An appeal of a 125-unit residential development at 353 Main St. was tossed out by the Redwood City Council after finding little merit to the appellant’s claim that the proposed project requires additional environmental review.

At a meeting Monday, Michael Goolsby, president of Better Neighborhoods, Inc., an Irvine-based organization that advocates for “responsible development,” argued that construction would create vibrations and bring significant impacts on traffic, noise, groundwater, Redwood Creek and air quality, to name just a few of his claims.

Designed by ROEM Development, the six and seven-story tall development contains a mix of studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units for rent as well as 19 affordable units at various income levels. ROEM will also construct a public trail along Redwood Creek with an overlook point and other amenities. The project was granted a density bonus and height concession, and was deemed categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires local agencies to identify environmental impacts of proposed developments and mitigate them if feasible.

Based on input from city staff, the council maintained that the proposal and its potential impacts had been adequately reviewed, that it complies with the North Main Street Precise Plan, state density bonus and is consistent with other projects in the area.

City staff also argued that Goolsby’s claims were based on an outdated conceptual design that included below-grade parking, which was later scrapped and, as a result, excavation would not be nearly as deep as Goolsby suggested. A registered geotechnical engineer with Earth Systems confirmed that he had indeed studied the project and that vibrations would not be felt.

“This is a good project, it’s consistent with everything that’s been done, it’s consistent with CEQA, it makes even more sense now that this is a good project and it does make that neighborhood better,” Councilman John Seybert said after referencing the extensive environmental review that went into the North Main Street Precise Plan, which the project falls under.

During the meeting, some residents took the opportunity to weigh in on the appeals process generally.

Kris Johnson said it shouldn’t take an appeal for developments like the one proposed for 353 Main St. to be reviewed and discussed by the City Council, and also argued the city charges an excessive fee of $2,500 to appeal projects.

“[This fee] does nothing to ensure our elected officials are responsible and engaged on significant projects,” he said.

Isabella Chu, on the other hand, argued that appeals like the one submitted by Goolsby unnecessarily hinder development of much-needed housing.

“Literally anyone can wander into town, declare their objection to housing for Redwood City residents, which I find bewildering,” she said. “We’ve had a deepening housing crisis for the last 40 years and it’s actions like this baseless appeal that contribute to it.”

(650) 344-5200 ex. 102

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