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Stop the Asphalt Plant
October 8, 2002

Many E-FORUM readers have asked what can be done to dissuade the City Council from proceeding to build an asphalt plant on Canal Boulevard. 

Individual contacts with City Council members via phone calls and snail mail is always important. Email will be read by some members but not all. However, there is nothing better than group action, and for that I recommend joining The Richmond Environmental Defense Fund.

Organization and Mission

The Richmond Environmental Defense Fund (REDF) is a citizens’ group composed entirely of volunteers working to protect the Richmond environment.  The mission of the Richmond Environmental Defense Fund is threefold:

1)       To ensure that development in Richmond is well planned, sensitive to the environment and in compliance with City, state and federal laws;

2)       To work with other groups to ensure environmental protection and well planned development in Richmond and surrounding areas; and

3)       To work toward reducing existing toxic contamination and preventing future contamination in the City of Richmond. 

The REDF’s hope is that by speaking up on environmental issues, they will help create a City government in which responsiveness to citizens’ concerns, sensitivity to the environment, and respect for local and state law are of the highest priority.  REDF works to increase public awareness and influence policymaking through participation in the public process.  It submits written and verbal comments to local governments and public agencies on environmental issues, sponsors letter-writing campaigns, seeks legal assistance when necessary, and publishes a quarterly newsletter.

REDF has collaborated with a number of other environmental groups including the Urban Creeks Council, the El Sobrante Valley Legal Defense Fund, and Communities for a Better Environment on issues such as development of the North Richmond Shoreline, Chevron LPG spheres, development of Wildwood Creek in El Cerrito, and most recently the proposed Owens-Corning asphalt plant.  REDF has also spoken out on regional issues such as preservation of Contra Costa County’s greenbelt.


The Richmond Environmental Defense Fund formed three years ago when a group of citizens organized to oppose the Seacliff Estates development next to Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline.  Many citizens felt that this project was poorly suited to the proposed site, and would have unacceptable environmental impacts, including harm to wetlands, creeks, historical resources, wildlife habitat, and rare native plants.  We also felt that the City’s General Plan prohibited this kind of development, but was being ignored. 

REDF members first tried to stop Seacliff by pressuring the City Council and the state and federal resource agencies not to approve the project as proposed, and second by litigating.  While REDF was ultimately unsuccessful at blocking Seacliff, it did force the developer to agree to somewhat better mitigation measures for wetland and wildlife impacts.  Nevertheless, REDF’s position is that badly planned, poorly sited projects like Seacliff should never be approved in Richmond again.

In the process of studying the Seacliff property, members of REDF discovered that portions of the area were contaminated with asbestos, and that a toxic waste containment facility nearby was falling apart.  REDF contacted the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and learned that the asbestos contamination was a result of an inadequate cleanup effort, and the containment facility did not meet the specifications that DTSC had approved.  Through REDF’s efforts, a committee was formed to work with DTSC to force a proper cleanup of the site.  That cleanup was completed this year. 

How to Get Involved with REDF

Citizen members are the heartbeat of REDF.  If you would like to support RDF’s efforts, and be kept informed of REDF’s activities though a quarterly newsletter, you can become a member of REDF by sending a $5.00 membership fee to:

Richmond Environmental Defense Fund

P.O. Box 70953

Richmond, CA 94807-0953

For more information email redf@robelia.com