The Loma Prietan - November/December 2011

Cargill Saltworks

New Redwood City Group Launched to Oppose Saltworks

by Marianna Raymond

The air was electric as a diverse group of nearly 100 citizens from Redwood City and surrounding areas gathered at the Redwood City Unitarian Church to celebrate the September 26 launch of Redwood City Neighbors United (RCNU). The new group’s mission is to convince Redwood City to reject Cargill/DMB’s plans to build the massive Saltworks project, an irresponsible development which fails to meet the reasonable growth guidelines in Redwood City’s own General Plan. (See “Saltworks’ Environmental Problems Worsen,” in this issue.)

Ralph Nobles, the first speaker at the launch, inspired and entertained the crowd with a brief history of how Bair Island, a neighboring parcel twice the size of the Cargill property, was saved. (See “Cargill Controversy Echoes Decades-Old Fight.”) Dan Ponti, who co-chairs RCNU along with Ramona Ambrozic, pointed out that Cargill/DMB’s deep pockets have enabled them to engage in intense lobbying and misleading ad campaigns. As he explained it, they have framed the debate, vilified all those opposed as “evil outsiders” and characterized themselves as “community benefactors.” Hence the need for a local group with a Redwood City face, one which will work to reframe the debate.

Over the coming months, RCNU will be broadening its community of opposition, setting up educational events, speaking to downtown business leaders, coordinating letter-writing campaigns, and cooperating with other groups.

There’s no time to waste. As Dan, also a Club member, pointed out, “with Saltworks on the table, we can’t proactively develop a vision for future use of this critical part of our bayfront.” Let’s get to work!

Marianna Raymond is Chair of the Chapter’s Baylands Committee.