The battle for the Redwood City salt ponds

 

For the past decade, a 1,400-acre salt property in Redwood City has been a community battleground.

The property, which lies across from Bedwell Bayfront Park, is owned by the Cargill corporation. Decades ago, Cargill diked off this stretch of former wetlands and began using it for salt production. But they now have other ideas for the land—namely, to develop it with thousands of units of housing.

Local environmental activists, however, are pushing back hard. Since Cargill first proposed a development project in 2010, groups like Save the Bay, Committee for Green Foothills, and Redwood City Neighbors United have worked to mobilize the community to bar Cargill from developing these bayside lands.

In September, four of these groups filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Under Trump, the EPA reversed a decision that protected the Cargill property under the Clean Water Act, thereby re-opening the door to development.

“These baylands in Redwood City were part of the Bay,” said Lennie Roberts, a longtime environmental advocate in San Mateo County. “They’re very important wetlands, both for habitat, but also for protecting the rest of Redwood City against flooding and sea level rise.

“These are restorable wetlands,” Roberts said, “and they shouldn’t be developed.”