On Tuesday evening, September 8, the Richmond City Council is holding an important public hearing on SunCal’s plan to cut Point Molate’s hillsides into pads for over 1,000 high-end condos. Please take a moment to let the council know that there is a better way. The public hearing is the city’s last step before the project goes to a vote of the council.
The publicly owned shoreline uplands of Point Molate represent one of the Bay Area’s last remaining shoreline open spaces. Point Molate’s shoreline and hillsides have long been identified for a regional park site due their natural beauty, cultural and economic history, and location near Richmond’s downtown neighborhoods.
In addition to taking comments on SunCal’s massive development plan, the hearing also offers a chance to speak to the inadequate final environmental impact report (EIR) and faulty general plan amendment associated with this plan.
Richmond’s general plan wisely supports “economically sustainable development that takes advantage of existing infrastructure and public facilities,” concentrating new development and housing in existing developed areas of the city, and preserving “open space areas along the shoreline, creeks, and in the hills to protect natural habitat.”
Point Molate currently has little or no infrastructure for water, energy, communications, fire, roadways, public safety, or wastewater, thus subjecting future condo owners or Richmond residents to ultimately pay for the high cost of replacing the inadequate infrastructure there. Among the issues with the EIR, the SunCal plan would extensively grade into Point Molate’s ecologically rich hillsides that support native coastal prairie and coastal scrub communities and the migrating and resident birds and other wildlife that depend on these plant communities. At the same time, SunCal also wants to count as “open space” some sections of Point Molate’s hillsides that they would be cutting, grading, and filling for development. This does not meet the definition of open space in the city’s general plan, which considers primarily unimproved land for “open space.”
Mirroring the concerns of many Richmond residents, a planning commissioner recently cast a dissenting vote on the plan, noting that it didn’t make sense to build hundreds and hundreds of condos on an isolated peninsula that is in a “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone” and next to the active Chevron oil refinery. Point Molate has only one road in or out.
CNPS East Bay and Point Molate Alliance members continue to work toward a more socially and environmentally appropriate plan for Point Molate. The “Community Plan” would redevelop the Winehaven village and repurpose the south watershed and shoreline as a regional park, including adding family gathering places and playing fields for Richmond youth who are active in soccer and other sports. The Community Plan is also designated as the “environmentally superior plan” in the city’s EIR.
If you believe in a more socially and environmentally sensible plan for Point Molate, please ask the Richmond city council to replace the SunCal proposal with the Community Plan.
Note: The Pt. Molate Alliance and the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club have assembled an easy way to contact the Richmond City Council ahead of the September 8 hearing. Visit the Point Molate Alliance’s “Take Action” page for more information.
Jim Hanson, on behalf of the CNPS East Bay Chapter Conservation Committee