Plan to get input on planned Richmond casino will be fair, city contends
By Katherine Tam
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 08/05/2010 02:36:52 PM PDT
Updated: 08/05/2010 06:16:38 PM PDT
As Richmond opens a one-month window for the public to submit development ideas for the old Point Molate Navy Fuel Station at the waterfront, critics are crying foul.
Opponents argue the process is flawed, in part because ideas will be vetted by a developer who wants to build a casino-hotel resort there. They fear viable alternatives won't be given a fair chance.
City officials and their consultant assured residents at Wednesday's meeting that the process would be fair, saying they will evaluate ideas to see if they are feasible without comparing them to a casino and they will advocate for those that are feasible to move forward.
"(Developer) Upstream will have no veto power over any proposal," said Steve Duran, the city community economic development director.
The city is holding three workshops this summer and soliciting ideas about how to develop Point Molate, where Upstream and the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians propose a $1.2 billion Las Vegas-style casino-hotel resort.
Design, Community & Environment, a consulting firm in Berkeley, will facilitate the workshops and evaluate the public's ideas to see if they are different from the project and five alternatives listed in the draft environmental impact report. If they are different, the consulting firm will assess if they are feasible and recommend if they should be studied in the environmental report.
The consultant's recommendations will be vetted by both city
staff members and Upstream, before a report reaches the City Council in December or January, said David Early, the consulting firm's head. He said he would be "very insistent" that viable ideas reach the council.
Though the consulting firm's contract is with Upstream, he said he won't have private conversations with the developer without city staff members present.
He added his firm was selected through a process overseen by the city with input from Upstream, and the contract was ultimately signed with Upstream because it takes longer to do it with the city.
Opponents asked that the criteria for evaluating the public's ideas also include traffic, community benefits, health and environment. Early said he would review those suggestions and publish revised criteria within the week.
· Richmond will accept ideas about what to build at Point Molate through Sept. 15. Submissions can be e-mailed to planner Lamont Thompson at Lamont_Thompson@ci.richmond.ca.us or mailed to the city's Planning Department, 450 Civic Center Plaza -- 2nd Floor, Richmond 94804.
· A meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at 440 Civic Center Plaza, in the multipurpose room, to collect public input and written proposals. The consultant will summarize the alternatives and his evaluations at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at 440 Civic Center Plaza, in the multipurpose room. The consultant's report is scheduled to reach the City Council in December or January.
· The city website with the draft environmental impact report and other documents is www.ci.richmond.ca.us/pointmolate.
Sham Hearing on Pt Molate Casino Alternatives
Richmond Progressive Alliance August 8, 2010 #30 by Mike Parker
Richmond is now going through the motions of soliciting alternative uses for Point Molate. A consultant ($50,000) is gathering and evaluating alternatives. Add to that the thousands of dollars for the salaries of city legal and administrative staffs. It is money wasted to cover the rear ends of city council people who back the casino project.
The reality of this solicitation process came through at the first workshop on Wednesday August 4.
Although the consultants were supposed to be soliciting alternative uses they made no provision for usable maps of the area. They made no arrangements for people to have access to the area. Instead they made clear that alternatives that would pass their preliminary qualifications had to show that they were "financially feasible", implying that any project had to be without city funds. As one person commented at the hearing, the criteria virtually excluded the most likely way that a large public purpose development can take place: initial seed money from public agencies working with private developers with a long term plan. Thus the process was wired so that only developer Upstream's Casino proposals would appear to pass financial tests. See the "idea" form presented at the meeting.
All proposals that were submitted would be passed on to Upstream and City staff before being submitted to the City Council. Any business plan for Point Molate that might be profitable, or at least financially feasible, or was just a good idea, would have to be submitted to Upstream for its possible use. The situation is roughly comparable to the city agreeing tentatively to accept Chrysler's bid for police cars, but telling people who like to see Ford cars considered as well, that Ford would have to submit its designs to Chrysler for consideration.
Why are we wasting city time and money on this charade? You can find the answer by watching the city council meeting of May 18.
The city did not have to extend the LDA. In fact Mayor McLaughlin had placed an item on the agenda to allow the city to begin to entertain alternative uses for Point Molate. But during the previous item on the agenda -extending the LDA for 2 months - council member Viramontes waited until public discussion was closed to make a long confusing amendment to extend the LDA for almost a year. It also created the illusion that the city was going to consider new alternatives by setting up the procedure that put Upstream in the driver's seat. Viramontes claims to oppose the casino but lately every one of her actions has been to smooth the road for it.
For more information on the issues concerning the Casino project at point Molate and alternatives see the Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate web site.
What you can do.
Richmond residents will have the opportunity to cast an advisory vote on whether we want a casino at Point Molate on November's ballot thanks to a motion at city council by Butt, Ritterman and McLaughlin. Most important is to make sure your neighbors understand what is really going on and vote against the Casino in November.
You can also write letters or call city council members and tell them that you want a process to consider alternative uses for Pt. Molate based on balanced criteria which includes traffic, social impact, and the environment and which allows other developers to present their own proposals.