The ballot is our first line of defense
By James W. Kelly
do they have against kids? That's one question. There are others
about Redwood City's Mission Implausible & the City Council's
wish to trade open Bayfront for residential towers.
increasingly missing from San Mateo County's population base? Families
with school-age kids: Housing for them is needed to reinvigorate
the Peninsula. It's the heart and soul of true urban renewal. But
that's not what a developer and political allies would build at
a marshland marina.
1,930 high-rise units, only a handful would be priced and sized
to young families & certainly not those seeking to survive on
a single income, keeping one spouse at home for the kids. Nor, in
fact, is multi-story housing ideal for young children to come and
go. There's the worry over safety in unattended elevators, over
kids playing outdoors, beyond sight and surveillance.
about Marina Shores speaks of serious effort to reduce vehicular
traffic, like a limit of one car per unit. Or housing without cars.
It's happening. Major cities in Europe, Asia and South America have
banned or heavily restricted cars in some areas. In their place
is public transit cramped up to meet people's everyday needs and
work commutes, to and from schools, shopping, health care, cultural
interests and more.
argued higher-density housing combats sprawl. But sprawl isn't only
into farm and range land. There is vertical sprawl: Buildings invade
pristine space overhead, where birds fly free, air is refreshed
and pollution swept away, structural mass turning light into shadow,
breeding wind-chill and blowing litter. For young, child-bearing
families, verticality, far from deterring horizontal sprawl, spurs
land and water meet and beach, marsh, island, lake front, river
bank is always a magical place. Growth need not destroy. They remain
treasures, those places whose magic still lives and is prized, like
Norway's fjords, most Swiss lakes, much of Germany's Rhine and,
in Australia, of Sydney harbor. Our Bayfront warrants similar respect
for what fits where and what doesn't.
good Redwood City can vote for or against Marina Shores. Better
would be a county-wide vote ë at stake is a Peninsula precedent.
Towering condos along one shore will likely beget more. In that
sense, Redwood City's ballot becomes our first line of defense.
marine estuaries magic is in short supply. What a shame to bury
acres of it under piles of concrete. Especially when they would
do nothing for our most critical housing shortage. While families
flee us for decent room to rear children, residential high-rises,
with their high social and environmental costs, don't merit priority.
Smart growth they're not.
W. Kelly, a retired newspaperman, has lived in San Bruno 51 years.
He is active in community causes, including public transportation,
the American Cancer Society and support for fellow laryngectomees.