Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cargill developer "myths" debunked

By Stephen Knight, Political Director

Recent blog and Twitter posts by Cargill's Redwood City developer DMB state, "there’s been a lot of misinformation and half-truths being circulated out there."

No kidding.

Openly concerned about the attention being paid to their unprecedented plans to build a new city in the Bay, the increasingly desperate developer is clumsily attempting to erase many simple and inconvenient facts by claiming that they are "myths."

But the evidence is overwhelmingly to the contrary.

Did Cargill not tell their Arizona-based development partner these basic facts about their Bay property? You be the judge:

--> Astonishingly, Cargill’s developer claims it is a "myth" that the site "was diked off from tidal action to create salt evaporation ponds." This property is former tidal marsh, diked off from the Bay to make salt. Is there another way to make a salt pond? Just look at this 1943 aerial photograph.

--> DMB says it is a "myth" that site is located within a FEMA flood plain. Apparently they have not seen Redwood City's General Plan. (Redwood City General Plan Map, page BE-54).

--> Cargill's developer refuses to admit that the Redwood City salt ponds are the largest unprotected stretch of restorable bay shoreline because, they say, the site "is privately owned by Cargill." Yet the fact that these salt ponds remain in private ownership defines why they need protection from development.

--> DMB asserts that the current zoning for the site "anticipates future development proposals." In fact, Redwood City's General Plan states of the Cargill salt ponds: "Due to the sensitive nature of these open space areas, it should be assumed that they will remain as open space forever." These salt ponds have never been zoned for housing.

--> Cargill's developer also calls a "myth" the fact that state and federal laws prohibit filling wetlands when alternatives are available. But nobody contests that fact. The US EPA recently called these salt ponds "a critically important aquatic resource that warrant special attention" (EPA letter, Jan. 5, 2010). And Cargill has filed documents with the US Army Corps calling the site "waters of the US" protected by the Clean Water Act.

--> Cargill is running ads on TV and in newspapers telling the Bay Area public that this site is "a century-old industrial facility." Does this look like an industrial facility to you?

--> The developer threatens that the only choice is to approve their massive development, otherwise Cargill will continue making salt. Nobody is telling them not to keep making salt; it is their legal right to do so. But Cargill has already made clear that salt harvesting is no longer economically viable in Redwood City (Paul Shepherd, Cargill Land Manager, letter to Redwood City residents, 2006).

Just as Redwood City voters prevented Bair Island from being developed a generation ago, Cargill’s development must be stopped so that – like Bair Island – it can be added to the Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge and restored to tidal wetlands to benefit people and wildlife.

For more photos and documentation behind the real facts, please visit our Flickr site.

1 comment:

Curmudgeon said...

At a time when thousands of people are *still* commuting into local jobs from as far away as Modesto and Stockton, spewing who knows how much car exhaust and wasting precious natural resources (most notably Time, the most precious and finite resource any of us have) the myopia of a good many "environmentalists" is stupefying.

To say nothing of how many critters were displaced by development out in the remote San Joaquin Valley, rather than here in an already urbanized area.

In short, fill in the swamps, let another Foster City bloom, and give your children (and by extension your granchildren) a chance to live near you, rather than many miles away.