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Six-year development battle comes to head
July 09, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff
Six years after Redwood City first got a proposal for a nine-home subdivision on Finger Avenue, the final environmental impact review is ready for consideration.

The document, a final step toward approval and groundbreaking, comes after years of legal and civic tug-of-war. The City Council at its Monday night meeting will hold a public hearing before deciding if this time the project goes forward.

The proposal calls for demolishing six existing homes at 50, 80 and 88 Finger Ave. and replacing them with nine houses and a U-shaped private road on the 1.69-acre site. The draft EIR found the project would significantly impact archeological resources, air and water quality, biological resources, light and glare but that all could be reduced with certain measures.

The final document doesn’t add any new impacts or concerns, according to a report to the City Council submitted by Senior Planner Maureen Riordan.

The original 2006 project proposal led to a November 2009 lawsuit against the city by The Friends of Cordilleras Creek and Finger Avenue Pride Committee. On May 19, 2009, the Planning Commission voted 3-2 to certify the mitigated negative declaration but voted to deny the project itself. The City Council denied the first appeal of the decision but, after revisions to the plan, it voted 6-1 that October in favor based on a less-stringent mitigated negative declaration. The two resident groups then sued, claiming Redwood City violated fundamental state requirements for development by approving the project without a complete look at its impacts and feasible alternatives. The city only required a mitigated negative declaration which is a lesser review. The city settled the suit by agreeing to revisit the project and sent it back to the drawing board with direction to specifically look at aesthetics, cultural resources, traffic safety, parking and overall neighborhood compatibility.

The new plan, which was an alternative offered to the original project in the final EIR, calls for a 25-foot creek setback to meet the city’s adopted storm water control ordinance and ease concerns raised in the lawsuit about runoff and erosion. The blueprint also calls for no size increases in four of the lots, no decrease in front yard setbacks for those lots’ garages and no tree removals other than the 10 already proposed.

Over the years, the developers of the plan have also reduced off-street parking spaces from seven to five, reduced five of the homes’ sizes by 895 square feet, reduced trees removed from 13 to 10 and established storm runoff draining into a new system on Finger Avenue rather than into Cordilleras Creek.


The Redwood City Council meets 7 p.m. Monday, July 9 at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City.

Michelle Durand can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

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