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Shoreline Study Message Draws Spirited Response
July 19, 2002

As I have said many times, the E-FORUM is intended to generate debate and even dissent. The response to today’s piece on the Shoreline Strategy has been swift and vigorous. Following are examples. I have deleted names so as to not offend anyone who did not intend their email to me to be made public.

  • [Your] characterization of the proceedings last night is grossly unfair to staff, to the committee and to the concerned parties who attended the meeting.
  • There is nothing to indicate any arbitrary treatment of anyone.  No one who thought themselves eligible to vote was denied the opportunity to do so. The additions were proper; any appearance that decisions were made at the last minute were due to some failures of communication between the Mayor's office and some staff persons, but all was straightened out.
  • [Your generalization of voting affiliations is] Untrue. Parchester Village and Marina Bay Neighborhood Associations both voted with the majority.  The only other neighborhood association represented was Point Richmond, which voted with the minority.  Also, why are "open space advocates" not "community organizations?"  Why is the Sierra Club, which voted with the minority, a "community organization" and not an "open space advocate?"  Why is there a distinction between "community organizations" and "business interests?" 
  • You're highlighting your bias here.  As the committee unanimously said, the alternatives were entirely Mr. Grunwald's creations.  Some of his ideas were great, while others were bad.  Some were impossible, regardless of their merit.  All were too detailed for what was supposed to be a visioning exercise.
  • The open space advocates argued that any vote on the Point San Pablo Peninsula was premature because there was a study funded in part by the City on open space planning for the Peninsula going on right now, and no recommendations should be made until that study was complete.  The "open space advocates" did not take specific exception to either of Mr. Grunwald's alternatives.
  • But Chevron hasn't agreed to any such land swaps, so the alternative probably isn't "enabled" at all.
  • Untrue.  Only the Univerrsity of California argued that it was not in favor of residential development on its property.  No one else stated any opposition to adding residential development.  The developer of the Edgewater Technology Park opposed any endorsement of any plan out of fear that it would interfere with his existing development plans, well along in the process, which don't happen to include any residential.  Another developer on the North Shoreline actually plans to attempt to change the entitlement to residential development, but nevertheless opposed endorsing any of Grunwald's "alternatives."
  • The possibility of actually changing any existing land uses or entitlements was not on the agenda, nor could it be; this committee had no such power, nor would the City Council, even, after receipt of this Committee's report.  Such would require amending the General and applicable Specific Plans. However, property owners were understandably wary of uncertainties or staff misunderstandings arising if there was some sort of endorsement of future changes that were inconsistent with current land uses or plans.  In other words, where landowners might welcome an actual change, they are frightened of being caught in limbo and unable to do what is currently permitted because of anticipated future changes, as well as unable to do what the future changes contemplate because those changes have not yet occurred.
  • One broker disputed those conclusions.  In defense of that one broker, he has been proven correct in his assessments and prognostications of the Richmond real estate market over and over again, where the consultants have no such track record.
  • One broker made such an argument.  No one else.


  • Excellent summary, Thanks.


  • Like you, I was disappointed with the outcome of the Committee's final meeting. I would still like to see the Committee take an official position. I am especially disappointed because I see the vote as a victory for the most conservative, short-sighted elements of the business and development community. 
  • I propose two efforts to remedy this situation. First, annul the vote. Like you, I believe that the Redevelopment Agency should not have been so arbitrary in deciding who would be allowed to vote and who wouldn't be. That must be called into question. Also, this Committee had no procedure for direct control of the meeting by the Committee members. It would be as though a grand jury decided that they weren't going to make a finding based on the evidence before them, but, instead, call into question the procedures of the grand jury system. This is outside the scope of their mandate and their authority. I believe that the Committee should be called back to meet again, whether through official channels or through a group of Committee members acting independently. 
  • Having said that, I can understand why [the majority’s] arguments were compelling, even to those who weren't linked to moneyed interests. As I stated to you after the third or fourth Committee meeting, it felt to me like we were being led down a pre-determined path. You replied that perhaps this was a comment on the consultant's style or his efficacy in directing a public committee. Perhaps it was just that Bryan synthesized the complex data into a vision without sufficiently involving Committee members. Perhaps it was because we knew we weren't being given sufficient information, e.g. economic data, to allow us to come to a realistic decision. Whatever the reason, this perception of having no control over the process or the outcome rankled the Committee throughout its existence. 
  • Second, address the concerns of the Committee on the limitations of the vote. I can see several alternatives. First, keep the two alternatives as is, but provide a comment area for each choice so that Committee members can make known their reservations and their take on each alternative. I realize that this notion was put forward by the consultant and by you last night, but perhaps it needs to be re-emphasized by changing the format of the voting ballot. Another alternative would be to allow the Committee members to write their own outcomes. This is analogous to having the members write letters to the City Council, but would have an official stamp to it. Or we could return to vote on a different set of issues altogether. If you remember, early on we voted on our preferences for development, ranking them. The list of considerations was perhaps two pages, maybe three. I'll try finding it in my files. But if people are unwilling to vote on the consultant's alternatives, they might be willing to vote on their preferences for development on such a grid. This might serve as an indication for the City Council on the direction of the Committee just as well as the alternatives proposed last night.


  • Last night’s ballot fiasco was a product of Redevelopment staff who were apparently the advocates and authors of the simplified ballot that the committee railed on last night.  There were some committee members who made it clear in the June meeting that they did not want to vote on one or the other alternative, but would be willing to vote on portions of each.  There is belief that Grunwald prepared a ballot that would have been acceptable to the majority by allowing voting on the entire alternative or individual aspects of each.  After an internal difference of opinion mirroring that of the advisory committee, this was apparently rejected by staff at the last moment.


  • I was contacted by the Alan Ritchie company to work for them at the mail equipment re-conditioning facility in the Point Pinole area, across the BNSF tracks diagonally SW and across the street from the former Colorstrip facility on Pinole Point (ex-Bethlehem Steel) . After they interviewed me, and we had a very good interview, I thought, we made a shop tour, and I realized that their company was employing people who had very little regard for safety and safe working conditions.