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Point Molate

Land Use Plans Page Links to Point Molate Websites Action Alert Page

CLICK HERE for an excellent summary article about Point Molate from 19th century Chinese shrimp fishing camps to a 21st century gambling casino proposal.
Grand Opening of the Point Molate Beach Park was held on April 19, 2014

   Point Molate Beach Park Reopened
                                              Point Molate Beach Park Reopened October 14, 2013

The 413-acre former Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot (NFD) contains about 290 acres of land above high tide elevation. Located on Richmond’s shoreline about 1- 1/2 miles north of the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge this unique site contains:

  • 1.4 miles of unoccupied shoreline
  • A 400 foot high ridge line with sweeping views of two bays, a Victorian island lighthouse, Mount Tamalpais and Mount Saint Helena
  • A 1400 foot long pier providing deep water access
  • A 41-acre National Register Historic District
  • A Rhineland-style castle that was the largest winery in the U.S. prior to Prohibition
  • Extensive inter tidal eel grass beds and
  • Rare coastal prairie and coastal bluff native plant communities.

Point Molate & Winehaven - Photo by Don Gosney

Once the largest winery in the United States, the 41-acre Winehaven Historic District is recognized under both Federal and State law.

Beginning in 1942, Point Molate served as a U.S. Navy fuel storage and transfer facility. It closed on September 30, 1995 under the U.S. Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990. The Navy sold 218 acres of the property to the City of Richmond for one dollar in September 2003. Transfer of the remaining land was completed in March 2010 under an Early Transfer Cooperative Agreement under which the Navy provided the City with $28.5 million for a cleanup approach agreed upon by the parties and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, including a 2008 Remediation Agreement between the City and Upstream that further details Upstream’s remediation obligations.

Earth Day 2012 Cleanup of Point Molate
                                 Earth Day 2012 Cleanup of Point Molate - Photo by Mike Parker

Natural Environment

Bay Nature magazine featured the natural world of Point Molate in the article "Betting on Point Molate" by Chiori Santiago. In particular, Native Plants are real survivors at Point Molate. The uplands of Point Molate are distinguished by coastal terrace prairie and northern coastal bluff scrub plant communities where the major conservation issue is unmanaged invasive alien plants. The inter tidal zone is distinguished by abundant eelgrass beds and a variety of kelp. It is mostly rocky with the exception of sand/mud flats offshore Point Molate beach.

The September, 1998 Special-Status Plant Survey And Habitat Assessment report  for Point Molate NFD, which was prepared by Michael Wood of Sycamore Associates and Tetra Tech, states:
• “numerous plant taxa of botanical significance do occur on site;”
• “Coastal terrace prairie and northern coastal bluff scrub habitats are exceedingly rare in the East Bay and represent diminishing habitats throughout their range;”
• “the native perennial grasses .... exhibit very high levels of density and diversity. Native grasslands of comparable quality are extremely uncommon in the East Bay, as well as in more coastal areas in Marin County;”
• “the diversity of wildflowers in the grasslands is also unusual in the region.”

Reuse Plan for Former Naval Fuel Depot

A 45-member Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee developed the Point Molate Reuse Plan, which was approved by the Richmond City Council acting as the Local Reuse Authority (LRA), in 1997.  This Plan serves as the guide for the reuse and development of the site.  It calls for a mixed use development concept with 191 acres reserved for shoreline park and hillside open space lands as shown on the Conceptual Land Use Plan and Open Space Plan.

Uses proposed for buildings in the Winehaven Historic District include:

1. Winehaven Building - winery, restaurant, museum, retail, meeting rooms,  performing arts and a recording studio
2. Historic winery cottages - conference center, retreat, B&B, classrooms.

Existing buildings on a 20-acre site immediately south of Winehaven are proposed for a winery, live/work, warehousing, job training and light industrial uses.  Single and multifamily residential development is recommended on about 38 acres of relatively flat land south of the above development areas.

                Land Disposition Agreement With Upstream Point Molate, LLC

Point Molate by Bette TarrAmidst great controversy, on Nov. 24, 2004 the City of Richmond entered into a Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) with Upstream Point Molate LLC to sell former Naval Fuel Depot Point Molate for $50 million.  The LDA requires construction and maintenance of the Bay Trail along the entire 1.4 miles of shoreline with about 33 acres of shoreline park and 150 acres of Hillside Open Space with its public trail system as part of any future development of the property. The Bay Trail must be completed during the first construction phase.

The LDA was amended March 7, 2006 to allow a first phase purchase ($16.7 million) of 30 acres for residential development inland of Western Drive at the southern approach to the property plus 60 acres for shoreline parks and open space. If Upstream exercises this first phase purchase, they would be required to fund construction of the Bay Trail plus shoreline park lands averaging 50 feet wide along the entire 1.4 miles of shoreline. The LDA and amendment are available from the City of Richmond.

In order to expedite cleanup of the remaining lands still in Navy ownership, the City and Upstream have reached agreement with the Navy on an early transfer to the City of remaining contaminated lands with the Navy placing $28,5 million in escrow for the City's use to complete the cleanup. The funds have been placed in escrow, and the City will be able to access the money as soon as the remaining parcels are transferred to the City.

