An Inclusive Planning Process for Point Molate
By Pam Stello
For over two decades, thousands of Richmond residents have supported a regional park at Point Molate and opposed the sale and destruction of Point Molate’s public land for gambling and luxury housing. And wisely — soon after the casino plan was defeated by Richmond voters, 58 - 42%, similar schemes in other locations collapsed, and financial consultants showed that the most recent luxury housing scheme would have cost Richmond millions. Fortunately, East Bay voters had approved Measure WW in 2008 by over 71% (with 75% of Richmond voters in support), which included funding for a shoreline park at Point Molate. But during this lengthy and contentious historical debate, Point Molate has never undergone an open and inclusive public planning process about the actual park itself, since the previous efforts were centered on sale of the land for upscale housing or casinos.
With the recent State budget allocation of $36 million to the park district for Point Molate bringing us closer to realizing a regional park, how do we lay the groundwork now for a truly public planning process?
The Point Molate Alliance’s success in involving the public is a start. The Alliance engaged a network of local and regional organizations to research Point Molate’s rare cultural and natural resources and the potential for recreation, sports fields and educational outdoor opportunities for Richmond youth and families —resources and opportunities that would otherwise have been destroyed. Organizations also researched opportunities for housing where infrastructure exists and affordable, mixed-income housing is possible. This work was carried out by local photographers, artists, authors, financial analysts, lawyers, land use experts, researchers, citizen-scientists and scientists as members of local organizations. They produced photographs, paintings, financial and legal analyses, natural resource surveys, maps, and historical and scientific reports that informed the public through informal meetings, public events and social media. The city-wide movement grew as residents defined meaning and values that would contribute to a community plan.
Most recently, the Richmond Community News, a local print and digital publication, and Speaking UP for Point Molate, a speaker series, invited speakers to address key issues and encouraged members of the public to ask questions, further inform our public understandings raised by Point Molate becoming a regional park. We also envisioned many future resources and opportunities Point Molate might hold for Richmond.
The Point Molate Alliance’s work involving local organizations to research and explain Point Molate’s resources and opportunities through community-based values and visions is only the beginning. We need many more organizations and individuals to join us to articulate community needs and values and to amplify community voices to build a foundation for an inclusive planning process for Point Molate. Contact [email protected] to join this important work.