Poll: Residents Say No To Saltworks Development

Of 350 registered voters, 57 percent opposed the project while 28 percent were in favor of it.

A Save the Bay initiated poll released today showed that Redwood City residents by a 2 to 1 margin. Nearly 9 in 10 residents are familiar with the project.

The city recently ended its first scoping period and will conduct a second notice of preparation in which residents can comment on the application. Applicant DMB Associates spokesperson Jay Reed said they are currently working with city planners to make refinements to their application.  

However, Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis said that this extensive timeline and still no majority support show residents’ opposition to the project.

“The more voters learn about this project, the less they like it,” Lewis said.

Independent company J. Moore Methods of Sacramento conducted the poll from May 11 to 15. The firm has conducted public opinion polls on the California Governor race and on other issues such as the California High Speed Rail and a Bay Area regional gas tax.

However, DMB spokesperson David Smith said Save the Bay was not a credible source to gage public opinion on this project.

“Their number one objective is to shut down any consideration of this project,” Smith said. “We want the public to engage with the city as mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.)

He added that back in 2008, Save the Bay conducted a poll and said that 71 percent of voters supported Measure W, which would require a two-thirds majority vote to allow developers to build on open spaces, including the Cargill property. The measure was actually defeated with 62.6 percent. Save the Bay faced criticism at the time for not releasing all its poll questions.

However, this time Save the Bay has released the entire poll and Lewis said the results speak for themselves. (Click the photo for the entire PDF) He said Save the Bay funded the poll because the organization wanted individuals to realize that their opposition was part of a “strong city-wide opposition.”

“Voters have already decided that they don’t want the land developed, and instead want the salt ponds restored,” he said.

Lewis said he hoped the poll results would aid city councilmembers’ decision to either move forward with the application or halt the project altogether. The poll showed that 54 percent of residents were more likely to support a candidate who opposed the project versus 27 percent who said they would be less likely to support the candidate.

“If officials ignore voters’ opinions, they do so at their own risk,” Lewis said. “This project is not only expensive, but divisive.”

But Smith said he believed the city of Redwood City was “fully capable of carrying out the application process."

“The facts will be made clear in the EIR,” he said.

Sam Russell May 19, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Our economy has been struggling for more than two years; people are under pressure to find good jobs and affordable housing near their workplace. The Saltworks project is planning to build more than 12,000 houses, schools, businesses, offices. Who is going to construct all of these buildings? Residents in our community. Who is going to work at these offices and schools and retail establishments? Residents in our community. We need to jumpstart growth and spending to get us out of the recession. Saltworks is investing in this area and we need to be thankful they are willing to do so. Plus they are committed to being here for the next 25 plus years. I understand we want to conserve the marshlands but I want to be able to provide for my family too and it seems like this plan is balanced leaving room for conservation and growth. Let’s put the Save the Bay survey into perspective – they don’t want this development and they paid for a poll that supported their cause - seems a little sketchy to me.
Susan K May 19, 2011 at 06:10 PM
There are many ways to look at the issue and that makes it easy to ask poll questions to support whatever you want. I find the positives of the DMB proposal outweigh the negatives by far. First off, the land is still owned privately and cancelling this proposal from DMB doesn’t mean that the area will be turned into tidal wetlands. It could very well languish as deserted salt ponds for decades. No one is volunteering the money to convert it to wetlands and Cargill would still own it. The proposal itself is a mix of restoration and development, including a light rail line to downtown all paid for by the developer. They would include levee development, also paid for by the investors, not by my tax dollars – and the levees will have to be worked on eventually. As a resident of Redwood City since 2001 but who was only able to buy a house in 2009, I can personally attest to a lack of affordable housing here. We could have afforded to live down in Gilroy or San Jose, but we did not want to be commuters on the freeway or contribute to the development in areas that were displacing local foxes, etc. which is just as environmentally questionable as developing the Saltworks. (cont'd)
Susan K May 19, 2011 at 06:10 PM
Many folks have had to make that choice as there are 40,000 people driving into our city on a daily basis. Lastly, I was intrigued by someone commenting on a Patch article who says he has lived in the area his whole life and that as a school child, they toured the Cargill facility. The tour operator told the children that the site was built on dry land that was dug down into, not on wetlands – and “restoring” the area then begs the question, restore it to what? My original knee-jerk reaction is to preserve open spaces, but there are so many positive reasons not to in this case.
Philippe May 20, 2011 at 05:25 AM
Arguing this in a few lines when so much as been written already (directly or commissioned) by all sides does not make sense. To answer the author ... yes I oppose development ...
Jan McCormick May 27, 2011 at 09:33 PM
THANK YOU SAM and SUSAN: It seems to me that open space means the Heck with people and feed a fish. Since we don't stop people from residing in our community we need to provide a place for them. Families living in one bedroom apartments is not acceptable but the SAVE the Whatever does not seem care. We need jobs for our community, we need revenue so we can have schools, libraries, police, fire and other services that fish do not provide. Come on Redwood City residents lets get real and stop letting these outside groups run our City.


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