Dec 15, 2014
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A 60-unit condo project planned for the Point Richmond waterfront is facing an important vote at City Council Tuesday.

Council is being asked to approve an environmental impact report for Shea Homes’ long-planned Bottoms property project, which is set to be located below the Seacliff development and would reportedly house about 170 people, create 353 jobs and provide annual property tax revenues of just under $200,000 to the city.

Many aspects of the long-planned project appear to have support from neighbors, such as the architectural plans and the preservation and enhancements to the shoreline, including the Bay Trail.

One major point of contention, however, involves the project’s encroachment on the city’s general plan height limit of 35 feet.

Location of planned development within yellow boundary.

Location of planned development within yellow boundary.

The development, which would include five two-story shoreline buildings and four, 4-story buildings inland, includes an amendment to the Richmond General Plan removing the height limit so that the four tallest buildings can reach as high as 47 feet. The amendment, opponents say, would not only create heights that obstruct views of seven Seacliff homes but could effectively pave the way for taller buildings citywide.

“The proposed amendment is a vague, blanket change in the General Plan that removes height limits for any future ‘Planned Areas’ in medium density residential neighborhoods throughout the city,” said Margaret Jordan, president of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council, in an email.

City staff and other neighbors deny the amendment would create sweeping citywide changes, saying all projects going forward would be publicly vetted and that the General Plan is a general outline rather than an absolute.

Ruth Vasquez-Jones, president and CEO of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, touted the developer’s collaboration with the community and economic benefits of the project.

“With the extensive collaboration of the community, neighbors and local stakeholders, the design concept respects the bayside setting and Point Richmond’s unique character,” Jones said in a letter to planning commissioners.

If approved Tuesday, the project could break ground in spring of next year, Vasquez-Jones said.

Commenting in a Contra Costa Times article, Mayor-elect Tom Butt recommended that the four planned buildings exceeding the height limit be dropped by four feet and that the seven homeowners whose views will be impaired receive compensation for losses to property values.

For more information on the project, visit the project website or peruse city documents.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.