Richmond mayor: ‘Pirate ship casino’ coming to Point Molate


By Richmond Mayor Tom Butt

After nearly two months of wild and mostly inaccurate speculation, the terms of the Point Molate Federal Court litigation settlement can now be made public. The primary sticking point in the protracted negotiations was the future of the casino originally proposed by Upstream Point Molate LLC and the Guidiville Rancheria of California.

A majority of City Council members had taken a blood oath that no casino would ever operate on the soil of Point Molate, or anywhere else in Richmond for that matter. That issue was finally resolved with a creative idea that borrowed a page from the riverboat gambling frenzy that caught up states bordering the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in the 1990s. These riverboat casinos were approved by several states that generally prohibited gambling on land.

Like the riverboat casinos on the Mississippi River, the Point Molate casino will be on a boat accessed by the Point Molate pier. Instead of a traditional riverboat, the Point Molate casino will take the form of a pirate ship.

To keep the casino out of Richmond entirely, the Marin County and Contra Costa Boards of Supervisors voted just last week to move the boundary line dividing the two counties a few hundred feet to the east, just west of the Point Molate pier head so that the casino pirate ship lies just outside the Contra Costa and Richmond borders. Unfortunately, this means that all the gambling tax money will accrue to Marin County instead of Richmond, but that was the bargain that had to be struck to obtain Richmond Progressive Alliance approval of the settlement.

Former Mayor Gayle McLaughlin took the news philosophically. “[Jim] Levine came like a pirate to plunder Richmond, so it’s fitting that his casino will fly the Jolly Roger. I take a great deal of pride that we were able to keep him and his evil casino out of Point Molate proper. It would be poetic justice if next year’s first winter storm sends that buccaneer boat to Davy Jones’ Locker.”

The settlement specifies that there is a lifetime ban of Levine from Point Molate. If he accesses the casino ship, it will have to be by boat from some other shore.

Another contentious issue was sustainability. The Richmond Progressive Alliance, the Sierra Club and others wanted to not only preserve open space at Point Molate but also to find sustainable uses for those precious resources.

Jim Hanson, former chair of the Point Molate Citizen’s Advisory Committee and Conservation Committee Chair of the California Native Grass Association, declared, “ We have a lot of unique natural resources at Point Molate that can be turned into sustainable job creating ventures. One such under-exploited resource lies in the vast stands of French Broom, an invasive exotic plant, naturalized in much of California, that can be harvested and used to manufacture household brooms. We will be pursuing a cooperative business venture  that will train Richmond residents to manufacture and market these brooms made from broom plants grown naturally and locally at Point Molate.”

“In fact,” continued Hanson, “we intend to set this business up as a worker-owned cooperative, using people power for economic power.”

In a straw poll about the proposal, Councilmember Beckles excitedly embraced the broom initiative, “ This will be a clean sweep for Richmond —  training Richmond residents, creating local jobs, and finally bringing the City some much overdue revenue from Point Molate.”

Another valuable natural resource is the eucalyptus forest that has been expanding since the turn of the 20th Century and now occupies roughly one-third of Point Molate.

Eucalyptus forest on hillside towering over Winehaven buildings

Long disdained as a worthless fire hazard, it turns out that eucalyptus oil, harvested from the leaves, has a broad range of health benefits, including:

