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How To Transform A City

A series of field trips and workshops, beginning with a trip to Redwood City on Friday, aims at reaching a common vision for downtown Martinez.

How did downtown Redwood City, formerly known as Deadwood City, become the entertainment hub of the Peninsula? More importantly, what are the lessons to be learned from that transformation for the City of Martinez?

That is the point of Friday’s field trip, the first of a series of workshops and sojourns to other downtowns that have managed to reinvent themselves. The project, called Downtown Matters, is sponsored by the city’s planning department as part of a general plan update, and is being headed by Susan Moeller, the former redevelopment director of Redwood City who helped bring a lot of that downtown back from the dead (or at least near-dying).

For Martinez, she said, redevelopment is off the table.

“Redevelopment is not an option for Martinez,” she said. “So we’re going to talk about what other cities have done, how they have transformed themselves, the economic realities of the 21st century – global warming, rising gas and food prices, change in demographics.”

For instance, Moeller said that every day, 8,000 people are turning 65 years old, and that’s going to be the case for the next five years.

“It’s not going backwards,” she said. “How do we plan for these changing demographics?”

It’s a conversation she wants to have with as many people in the city as possible. Though the bus trip to Redwood City is not exactly brimming with people, she hopes that more and more will join the upcoming workshops and trips to Livermore and Lodi – other downtowns that have transformed themselves.

In Redwood City, for instance, “we built a city from the ground up,” she said. “Part of the reason we were successful is we spent time with a shared community vision. What does it take to make a good place? What are the opportunities? What are the strengths, what are the weaknesses? How do you create a community gathering place?”

Now, Moeller said, Redwood City hosts a weekly entertainment event at Courthouse Square downtown that is attended by 2,000 people. Those are people who shop and eat downtown, she noted. 

The city is also the county seat and has a train station downtown, so it has some of the same challenges, and advantages, as Martinez. 

The field trip to Redwood City is Friday from 2 to 8 p.m. For more information, call Laura Austin at 925-372-3515.

Chris Kapsalis June 30, 2011 at 01:55 PM
I can see this being very fun and successful Becky. We used to make our own kites. They usually didn't work, but we would tweak them and get them to fly. Maybe start a charity "Kites for Kids"? Raise money for that. I bet people could come up with some cool kites. Also buy kites downtown. This could have people coming from all over. Hope this isn't a repeat, but up in Chico CA they had a kite festival that drew hundreds of people and all kinds of kites. Huge ones in the shape of animals etc. It was fun. People sat all over watching, or participating in the event. People came from out of town as well, and from expert kite fliers to armatures, everyone had fun.
Chris Kapsalis June 30, 2011 at 01:56 PM
I can see this being very fun and successful Becky. We used to make our own kites. They usually didn't work, but we would tweak them and get them to fly. Maybe start a charity "Kites for Kids"? Raise money for that. I bet people could come up with some cool kites. Also buy kites downtown. This could have people coming from all over. Hope this isn't a repeat, but up in Chico CA they had a kite festival that drew hundreds of people and all kinds of kites. Huge ones in the shape of animals etc. It was fun. People sat all over watching, or participating in the event. People came from out of town as well, and from expert kite fliers to armatures, everyone had fun.
R.BARON ADAMS June 30, 2011 at 03:36 PM
I Am. just doing a "check post" .... for some reason I've had some troubles! I am sorry for just taking up space if you'll feel better cuss me out! Within the rules! IF this post works ALL HAVE A GREAT 4TH! R. BARON ADAMS
Linda Meza June 30, 2011 at 04:12 PM
you as well. I saw your earlier post but it seemed to disappear before I could comment. I have no problem with open, honest dialogue. I can even read past silliness like being equated to Rush Limbaugh based on my relationship with the poster. I know what my core beliefs are and am guided by them.
Alex Gronke June 30, 2011 at 05:50 PM
After 155 comments, this conversation thread has exhausted itself. I am going to close the comments here. I'd also like to remind the Martinez Patch community that writing in capital letters is the equivalent of shouting and is not tolerated on this site. Second, comments from more than one person in this thread have skirted the line of personal attack. This needs to stop.

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