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Environmentalists and New Urbanists Battle Over Proposed Development

Plans to redevelop former salt ponds in the San Francisco Bay Area have pitted environmentalists against New Urbanists.
May 4, 2011, 10am PDT | Nate Berg
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"The salt ponds are going away. But there's a debate over what takes their place, and both parties say they have lofty, environmentally friendly goals.

On one side, David Lewis, executive director of the environmental group Save the Bay: "I grew up here, in Palo Alto," he says. "When I was a kid growing up, and there was still major salt production going on, the salt pile was a major landmark. It's basically right next to the 101, and it was at least five or six stories high, and it looked like snow."

On the other, urban planner Peter Calthorpe, whose plan to develop the salt ponds is fiercely opposed by Save the Bay: "I have a very personal connection because I grew up in Palo Alto," says Calthorpe, one of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism. "Growing up there, nobody ever went to the bay side," Calthorpe continues. "When we wanted open space, we went to the hills. ... In the peninsula, there's very few places you can go and be in relationship to the bay.""

The environmentalists want the area preserved as a natural wetland, while developers have plans on building a high-density, mixed-use community.

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Published on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Grist
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