Tonight: RWC Planning Commission to vote on Sequoia Station development unlocking major rail improvements

Tonight, October 25, at a meeting starting at 6pm, the Redwood City Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on recommending a major development at Sequoia Station that would unlock transformative rail improvements and welcome pedestrian and bike connections. 

The development sets aside an acre of land to enable a 4-track section at the station with longer platforms that would enable passengers to transfer between express and local trains, and allow fast trains to pass slow trains, enabling a higher-quality, faster and more regular Caltrain schedule for Peninsula travel, and will be even more important at such time as High Speed Rail service arrives on the Peninsula.

The station would be moved North with tracks elevated, improving crosstown connections for people driving, walking, and bicycling.   Additional planning for the grade separations will continue in parallel. The City is looking at potential separations at Whipple, Brewster, Broadway, Maple, Main and Chestnut

The bus area would also be relocated to the north with bus bays on Perry and Arguello streets surrounding the base of an elevated station, allowing convenient bus connections. 

The development proposal, which would transform land that is largely surface parking for the Sequoia Station Shopping Center and for Caltrain, has reduced proposed office development to 1,200,000 square feet of office and increased proposed housing by 400 units to 1,100 homes, including up to 343 affordable units, in about 1,000,000 square feet of land.  While that is still more workers than residents, the updated plan also removes a previous cap on housing in the downtown area, enabling the city to enable more housing to balance the jobs and alleviate displacement pressure caused by increased demand for housing.

As people who’ve been following the story know, the supermarket and pharmacy would be relocated and included in the new development. 

The updated plan also removed minimum parking requirements and strengthened parking maximums.  As it turned out, the passage of AB2097 removed parking minimums in transit-rich areas such as Sequoia station.  The city is working with the projects on shared parking to support retail and transit users.

In addition, the City is currently creating a Transportation Management Association (TMA) for the downtown to manage parking, coordinate transportation-related programs and services, and monitor compliance with the Transportation Demand Management plans.  The TMA could provide services such as shuttles, bike share and micro-mobility, and transit benefits for downtown residents and workers.

The updated Downtown Plan seeks to improve safety and access for people walking and bicycling with wider sidewalks on Hamilton and Franklin streets. The Downtown Plan calls for implementation of other safety improvements in the city’s transportation plans, including protected bike lanes on El Camino Real, protected bike lanes on James, and improved crossings at El Camino Real and James.  (RWCmoves, El Camino Real Corridor Plan, the Walk, Bike, Thrive Plan.)

One topic with lively discussion has been whether to close some or all of Franklin Street to through driving to increase safety for people walking and bicycling.  The staff recommendation proposes to keep the street open to vehicles, using treatments such as wider sidewalks, narrower lane widths, roundabouts, and bulbouts to slow drivers.  Downtown Redwood City has other streets closed to cars in areas used by many pedestrians including Theater Way (permanently closed to cars) and a two-block segment of Broadway (currently temporarily closed to cars).

The plan calls for incentives to create  at least 25,000 sq. ft. of privately owned publicly accessible open space (approximately the size of Courthouse Square), with programming and active uses such as outdoor dining, places for people to sit and rest, play areas,  and public art.  The City is developing a Downtown Parks and Bay Connectivity Plan, with the goal of increasing and linking open spaces in the downtown.  

What’s next

  • The City Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on the development on November 28, 2022.
  • The City will update its transportation demand management program and create a transportation management association for the downtown
  • The grade separations and station redesign will need additional planning with future opportunities for input

To comment tonight, use this zoom link at the meeting starting at 6pm. The Zoom meeting ID is 930 4536 6921.