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In The News

On a Redwood City development

Editorial, S.F. Chronicle, 3/03/10

Ecologically sensitive salt ponds on the outskirts of Redwood City are the wrong place to build up to 12,000 new homes.

Unfortunately, Redwood City officials have been mostly quiet about the massive project, which would construct a community of up to 25,000 people on a 1,436-acre salt evaporation site owned by Cargill Salt. But the city council has chosen to move forward with an environmental review of the project, which suggests they think it should at least be considered.

Nearly 100 current and former Bay Area elected officials disagree, and for good reason. "Salt ponds are not land to be paved," reads a letter signed by officials opposing the project. "They are part of San Francisco Bay to be restored to tidal marsh, natural flood protection for our communities, cleaner water, and recreation areas for everyone to enjoy."

In February, the city council of neighboring Menlo Park also voted, 4-1, to formally oppose the project.

All of this concern is more than justified: the salt ponds are restorable wetlands, which provide natural flood protection. In contrast, the project, which is at sea level, would require the homes to be surrounded by levees. In a time of global warming, that's the kind of development that the Bay Area should be running away from, not approving.

The project also faces an uphill battle when it comes to water (Redwood City doesn't have any to spare, and the developer's plan to do a trade on water rights it owns in Kern County is fraught with uncertainty) and transportation. An extra 25,000 people means a lot of extra cars and extra congestion - for the whole Bay Area.

DMB Associates, the developer working with Cargill to win project approval, says that no one has anything to fear from an environmental review process. Redwood City Manager Peter Ingram told us that the city has not received the opposition letter officially and, as such, there is no official response.

But Redwood City must be getting an idea of how worried this project is making its neighbors. Now is the time to say no.

 

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