For many years I have worked to insure smart transportation planning throughout the Peninsula, as past chairman of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, past chairman of the San Mateo Regional Planning Committee, and a former mayor of Atherton.
Cargill seeks to support its plan with an argument that it might lead to reduced traffic. They claim that building a new city of 30,000 people in these ponds will improve Bay Area traffic patterns, by comparison to an equivalent number of housing units built in the Central Valley. They point to the fact that 40,000 people commute into Redwood City to work every day.
The choice for Bay Area and Peninsula leaders is not whether to put housing in the Central Valley or to fill the Bay, but whether to follow through on existing planning to encourage smart growth in our downtowns, near existing jobs and transit.
Cargill's developer, however, is being misleading. Few of those who commute into Redwood City are coming from anywhere close to the Central Valley. Most of these 40,000 commuters are coming from Belmont, San Carlos and other nearby communities. As many as 84 percent of commuters are traveling 30 miles or less.
Cargill's developer fails to mention that, and they promise little more than shared ride-to-work vans as a solution. Instead, future residents of the proposed salt pond development would be driving, because the salt pond housing would be next to Highway 101 at Marsh and Woodside Roads, but well over a mile from Caltrain.
Redwood City staff has made clear that Cargill's proposal is not transit-oriented development, and raises questions about the "veracity" of the traffic-reduction claims and whether they could ever even be proved. Meanwhile, projections are for over 8,000 new hourly car trips at rush hour.
At the same time, the Cargill development is a direct threat to the future of the Port of Redwood City, which could lead to many hundreds more trucks transporting material formerly taken off our freeways by ships.
Some people feel we need to build more housing, but this is the wrong location and would create 8,000 new rush hour auto trips on already congested roads and highways, with 85 percent going to destinations other than Redwood City. It would create a traffic nightmare for the Peninsula.
Malcolm Dudley is a former mayor of Atherton and a former chairman of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.