Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2020  
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  Breaking Down "Selling Point Molate, is selling out the Richmond Community"
August 30, 2020

I get emails like to one below from individuals motivated by the false claims of the Point Molate Alliance and the Sierra Club:

“City council - Do not sell Point Molate for luxury homes and private profit at the expense of Richmond residents. This is a fight for a Richmond where we can all live, where our families and youth can thrive, and Ohlone sacred Shellmounds and rare environmental resources are protected. Richmond needs affordable housing near the downtown area, not luxury homes that most of the residents can’t afford to live in! Selling Point Molate, is selling out the Richmond Community.”

Let’s dissect these claims one by one:

  • “luxury homes:” The homes planned at Point Molate will include both market rate and affordable housing. The term “luxury” is solely meant to be provocative rather than factual. The housing will be market rate, the same as other new housing in Richmond, including waterfront housing in Marina Bay, Brickyard Cove and Point Richmond, where many Point Molate Alliance activists live. Existing homes along Richmond’s waterfront, while still the least expensive in the Bay Area for their prime location, are already in the $600,000 to $2.5 million range. Like homes anywhere, the market will set the price – not the developer. The Bay Area median home price is now just under $1 million, making Richmond waterfront homes affordable for roughly half of the Bay Area population – not just a “wealthy few.” Unlike other Richmond waterfront residential developments, Point Molate will also actually include affordable housing units, and in-lieu fees paid under Richmond’s Inclusionary Zoning will help subsidize perhaps hundreds of affordable units in other parts of Richmond.

Finally, another important point, housing at Point Molate will not deprive anyone already living in Richmond of a place to live. It will not gentrify any Richmond neighborhood. If anything, by increasing the housing stock, it will take pressure off existing neighborhoods from buyers desperate to purchase a home.

  • “private profit:” Another term meant to be provocative. All housing is built by some organization seeking a profit, whether it is a developer or a contractor. Singling out Point Molate to associate with profit is just a way of trying to excite the base.
  • “Ohlone sacred shell mounds:” The SEIR recognizes and provides mitigations for native American prehistoric sites on Page 4.4.33.

4.4 Cultural Resources and Tribal Cultural Resources

Construction of the Modified ProjectCA-CCO-506H (Chinese Shrimp Camp) is located in an area that maybe subjected to ground-disturbing activities associated with the proposed development. Grading and re-contouring of the ground surface, landscaping, widening of roads, excavation of utility trenches, widening and partial redesign of portions of Stenmark Drive, and creation of trails and other amenities have the potential to significantly impact this resource during ground-disturbing activity. The implementation of Mitigation Measure 4.4-3, requiring worker training and archaeological monitoring in the vicinity of this resource, would reduce these impacts to less-than-significant levels by requiring physical avoidance of the principal site deposits, requiring worker training so that if outlying artifacts or features are encountered they will be recognized and construction halted, and by having an archaeologist present to ensure that any new finds associated with CA-CCO-506H are properly treated and documented.

The Modified Project lies in a region known to have been used by Native Americans. The remnants of several shell mounds lie within and adjacent to the Study Area, and burials associated with CA-CCO-283have been recovered even though the bulk of that site has been destroyed. Therefore, there is potential to uncover additional prehistoric resources or human remains during ground-disturbing activities associated with any phase of on-site or off-site construction. If any such a discovery comprises a CRHR-eligible cultural resource, the impacts would be potentially significant. The implementation of Mitigation Measures4.4-3and 4.4-4would reduce these impacts to a less-than-significant level by implementing a program of construction worker training, targeted archaeological monitoring, and development of an Unanticipated Discoveries Plan that provides procedures to follow in the event of a find made during construction. The inadvertent discovery of human remains is addressed under Impact 4.4.3.

Construction of Off-Site Improvements Construction of off-site improvements would require grading, excavation, and other construction-related activities. These activities may impact archaeological sites CA-CCO-283, CA-CCO-284, and CA-CCO-506H, as well as yet unknown archaeological resources; therefore, this is a potentially significant impact. The implementation of Mitigation Measure 4.4-3would reduce these impacts to less-than-significant levels by implementing a program of construction worker training, targeted archaeological monitoring, and establishing procedures to follow in the event of a find made during construction.

  • housing near the downtown area: One of the City’s four Housing Goals, as listed in the Housing Element of the General Plan, is “ Goal H-1:A Balanced Supply of Housing. Promote a balanced supply of housing types, densities, and prices to meet the needs of all income groups
  • The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is a state mandate that all California cities, towns and counties must plan for the housing needs of our residents—regardless of income. This state mandate is called the Housing Element and Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA. As part of RHNA, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, or HCD, determines the total number of new homes the Bay Area needs to build—and how affordable those homes need to be—in order to meet the housing needs of people at all income levels. (Page 95)

    ABAG, working with the Housing Methodology Committee, then distributes a share of the region’s housing need to each city, town and county in the region. Each local government must then update the Housing Element of its general plan to show the locations where housing can be built and the policies and strategies necessary to meet the community’s housing needs.

    Richmond’s RHNA allocation shown below shows that Richmond is short 1,482 units, 755 of which are “above moderate,” which means they are market rate. These units have to be built somewhere in Richmond, and there is nothing wrong with them being placed at Point Molate. The first phase of Point Molate will also include 10% affordable housing.

    RHNA also shows that Richmond is short 727 affordable units, but we are catching up. The Terraces at Nevin Avenue are almost complete and will provide 289 affordable units downtown, reducing the RHNA deficit by 40%.  The 140-unit Nevin Plaza will be rehabilitated and another 70 units added, taking another 10% bite out of the deficit. The Hacienda is also on track for rehabilitation, adding 101 units. Nystrom Village will be mostly removed and replaced by hundreds of new affordable units. Hundreds of units, including affordable units, are in the pipeline for the area near the BART station.

    Breaking down "Selling Point Molate, is Selling out the Richmond Community"
    Figure 2 - Richmond RHNA Housing Shortfalls

    Because of our inclusionary zoning, market rate housing mut either include affordable units or contribute to an in-lieu fund to help subsidize affordable housing. With the end of Redevelopment in California, the largest local source of affordable housing subsidies are in-lieu funds generated by market rate housing. Market rate housing at Point Molate will help build hundreds of units of affordable housing elsewhere in Richmond.

    • “Selling Point Molate, is selling out the Richmond Community:” Only 30% of the land area at point Molate will be sold for development. The remaining 70%, including a shoreline park, Bay Trail and upland opens pace will become a public park where, “where our families and youth can thrive.”
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