Angry reactions on both sides to proposed homeless shelter

Daily Post Staff Writer

After hearing angry residents on both sides, Redwood City Council last night put off a decision on a proposed land-swap that would let San Mateo County build a homeless shelter at 1402 Maple St. in the inner harbor area.

Former Mayor Barbara Pierce, who was on council in 2009 when the city bought the property, said council wanted it to be used for parks not housing. She said if the land is given to the county, the city will lose control over what happens there.

Ex-mayor wants more public comment

Former Mayor Richard Claire said that while he is a housing advocate he finds it disturbing that the city didn’t get more public input. Claire said the swap goes against the city’s previously decided plan for the area. He said the swap should be delayed to allow for public comments.

Rick Hunter opposed the swap, saying the Maple Street is a hidden jewel.

Gita Dev, vice chair of the Peninsula Sierra Club, said the city doesn’t have enough park space. She also said the land isn’t good for housing because it is in an industrial area.

Missy Hart said it doesn’t make sense to say the area isn’t suitable for housing but would be nice for a park. She asked people to show more humanity and compassion.

“(It’s) very disheartening to hear people picking a park over people’s wellbeing,” said Hart.

Katie Goetz, pastor at Woodside Road United Methodist Church, said the homeless shelter would give people individual rooms, which would protect them from COVID-19. The rooms could be used by couples, too.

Goetz said the proposed shelter would have a pet space so people don’t have to choose between their animal and a roof over their heads. She said the shelter is a unique opportunity to care for vulnerable people.

The city is considering trading properties with San Mateo County in order to finish an extension of Blomquist Street west across Redwood Creek, thereby connecting the One Marina neighborhood to Seaport

The county wants to use federal CARES money, which is money set aside for COVID-19 relief, to build a “modern” homeless shelter on a property at 1402 Maple St. that is currently owned by the city.  In exchange, the city would get the property at 1580 Maple St., where the former women’s jail is located.

The nonprofit LifeMoves already has a shelter next door at 1580A Maple St., but the proposed shelter would be larger and more modern.

The deal anticipates that both the women’s jail and the homeless shelter at 1580A Maple St. would be demolished when the road extension and new homeless shelter are built.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the proposed swap on July 7 after negotiations with the city.

Back to the negotiating table

Councilman Ian Bain said the divisions seen at last night’s meeting are proof that the deal isn’t ready to close. He said he doesn’t think the city is done negotiating.

Council ultimately asked City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz to look at trading a smaller amount of land or leasing land instead of giving it up.

Part of the property in question is licensed to the Bair Island Aquatic Center, which has a clubhouse at 1450 Maple St. A memo to the council from Management Analyst Christopher Dacumos says the center can keep leasing its property and waterfront access will continue.

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