Richmond plows ahead with foolhardy plan to develop Point Molate

By Norman La Force

The future of Point Molate — the historic and ecologically rich peninsula at Richmond's western shoreline — continues to be the subject of a contentious legal and political battle. The Sierra Club, along with a strong activist group in Richmond called the Point Molate Alliance, continues to oppose the plan to develop the site into a large-scale community of luxury homes. We support the “Community Plan” for preserving most of Point Molate as park and open space with room for playing fields and some development (such as an educational, and historic destination district). This plan also has the support of the Point Molate Alliance, Citizens for East Shore Parks, Golden Gate Audubon, California Native Plant Society, SPRAWLDEF, and many local leaders.

Two local environmental groups, with the support of the Sierra Club, have sued the city over its secretive backroom deal to build at Point Molate for the financial benefit of a private developer. We are currently waiting for the federal court to set a hearing date for that lawsuit. If the lawsuit prevails, the illegal closed-door settlement would be nullified and the city would have to plan Point Molate’s future in a truly open and transparent process.

Meanwhile the City plows forward like the Titanic in the North Atlantic with plans to develop the area. It just recently entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Rights Agreement with developer SunCal. Only council member Eduardo Martinez had the smarts to vote against it. SunCal is the same developer that proposed a project in the City of Alameda which then-mayor Beverly Johnson said would have had "devastating financial impacts" on the city — and which the voters resoundingly rejected in 2009.

SunCal’s Point Molate plan would build on some of the most sensitive ecological areas and would include a paltry 67 affordable housing units — just over 5 percent of a potential 1,200. Rather than building where residents would be dependent on long car trips to access jobs, schools, and shops, new housing should be concentrated in Richmond’s urban core, near existing infrastructure, transit, and services.

For more information about how you can help save Point Molate, go to

Image: Mudflats at Point Molate by Lech Naumovich, Golden Hour Restoration Institute.