Richmond city council sinks a controversial development in Point Molate

By Katie Lauer, East Bay Times, March 26, 2022

“Decade-old efforts to redevelop [a 270-acre section of the shoreline property of] Richmond’s picturesque Point Molate peninsula have weathered contentious debates, lawsuits, and millions of dollars in legal fees.

“Now, just as the latest prospective developer was poised to build more than 1,450 homes and 400,000 square feet of commercial space …, the Richmond City Council has swept the carpet from under its feet.

“[The developer’s] plans were effectively scuttled at a special March 18 meeting when four council members known as the Richmond Progressive Alliance voted against establishing a community facilities district to pay for the project’s infrastructure.

“Under terms of a legal settlement, the city has to establish the district before it [can] sell the land to [the developer].

“A federal court upheld the council’s [2011 rejection of the Guidiville Rancheria of California tribe’s bid to build a mega-casino on the site] but forged a settlement that required the city to evenly split profits from any land sale with the tribe.

“The settlement also stated that if it isn’t sold within 48 months — by May 21, 2022 — the land would have to be sold to the tribe for $400.

“A … report from consultants Strategic Economics indicated the homes [to be built by the prospective developer] likely would sell for much less because of Point Molate’s remote location, lack of amenities, fire risks, and proximity to the Chevron Richmond Refinery.

“Hoping to assure the city it wouldn’t be at financial risk, [the developer] offered to annually tax itself as much as $6.3 million if property taxes fall short of projections, starting in 2026.

“Council members weren’t swayed, however, saying there’s too much conflicting financial information.

“ ‘We’re going to be looking at potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in litigation and issues with the Ninth Circuit and the federal court,’ [Mayor Tom] Butt said. ‘That’s really what we ought to be talking about.’ ”

Read the full article here(~5 min.)

Previously in Roundup: A judge threw out an environmental lawsuit on grounds that there was substantial evidence that the city accounted for the planned development’s potential harm to the environment, allowing the development at Point Molate to proceed. Read that story here.

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