Tom Butt
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  Point Molate Subsequent EIR Released for Public Comment - Opponents Threaten Ballot Measure
February 22, 2020

Lots of news on Point Molate today.

The following came from the Richmond Planning Department:

Dear Interested Party:

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the State of California Public Resources Code and the “Guidelines for Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970” as amended to date, the City of Richmond Planning Division has prepared a Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for a proposed mixed-use development project (Modified Project) on the former Point Molate Navy Fuel Depot and Winehaven Historic District Site (Point Molate Site or Project Site). 

The Modified Project makes certain changes in land use and intensities to the Point Molate Mixed-Use Tribal Destination Resort and Casino Project (Casino Project) and alternatives analyzed in the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Point Molate Mixed-Use Tribal Destination Resort and Casino Project that was certified by the City in 2011 (2011 FEIR).  These changes include, but are not limited to, the elimination of the proposed casino, increasing allowable residential units and rehabilitating the buildings that contribute to the historic Winehaven District (similar to the rehabilitation in Alternative B1 of the 2011 FEIR). 

The SEIR addresses the potential physical and environmental effects of the Modified Project per the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Public Resources Code [PRC] section 21000, et seq., and the CEQA Guidelines (Title 14, California Code of Regulations section 15000, et seq.).  As the Lead Agency, the City will use the SEIR when considering approval of the Modified Project.  Responsible Agencies, which are public agencies other than the City that have discretionary approval power over the Modified Project, also may rely on the SEIR prepared by the City when issuing approvals for the implementation of the Modified Project. 

The Draft SEIR is available for review online at:  Copies will also be available for review at the following locations:

Richmond Public Libraries:

  • Main Branch 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA 94804
  • West Side Branch 135 Washington Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801 (Point Richmond)

City of Richmond Planning Division, City Hall, 450 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA, 94804 (The Planning Division public counter is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday from 8:30a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A digital copy of all documents incorporated by reference and cited in the SEIR will also be available at the City of Richmond Planning Division.)

Public Review and Comment Period
The City invites comments on the SEIR in response to this NOA.  Pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15105(a), a minimum forty-five-day (45) public review period is required and shall commence on the date of this notice (February 21, 2020). Please mail or email your written comments on the Draft EIR no later than 5 p.m. on April 6, 2020 to:

Lina Velasco
Community Development Director
City of Richmond Planning Division
450 Civic Center Plaza-2nd Floor
Richmond, CA 94804

Please include in your written response the name and phone number of a contact person in your agency. In addition, comments may be provided at the Public Meeting that is noticed below.

Public Meeting
The City has scheduled a Public Meeting at the time and location indicated below.  The purposes of the Public Meeting are to describe the Modified Project and the environmental review process and to receive written and oral comments on the SEIR. 

March 19, 2020, 6:30 p.m.
City of Richmond Council Chambers
440 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, CA 94804

Overall, the SEIR did not find any serous impacts from the proposed SunCal project, called the “Modified Project” to distinguish it from the proposed casino project that was the subject of the 2011 EIR.

The Modified Project SEIR summarized the project as follows:

The Modified Project has been designed to meet the following objectives:

  • Provide a project that is consistent with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) approval and related conditions, as well as with the U.S. Navy (Navy) Record of Decision (ROD) for the transfer.
  • Provide a project that supports the vision of the 1997 Point Molate Reuse Plan(Reuse Plan).
  • Provide a variety of residential unit types to create a new residential neighborhood that serves a diverse population and helps to address the State of California and City of Richmond’s (City)housing crisis.
  • Provide a mix of residential, retail, and restaurant uses that support each other and decrease trips compared to single-use developments.
  • Have a positive contribution to the local economy through new capital investment, the creation of new jobs, and the expansion of the tax base.
  • Balance economic development with retention and preservation of open space and the rehabilitation of historic buildings;
  • Provide open space that preserves sensitive habitat, minimizes ridgeline disturbance, and provides opportunities for passive recreation.
  • Implement the portion of the San Francisco Bay Trail (Bay Trail) project along the frontage of the Project Site to increase shoreline recreational opportunities in the City.
  • Provide a mix of uses at a density sufficient to fund hazardous material remediation, substantial amounts of open space, and historic rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the historic buildings in the Historic District;
  • Facilitate the early environmental cleanup, redevelopment, and reuse of now vacant and underutilized land in an urban area.
  • Provide high-quality architecture that complements existing, historic structures and incorporates sustainable design practices into new buildings and landscaping.
  • Provide high-quality, efficient infrastructure to serve the Modified Project.

The Key Impacts of the Modifies Project were summarized as follows:

The impacts of the Modified Project are evaluated in Section 4.0 of this Draft SEIR and summarized in Table 2-1. Construction of the Modified Project could result in potential short-term impacts associated with soils and geology, hydrology and water quality, biological resources, noise, transportation/traffic, and air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. Project design, regulatory requirements, and mitigation measures would reduce many of the potential short-term impacts to less-than-significant levels. Operation and maintenance of the Modified Project could result in potential long-term adverse impacts associated with geology, soils and mineral resources, hydrology and water quality, noise, and air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. Project design, regulatory requirements, and identified mitigation measures would reduce potential long-term impacts, but not to a less-than-significant level for air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and transportation.

Note that most would be reduced to less than significant levels with proposed mitigations, presumably with condition of project approval and terns of the Development Agreement. The only exceptions would be those associated with the air and GHG emissions that would occur with any new construction anywhere, including housing. While these impacts have to be evaluated on a site-specific basis and compared to no development, according to CEQA, we all know that California and the Bay Area are woefully short of housing, and housing will eventually provided somewhere. Better to provide that housing in an urban area that is already served by infrastructure, like Richmond, than with suburban sprawl.

Finally, the Point Molate opponents have doubled down, in this case Anthony Sustak, Margaret Bowne and Paul Kilkenny (all remnants of the Richmond Progressive Alliance), have filed a notice of  “Intent to Circulate Petition that was filed today, February 21, 2020, to place an initiative on the November 2020 ballot.  The proposed initiative is as follows: Richmond Point Molate Park, Open Space, Cultural, Environmental, Recreational, and Economic Protection Initiative.”