Attorney General Signs Off on Point Molate Settlement By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday January 24, 2006

With the approval of state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the lawsuit filed by environmentalists over the sale of Richmond’s Point Molate is history. 

The settlement, filed Friday in Marin County Superior Court, marks the end of 13 months of litigation over the controversial proposal to build a luxury casino on the Richmond shoreline. 

The City of Richmond voted to sell Point Molate—a former U.S. Navy refueling station—to Upstream Point Molate in November 2004, and Citizens for the Eastshore State Park filed suit to block the sale a month later. The suit was joined the following day by the East Bay Regional Parks District. 

The agreement required the city to back Upstream’s plans for a Native American casino on the site and to lobby for approval of the casino deal in Sacramento and Washington. 

To build the casino, the land would first have to be declared a tribal reservation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, followed by more approvals for the casino proposal. 

Though the city had decided that the sale was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), CESP and the parks district disagreed and decided to challenge it. 

In March 2005, the city announced the start of the environmental impact report process, which is still under way. 

The state attorney general’s office entered the suit a month later, siding with the plaintiffs. 

In the settlement, Upstream agreed to pay the Attorney General’s office $13,740 in legal fees, with the questions of fees for CESP and the parks district to be resolved later by the court. 

Under the settlement, the city expressly reserves the right to select any use for the site available before the sale, and Upstream agrees that a city decision not to transfer or lease the land to them would not be a breach of the land disposition agreement (sales document). 

The city also agreed to prepare an environmental impact report before allowing any development on the property.