Several people have been emailing me with concerns about a settlement tender made by Jim Levine regarding Point Molate. You may recall that after the City of Richmond terminated the 2004 Land Disposition Agreement with Upstream Point Molate, LLC (Jim Levine) and The Guidiville Rancheria Of California, they sued the City Of Richmond and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Ultimately, the lawsuit was resolved in the City’s favor at the federal District Court level, and the City was awarded nearly $2 million in fees.
The Guidiville Rancheria Of California, And Upstream Point Molate LLC, Plaintiffs, then appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit, where it now resides without a hearing date or a schedule. Jim Levine has approached the City with a proposal to settle the lawsuit, which the City Council discussed in close session last week. When a settlement offer is made, the city attorney is bound by law to present it to the City Council.
The substance of closed session discussions about litigation are not disclosable to the public, but to perhaps allay some of the fears expressed by the public, City Manager Bill Lindsay released the following statement:
Settlement Discussions Related to Litigation with Upstream Point Molate LLC
June 27, 2016
Upstream Point Molate LLC (Jim Levine and associates) approached the City with a preliminary settlement proposal for the long-running Point Molate litigation in federal court. The City Council was informed of this proposal, which does not include development of a casino, in closed session on June 21, 2016. The Council made no decisions whatsoever on this matter, but the Council directed staff to issue a brief public statement clarifying the process.
Under no circumstances may a litigation settlement agreement bypass the required public process for land use approvals. Any project at Point Molate, whether proposed by Upstream following any settlement of the litigation or by others in the future, would be required to follow the standard public process for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review, design review, conditional use permits, rezoning, and general plan amendment (the last three, if required). Any land use proposal must also comply with the subdivision ordinance, if land divisions are requested.
It is currently unknown whether the litigation settlement talks will proceed to any completion or fall short, let alone whether Upstream will thereafter seek all required land use approvals. The City Council is at the earliest stages of any possible process.
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