Tom Butt
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  Supervisor Gioia - No Plan for Saving Winehaven
July 10, 2023

In response to a California Public Records Act request for, “...copies of any documents or records in your possession, or possession of your office or agency, dating since July 1, 2022, until today, that include any discussion or mention of a plan or plans to preserve and/or rehabilitate the contributing structures in the Winehaven Historic District at Point Molate."

Supervisor Gioia responded, “I have no records that are responsive to your request.”

If Supervisor Gioia has a plan, it resides solely in his head.

Gioia was instrumental in terminating a proposed sale of the 30 percent developable area of Point Molate to Winehaven Legacy, LLC, (SunNCal), which included a commitment for full rehabilitation of the Winehaven Historic District.

Gioia first showed his hand at a BCDC meeting in 2021 when he succeeded in blocking a review of the San Francisco Bay Plan to recognize the SunCal plan previously approved by the City of Richmond. Gioia flat out lied to the Commission, telling them that negotiations were ongoing between SunCal and opponents of the development to turn the area into a park. In fact, no such negotiations were happening, and Gioia knew it.

The Sierra Club lauded Gioia for his action:

The Sierra Club salutes the leadership demonstrated by Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia on June 17th, 2021, when he led a large majority of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) in deferring for four months its consideration of a proposed development plan for Point Molate in Richmond. This deferral will be helpful to the Richmond City Council, which clearly needs time to re-evaluate its options for new policy directions on this issue.  

The Point Molate Alliance also thanked Gioia:

Good News!  SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) voted 14-8  on Thursday, 6/17/21, to postpone their vote for 4 months on whether to initiate the Bay Plan amendment process to accommodate the SunCal plan.  Thank you to everyone who spoke and wrote.  Every speaker and letter was excellent and impactful, and Supervisor John Gioia was amazing in his remarks to the commissioners.  At the end of the meeting, Supervisor Gioia moved, seconded by Commissioner Aaron Peskin, to not take any action for 4 months, and during this time staff will provide answers to the commissioners many questions about the amendment and SunCal’s plan:  Supervisor Gioia’s motion passed!
Please THANK Supervisor Gioia for his leadership and for standing up for Richmond, environmental justice, and BCDC’s founding principles.  The postponement allows for settlement talks that are just beginning, and when and if commissioners meet in four months, they will have had an opportunity to understand the full implications of a Bay Plan amendment for SunCal. 

Gioia was also instrumental in obtaining a $36 million appropriation in the California 2022-23 budget for “acquisition and cleanup” of Point Molate with no mention of saving Winehaven.

The RPA-affiliated “Richmond Community News” carried the following announcement by Supervisor Gioia on July 21, 2022:

Thank you State Senator Nancy Skinner, Governor Gavin Newsom and East Bay Regional Park District Director Elizabeth Echols for supporting $36 million in the recently approved state budget for the East Bay Regional Park District to help our community achieve a regional park at Pt. Molate.

Both the park district's 1996 Master Plan and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission's San Francisco Bay Plan have called for a regional park at Pt. Molate for many years. This significant funding will leverage additional monies and bring us closer to this long-standing vision for a regional park for all Richmond and Bay Area residents.

East Bay voters approved Measure WW in 2008 by over 71% (and 75% in Richmond) which included funding for a shoreline park at Pt. Molate.

The state’s allocation of $36 million to the East Bay Regional Park District for Pt. Molate aligns with all of these actions.

So, here we are a year later, with no park, no plan and Winehaven continuing to deteriorate. Even though the City sold Winehaven to Point Molate Futures, LLC. For $400.00, the City is still responsible for security and maintenance, which is not happening. I was at Point Molate on July 8 and observed a 6-foot-wide breach in the fence around the historic cottages, which continue to be vandalized.

Figure 1 - Fence cut by vandals at Point Molate in the Winehaven Historic District

Supervisor Gioia is a two-faced politician, leaning whichever way he sees the wind blowing. In 2009, he led the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors in supporting development of a casino at Point Molate in exchange for a promise of $12 million a year in payments to the County:

Diminishing revenues played a large role in the board’s volte-face.  Gioia said the county needs money for health, law enforcement and other services.  If the 266 acres of shoreline property are given to the Guidiville Band in trust, the tribe guarantees the county $12 million a year, with a possibility to increase that by another $10 million.

At a time when public services are being scaled back, supervisors want to reap the benefits of a possible cash cow. Moreover, they do not want a repeat of what happened with Casino San Pablo. The county’s opposition to that casino led to “zero” dollars for the county, Gioia said, while its services are being drained.

“Clearly there is a split in the community, and I respect both positions,” he said, referring to the animated public debate surrounding the construction of a large casino complex just outside Richmond; a city afflicted with “crushing unemployment,” according to supervisor Chairperson Susan Bonilla. “But I believe that the county has the most to lose if we oppose this project any longer,” Gioia said.