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In The News

Bay homes in works

By Dana Yates
The Daily Journal, 5/13/09

There could be up to 12,000 housing units, restored wetlands and more than 60 acres of sports fields where salt ponds currently reside if a plan unveiled yesterday is approved by the Redwood City Council.

DMB Associates, the developer working with property owner Cargill, released a map of its proposed development Tuesday in what begins a likely four- to five-year approval process. If approved by the city and various state regulatory agencies, the seven-neighborhood project will be developed over the next 25 years, said John Paul Bruno, vice president of Redwood City Industrial Saltworks, the joint venture by Cargill and DMB.

The Saltworks site is a 1,433-acre parcel of land — the largest untouched area in the Bay Area outside the Presidio in San Francisco — whose potential development has long been debated in the community. Last year, the dispute erupted into a full-out war between organizations like Save the Bay, Redwood City and a smattering of grassroots groups who took no side other than opposing a ballot measure that would have significantly changed the city charter. Both ballot measures failed and the project is moving forward.

The development holds true to DMB’s 50/50 plan, which suggests half the property be developed and half remain park and open space, Bruno said.

The plan calls for 8,000 to 12,000 attached housing units — like apartments and townhomes. It will include more than 200 acres of restored wetlands, 10 miles of recreational trails and a 3.3-mile pedestrian paths to be connected to the Bay Trail. The plan also calls for nearly 60 acres of sports fields, which includes nine baseball and softball diamonds and eight full-sized soccer fields. The fields will be closest to Highway 101. Wetlands will border Greco Island and Bayfront Park.

It also designates space for five schools.

The plan addresses traffic by developing a new street that runs parallel to Seaport Boulevard, leaving the existing industrial road for trucks that will still need to travel to and from the Port of Redwood City.

DMB is proposing a street car-style transportation system that will move people between the proposed ferry terminal at the end of Seaport Boulevard, through the community, across Highway 101, the Stanford Technology Park, downtown Redwood City and the Caltrain Station.

Without seeing a specific proposal or speaking with DMB representatives, Mayor Rosanne Foust said she imagines a system similar to one used in Portland. The idea should be considered as the community moves forward to reduce its carbon footprint, Foust said.

DMB plans to submit development plans to the city next week. The city expects to take the rest of the year to review the application and the various technical aspects that go along with the initial application, said City Manager Peter Ingram.

The city will post all documents online as soon as they are available. A community input process, led by the city, will likely begin early next year, said Foust.

“I ask the community to understand that this is the beginning of the process, not the end. I don’t want to fight. We had that last fall and our community deserves better than that,” Foust said.
Both Foust and Ingram have yet to see the details of the proposal.
The property is considered important wetlands in the San Francisco Bay. At one time it was part of a plan fostered by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein for the federal government to purchase and restore endangered salt flats. That plan eventually dropped the Redwood City salt flats from preservation and instead was to preserve some land in the South Bay for a price tag close to $100 million.

Adrian Brandt, a Redwood City member of Save the Bay, argues that restoring the salt ponds remain an option the city should pursue.

“Money can be raised and appear. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before,” Brandt said.
Brandt said he expects the city to abide by “good government” guidelines and have an open process as it moves forward with the proposal. However, he would prefer the City Council simply not approve the necessary zoning change that would allow development on the land, which is currently zoned for no development.

“We’re really at a fork in the road again,” Brandt said.


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