Thursday, September 29, 2011

New foes for Saltworks - Redwood City group forms to fight proposal

Palo Alto Daily Post, 09/29/11

A group of Redwood City residents, calling themselves Redwood City Neighbors United, have come together to fight the development proposed for the salt ponds east of Highway 101 by agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. and Arizona housing developer DMB Associates.

"We formed Redwood City Neighbors United (RCNU) to give a voice to the concerns that so many residents, neighbors and business owners have about the huge impacts the Cargill development will have on our city and quality of life," said Redwood City resident Dan Ponti, who co-chairs the group with Ramona Ambrozic.

The group cites traffic gridlock, uncertain water supplies, economic harm to the Seaport area and downtown businesses, loss of potential wetlands, and increased costs to maintain the necessary infastructure as among their concerns if the plan for 12,000 residential units and one million square feet of commercial/retail is approved.

"For those of us who live and work in Redwood City, these are quality-of-life issues that will affect us every day," said Ponti.

(The above article segment was published in the Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011 edition of the Palo Alto Daily Post. You can view and purchase the full article in the Daily Post's archives at


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest opinion: Cargill — If you build it, the roads will clog

by Malcolm Dudley, former chair of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (Almanac, 9/28/11)

After years of debate, just about everybody has heard of Cargill's hugely controversial proposal to build a new city on Redwood City's bayfront mudflats.

These undeveloped, restorable salt ponds occupy two square miles east of Highway 101, between Marsh and Woodside roads. Reflecting significant alarm about the proposal, many city councils around the region passed a formal resolution opposing the project early last year. I am one of over 150 former or current elected officials, representing every level of government from the federal to the local, who have asked Redwood City to reconsider its consideration of this environmental boondoggle.

Whatever you may think about protecting open space, building in San Francisco Bay, or importing drinking water from the parched Central Valley, for those of us who live in the area, a central issue has to be traffic. Initial estimates are that the Cargill project, with 32,000 residents in 12,000 units of housing, will bring 80,000 or more new car trips every day to our area of the Peninsula — with as many as 10,000 trips an hour during the morning rush!

This is in an area where our streets and freeways — Marsh, Woodside, Whipple, 101, and others — are all under intense pressure from existing traffic, even during this recession, and getting failing grades. Can you even imagine 10,000 more cars at Marsh and Woodside at rush hour?

We all know that the Bay Area needs housing, and that there will be growth on the Peninsula. But growth must be managed and smart, based in places with existing infrastructure, near transit, businesses, shopping and schools, so that residents stay out of their cars as much as possible. The Cargill site fails this test, hands down.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

LTE: Cargill’s New Downtown

San Mateo Daily Journal, Sept. 3, 2011


The Redwood City Downtown Business Directory 2011, co-published by The Spectrum Magazine and the city of Redwood City, is a wonderful publication supported by the Downtown Redwood City Business Group. It includes a guide and advertisements for the great variety of businesses and entertainment activities downtown.

I was surprised to see the directory includes a full-page ad for Cargill/DMB’s proposed Saltworks Project. This ad actually describes a new Saltworks downtown with “retail shops, restaurants, office space and residential homes,” and the drawing in the ad even looks like our real downtown Redwood City. It seems the Downtown Redwood City Business Group and the city are shooting themselves in the foot by promoting Saltworks. The city’s own initial study for Saltworks says this project could “redirect growth from the city’s downtown to the project site, potentially affecting implementation of the precise plan for Redwood City’s downtown core area.” This same study also says that Saltworks could have “potentially significant impacts” on our existing parks, local and regional traffic and our Port and Seaport industries.

The Saltworks ad in the downtown directory is another example of how our city leaders are supporting Cargill and DMB in their quest to turn our town into Saltworks City. They are promoting a project that poses a serious threat to the success of Redwood City’s Downtown Plan, and the economic and environmental health of our community. Our leaders should focus on the downtown we already have.

Judy Serebrin
Redwood City


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Revision to Saltworks plan renews traffic concerns

by Bonnie Eslinger, Palo Alto Daily News, Sept 1, 2011

When a developer applied in May 2009 to build a mini-city on 1,400 acres of Cargill salt flats in Redwood City, one of the first things city officials did was check whether the project would create a traffic nightmare.

In January 2010, they released a report that concluded DMB Associates' proposed Redwood City Saltworks plan should be processed because on first brush it appeared to adequately address traffic and other environmental issues.

That assessment was based in part on the company's transportation plan, which envisioned traffic flowing in and out of the development on three roads that would connect to Bayfront Expressway/Marsh Road, Blomquist Street/Seaport Boulevard and a new Highway 101 bridge to Broadway in the Midpoint Technology Park area.

But eight months later, Arizona-based DMB Associates modified its application to remove the word "vehicle" from the description of the new Highway 101 bridge.

As a result, the bridge would only carry pedestrians, bicycle traffic and a streetcar that shuttles people through the development.

Redwood City Senior Planner Blake Lyon, who is overseeing the Saltworks application process, wouldn't speculate this week whether the revision may turn out to be a project killer, but he confirmed that additional traffic studies will have to be done to determine "what the existing roadways can hold."

The city's January 2010 report allowing the environmental review to proceed sounded rather conclusive, however.

"If any one of these major connections is found to be infeasible, it is unlikely that the full project could be developed since it would be difficult to provide sufficient roadway capacity in the remaining connections as currently presented," states the report, noting that Saltworks could add up to 7,000 vehicles to city roadways during peak commute times.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Water agency leaders oppose deal for proposed Cargill Redwood City development

by Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News - August 24, 2011

An Arizona company's plan to build the largest housing development on the shores of San Francisco Bay since the birth of Foster City more than 50 years ago is hitting a potentially significant new hurdle: lack of water.

DMB Associates of Scottsdale, Ariz., has proposed to build 12,000 homes in Redwood City east of Highway 101 on vacant lands once used by Cargill Salt.

On Tuesday, however, leaders at two prominent Silicon Valley water districts said they are opposed to helping the project acquire water through a complex transfer involving farming interests near Bakersfield.

"I'm not going to support something like that," said Don Gage, chairman of the Santa Clara Valley Water District's board. "It entangles you in a situation where you don't want to be. It doesn't do any good for the water district to be put in that position."

Similarly, Walt Wadlow, general manager of the Alameda County Water District, said his agency isn't interested in partnering with DMB to shift the Bakersfield water through its system to Redwood City.

"Alameda County Water District is not participating and has no intention of participating in providing a water supply for the DMB-Cargill Project," Wadlow said. "Numerous environmental issues have been raised with regard to this project and we have no interest in contributing to the ongoing controversy."

Environmentalists called the news a major setback. They have raised concerns about traffic, sea level rise, and other issues, and say they want the whole property converted back to wetlands for fish and wildlife.


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