Residents request price for Cargill site

More than a hundred locals who met Sunday to discuss the future of one of the largest undeveloped parcels of bayshore land only wanted to know one thing: How much will it cost to take the land back?

Cargill owns 1,433 acres of Bayfront property that was used for commercial salt mining. The company announced in 2006 that it would shut down the industrial salt plant in Redwood City but then hired DMB Associates — developers known for creating large-scale communities in Arizona and other parts of the U.S. — to study the possibility of housing on the property. The idea has been opposed by environmentalists who said the property should be protected.

On Sunday, more than a hundred locals gathered for the first community-sponsored forum to discuss the Cargill-owned site. While Sunday’s panel included several proponents of restoring the site, currently zoned as tidal plain, residents asked repeatedly: How much would it cost for the city, a grassroots group or the government to buy the land?

“Clearly, some amount of restoration is called for on some portion of the site,” said David Kunhardt of the Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition. “But who pays for it? Do we all pay?”

Nobody knows exactly how much it would cost to purchase and restore the property, according to Save the Bay president David Lewis. He said the 40,000 acres of Bay wetlands currently being restored would cost $1.43 billion over 50 years for full restoration.

Cargill has not made any formal plans to develop, but its developers have maintained that according to a public survey, 80 percent of Redwood City residents support a mixture of housing, commercial, recreational parks and open space on the property.

Restoring the property as tidal marsh would provide habitat for local wildlife and protect the rest of the city from flooding, storm surges and global warming-related sea-level changes, said Lynn Trulio, lead scientist with the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.

Restoring Bair Island and other Cargill lands has cost local taxpayers “next to nothing,” because those projects were funded with private, state and federal funds, Lewis added.

“If the City Council says no to development on this property, and keeps saying no, then the price comes down,” said Peggy Bruggman, representative with the Friends of Redwood City.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities,<ins> spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico,</ins> to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

San Francisco City Administrator Carmen Chu, who took office in February, is in the process of restructuring the sprawling department. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
Report knocks city administrator for inefficiency, lack of transparency

‘A culture that allows corruption to take place’

Outside Lands boasts high-quality food and drink from dozens of purveyors, and many are local.<ins> (Courtesy Outside Lands)</ins>
Outside Lands is for food lovers

85 food vendors, 40 wineries, 30 breweries make the festival nourishing to gluttonous

Most Read