On April 5, the Richmond City Council voted against further consideration of a casino development slated for the wild shoreline of Point Molate, wisely choosing to protect this important open space on the Bay's shoreline. Last November, the citizens of the City of Richmond voted 58% against the development. Baykeeper testified at the hearing to urge the Council to vote no.
Point Molate is a beautiful peninsula that provides varied habitat supporting such endangered species as the California clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. The shoreline includes rocky cliffs more than 500 feet above sea level; endangered coastal prairie, woodland and riparian zones; and wetlands, beaches and near-shore eelgrass beds.
Owned by the City of Richmond, the 423-acre space is bounded on one side by the Chevron refinery, and its groundwater is contaminated from the site's former use as a Navy fuel depot. Nonetheless, it is now a remote wildland with some of the best Bay views around. The site also has 61 closed historic buildings from a major winery that was shut down by Prohibition, as well as worker houses similar to those restored at Cavallo Point and the remains of 19th century Chinese shrimp camp like the one at China Camp State Park in Marin.
Despite its environmental and historic value, the site had been under consideration for a major casino development with two huge hotels. The City is now considering other possibilites, including development by Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate featuring reuse of historic buildings to house nonprofit offices and environmental education programs. The site would be a model of sustainable low impact development. Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate is supported by a grant from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, made possible by funds from Baykeeper's settlement with the City of San Carlos over sewage spills. Baykeeper is pleased to be able to support protecting this important open space.
Photo of Point Molate by Michael Mees/Flickr