  1. Colds & Flu: Eucalyptus works as an expectorant and helps cleanse your body of toxins and harmful microorganisms that can make you feel sick. One of the most effective ways to utilize eucalyptus for colds is to drop several drops of the essential oil into your diffuser before going to sleep so you can take advantage of the healing benefits all night long. For more acute situations, you can make a steam bath by pouring a cup of boiling water into a bowl, and then mix 10 drops of eucalyptus EO, place a towel over your head and inhale deeply for five–10 minutes.
  2. Hair Nourishment: A few drops eucalyptus oil with some coconut or olive oil gives your hair a nice moisturizing pick-me-up. This is especially great to ward off dandruff and an itchy scalp. Also, eucalyptus is used as a natural remedy for lice in replacement of chemical treatments.
  3. Hand Cleaner: Eucalyptus EO is an excellent cleanser to remove grease and grime from your workday and can rejuvenate sore hands and feet when mixed into your salt bath. Simply mix sea salt, epsom salt and eucalyptus oil to remove grease and dirt for good.
  4. Sinus and Allergies: A study from NYU Medical School found that using eucalyptus was effective at treating sinusitis. Patients experienced faster improvement when supplementing with eucalyptus oil for allergies and sinus issues. The study had participants take eucalyptus oil internally, and it’s also recommended to gargle with it to clear the throat.
  5. Natural Home Care :Not only does eucalyptus give a nice, fresh fragrance to your home products, but it adds vital anti-microbial properties as well. You can’t go wrong putting several drops into pretty much everything: soap, laundry detergent, mop water, toilet cleaner, window cleaner … the list goes on!
  6. Odor Remover:  Whether you’re battling smelly shoes or a stinky dog bed, topically wash items to remove odors with a wet rag soaked in eucalyptus oil-infused water, and place outside to dry in the sun. This can prevent odors as well as keep the shape intact! You may also mix it with lemon oil or tea tree oil for an anti-stink spray.
  7. Air Cleanser: Try putting a few drops into your vacuum and clothes dryer filters to freshen them up and sanitize them a little. Also, it’s great for killing mold in your home, and you can mix eucalyptus with other oils like clove and tea tree oil to cleanse the air and maintain a mold-free home.
  8. Spot Remover: Like lemon essential oil, eucalyptus oil is highly effective at removing spots on your carpet, clothes and basically every fabric you have in the house. It even works to get gum off your shoes! Make sure to “test” it on an inconspicuous place first just to make sure the oil doesn’t react strangely with the material you treat. You just don’t know what’s in the synthetic materials nowadays!
  9. Respiratory Problems: Eucalyptus essential oil is highly effective for treating respiratory problems, such as asthma, bronchitis, COPD, pneumonia and even tuberculosis. Using eucalyptus for asthma is a proven treatment that dilates the blood vessels and allows more oxygen into the lungs. Simply mix eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil and coconut oil for a Homemade Vapor Rub, and put on upper chest.
  10. Wound Treatment: Eucalyptus oil has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties that are effective at treating wounds, burns, cuts, abrasions, sores and scrapes. It also can be made into a salve or healing ointment and put on bug bites and stings. Along with acting as a natural pain reliever to the area, it also keeps the area from getting infected, which speeds healing.

The list goes on, but don’t forget to use eucalyptus on your pets! It’s proven to be safe in pretty much any way that you would use it on yourself. Just be sure to keep it out of eyes and any open wounds!

Eucalyptus oil is derived from the leaves of Eucalyptus globulus

Eucalyptus oil is derived from the leaves of Eucalyptus globulus

Surprisingly, some of the former winemaking infrastructure at Point Molate can be used for the production of eucalyptus oil, which can be stored and aged in the former barrel cellars much as wine was pre-Prohibition.

Councilmember Martinez was particularly excited about the eucalyptus oil venture, noting that the myriad uses will likely put many corporations that purvey chemical-based products out of business. “The health benefits could result in a major hit on Big Pharma,” mused Martinez, ”I just wish it could be used for fuel; we could put Chevron out of business too.”

Councilmember Recinos joined in, “This aligns perfectly with Richmond’s Health in all Polices (HiAP) initiative.”

Speaking of Chevron, our largest corporate neighbor will become another collaborator in the complicated settlement. In a rare gesture towards mitigating climate change, Chevron will be using the now empty underground fuel storage tanks for a cutting edge carbon dioxide sequestration project that will mitigate CO2 produced both in the refining process as well as that emitted from the tailpipes of vehicles. Using new technology developed in their Richmond Research Center, Chevron will extract carbon dioxide from the air, compress and chill it, and store it in the abandoned tanks as dry ice, where it will be used for long term storage of surplus ice cream production throughout the Bay Area. Ben and Jerry’s has already contracted for roughly half the tanks’ capacity.

