Vol 1 Issue 3
Welcome to Reimagining Sequoia Station, a newsletter highlighting the many local and regional benefits the Sequoia Station mixed-use development project will help make possible.
Sequoia Station will deliver 631 new homes to downtown Redwood City – with 40% (254) of the homes offered at very-low, low, and moderate rate affordability levels, aiming to meet and exceed the City’s requirement for the project. This commitment makes Sequoia Station the largest single contributor of affordable homes in the Redwood City housing pipeline. In this month’s edition, we’ll explore how Sequoia Station helps the city and region to meet critical housing goals and spotlight affordable housing developer Eden Housing.
Don’t forget to forward this email to your friends and neighbors too!
In December, Lowe took a critical step forward to acquire its portion of the Sequoia Station Shopping Center in downtown Redwood City – a key milestone in our plan to reimagine Sequoia Station into a regional housing, transit, and jobs hub. Read the San Mateo Daily Journal article to learn more.
The Redwood City Housing Element & Regional Housing Needs Assessment
So, what exactly is RHNA? All cities in California receive a target for new housing production called a Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). For the 2022 to 2031 RHNA cycle, Redwood City has been allocated a goal of 4,588 new homes at differing levels of affordability.
In addition to contributing to regional and state goals, building housing at Sequoia Station helps advance the City of Redwood City’s strategy for housing development. In 2021, the City of Redwood City began updating the Redwood City Housing Element, a blueprint for how the City plans to grow and build housing for all income levels over the next two decades. The Housing Element studies existing and projected housing needs in Redwood City and creates goals and programs to execute the development of housing. To plan for the future housing needs for all residents, the Housing Element identifies areas where housing may be built, estimates how much housing can be built in each area, and recommends zoning changes to meet construction goals. The Housing Element process is currently underway with a Draft Environmental Impact Report scheduled for release Spring/Summer 2022.
Redwood City staff has recommended targeting 150% of the cycle’s RHNA goals to be eligible for a “pro-housing” designation and additional State and County funding opportunities, and to create additional opportunities for affordable housing to benefit low-income households.
There are up to 1,100 new homes planned for the Redwood City Transit District, of which 631 are proposed at Sequoia Station. This would make a significant impact on Redwood City’s RHNA target for the next cycle, providing the City of Redwood City an opportunity to begin quickly working towards its goals and prioritize building affordable housing on transit.
The redevelopment of Sequoia Station is a transformational opportunity to build affordable housing on transit in downtown Redwood City. We sat down with Andrea Osgood, Senior Vice President of Real Estate Development at Eden Housing, Sequoia Station’s affordable housing partner, to discuss affordable housing and the unique benefits of partnering with a nonprofit housing developer.
Why is working with an affordable housing developer critical to delivering more homes at deeper levels of affordability?
In our 53+ year history, Eden Housing has developed or acquired more than 11,000 affordable homes in 45 cities, providing homes for more than 25,000 people across California. This deep experience in affordable housing development means we are experts at leveraging state and county funds to build high-impact affordable housing.
As a mission-driven nonprofit developer, we focus on delivering high-quality housing, making an impact on our residents’ lives, and being great partners and community members in the cities in which we operate. As long-term owners and operators of our developments, Eden Housing prioritizes maintaining excellent quality of housing and resources for our residents.
What other projects has Eden Housing worked on in the region?
Eden Housing develops, owns, and operates over 100 affordable housing properties throughout Northern California and the Bay Area. In San Mateo County, we were able to rebuild and double the number of affordable homes at our Light Tree Apartments property in East Palo Alto, providing updated high-quality affordable housing and serving more community members seeking affordable housing options.
We worked closely with the City of East Palo Alto and SamTrans and were awarded by California’s Strategic Growth Council with an Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) grant, a program that funds development projects that reduce greenhouse gases. We were the first project in the County to be selected by this competitive program.
Why is building housing on transit and in close proximity to services so important?
