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  ChevronTexaco Continues to Whine about Point Molate
August 31, 2003

ChevronTexaco continues its lobbying effort to foil the development of Point Molate to its highest and best use for the benefit of the citizens of Richmond. Gary Fisher, General Manager of External Affairs at the Richmond Refinery first wrote the City of Richmond on July 9, 2003, with a request for severe limitations on future uses:

“Chevron Richmond Refinery has concluded that the only land uses that are compatible with the long-term safe and secure operation of the Refinery are industrial, manufacturing or restricted open space. We cannot conceive of a scenario in which residential, recreational, commercial or other similar land use activities would be compatible with the long-term, safe and secure operation of the Refinery.”

Chevron has a 100-year history of ownership of the Richmond City Council, so when the City Council didn’t immediately pull the plug on Point Molate, Chevron must have panicked. Marshalling the big guns, the next round was fired by ChevronTexaco Chairman David J. O’Reilly in a letter to no less than Hansford T. Johnson, Acting Secretary of the Navy. Again invoking “the tragedy of September 11,” O’Reilly whined that the proposed uses of Point Molate:

 “… fail to take into account the serious and immediate security risks development of the point Molate property presents to the Bay Area, the local economy and the Richmond Refinery.”

 Not only is ChevronTexaco concerned about their security, they want someone else to take care of it:

 “… ChevronTexaco believes that any use of Point Molate must be compatible with the secure and safe continues operation of the Richmond refinery, and requests the Navy to take all appropriate steps to ensure the security and operation of our refinery are not compromised in any respect.”

Letters from both Fisher and O’Reilly are attached below as PDF files.

September 11 is the best thing that ever happened to Chevron when it came to finagling a way to control land without doing it the old-fashioned way – buying it. This invocation of security is a red herring of the highest order. Chevron’s 2,900 acres is not exactly otherwise isolated with Point Molate poised like a dagger at the refinery’s throat. About six miles of the refinery boundary is the largely unfenced shoreline of San Francisco Bay. The property is bisected by I-580, an interstate highway traveled by tens of thousands of people daily. Another couple miles are bordered by the Richmond Parkway and various city streets traveled by additional tens of thousands of people. Here and there, Chevron shares boundaries with residences, a yacht harbor, a garbage dump, a sewage treatment plant, parts of the existing Bay Trail and an abandoned city marine terminal (Terminal 4). Currently, fishermen, hikers, boaters and others freely come and go across refinery property. There is even a large recreation facility inside the refinery less than half a mile from its industrial heart that is available for use by anyone who has some connection with a Chevron employee or retiree.

It taxes the imagination to picture how a few hundred Bay Trail walkers, conference participants, office workers or restaurant patrons at a future Point Molate village could tip the balance on Chevron’s security.

A similar property near the shoreline on the Richmond Parkway, but only a fraction the size of Point Molate and lacking the stunning views, is reportedly under contract to Signature Properties for $100 million. That makes Point Molate worth at least about $500 million. If ChevronTexaco really wants to control point Molate, I challenge the $100 billion company to quit whining and step up to the plate like a man and buy it for its true value.