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An Update from City Councilmember Diane Howard

09/13/2023 12:49:23 PM

Sep13

Greetings,  

With the High Holy Days upon us, my heart is full of life and love when reflecting on the past year. While we encountered difficulties, I am profoundly thankful for the blessings in our lives. Let us approach the New Year with renewed hope and a commitment to spreading kindness and unity. L’shana Tovah!  

On the City side, I’d like to share some updates on major initiatives and projects underway.  

Fiscal Year 2023-24 Adopted Budget — In June, City Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2023-24 Budget, which builds upon significant accomplishments over the last fiscal year and advances the City Council’s top priorities. It also continues the City’s transition from its COVID-19 financial and community recovery strategy to a reimagined Redwood City. With a strong emphasis on financial sustainability and adaptation to a changing world, the Budget sets the stage for a resilient and innovative future.  

Redwood City maintained essential services during the pandemic largely by holding employee positions open, tapping into the City’s strong reserve levels, and generous infusions of state and federal assistance. As planned, the projected $9.34 million deficit for FY 2023-24 will be offset by utilizing designated one-time funds, thus avoiding the need for immediate cuts. However, even after negotiating benefit reforms, paying down liabilities, managing costs, seeking grants, and using reserves set aside to protect services, staff anticipates structural budget deficits averaging $9.2 million over the next eight years. In response, the City is employing a multifaceted approach in exploring new revenue sources. This could include user fee and tax increases, new taxes, revenue generation from digital signs, and convenience fees for credit card payments. We are also continuing strong financial management practices and cost controls. By visiting www.RedwoodCity.org/Budget you can learn more about the Budget and key themes, as well as use an interactive data dashboard to explore the budget by department.  

Housing Element Implementation — We are actively implementing the Housing Element to support our goal of providing homes for all in Redwood City. This involves amending City zoning and municipal codes and the Affordable Housing Ordinance, such as updates to implement Senate Bill 9 - the State law that allows duplexes in single family zones – and changes to facilitate the production of more Middle Housing, such as duplexes, triplexes, and townhouses in multi-family zoning districts. The proposed changes are based on extensive feedback obtained from the public and stakeholders over two years during community meetings and at Planning Commission, Housing and Human Concerns Committee and City Council meetings. Learn more about our Housing Element by visiting www.WelcomeHomeRWC.org.  

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Academy — I encourage you to join us for the upcoming CERT Academy. CERT is an invaluable program that educates individuals in our community about disaster preparedness and equips participants with essential skills to respond effectively to emergencies. Whether it's earthquakes, fires, or other hazards, CERT will prepare you to handle potential disasters. The fall Academy runs September 6 – October 14; typically meeting on Thursday evenings with one Saturday class. For more information and to register, visit www.RedwoodCity.org/CERT.  

Leadership Changes at City Hall — Recently, we have had several leadership transitions at City Hall: Yessika Castro is serving as Acting City Clerk; Jeff Schwob as Interim Community Development and Transportation Director; and Jennifer Yamaguma was promoted to Deputy City Manager. Last month we wished Alex Khojikian well with his new role as City Manager of San Mateo; he will be missed by all of us here in Redwood City.  

It is a privilege to consider each one of you as family, and my heartfelt wishes extend to you and your loves ones for a holiday season filled with significance and jubilation.   

In community spirit,  

Diane Howard, Redwood City Councilmember  

Mon, March 4 2024 24 Adar I 5784