Controversial SF Bay Development Plan Dead in the Water — For Now

Saltworks, in Redwood City, would have built thousands of homes in salt ponds on the Bay

Lauren Sommer/KQED

Salt ponds in Redwood City where the new Saltworks development is proposed.

The low-lying land along the Bay in Redwood City has been the center of a climate controversy: should the salt ponds that have been producing salt for Cargill for decades be turned into housing, or back into wetlands? Supporters of the development point out that Silicon Valley needs more housing. Supporters of the wetlands respond, birds need a place to land, too — plus, the wetlands will provide a much-needed buffer as the sea level rises.

Now, the fight is on hold: DMB Associates, the developer that is working with Cargill on a plan to turn nearly 1,500 acres of salt ponds into Saltworks, has officially withdrawn its application from the City Council of Redwood City. That’s after an ad hoc subcommittee of the council recommended that the application be denied at this coming Monday’s meeting.

The recommendation is included in the agenda for the upcoming meeting:

Direct staff to prepare findings and a resolution denying the current application, on the grounds that after being on file with the City for three years, the developer has yet to submit a complete project description and the application remains inactive. If and when the developer presents a new and complete project application to the City, the City will determine whether and how to proceed on the application at that time.

“They are putting it to bed for now, rather than letting it drag out,” Malcolm Smith, the Public Communications Manager for Redwood City told me. He emphasized, this doesn’t mean the salt ponds won’t be developed, just that that it won’t be happening under this particular plan.

KQED’s Lauren Sommer reported on the controversy surrounding the development for Climate Watch last year.

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