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Judge throws out environmental lawsuit against controversial Richmond development

By Katie Lauer, The Mercury News, February 4, 2022

“After hearing oral arguments in November, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Edward G. Weil on Monday [January 31] tossed a lawsuit that tried to block Winehaven Legacy LLC’s proposal to build 1,425 housing units and more than 400,000 square feet of commercial space on 193 acres of the city’s Point Molate peninsula.

“The site has been the focus of a decade-old debate about whether development there would revitalize the city’s economy and provide much-needed housing or create an environmental disaster on the northern edge of San Francisco Bay.

“Weil ruled there was not enough evidence to back up the environmental coalition’s complaints that the city inadequately accounted for the planned development’s potential harm to [several environmental resources evaluated under CEQA].

“ ‘This decision clears a major hurdle that has been haunting the Point Molate project for years,’ [Mayor Tom] Butt wrote in his e-Forum blog. ‘So far, the City of Richmond has prevailed in all legal challenges to the Point Molate project following the 2018 settlement of the Federal Court lawsuit brought by Upstream Point Molate LLC and the Guidiville Tribe.’

“The case has stirred inner turmoil at Richmond City Hall that boiled over after [several] council members asked [the] former city attorney in a closed session last fall to support the environmentalists’ lawsuit instead of defending the city.

“Although the city took no such action, the debacle led to the city attorney’s resignation, the city manager’s departure and a council vote to censure Butt.”

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