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In The News

Saltworks ends open space contract

The Daily Journal, 10/03/09

Cargill is not renewing its land conservation contract with Redwood City for the former Saltworks property, essentially confirming it no longer wishes to restrict it to open space in return for a lower property tax bill.
Cargill, Inc. Vice President William Britt filed the nonrenewal notice with the city Oct. 2. The notice ends a contract — more commonly referred to as a Williamson Act contract — dating back to April 30, 1970 between the Leslie Salt Company and Redwood City.

The California Land Conservation Act promotes agriculture and open space by saving landowners 20 percent to 75 percent in property tax annually. The act, passed in 1965, protects nearly 16.9 million of the state’s 29 million acres of farm and ranch land, according to the Department of Conservation.

The act creates an arrangement between counties and cities to voluntarily restrict the land to agricultural and open-space uses for a rolling 10-year contract.

Cargill’s cancellation prevents the land from being in non-compliance if it is developed.

How much property tax Redwood City will receive for the land now is being learned from the Assessor’s Office and should be available next week, said city spokesman Malcolm Smith.

The Saltworks site is a 1,436-acre parcel of land 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.

Developer DMB Cargill has submitted the so-named “50-50 Balanced Plan” which calls for 50 percent of the site to be preserved for permanent open space, public recreation and tidal marsh restoration and the remaining half be developed into housing, schools, parks and retail and transit facilities. Consultants are currently reviewing the plan before bringing it to the city to begin evaluating the merits.


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