North Richmond rezoning could bring development to shoreline open space
September – October, 2010
The North Richmond Shoreline, from the West County Landfill to Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, is a large contiguous block of Bay wetlands and coastal prairie. It deserves to be preserved in unified public ownership, but soon the Richmond City Council may take an action that would greatly perhaps prohibitively raise the costs of acquiring these lands.
The East Bay Regional Park District has owned Point Pinole since the 1960s. In 2006 it voted to acquire most of Breuner Marsh through eminent domain, over the fierce opposition of the owners, Don Carr and Bay Area Wetlands LLC, who fought that action and whose legal appeal still continues. All but 20 acres of the Breuner property are now in Park District hands.
At stake, however, are the remaining 20 acres of scarce coastal prairie, which Carr wants to build on, and the marshlands stretching from south of that property to the Rod and Gun Club and beyond. These wetland and coastal-prairie habitats deserve public ownership and protection.
Richmond Councilmember Jim Rogers, however, has proposed rezoning these lands from “commercial warehouse” to “residential”. This would increase their value to the developers, who bought them cheaply at commercial-zoning prices. The properties would become exorbitantly perhaps unaffordably expensive for public purchase. The public would lose out, but the owners, who since buying the properties have put nothing into them, would reap windfalls.
The experience of Breuner gives a good comparison. The Park District valued the 200 acres it sought to acquire as open space with very low use, at around $3.5 million. Carr, however, got the city staff and Councilmember Nat Bates to testify that the city planned to rezone the property residential. The city had not actually rezoned the property, but under the law of eminent domain, because it probably could be rezoned, Carr’s appraiser valued it at $14 million. In the end, the jury awarded Carr $7.5 million. While below Carr’s outrageous demand, this was still a highly inflated price for wetland habitat. Rogers’ proposal would have a similar effect on the remaining lands.
Under Rogers’ proposal the city would also pay millions of dollars perhaps $40 million to move the Rod and Gun Club. This would be a lot more than the land is worth. There are few homes around it, and because of the noise from gunshots the club inhibits any future nearby residential development. The club has indicated that it does not want to move, and CESP and the Sierra Club do not support relocating it, but if it is to be moved, the beneficiaries the developer/owners of the adjacent properties should bear the costs. Rogers has offered no good explanation for why the city should take on these costs.
Moving the club at public expense and rezoning the shoreline areas to “residential” would bring great profits to the shoreline landowners, but at a huge cost to taxpayers.
What You Can Do
The Richmond City Council will take up the issue. Contact the Council at:
Civic Center Campus
440 Civic Center Plaza Richmond, CA 94804
fax: (510) 620-6824.
Email the Richmond City Council and tell them of your concerns
Urge it to reject Rogers’ proposal for rezoning the North Richmond shoreline and moving the Rod and Gun Club.
For more information or to join in the efforts to protect the North Richmond shoreline, contact:
Patricia Jones of CESP at (510) 524 – 5000 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org;
Mike Daley, the Sierra Club’s Richmond coordinator, at (510) 559-3216 or by email to greenreports -at- gmail.com
Norman La Force
Artical originally posted at: http://sanfranciscobay.sierraclub.org/yodeler/html/2010/09/article5.htm