Greenspace backers eye builder bucks 

As new residents flock to the city, they will need places to play — and officials may soon ask developers to pony up the money to pay for new parks.

Redwood City is preparing to adopt new rules that would require three acres of developed park — playgrounds, athletic fields and landscaping — for every 1,000 residents. That ratio is among the lowest in San Mateo County, and because Redwood City has so little available land, officials hope to collect funding from developers so they can fund new parks as space becomes available.

However, as the issue goes to the Planning Commission tonight, the remaining debate centers around whether residential developers should pay all the costs, or whether commercial developers might be asked to pay a fair share, said City Councilwoman Diane Howard. City parks officials are recommending a $16,000 fee on anyone building a new single-family home; $1,360 for anyone adding a bedroom to an existing home.

City officials settled on the ratio of three acres per 1,000 residents because that’s the amount Redwood City has now, said Parks and Recreation Director Corinne Centeno. Other Peninsula cities have ratios of three to five acres.

"We’re trying to make sure we’re creating the kind of recreational space we need," Centeno said. "If we bring in new residents and don’t add parks, it’s hard to add new activities and sports teams, and the situation’s just going to get worse."

Next door, in San Carlos, developers are already charged an in-lieu fee for parks. The city’s general plan recommends five acres of parkland for each 1,000 residents, but that includes open space; without it, the city has just 2.2 acres of park per 1,000, Parks and Recreation Director Barry Weiss said.

If the Planning Commission approves the concept, parks officials will check with local developers to make sure the fees aren’t outrageous, Centeno said. Striking the right balance may be important as officials hope to attract residential developers and opportunities for new parks, particularly downtown, Howard said.

Potential developers, such as the ones behind The Renaissance, a proposed condominium project on Fuller Street, are taking it in stride.

"Many of the cities we deal with have in-lieu fees," architect Kurt Anderson said. "If you want to dance, you’ve got to pay the fiddler."

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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