Cargil Salt Ponds - Redwood City, CA
Posted by: DougK
N 37° 29.517 W 122° 10.654
10S E 572703 N 4149765
Quick Description: These salt ponds on the San Francisco Bay are part of a controversy between developers, who want to build houses, and environmentalists, who want the land returned to natural bay wetlands.
Location: California, United States
Date Posted: 3/30/2012 3:10:02 PM
Waymark Code: WME3Q4
These salt ponds can be seen from the hills of nearby Bedwell Bayfront Park
where they are right across a flood slough from the park.
Multinational corporation Cargill currently owns 1,436 acres (2.2 sq mi) of salt ponds adjacent to part of Westpoint Slough on the San Francisco Bay. Cargill has triggered significant controversy with its plan to build a major new housing development of as many as 32,000 people on restorable San Francisco Bay salt ponds in Redwood City. Organizations, such as Save The Bay, Don't Pave My Bay and the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project would rather see this area returned to a natural status and become part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Virtual Saltworks.org has posted Youtube videos describing how this restoration can work.
The property was originally marshland along San Francisco Bay, and became one of the first commercial salt-making locations on the Peninsula in 1901 when portions were drained and diked off from the Bay. Immediately after World War II, the former Leslie Salt Company modernized and expanded the plant site and harvested up to 300,000 tons of salt which it shipped to industries throughout the Pacific Rim. Leslie was purchased by Cargill in 1978).
In 2000, Cargill offered the property to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game, but the resource agencies were unable to afford the site, although 16,500 acres were acquired from Cargill in 2003 through a combination donation/sale. The state courts later ruled that the property had been vastly overvalued by the appraiser's unfounded assumption of its value for development or mitigation.
Subsequently, Cargill partnered with luxury-home builder DMB Associates of Scottsdale, Arizona, which has submitted a "50/50 Plan" to build 12,000 houses, 1 Million Sq. Ft of commercial space, and community facilities on about half of the 1,436 acres (2.2 sq mi) site, and convert the rest to wetlands, parks, lagoons, and open space on the Bayfront in Redwood City.
The San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and over 150 elected officials from around the Bay Area have called the San Francisco Bay salt ponds an unacceptable site for housing, and have come out against the project.
Residents' initial efforts to preserve the salt ponds as open space were defeated by 63% of Redwood City voters in a 2008 local referendum that sought to make development difficult by amending the city charter.
Since that time, a growing coalition of over 30 environmental, business and community groups, led by Save The Bay has continued to fight the proposed development. They assert that the salt ponds should be restored as part of the neighboring Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and not used for housing., similar to the 16,500 acres Cargill sold in 2003, which now comprise the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast.