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Saltworks Project Remains at a Standstill

Planning Manager Blake Lyon said the project has not progressed since its initial halt in November.

Local grassroots organization Redwood City Neighbors United hosted a meeting Wednesday night with Acting Planning Manager Blake Lyon Wednesday to discuss city development and the status of the controversial Cargill Saltworks Project.

RCNU was on the basis that Redwood City should abandon the Saltworks Project, which includes the construction of 8,000-12,000 residential units, 1 million square feet of office space and 140,000 square feet of commercial space, and concentrate on downtown development.

“When we started this we realized very clearly that this is a marathon,” said RCNU committee member Gail Raabe. “It’s not a sprint.”

The organization has quickly gained more than 400 active supporters since its establishment. Supporters have said the proposed Saltworks Project, headed by developers DMB Pacific Ventures, would have negative affects on the environment, traffic mitigation, local economy and water supply.

“We believe the Saltworks development project is one of the biggest issues of our city,” Raabe said.

However, Lyon said that after DMB halted plans due to a largely negative response from local residents in November, city planners have no word of the project’s advancement.

“You can ask me all you want, I don’t have any information,” Lyon said. “They haven’t given us any additional information.”

Lyon, who has been active in the project for four years, said that despite the recent comments DMB developers gave to reporters of the San Francisco Chronicle, city planners hope for transparency with Redwood City residents.

“When we know, you will know shortly thereafter,” Lyon said.

According to Raabe, members of the RCNU met with two representatives of DMB at their request to discuss concerns.

“We don’t know if they’re hearing us, but again, we have their attention,” Raabe said.

But while RCNU may support downtown development, other audience members were reluctant to agree that any development would be beneficial to the community.

“It seems like we approve, we approve, we approve before we look at the deficit we have,” said 20-year Redwood City resident Bob Wilson.

The city’s development, with an influx of high-density housing projects, will strain water allocation and further complicate the city’s traffic, Wilson said.

“I don’t understand why we’re open to these high-density over-developed plans,” Wilson said. “Why don’t we just stop?”

Lyon responded saying that Wilson’s position is not an uncommon one, but the city must develop in the most efficient way to remain competitive.

“We don’t have the luxury of just stopping,” he said.

There are more commuters to Redwood City than residents, Lyon said, and high-density housing will allow commuters to become locals with the option of taking public transportation instead of driving cars.

“Right now it’s done out of necessity rather than pure choice,” Lyon said of commuting drivers.

Many Redwood City residents have the perspective of a detached single-family home, Lyon said, in which families are dependent on their vehicles to accomplish simple tasks such as going to the grocery store or dropping kids off at school.

However, he said, city planners are attempting to accommodate growth in an efficient way with new living options.

But for Wilson, high-density development remains an unreasonable proposition.

“There’s a strong, perhaps too silent, part of the community that just doesn’t get it,” he said. 

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Jack Hickey March 08, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Yes! Let's hope this vocal minority does not prevail. If this were put on the ballot, rational voters (a majority) would approve it.
billyjames March 08, 2012 at 07:31 PM
re our water use, for me the most sobering statement Mr. Lyon made was to say our city's greatest water use is for lawns! I share Mr. Wilson's concern that more people means more water use, and I am confident that like me, his home uses low-flow toilets and he has no lawn.
Matt Leddy March 08, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Kudos to Patch journalist Audrey Arthur for a great job capturing the important highlights from the Redwood City Neighbors United community meeting. The capacity of our City to accomodate growth, and the question of where we want to grow are important issues for all Redwood City residents, so I appreciate your interest and time covering the RCNU meeting.
gail lynch March 10, 2012 at 08:45 AM
For anyone who has ever been thirsty and unable to find a drink of water for a long perieod of time, should think twice about supporting the Cargill project. Our dependance on water is critical. Just because you can turn on your faucet doesn't mean it will always provide. Dave Mihalik, a member of restore Hetch Hetchy, would eliminate San Francisco and the Penninsula water supply if he could have his way. What then? Where do we get our water? That's only part of the issue. Gail Lynch
Lou Covey, The Local Motive March 10, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Gail, the project is not going to be built without a source of water. What we do need to consider is what are we going to do to provide water to all the new developments that are going up. The only developer being required to find a source is DMB.

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