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Point Molate

Blue Frontier Campaign is working to Save Point Molate on San Francisco Bay.

Richmond, California includes 422 acres of green space and submerged eel grass meadows known as Point Molate, facing San Francisco Bay.  For years, the city council planned to sell this land to a private company for a Mega-Casino development with high-rise parking and 4,000 slot machines; it would be the biggest gambling site west of Las Vegas. Pointe Molate was once the site of a Navy fuel oil depot, sold back to the town for a dollar in 2003.

Point Molate is an example of the resilience of nature left unpaved, rapidly reclaiming its terrestrial area as hilly coastal grassland. It is range-managed by mule deer, coyote and wild turkey with colossal Toyons – Christmas Berry shrubs – 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 works with a local volunteer seaweed group, Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate (CFSPM).

The majority on the city council at first 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 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. 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).

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. The beach was cleaned up in three hours.

Restoring the 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.

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 contact us at info@bluefront.org.

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