Redwood City to Perform Full Environmental Review of Saltworks

The Redwood City Council voted unanimously to proceed with the formal environmental review of the Saltworks 50/50 Balance Plan, a move supported by local voters.

Under the plan, developer DMB Associates will restore and bring back to life — at private expense — 1,436 acres on the edge of San Francisco Bay where levels of salinity and concentrations of other substances resulting from industrial salt production are so extreme the property is uninhabitable.

The restoration plan proposes to use 50 percent of the site for active recreation, open space and tidal marsh recreation and the remaining 50 percent for a walkable, transit-oriented community that would reduce the massive jobs/housing imbalance in the area and help reduce long-distance commutes and greenhouse gas emissions across the region.

The vote reflected public opinion in Redwood City, where a survey conducted in April found that 68 percent of voters support city officials conducting a full environmental and public review of the Saltworks 50/50 Balanced Plan.

“We are heartened by this indication that the Bay Area embraces the form of sustainable reuse and restoration we have in mind for the Redwood City Saltworks,” said John Bruno, DMB Redwood City Saltworks general manager.

“As the Bay Area learns more through the environmental review process,” Bruno added, “we are confident voters and elected leaders will see that we have an opportunity in Redwood City to do something truly special and set a new standard for smart growth and stewardship of the natural and human environments.”

The community will be constructed to meet U.S. Green Building Council LEED ND standards and generate enough solar energy onsite to fulfill most power needs. It will have a new independent source of drinking water that will not compete with regional supplies.

The project will take place on private property owned by Cargill that hasn’t been part of San Francisco Bay since it was diked, graded and filled for industrial salt-production between 70 and 100 years ago. DMB intends to pull the Bay onto the site through re-creation of 440 acres of wetlands, tidal marsh and natural habitat, which would amount to one of the largest privately funded restoration projects of its type in San Francisco Bay history.

“The more light the environmental review process sheds on the Saltworks 50/50 Balanced plan, the more the Bay Area will appreciate its environmental values,” Bruno predicted.

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