Viewpoint - January 27, 2010

Letter: Collacchi explains intentions on Cargill project

The recent Cargill attack on Menlo Park City Council member Andy Cohen and Save the Bay's Stephen Knight for discussing Cargill's Saltworks project misrepresents their intentions.

I met each independently to talk about a resolution opposing the project. Based on my prior experience from Sand Hill Road, I advised each that in the face of neighboring opposition, cities usually get defensive and assert sovereignty. I proposed an alternative that imagines a regional land-use policy enabling property owners to sell and transfer development rights regionally, a policy I have advocated for years.

If applied to the salt ponds, Cargill would be rezoned with some amount of development rights to build housing but must sell those rights to property owners who own infill sites specifically zoned to receive them, hopefully in cooperating nearby cities like Redwood City, Menlo Park, and Belmont.

The proposed policy would allow Cargill to re-monetize the salt ponds without developing the site. It would create more housing units in appropriate sites in nearby cities, and it would give Menlo Park a more constructive way to participate than simply opposing.

The language in Mr. Cohen's e-mail, "... regional approach to housing cooperating with Redwood City ... providing higher density ... along El Camino ... in exchange for Cargill going away [transferring development rights] ..." accurately describes using property derivatives to both satisfy property owners and permanently preserve open space by transferring development rights.

Mr. Cohen and Mr. Knight were both interested in pursuing the idea. The Cargill public relations political operatives twisted the words "going away" to misrepresent and impugn their intentions.

Paul Collacchi

Redwood City


Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 29, 2010 at 8:52 am

I have very good friends who live in Brunswick Georgia with the back of their home set at the edge of the Marshes of Glynn. Wehn I sit on their deck I take in the awesome beauty, the wonderful smell of the salt marsh and the feeling of serenity. What is interesting is that the Georgia legislature had the foresight in 1970 to protect the marsh land.

Please refer to this web link:
Web Link

Here are some excerpts from the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

"In 1970 Georgia legislators, fearing that the state's coastal salt marshes would be irrevocably damaged by a proposed phosphate mining operation and other industrial activities, passed the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act. The jurisdiction of the act includes marshlands, intertidal areas, mudflats, tidal water bottoms, and salt marshes. They were spurred on by scientific studies showing the immense value of the marshes for storm protection, for pollution filtering, and as a nursery area for more than 70 percent of Georgia's economically important crustaceans, fish, and shellfish."

"The law provides the state government with the authority to protect tidal wetlands. The government manages certain activities and structures in marsh areas and requires permits for other activities and structures. Erecting structures, dredging, or filling marsh areas requires a permit from the Marshlands Protection Committee, administered through the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources."

"Georgia's salt marshes are some of the most biologically productive natural systems on Earth. They produce nearly twenty tons of biomass to the acre—which makes them four times more productive than the most carefully cultivated cornfields, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The enormous productivity helps to make the salt marshes primary nursery areas for blue crabs, oysters, shrimp, and other economically important fish and shellfish. Young shrimp and other marine organisms also use salt marshes as shelters and hiding places from predators. In addition, salt marshes help filter pollutants from the water and act as buffers against offshore storms. The potential damage from large storm-spawned waves and tides is greatly reduced when they pass over the marshes."

If Georgia has the common sense to protect its wetlands Why can't california?

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