This Thursday, May 27 from 6:30-9:00 p.m., the City of East Palo Alto will be holding a virtual public workshop to discuss the Ravenswood Business District/4 Corners Specific Plan Update. The Ravenswood Plan Update could put over 5 million square feet of office development – three times what was originally planned – out at the end of Bay Road, directly adjacent to marshland habitat along the Bay. Please register to attend this workshop and share your thoughts and concerns with city staff!
The Ravenswood Specific Plan Could Change the Future of East Palo Alto
The Ravenswood Business District/4 Corners Specific Plan was approved back in 2013 to allow a little over 1 million square feet of office development on what are currently primarily large industrial parcels. Now, four different developers have come forward with proposals to build so much office development that if it were all approved, it would more than triple what was approved back in 2013. This would include a number of 8-story office towers. The City has decided to evaluate whether to allow these developers to build as much office space as they want, keep the amount of office space what it is now, or something in between.
The high end of the range of what the City is considering is 5.15 million square feet of office. To put this in context, the University Circle development at University Avenue and 101 is only 450,000 square feet (excluding the Four Seasons hotel). That means the City is considering putting the equivalent of eleven University Circles next to the Bay, the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve, and Cooley Landing.
The Impacts to Ecology and Traffic Could Outweigh Community Benefits
The proposed increase in office development raises concerns for both the East Palo Alto community and for the environment. The amount of traffic generated by such massive growth would severely impact the East Palo Alto community, which already suffers from gridlock due to traffic to and from the Dumbarton Bridge every rush hour. Putting 8-story office towers right next to a sensitive marshland area will cast shadows during the day and artificial light at night, affecting the wildlife and the marsh vegetation, and will result in bird collisions with those 8-story-high windows. The City will require the developers to provide community benefits, but it is unclear whether the community will feel that these benefits are worth the impacts to traffic, the ecology of the Baylands, and the presence of massive office projects in their quiet residential neighborhoods.
Whatever the East Palo Alto community chooses, the decisions made during the Ravenswood Specific Plan update process could change the future of this city. It’s critically important that residents are aware of this public workshop and take the opportunity to make their voices heard.
If you are a resident of East Palo Alto, or you care about the East Palo Alto community and environment, please register to attend this workshop and share your thoughts and concerns with city staff.