Tom Butt
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  Forgotten Tales of Point Molate - End of the Proposed Casino Project
May 7, 2022

After entering into an agreement with the City of Richmond in 2004, Upstream and Guidiville had five years to complete certain requirements, including an EIR and a favorable Indian Lands Decision, before transfer of the property for uses that included a casino could be considered. The original five year period had been extended three times, and Upstream and Guidiville had paid about $17 million dollars is what amounted to an exclusive right to negotiate and an option that required mutual consent.

On March 7, 2006, the City Council approved the First Amendment to the Land Disposition Agreement to allow for phased site development. On September 2, 2008, the City Council approved the LDA's Second Amendment. The LDA's Third Amendment became effective on January 15, 2010 extending the LDA expiration date to March 15, 2010. The LDA’s Fourth Amendment became effective March 16, 2010, extending the LDA expiration date until April 20, 2010. The LDA’s Fifth Amendment became effective April 16, 2010, extending the closing date until May 20, 2010.

At the City Council meeting of April 5, 2011, the City Council voted 5-2, with Councilmembers Bates and Rogers dissenting, to end consideration of the casino project.

I’m sure each councilmember had his or her own motivation for the way they voted, so I can only tell you mine. First of all, based on an advisory vote in the November 2010 election, public opinion against the casino was confirmed with 57 percent rejecting it. For six years, there had been speculation and sponsored polls about community opinion towards the casino, but the election confirmed it. The election, however, was advisory, and the City Council was still free to act.

My previous support for the casino project waned for a couple of reasons as the time to act drew near. I had always fought for two conditions (1) all of the buildings in the historic Winehaven district should be saved and rehabilitated, and (2) there should be a binding requirement for the developer to hold to a schedule for implementation. I did not want to see historic resources destroyed, and I did not want the more attractive components of the project delayed indefinitely. It had become clear, however, that the developer intended to remove the two oldest and largest Winehaven buildings to make way for a hotel, and the only commitment for early construction was the casino and a 4,000-car parking garage. I found this unacceptable and the developer intransigent on both issues. I joined four of my colleagues in rejecting the casino project.

As the decision loomed, a number of individuals and organizations who currently oppose any development of Pont Molate then supported the casino project, mostly for promises of payoffs by the developer. The Contra Costa board of Supervisors supported the casino, and Supervisor John Gioia wrote, “This week, after much examination, the Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the Guidiville Band of Pomos under which the County will get substantially more revenue and jobs than if we opposed the Point Molate proposal to the bitter end.” (

In exchange for money, todays’ most vocal and hypocritical opponents of Point Molate development had no qualms about throwing Richmond under the bus, lining up in 2009 and 2010 in support of the casino, including Citizens for Eastshore Parks President Robert Cheasty, the Sierra Club and the Golden Gate Audubon Society

Following is media coverage of the decision:

Richmond Axes Point Molate Casino Resort
April 6, 2011
Richmond axes Point Molate casino resort
By Katherine Tam
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 04/06/2011 01:57:10 AM PDT
Updated: 04/06/2011 06:03:12 AM PDT

Dreams of a $1.2 billion casino-hotel resort at Richmond's waterfront are dead.

City leaders ended a five-hour meeting Tuesday night by nixing further consideration of the proposal, saying there are too many problems from traffic congestion to federal approvals that have yet to come. Ultimately, they said Richmond voters made their opposition clear when they defeated November's advisory ballot measure on whether a casino should be built at Point Molate.

"This project has failed to obtain federal approval. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has not given a timetable for the decision-making process," City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles said. "I don't think it's right nor is it fair to keep the residents of Richmond waiting for a decision indefinitely."

The 5-2 vote -- with councilmen Nat Bates and Jim Rogers dissenting -- was no surprise, given the results of November's election. Voters picked council newcomers Beckles and Corky Booze, creating an anti-gaming majority at the dais. They then rejected advisory Measure U, with 58 percent voting no on the casino question.

