Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2016  
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  McLaughlin - "Pt Molate Process Deeply Offensive to the Public"
July 19, 2016

The following communication from Gayle McLaughlin is a gratuitously self-righteous accusation that  the city council is “heading back into those historically corrupt days in Richmond before some of us [read the RPA] got involved.”

Any decision to pursue a settlement would have to include at least four City Council members, so presuming the RPA3 will not be included, that would mean that at least my vote is required. I don’t appreciate the insinuation by Council Member McLaughlin that I am corrupt for simply considering a settlement, and I’m sure that the other three non-RPA Council members have similar concerns.

Even the Sierra Club, who once embraced the casino plan in return for a $40 million slush fund have come out against any kind of settlement.

Upstream is challenging  both the Federal District Court decision and the attorney fees award in the 9th Circuit. Any litigation is fraught with uncertainty. The 9th Circuit could reverse the District Court or send it back for trial. Whatever happens could be appealed to the Supreme Court. There is no hearing date set, and this could go on for years. Upstream faces the same risks. The reason parties settle litigation is to trade certainty for uncertainty.

As much as the PMCAC or other individual or entities would like to be in on the negotiations, this is not going to happen. The City Council is the City’s duly elected decision-making body and has to take responsibility for this. The plan we have seen from Upstream is not necessarily the one that the City Council will embrace, should it consent to pursue this process.

I anticipate that the City Council will make some kind of counter offer to Upstream, including both a master plan for the site and the amount of any funds involved in the transaction, hopefully after consultation with the Trust for Public Land, Urban Land Institute and Lynn Sedway, all of whom are up to date on Point Molate and have spent  good deal of time recently studying and evaluating development opportunities.

In any event, I believe it is safe to say that any settlement with Upstream will include a plan that includes the open space features of all previous plans – the  shoreline park, the Bay Trail and the uplands.

Finally, any plan resulting from a settlement will still be subject to CEQA, will require a General Plan and Zoning Change, Design Review, Planning Commission review and ultimately City Council approval, all of which are public processes.

My main goal is to see the development of Point Molate move ahead, including both the opens space and public use components as well as the commercial uses that will create jobs and provide tax revenue for the City of Richmond. I don’t really care who the developer is, as long as it is done right and gets done sooner rather than later.

Gayle and the RPA are obsessed with a “public process” to plan Point Molate. They have had over a decade to come up with a plan and have nothing to show for it except what they are against, including housing, Jim Levine and anything that makes money for anyone.

On the other hand, we have the 1997 Reuse Plan that was adopted unanimously by the City Council and vetted by CEQA. We also have Alternative D from the Upstream EIR that is quite similar to the 1997 Reuse Plan and has also been vetted by CEQA.

Tom Butt

From: Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin []
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 12:21 PM
To: Butt, Tom <>
Subject: Pt Molate process deeply offensive to the public

Dear Friends:

Tonight, much to my disapproval, will be the third closed session meeting over the past couple of months in which the City Council will be discussing a potential settlement agreement with Upstream Pt Molate.  

We all remember Upstream for its outrageous casino proposal that was rejected by the voters in an advisory ballot measure in 2010, followed by an official rejection by the City Council in early 2011. The City Council also rejected an alternative project presented by the same developer, as allowed by the land disposition agreement which authorized a 120-day period for review of an alternative to the casino.  

Upstream, not happy with its own gamble, filed a lawsuit with the City of Richmond claiming we had no right to reject the casino. Federal judges have ruled in the City's favor on this case time and time again, even as the developer, not happy with the outcome, chose to file appeals. Let me make this clear: there has been no wavering on the part of the courts. The City had every right to act as it did. 

I am greatly dismayed to say that Upstream is back, this time with a new proposal and is seeking to get a majority of the City Council on board with it. This flies in the face of past actions by the Council opening the road to a full, inclusive and transparent public process. In 2012, we agreed there would be a public process for determining the land use designation for Pt Molate,  and more recently this year we agreed to making Pt Molate a "study area" for zoning purposes. Neither a public process nor a study of the area's potential long-term zoning has yet to occur.

Many feel strongly that the City Council is heading back into those historically corrupt days in Richmond before some of us got involved. Richmond was known, in those days, for handling big issues behind closed doors. In those days, Richmond was known for the 3 C's - Chevron, crime and corruption. I believe we have come a long way since then, and am not willing to go backward. I am not willing to reverse holding Chevron accountable to the people of Richmond; I am not willing to reverse our approach of addressing crime at its roots; and I'm not willing to go back to the days of backdoor deals.  
Our City Council should stand up for a fair and transparent process. That is one of the sacred cornerstones of our democracy. First and foremost a public process should be conducted for Pt. Molate (an exquisite site that has been hailed as Richmond's treasure), followed by a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, giving this developer along with others the opportunity to put forward proposals. In no uncertain terms, I am stating that the public's right is being obstructed here.

While some have said that any settlement agreement will come forward in open session, I can tell you that should a settlement be reached, any open session discussion will be simply a dog and pony show with the majority of the Council having already agreed to the terms of settlement. Also, it has been said that any settlement proposal would allow public input since it would have to go through CEQA, a General Plan amendment, a zoning change, Design Review Board, Planning Commission, etc. That, of course, misses the point completely.  The purpose of any deal would be to provide development rights long before CEQA, zoning issues, etc are completed. The public deserves more than an opportunity to tweak an already settled-upon development proposal for this treasured site.

Today an article was published in the San Francisco Chronicle about this issue by David Helvarg. Please take a moment to read this informative article here. This is one of many articles to come, including an investigative article to come out in August.