The Redwood City Council formally adopted its Equity Work Plan, a multiyear document that lays out actionable items for how the city will achieve a more equitable community including a focus on public safety and city services. 

The plan includes three objectives — to clarify the city’s equity commitment, demonstrate active focus on equity and institutionalize equity as priority through policy. A key measure in the plan is the implementation of an equity lens which will require staff to use a set of questions to assess how city policies benefit and affect various community groups.  

Community organizations and large employers in the city, referred to as anchor institutions, will also be tapped to help implement the goals set out in the document. 

“We really took this work seriously,” Councilmember Diana Reddy said. “I’m really proud of the work that was done this last year.” 

Reddy and councilmembers Michael Smith and Lissette Espinoza-Garnica sat on the Equity and Social Justice Subcommittee and drafted the plan in partnership with staff. 

The standing committee is expected to continue working on equity initiatives including efforts to civilianize some city programs such as homelessness response teams and traffic enforcement, Espinoza-Garnica said. No formal work has begun on the latter initiative, noted City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz but the city is in the process of hiring a medical clinician who will be tasked with responding to mental health crises in partnership with the police department. 

Staff have already begun using an equity lens in staff reports, though, Stevenson Diaz has previously asserted that fuller adoption of the plan will take time given ongoing financial restraints the city faces due to the pandemic. 

Councilmembers praised the plan, noting it’s one of the first to be developed in the county. However, questions around how the city will assess success did arise with Councilmember Alicia Aguirre who acknowledged the difficulty of assessing the success of each measure but still stressed the importance of that process.  

Smith, who contended with Gee on the plan being a “living document,” said the standing committee is prepared to review the document as frequently as possible to ensure its success. 

Hale, who called the approval of the document a “momentous occasion,” suggested the council check in on the progress of the plan in about a year. Diaz said staff intends on incorporating the plan into its annual budget cycle as well, which would give city officials a glimpse into the implementation by February. 

Managing expectations, Equity and Inclusion Officer Briana Evans noted that what progress is presented to the council within a year will be focused on setting the initial foundation for the plan rather than “big outcomes.” 

“This plan does focus on process more than community outcomes because there is a need for capacity building before we make big promises,” Evans said. “Getting this process right, getting the foundation set will enable us to be more effective in the long run.”

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(1) comment

Terence Y

Wait a second… If I’m reading the article correctly, they pass a plan that doesn’t clarify the city’s commitment? That’s like saying they’re gonna pass a $1 billion non-itemized budget, and they’ll sort out the details later. If the RC council can waste time on this, maybe it’s high time to make the city council a quarter-time, or less, job. It only takes a few minutes to figure out how to spend other people’s money. Especially when no details are required.

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