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  Point Molate Back on the Hot Seat
November 5, 2004

Batchelor_Point_ Molate_ Memo_110504.pdf



With the Richmond City Council election barely over, Point Molate is back on the November 9 City Council Agenda. The new council members do not take their seats until January, so the old guard will likely choose a future for Point Molate, if not next week, then probably within the next few weeks.


Lest anybody read into what follows a bias on my part toward either proposal, let me say unequivocally that I have not decided which proposal, if either, I intend to support. I am not sure that either proposer has made its last and best offer, and there are serious problems with both.


The attached files provide a much more detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal, but here is a succinct summary:


  • The Upstream proposal promises a world-class destination resort with huge one-time and sustainable revenues for the City of Richmond and thousands of jobs. Many people, however, oppose a casino in principle, under any circumstances, and many oppose the project based solely on its magnitude and the perceived adverse impacts it might have on traffic. The risks of failure are high. In a worst case scenario, five years could pass with no project, little revenue, no jobs, no shoreline park, no rehabilitation of Winehaven and no Bay Trail.


  • The ChevronTexaco proposal promises instant riches but comparatively little sustainable revenue and no commitment to economic development, jobs, a shoreline park (other than $2 million cash) and rehabilitation of Winehaven. There is no vision or commitment to the future of Point Molate. The proposal, in fact, is extraordinarily vague in many respects.


There is a high stakes public relations and political battle going on between Upstream and ChevronTexaco for the hearts and minds of Richmonders, and ultimately, Richmond City Council members. Both Upstream and ChevronTexaco have been running full page ads for days in the San Francisco Chronicle and the West County Times. ChevronTexaco invested heavily in the Richmond City Council election. Both have paid for polls and phone calls to Richmond residents.


As a result of this public relations battle, I have received hundreds of emails and dozens of phone calls. Many of the phone calls and emails sound a common theme – preservation of open space at Point Molate. Typical pleas include the following examples:


  • “Please preserve this open space by accepting Chevron's offer.”


  • “I think it is a more valuable asset as open space and will be enjoyed by many more citizens.”


  • “We urge you to preserve Point Molate's greenery and esthetic value.”


  • “Again I am pleading PLEASE preserve Point Molate.”


  • “They were designated by the Blue Ribbon Citizen's Committee and the Point Molate Base Reuse Plan for public use and enjoyment. If the City Council includes these areas in the LDDA they will be lost to the Richmond community and the Bay Area forever.”


  • “Point Molate's shoreline is a public treasure that the City of Richmond should protect for the residents of Richmond and the entire Bay Area. The current proposal for development at Point Molate does nothing to ensure public access and shoreline protection.”


This open space issue is so pervasive that it cries for debunking. The Reuse Plan never envisioned Point Molate returned to its pre-development natural state. Indeed, the enabling legislation for the Navy transfer has a legal requirement that the former fuel depot be used for economic development that produces employment. The fact is that the Upstream proposal makes a detailed commitment to preserving, maintaining and developing for public use almost the entire park, trail and open space element of the Reuse Plan. Development of the site by Upstream would be limited to those areas already developed and/or used by the Navy, including Winehaven (71 acres and 35 buildings on the national register of Historic Places). Point Molate is not a pristine natural area; it is a nearly 100-year old industrial complex that is heavily polluted and undergoing an incomplete remediation by the Navy costing tens of millions of dollars. Under the Upstream plan, there would be virtually no development on the shoreline or in the previously undeveloped upland area.


To the contrary, the ChevronTexaco proposal makes no commitment to any specific land area for parks and open space, no commitment to public access, and only a cash offer of $2 million towards development of a shoreline park of unspecified area or location. There is no commitment by ChevronTexaco to rehabilitation or adaptive reuse of Winehaven or to accelerate the Navy’s snail pace cleanup schedule that stretches into 2009.


My suggestion would be to concerned citizens to concentrate not on persuading City Council members to accept one or the other offer, but instead to concentrate on the proposers to cure the defects in their respective proposals so we have proposals that are actually competitive to choose from.


Dean O’Hair of Chevron can be reached at 510/242-2400, or better yet, paged at (510) 620-7853. His email is doha@chevron.com. Jim Levine of Upstream can be emailed at jim.levine@lfr.com.


There are two files attached that should be reviewed by serious students of Point Molate’s future. One was prepared by me and includes a lot of graphics that help explain the situation. The other is a hot-off-the-press memo from Interim City Manager Phil Batchelor comparing the two proposals.