EPA finally steps in to look at the Redwood City salt ponds
San Francisco Chronicle March 28, 2015
One of the biggest and most contentious development projects in the Bay Area — a massive housing plan in Redwood City, right on the bay — has been in limbo for years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just ensured that the limbo is going to last quite a bit longer.
Cargill, a food and agricultural products company, owns the site — more than 1,400 acres that it’s been using for industrial salt production. It’s been working with DMB Associates, an Arizona-based developer, to secure development permission for more than six years. Originally their plan was to develop a community of some 12,000 homes; they’ve scaled that back in the face of serious political and environmental opposition.
Letter to Editor: EPA takes over Cargill
San Mateo Daily Journal March 23, 2015
Joy! Unadulterated joy! Deep appreciation to Jackie Speier, Dianne Feinstein, the Bay Area congressional delegates and the EPA for bringing strong leadership and powerful voices to the table — and shame on DMB (“EPA takes lead over Cargill” in the March 20 edition of the Daily Journal).
How DMB’s David Smith could claim to be confused and outraged is beyond elementary logic: Cargill has been using Bay land — zoned as tidal — to produce salt. The fact that they stopped producing salt and want to build luxury homes on mud does not change geology or the protections of the Clean Water Act. The EPA has just confirmed that the conditions that apply to all other former Cargill salt ponds also applies to those in Redwood City. Smith is “frankly outraged” over the inconvenience of a truth he didn’t want to hear.
A Setback for Redwood City Salt Pond Development
KQED Radio Forum March 23, 2015
Host: Joshua Johnson
A developer's plan to construct 12,000 homes along the bay in Redwood City has been stalled. The Environmental Protection Agency announced it will decide whether the Cargill Saltworks site falls under protection of the Clean Water Act, which would prohibit the development. We'll discuss what's at stake in the struggle to balance San Francisco Bay restoration efforts with a Bay Area housing shortage.
EPA Steps Into Redwood City’s Salt Pond Development Battle
KQED News March 20, 2015
By Rachael Myrow
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stepped into one of the most contentious development battles along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The San Jose Mercury News reports the agency has asserted its authority to review a major bayfront development in Redwood City under terms of the federal Clean Water Act.
Since 2009, Arizona-based developer DMB has been seeking permission to develop 1,478 acres with up to 12,000 homes on a site owned by food and agricultural products company Cargill. There’s a long history of salt ponds in San Francisco Bay, stemming back to the 19th century, but in recent decades the EPA and state and local agencies have been engaged in a multimillion-dollar effort to restore the ponds to their previous incarnation: tidal wetlands.
EPA takes lead over Cargill: Speier, Save the Bay applaud move; developer outraged
San Mateo Daily Journal March 20, 2015
By Bill Silverfarb
The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the lead in deciding whether the Cargill Saltworks site in Redwood City should be protected to the chagrin of developer DMB Pacific Ventures.
The EPA’s move was praised by environmentalists and federal lawmakers but officials with DMB said the decision has stalled a three-year effort by the joint venture to clear key environmental hurdles before it comes back to the city with a new housing proposal for the land east of Highway 101.
“We are highly confused and frankly outraged,” said DMB’s David Smith.
Cargill/DMB requested three years ago from both the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make a jurisdictional determination over whether the roughly 1,480 acres of land on the Bay was subject to federal laws including the Clean Water and Rivers and Harbors acts.
A corps report released this week indicates that only about 60 acres of the land falls under its jurisdiction through the Rivers and Harbors Act. The corps was presumably ready to make a determination on whether the salt ponds remain waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act as it previously ruled before the EPA stepped in.
But the EPA stepped in at the last minute to derail the process, Smith said.
“They’ve had three years to participate. All this time they’ve had this authority and have chosen to do nothing,” Smith said about the EPA.
Last month, Bay Area lawmakers urged the corps to stick with its previous decision that the salt ponds are protected by the Clean Water Act.
The EPA’s move to take over the jurisdictional determination of the land was praised Thursday by U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.