Bates, a longtime supporter of the project, said he was saddened to see the project die, in part because it would have provided jobs to locals who lack a college education and have trouble getting employment.
"I still think it's a good idea what we tried to do," Bates said. "I think it would have been a positive."

The council directed the city staff to begin negotiating for 120 days with Upstream, the project developer, for a nongaming development alternative, as outlined in the 2004 deal in which the city agreed to sell Point Molate for $50 million.
Tuesday's meeting drew more than 150 people on both sides of the issue, with opponents outnumbering supporters by a considerable margin. A large banner dangling from the balcony seats read in bold lettering: "Richmond Voted No Casino."

Upstream and the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians have spent $17 million to date on their proposal, including partial payments for the land, said Michael Derry, tribe spokesman. He and developer Jim Levine urged the city not to shut the door on the gaming project and to instead keep all options open.

The resort was to include two hotels, a 122,000-square-foot conference center, restaurants, shops, tribal facilities, open space, a shoreline trail and ferry access. But it was the 124,000-square-foot gaming floor that divided the community.
With Richmond's unemployment rate hovering stubbornly at 18 percent, supporters say the project would bring thousands of much-needed jobs and millions in revenue. But opponents argued the plan is a pipe dream that would fall short of its promise and instead bring traffic congestion, crime and addictions.

Check back later for updates to this story.

Richmond City Council Rejects Casino Proposal
Posted: 6:30 am PDT April 6, 2011

RICHMOND, Calif. -- The city council voted Tuesday night not to continue with plans to develop an Indian casino at Point Molate after more than six years of back-and-forth about development of the former Navy base.
The council members voted 5 to 2 to in favor of a motion by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin to discontinue discussion of the casino, with Councilmen Jim Rogers and Nathaniel Bates dissenting.

Developer Upstream Point Molate LLC, which has been working on the project with the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians since 2004, now has 120 days to propose a non-gaming development at the site.

Original plans called for the 412-acre piece of shoreline property to be cleaned up and turned into a complex featuring a casino, hotel, convention center, performing arts center, entertainment venues, retail space, tribal government center, and housing.

McLaughlin laid out 12 reasons why she moved to oppose further discussion of the casino, including a nonbinding advisory vote that was passed in November in which 58 percent of the city's residents said they would oppose the gaming proposal.

McLaughlin also said studies have linked casinos to increased crime, increased problem gambling, and overall economic loss.

She said that locally marketed casinos don't lead to net financial gains because local residents spend money on gambling that would have been used for other services.

Other council members questioned whether jobs would really go toward improving Richmond's 17 percent unemployment rate and putting its parolees to work.

"If you had this beautiful new hotel, would you put a guy who just got out of prison in the rooms cleaning?" Councilman Courtland Booze said. "Think about it."

He and several other council members also said they respected the democratic process and wanted to honor the wishes of residents who support development without a casino.
The developers, however, have argued the $1.7 billion resort would not be profitable without a casino acting as a central draw. They also said the casino was needed to fulfill the city's mandate that the project be a job-creating economic engine for the city.

"Building homes does not create jobs after the homes are finished," Upstream LLC spokesman Jim Levine said.

The casino project would create an estimated 17,000 permanent jobs and 1,600 to 1,700 temporary jobs, according to its proponents.
Members of the City Council and of the public have questioned those figures.

Tuesday's decision could lead to a protracted legal battle, the dissenting council members pointed out, because millions of dollars have already been spent developing the project. Michael Derry, CEO of the Guidiville Pomo Indians, said the tribe originally entered into negotiations with the city with the understanding that officials wanted to work with developers to build a casino.
Their agreement required the city to negotiate in good faith, and if the tribe can prove the city did not intend to follow through on the project, it could be entitled to compensation for million of dollars already invested in the casino plan, Derry said. .Copyright 2011 by and Bay City News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Although the casino project was dead, the developer still had the right to propose a non-casino project, and the City Council had the right to approve or reject it. Stay tuned.