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In The News

Developer Promises More ‘Confined’ Development
Opposition groups don’t want any future development on the Saltworks site, while others pushed for an advisory vote to gauge public opinion.

By Stacie Chan
Redwood City Patch, 5/8/12
   
Many residents were dissatisfied with the developer’s plan to build a more contained development than the original proposal and asked the city council Monday night to deny any future application.

On Thursday, the developer of the proposed Cargill Saltworks project withdrew its current application before the city council could vote on a recommendation to deny it. Many opponents saw this as a “victory” and thanked the council and the ad hoc committee for its recommendation.  

Developer DMB Pacific Ventures’ Vice President John Bruno described the new application that would contain approximately half the development acreage of the original application.

“Our revision will be a significant departure confined to a smaller foot print while preserving or augmenting public benefits such as affordable housing, new parks and hiking trails, and opportunity for environmental protection and restoration,” said DMB Pacific Ventures Vice President John Bruno.

In the formal letter to the city withdrawing the application, he added that the development would be contained within the portion of 542 acres designated “Urban Reserve” under the city’s General Plan, or blueprint.

However, members of opposition groups were still vehemently against any future development.

“This is an unmitigated environmental disaster,” said resident Carolyn Cheney. “Don’t lead them on that a revised proposal will be acceptable to us, it will never be acceptable to many people. Just say no.”

Nancy Arbuckle, a member of Redwood City Neighbors United, a group formed to oppose the project, addressed the council’s rationale that the project had been incredibly divisive in the community.

She added, “As residents learn of what the impacts would be, we are united in our opposition: the opposition between us and DMB/Cargill on one side. And we will tell DMB/Cargill in every way we know how that we don’t want this.”

Resident Alice Kaufman of the environmental organization, Committee for Green Foothills, explained, “This site has to first be transformed to dry land for people to work or live on it. Plus we don’t have to put buildings everywhere we can. There can be redevelopment of existing parcels to meet the Association of Bay Area Governments’ projected housing needs.”

Stephen Knight, the political director of Save the Bay, suggested adding “denial of application” to the number of options for the land.

However, Councilmember Barbara Pierce said she wouldn’t commit to any such denial.

“I’m not going to out of hand dismiss anything because the owners have the right to their land,” she said.

Other residents suggested an advisory vote to truly understand if the public wants no development at all.

“Rather than dealing with cameras, buttons, signs and accusing the council of malfeasance, we should ask if development should be prohibited altogether on the facility,” said resident Lou Covey.

However, Councilmember Jeff Ira said he would not be in favor of an advisory vote.

“I couldn’t answer ‘do I want any development?’ because I’d answer ‘it depends,’” Councilmember Jeff Ira said.

Resident Foster Kinney had the same “wait and see” attitude stating that he would like to see the project’s full environmental impact report before forming an opinion on the project.

What to Do While Waiting

In the meantime, polls via phone have been circling asking the public’s opinions about a potential development on the Saltworks project, Councilmember Ian Bain noted. He cautioned that a question about a potential tax for restoration has not been a discussion amongst the council or staff.

“I also want to make sure that options aren’t either development or restoration,” Bain said. “We can also leave the land just as it is. This doesn’t mean that restoration can’t take place in the future.”

He also suggested adding and labeling the Saltworks area in the General Plan to “provide some clarity for the developer on where to go from here.” The General Plan initially didn’t include this area for land designation over concerns that this area would “hijack the rest of the plan,” Bain added.

Councilmember John Seybert added, “I hope [this project] stays in the rear view mirror, along with childish attacks.”

Councilmember Jeff Ira explained that the city could now focus all its energy on current projects.

“There are so many fun things going on, with projects in Escrow, some that will be in Escrow,” he said. “There are so many things we’re looking forward to fulfilling.”

 

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