As we look to the next several years, there are still a number of major challenges ahead for the City of Redwood City. These challenges also create opportunities – opportunities for innovation, new ways of doing business and for protecting and improving the quality of life and delivery of city services in Redwood City. As your City Council Member, I will work in collaboration with my City Council colleagues and our dedicated city staff to keep Redwood City moving in the right direction for every generation in our great city!
Long-Term Financial Sustainability
The recent recession challenged the City’s financial stability. The City Council and City Administration implemented a three-prong strategy to put the City on a path to financial sustainability, including:
- Reorganizing and streamlining how the City does business, including sharing services and contracting with other cities and agencies for services;
- Partnering with our employees on changes to salaries and benefits;
- And finally updating two of our revenue sources, specifically the Hotel tax and Business License Tax which voters authorized small increases to in 2011.
Due to these initiatives, Redwood City is finally in a solid financial position – a balanced budget, no reductions in public safety or city services and a “Rainy Day” reserve fund. However, the City Council must to keep a constant eye to the future as there are persistent external forces that can quickly jeopardize our City’s financial future.
Police and Fire Services
One of our most valued city services is public safety. Violent crime in Redwood City has been reduced by over 40% during the past five years and our fire responds to fire and medical emergencies on average in less than five minutes.
Out of the financial challenges that face Redwood City and all local cities are opportunities. One of the most significant opportunities for streamlining government, achieving financial sustainability and ensuring that our public safety services are responsive is sharing services across city limits. The partnership on fire services with the City of San Carlos is a great example of partnering across city limits, leveraging resources and protecting our services. We need to continue to look for opportunities to share and leverage expertise, financial resources and continue to provide the best city services possible to our community.
Our Streets, Roads, Facilities and Infrastructure
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently released its report card on the state of our infrastructure across the United States. The grade that they gave was “D+” for the state of our country’s aging infrastructure.
On a local level, we want the lights to go on when we get up in the morning – clean drinking water to come out of our faucet, our waste water system to work, and our roads to allow us to get from one place to another without being swallowed by a pot hole.
As an architect, a project manager and a construction expert, I understand that what is often out of sight is out of mind, until it breaks. As a City Council Member, it is my job to make sure that our local infrastructure does not break and that we are investing in the maintenance and upgrade of our systems.
Three major initiatives that I have personally championed include:
- Bayfront Flooding - Anytime that there is a high tide and a wet storm the Friendly Acres neighborhood floods. The homes and businesses in this part of Redwood City are flooded and isolated by 2-3 feet of flood water. This issue has been going on for several decades. Our City staff has worked hard on this issue, and in partnership with the County and other cities in the area, we are hopeful that a flood control solution can be delivered within the next 2-3 years.
- US 101/Woodside Road Interchange – This interchange is rated as one of the oldest and worst freeway interchanges in the County, and if you have ever driven through it during rush hour, then you know just how bad it is. Redwood City has received funding for environmental and design work that will lead to the replacement of this freeway interchange. It is my hope that design and environmental work will be complete within the next 2-3 years and that construction can be completed by 2020 to permanently reduce traffic congestion and improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.
- Reducing Traffic Congestion and Improving Mass Transit – as Chairman of the Caltrain Board and member of the San Mateo County Transportation Agency Board, I work hard to ensure that San Mateo County residents have efficient, affordable public transit options such as buses, Caltrain and shuttle service. Even if you do not ride the bus or train, the person that does is one less person on our local streets, roads, and freeways impacting traffic congestion.
The On-going Renaissance of Downtown Redwood City
The vision for a new downtown started over 15 years ago. Redwood City residents and business owners invested time, energy, and ideas into creating a community vision for a vibrant downtown. Today that vision is now becoming a reality. Already we have new shops, restaurants and entertainment options, and it will only get better with planned housing and commercial buildings.
However, before new businesses and residents move-in, construction needs to happen. Managing temporary construction impacts on our current residents and businesses needs to be carefully planned and managed. Inserting construction projects into active university, college and school sites is what I do professionally on a daily basis and I can provide valuable leadership at City Hall to ensure that construction disruptions are minimized as much as possible. But our new downtown will be worth it!
Libraries, Parks, and Recreation Programs
Redwood City has an amazing network of libraries, parks, community centers and senior centers which provide opportunities inside and outside for children, families, and seniors to stay active and healthy. We also benefit from having access to our beautiful San Francisco Bay waterfront through Bair Island and the Port of Redwood City. I will continue to make our recreation and community programs and open space preservation a priority at City Hall. In addition, I am very excited about the possibility of a partnership with the YMCA on the development of a new joint-use facility. A partnership with the Y has the potential to provide better services, more programs, and a new facility to better serve Redwood City residents.
Redwood City is a network of unique and diverse neighborhoods that collectively make up the Peninsula’s best community. As the possibility for new development builds with the economic recovery, I will always consult with neighborhood leaders and residents to understand the needs and concerns of Redwood City’s existing neighborhoods. The City Council must always protect and preserve our existing neighborhoods when we consider new development or change.