Another meeting, another marathon, another mega-blog.
On June 15, the A’s, Alameda County and staff from the City of Oakland held a public meeting about the Howard Terminal new stadium development that lasted more than six hours. Before going any further, it’s worth reading these 22 observations from that informative discussion, which unpacked so many details for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and interested citizens.
On Wednesday, the Oakland City Council hosted A’s team president Dave Kaval along with other involved city staff to hold a public study session of the A’s Howard Terminal proposal. The city staff, led by project manager Molly Maybrun, also presented its recommendations for Oakland’s City Council while there were a couple more rounds of spirited public comment.
Time of game? Six hours, 34 minutes.
The A’s and the City are in the process of revising a term sheet by July 16, in preparation of the July 20 non-binding City Council vote. Kaval has put a lot of stock into the non-binding declaration, saying the franchise needs some sense of direction from the City, which he said hasn’t held a vote on the issue during his five-year tenure at the helm of the stadium search.
As long as this blog is, it only accounted for the first half of Wednesday’s marathon meeting. This portion lays out the important revisions to the A’s proposed term sheet, as suggested by the City staff, spearheaded by Project Manager Molly Maybrun.
The second half of Wednesday’s meeting included questions from the Councilmembers toward City staff and Kaval, and it led to some interesting and insightful exchanges. I aim to have a Part 2 up by early next week.
[UPDATE: I didn’t have time to get to Part 2, my b!]
If I got anything wrong or something needs clarification, please let me know via Twitter (@rickeyblog) or email (email@example.com) and I will make appropriate changes.
Check out 17 updates from Wednesday’s public study session with the City Council of Oakland.
1. Who was involved this time?
The Oakland City Council is an eight-person governmental body of elected officials from the City’s seven districts and one at-large member. District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb directed the conversation and was initially joined by District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife, District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo and District 6 Councilmember Loren Taylor.
Vice Mayor and Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan, Council President and District 2 Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas, District 4 Councilmember and City Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao and District 7 Councilmember Treva Reid also joined in the conversation later with questions.
Team president Dave Kaval represented the A’s.
The main players from the Oakland City staff involved were Project Manager Molly Maybrun and Assistant City Administrator Betsy Lake.
Other speakers included Port of Oakland Governmental Affairs Director Matt Davis and Port of Oakland Commercial Real Estate Director Pamela Kershaw.
2. Public comment
After a quick intro discussion, City Councilmembers gave up the floor to the public.
By my count, there were 49 speakers in the public comment period, which lasted roughly 90 minutes. There were a few familiar voices from the June 15 meeting and a lot of people who seemed to be part of interest or lobby groups. A few concerned citizens were sprinkled in as well, but many seemed to be reading from prepared scripts.
The main concerns from the public comment had to deal with holding the A’s accountable for disbursing community benefits, affordable housing, port interests who oppose the development, environmental concerns, the impact on Chinatown, hiring of local workers, hiring of local minorities and the preservation of West Oakland.
Eunice Kwon, who is part of the Oakland Chinatown Coalition, was the first speaker to address her concerns with the development’s impact on Chinatown, but she wasn’t the last. She actually led off her comment with one of the day’s recurring themes: community benefits.
“The current terms that the A’s are proposing show that they’ve completely abdicated their community benefit obligations,” Kwon said. “The taxpayer IFD funds that they reference in their proposal will not be able to fund many of the critical community benefits that came out of that years-long process. The A’s have to be responsible in meeting their community benefits. This obligation includes on-site affordable housing and well-paying jobs for local residents.That needs to be written into the terms.
“Second, Chinatown as a region was excluded from the environmental impact report process altogether but it will undeniably be impacted heavily by the proposed development.”
A woman named Reisa Jaffe also chimed in to give her thoughts about the A’s proposed community benefits. For now, the franchise wants to commit to a $450 million community benefits package that will be handed to the City to decide where the money goes. Many seem worried about the lack of structure the A’s are providing beyond the big monetary commitment.
“I listened to one of the community benefits meetings in the past month or two and I’m really concerned,” Jaffe said. “The devil is in the details and the details are not there protecting Oaklanders.”
A couple other polished speakers including Aaron Wright and Andrea Luna Bocanegra also voiced their concerns for the Port in talking points consistent with the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, which is funded by Port interests in West Oakland who oppose the stadium.
“I am requesting that you please request a port user impact report,” Luna Bocanegra said. “Manufacturers in Northern California will be impacted and we are not part of the conversation.”
