Re-elect Mayor Gayle McLaughlin Re-elect Mayor Gayle McLaughlin

PO Box 5284,
Richmond, CA 94805
(510) 237-1456
Re-elect Mayor Gayle McLaughlin
Mayor Gayle in the Media
Gayle's Message 2010
About Gayle
Richmond Positive Steps
Richmond Next Steps
Gayle's Supporters
News & Media
Photo Gallery
Action Center
Gayle's Home Page
<< Return to Gayle in the Media
Accent Advocate
The online student voice of Contra Costa College

Posted on March 16, 2010

Casino Sparks Debate
Point Molate project sees controversy

By Holly Pablo, editor-in-chief

Controversy is building as the proposal of a Las Vegas-style casino resort at Richmond’s Point Molate waterfront comes closer to fruition.

Along the 500 acres of former naval fuel depot, Richmond City Council member Nathaniel Bates said that the proposed Indian casino, shops, restaurants and five-star lodging would provide the city a much-needed economic boom.

One in five persons under the age of 25 is unemployed in Contra Costa County, Bates said, and under the plan’s conditions, 70 percent of the 17,000 jobs created as a result of the resort are prioritized for county residents.

Given that the resort is built, the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians has agreed to contribute between $17-$20 million a year in revenues to Richmond, which will benefit the West Contra Costa Unified School District, police departments, libraries and various city services, Bates said.

The development group, Upstream Point Molate, LLC, and the tribe are taking fiscal responsibility of expending construction, improving the roads leading into the planned site, any and all infrastructure needs, as well as making sure that the project is considerate of its impact on the environment, Bates said.

When residents expressed concern about toxins, as the land previously served as an old naval project and a landfill, the main developer, James Levine, is developing ways to remediate the property, he said. Also, details are being worked to determine the preservation of historic buildings on the site.

“Though it will cost a billion dollars to build the resort, it will not cost the taxpayers of Richmond a dime,” Bates said. “My perspective is that this is a win-win situation for the city of Richmond.”

There are arguments, however, that the reuse and redevelopment project by Upstream Point Molate, LLC, presents more problems to a city that already has one of the highest crime rates in the country.

“It’s really a false vision,” Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said. “The impacts of gambling on an urban city have so many social ills associated with it: more crime, robbery, drugs, domestic violence, prostitution and of course, gambling addictions.” [emphasis added]

Originally moved forward by the Richmond City Council in 2004, the project’s closing date of transferring land ownership to Upstream Point Molate, LLC, in January was extended twice, McLaughlin said. The new deadline is April 30, she said. [emphasis added]

Though many of the members on the current city council approve the resort, there are federal guidelines that need to be followed, Vice Mayor Jeff Ritterman said.

As a result, the tribe is currently awaiting the federal government’s approval to grant the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs permission to officially purchase the land and continue with the agreements.

Bates said that despite the fact that this project will take a long time to complete, he is confident that the city of Richmond is going to become a prestigious destination for first-class entertainment.

The tribe will provide its own security on-site and at BART, which they believe will be a primary mode of transportation before visitors take a bus, shuttle or other railway systems to get to the facility.

In addition, the band has also planned a ferry system to provide access to individuals who are coming from San Francisco.

“Like most projects, unfortunately, it takes a long time, like planting a fruit tree,” Bates said. “It takes years before the tree grows, and it takes years before it starts yielding fruit.”

McLaughlin, who has opposed the project since its initial proposal, said the city has been “holding onto this bad idea for too long,” and instead should let the plan expire and focus on the future of green businesses, such as solar energy research. [emphasis added]

“That’s the kind of jobs that are really marked for the current period of the future, because these are the high performing jobs that are taking off,” she said. “That is the kind of vision I would like to see for Richmond.”

Since this complicated process can potentially take several years to complete, McLaughlin said that it is unrealistic to think that these jobs, which are essentially “low-paying and dead end,” would materialize anytime soon. [emphasis added]

“It’s really just a false vision that’s being painted,” she said. “This kind of business does not even create a positive product for anyone. It’s taking money from those that can afford it least and putting it into the hands of the casino owners.”

Dr. Ritterman agreed.

When one uses other urban cities with casinos as a model example, such as Atlantic City and Foxworth, most of them are not doing well, he said.

“Point Molate is a beautiful piece of land, and I think we can find other options to make money in the city,” Ritterman said.

Based on a poll by Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), 67 percent of respondents said that they do not approve the expansion of urban casinos, McLaughlin said. [emphasis added]

The council expects further revisions to the resort’s developmental details before the upcoming April 30 deadline that will serve the city’s best interests, she said.

Contact Holly Pablo at


PO Box 5284,  Richmond, CA 94805
(510) 237-1456   •
 Sincere Design