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In The News

Saltworks project revise to tackle port concerns
DMB still planning up to 12,000 units at site; city soon to launch impact study

BY BONNIE ESLINGER
Daily News, 8/26/11

Plans for a huge mixed-use development on the Cargill Salt property in Redwood City are being revised, but the Arizona company behind the project doesn’t intend to slash the number of proposed housing units.

DMB Associates is still aiming to build 8,000 to 12,000 units, company spokesman Michael Henderson told The Daily News. Schools, parks, offices and tidal-marsh restoration remain part of the so-called Saltworks project, too.

But plans for the proposed 1,436-acre development will be tweaked to address early concerns about potential conflicts with the adjacent Port of Redwood City and overcrowding in local schools. A high school will be added and commercial buildings moved away from the busy seaport, Henderson said.

The revisions come as Redwood City prepares to launch a state-mandated study of the project’s environmental impacts. On Aug. 19, the city released a report summarizing nearly 900 pages of comments it received over a six month period spent determining what the study should cover.

“We have taken what we heard from the scoping sessions, what the city heard from the scoping sessions and the ongoing conversation,” Henderson said. “That will result in a revision to the (project) application, which probably will be filed before the year end.”

Some commenters expressed worries that the inhabitants of the new development might come to eventually oppose the industrial operations at the port, located across Seaport Boulevard from the Cargill property.

“The port is concerned that we have incompatible uses, a legitimate concern,” Henderson said.

The revised plans will likely include a “buffer zone” of open space along the boulevard that would push the Saltworks project’s commercial buildings farther away from the port. Trees would be planted in the space to help block the lights and noise of the port.

The port’s executive director, Michael Giari, said other ports have seen conflicts arise with the encroachment of new development. He supports the idea of putting space and landscaping between the port and the project.

“As to what kind of alternatives will minimize the incompatibility, we’ll have to see the details,” Giari said.

On the western edge of the Cargill property, a proposed complex of more than 15 sports fields also might be carved up.

“What we heard was having it all out together might not be good because of traffic congestion,” Henderson said.

The revised plans will be subject to a second round of scoping meetings, according to Blake Lyon, the senior Redwood City planner overseeing the Saltworks proposal. The forthcoming environmental study, which Henderson estimated will take 18 to 24 months, will delve into the traffic and wildlife impacts, whether the project can withstand expected flooding and sea- level rise, and the feasibility of providing water for tens of thousands of new residents.

Earlier this week, officials with two prominent Bay Area water districts told the Bay Area News Group they are opposed to facilitating a complex water transfer DMB has in mind involving water rights the company purchased near Bakersfield.

David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, a group that has long opposed the Saltworks development, said there is no amount of tweaking that will make the project acceptable from an environmental standpoint.

“The hurdles have always been high,” Lewis said. “It’s the wrong site for the project.”

 

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