The Proposed Development
After more than a decade of efforts by the City of Newark to develop its baylands, including the approval of a Specific Plan for Newark Area 4 and an adjacent inland parcel, a development group named Newark Partners LLC submitted a proposal to fill and develop Newark Area 4. The proposed “Sanctuary West” project (see graphic) would truck in 1.67 million cubic yards of fill (100,000 truckloads) to raise the elevation of these open-space baylands out of the 100-year flood zone, constructing 469 single-family, detached “executive” houses on a series of elevated peninsulas, surrounded by wetlands and requiring the construction of four bridges to connect the developed areas.
The proposed development would include:
- 469 market-rate, single family detached houses, ranging in size from 2,300 to 3,600 square feet, connected by a private roadway
- 0 designated affordable units
- 1,674,650 cubic yards of fill (enough to fill 100,000 truckloads) to raise the elevation of the site 15 feet
- Extension of Stevenson Blvd, requiring the construction of an overpass to cross the busy Union Pacific railroad tracks and to act as the sole entrance in and out of the site (except for a locked emergency access route to Mowry Avenue)
- 2,739 onstreet and offstreet parking spaces for future commuters, with zero proposed new public transit improvements
- 15 foot high development fill pads, with rip-rap on all the western facing slopes to protect the new community from erosion due to flooding and sea level rise
- Just 4.7 acres of parks, out of a 96.5 acre overall project footprint, privately maintained by a Homeowners Association
Intentionally constructed to minimize oversight by regulatory agencies, the sprawling development proposal avoids development of mapped wetland areas, but instead develops nearly all of the uplands in Area 4. Because the site is a mosaic of wetlands and uplands the development will fragment and degrade existing wetlands. The project design increases the amount of interface and levels of disturbance between areas of development and the immediately adjacent wetlands, including wetlands that support the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. The development consumes rare and extremely valuable upland areas that have long been identified as being ideal for tidal wetland upslope migration as sea levels rise in the coming decades. Thus, because the project consumes nearly all the upland habitat, it increases the risk of wetlands and salt marsh harvest mouse habitat drowning from flood events.
The development would occur in an open space area that is identified by FEMA as a flood hazard zone, predicted to be almost completely inundated by sea level rise, and physically separated from the rest of the City of Newark by the Union Pacific railroad tracks, with only limited roadways in and out in case of emergencies.
Newark Area 4 has long been identified by Bay scientists and advocates as a critical opportunity for wetland restoration, tidal marsh migration, habitat for endangered species, and as a valuable flood buffer for the city of Newark and surrounding communities. The proposed “Sanctuary West” development project has been consistently cited as the case study or “Exhibit A” of the type of development that the Bay Area needs to be moving away from in an era of sea level rise. Instead, as our partners and housing advocates Greenbelt Alliance and East Bay for Everyone have emphasized, Newark and other San Francisco Bay shoreline communities need to focus their growth within existing urbanized areas — not in a flood zone along the shoreline, harming wildlife and exposing even more people to risk to flood events.
Join San Francisco Bay advocates, climate experts & the Newark and Bay Area community – sign the petition to Save Newark Wetlands! Join us in opposing the proposed Sanctuary West development and instead protecting, restoring and including Newark Area 4 in the Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge!