How can you tell? One sign is the fact that Cargill's developer, Arizona-based DMB Associates, and their supporters are suddenly launching attacks on Save the Bay. As Redwood City residents and members of community and environmental groups, we stand along with Save the Bay in strong opposition to Cargill's plans.
In the recent debate between Save the Bay and Cargill's architect, Peter Calthorpe, we saw the kind of civil discussion and debate that this important issue deserves. Cargill's proposal to build a new city in a sea level salt pond behind a massive new levee must float, or sink, on its merits. Cargill/DMB's intimidation has no place in our democratic process.
Despite DMB's large staff working full-time for years and many high-paid PR and legal consultants in San Francisco, Sacramento and Washington, D.C., the opposition to Cargill's salt pond development, which they call "Saltworks," is deep and wide, and it has been for years. If they had persuasive facts on their side, wouldn't we be hearing them, instead of these attacks?
The developer is only making opponents stronger. There is a coalition of over 200 organizations and prominent individuals formally opposed to the project, and 10,000 Bay Area residents, including hundreds of Redwood City residents, who have signed Save the Bay's petition at DontPaveMyBay.org.
Our organizations stand with Friends of Redwood City, Acterra, Clean Water Action, and other key environmental and community organizations. Labor and industry groups representing workers and business at the threatened Port of Redwood City are opposed to this development. Sport and commercial fishermen are opposed. California water rights organizations are opposed. Virtually all of Redwood City's neighboring cities are opposed. The Planning and Conservation League is opposed.
Other groups that have raised concerns about the project range from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which identified these salt ponds as having "important conservation value," to the California Highway Patrol, which projects that a dozen additional officers would be needed to handle the tens of thousands of new car trips on U.S. 101.
In addition, 160 elected officials representing millions of people from all nine Bay Area counties have made their opposition clear, stating: "Salt ponds are not land to be paved — they are part of San Francisco Bay to be restored to tidal marsh for wildlife habitat, natural flood protection for our communities, cleaner water, and recreation areas for everyone to enjoy."
And the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News are opposed. "Salt ponds are the wrong place for 12,000 homes," the Merc stated last year. "This is an unacceptable site for housing," the Chronicle wrote in 2007. "Housing doesn't belong on a tidal plain."
Why isn't the developer attacking all of us? Presumably, trying to attack the entire Bay Area is beyond even their deep pockets.
It is not going to work.
Nancy Arbuckle and Alice Kaufman are Redwood City residents and are members of the Sequoia Audubon Society and the Committee for Green Foothills, respectively.