|Long Wharf EIR Dashes Hopes for Bay Trail
March 11, 2007
In perhaps the longest environmental review in history, the Finalizing Addendum to the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Chevron Richmond Long Wharf Marine Oil Terminal Lease Renewal Project was released after nine years on March 7, 2007. The Chevron Long Wharf is located on submerged lands held in trust for the people of California by the California State Lands Commission. See Chevron Long Wharf EIR and Point Molate Access, February 6, 2006. Click here to see the draft EIR. The Finalizing Addendum has not yet been posted on the State Lands Commission website.
California became a state on September 9, 1850, and thereby acquired nearly 4 million acres of land underlying the State's navigable and tidal waterways. Known as "Sovereign Lands", these lands included the beds of 1) more than 120 rivers, streams and sloughs; 2) nearly 40 non-tidal navigable lakes, such as Lake Tahoe and Clear Lake; 3) the tidal navigable bays and lagoons; and 4) the tide and submerged lands adjacent to the entire coast and offshore islands of the State from the mean high tide line to three nautical miles offshore. This watery domain, equal in size to Connecticut and Delaware combined, is managed by the California State Lands Commission. The State holds its "sovereign lands" in Public Trust. They can only be used for public purposes consistent with provisions of the Public Trust such as fishing, water dependent commerce and navigation, ecological preservation and scientific study.
Chevron built a wharf on state lands shortly after what is now its Richmond Refinery was established in 1902, but it was only in 1947 that the State entered into a lease with Chevron’s predecessor, Standard Oil of California, for the use of those lands. That lease expired in 1997, and in 1998, the State Lands Commission initiated the environmental review under CEQA for a 30-year renewal of that lease. The Long Wharf is being operated under a year-to-year lease that has now gone on for some nine years.
The most contentious issue in that environmental review has been access across the land side connection of the Long Wharf to accommodate the San Francisco Bay Trail for its extension to the Point San Pablo Peninsula. Despite a clear nexus between the existence of the Long Wharf and the obstruction of the long planned Bay Trail, the EIR continues to defend the narrowest possible conclusion that there is no relationship. At one time, Western Drive extended across the throat of the Long Wharf, providing direct access between Point Richmond and the Point San Pablo Peninsula. But the street was vacated some years ago to facilitate Chevron’s exclusive access to the Long Wharf.
The Finalizing Addendum states: “The Project’s area is defined as the area surrounding the berths comprising the existing Chevron Long Wharf facility…The facilities within this area are not an impediment to the proposed Bay Trail and the CSLC has no lease jurisdiction over either the shoreline or the upland, which supports the facilities through which the trail route is proposed.”
Persuasive arguments in favor of a mitigation that allows the Bay Trail to coexist with the Long Wharf have been prepared and filed by dozens of credible individuals and organizations, including the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee, East Bay Regional Park District, Trails for Richmond Action Committee, Bay Access, Inc., former Richmond Mayor Rosemary Corbin, former Richmond Mayor Irma Anderson, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond Council Member Tom Butt, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Marin County Bicycle Coalition, Point Richmond Neighborhood Council, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, Senator Don Perata, Bicycle Trails Council in the East Bay, City of Richmond Planning Department and Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia. All of these arguments were rejected by the EIR preparer, Chambers Group, Inc., of Irvine, California, in favor of protecting Chevron.
The Bay Trail continuity in this area has become an even more critical issue because of the death and serious injury in 2006 of bicyclists using the current route that shares the roadway with Interstate 580 at the east end of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. See Caltrans and Chevron Conspire to Perpetuate Death Trap, October 22, 2006 and Point Richmonder Dan Doellstedt critically injured in cycling accident.
The stridency and convolution of the logic used by Chambers Group, Inc, to reject the Bay Trail mitigation makes one believe that they are firmly in the pocket of Chevron or that they are channeling orders from someone to protect Chevron’s interests at all costs. However, being generous and accepting that they believe in their heart of hearts that they are right, and the interests of the people of California are being firmly protected, what do we do now?
I believe there are three ways to yet achieve a fair and appropriate outcome that will ultimately result in completion of the San Pablo Peninsula Bay Trail link.
'2802. Commission Criteria.
The Commission in determining pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 6702(b)(3) whether a lease, contract or other instrument is in the best interest of the State will consider whether the use, project or activity permitted by such instrument is:
(a) Consistent with current Commission
policies, practices and procedures used for administering lands within
Note: Authority cited: Sections 6005, 6105, 6108, 6701, and 6702 Public Resources Code. Reference: Sections 6005, 6701, and 6702. Public Resources Code.
'2803. Approval Limitation.
Approval by the Commission of any lease,
contract or other instrument pursuant to this Article shall not
constitute approval of any modification or amendment of such instrument
made pursuant to the provisions of such instrument or otherwise.
Separate approval shall be required for such modifications or
What can you do? There are three voting members and two alternates on the California State Lands Commission. The voting members are John Garamendi, Lt. Governor, John Chiang, State Controller and Michael C. Genest, Director of Finance. You can contact these members and ask them to make sure the Bay Trail route is built in to the renewed Chevron Long Wharf lease.
Only John Garamendi has a published email address, and by clicking on “reply to all” you can send a message to him. You can Click here for an Email form to send a message to John Chiang. Contact information for all three members plus alternates is shown below:
John Garamendi, Lt. Governor
John Chiang, State Controller
(916) 322-4404 FAX
Michael C. Genest, Director of Finance
Department of Finance
I will also ask the Richmond City Council to contact the State lands Commissioners and ask them to make sure the Bay Trail route is built in to the renewed Chevron Long Wharf lease.