Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2022  
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  Six Weeks to Point Molate Showdown
April 9, 2022

In accordance with the 2018 Federal Court settlement and amended final judgment of 2019, one of the following will happen on May 21, 2022:

  1. SunCal, which has full development entitlements with a Development Agreement (DA) and Development and Disposition Agreement (DDA)  with the City of Richmond, will purchase the developable areas for $45 million cash. The $45 million will be split 50/50 between the City of Richmond and Upstream/Guidiville Tribe; or,
  2. If SunCal declines to close the purchase, Upstream/Guidiville Tribe may purchase the developable areas for $400.00. If they buy it, Upstream/Guidiville Tribe will have 5 years to sell the property and must split any proceeds 50/50 with the City. Meanwhile, the City has to maintain and secure the property, a cost of approximately $1 million a year.

Both entities have said publicly that they are planning to make the purchase.

Meanwhile, Point Molate development opponents seem convinced that EBRPD, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), or some other collaboration of public and nonprofit agencies, will be able to raise money and persuade whichever entity or entities end up owning the development rights, to settle all litigation and sell the developable area for a park. Note that the approved development plan already sets aside 70% of the site as a park, including a continuous waterfront park to be developed and maintained by SunCal.

There is no evidence that SunCal or Upstream/Guidiville Tribe has any interest in selling for a park or has engaged in any negotiations with the EBRPD, TPL or others.

Speculatively, if SunCal sold for a park, they would want at least $45 million plus the cost of their expenses, probably $10 million or more. They could, of course , ask for a lot more, citing loss of future profits. If SunCal declines to purchase, they have already threatened the City, in writing, to sue for breach of contract, including the City Council’s refusal to cooperate in establishing a community facilities district, a contractual requirement of the DA and DDA.

RPA City Council member Gayle McLaughlin is already responsible for the City of Richmond losing control of Point Molate through a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. See

If Upstream sold for a park, no one knows what that deal that might look like, but it could be in the tens of millions.

There are two active lawsuits, a Brown Act lawsuit in federal court and a CEQA lawsuit in state court. The City prevailed in both at the trial court, but both are being appealed.

Putting aside any of my personal preferences, there are the following issues with a park purchase:

  • No one has a solution for preservation, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of some 300,000 SF of 100+ year-old historic buildings (Winehaven Historic District) listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There is no way that adaptive reuse is economically feasible without new infrastructure, which would be provided by the proposed development. The buildings would simply deteriorate.
  • The proposed development would be required to pay to develop and maintain the 70% open spaces and parks. Without a developer, these costs would have to be borne by public agencies, but no commitment has been made.
  • There could also be an SB330 issue if a park is pursued. Point Molate is currently zoned for some 2,000 homes.