Peninsula housing project causes uproar


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At just over 1,400 acres, the salt evaporation ponds adjacent to San Francisco Bay could be the site some day of 12,000 houses and a community of 30,000 residents.

Arizona-based developer /*DMB Associates*/ just filed its proposal with Redwood City officials and it's generating plenty of reaction.

"The comments from the public so far have been very divisive. There are people commenting on all different sides of the issue, and they're very concerned about both for and against the project," said Redwood City Senior Planner Blake Lyon.

The planned community will be called /*Redwood City Saltworks*/. The developer says it enlisted the community to plan it.

"We spent three years engaged with the community, asking them what their priorities are as it relates to the future use of this property, and the 50-50 Balanced Plan is the product of that outreach process whereby fifty percent of the site is going to be open space, restored tidal wetlands all at private expense, and the other half will be a mixed use, transit-oriented community," said Redwood City Saltworks General Manager John Bruno

Instead of housing, environmental groups say the wetlands should be restored to their original state. It is a cause that Palo Alto resident Florence LaRiviere has been promoting for over 50 years.

"Seven-hundred acres is the largest I've seen described in 50 or 60 years. That was part of San Francisco Bay. It was leveled off from what was tidal marshes, beautiful tidal marshes, and it should go back to that," said LaRiviere.

The city intends to hold a series of meetings to hear from the public, while city staff evaluates the viability of the project.

Demand for police and fire services, water usage and traffic are among the issues to be studied. Regional, state and federal agencies will also have their say.

City officials say the review process may take five years, but the developer says they'd like to break ground in 2013, that's four years from now.

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