Sunday, May 24, 2009

Environmentalists gear up for fight over proposed 12,000-home development in Redwood City

Julia Scott in the San Jose Mercury News: ..After three years of preparation and public comments, developer DMB Associates presented its vision for a new community to the Redwood City City Council on Tuesday night — a vision for the Cargill Saltworks site that includes seven new neighborhoods and as many as 12,000 new homes, space to house up to 25,000 new residents by the edge of San Francisco Bay.

… Environmental groups such as Save the Bay have already made the argument that state and federal regulatory agencies should reject the project based on its location alone — the homes would be erected on the largest portion of restorable wetlands since Foster City was built more than 40 years ago, on land that is no more than one to two feet above sea level. A 3-mile-long levee would be required to keep the new community from disappearing underwater.

The threat of sea-level rise is, by now, a well-known threat to real estate closest to the edges of the Bay. But no local, statewide or federal agency is empowered to stop a project based on sea-level rise.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not consider the area in its flood maps, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not use it in approving levee construction. The Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), whose mission is to guide sustainable shoreline development, is still grappling with the best approach to dealing with development proposals like this one.

The best the commission can do is ask the developer to build a high enough levee (the agency predicts sea level rise of up to 1.4 meters by century's end; DMB Associates plans to build a levee that accounts for up to one meter). The BCDC will also decide whether the developer has set aside the "maximum possible" amount of land for wetland restoration and public access, but there is no consensus on what that number ought to be.

"The easiest thing to do to deal with sea-level rise would be to also acknowledge that the Bay Area is seismically active and simply move away and never allow anything to be built along the shoreline of the Bay. Another way would be to build a big wall," said Will Travis, executive director of the BCDC. Neither of those choices are an option, so his agency will have to figure out what comes next…..

Aerial view of the port of Redwood City in San Mateo County, California, USA. The major deepwater port is visible at the far right in the photograph. Redwood Creek angles across the picture from lower left to upper right, forming the port and emptying into lower San Francisco Bay at the top. Corkscrew Slough winds across the wetlands at the top of the picture. View is to the northeast. US Army Corps of Engineers

1 comment:

SaveSFBay said...

Good to see this posted. Your photo, however, is of neighboring Bair Island. The Cargill site is to the left of the photo. Photos and petition in opposition here: