Opinion: Progress or Regress?

Cargill-DMB's proposed Redwood City Saltworks development project will have a huge negative impact on Menlo Park and the entire Peninsula.

For the environmentalist, outdoor enthusiast and photographer, San Francisco Bay is our region’s spirit and life force, no less an icon than the Golden Gate or Bay Bridges. Bay preservation and wetlands restoration are paramount.

Prior to the 1960’s progress consisted of filling in and diking the Bay, dumping garbage, and scheming to shrink this massive estuary to a trickle without regard for its ecological majesty and rich wildlife breeding ground and habitat.

Happily, after more than 50 years of dedicated work, the Bay is returning to health! Just visit one of the many Bayland Parks and take a walk, jog, or bike, picnic, windsurf, photograph, bird watch, and more.

Extensive wetland restoration, including in multiple places here in Menlo Park, is reversing the damage done to thousands of acres of the Bay shoreline by turning salt ponds and sites previously diked off for agricultural use into thriving marshland once again. In addition to creating healthy wildlife habitat for migratory and resident species, these wetlands improve flood control for coastal cities, filter pollution runoff before it reaches the Bay, and reduce the impact of climate change by acting as carbon dioxide sinks.

However, there is a serious threat to all this tranquility for Redwood City and neighboring communities. Enter Minnesota-based agribusiness giant Cargill Inc., America’s largest privately owned company, and Arizona-based luxury-home developer specializing in master planned communities, and the Redwood City Saltworks development project.

Cargill-DMB’s proposal would transform 1,436 acres of sea level salt ponds adjacent to Redwood City into a contemporary city for an estimated 30,000 people, in an earthquake zone behind a 3 mile long new levee. With everything we know about tsunamis, liquefaction, and the estimated sea level rise of 16 inches by 2050 (and 55 inches by 2100), why build on the Bay when we have better choices?

Further, where will the water come from for the project’s residents? The salt ponds may be covered with water most of the year, but there’s not a drop to drink! Redwood City does not have any available water to serve this development and Cargill-DMB’s complex scheme to take water from Kern County, and somehow transport it through a maze of pipes, regulations and multiple water systems, isn’t being supported by water districts.

With this plan up in the air, now the development might be looking at desalination! Do they really plan to ask the residents to drink Bay water, known to be contaminated with mercury, pesticides and more, while their neighbors are drinking pure Hetch Hetchy water?

The list of reasons to oppose this project is long… Traffic and congestion on already jammed roads, pollution, urban sprawl, a threat to hundreds of jobs at Redwood City’s deep-water port, the only deep-water port in the South Bay, a crucial bulk cargo point of entry for Northern California, and an economic engine for Redwood City and the whole county.

Housing can be created by alternative plans closer to businesses and transit, generating regional employment and financial benefit without filling the Bay in. There’s simply no good reason to approve Cargill’s proposal.

Please help to make this project “Dead on Arrival!”

Visit www.DontPaveMyBay.org for extensive information about this destructive project and sign the petition to urge the Redwood City Council to reject this bayfill proposal and promote full restoration of the site. Cargill's development plan is the biggest threat to San Francisco Bay in 50 years. Your support is truly needed for our children’s future.

Your neighbors,

Alice and Jack Kozar in Menlo Park


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Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 17, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Jack, it's too bad you didn't feel this way when the Bohannon center was being approved, by Menlo Park, or the expansion of the Facebook plant, by Menlo Park, that is going to negatively affect southern Redwood City 10 years before the Cargill project even starts bringing in new development. I can't tell whether you really care about Redwood City, or just don't want to see your neighbors to the north get the kind of tax base your community already enjoys. Redwood City will need something like the Saltworks, just to handle the poor planning Menlo Park has already forced on us. Don't hear any MPer's offering to help either.
Chris Manton February 18, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Mr. and Mrs. Kozar describe a wonderful story of society awakening to the majesty of the SF Bay which I believe very few people could or would dispute. However, the narrative loses credibility when both healthy wildlife habitats and a wonderful place to recreate are described in conjunction with mercury, pesticide and other toxin laced bay water. This segue was meant to deflate support for the desalination water option for Saltworks project, but, my conclusion was that some amount of toxins are acceptable for wildlife, just not for human consumption. The argument continues with a "long list of reasons" which are nothing more than a series of irrelevant and vague propositions that can be applied to just about any development project. Then they conclude housing should be created closer to businesses and transit, and 100% of the Saltworks land should be restored. The best funded transit in the area is the highway system, and conveniently 101 is right there. Further, businesses are close-by as many have grown around the 101 corridor. The Saltworks project plan on record is already funded to restore 436 acres, or 30% of the land. So I would mostly agree with their conclusion, except for the part about not building the Saltworks project. Oh, and Crystal Springs reservoir has it's own mercury issues: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/07/06/MNU41E4CR4.DTL
Jack Hickey February 18, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I support the Cargill Project. And, regarding the statement; "...these wetlands...reduce the impact of climate change by acting as carbon dioxide sinks.", going from "salt ponds" to a developed community with significant landscaping greenery might provide an even better carbon dioxide sink. In any event, total restoration is an economic non-starter, while the Cargill project economics afford significant environmental improvements to the status quo.


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