Saturday, November 12, 2011

Revised Saltworks Application Pushed Back to Early 2012

by Stacie Chan, Redwood City Patch, November 12, 2011


A proposed development as large as 1,426 acres to house approximately 30,000 people is going to solicit a lot of comments. So many, in fact, that the team of DMB, Inc., will not submit a revised project proposal of the proposed Cargill Saltworks project until January of next year, rather than the end of 2011 as anticipated, according to DMB Vice President John Bruno.

. . .

Because of feedback from residents hoping for solutions to the following issues in Redwood City: flood protection, increasing the variety of housing options, creating parks, and wetland restoration, the developers need to head back to the drawing board to see how one development can simultaneously address these issues.

Yet many residents, including Dan Ponti of the Redwood City Neighbors United, a neighborhood group that opposes the project for several reasons, are skeptical about this delay and said it proposes more questions than answers.

“If they’re listening to us, it’s about 10:1 against the project based on the number of comments,” Ponti said. “Hopefully they’re thinking about the viability of this project as a whole.”

Many residents like Ponti argue that saltponds are not suitable places to build housing because of sea level rise and the increased traffic that comes with building homes. He argued that area is appropriate for a ferry and port facilities, whereas DMB is in the housing construction business.

However, in February 2010, the city analyzed three areas in the proposal: jurisdictional issues, water supply/demand, and transportation. City staff determined that there were no fundamental insurmountable issues. Thus, DMB was allowed to move forward with their application.

But like all residents in Redwood City, Ponti will have to wait to see exactly what changes DMB makes to its application.

“They’ve had quite a bit of time to review the comments so we’ll see what they come up with,” he said.



Friday, November 11, 2011

No surprises in Redwood City as four incumbents retain city council seats

November 11, 2011

As expected, the four Redwood City incumbents retained their seats on the City Council. The only notable part of the campaign was the complete absence of any discussion on the proposed Saltworks development project. "The candidates generally avoided expressing definitive opinions" about the issue, according to the San Francisco Examiner, which also noted that the Cargill salt ponds "lie outside the city’s current development footprint."


Friday, November 4, 2011

DMB Delays Saltworks Proposal Application

Nov. 4, 2011

DMB Redwood City Saltworks announced today in a press statement that it was "continuing its internal review of the pending proposal for the Saltworks site". Following the City's first environmental scoping session, DMB indicated that it would be modifying its proposal to respond to feedback that was received earlier this year. As recently as August 26, DMB spokesperson Michael Henderson told the Daily News that a revised project application "probably will be filed before the year end.” However, it now appears that DMB will not meet their deadline.

RCNU hopes that this statement is a sign that DMB and Cargill recognize that the property is not a suitable site to build housing.  The pursuit of any project that grows Redwood City on the salt ponds - regardless of its size, runs counter to good land use practices and our community's vision for the future. On the other hand, our city's General Plan provides the best solutions for our City to meet its housing and other needs for the future, in a way that promotes economic development throughout the City, conserves resources, and protects the environment.  We want our city to support policies and projects that contribute to the implementation of our General Plan - which does not allow housing on the Cargill property, and not entertain proposals that will divert growth away from downtown and our existing transportation corridors.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Saltworks and Beyond

by Justin Gerdes, Climate One, October 25, 2011

The debate over Saltworks, a proposal to build 12,000 homes on former salt ponds in Redwood City, is a harbinger of coming development fights in the age of climate change. In this October 18 Climate One debate, architect Peter Calthorpe argued that the need for housing in the San Francisco Bay Area is so great that infill development alone can’t meet demand; conservationist David Lewis countered that developing one of the region’s last unprotected wetlands is not worth the cost.

. . .

Calthorpe challenged David Lewis to answer how the region can reach a jobs-housing balance without employees moving to sprawling developments in Tracy or Livermore or Gilroy, if projects such as Saltworks are not built. “When you push housing farther and farther to the periphery because you don’t want to face up to the challenge in these jobs-rich areas, the environmental footprint, carbon emissions, VMT [vehicle miles traveled], energy consumption, and land consumption—because we all know it’s lower density once it gets out there – all of that, in many cases, is on pristine habitat or farmland.”

We do it by building on already developed land and re-configuring our cities, as is being done in downtown San Mateo and Redwood City, Lewis answered.

Saltworks “should have been dead on arrival in the beginning because it’s not the right place,” he said. “There are almost no other places left in the Bay Area that are undeveloped, that are restorable, and that are not already protected.”

“It’s a mistake to take the pressure off” by building Saltworks, he said.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Future salt pond residents, left holding the (sand) bag

By Tyler P. Berding, a partner in the law firm of Berding-Weil (SM Daily Journal, 10/13/11)

As an attorney who has defended Redwood Shores homeowners and who has represented homeowner associations battling over responsibility for flood protection — and the resulting damages when it fails — I have watched Cargill’s proposed new city-in-a-salt-pond moving forward in Redwood City with growing alarm. Hearing the developer claim that new Bay Area sea level rise plans are somehow good for their scheme is like rubbing salt in a wound.

As they tout the “benefits” for Redwood City, proponents of this development always carefully imply no costs to “current” city taxpayers. Because the fact is that future residents of any Cargillville will be left with massive, unrecoverable costs. This is particularly true given Cargill’s plan to build a levee that will not only have to be maintained in perpetuity, but also raised significantly even to meet their optimistic estimate of sea level rise.

All of this is at homeowners’ expense, long after Cargill has taken its profits and left town.


. . .

Anyone concerned with the Cargill salt pond development proposal should ask the city one simple question: “Who will be responsible for keeping these massive flood control improvements working in the years to come?”

Don’t be surprised by the answer.


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