Almanac

News - March 3, 2010

New rules may create major obstacles to Cargill's plan to build on Bay infill

by Renee Batti

The commission charged with protecting and regulating development in San Francisco Bay is poised to issue new rules that are likely to present major obstacles for the Cargill plan to build a community of up to 12,000 new homes on Bay infill, according to county Supervisor Rich Gordon.

Mr. Gordon, who is also a member of the regulating body, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), said the new rules have been drafted to address rising sea levels resulting from climate change. Although no date has been set for the commission to act on the proposed rules — an amendment to the Bay Plan — Mr. Gordon said he believes the vote will be scheduled by the end of June.

A Democratic candidate for the state Assembly's District 21 seat in the primary election in June, Mr. Gordon said his position on the BCDC makes it inappropriate to take a position on Cargill's controversial proposal to build up to 12,000 homes on its 1,436 acres of salt ponds along the Bay between Woodside and Marsh roads. But, he added, he expects to support the BCDC's proposed Bay Plan amendment as now drafted.

Mr. Gordon alluded to the proposed amendment during a Feb. 24 forum for Assembly District 21 candidates. He described the new rules as representing a set of major obstacles to the Cargill plan, which also includes commercial development and athletic fields.

In a subsequent interview, Mr. Gordon reiterated that statement, but noted that he didn't know if the obstacles would be insurmountable. "I don't know if this new element ... is a death knell" for the Cargill project, he said.

According to state-funded studies on the effects of climate change in California, global warming is expected to cause sea level in the Bay to rise by 16 inches by the middle of the century, and by 55 inches by 2100.

A BCDC report states that by mid-century, "180,000 acres of Bay shoreline are vulnerable to flooding, and 213,000 acres are vulnerable by the end of the century."

The proposed Bay Plan amendment has been discussed during a number of public hearings and workshops since May 2008, according to the BCDC report.

Go to bcdc.ca.gov to review the BCDC report and the draft of the Bay Plan amendment.

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