Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Redwood City Saltworks Forum on Open Space and Recreation

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to Redwood City residents at a forum about recreation and open space at the site of the Redwood City Industrial Siteworks/Seaport Wetlands (depending on your point of view). The forum was hosted by Cargill/DMB, the group doing public outreach in advance of submitting a plan to the city for this 1,400 acre site located at the foot of Seaport Boulevard.

About 170 people turned out for the meeting, many if not most of them supportive of the concept of restoring the site, currently in salt production, to wetlands and open space. There was also a contingent of folks concerned about the lack of recreational space for youth sports, but many of them also supported restoration, as long as some accommodation could be made for the sporting facilities.

This site has special significance as it is the last large parcel on the Peninsula's bayfront not included in the efforts to restore the South Bay salt ponds. I urged the developers to think regionally when putting together a plan for the site, including making provisions to close a 2-mile gap in the SF Bay Trail and cooperating with efforts to restore wetlands. I also pointed out that the developers would need a change in zoning to support development on the site, currently most of the site is zoned tidal floodplain and 2/3s of the site designated for open space uses only. With the recent estimates that this part of the bay would be inundated with rising sea level and national trends post-Katrina not to build in floodplains, the developers would be wise to consider these major site constraints and trends in preparing whatever plan they do for the property.

At the end of the evening, the project lead for DMB called me the "MVP" of the evening since I ended up fielding most of the questions from the audience. I was very happy that most of the questions showed a real interest in seeing this property protected as open space and included in the wider wetlands restoration efforts.

To participate in future forums, please check out the DMB website for the property: http://www.rcsaltworks.com/. The next important step is to participate in the City's general plan process to retain the current zoning to protect this property. If you are a Redwood City resident and want to add your name to our action alert emails for this project, send your information to info@greenfoothills.org.

~ Holly Van Houten, Executive Director

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