The Loma Prietan - July/August 2010

RWC Council Moves Saltworks Project Forward Despite Citizen Objections

by Laura Burge

Over residents' objections Mayor Jeff Ira and the Council voted unanimously at the May 24 Redwood City Council meeting in support of starting the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process for the Cargill Saltworks Project. This vote, on a consent calendar item, was to confirm the selection of Hauge Brueck Associates as the lead environmental consultant for the project. This approval of the next step in the review of the Saltworks Project commits the Redwood City Council to spending the time and money to investigate this flawed proposal further.

The Saltworks project is a proposal by DMB Associates to develop 70% of the 1,433-acre Cargill salt ponds into a mini-city of 12,000 homes and one million square feet of office space, dedicating the remaining 30% for wetlands restoration, open space and recreation. This development would build on former Bay wetlands, over 90% of which have already been destroyed. To regain the balance of the local ecosystem, we need to restore the wetlands, which, among other benefits, will help prevent floods, reduce pollution, and nurture many endangered species.

Despite numerous and mounting concerns by Redwood City residents, not only about the traffic problems that this development would cause, but also about the viability of our local ecosystem, the Redwood City Council, while professing to stay neutral, is in fact taking all the appropriate and invested steps toward making this proposal a reality.

Packed Meeting

This meeting was packed full of Chapter members who live in Redwood City, many coming forward to make comments on this issue before the Council voted. Many who had prepared thorough comments were taken aback when told that each comment was being limited to one minute instead of the standard three. Several were told by Mayor Ira that their time was up before they had stated the focus of their objections. There were comments on both sides of the issue, but when one resident asked all those present who had come to the meeting for the sole purpose of opposing the EIR to stand, well over half the room obliged. You can see the meeting for yourself by going to www. ci.redwood-city.ca.us and clicking on 'Government/City Council/Meetings.'

The next steps for area residents are to attend the meetings and workshops that consultants Hauge Brueck Associates will hold over the summer and to submit comments in the fall. Those opposed to this huge development project must continue to speak out and let other Redwood City residents know about what is going on in their own backyard. The City Council still has the option of stopping the EIR process.

Laura Burge is a member of the Chapter Wetlands Subcommittee.