At Monday’s Redwood City Council meeting, Redwood City City Council members affirmed their support for improved safety and Redwood City’s long tradition of Complete Streets. Council members said they were committed to improving safety, even if there are some strong objections to changes. Mayor Aguirre recalled strong community objections to changes on Jefferson in the downtown area. ”At the time, some people called us idiots. I’m ok with being called an idiot if it creates safety in our community.”
Similarly, Council Member Ira said that “Safety is the main goal. And safety will piss off some drivers.” Council members expressed pride in Redwood City’s tradition of Complete Streets improvements, and a bit of chagrin that community members would doubt the longstanding commitment.
The staff report for the meeting recapped 20 years of Complete Streets improvements in Redwood City since before the term was invented. 22 projects have been implemented in the last two decades, including Alameda de Las Pulgas, Broadway, Jefferson, Industrial Brewster, and Middlefield, with results showing dramatically reduced collisions on streets where changes were made.
There were 8 public comments supporting continued Complete Streets, including Pat Brown, with the Safe Routes to School program in Redwood City, and Corinne Goodrich, who talked about the Grand Boulevard Initiative’s efforts to change Caltrans standards, and several community members who asked for the Farm Hill lane reduction project to be revolved. The confusing decision process for that project, where plans for a lane reduction were silently overruled behind the scenes, was the impetus for yesterday’s meeting.
The goal of the meeting was to define the process by which Council would get involved in Complete Streets projects. Council decided to use its General Plan Subcommittee, which hasn’t met since the Plan was passed in 2010, to vet priorities and community engagement strategies. Council members also encouraged outreach to neighborhood associations. Despite several community recommendations for a Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee or Complete Streets Commission, the Council did not choose that approach.
Hopefully, Council members public willingness to take the heat when some residents oppose safety improvements will help prevent situations such as the Farm Hill project, where plans for a lane reduction were silently overruled behind the scenes. Nobody knows yet what will happen next on the Farm Hill proposal.