Is Red Rock Island Really for Sale? It's Not Entirely Clear

Red Rock Island, next to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge between Marin County and the East Bay. (D Coetzee/Flickr)

There are more than a dozen islands in San Francisco Bay, but only one of them is privately owned.

That would be Red Rock Island, which you can see while crossing the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge between the East Bay and Marin County. It’s about 6 acres of mostly orange-red rock with some shrubs and pine trees scattered across it, and the highest point is less than 200 feet.

Eve Kearney has wondered about the island ever since she dreamed of shooting music videos on it in college. She wants to know: Is it for sale, and what's its history?

History

Legend has it that pirates hid treasure on the island, though it’s never been discovered. In the early 1800s, Russian fur traders used it as a campsite while killing Bay Area otters.

In the 1850s, the island got its first and only resident, Selim Woodworth, who built a cabin there.

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Fast forward to 1964, when Red Rock Island was purchased by San Francisco attorney David Glickman for just under $50,000. He had dreams of turning it into a destination hotel, but those dreams never came to fruition because Glickman moved to Thailand and got a taste for the gem trade.

Soon after, Glickman's acquaintance, Mack Durning, acquired at least part of the island. Durning didn't do much with it except visiting occasionally with his sons.

Over the years, other buyers showed interest. The most notorious potential owner was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a controversial guru with a commune in Oregon and now the subject of a popular Netflix series, "Wild Wild Country." His followers are most famous for poisoning salad bars with salmonella. The island deal fell through when Rajneesh was deported.

In 2007, Glickman and Durning tried selling the island for $10 million, but nobody bought it. The island was still on the market when Glickman died in 2011.

In 2012, Durning tried selling it for $22 million. But a few months later, he slashed the price to $9 million. His real estate agent said there were interested buyers, but before the island could be sold, Durning also died.

A Private Island For Purchase?

Today the island is owned by Durning's son, Brock Durning. Reached by phone in Alaska, he confirmed that he owns the island, but he refused to say if it's for sale or not.

The island is not publicly listed. However, both of Brock Durning's parents said over the years that, for the right price, it is always for sale.

Eve Kearney, our question asker, said she'd like the island to be turned into either a wildlife sanctuary or a "Goonies" theme park.

"So us folks who grew up in the '80s could visit it and relive the Goonies cave!"

There is one potential roadblock to Kearney's plan: The island is split among three counties — Marin, San Francisco and Contra Costa. If she were to develop a theme park on the island, she might need to get approval from all three, which would be a planning nightmare.