to reserve 15% (375) units of the maximum allowable residential development for affordable housing. It's a start, but we'd like to see more being done to create opportunities for affordable housing.
San Mateo, San Carlos, and Menlo Park have below market rate (BMR) properties available for purchase at times for those that qualify and or city/county employees. If Redwood City had more BMR properties like this, it would create more opportunities for people to own a home in Redwood City. Right now, the majority of BMR properties in Redwood City are rentals, not ownership units. Another thing that could happen would be for Redwood City to offer downpayment assistance, or to carry a second loan for people who don't have a 20% down payment to purchase a home.
In terms of BMR rental properties, the city could purchase property, or own designated units in some of the new construction being built around town, and lease them to qualified parties or city/county employees. This would be a great supplement to the Section 8 housing benefits currently in place.
More Retail Downtown
Redwood City is quite arguably in the heart of Silicon Valley and the city has exploded with start up spaces over the past few years. While the influx of people and business is good for the economy, the growth of office space has affected the pedestrian experience in downtown Redwood City. We'd love to see more local shops where you can purchase things like gifts, clothes, stationary, etc. It would also be great to see more restaurants that add to the diversity of food options downtown.
The city council recently adopted an amendment requiring active ground floor uses on Main Street between Broadway and Middlefield. Maybe, as a next step, the city could give tax breaks or incentives to qualified applicants or potential business owners?
More Kid-Friendly Spaces
Redwood City has definitely made some improvements in this department over the past few years. There are movies on the square, the light show, and the summer Kidchella concert series. We're also excited about the partnership with the Magical Bridge Foundation to build an innovative and inclusive playground at Red Morton Park. We would love to see more projects like this in the city. We would love to see a children's museum or some kind of interactive learning space in Redwood City that is open to families.
Higher Ranking Schools
Many Redwood City schools have came along way in the last 5-10 years. API scores and state rankings have jumped quite a bit, most noticeably at Sequoia High School, Roy Cloud Elementary, Clifford Elementary, and Henry Ford Elementary. It would be great to see these scores continue to get better. We think the Mandarin Immersion program at John Gill will also be an attractive option as that program continues to grow. We're excited to see where our schools will be in the next 3-5 years (especially since that's when our kiddo will be starting Kindergarten).
More Incentives for Preserving Historic Properties
Historical societies in San Mateo County and Redwood City are doing a wonderful job preserving our historic buildings. There are, however, older houses that are being stripped of their character and original details all the time. Redwood City has a long history and there are a lot of buildings around town with amazing architectural details. We would love to see more of these building and homes preserved so our kids and grandkids can appreciate and experience the history of the city too.
Cliff Whearley has been a resident of Redwood City for 23 years and is a Realtor at Dwell Realtors, Inc. If you have any real estate questions, he would love to help!