[env-trinity] San Francisco Chronicle Editorial 12/6/10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Dec 6 17:46:52 PST 2010
A risky development
San Francisco Chronicle-12/6/10
When DMB Associates, a developer from Scottsdale, Ariz., began talking to
the city of Redwood City about building an enormous housing project on a
sprawl of salt ponds near Highway 101, company officials were told that they
had to find their own water solution.
"One of the first things we learned from Redwood City was that they're
already upside-down on water," said DMB Associates Vice President David
So DMB put together a complex water transfer with a family from Bakersfield
to buy enough water for their development - and, if needs be, to kick back a
little water to Redwood City in tough times. The water agreement is
precedent-setting, just like the development itself. But both of the
precedents being set here are the wrong ones.
DMB struck a deal with Nickel Family LLC, a Bakersfield agriculture company
that's made a fortune by marketing its water rights to developers in the
Bakersfield area. For an undisclosed sum (that probably ran into the tens of
millions of dollars), DMB will have 8,393 acre-feet of guaranteed water from
the family - about 2.7 billion gallons, for as long as 70 years.
Because there's no way to move that water from Bakersfield up to Redwood
City, the water exists only on paper. The Nickel family is supposed to now
receive 8,393 acre-feet less water, while a water agency up north is
supposed to increase its share from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Then, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission would move the extra
water to Redwood City.
Confused yet? So are a number of observers in the Bay Area, who see
everything about this water deal - and about this development - as something
that California needs to avoid.
In a letter to Redwood City's mayor, Jeff Ira, state Assemblyman Jared
Huffman , D-San Rafael, called the transfer "legally suspect" and added,
"The idea that there is a substantial amount of water in Kern County that is
unneeded and available for sale without redirected impacts is fanciful. In
reality, California's future water reliability and the Delta ecosystem will
require fewer diversions of water from the Central Valley, not more."
In reality, California's future sea levels also make the location of DMB's
development unacceptable. The idea of building 12,000 new homes on
potentially restorable salt ponds right at the bay's edge isn't just
irresponsible, it flies in the face of California's climate change policies.
DMB says that the development will be encircled by levees built to withstand
up to 55 inches of sea level rise. But levees fail, and when they do,
taxpayers are left to pay for the mess. This region already has more than
enough homes and businesses imperiled by rising sea levels.
There's no good reason for Redwood City to continue entertaining a project
so fraught with environmental and fiscal risk.#
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land
415 519 4810 mobile
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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