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Anti-Cargill Group Not Reassured by Mayor's Letter

Redwood City Neighbors United released a statement still expressing their concern over the environmental review process.

Courtesy of Redwood City Neighbors United

Redwood City Neighbors United (RCNU) continues to be concerned about the potential for bias and conflict of interest in the Cargill/DMB Saltworks environmental review process, after the by Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre in response to RCNU’s letter to city officials and Op-Ed of last week.

“The Mayor’s statement doesn’t address the specific issue we raised in our letter – that by relying on reports written by Cargill/DMB consultants, the City’s environmental impact analysis may be inappropriately influenced,” RCNU Co-Chair Dan Ponti said. “The Mayor’s letter confirmed that ‘the City's consultants will use the information provided by DMB,’ which is precisely our concern.

"Studies that document current conditions on the site, characterize potential project impacts, or propose mitigations should not be in the control of the developer," he added. "While we are confident that the City will conduct a careful review and analysis of these studies, no amount of peer review can completely eliminate that potential for bias."

In the group’s , RCNU asked Redwood City to adopt procedures similar to numerous other cities in the Bay Area like San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. These cities require that staff directly hire and oversee all of the consultants contributing to a development project’s environmental review.

"RCNU and the City share the same goals – we want the EIR that the City prepares for this project to be viewed by both project proponents and critics alike as both credible and fair," Ponti said. "Common sense policies like these will ensure a truly independent review process that the community and other agencies can confidently rely upon to make an informed decision.”

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Lou Covey, The Local Motive March 22, 2012 at 01:46 PM
This is really pretty silly. Before the city can hire consultants and oversee their work on a proposal, a proposal has to be written and submitted. The DMB proposal was withdrawn after preliminary review by city directed and overseen consultants found problems, all of which were reported and widely hailed by project opponents. The proposal is under rewrite at the moment. When it is resubmitted, the process of independent city-reviewed and publicly visible study and comment will start again. What these people want is a movie review before the script is written. Cart before the horse folks.
Barb Valley March 22, 2012 at 05:37 PM
So Mr. Ponti doesn't accept Mayor Aquirrre's assurances of a non-biased EIR of the Saltworks proposal. Well, color me surprised. NOT. First, opponents didn't want an EIR at all. Now they want to rewrite the process. DMB Pacific Ventures is currently doing a technical analysis of the project. Stanford did the same. Every applicant does. Think about it. If you were doing a remodel would you want the City to hire the architect and the contractor or would you want to be the one defining your project? That's what DMBPV is doing now - defining their project.
Jules Abraham March 25, 2012 at 02:13 AM
It’s clear that RCNU is trying to support a transparent and strong EIR process. Community residents are encouraging the City to follow the same objective process adopted by San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. Of course DMB should submit their project application; however, city consultants should compile the independent, unbiased reports that define the raw data and initial conditions of the environment and resources. Cities up and down the Peninsula recognize the value of this. As long as there are reports in the EIR appendices written by DMB consultants, Redwood City will never be able to dispel or disprove a conflict of interest. Why go there in the first place? If the city adopts the same good procedures that these other cities use, the EIR process stands to gain in credibility. Why would anyone argue against transparency and objectivity?
Lou Covey, The Local Motive March 25, 2012 at 03:10 AM
No one is arguing against a transparent process, but the RCNU is claiming that there is bias relating to a proposal that does not yet exist. The Saltworks proposal submitted last year was withdrawn. There is no proposal to study. Why is that so difficult to understand.
Barb Valley April 25, 2012 at 03:51 AM
RCNU Co-Chair Dan Ponti said. “The Mayor’s letter confirmed that ‘the City's consultants will use the information provided by DMB," Here’s what the Mayor actually said, “ While the City's consultants will use the information provided by DMB, it will only be a starting point". She further went on to say, ". The City and its consultants will conduct a great deal of independent research and analyses, and only when the new review and scoping process is complete, and the project description is finalized and ready for environmental review, will the City begin preparation of the EIR document, independently, with the City’s own consultants." They can't do that, Jules, until there is a project application/description and currently there is none.

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