Fremont has Patterson Ranch. Newark has Areas 3 and 4. In short, this is the wrong area to plan for massive development. It appears that the Newark City Council is in favor of this project and will soon approve it.
Areas 3 and 4 are even closer to the Bay than the proposed Patterson Ranch development is. It is right next to the sensitive wetlands of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. To deal with the low altitude of the land and sea level rise, the project plans to import over 2.1 million cubic yards of material to build over 1,200 homes and a golf course.
The Citizen’s Committee to Complete the Refuge has an interesting article on their web site with more information about this proposed development.
Speakers at the February 11 City Council meeting reminded Council that the project was in conflict with the following planning documents:
- Newark’s General Plan
- The 1990 Refuge Boundary Expansion for the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge
- The 2000 Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Project
- The Bay Conservation and Development Commission Bay Plan
- The state’s 2009 Climate Adaptation Strategy
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recently released Draft 2010 Recovery Plan for Tidal Marsh Ecosystems of Northern and Central California
As noted in a recent edition of the Yodeler:
All of these identify the diked tidal marshes and transitional uplands of Area 4 for habitat recovery and the preservation and restoration of regional biodiversity in the face of sea-level rise. Despite the ecological value of the former duck clubs, the environmental impacts to the region, and many public-safety concerns, the city continues to pursue the dreams of a few to build upscale housing and a golf course on this site.
The DEIR’s numerous deficiencies include:
- an incomplete description of the project;
- poorly described and potentially infeasible mitigation measures;
- lack of project alternatives that might minimize impacts.
The DEIR did reveal some facts that seemed to surprise audience members at the City Council study session and even councilmembers. The project would require transporting 2.1 million cubic yards of fill – more than 100 dump-truck round trips daily along city streets, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for at least two years. The Union Pacific Railroad and the California Public Utilities Commission wrote objections on the grounds of public safety and rail efficiency to a proposed at-grade emergency-vehicle and trail crossing of the heavily used ACE, Capital Corridor, and freight line that separates Areas 3 and 4. The DEIR also indicates that the project would add 5.5 million car trips per year to city streets, with little opportunity for any form of alternative transportation for such development on the fringe of the city.
The Newark City Council is planning on voting on this project some time in April.