The Golden Hour to Save Point Molate is Now
Photo credit: Jack Scheinman
Point Molate is Richmond’s wide, expansive, and beautiful public land as well as Ohlone sacred land. It is an ecological treasure rich in cultural and social history. Protecting rare biological and sacred cultural resources, access to nature, and recreation for the public is an environmental justice solution in a city crying out for climate safeguards and racial equity. SunCal’s proposed private residential enclave at Point Molate would burden our city’s residents with infrastructure costs that Richmond can ill afford. Community leaders, public agencies, and foundations are stepping up to support this world-class designated parkland.
One important next step will be a vote by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). This October or November they will vote whether to start a several months long study process. Point Molate is designated as parkland in the Bay Plan. SunCal is requesting BCDC to change the designation to residential. BCDC’s Bay Plan is a comprehensive blueprint for shoreline development designed to protect the health of SF Bay waters and its environment. This past June, the commission postponed their vote for four months thanks to both County Supervisor and BCDC Commissioner John Gioia and comments and letters from the community.
Before their park acquisition meeting in July, the East Bay Regional Park District’s (EBRPD) Board of Directors received over 100 personal letters in support of their acquiring Point Molate for a regional park. The EBRPD has $4.8 million earmarked for Point Molate Park and they are now researching how to move forward. Several foundations are doing likewise. Point Molate could also receive park funding from national and state 30 x 30 initiatives, aimed at protecting 30% of our land and waters by 2030. The Biden administration is also providing funds for parks in underserved communities. Resources like 30 x 30 could make Point Molate the crown jewel of East Bay coastal parks with invaluable benefits for the public and future generations.
New information about Ohlone cultural resources at Point Molate further supports the urgency of a legal settlement to move forward with a regional park. A recent UC Berkeley ground penetrating radar survey done with permission of the Confederated Village of the Lisjan/Ohlone suggests there are significant intact cultural resources at Point Molate eligible for the National and State Registers of Historic Places. They are at risk of unmitigable adverse effects if SunCal’s proposed residential plan moves forward.
Point Molate Alliance is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that addresses SunCal plan’s irreparable harm to Ohlone cultural resources, lack of safety measures for building in a high fire severity zone with no evacuation plan; inconsistency with Richmond’s General Plan to build housing near public transit to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and other violations (see ptmolatealliance.org for more). The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), the largest association of commercial fishermen on the West Coast, also filed a lawsuit to address SunCal’s threat to the most productive offshore eelgrass beds in the SF Bay.
The arguments since 2004 by advocates for a regional park at Point Molate are now reflected in the work of local, state, and national leaders and policy and funding initiatives. The time to save Point Molate is now.
Pam Stello is a Co-Chair of the Point Molate Alliance and the Richmond Shoreline Alliance and a member of the Board of Directors of Citizens for East Shore Parks.