In The News
Development plans on controversial site released
S.F. Examiner, 3/08/09
REDWOOD CITY – The oft-controversial development of the Cargill
site on the waterfront is back on the map.
The vast mass of land on Redwood City’s waterfront has for decades
operated as a salt manufacturing facility. In recent years, landowner
Cargill Saltworks and developer DMB Saltworks have publicly vetted the
idea of developing the 1,400-plus-acre site, but have yet to submit an
official proposal to either Redwood City or the San Francisco Bay
Conservation and Development Commission, the state agency that claims
ultimate oversight of the project.
A conceptual design for the 1,433-acre planned development, which
the developer promised was still a work in progress, was, however,
presented to the Bay Conservation and Development Commission on
The plan proposes that the northwest half of the development be
restored to wetlands, with a park-like “transition zone” between the
wetlands and the development, fronting a lagoon and extending in
“fingers” into the development. A large circle of sports fields and
parkland would be located near a central entrance to the development.
Despite the lack of formal plans, the project has already garnered
considerable opposition from community and environmental groups who
say the site, which was once Bay wetlands, should be returned to the
The battle came to its first head in November’s election when
voters were faced with two competing ballot measures that would have
changed the city charter and required the development — when proposed
— be approved by either 66 percent or 50 percent of voters.
Ultimately, both failed, but it was clear in Thursday’s meeting
that the project’s opponents have not yielded. David Lewis, executive
director of environmental organization Save the Bay, argued that it
would not be legal to develop the site because it was once part of the
Bay — and further, it’s unnecessary.
“It isn’t necessary to destroy a part of the Bay to save another
part of the Bay,” he said.
This argument seemed to have traction with some commissioners.
Commissioner Eric Carruthers considered that the salt ponds were
wetlands as recently as 1943, which he said was “not ancient history,”
which made him “feel very uneasy about such a major” alteration of the
But Commissioner Colleen Jordan Hallinan, a former resident of
Redwood Shores, said the development could provide a great opportunity
for the community to have access to the waterfront.
She reminded the commission that its title was the “Bay
Conservation and Development Commission,” not just the “Bay
About the planned development
Location: Redwood City’s 1433-acre salt ponds, on the Bay shore
north of downtown Redwood City and Highway 101, and to the southeast
of Redwood Shores.
Idea: The site’s owner, Cargill Saltworks, is vetting the concept
of developing the salt ponds.
Proponents: Say the development on half of the land would pay for
the wetland restoration of the other half of the land.
Opponents: Say the land was originally part of the Bay and should
be entirely returned to the Bay; argue that the land is at sea level
and developments would be at risk of flooding.
Who decides: Both the Redwood City Council and the San Francisco
Bay Conservation and Development Commission will have to approve any
What happens next: The developer plans to present a formal
development concept to the Redwood City Council within months. Mayor
Roseanne Foust expects environmental review to begin February of next
Source: DMB Saltworks, San Francisco Bay Conservation and
Development Commission, City of Redwood City