Environmental activists rejoiced after developer DMB Associates announced last week that the controversial Saltworks project has dropped off the drawing board, at least for now.
The developer proposed building as many as 12,000 homes as well as office buildings, schools and other community facilities on approximately 2.2 square miles of Bayfront wetlands formerly used for salt harvesting by Cargill.The site lies within Redwood City boundaries, but opponents have argued that it would have a Peninsula-wide impact.
The proposal proved divisive enough that one city official, Councilwoman Rosanne Foust, who is also CEO of a county economic association that endorsed the project, speaking as an individual, reportedly urged putting the project on the ballot for a public vote.
The idea didn't seem tremendously popular. Last week DMB announced it would withdraw the project after realizing that the odds of a veto were high.
"I'm shocked and delighted!" Portola Valley Mayor Maryann Moise Derwin said. "Such a nice demonstration of democracy in action where the elected officials were actually listening to their constituents."
Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith said since DMB withdrew the proposal, there wasn't anything to consider or comment on.
The developer released a statement saying it might propose a smaller version of the plan, designed to fit into a portion of the land it claims is zoned to allow urban development.
David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, which fought the project, said that contrary to DMB's statement, the entire area is zoned as open space that prohibits significant development. "We think they should not come back with another proposal," he said. "We think the city should say no."
He saw the withdrawal as an opportunity for use of the land to follow a different path, perhaps allowing complete restoration of the wetlands.