Woodside council to slam Cargill project

Having kept its powder dry since April, the Woodside Town Council is now ready to use it. At its Jan. 11 meeting, the council asked staff to prepare a strongly worded statement expressing opposition to the so-called Cargill project in Redwood City.

The project, proposed by Minneapolis-based Cargill Salt Corp. and an Arizona developer, would convert 1,436 acres of salt flats off Redwood City into dry land for up to 12,000 homes. The development could include 1 million square feet of commercial space and some 800 acres developed as wetlands and outdoor recreational space.

The Portola Valley Town Council, in a unanimous vote on Dec. 8, notified the Redwood City council of its position: the salt flat should be restored to its natural state and included in the nearby Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge.

The Woodside council is taking the same basic position, though council members Sue Boynton and Dave Burow were absent for this discussion. A position statement is set for council review on Jan. 25.

Council comment

The council had discussed a decisive resolution in April, but it failed on a 4-3 vote. Instead, on a 6-1 vote, the council chose to note the town's serious concerns and let the environmental review and comments periods run their course.

Mayor Ron Romines backed a stronger resolution initially and this time. "Our highest calling and obligation as publicly elected officials is to try to act as stewards of the resources and environment that we have," he said on Jan. 11.

Elected officials should not leave natural resources in worse condition than they found them, he said, and ideally should leave them in better shape. "This is a unique opportunity to do the latter," he said.

The project is unacceptable with respect to impacts on fresh water, transportation and population, said Councilman Dave Tanner. "I think we need to proceed ahead here and start to put our foot down about what's going on."

The council, added Councilman Peter Mason, should appoint a liaison to attend "every single meeting" held on this project, "to let them know that we intend to be an active participant in this project and put an end to it."

The Cargill development "is an unbalanced, stupid, thoughtless thing to do," and the camel's nose under the tent, said Councilwoman Anne Kasten. The East Bay salt flats would be next, she added.

Woodside should be willing to offer financial aid for a restoration project, Councilwoman Deborah Gordon suggested. "It's a regional asset and if they want (our help), we should be willing to help," she said.

Public opposition

Woodside residents have spoken out against this project in past meetings.

Stephen Knight, political director of the environmental group Save the Bay, told the council that some 150 Bay Area elected officials formally oppose this project.

Ken Broome of the South Skyline Association suggested that if the project goes ahead and a levee is built around it, the levee do double duty as a road bed for the high-speed rail line.

The extra fresh water to be transferred in -- the developer has water rights in Kern County for 70 years -- is cause for concern, said Woodside resident Gita Dev. "Seventy years is a very short time," she said. "We need water in perpetuity."


Like this comment
Posted by Judi Kiel
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 18, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Thank you Woodside Council for taking a stand against the salt flat development!!! Turning our baylands into a housing development would be a terrible tragedy! Thank you also for supporting the restoration of our bay lands.

Like this comment
Posted by Thanks from Atherton
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Good Going Woodside
and to your neighbor Portola as well
We need your support down here in the flats on this dumb quagmire

Like this comment
Posted by Another Grateful RWC Voice
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Thank you, thank you. Let's keep up the pressure. I could weep to think of the countless city dollars going into "study meetings", community outreach, legal proceedings - all for an ill-considered, environmentally senseless plan to make rich developers and corporations even richer. All dollars we badly need elsewhere.

Smarten up, Redwood City! Or at least act with integrity about your true motivations, as Rosanne Foust, on some level, was forced to do.

Way to go, Woodside.

Like this comment
Posted by Maggie
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Thank you for the ongoing coverage of this issue. It should be noted, however, that Ken Broome was not representing the South Skyline Association in his comments regarding Cargill, high speed rail, etc. From the article it appears he may have been representing South Skyline Association (SSA); not only is he not, but these issues are completely outside of the SSA mission & purpose.

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