Oakland City Council Approves Roadmap for Contested Oakland A Stadium Plan

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OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Under threat of another professional sports team moving to Las Vegas, Oakland City Council on Tuesday approved a roadmap for the construction of an Oakland Athletics baseball stadium from a billion dollars near the Port of Oakland, despite fierce opposition from some residents and task forces.

“This is an opportunity for the team to stay grounded in Oakland and to do so in a way that is effective for our community,” Deputy Mayor and City Council member Rebecca Kaplan said in a four-hour meeting. on the contested proposition.

The city has been negotiating with the Oakland A’s since April last year on a project to build a 35,000-seat waterfront stadium. The project would include 3,000 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 270,000 square feet for retail, a 3,500-seat performance center, 400 hotel rooms and over 18 acres. open space.

Before approving a list of conditions that will serve as a framework for future negotiations, city council president Nikki Fortunato Bas and deputy mayor Kaplan amended the document. They increased the number of affordable housing units required for the project from 30% to 35%. The city will require at least 450 housing units to be affordable, or 15% of the 3,000 housing units planned on site. The remaining 20% ​​of affordable housing will be generated off-site in the form of new construction, preservation, renovation, down payment assistance and assistance to the elderly in affected neighborhoods.

An amendment was also added to make it clear that Oakland A’s will not be responsible for around $ 352 million in offsite transportation and parking improvements, a decision with which city council member Dan Kalb strongly disagreed. .

“It is troubling that the A’s do not agree to pay for any of the infrastructure, including the mitigation measures required by the [environmental impact report], outside the baseball stadium, ”Kalb said.

The city says it will seek funds and grants for offsite transportation improvements from federal, state and county government sources.

Oakland A chairman Dave Kaval, who gained some weight in the negotiations by exploring a possible move to Las Vegas, told the board that while he appreciated the amendments, the new conditions sheet was still a long way from the team’s initial proposal for the project.

“The current list of conditions, even with these amendments, is not something the A’s have consensus on,” Kaval said. “I want to stress that voting yes on something we disagree with or don’t have consensus on is not the best way to move forward.”

The Oakland A’s also made a concession by agreeing not to move the team for at least 25 years after the stadium was built. The team would be required to repay the remaining debt associated with the project if they broke this promise.

During more than two hours of public commentary, several residents argued that the city was giving too much by allowing the team to be reimbursed for infrastructure, affordable housing and open space beyond what is required by the residents. city ​​laws. Refunds will come from a special tax on the owners of the future development site.

Critics also complained that the new stadium would create parking problems for the nearby Chinatown, threaten existing businesses and interfere with port operations which are a major economic engine for the city and provide jobs for dockworkers.

A smaller group of Oakland Coliseum residents and employees urged city leaders to come to a compromise that will allow the team to stay in Oakland. Several speakers said keeping the A’s in town was especially important after the town’s football team, the Raiders, and the Golden State Warriors basketball team left Oakland for Las Vegas and San Francisco, respectively. , in 2019.

The working groups are divided on the proposal. The Alameda Labor Council, AFL-CIO and United Service Workers West SEIU, which represents Oakland Coliseum employees, are supporting the project. Unions representing dockers, railroad workers, truckers and sailors widely oppose plans to build a stadium, hotel and 3,000-home complex near the site. where ships unload goods to be transported by rail and truck.

City Council member Noel Gallo represents the district of East Oakland where the team’s current stadium, the Oakland Coliseum, is located. He said it made no sense to build a new stadium near an industrial area with no existing public transportation when the current stadium is right next to a Bay Area Rapid Transit station.

He suggested the Oakland As should demolish their old stadium and build a new stadium on the Coliseum site.

“I support going and staying at the Coliseum because you have all the structures, the land, the money and certainly the city’s commitment to rebuild a new stadium in East Oakland,” said Gallo.

City council member Carroll Fife, who represents the neighborhood where the new stadium would be built, criticized A’s management for refusing to agree to the list of conditions even after the city made multiple concessions.

“If the A’s aren’t happy with what’s been presented and are still talking about leaving after the town bends over backwards and comes up with all these concessions that these rich landowners don’t have to pay… I don’t know where we are. get out of here, ”Fife said. “It’s not a negotiation. It’s a ‘do what we say or we’ll go’.

Fife abstained from voting on the amended list of terms. Gallo voted against and the other six city council members voted in favor.

After the vote, West Oakland resident Melody Davis stood on the steps of town hall and spoke out against council members who voted in favor of the project. She said the deal does not provide adequate community benefits, such as affordable housing and services to support youth and students. She was also concerned that the project could interfere with port operations and cause dockworkers to lose their jobs.

“The only way not to build it is to close the streets,” Davis said.

To move the project forward, the Alameda County Supervisory Board will need to approve the creation of special tax districts, called improved infrastructure finance districts, to help finance certain aspects of the plan. The county board is expected to vote on the proposal in September.

Project manager Molly Mayburn said the city will continue negotiations with the A’s and review an environmental study for the project by the end of October. She hopes to present a finalized project proposal to Oakland City Council by the end of this year.

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