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Redwood City to Consider Affordable Housing Impact Fees

New Fees and Actions to Support Affordable Housing in Redwood City

Post Date:10/09/2015 4:25 PM

For Immediate Release
October 9, 2015

Media Contact:
Meghan Horrigan, City Manager's Office
(650) 780-7305


Redwood City, Calif. - At their regularly scheduled meeting on October 26, the City Council will consider a number of items to further affordable housing in Redwood City. The affordable housing package reinforces the city's affordable housing plan by expanding the City's investment to build more affordable housing and to keep current housing in Redwood City affordable through rehabilitation grants and loans.

"The City's existing affordable housing programs and new fees proposed for future housing development are a major achievement for our community, in light of the state's rescinding over $10 million that the City had dedicated to affordable housing development," said Jeffrey Gee, mayor of Redwood City. "It is up to all communities in the region to help fight this crisis plaguing the Bay Area and other California communities. The new affordable housing fees and requirements the City Council is considering, in combination with existing programs, reinforce the City's continued commitment to housing for all income levels."

The City council will review or consider taking action on five affordable housing items, including: a preview of downtown affordable housing and park proposals on City owned land, known as the Bradford lot; adoption of affordable housing impact fees; collection of AirBNB TOT tax and dedicate funds toward affordable housing; initiation of General Plan amendment to require production of downtown affordable units within the first phase of the downtown Precise Plan; and expansion of the ADU ordinance to allow second living units on properties that have a single-family residence.

Preview of Downtown Affordable Housing and Park Proposal on City owned Bradford lot: 

Earlier this year, the Council dedicated an acre of downtown City-owned land towards the production of affordable housing. A Request for Proposal was issued to non-profit housing developers and 7 responses were received ranging from 60-137 affordable units. All the developments include 100% of affordable housing, a park and a ground floor childcare center. Staff will be presenting a "preview" of these developments and Council will give direction on next steps in the selection process.

Adoption of Affordable Housing Impact Fees:
As part of the City's community benefits framework, also known as Partnership Redwood City, which generates fees from development to support city programs and services, the Council directed staff to bring forward a housing and commercial development impact fee to Council for approval. The City took part in a County-wide "nexus study" which will allow the Council to legally adopt the fee. The funds collected will be put towards the construction of deed restricted affordable housing. City staff is recommending adoption of a $20 per sq. ft. fee for market rate residential and office developments. A lesser fee would be applied to retail ($5 sf) and hotel ($5 sq. ft.) developments.

Collection of AirBNB Transit Occupancy Tax and Dedicate Funds toward Affordable Housing: 

AirBNB along with other home sharing companies, allow property owners to rent their homes or rooms out on a short-term basis. City Council will consider giving staff direction to enter into a similar agreement as some other cities within the region and dedicate funds received to the production of affordable housing.

Initiation of General Plan Amendment to Require Production of Downtown Affordable Units: 

The Downtown Precise Plan (DTPP) allows for a total of 2,500 residential units. Council will consider initiation of General Plan and Precise Plan amendments to require a minimum of 10% (250) of these units be affordable. This would ensure two affordable downtown developments that are already in the development pipeline, and at least one additional affordable development could be built under the first phase of the DTPP.

Expansion of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) zoning ordinance:
An Accessory Dwelling Unit (aka secondary unit, in-law unit, granny flat, backyard cottage) is a smaller living unit on a property that has a single-family residence. These units provide for an additional housing option, which is typically more affordable than other types of housing. While the City has allowed ADUs for a number of years, the Council will consider revisions to the ordinance to allow for greater flexibility.

Other City related affordable housing programs and investment include:

  • The City of Redwood City has invested and produced 774 units of Below Market Rate (BMR) units of which 598 are rental and 176 are ownership units. All 774 units are deed restricted as BMR for 25 - 55 years.
  • Redwood City has assisted with the rehabilitation of 2,800 homes owned or owner occupied by lower income residents, of which 2,500 are multi-family units, and 500 are single-family units.
  • Redwood City voters adopted a Utility Users Tax (UUT) in 1988. Funds from the UUT are dedicated to the City's Capital Improvement Program (CIP). In the 2015-16 CIP budget, this line item was $750,000 to further the City's existing affordable housing fund.
  • The City of Redwood City recently approved investing in new affordable housing developments by awarding $1.5 million to Habitat for Humanity to construct 20 units of ownership housing in downtown Redwood City. This will be Habitat's fourth project in Redwood City.
  • The City awarded $1.2M in CDBG and HOME grants this year. The Council established a five year plan that will award over $4 million in grants over this time frame.
  • The City of Redwood City adopted a Fire Safety First Program, a mandatory fire-sprinkler retrofit ordinance for multi-family units of four or more. All units must be in compliance in five years. This low interest loan program will help finance a retrofit, and if the property owner agrees to limit rent increases annually to no more than the CPI or less, the loan will be forgiven.

For more information on the City's affordable housing strategies, visit




About Redwood City

The City of Redwood City is a San Francisco Bay Area community located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the technology-rich region extending from the San Francisco shoreline to the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Redwood City is the third largest city within the County of San Mateo, with over 84,000 residents. The city enjoys an average of 255 sunny days a year, which it boasts via the city slogan: "Climate Best by Government Test". Incorporated in 1867, Redwood City is home to the San Mateo County History Museum (located in the county's old courthouse) and the only active deep water port within the south bay of San Francisco. The city's vibrant downtown, quickly becoming known as the entertainment hub of the San Francisco Peninsula, offers residents, visitors, and businesses a unique retail, entertainment, and restaurant experience. For more information, visit the City of Redwood City's website at or follow @RedwoodCity on Twitter.

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