The Redwood City Planning Commission approved a three-tower condominium project that leases parking spaces separately from the base rent — a unique caveat that developer Paul Powers said encourages residents to go car-free but left at least one official worried about added downtown congestion.
The commission, minus Vice Chair Rachel Holt who recused herself because her employer is located close to the project, unanimously voted to issue the required permits and tentative map for the 471-unit project at 525 Middlefield Road, according to a video of the meeting. The development will include approximately 10,500 square feet of commercial space for the San Mateo Credit Union and leasing office along with the housing in three 10-story towers and two- to three-story podium buildings.
The project also includes three levels of parking which tenants can rent if they choose on top of renting the units.
Developer Paul Powers said California is “Johnny come lately” to building with a small parking ratio for residents — Seattle is leading the way, he said — and that bundling it into the base rent penalizes those who legitimately choose not to own a car because they don’t use the space.
“In effect, they are subsidizing someone else’s parking and they’ve chosen to be sustainable,” Powers said.
Commissioner Randy Tabing wanted to make sure there were “enough checks and balances” in place so that tenants don’t park off-site in downtown as a way to save money. He also didn’t want the approval to stand as an absolute policy for the future.
The other commissioners weren’t as convinced that spillover parking would be a problem.
“If you can find a parking place downtown, good luck,” said Commissioner Janet Borgens.
Powers told the commission he was happy to have the project with the parking bundled in if that’s what it took but that the preference is always to offer it piecemeal. He also offered the commission future monitoring of the parking situation and, if necessary, adjustments to prevent tenants from adding to the existing challenges.
Commissioner Shawn White was very enthusiastic about the proposal and its creation of economic incentives to lure people out of cars.
“I’m generally in support of this. I love this project,” White said.
The unbundled parking is included in the downtown precise plan but vehicles won’t completely disappear any time soon, said Chair Ernie Schmidt.
“Society is not quite there yet in regards to saving money and not getting a car. We have a passion for cars,” Schmidt said.
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