Public Comment

Point Molate Extension on Richmond Council Agenda Tuesday

Councilmember Tom Butt
Sunday May 16, 2010 - 09:27:00 PM

This coming Tuesday, May 18, 2010, may be the most important date for the future of Point Molate since November 9, 2004 (See Point Molate is a Go, November 10, 2004). The City Council will vote on an agenda item placed by Nat Bates to extend the Upstream Point Molate Land Development Agreement (LDA) another two months from May 20 to July 20. 

The 5-year LDA initially expired on January 25, 2010, but was extended the first time until March 20, 2010. I did not vote for the first extension, but I both agendized and voted for two subsequent extensions, first to April 20 and then to May 20, because Upstream Point Molate had responded favorably to a number of issues I had with the LDA. 

That response seems to have lost momentum, and I am not inclined to continue to support the LDA. There remain three stalwart supporters, Nat Bates, Jim Rogers and Ludmyrna Lopez. Maria Viramontes supported the first extension but voted against the next two. It appears that she is now the deciding vote on a fourth extension. Her vote will either terminate the LDA or extend it until July. 

Even if the LDA is terminated, there remains the issue of a “tolling agreement,” whereby the second amendment to the LDA provides for an extension of the closing date in case of a legal challenge. A legal challenge in the form of a lawsuit brought by Citizens for East Shore Parks is the catalyst that may automatically extend the LDA whether the Richmond City Council wants to or not. In a counterintuitive irony, it may be a host of high profile environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, that end up keeping the casino project alive because of their avarice for millions of dollars in settlement dollars to eventually purchase the North Richmond Shoreline. There are legal disagreements among several aparties as to whether the CESP lawsuit triggers the tolling agreement. 

There are other subplots that may play out at next Tuesday’s Richmond City Council meeting. Upstream Point Molate, LLC, continues to maintain that the LDA constitutes an exclusive right for the sale of Point Molate, but the California attorney general disagrees. Mayor McLaughlin is testing legally dangerous waters by agendizing a discussion of alternate futures for Point Molate (DISCUSS the rights of the city to explore various development alternatives (apart from the Upstream proposal) for the Point Molate site and direct staff, in light of continuing controversy and legal complications that could well defeat the Upstream proposal or entangle the city in litigation for years to come, to receive ideas and suggestions for alternative plans so that the city may weigh the relative costs and benefits and responsibly rise from this economic downturn - Mayor's Office (Mayor McLaughlin 620-6503). 

In any event, May 18 promises to be an exciting meeting.