New Shoreline Development Under the Shadow of Chevron

May 8, 2020

Richmond’s Point Molate has been called "the crown jewel” of the East Bay shoreline. It sits under the shadow of one of the region’s biggest polluters, the Chevron oil refinery—and now, Point Molate is the target of a new development plan that would be disastrous both for the Bay and Richmond residents.

Most people haven’t heard of Point Molate, but it plays an important role in the Bay’s delicate ecosystem. It hosts many rare and unusual native plants, and more than 160 species of birds. It’s also one of the last remaining hotspots for eelgrass beds, which provide habitat for Dungeness crabs, Pacific herring, leopard sharks, and other creatures. Point Molate is also a popular recreational spot, home to rare plants and wildlife, and sites that are sacred to the Bay's indigenous people.

For years, community and environmental groups have fought to keep the Point Molate shoreline accessible. In 2013, Baykeeper removed over 100 tons of debris from Point Molate Beach Park to clean the area of toxic debris and make it safe for the public. Our efforts helped the City open the area up after a 10-year closure. Before that, Baykeeper helped the local community stop a plan to build a casino there.

But this tranquil stretch of shore, with its panoramic Bay views, has also been in the sights of developers, who recently pressured the city council into approving a plan to bulldoze the area and build luxury housing. 

The developer’s plan makes no sense—not for the Bay, and not for anyone who would ever live there. The neighboring Chevron refinery is reason enough not to build homes there. It regularly spews pollution into the surrounding air and water—and every so often even catches on fire.

Point Molate also lacks basic water and transit infrastructure needed to support a residential community. Building in the area would be a costly mistake: not for the developer, but for Richmond taxpayers. That's who will be on the hook to cover the high cost of making the area fit for human habitation.

So Baykeeper is working with local community groups to push back. Our scientists conducted a thorough technical analysis of the developer’s plan and identified many flaws that would harm the Bay and local residents. That’s why we’re advocating instead for a community-based project for Point Molate that provides a good balance of commercial revitalization and beautiful open-space preservation that will benefit the Bay and the people of Richmond.

As with all crown jewels, we’ve only got one Point Molate—and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

Pictured, above: The Chevron refinery (upper left) adjacent to Point Molate (right)

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