September 1, 2014

Richmond General Plan can protect shoreline

Richmond is slowly finishing the update of its General Plan, scheduled for final votes in the fall. The Sierra Club’s primary concerns are for the shoreline (see July-August Yodeler, page 4).

The north Richmond shoreline needs protection from development. Due to sea-level rise, this area is likely to be completely flooded over the next 20 – 50 years. It is currently mostly wetland and coastal prairie. Because of this area’s importance for wildlife, and its vulnerability, the Sierra Club has made this spot part of its national Resilient Habitat campaign to mitigate the effects of global climate disruption.

The area is currently zoned industrial, but Councilmember Tom Butt has proposed rezoning the land to open space and agriculture, allowing only agriculture-associated buildings. The property owners, all developers who want to develop the land for maximum profit, don’t like that idea. Some have asked the city to upzone their lands to residential use; this would give them a huge killing when market conditions are right. They complain that it isn’t right for the city to downzone their property to a lower economic use, but you don’t hear them promising to share the windfall if the city upzones their lands.

Along the south Richmond shoreline, the city faces a proposed expansion of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (see article here). The city also has to deal with the continued toxic mess at the Zeneca site and Hoffman Marsh including the Union Pacific’s Liquid Gold site. These lands should also be zoned for lower economic uses so as not to drive the values up, and should be cleaned up properly.

The other shoreline area is the San Pablo Peninsula including Point Molate. Although the City Council rejected the casino proposal, the developer, Upstream, retains the right to put forward an alternative. Any development proposals for Point Molate would face very difficult issues.


Write to the Richmond City Council at:
440 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, CA 94804.
Urge the city to protect the north and south Richmond shorelines as open space with the lowest zoning constitutionally allowed so that we can enjoy these lands as open space and so that that they can provide the necessary buffer to inexorable sea-level rise.

Also come to the North Richmond Shoreline Festival on Saturday, October 8, 10 am – 5 pm, Point Pinole Regional Park.

The Sierra Club is co-sponsoring the sixth annual North Richmond Shoreline Festival. Co-hosted by the North Richmond Shoreline Open Space Alliance and the East Bay Regional Parks District, the festival is a family-oriented event that promotes multicultural activities, environmental protection and education, and family fun. It is also designed to introduce people to the park and shoreline environment while engaging in healthy activities.

The regional festival will take place at Point Pinole Park, a 2,000-acre jewel of the north Richmond shoreline. Trails lead through meadows with wildflowers, and along bluffs and beaches with sweeping views of Mount Tamalpais, the Marin shoreline, and San Pablo Bay to the north.

Activities include free barbecue, children’s games and activities, nature walks with the Audubon Society, dancing Mexican horses, black cowboys, a fishing derby, kayaking lessons, live acoustic music of various genres, and booths from the Sierra Club and many other groups.

For more information contact Andres Soto at (510)237-6866.

Norman La Force, chair, Sierra Club West Contra Costa County Regional Group

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