October 20, 2010

Contact: Robert Cheasty, President, Citizens for East Shore Parks
Patricia Jones, Executive Director, Citizens for East Shore Parks
(510) 524–5000 (office)


Agreement secures $48–68 million for habitat restoration, park creation and trails

Richmond, Calif. – A pioneering collaboration and Shoreline Protection Agreement (“Agreement”) has been reached between local environmental organizations and the Guidiville Tribe, to preserve and restore miles of Richmond shoreline as parkland and open space as part of Guidiville’s plans for a billion dollar destination resort at the now–closed Pt. Molate Naval Fuel Depot.

The Agreement grew out of the settlement of a lawsuit between Citizens for East Shore Parks (CESP); Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund (SPRAWLDEF) on one side and the Guidiville Tribe and Upstream Point Molate LLC on the other. The Agreement ensures funding for park development, design, and restoration, public access to much–needed shoreline and hillside trails, as well as memorializing Guidiville’s plans to incorporate 21st century environmentally sustainable technologies throughout the resort and casino project.

The Agreement removes a major environmental challenge to the Guidiville Tribe’s plan to restore its tribal lands at Point Molate, providing a home to its people along with an eco–friendly economic development project to provide education, healthcare, eldercare, and jobs to tribal members. In addition to overall protections of the Point Molate site, the Agreement contains a host of other environmentally friendly provisions such as ferry linkages to major tourist centers in San Francisco and other mass transit linkages, The project is expected to generate thousands of local jobs for Richmond and Contra Costa County residents, and tens of millions of dollars of annual support for local government.

The Agreement also advances CESP’s goal of creating shoreline parks from the Carquinez Strait to San Jose. Funding acquisition for shoreline open space in Richmond – with some of the most spectacular shoreline in the San Francisco Bay – is a major step in creating a world–class necklace of shoreline parks and open space.

“Richmond is home to stunning shoreline vistas that provide habitat and recreational opportunities vital to our community. What started out as a lawsuit has evolved into a positive and willing collaboration over how to benefit Richmond and protect our ecosystem. We are pleased to work with the Guidiville Tribe toward providing the legacy Richmond deserves, one that protects and preserves the shoreline for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. The project provides the economic ability to pay for an extraordinary array of environmental and community benefits that go beyond any development project we have seen since the Salt Marsh Restoration Project that happened in the South bay involving almost 20,000 acres,” said CESP President Robert Cheasty.

CESP has been the lead group in working to protect the East Bay shoreline and was supported by numerous environmental groups in reaching the historic agreement with Guidiville, such as the Sierra Club and Golden Gate Audubon Society.

Guidiville Tribe Vice Chairman Donald Duncan spoke enthusiastically about the Agreement. “Environmental stewardship has been part of our native culture for thousands of years. Joining environmental stewardship with the quest to economically improve the lives of tribal people and the people of Richmond is not easy, but this Agreement does just that. We found much common ground when we actually sat down with these environmental leaders. We found a shared commitment to both the environment and community.”

Norman La Force, environmental leader and President of SPRAWLDEF and who currently serves as Chair of the Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club, strongly endorsed the Agreement: “By law, toxins left by the Navy must be cleaned up and the site must be developed to make it economically viable. This Agreement guarantees habitat protections on the site. It provides funding for major acquisitions of park and open space land at a time when such finding has all but disappeared. The Richmond community and the Bay Area will receive tremendous environmental benefits that are greater than anyone could have expected. Moreover, much of what we worked out with the Tribe and Upstream could not be required under the CEQA/NEPA process. And what we have accomplished under this Agreement is due in major part to the commitment of the Guidiville Tribe to join together with us in protecting the environment at Point Molate and in Richmond.”

The Point Molate project proposed by the Guidiville Tribe and Upstream includes 1,100 hotel rooms, a convention center, a performing arts center, entertainment venues including a tribal casino, a retail/pedestrian mall, a Guidiville tribal government center, and tribal dance grounds. More than 180 of the site’s 273 total upland acres – about 2/3 of the site’s land – will be protected in perpetuity as public parkland and open space. All of the site’s existing undeveloped submerged lands – over 130 acres – will be restored and protected, including over 62 acres of rare eel–grass beds, which provide vital habitat for many aquatic animals. Thus, of the site’s total acreage of 412 acres, more than 310 acres – over 3/4 of the entire site – will be restored and protected. Meanwhile, resort buildings will avoid sensitive habitat areas and be set back from the Bay to provide a continuous shoreline and trail, as well as a new addition to the Bay Trail between Highway 580 and the Point Molate site. All but one of the existing buildings comprising the Winehaven Historic District will be preserved and rehabilitated.

The site’s buildings and facilities will utilize passive heating and cooling, and feature key–card electrical shut–off systems for all hotel rooms. On–site environmental sustainability displays and education materials will combine with a gray–water treatment and recycling system and a multi–faceted waste–diversion program to minimize the project’s ecological footprint. Ferry service and BART shuttles will also provide environmentally friendly transportation options for the site’s guests and employees and the Tribe will contribute to funding a safety program for the Richmond Bart Station.

Additionally, experts will be consulted for the removal of invasive species and the restoration of native habitats and plants. There will also be support for the restoration of offshore eel–grass beds and a city tree–planting program, while multiple creeks and streams within the property will be preserved or restored. The Guidiville Tribe will fund a Conservation Corps or similar organization to assist in implementing the habitat and site restoration work, which will be supervised by an oversight committee, for a period of at least ten years.

“Our original goal was to stop the project altogether,” said Cheasty. “But this Agreement is a way to achieve multiple environmental and social goals-including habitat restoration, parkland expansion, shoreline access, job training for youth, and responsible economic development to help put the East Bay economy back on its feet. Our collaboration with the Guidiville Tribe and Upstream at the Point Molate Project hopefully shows an environmental model for all new major development projects in the state.”

According to Stephan Volker, the renowned environmental lawyer who represented CESP and SPRAWLDEF: “This Agreement achieves many notable environmental objectives over and above that which we could have won in court. The Guidiville Tribe, Citizens for East Shore Parks and SPRAWLDEF working collaboratively have not only preserved most of this spectacular site for public parkland, native plant protection, riparian corridor restoration and wildlife habitat, but established funding for the acquisition of miles more shoreline parkland along San Francisco Bay in the future. These accomplishments are the culmination of four years of litigation and two years of exhaustive negotiations to jointly create this extraordinary ecological and community benefit.”