Levine Ridicules Challenges to Point Molate Casino Plan By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 21, 2004

“Ridiculous,” said Berkeley developer James D. Levine when asked about the latest legal challenges to his plans to build a major tribal casino, resort, shopping center and entertainment complex at Richmond’s Point Molate. 

The lawsuits, filed by Citizens for the Eastshore State Park (CESP) and the East Bay Regional Parks District, contend that the City of Richmond erred in signing a Land Disposition Agreement with Levine’s Upstream Molate LLC without a prior environmental impact report (EIR). 

The Guidiville Band of Pomos “is the first tribal group to offer an EIR,” Levine said. “The LDA clearly says the city has final authority over mitigation measures” to offset findings in the EIR. 

“I have a lot of confidence that the judge will uphold the LDA, and you don’t need an EIR to sell a piece of land—only when you get ready to build on it,” he added. 

The LDA does require an EIR before the project can be built, he said. 

A scoping session where public comments are invited to address issues to be included in the EIR will be coming in late January, Levine said. 

“In this business, you get used to people making all kinds of irrational arguments,” he concluded. 

CESP filed the original action in Contra Costa County Superior Court Wednesday seeking a writ of mandate blocking the sale. The park district’s action followed on Friday. 

Both organizations want to see most of the site incorporated into park, with the remainder to be used for light industrial or commercial uses. 

The property, one of the last relatively undeveloped stretches of land in the East Bay, had housed a U.S. Navy refueling depot until the base was closed and transferred to the city. 

Richmond city officials contend that they were obligated under federal base closure law to develop the land in the way that provides the most revenue and jobs for the city. c