Bay Commission Hearing June 17 2021
SAN FRANCISCO BAY CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (BCDC) PUBLIC HEARING
WHEN: THIS THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 2021, 1:00 pm
Urge BCDC to not initiate an amendment to the Bay Plan to take 83 acres of public waterfront parkland from Richmond’s under-parked and underserved communities for upscale development. SunCal’s plan violates BCDC’s charter to protect the SF Bay and its environment and ensure that maximum feasible public access to the Bay is provided.
WHY: SunCal (Winehaven Legacy LLC) applied to BCDC to remove approximately 83 acres from the Waterfront Park, Beach Priority Use Area (PUA) at Point Molate for residential development. BCDC commissioners will decide Thursday whether to begin the process to amend the Bay Plan to accommodate SunCal’s upscale residential enclave. (Talking points below)
Maps from BCDC Staff Report
See detail of Existing Bay Plan, top picture, Site 7 is Point Molate in green indicating Waterfront Park. Bottom picture, Site 7, shows the area proposed to be removed from the Waterfront Park in white, indicating development.
- Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by 10 am this Thursday, June 17, 2021; and
- Speak for up to 3 mins by telephone or Zoom. Information for how to join the meeting is here: https://www.bcdc.ca.gov/cm/2021/06-17-Agenda.html
Item on Agenda: Item #8: Public Hearing and Possible Vote on Issuing a Brief Descriptive Notice to Initiate San Francisco Bay Plan Amendment No. 1-21 Addressing Point Molate in Richmond and Authorizing the Executive Director to Enter into a Contract for the Costs of Processing the Proposed Amendment.
What is BCDC? BCDC is a commission of 27 members with a charter to protect the overall health and environment of San Francisco Bay by regulating development within the first 100 feet inland from the Bay to ensure that maximum feasible public access to the Bay is provided.
What is the Bay Plan?
A comprehensive plan for SF Bay and shoreline that ensures the protection of the SF Bay and its environment. BCDC is designated by our legislature to carry out the plan and may amend the Plan only if the changes are consistent with BCDC’s charter and policies.
TALKING POINTS: Please choose talking point(s) important to you and speak or write original comments.
Point Molate has a history of flawed development planning. The plans for a casino were made in secret and developed without broad community input. This led to a divisive ballot measure in 2010 when Richmond voters overwhelmingly rejected the casino idea. The settlement deal for the SunCal plan was voted on behind closed doors. The city then used the settlement to limit public options during the Point Molate public planning meetings to those including residential development. In addition, the plan was rushed through the approval process without adequate review and public comment. This flawed process led to two lawsuits that are pending and settlement talks are just beginning. BCDC should not initiate the Bay Plan Amendment process for a project under litigation for ceding public lands to private interests, in violation of public hearing and environmental laws.
The very design of this project is exclusionary. This is an upscale enclave. Those who can afford to purchase units will have incomes in the range of $225,000 to $250,000. The average household in Richmond has an income of $55,000. Further, two independent studies found the SunCal plan will cost Richmond’s General Fund millions of dollars each year. See https://ptmolatealliance.org/financial-analysis/
Though the City of Richmond will retain ownership of the hills and the beach park, these areas (except for the Bay Trail) will be administered and maintained by the Master Association of Point Molate residents and businesses. Will Richmond residents and our youth be made to feel welcome on a beach serving up to 2040 luxury residences? Our guess is that they will be crowded out, and the beach will essentially become privatized. There will be no incentive for the Master Association to plan for inclusion of Richmond residents.
Though Native Americans are mentioned in the historical overview, the Ohlone are ignored in this design. Ohlone Shellmounds are on site, and the SunCal plan describes methods for excavation of ancestral remains and donation to museums, rather than protecting these sites that are sacred to the Ohlone.
Recreational Opportunities (especially for Richmond residents)
Though much of Point Molate is behind chain-link fencing, the Beach Park is a favorite area for local families to picnic. It is a launching site for water sports. During the pandemic, it has been full of people and often overflowing. Such a massive development will crowd out the people who need the park most and who need more parkland. Richmond lacks adequate parkland, soccer and other sports fields, and outdoor recreation programming for families and youth. The SunCal plan does not plan adequately for recreation. For example, passive recreation is emphasized. A launch for kayaks is mentioned, but there are no details, and importantly, no restrooms.
Point Molate’s subtidal zone has over 100 acres of the healthiest eelgrass beds in the SF Bay. This eelgrass is genetically unique and highly adaptive for restoration projects throughout the SF Bay and for this reason, the subject of international scientific studies. The SunCal plan is to grade (bulldoze) 60% of the property. This extensive grading will destroy rare upland habitats and damage, if not completely destroy, the eelgrass beds.
Potential Damage to the Bay: Silt, Contamination, and Physical Damage
Grading (bulldozing) the steep uphill slopes for construction of residential units, excavation for water and sewer lines, and removal of over 200 mature trees (most of the trees on site) will all generate silt. Silt cuts off light and thus is deadly for eelgrass beds, which shelter juvenile crab and fish and sequester carbon. Proposed mitigation measures are inadequate, and in the best opinions of experts, damage to eelgrass beds is challenging, if not impossible, to restore.
The SunCal plan will exacerbate Richmond’s historic injustices of economic inequality, racial inequities and ecological harm. Point Molate is the largest and most unique piece of public land that Richmond has. With public land, cities can plan development that is beneficial to the public. Point Molate is therefore a very rare and historic opportunity for Richmond to express its best vision for smart development.
We urge you to not proceed with the proposed Bay Plan amendment for Point Molate in order to help ensure that the public, city-owned land at Point Molate remains public and is planned through a process that is transparent, accountable to community members, and guided by a set of goals focused on healthy, equitable, sustainable development that has broad public benefits.
The above are only some of the many problems with SunCal’s plan. For more talking points see ptmolatealliance.org: “Learn the Issues” and “Community Plan.”