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In The News

San Francisco politicians weighing in on Peninsula development plan

City Insider, S.F. Chronicle, 3/05/10, 1 p.m.

Peninsula politics has become city politics now that liberal icon and former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos has thrown his support behind a controversial plan to build offices, retail and up to 12,000 housing units on part of the Redwood City salt flats.

The proposal to develop half of the 1,400-acre Cargill salt production facility along the bay and restore the other half to wetlands has drawn fire from the environmental group Save the Bay, which has lined up more than 90 current and former elected Bay Area officials to oppose the project.

Agnos said he was approached almost simultaneously by the developer, DMB Associates, and Save the Bay (through former supes President Aaron Peskin), with both sides seeking his support.

Instead of signing the environmental group's letter reading "Salt ponds are not land to be paved," Agnos said he did some research.

"The more I've learned about this project, the more I'm convinced it's worthy of being evaluated on the merits," Agnos told the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission on Thursday.

"This project does not put one shovel of fill into the bay," Agnos said. "Indeed, if one shovel of fill goes into the bay, I will be the first one standing here to oppose it."

Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis is pushing for Redwood City officials to nix the project, saying the idea of developing the site is untenable and there is no need to proceed with a lengthy analysis of its potential impacts on the environment.

"This is on the radar screen of people all over the country," Lewis told the commission.

But Agnos said the project will use private money to restore hundreds of acres of wetlands that the federal government already bypassed as too difficult and too expensive to rehabilitate.

He also ticked off a series of purported benefits from the project, like 15 percent affordable housing, a completely self-sustaining development with its own water source and renewable power, a 3 1/2-mile long bay-front park, a new link in the Bay Trail -- all paid for with private funds.

It would be "the most sustainable development in the history of the state, and perhaps the country," Agnos said.

(Don't tell that to the folks trying to get that same distinction for a redeveloped Treasure Island.)

Homes and wetlands along the bay.
Posted By: John Coté (Email) | March 05 2010 at 01:00 PM


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