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North Richmond's Wetlands Threatened by Development

Background: The land near Breuner Marsh, South of Point Pinole, is under threat of development. This piece of land borders an important, still-intact wetland and connects Point Pinole to the wetland. Only 10 percent of the wetlands that once surrounded the San Francisco Bay are still intact and the Breuner property has additional value as the end point for the SF Bay Trail and as an open space. In addition, Richmond has over 800 acres of vacant and underused land that can be built on. With all this undeveloped land close to current development, the Breuner Property should be protected as open space.

Facts on Breuner Marsh: Why protect it?

  1. The Breuner Property is one of the few accessible open spaces in this area...

    Contra Costa County enjoys as much as 3 times more open space per person than North Richmond and vicinity. (1)

    Fairness demands that North Richmond's families have clean, natural places for our children to play.

  2. The Breuner Property is unique…

    The Breuner Marsh is one of the few intact wetlands in the Bay Area and provides habitat for several endangered species and rare plants. (2)

    Wetlands filter storm water and provide important habitat for animals - 90% of Bay Area wetlands have already been lost to development. (3)

    The property connects Point Pinole, the Giant Marsh and nearby grasslands. Keeping these properties undeveloped creates a natural corridor, important for the animals who live there. (2)

  3. The Breuner Property is culturally and historically significant…

    The Breuner Property offers untapped economic opportunities supporting outdoor recreation, tourism, and environmental education.

Why is developing this property a problem?

  1. This development will destroy one of the last remaining marsh-land areas along the San Francisco Bay...

    The development will increase storm water runoff and garbage, which will contaminate the wetlands. (3)

    More household pets will harm wildlife, damage fragile habitats and pollute creeks. (3)

  2. This development will increase air pollution and bring added health risks to the North Richmond community…

    The North Richmond area already suffers from a disproportionate amount of air pollution and associated respiratory problems. (4)

  3. Increased traffic from this development will only add to this problem. This development does not consider the historic community's needs…

    Parchester Village residents will bear the brunt of this development. (5)

    Parchester Village will suffer from increased air and noise pollution and lose their historic recreational options and visual connection to the Bay. (5)

What can we do about this?

  1. Suggest a more appropriate site for Signature to build on...

    According to a 2000 study based on parcel data from the County Assessor's Office, Richmond has an estimated 882 acres of vacant and underused land that could be used for infill housing (not all of this land is currently zoned for residential use). (6)

  2. Re-designate this site as Open Space…

    This would allow the property to be preserved as an environmental education center, recreation spot, Point Pinole extension, and tourist attraction - contributing to the economy of Richmond and improving the area's quality of life.Control Speculation…

    This property was bought in 2000 for $3 million and is now being offered to Signature Properties for $50 million. If speculation were stopped, this property could be purchased by an Open Space Agency that would preserve it for community use. (7)

More facts:

  • Signature Properties is planning to build an estimated 700-1000 units of housing on one of North Richmond's last remaining open spaces.
  • There is roughly 3 times more open space per person in Contra Costa County compared to North Richmond and vicinity. (1)
  • 90% of the Bay's wetlands have been lost to human activity. The Bay is only one-third its original size due to this development. (3)
  • Increased traffic produced by this development will add more pollution to already dirty air and worsen already high asthma rates.
  • Breuner Marsh property was purchased in 2000 for $3 million and is being proposed for purchase in 2003 for $50 million, making it nearly impossible for public agencies to buy.
  • Increased traffic produced by this development will add more pollution to already dirty air and worsen already high asthma rates.
  1. Indicator development:
    1. We received the total acreage of open space in Contra Costa County and North Richmond and vicinity (within the 9 census tracts) from the Open Space Council ( and the Green Info Network.
      · The total open space for Contra Costa is 116,678 acres
      · The total open space for North Richmond, Parchester Village, Iron Triangle, Old San Pablo (and communities West of 23rd/San Pablo and North of McDonald Rd.) is 2014 acres (The total acreage took into account lands that were both submerged and above water, accessible to the public and restricted to public use. We decided that although some lands may not be accessible for public use, (either because of private ownership, or because they are submerged) they should nonetheless be factored in to the overall open space acreage, as they contribute significantly to a community's aesthetic and visual connection to nature. ).
    2. To get a per capita indicator we then obtained the population of these two areas. This information was obtained from and covered the census tracts of
      3650.01, 3650.02, 3660.01, 3660.02, 3680, 3730, 3750, 3760, and 3770 for Richmond and vicinity, and all of Contra Costa. The populations were:
      · Contra Costa population: 948,816
      · North Richmond and vicinity population : 51,754
    3. To get open space per person we divided the total acreage by the total population for each area to get acreage per person. This came out to:
      · Contra Costa open space acreage per person: 0.12 acres/per capita
      · North Richmond and vicinity acreage per person: 0.4 acres/per capita
    4. The comparison of acreage per capita was based on these two numbers, to get the Indicator.
      "Contra Costa County enjoys as much as 3 times more open space per person as the residents of North Richmond and vicinity."
  2. Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals
    1. Report of Habitat Recommendations
      Prepared by the San Francisco Bay Area
      Wetlands Ecosystem Goals Project
  3. San Francisco Estuary Project Fact Sheet

  4. "Richmond At Risk: Community Demographics and Toxic Hazards from Industrial Polluters" Communities for a Better Environment, 1998
  5. Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger representing East Bay Regional Parks. Critique of the Edgewater Final EIR, 3/11/03
  6. "Estimating the Housing Infill Capacity of the Bay Area," by Juan Onesimo Sandoval and John Landis, UC Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development, 2000.
  7. "Developer eyes $ 50M housing site," by James Temple: San Francisco Business Times, May 19, 2003


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Report of Habitat Recommendations
Prepared by the San Francisco Bay Area
Wetlands Ecosystem Goals Project

San Francisco Estuary Project Fact Sheet

More about the Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program

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