Saltworks proposal gets boost from survey 

Redwood City voters are voicing their support for developers to do an environmental impact report for the Saltworks project, just weeks before city officials are to approve an environmental consultant.

Saltworks is a project proposed to Redwood City a year ago by Cargill and DMB Associates that could potentially build 12,000 homes on the 1,436-acre salt pond site, located east of U.S. Highway 101 in Redwood City off Seaport Boulevard. The plan — presented to the city last summer, known as the 50-50 balanced plan — also allows for athletic fields, a business park and 436 acres of restored wetlands.

Even without the survey of residents that was reportedly conducted in April, Redwood City is expected this month to approve a contract with Hauge Breck Associates, an environmental reporting firm out of Sacramento, to begin researching and creating an environmental document.

The document could take up to two years to create.

Project spokesman Pete Hillan said the question showing favorable results to the development was the only one released from the survey because of privacy concerns on other questions.

One question asked which alternatives to the 50-50 balanced plan the voters would support, Hillan said.

The options included raising taxes to allow the city to purchase the salt ponds, allowing the city to reject any development on the site and allowing the city to conduct an environmental review.

According to Hillan, 68 percent of those polled chose to allow for an environmental review, while 14 percent opted for additional taxes and 17 percent chose to reject any type of development.

Hillan did say the results showed 68 percent of the 500 Redwood City voters surveyed continue to support the project by selecting the option that would allow for an environmental review.

“Voters are consistently saying we should get the facts and let the city officials discern those facts,” Hillan said. “It’s what good government does.”

Opponents, however, said the question was misleading.

“The burden of purchasing salt ponds would not fall on a city,” said Stephen Knight, political director for the nonprofit organization Save the Bay. “Redwood City would not have to raise taxes.”

Knight said the issue is not over the environmental review of the property, it is over the potential to build on San Francisco Bay.

Surveying the population

A survey done by Cargill and DMB Associates asked 500 Redwood City voters a variety of questions, including whether they supported the following alternatives to the 50-50 balanced plan:

a) Raise Redwood City taxes enough to purchase the entire 1,400-acre Redwood City Saltworks site and restore this land back to the way it looked 100 years ago.
b) The City Council rejects any development at the Redwood City Saltworks site and simply allows salt harvesting to continue at this site.
c) The City Council conducts a full environmental review of the 50-50 balanced plan and then makes final decisions about development of this site based upon public and community input.

Source: Cargill and DMB Associates

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