Upstream proposed to create new tribal lands for the Guidiville Band of the Pomo Indians in order to develop the Winehaven Historic District as a resort hotel/casino complex.  in a November 2010 election, Richmond’s voters rejected the casino proposal with a 57.5% to 42.5% advisory vote. After certification of a Final Environmental Impact Report on March 8, 2011, the Richmond City Council rejected the hotel/casino project on April 5, 2011

Under the LDA with Upstream Point Molate, LLC, the Richmond City Council’s April 5, 2011decision to discontinue consideration of a gambling casino at Point Molate triggered a 120-day period for Upstream Point Molate, LLC to negotiate exclusively an alternative proposal in good faith.  Upstream did not do so and, instead, contended that the City had breached the LDA and that the closing date for acquisition of the property was extended to March 14, 2013 due to litigation filed previously by others.  The City of Richmond responded by filing a Complaint for Declaratory Relief  in Contra Costa County Superior Court on August 16, 2011 seeking affirmation that the City no longer has any outstanding obligations under the LDA with Upstream and is free to pursue other options with respect to the sale, lease or development of former Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot.

Point Molate Community Advisory Committee
Point Molate Community Advisory Committee
Mayor McLaughlin and Councilmember Butt with members of PMCAC

On January 18, 2011, the City Council adopted Resolution  8-11 establishing the Point Molate Community Advisory Committee (PMCAC) to work with the City Council, staff and other citizen advisory boards and commissions as appropriate, to provide advice and input on all Point Molate matters; review proposed Point Molate development budgets with City staff; and make Point Molate development expenditure recommendations to the City Council in conjunction with staff.  

PMCAC meets on the third Monday of the month from 6:30 to 9 PM.

 Click here for meeting agendas and minutes with a list of appointed committee members .

December 12, 2013:  A U.S. District Court dismissed the vast majority of Upstream and the Guidiville Rancheria’s complaint against the City of Richmond regarding the development of Point Molate. The judge dismissed all of the substantive claims that Upstream and the Tribe brought  against the City, but the case is not over; and the plaintiffs have several appeal options.  Click here for the Order Granting Motion of City of Richmond for Judgment on the Pleadings by the United States District Court.
October 14, 2013: Richmond reopens Point Molate Beach for first time in more than a decade
Please Click Here  to thank the City of Richmond for the renovation and reopening of this beautiful beach park.
On March 5, 2013, the Richmond City Council approved proceeding with a first phase rehabilitation of Point Molate Beach for reopening late summer 2013 as described in the staff report.  Click Here  for a CC Times news article about it.
On Sept. 11, 2012, the Richmond City Council reduced to $115,000 the appropriation for capital improvements to reopen the City’s Point Molate Beach Park . Click Here for more details and to send an email supporting expedited reopening of the park.
On Sept. 4, 2012, a Joint Case Management Statement was filed in Federal District Court setting forth the disputed legal issues and scheduling of litigation over disapproval of the tribal gambling casino.
On July 31, 2012, the Richmond City Council appropriated $154,000 for capital improvements to reopen the City’s Point Molate Beach Park, which has been closed since 2001. Click Here for more details and to send an email supporting expedited reopening of the park.
On March 16, 2012, the Guidiville Tribe and Upstream Point Molate, LLC filed a law suit in the U.S District Court for Northern California against the U.S. Government and the City of Richmond asking the court to reverse rulings by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that the Guidiville Tribe doesn’t qualify to have Point Molate designated as Tribal lands for gambling and seeking from the City of Richmond reimbursement for actual and punitive damages, including but not limited to costs and lost profits claimed to exceed $780 million.  Click Here to download the law suit >>
On January 30, 2012, the City of Richmond sent a letter  informing Upstream of the City Council’s determination that its alternative development proposal was not acceptable.
In response to Upstream’s Sept. 16, 2011 letter, the Richmond City Council agreed as a gesture of good faith to enter into a 120-day exclusive negotiating period over a non-casino alternative development at Point Molate as outlined in Upstream’s July 29 letter.
On September 2, 2011, the Department of the Interior denied the Guidiville Band’s “restored lands” gaming application under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and determined that the Band does not have a modern connection or a significant historical connectionto the proposed gaming site in Richmond.  Click Here for Fact Sheet.
On August 16, 2011, the City of Richmond seized the initiative to resolve lingering legal disputes with Upstream Point Molate, LLC. The City’s position is that the City has discharged its contractual obligations under the contract with Upstream and is ready to move on. Because Upstream disagrees, the City has filed a Complaint for Declaratory Relief in Contra Costa County Superior Court (Case # C11-01834).  See more on the Tom Butt E-Forum >>


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Point Molate >>

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Recreational History of Point Molate Beach

Sincere DesignPhotographs on this website are courtesy of Jeffrey Robinson, Don Gosney, Ellen Gailing and Mike Bukay
Web design and maintenance is provided by David Moore of Sincere Design.
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