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Citizens of Redwood City struggle with gentrification

By Seann Brick, Alexis Pereznegron, Michael Pissani and Marvin Varela

Staff Writers 

The people of Redwood City struggle to pay rent because it is not adjustable to their wages. With larger companies moving into Redwood City, residents face the downside of gentrification. The average rent costs about $3,144, according to an article from Rent Jungle.

In the Berkeley Blog, City and Regional Planning Professor Karen Chapple said, “Since 1980, the share of households burdened by housing costs (defined as households paying 35 percent or more of their income towards housing) has increased dramatically. Currently, almost half of low-income households in Redwood City live in neighborhoods at risk of or already experiencing displacement and gentrification pressures, many near downtown.”

More people are starting to realize the negative effects of gentrification in the community. According to an article in The Stanford Daily, “Rodriguez said she became aware of the issues surrounding gentrification through volunteering at a high school in Redwood City when she heard students discussing the rapid rate at which rent was increasing. She plans to explore proposals to present to University administrators to minimize the expansion’s adverse effects.” 

The article goes on to state that “according to research from the University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles, an influx of affluent residents to the Bay Area has contributed to rent hikes and the resulting displacement of low-income residents in the last decade. In Silicon Valley in particular, the expansion of tech companies has contributed further to the gentrification of surrounding suburbs, including Redwood City, much of which is undergoing moderate displacement.”

Different people who work or live in Redwood City shared stories about living in such an expensive area.

Manager of Sigona’s, Gloria Gandolfo, puts back items from the checkout counter.

Gloria Gandolfo, who is the manager at Sigona’s Farmers Market in Redwood City on Middlefield Road, said she and her workers struggle to pay off rent because the cost here is unfair and does not fit their wages. “It’s tough on us because we rent here, so our rent has been raised. As a business, we
struggle with that, and our employees also struggle to pay rent.”

Andrea Peña helps a customer with groceries at the counter of La Estrellita.

Another worker in Redwood City, Andrea Peña (who works at La Estrellita), said, “La solución es mudarse a otro estado donde el alquiler sea más asequible,” which means the solution is to move to another state where rent is affordable because here it is not.

Amy Shinshiro, an employee at Vitality Bowls, said, “I’m lucky that my mom got to buy a house back when it was much cheaper. I see gentrification affecting the community in a negative way, and I definitely empathize with these people. I know that our community is developing and becoming more tech-oriented, but it is really sad to see people pushed out, especially if they lived there a long time. My dad lives in an apartment, and he’s going through that, and it’s really sad to see that happening.”

Amy Shinshiro works inside the kitchen of Vitality Bowls.

Ms. Shinshiro thinks the solution is to just lower the rent price: “I’m mixed about it because as much as I want us to develop and become more advanced, it’s not fair to the people who established their roots here a long time ago.”

Jarod Zalesny, who works at Pet Food Express, said he does not agree with the high prices because he is seeing a lot of traffic and also apartments being taken down for companies or just made more expensive. He added, “It’s more difficult to live here with all this construction going around.”

Mr. Zalesny provided a similar belief to Ms. Shinshiro when saying, “The solution to gentrification is to make housing more affordable to the community.”

IMG-1727 (1)
Jarod Zalesny works at the register in Pet Food Express, located in Sequoia Station.

The problem is that the cost of rent is not fit for workers’ wages and they struggle to pay. The solution that people have raised is to make the cost of rent suitable for their paychecks so they won’t struggle. 

In an article published by the Berkeley Political Review, Jack Foley stated, “Major cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles have already passed legislation bringing their cities to $15 per hour well in advance of the 2022 deadline but both of these cities did so before SB 3 was passed.”

Plans have been made for the minimum wage in California to be $15 per hour to keep local residents in this area. Supporters argue that a minimum wage of $15 will allow the average worker to have access to affordable housing and other basic necessities.

Residents of Redwood City could continue to struggle with rising rents. Rent Jungle stated, “As of December 2017, average rent for an apartment in Redwood City, CA is $3144 which is a 2.77% increase from last year when the average rent was $3057, and a 0.73% decrease from last month when the average rent was $3167. One bedroom apartments in Redwood City rent for $2787 a month on average (a 3.66% increase from last year) and two bedroom apartment rents average $3566 (a 2.75% increase from last year).” 

As shown in the chart below, other sources found even higher rent prices in the local community:

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 10.56.26 AM
This graph from shows the rent prices in Redwood City from 2016-17.


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