Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2019  
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  Housing Obstructionists and NIMBYs in Richmond
September 12, 2019

In the midst of a statewide housing crises that is at its worst in the Bay Area, There are hard core groups in Richmond that are fighting new housing with every weapon they can muster.

Their latest strategy is to claim falsely that taxpayers will end up subsidizing new housing in Richmond. This claim has been made about Point Molate and most recently about the Terminal 1 (Laconia) project.

There was an item on the September 10 Agenda to transfer the remaining Terminal One Settlement Agreement funds into the 2019-2020 Recognized Obligation Payments Schedule (ROPS). This allows the Successor Agency to be able to expend the funds this fiscal year. Under the terms of the 2005 Settlement Agreement, these funds can only be used for the remediation of the Terminal One property. The vast majority of the funds are being used for development of the cleanup plan and soils remediation of the site. The buildings on site also contain some hazardous materials in the form of asbestos as well as lead which is why the funds can be used for demolition work.  These funds cannot be used for anything other than Terminal One remediation and cannot go into the General Fund.

Opponents argued that there are not enough funds to remediate the groundwater and soil contamination at Terminal One and to remove the asbestos in the building.  One email opposing the item stated:

The  City is under an order to clean up the site from the Regional Water Quality Control Board (Order No. R2-2004-0045).  The order has nothing to do with the asbestos in the building.  Page 3 of Richmond's 2013 RFP for Terminal One said "The minimal selling price for the site is $10 Million Dollars. The developer is responsible for all costs including building demolition, construction of infrastructure and public amenities."

If the City Council uses the funds for the asbestos abatement, the City will have to fund the groundwater remediation required by the order.  There are not enough funds for both or even the remediation.    An engineered wall (slurry wall) is being proposed to mitigate the leaching of contaminants from the site to the Bay.  The most recent sampling results showed that one well could not be sampled because of a "viscous floating material."  If the City uses the funds for asbestos abatement, who is going to fund the slurry wall, monitoring, and cleanup of the soil and groundwater?  The tax payers.    You have the developer responsible for the demolition of the building. Let the precious funds left be used for remediation of the soil and groundwater.

The fact is that any cleanup costs in excess of those funded by the Settlement Agreement are the responsibility of the developer and will be paid for by the developer rather than the City. Below are two sections out of the Land Development Agreement (LDA) related to the developers remediation responsibilities.

4.1.7        Mitigation Measures.  If the City approves the development of the Project following completion of the environmental review process and such approval is conditioned upon implementation of specified environmental mitigation measures, then the Developer shall be responsible at its sole cost and expense for implementing such mitigation measures and any mitigations measures required in any Other Agency Approvals as part of the development of the Project.

5.9.2    "AS IS".  Developer acknowledges, agrees and represents that the Residential Property is to be purchased, conveyed and accepted by Developer "AS IS," "WHERE IS" AND "WITH ALL FAULTS."  Developer further acknowledges, agrees, and represents that City shall have no obligation with respect to delivery conditions of the Residential Property, the Park Property, or the BNSF Property, including conditions related to the demolition and removal of existing structures, the removal of underground tanks, and the remediation of any toxic soils conditions.  The demolition and removal of the existing warehouse structure that is situated on the Property shall be the responsibility of Developer, at Developer's sole cost and expense.