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In The News

Hispanic business owners support Saltworks project

Daily Post , 9/30/10
A group of local Hispanic business owners came out in favor yesterday of the proposed development that would bring up to 12,000 homes to Redwood City.
Insurance agent Hector Flamenco, whose offices are in Redwood City, said it's a mistake to believe that Hispanics wouldn't be interested in middle- to high-end housing - they have tremendous buying power.
"There are a lot of affluent Latinos in the community," said Flamenco.
Low-income homes promised
The project calls for up to 12,000 homes with athletic fields, schools, shops and offices to replace the salt ponds east of Highway 101 in Redwood City.
DMB Saltworks, which is developing the project, has promised that 15% of the housing will be dedicated to low-income families.
"The majority of Hispanics, unfortunately, fall into that low-income (bracket)," said Beto Chavez, general manager and owner of San Jose-based Chavez Supermarket chain.
As an example, Chavez said 60% to 70% of families in the nearby North Fair Oaks community are low-income Hispanics.  He added there is a wider income spectrum of Hispanics living in Redwood City.
Strength in numbers
And both Flamenco and Chavez agree that Hispanics are a juggernaut of spending.
"The Latino buying power in San Mateo (County) is huge," said Flamenco.  "They do because of the sheer numbers ... When you have a large population, they create that large buying power."
Nevertheless, Chavez said more homes would help a lot of generational Hispanic families, which would allow them to continue living near their parents and the neighborhoods they grew up in.
But others say the project's parks and schools are the most appealing.
Patricia Lindo, who belongs to a national association of Hispanic real estate agents, said more parks and schools would benefit Hispanic families in Redwood City.
"Our families love to supports our kids' sports activities," said Lindo.
Environment vs. jobs
Environmental groups say the housing project will harm the Bay.  But those in the Hispanic community say the project has many economic benefits, such as creating construction jobs.
Chavez said he's seen Hispanics working in construction hardest it by the economic downturn and that they could use the jobs.
However, he said the pros and cons between economic impacts and environmental impacts must be carefully weighed.
Josie Ramirez, who owns rental property in Redwood City, said the only other option is to leave the salt ponds the way they are, which will provide no benefit to the community.

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