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In The News

City Hires Additional Environmental Consultant
LSA Associates, Inc., consultants were available to answer questions at today’s Saltworks scoping meeting.

By Stacie Chan, Redwood City Patch, 1/29/11

Today’s scoping meeting addressed natural resource issues surrounding the controversial Saltworks plan. As the proposal moves forward, the city has invested in more consulting to acknowledge and incorporate public comments that could help strengthen the analysis of the proposal.

Hauge Brueck Associates, the lead planning consultants on the project, recently hired LSA Associates, Inc., to analyze multiple natural resources components. They are extensively researching the current wildlife population and how DMB Associates can best restore the wetlands and preserve the native species’ habitats.

“I’m very glad to have biologists on board,” said Redwood City resident Gail Rabbe. “They can do an extensive analysis of what it would mean to lose 1000 acres of restorable wetlands.”

For example, non-native species like mollusks have inhabited the area and affect the flood coastal channels. The development proposal needs to address the flooding risks due to the species habitation, and the economic impact of controlling these species. 

And with the possibility of humans moving into the space, there is a high risk for the introduction of domestic pets that are non-native species as well.

“For example, a child can purchase a bullfrog for a pet, then one day release it into the water,” said Hauge Brueck scientist Trevor Burwell. “This new species then competes with the endangered California red-legged frog.”

To combat issues like this, Burwell said public comment is highly integral to the project. They said it helps them prioritize what aspects matter most to residents.

“There are infinite components to this project and we can’t study everything,” LSA consultant Ross Dobberteen said. “So when residents provide us observational data that we don’t see during our typical work week, we have an added component.”

He said the local knowledge provides a more robust analysis since most consultants don’t live in Redwood City.  Burwell added that they’re “always learning something new.”

“For example, public comments from biology experts really help us,” Burwell said. “We’ve been directed towards studies regarding domestic cats consumption of songbirds that we might not have read before.”

Dobberteen said that consultants still need to explore the area and have a better idea of the plant and animal species that inhabit the area.

“For all we know, there might be cancer-curing plants there,” he said.

The City also hired a Special Lead Counsel, Cecily Talbert Barclay, to work with City Attorney Pamela Thompson and Interim City Manager Bob Bell to navigate through legal issues. Laws like the California Environmental Quality Act requires extensive and thorough environmental impact reports. 

“We’re being very conservative and careful in this process,” Barclay said. “Nothing in this project is insurmountable.”

Public comments can be emailed to (SaltworksComments@RedwoodCity.org) or mailed to Attn: Blake Lyon, Planning Services, City of Redwood City, P.O. Box 391, Redwood City, CA 94064-0391.

Correction: The original article had Cargill, Inc., as the project applicants when DMB Associates is the applicant. And the city are the official hirers of consulting firms.

 

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