Developer wants to replace salt pond with housing

This story originally appeared July 3o in the print edition of the Daily Post. If you want to get the local news first, pick up the Daily Post in the mornings at 1,000 Mid-Peninsula locations.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing a proposal to build 350 apartments on a former salt pond by filling in about six acres of a lagoon along Seaport Boulevard.

The address for the development is at 199 Seaport Blvd., and it is not the same salt ponds as the ones Cargill has long wanted to develop. This former salt pond is across Seaport from the Cargill ponds, near Graniterock Recycling, and across Redwood Creek from the Bair Island Aquatic Center.

Because of a problem with the dike around the salt pond, it has now reverted to a tidal lagoon, according to a public notice from the Army Corps of Engineers. The site at its lowest is one to two feet below sea level.

The project is being proposed by Laguna Sequoia Land Company, which is controlled by Michele Wheeler and Lewis Shaw II, who both run Dallas development company JacksonShaw.

Wheeler and Shaw are proposing to deepen part of the lagoon to raise the part they intend to build eight buildings on. The buildings are proposed to have 500 spaces of underground parking.

The dredged dirt will fill about 7.4 acres of the lagoon for the apartments and a park, and another 4.4 acres will be partially filled to create a wetlands environment, according to the notice.

Because this project is on and involves moving, property under the jurisdiction of federal agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers must first approve the project. If it is approved, the proposal will be submitted to Redwood City officials. No plans have been filed with the city yet, city spokeswoman Jennifer Yamaguma confirmed.


The project is drawing criticism from the environmental nonprofit Green Foothills, which published a blog post about the development.

The Green Foothills post says the site is “simply the wrong place for housing,” since it is vulnerable to sea-level rise, is near heavy industries and is far from transit.

“The proposal for a 500-car underground parking garage seems like a particularly misguided idea for a site that is currently underwater twice a day,” the post, written by Green Foothills Legislative Advocacy Director Alice Kaufman says.

Why the feds are involved

The area is under federal control. U.S. District Judge William Alsup in 2020 blocked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from allowing the dredging and filling of salt ponds near San Francisco without going through a permitting process that could stall redevelopment of the area.

Alsup ruled that the vast Redwood City ponds are “waters of the United States” entitling them to protection under the Clean Water Act.

The judge said the EPA — which last year ruled the ponds weren’t protected — ignored its own regulations and misinterpreted legal precedent. He vacated that decision and ordered the agency to go back and reconsider.