Green Infrastructure

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What is Green Infrastructure?

Green Infrastructure is a shift from gray, or traditional, storm drain infrastructure-- where stormwater runoff flows directly into the storm drain and then the receiving water-- to a green, more-resilient and sustainable system. Green Infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater, and slows runoff by dispersing it to vegetated areas, by harvesting and using the runoff, and by promoting infiltration and evapotranspiration.

Green Infrastructure Plan

Green Infrastructure Plan Development History

In May 2017, the City Council adopted a Resolution (here) approving the Green Infrastructure work plan. The work plan is a framework that outlined the schedule, budget, and tasks, and prioritized areas for potential projects necessary to develop and implement a Green Infrastructure Plan. The resolution included the City Council's commitment to the Municipal Regional Permit (MRP) goals. As outlined in the work plan, and required by the Municipal Regional Permit, the City Council must approve the City's Green Infrastructure Plan before June 30, 2019.

In May 2018, City staff gave a presentation to the City Council's Utilities Sub-Committee outlining the results of a preliminary analysis by the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG) regarding what was needed to meet the goals of the Municipal Regional Permit, which include the additional goals of the Green Infrastructure Plan. Currently, staff is working with C/CAG to develop a regional project concept that would serve Redwood City, Woodside, and other surrounding unincorporated areas within San Mateo County. The conceptual project is a 2.6 acre infiltration gallery underneath McGarvey Field at Red Morton Park that would divert stormwater from the Redwood Creek culvert that runs through the center of the park.

The project would capture a substantial drainage area of approximately 1,600 acres, cost about $40 million, and would serve to meet 93% of the Municipal Regional Permit goals based on the current modeling through 2040. To meet the Municipal Regional Permit goals, staff researched more methods and recommended the following policies to the City Council:

  1. Require stormwater treatment on a wider range of development projects, including the ones mentioned above
  2. Require developers of large projects to install green infrastructure improvements in the right-of-way in order to treat stormwater flowing along the frontage proposed development site
  3. Require stormwater treatment on an increased number of building remodels

On April 22, 2019, staff presented a report to the City Council discussing the progress of the Green Infrastructure Plan. The report discussed the history of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) and the recent version of the MRP requiring implementation of a GI Plan. The staff report discussed different ways the City can meet the goals of the MRP. Staff analyzed several potential policy decisions that could be implemented including the regional project at Red Morton Park, which meets most of the City’s goals. Other policy alternatives discussed were included requiring large developments to install GI elements in their frontage improvements; and, changing thresholds outlined in the MRP to include onsite stormwater treatment on a wider range of projects such as all new buildings and substantial commercial remodels (50% or more remodel of a building). For the full staff report, go here.

On June 24, 2019, City Council adopted the GI Plan and introduced an Ordinance amending City Code Chapter 18 Article XIV (Local Development Standards) and Chapter 27A Article II (Stormwater Treatment Measures and Maintenance Program) to implement the City’s Green Infrastructure Plan. Staff presented to City commissions, committees, and business groups to discuss the GI Plan strategy. The business outreach presentation can be found here.  



Chamber of Commerce – Economic Development Committee

May 7, 2019

Downtown Business Group

May 8, 2019

Redwood City Improvement Association – Board of Directors

May 8, 2019

Chamber of Commerce - Transportation and Housing Committee

May 9, 2019

Transportation Advisory Committee

May 13, 2019

Parks and Recreation Committee

May 22, 2019

Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

May 23, 2019


On August 26, 2019, the City Council adopted the Ordinance amending City Code Chapter 18 Article XIV (Local Development Standards) and Chapter 27A Article II (Stormwater Treatment Measures and Maintenance Program) and adopted a resolution approving the Green Infrastructure Plan Development Guidelines. The Green Infrastructure Plan Development Standards explain when onsite stormwater treatment is required and for what types of projects. Specifically, the GI Plan Development Standards apply to all new buildings (residential or commercial) and substantial commercial remodeling of existing buildings.

What are the benefits of Green Infrastructure?

Traditional gray infrastructure is piped storm drainage systems that carry stormwater runoff straight to the Bay and other bodies of water.  In contrast, green infrastructure reduces and treats stormwater at its source by slowing, capturing, and filtering stormwater. Green Infrastructure is a more resilient, sustainable system that slows runoff by dispersing it to vegetated areas, which harvests and uses the runoff. It promotes infiltration and evapotranspiration (evaporation and plant transpiration), and uses bio-retention and other natural practices to clean the stormwater runoff before reaching creeks or the Bay.

Green Infrastructure can also mitigate flooding by slowing and reducing stormwater discharges. To read more about the benefits of Green Infrastructure and how it is used to benefit not only stormwater management, but also environmental health and the community, go here.




Next Steps

Multi-Agency Collaboration

Staff is currently collaborating with C/CAG and San Mateo County to discuss developing an agreement that will fund the design and environmental review of the Red Morton Regional Stormwater Capture Project. Both agencies have obtained funds that can be used to develop this and other similar regional projects. The City is actively working with these organizations to determine if the funds can be used for the development of this project. After the project has completed the design and environmental review, it is expected that the project will have more opportunities to acquire grant funding.

Helpful Resources 

August 26, 2019 Staff Report - Updated Ordinances and Development Guidelines

Update to Chapter 18 & Chapter 27A Ordinances 

Resolution for GI Development Guidelines

June 24, 2019 Staff Report - Adoption of GI Plan

Adopted GI Plan 

April 22, 2019 Staff Report 

Presentation to City Council

GI Fact Sheet

GI Workplan

Regional Stormwater Capture Project at Red Morton Community Park

For a map of existing and proposed Green Infrastructure in Redwood City, go here.

Contact Us

To provide input and feedback contact:

James O'Connell
Senior Civil Engineer, Community Development Department