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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Another path cleared for Oakland A’s waterfront ballpark dream

Oakland — The city’s planning commission signed a 3,500-page environmental impact report Wednesday that relocated another base to Oakland A for the construction of a waterfront ballpark and mixed-use development at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal.

The commission’s vote was unanimous but controversial, as dozens of people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting urged it to postpone a decision. He argued that the environment report is insufficient and called for further analysis of the project’s impact.

Although the city council still needs to authenticate the report and other important decisions loom, supporters of the proposed 35,000-seat ballpark celebrate the commission’s vote as a milestone.

“Tonight’s Planning Commission recommendation to send a final environmental impact report to City Council for certification is a huge victory for our entire region and puts Oakland one step closer to building a historic waterfront ballpark district with the highest environmental standards.” Mayor Libby Schaff said in a written statement.

Since its release as a draft in February, the report has received nearly 400 comments or questions from various government agencies, community organizations and individuals about the project’s potential impact on traffic, air quality, infrastructure and other environmental elements. Huh.

After spending months addressing and responding to those concerns, city employees concluded that it was the team’s effort to build the waterfront ballpark and surround it with 3,000 housing units, 1.5 million square feet of office space and 270,000 square feet of retail space. The plan does not have any significant environmental constraints. As well as hotel rooms and parks.

Others disagree, including those who have long opposed the project.

In a written statement, a coalition called the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, which largely represents businesses that work at the port and their union workers, said, “The final EIR fails to address the important concerns that which are taken up by community stakeholders and agencies, particularly with regard to health, safety, traffic, air quality and toxic treatment.”

Group members argue that the report does not give enough detail about how the toxic soil at the site will be cleaned up. He also noted that the vehicular traffic generated by the project will obstruct trucks that carry cargo to the port.

Mike Jacobs, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, who is also associated with the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, has stated several times that the environmental assessment does not analyze the project’s impact on port operations.

But the planning commissioners said the city council would focus on those specific concerns and in their opinion the report complies with the California Environmental Quality Act and is sufficiently complete.

The city council may review the environmental report early next month, according to employees. Even if the Council certifies the report, other steps should be taken before construction can begin.

Cities A&A still must reach a financial deal involving the project’s infrastructure, affordable housing and community benefits.

City leaders want at least 15% of AK’s 3,000 proposed housing units to be designated as affordable and that at least $50 million be shelled out to build affordable housing elsewhere in Oakland. The A’s president, Dave Kaval, said last month that the city and team had not agreed on a housing plan, but that “the city knows what our position is.” He did not elaborate, but had previously opposed that plan.

There is also the issue of how the city will fund $400 million worth of infrastructure work such as improving roads and sidewalks, sewer, water and power lines, and building pedestrian bridges to get people out of the ballpark.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors tentatively indicated its intention to join the city in creating a special funding district to help pay for those improvements, but its support was weak and non-binding. County supervisors indicated they would conduct their own financial analysis before jumping in.

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