“Solar energy from MCE will be used to power the compressors and chillers,” explained Councilmember Ben Choi, “making it a net zero energy project – a double win for the people.”

“The ground acts as a natural insulator, keeping the tank contents chilled with very little energy utilization,” explained Councilmember Jael Myrick, “and I have been assured that each Councilmember will have access to a lifetime free supply of ice cream in return for our innovative indulgence.”

“I never thought I would see Chevron actually do something positive about global warming,” gushed Vice-mayor Melvin Willis, “but I guess they finally concluded that of you can’t beat ‘em;  join ‘em.” “I remain suspicious of Chevron of course,” confided Willis, “ but I’m glad to see them spending money on something besides elections.”

What really sealed the deal was an offer by Upstream Point Molate LLC to rehabilitate seven of the historic cottages for use by each City Council member. “At first there was concern about a conflict of interest or a gift of public funds,” explained Councilmember Ben Choi, “but the city attorney assured us it was no different than the Oakland City Council getting free Warriors’ tickets.” “By living there, we would be providing a sort of security service,” explained Choi,” and actually saving the City money in the long run.”

Bungalows at Winehaven Village with the larger Winemaker’s House above and beyond

The larger and fancier Winemaker’s cottage would ordinarily be reserved for the mayor, but I declined to take it because they won’t let me bring my dogs and goats. (Goats were banned from point Molate by the Point Molate Citizens Advisory Committee several years ago).By default, it will now go to Vice-mayor Willis. “I intend to be mayor next year anyway,” explained Willis, “so I won’t even have to move.”

The remainder of the cottages will be offered to members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance and former members of the Point Molate Citizens Advisory Committee on a first come, first serve basis.

Much of Point Molate, however, is slated to go to pot. A 2010 study, Point Molate land Use Alternatives Evaluation, by Design, Community & Environment in collaboration with Bay Area Economics concluded that marijuana cultivation was the only financially feasible use of land at Point Molate. The East Bay Times reported:

…imagine rows upon rows of pot growing in Richmond’s historic waterfront buildings.

That’s the only financially feasible alternative to a Las Vegas-style casino-hotel resort among 28 ideas submitted by the public that would rake in enough cash to cover development costs and then some at Point Molate, according to a consultant’s report.

The scenario calls for medical marijuana to be grown, packaged, stored and sold within the century-old buildings where the Winehaven winery flourished in the early 1900s before Prohibition. City coffers would swell with $3.2 million a year in tax revenue, under a 5 percent tax rate depending on how much the cannabis is worth, according to the report, which reviews possible alternatives for Point Molate.

“Only medical cannabis would result in an ability to pay market price for the Point Molate property,” the report concluded.

“With its health and medicinal properties, cannabis will pair well with the eucalyptus oil project,” opined Councilmember Ada Recinos.” “Richmond has had a reputation for poor health outcomes for too long. This will make us a leader in the industry.”

Because of his intimate knowledge of Point Molate and previous experience with rentals of existing buildings, Bobby Winston of Nematode Holdings will be awarded the first cannabis cultivation franchise.

Upstream Point Molate LLC and the Guidiville Rancheria of California have announced that due to their previous undying support for the casino, Jim Rogers (“Aargh!”) will be brought aboard (no pun intended) as general manager and Nat Bates as chief of security for the casino ship.

The settlement is slated to become final and be entered as a judgment by the Court on April 1, 2018.

This piece was first published in Mayor Tom Butt’s popular e-forum newsletter.


  1. Take away message; your Mayor is busy writing this garbage instead of figuring our how to work with the governor to remove the RPA or meet with investors to talk about the much needed change in the city.

    Way to go.


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