Blue Frontier Campaign is working to Save Point Molate on San Francisco Bay.
Blue Frontier’s West Coast office is located in Richmond California that includes 422 acres of spectacular city owned San Francisco Bay-facing green space and submerged eel grass meadows known as Point Molate that for years the city council had planned to sell off to a private company for a Mega-Casino development with high rise parking and 4,000 slot machines, the biggest gambling site west of Los Vegas. Point Molate contains a historic wine port (with a brick castle) that later became part of a Navy fuel oil depot before the Navy sold it to the city for a dollar in 2003. On could have argued that after alcohol and petroleum a gambling casino would be an example of historic continuity in terms of human addictions. Yet Point Molate is really an example of the resiliency of nature left unpaved, rapidly reclaiming its terrestrial area as hilly coastal grassland, range-managed by mule deer, coyote and wild turkey with colossal Toyons – Christmas Berry shrubs – the size of live oaks, also live oaks, federally protected Suisun Marsh Aster, native Molate Blue Fescue, a unique local bunchgrass horticulturists have bred for landscaping, coyote brush, wild mint, Dutchman’s pipe vine and its rarely seen companion, the pipe vine swallowtail butterfly. Point Molate could be the third emerald jewel of Bay-facing green parks along with the Presidio of San Francisco and Fort Baker in Marin. To help fight the Casino plan and work on a better future for Richmond Blue Frontier Campaign began working with a local volunteer seaweed group, Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate (CFSPM).
The majority on the city council seemed to think the promise of service jobs for maids and security guards was the best they could hope to provide their low-income constituents. However in conversations with a range of folks around Richmond CFSPM found no indication there was any strong support for the casino plan. More typical were fears of increased crime, traffic and gambling addiction. After years of planning delays and promises unrealized support for the mega-casino shifted from 5-2 to 4-3 council members. Finally they agreed to put a non-binding referendum titled Measure U on the November 2010 election ballot that for the first time would let the citizens of Richmond vote on whether they supported a casino complex on their undeveloped waterfront.
When the people finally got their say they rejected the pro-casino Measure U by a vote of 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent. Green Party Mayor (and Casino opponent) Gayle McLaughlin, despite being outspent by her opponent almost two to one, was re-elected along with two other anti-casino candidates (see Victory for Point Molate).
Five months later, after a raucous five hour meeting in the city auditorium with more than 300 mostly anti-casino residents and hours of public testimony under a large hand-painted banner reading “Richmond Voted No Casino” the new council voted 5-2 to “discontinue” consideration of the Casino plan.
The Point Molate victory showed what a dynamic coalition of environmentalists and politically active citizens with deep roots in their community can achieve.
On Earth Day, 2012 CFSPM organized a clean up at Point Molate Beach that drew 75 community participants including the Mayor and her spouse. The beach was cleaned up in three hours. This quarter mile long strand with shaded coastal bluff, the loveliest shoreline in the city, has been closed to the public since 2004 due to budget cuts.
CFSPM worked hard to get the city to reopen it. Then, on July 31, 2012 the usually fractious city council voted unanimously to spend part of a legal settlement from a 2007 oil spill in San Francisco bay to reopen the park to the public.
Restoring the sometimes abused but still vibrant natural headland at Point Molate may take a long time but that’s O.K. because as the saying goes, the environment is never saved, it’s always being saved.
So Blue Frontier Campaign and Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate will continue to work to restore Point Molate as a world-class natural and recreational area for all the people of Richmond, the Bay and beyond.
Blue Frontier Campaign is working with the local seaweed group Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate to help Save Point Molate. For more information or if you’d like to help, you can make a donation or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.