The Minutes of the June 19, City Council meeting include the following with respect to Point Molate:
N-2. The matter to direct staff to make modifications to the timeline and scope of the Point Molate Land Use Visioning process to allow for comprehensive outreach and meaningful community participation was introduced by Councilmember Recinos. Councilmember Recinos provided an overview of the recommendations included in the staff report packet. Discussion ensued. The following speakers gave comments: Shirley Dean, Deborah Bayer, Seren Penduton-Knoll, Jim Hanson, Connie Portero, Tony Sustak, Pam Stello, Evan Bissell, Elaine Dockens, and Elsa Stevens. Further discussion ensued. The Council requested increased public outreach efforts. Mayor Butt appointed Councilmembers Choi, Martinez, and himself to serve on a Point Molate ad-hoc committee. A motion was made by Councilmember Martinez, seconded by Vice Mayor Willis, to approve the item as recommended. A friendly amendment by Councilmember Recinos to proceed with the first community planning meeting on Saturday, June 23, 2018, and schedule the remaining three future community meetings 30 days in advance of public outreach, with a total of four Point Molate tours, was accepted. The motion passed by the unanimous of vote of the City Council.
What the Minutes don’t show, but the meeting tapes do, is that the Council also agreed to achieve their direction without extending the total time or raising WRT’s (planning consultant) fee for the visioning process.
On July 3, the committee – Councilmembers Ben Choi, Eduardo Martinez and I – met with City staff and the WRT consulting team to come up with a process and schedule that conformed to previous City Council direction. We had an extensive and detailed discussion. Councilmember Martinez was the most strident about expanding both the content and number of visits and workshops. We accommodated his every request, which was complicated by synchronizing scheduling with the calendars of multiple people, both City staff and WRT staff.
When the meeting concluded, I asked the committee members, Choi and Martinez, if they agreed with the process we had hammered out. Without equivocation, they did. Just to make sure, I asked Lina Velasco to email us her notes about what we had agree to, and on July 4 she sent Martinez, Choi and me the following draft notes:
Mayor Butt and Councilmembers Martinez and Choi:
Below are draft notes for yesterday’s committee meeting. Please let me know if you have any revisions or clarifications.
Draft Notes from Point Molate Council Committee Meeting
July 3, 2018
Mayor Butt, Councilmembers Choi and Martinez
Staff: Bill Lindsay, Bruce Goodmiller, Richard Mitchell, Rachel Sommovilla, LaShonda White, Lina Velasco
Consultant Team: John Gibbs, Sarah Calderon, Poonam Narkar
Update postcards to include additional meeting dates and better description of meeting activities
Post Community Meeting #1 Summary to website by Monday, July 9, 2018
Groundwork Richmond will share list of partner organizations so others can view list and add any missing organizations
Utilize City’s Next Door account and other venues – Mayor’s Office and CM’s Office have accounts
Youth Summit with site Tour # 2 on July 23 – 10 AM to 3 PM at Point Molate Beach Park:
Additional site tour #3 on July 23rd from 5:30pm – 7:30pm/6:00pm – 8:00pm (confirm timing)
Extend Community Workshop #2 – 5:00pm – 9:00pm (confirm timing)
First Part - One–Hour Forums on specific topics to provide technical information prior to visioning
Second Part – Visioning Activity
Additional site visit #4 – Saturday, August 18th (confirm timing)
Community Workshop #3 – August 27th from 5:00pm – 9:00pm (confirm timing) – City Hall location
WRT scope/Item N-2
City staff and WRT will work on revising scope to stay within budget by possibly removing remaining pop-up events and stakeholder interviews
Council committee recommends approval of RFQ/RFP process for Master Developer
Staff will add dates of site tours to RFQ
Edit language to RFP – opportunities for developers with special and specific interests to be part of the project but City encourages joint ventures/collaborations/etc. so that project is managed under the auspices of a master developer
Council committee recommends approval of the Kosmont contract to analyze options for infrastructure financing
Provide draft of committee meeting minutes to group to confirm action items/decision points are accurate
State in staff report and at Council meeting that future committee meetings, if held, will be open to the public
Council items for July 10 meeting: (1) approve amended schedule, (2) authorize issuance of RFQ (3) recommend approval of Kosmont contract
No one took issue with Lina’s notes. She heard nothing from Martinez.
Then last night, Councilmember Martinez distributed a multi-page written request for significant changes to what he had agreed to on July 3. As time was running out to vote on the process previously agreed to by Martinez, he engaged in a 20-minute rambling filibuster eerily reminiscent of Corky Booze, making multiple requests and paging through his calendar demanding new dates for various site visits and workshops.
By then, it was already after 11:00 PM, and the four RPA-affiliated plaintiffs – James Hanson, Tony Sustak, Paul Carman and Pam Stello, who are suing the City over the Point Molate settlement rose to speak, supporting Martinez’ efforts to string out the visioning process.
Vice-mayor Willis suggested removing a clause in the developer RFQ that restricted developer contact with City Council members. This made sense because it is only a request for qualifications, not competitive proposals.
As the 11:30 PM drop dead time approached, I was prepared to make a motion to:
- Accept all of Martinez’ new content requests (but no scheduling changes).
- Accept Martinez proposed additions to the developer RFQ
- Accept Willis’ request to remove the restrictive developer contact clause for the RFQ
- Otherwise move ahead with the committee’s recommendations.
Instead of taking a few final minutes to allow a vote, all the Councilmembers except Choi voted against a motion to extend the meeting, and the effort to move ahead with the Point Molate visioning process died for the time being.
Putting this in context, Councilmember Martinez and the others who do not support the settlement, Beckles and Willis, have done everything they can to delay, obfuscate and complicate the visioning process that needs to be completed to meet a rigorous timetable that if not met, could result in Upstream being able to buy Point Molate for a few hundred dollars.
Make no mistake about it, Martinez’ flip-flopping on this after agreeing to a process on July 3 is simply bad faith, bad for the city and bad behavior for an elected official. He should be ashamed.
So should the RPA hardline litigants, Hanson, Sustak, Carman and Stello, who are holding the entire City of Richmond hostage to their personal obsession with Point Molate.
If I sound frustrated, I am. I have been involved with trying to get Point Molate developed, including mostly with open space and public use, since 1995. Point Molate represents less than 1 percent of Richmond’s land area, yet its future has been tied up in litigation for over 20 years. From some people’s obsession with it, you would think it was Shangri-La or the Garden of Eden. Point Molate has great promise, and it is a unique site, but if we don’t move ahead, we are going to lose it all.