Redwood City mayor points to local forces of change in economy, education 

Residents of Redwood City can expect to see a busier downtown, an improved El Camino Real and an extension of Stanford University coming their way in the years ahead, Mayor Jeffrey Gee has pledged.

At his State of the City address Thursday, Gee highlighted strategic initiatives ranging from community building to economic growth that he says will do away once and for all with an old “Deadwood City” reputation and lead to new advancements locally in arts, entertainment, commerce and safety.

Two major development projects were hailed as driving the change. A new 35-acre Stanford University administrative campus in Redwood City will extend educational programming and other services to local residents. As early as next month, the public can expect to take advantage of a university lecture series, seminars offered by the Graduate School of Business and free transportation on Stanford’s Marguerite shuttles.

Additionally, the roughly $180 million Crossing 900 Project will introduce 300,000 square feet of new commercial space to downtown Redwood City, as well as 1,000 additional parking spots, many of which will be available for public use. New restaurant and retail spaces in the development, and the continuation of several popular music festivals and outdoor celebrations, will liven up the city’s center, according to Gee.

“We have become the entertainment hub of the Peninsula. And that vibrancy, that excitement, is [downtown] when you go out at night and on weekends,” Gee said. “It’s a great place to come out and have a date night.”

Vice Mayor Rosanne Foust also set sights on upgrading El Camino Real, a main north-south artery that runs through the Peninsula.

“We want to make it look better. We want to spruce it up,” Foust said. “We’d like to do a precise plan for El Camino Real that takes into consideration housing and the look and aesthetics and transportation flow.”

In an effort to improve efficiency and cut costs, the city has also created several shared-service agreements with nearby agencies.

“We’re taking over San Carlos fire and leveraging resources between the two cities to do more. We sell services to other cities. We have over 30 contracts with other cities providing [information technology] services, payroll, [human resources] and, in our most recent contract, we’re doing fleet management for the city of San Mateo,” Gee said.

After two devastating fires on Woodside Road last year, city officials note that revisiting emergency services has been a top priority. In addition to joining forces with San Carlos for improved coverage, a new rescue squad in Fire District 9 will help address the demand by responding without trucks and ladders to most medical emergencies, which comprise 90 percent of calls for help.

Residents with additional feedback for local leaders are encouraged to download a new iPhone and Android application called MyRWC.

It allows users to email City Council members or the mayor, report issues such as broken streetlights and potholes, and even place work orders.

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S. Parker Yesko

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