Newark has a once in a decade opportunity to make pivotal progress on climate change and fair housing by developing a comprehensive housing strategy that builds housing in existing neighborhoods while protecting valuable open space along the shoreline as wildlife habitat and a flood buffer to protect the community from sea level rise.
Newark recently released their Draft Housing Element (Deadline for comment March 26th 2023). There are a number of good policies in the Housing Element, however in the sites inventory, the shoreline area of Area 4 is included (described in the document as “Sanctuary West”) and proposed for hundreds of housing units. Newark Area 4 is 500-acres of undeveloped, historic baylands directly adjacent to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and contains hundreds of acres of wetlands that provide valuable habitat for wildlife, including thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl, and an important flood buffer for the community – and is not an appropriate place for development.
The proposal to develop Newark Area 4 was quick to spark a regional outcry, following decades of conservation efforts to protect and restore these wetlands as part of the Refuge. Meanwhile, the climate crisis has continued to escalate, sea levels are continuing to rise, and the scientific community continues to publish comprehensive reports that project Bay water levels rising by as much as 7 feet by 2100.
The baylands are not a wise place to build housing, and developing Newark Area 4 should not be how Newark meets a significant portion of its housing requirement. The proposed development is almost entirely within a flood zone, the site is anticipated to be almost completely inundated with just 1 meter of sea level rise, and new studies show that Area 4 is also at extreme risk of groundwater rise. Environmental and housing advocates including East Bay 4 Everyone agree that while we need housing, this is not the place for it.
Newark needs homes of all income levels to address the housing crises and build healthy communities for families and future generations, and this Housing Element is an opportunity to plan to meet this need in a manner that is resilient to the challenges of climate change. Take action now to encourage the City of Newark to direct development in its existing communities – and to protect – not develop – its shoreline.
Learn more at Save the Newark Wetlands.
Photo by: Derell Licht (CC BY-ND 2.0)