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Archived News Release from 2011

For Immediate Release

Redwood City Planning Commission Holding Study Session/Public Hearing on Proposed Amendments to the “Residential Hillside” Zoning District

Redwood City, CA - October 14, 2011 - The Redwood City Planning Commission invites the community to participate in a Study Session/Public Hearing as it considers amendments to the City’s Residential Hillside (RH) Zoning District. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 18, 2011, at 6 pm, at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road in Redwood City. At this meeting, the Planning Commission will open a discussion of proposed amendments to the City’s RH zoning ordinance, take public comment, and provide a recommendation to the City Council. The Council will then take the recommendation under consideration at an upcoming City Council meeting.

In brief, the overarching principles of the proposed amendments are:

  • The new language is designed to help ensure responsible, safe, orderly, and appropriate development of hillsides in Redwood City
  • The amendments will apply to new construction only, and only in the residential hillside zoning district within the city limits of Redwood City
  • Houses severely damaged or destroyed by fire or other causes can be rebuilt to the original square footage
  • The amendments do not involve stylistic or architectural regulation

The proposed amendments are designed to help maintain the safety and viability of appropriate hillside development within Redwood City limits. Currently, the RH zoning standards may not fully address potential effects that can result from hillside development.  Hillside development is directly affected by constraints such as rock falls, storm water runoff and flooding, or seismic and geologic hazards. These issues, which are obviously serious matters for the entire hillside community, are best addressed by the City through thoughtful, comprehensive regulatory language that is fair and equitable in meeting the needs of existing and future property owners, and builders. Through these proposed amendments, the City wants to ensure that future development in these areas is provided with the most up-to-date and sustainable guidelines possible, with appropriate protections for adjacent properties and homeowners.

The amendments being proposed are actually an implementation of components of Redwood City’s General Plan, which was approved in 2010 after a multi-year process of community involvement and input. The proposed language is not a re-zoning of the hillside areas; rather, it is applying existing language and adding measured, well-thought-out regulations to promote the safety of hillside development. It includes appropriate controls on grading, and recognizes the direct relationship between the size of a structure and its impact on the land, taking into consideration neighborhood context, topography and slope, weight-bearing issues, and lot size, among other critical engineering elements. The proposed amendments do not involve stylistic or architectural issues; and they will apply only to new development or additions to existing structures.

If a structure is severely damaged or destroyed, for example from a house fire, that resident can rebuild the home to the same square footage as the original, if the rebuilding is completed within one year – even if the new zoning language would otherwise prohibit a home of that size if it were a new development.

These and other elements of the proposed amendments to the RH zoning ordinance will be deliberated at the Planning Commission meeting on October 18, and the community is invited to be a part of this important discussion. The staff report on this issue will be available on the City’s website by the end of the day on October 14.

Visit Redwood City’s award-winning website at for information about the City and its services, the community, recreation programs, education, and local business. Subscribe to Redwood City’s newsletters and other City documents at


Jill Ekas, Planning Manager
Blake Lyon, Acting Principal Planner


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