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In The News

Council says no to Cargill
City issues symbolic objection to housing development on Baylands site

The Daily News, 3/25/10

Despite the objections of two council members and pleas from Saltworks project supporters to reconsider, the Belmont City Council has formally come out against developing the 1,436-acre, Cargillowned Baylands in Redwood City.

In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the council passed a resolution that calls for complete restoration and dropping a development proposal that would build homes for 25,000 people southeast of Belmont.

“Imagine a new city popping up,” said Belmont Vice Mayor Coralin Feierbach, who drafted the resolution. “Twenty-five-thousand new people. Where will they all go? Where will they all come from?”

The one-page resolution — which expresses concerns about extra traffic, water availability and air quality — is symbolic and carries no legal weight. Redwood City Mayor Jeff Ira said Wednesday that Belmont’s stance would have “no influence whatsoever” on his opinion of the project or its process.

Belmont council members Warren Lieberman and David Braunstein dissented, saying their colleagues were jumping the gun by taking a position on a project yet to be studied. Lieberman said it could hurt Belmont’s relationship with Redwood City, and Braunstein noted that the development — still years away from being voted on — should be the least of Belmont’s worries as it grapples with a $1.3 million deficit.

“For me it’s just way too premature to be interfering,” Lieberman said. He also questioned the language of the resolution, which among other things called the project the most misguided proposal in a half-century.

By Saltworks spokesman Pete Hillan’s count, nine of the 12 people who spoke at the meeting took issue with the resolution. They included chamber representatives, an affordable housing advocate and a labor group leader.

“I don’t see any real public uproar from Belmont,” Hillan said.

Hillan said Feierbach, Mayor Christine Wozniak and Council Member Dave Warden were ill-informed and did not take the time to learn about the project or get their “heads out of the sand” before blasting it.

“We’re saddened that elected leaders would use such language and take such a position based on half-truths and misrepresentations,” said Hillan, who accused them of being fed bad information by project opponents.

Wozniak and Feierbach said they were frustrated that Redwood City officials would not meet with them. Ira said there are not enough details on the project to talk in depth with Belmont leaders.

“They’re obviously committed to not having the project, so I just figured we could agree to disagree,” Ira said. Last month, Menlo Park’s council voted 4-1 to oppose the Cargill project.



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