Redwood City is a leader in this space, prioritizing the development of affordable housing to address displacement and the equitable distribution of affordable housing throughout the community – and committing to housing targets far and above the RHNA requirements allocated by the State. Sequoia Station’s 254 onsite affordable homes help the City of Redwood City to begin quickly working toward its affordable housing goals.
How would you say this project helps address the region’s equity goals?
Developing affordable housing in a high-opportunity area like Sequoia Station provides residents of all income levels with an opportunity to access critical resources including high-quality housing, jobs, and mobility. The project also offers residents an equitable opportunity to save money, and make sustainable choices, such as taking public transit.
As a nonprofit developer, securing a site like Sequoia Station can be challenging for Eden Housing. Partnering with Lowe provides the opportunity to maximize affordable housing and other critical resources to more Redwood City residents.
One of the benefits of working with an affordable housing developer is the services they provide to residents. What specific programs does Eden Housing anticipate providing at Sequoia Station?
In addition to our commitment as long-term owners and operators of stable, high-quality housing, Eden Housing provides programming and resources that help our residents on their paths to personal and economic empowerment.
Our services vary and are tailored to the specific needs of our residents, from youth to seniors, individuals, and families, as well as those with limited English language skills and people with special needs. Programs we offer include education, access to technology, economic empowerment and financial literacy resources, health and wellness, and opportunities for meaningful community engagement. In addition to direct services, Eden Housing connects our residents to resources within their communities.
The open space and public plaza planned for the Sequoia Station project will provide places for our residents to spend time outside and connect with their neighbors. Eden Housing looks forward to utilizing this open space to bring together residents as well as the larger Redwood City community.
What sets this affordable housing project apart in Redwood City and the region? What elements of the project will be beneficial to Sequoia Station residents?
Sequoia Station is considered a high-opportunity area for housing due to its proximity to transit, jobs, high-quality schools, and other community assets. Typically, it can be challenging for nonprofit affordable housing developers to competitively bid on such sites, due to high cost. The unique partnership between Lowe and Eden Housing enables development at this prime location and leverages the ability to target deeper levels of affordability than required in the City’s affordable housing ordinance. The commercial aspect of the project also helps to subsidize the production of affordable housing on site, and the mixed-use nature of the project helps to provide jobs, transit, and services close to affordable housing.
Building onsite affordable housing at Sequoia Station provides Redwood City residents of all income levels an opportunity to access critical resources, as well as the community benefits planned for the project which include open space and onsite childcare facilities. This is an opportunity to deliver housing, transportation and walkable connections within Redwood City – an opportunity that does not come around very often.
As part of the RWC Walk Bike Thrive initiative, the City of Redwood City has developed a list of potential projects to improve walking, biking, and traffic safety conditions throughout our city. Sequoia Station is excited to embrace bikes and pedestrians as part of its plan and to support the creation of a more user-friendly El Camino Real and downtown.
To get community feedback on the projects, Redwood City has created an interactive map on which you can pin your comments, as well as a brief survey. The map and survey are open for comments through the end of January 2022.
The City of Redwood City has proposed a new initiative called The People’s Budget (PB) to provide an opportunity for all Redwood City residents, regardless of age, immigration status or residency, to decide how Redwood City spends $1 million to support, grow, or improve the community.
Community members may participate a series of workshops, submit a project proposal, and vote on the list of project submissions for the opportunity to directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.
Thursday, February 3rd at 5PM (Spanish)
In-Person Workshops at The Plaza
Wednesday, February 9th Afternoon 12-4
Saturday, February 19th Afternoon 12-4
Plaza Address: Downtown Redwood City Public Library 1044 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, CA 94063
February 15th at 6 PM – Joint Housing and Human Concerns Committee/Planning Commission Study Session on Housing Goals and Policies.
Go to www.redwoodcity.org/pc for information on how to join the meeting.
March 21st at 6 PM – City Council Study Session on Draft Housing Element.
Go to www.redwoodcity.org/citycouncil for information on how to join the meeting.
As a reminder, our team is available to meet and provide project updates to interested community members. If you have any questions or would like to request a presentation from the project team, please email email@example.com or visit sequoiacentervision.com.