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In The News

Poll shows countywide support for Saltworks project, developer says

Daily News, 8/5/10

The developer behind plans to build thousands of homes on the Cargill salt flats in Redwood City released partial poll results Wednesday that show strong support among San Mateo County voters for its project.

But a leading critic of the Saltworks project called the release “the same old desperate PR stunt” of unveiling a partial poll with a “manipulative poll question.”

The developer’s poll found 62 percent of surveyed voters would support the so-called “50/50 Balanced Plan,” which calls for building up to 12,000 homes and other development on half the site and for providing parks, open space and restored wetlands on the other half.

Unlike a previous survey in April of only Redwood City voters, developer DMB Associates polled residents throughout the county to “make sure we understood what a wider audience was thinking about (the project),” said Saltworks spokesman Pete Hillan.

“The results, I think, are reflective of how the community really feels would be the best benefit for use of the Saltworks,” Hillan said, adding that the developer would not release the rest of the poll because it has “questions that we ask that are proprietary to the project.”

David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, which opposes the project, said the question included “a false and incomplete description of the site” because it did not say it’s on salt ponds or near the Bay.

“To me, it’s just the same old desperate attempt to buy support by manipulating opinion,” Lewis said.

A second survey question was similar to one in the April survey. It found that faced with alternatives, 69 percent chose to “conduct a full environmental review and obtain public input before making a decision.” Eighteen percent wanted to “reject any development and allow salt harvesting to continue,” 7 percent chose “raise taxes and restore the site” and 6 percent had other responses.

Lewis said the question offered “false choices” because no one has proposed raising taxes and Cargill announced four years ago it was winding down salt-harvesting operations on the site.

The survey of 600 San Mateo County voters was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates between July 10 and 13 and has a margin of error of 4.1 percent.


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