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In The News

Saltworks Would Spend $1.8 Billion on Labor
Impact report paints development as economic spark; opponent calls it a PR ploy

By ZUSHA ELINSON
The Bay Citizen, 6/17/10

There's a reason that labor unions are in favor of the controversial Saltworks development in Redwood City.

Developer DMB Associates said Wednesday that if it's allowed to build 12,000 homes on the salt flats, $1.8 billion would be spent on labor over the life of the 30-year project. That's according to an economic impact report prepared for DMB by Economic & Planning Systems, which claims that 1,100 construction jobs would be created in San Mateo County each year because of the project.

"We would go from laying off valuable workers to hiring workers,” said Bill Nack of the San Mateo County Building Trades Council, which represents construction workers.

The nationwide unemployment rate in the construction industry in May was 20 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More indirectly, Wednesday's report contends that the 30,000 Saltworks dwellers would spend billions in the area, creating thousands of permanent jobs for locals.

Saltworks has been the target of environmentalists, who want the 1,436 acres of salt ponds where the development would be built to be restored to wetlands.

David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, said the the report was merely a public relations ploy.

“Obviously if 30,000 people move into a community, they're going to spend money,” said Lewis.

Lewis also criticized the report for not including the costs to Redwood City from the increased police and firefighting forces that 30,000 new residents would demand.

In addition to the unions, business groups are solidly behind the project.

“We want to let those local business leaders who have been ardent supporters know what this means for them,” said John Bruno, who heads the DMB Saltworks project.

The Redwood City City Council voted last month to begin the environmental review process for the massive project. As it stands, DMB wants to build 8,000 to 12,000 townhouses and apartments on top of fill. The development would also include 1 million square feet of commercial space and 436 acres of restored wetlands. There would be a two-acre farm for the 4-H Club and sports fields for kids' leagues.

Critics of the development also say that the development would be threatened by rising sea levels and earthquakes.

 

 

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