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In The News

Cargill touting new poll

Staff Report

The Daily Journal, 5/14/10

Developers of the Saltworks site in Redwood City are touting a new poll which they say shows overwhelming support for moving forward with the environmental review process.

Of 500 voters randomly queried between April 18 and April 21, 68 percent support the City Council continuing a full environmental and public review of the 50-50 Balanced Plan which calls for a mix of housing and retail on the site, according to spokesman Pete Hillan.

The poll by firm Fairbank, Maslin Maulin, Metz and Associates asked whether the voter supported or opposed three alternatives:

  • Raise Redwood City taxes enough to purchase the entire 1,400-acre Redwood City Industrial Saltworks site and restore this land back to the way it looked 100 years ago;
  • The City Council rejects any development at the Redwood City Industrial Saltworks site and simply allows salt harvesting to continue at this site;
  • The City Council conducts a full environmental review of the 50-50Balanced Plan and then makes final decisions about development of this site based upon public and community input.

In rounded figures, Hillan said the support showed 18 percent for restoration, 22 percent for salt harvesting and 68 percent for the EIR process.

Hillan said those polled were asked their opinion on elements of the plan but not given any information that would otherwise influence their answers.

Numerous cities and leaders have called on the Redwood City Council to abandon ongoing efforts to review the plan, arguing development will have regional impacts.

Jon Bruno, DMB Redwood City Saltworks general manager, said the poll shows strong support for the environmental review and called avoiding review under the California Environmental Quality Act a poor choice.

“It certainly sets a very bad precedent because CEQA offers the public and their elected officials the information needed to make important decisions based upon careful technical and scientific studies,” Bruno said.

David Lewis, executive director Save the Bay, a vocal Cargill opponent, had not seen the poll but questioned the veracity of the outcome without more specific information about the polling process.

Lewis called the poll announcement “desperate spinning to influence the City Council” but said it was beside the point because a city does not need an EIR to decide against building on a particular site.

Redwood City Mayor Jeff Ira has said the 50-50 plan will undoubtedly change before the city is asked to accept it. As proposed now, the plan calls for 12,000 housing units with the remainder of the land set aside for restoration and open space.

 

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