“If you see something that upsets you, you have to do something about it,”
-- Florence LaRiviere
Florence LaRiviere has spent her life protecting the South Bay shoreline. Without her, the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge wouldn’t exist. But Florence’s legacy is at risk.
Today, Florence and her group, the Citizens’ Committee to Complete the Refuge, need you to stand up against a major threat to the South Bay shoreline.
Developers and the City of Newark want to pave over some of the most crucial restorable baylands for an 18-hole golf course and luxury homes. Despite objections from citizens and state and federal agencies, the Newark City Council voted unanimously in December to move forward. Now, the main agency that stands in the way of this disaster is the Regional Water Board.
The Water Board has said that it is not likely to permit the fill of wetlands in this area, but Water Board officials need to know we won’t let them be bullied behind closed doors.
Preserve Florence’s legacy of citizen action and don’t let her lifelong fight go to waste. Please tell the Water Board to remain strong in its opposition and deny permits for this development.
Due to the scientifically-established importance of restoring Area 4 (as identified in both the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Report and the recently-released USFWS Tidal Marsh Recovery Plan), as well as Area 4’s status as historic Bay wetlands and its prioritization for inclusion in the Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge, we urge the Regional Water Board to refuse to grant any forthcoming permit applications that would place development within Area 4.
Regional Water Board staff have been strong and consistent in stating in over a half dozen letters to the City that Newark’s proposals – in both the Area 3 and 4 Specific Plan and the latest Newark General Plan Update – violate state and federal laws and regulations against inappropriate fill of wetlands and of “waters of the State” and do not meet key Regional Water Board requirements as they relate to fill and mitigation.
The Regional Water Board has stated on numerous occasions that “Area 4 is one of the largest remaining areas of open space along the baylands, provides habitat for endangered species, and is adjacent to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge” and that “impacts to Area 4 will be regionally significant.” (Regional Water Board letter to City of Newark, December 9, 2013). The Regional Water Board has also been consistent in stating its policy is first and foremost the avoidance of impacts to wetlands, before any mitigation is considered.
The City of Newark has numerous other opportunities for development within already-urbanized areas of the city, and also has a clear Least Environmentally Damaging Preferred Alternative to increase the density of development within Area 3, while leaving Area 4 open space. There is simply no good reason why development within Area 4 should be permitted, when better opportunities, with significantly reduced impacts to wetlands, wildlife and other environmental resources, exist elsewhere in the city.
Thank you for the strong position the Regional Water Board has taken in the past with regard to development in Area 4. When the time comes, we urge you to stand behind these statements and refuse to grant any forthcoming permit applications that would place development and urban sprawl within this sensitive, restorable area.