School, housing and wetlands plan gets public airing 

Now that the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District has approved a plan to build a school on an undeveloped parcel in Redwood Shores, Redwood City must weigh in on the project’s plans for new townhomes and wetlands restoration.

Developer Max Keech will unveil his proposal for Area H — a 109-acre empty parcel on the northeast corner of Redwood Shores — at a Planning Commission workshop today. The plan includes a new elementary school, 110 townhomes, a 3.5-acre park and 70 to 80 acres of restored wetlands habitat.

Redwood Shores voters approved Measure C in 2005, a $25 million bond aimed at building a new school to relieve overcrowding at Sandpiper School. Sandpiper was designed for 450 students but currently houses 520, forcing families to shuttle kids to nearby schools like Nesbitt and Ralston in Belmont.

Keech has been busy drumming up support among Redwood Shores residents for his project, adding the park and other amenities — including the preservation of a 200-foot waterway between his site and the neighboring California Seacrest neighborhood and a school entrance that won’t tangle traffic on Harbor Court. But some neighbors remain unconvinced.

"Putting a school out there would be OK ... but it’s the townhouses I continue to object to," said California Seacrest resident Terry Anderlini, who has opposed Keech’s plan from day one. "We don’t want to see the last remaining wildlife habitat gobbled up by a big townhouse project."

However, Redwood City’s 1990 General Plan calls for a marina, 490 single-family homes and additional office space on Area H, according to Vice Mayor and California Seacrest resident Rosanne Foust.

"I would not be supportive of that [much development]," said Foust, who is precluded from voting when Keech’s project heads to the City Council.

"When you talk about the balance of land and you have wetlands and 110 townhomes, that’s pretty reasonable," Keech said.

The Planning Commission will need to examine whether Keech’s concept makes sense for all of Redwood City, not just Redwood Shores, commission chair John Seybert said.

Redwood Shores saw a major boom in the 1980s and 1990s, but nothing since 2001.

"It was the fastest growing because it was one of the last areas to develop," Seybert said. "We will need to discuss whether this land should be considered for any development."

The Area H workshop takes place today at 6:30 p.m. at the Sandpiper Community Center, 797 Redwood Shores Parkway.

By the numbers: Redwood Shores

Developer Max Keech is proposing 110 new townhomes, a new elementary school and wetlands restoration on 109 acres in northeast Redwood Shores. The neighborhood has seen a major population boom in the past 25 years, prompting overcrowding at its one school, Sandpiper.

» Population in 1980: 4,199

» Population in 2000: 10,648

» Population in 2020: 11,926 (projected)

» Sandpiper School capacity: 450

» Students attending Sandpiper: 900

» Students currently being shuttled to other schools: 100

» Neighborhood’s school-age children by 2010: 900 (projected)

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Beth Winegarner

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