Affordable housing was also a major talking point all day. East Bay Housing lead organizer Dolores Tejada is part of Oakland United, which had many members chime in to share their concerns about the A’s, who could pay $74.7 million in impact fees instead of following through on their standing offer to build 450 affordable housing units among the 3,000 residential units.
Public advocate legal clerk Gracen Evall, who is also involved with Oakland United, laid out the organization’s goals on affordable housing.
“The city needs to demand more from the project,” Evall said. “To be a real community benefit, we need 35 percent of affordable housing units on site.”
Thirty-five percent affordable housing — of 3,000 units — would be 1,050 units. Twenty-five percent would be 750 affordable housing units, if the A’s want to meet halfway.
Familiar voices included independent reporter Zennie Abraham, who questioned why the City project staff were “all white” consultants who “do not understand what they’re doing.” But David Peters (aka @BleacherDave), who is part of the Howard Terminal new stadium steering committee, followed that up by saying he supports the City staff’s recommendations that were published in a July 1 report.
One A’s fan named Kai Chang also stuck out to me near the end of the public comment period, saying, “It just felt like for a while we’ve been hearing non-stop interest groups and I’m just a regular resident. I don’t represent anybody. I rarely speak up here, but I just want to say I register my support for this project. …
“I’m thinking about, like, what’s the alternative? Myself and a lot of people in Oakland have wanted to see Jack London Square revitalized and have a big attraction put there. If the A’s don’t do it, it’s going to be some faceless developer and they won’t have any commitments to do a [Community Benefits Agreement] to benefit the community. They’ll just put in expensive condos and go. A high-profile local institution that people will pay attention to if they don’t follow up on their promises. Seems to me like a good thing for Oakland.”
The comment section could be a whole mega-blog in itself, so I definitely omitted many speakers with powerful points. But gotta wrap it up with Hal Gordon, friend of the podcast. The A’s hot dog vendor and Cal PhD. candidate (learn more on Episode 26!) spent his two minutes of floor time advocating for adding housing supply — whether it’s affordable for market rate.
“Economic theory and also our data have really shown that building new supply to meet the demand for housing, actually reduces displacement,” Gordon said. “I think the 3,000 new units themselves are a great community development, even if most of them are market rate.”
3. Kaval stuck on repeat
If you’ve heard A’s president Dave Kaval give an interview about Howard Terminal the past few months, you’ve probably heard the same talking points he issued in his eight-minute opening salvo.
$12 billion waterfront development project. Privately-financed $1 billion ballpark. $450 million in community benefits. 3,000 residential units with some affordable housing. 1.5 million square feet of commercial real estate. 250,000 square feet of retail. 18 acres of added public park space. 3,500-seat Performance art center.
Rinse. Say into microphone. Repeat.
He’s gotta do it, but man after a few times he sounds like a robot. Hence my line of questioning in our interview for Episode 35 of the G.O.A.P.
4. The July 1 report
This negotiation has a gazillion moving parts.
Since June 15, the City has been hard at work going over the A’s term sheet proposal, which was first delivered in January (according to A’s) or February (according to Oakland) this year. The A’s went ahead and published it on April 23, ostensibly to get the ball rolling with public pressure. The strongarm tactics look like they’re working, because here we are.
On July 1, Oakland City staff published a 22-page report that shared their recommendations for revisions to the A’s term sheet. We will get into those changes as we proceed through this blog, but it’s a good piece of required reading if you’re into the technical side of things.
As I understand, this meeting was basically an extended, public talk through of the changes presented in the July 1 report.
5. Where A’s and Oakland agree
It may seem like the A’s, the City Council, the City staff (to stay nothing of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff) and Alameda County are on different pages throughout this whole complex process. But there is some common ground between the A’s and Oakland, according to Assistant City Administrator Betsy Lake.
Welp, we’ve made it this far without mentioning Infrastructure Financing Districts (IFD) but it’s alphabet soup time. An IFD uses a fixed geographical area (in this case the 55-acre lot at Howard Terminal, and/or a larger one for Jack London Square) to collect future incremental tax revenues to pay back the A’s for up front infrastructure costs.
The A’s are proposing one IFD be designated at Howard Terminal (grey) and another in the larger surrounding Jack London Square area (red). For now, the City only agrees on the creation of a Howard Terminal IFD, but not one at Jack London Square (more on that in a bit).
The City and the A’s also concur some form of non-relocation agreement will be required — though there appears to be an impasse about its duration.
Oakland understands the A’s will “construct, manage and operate the ballpark.”
Lake wrapped up her statement by saying, “We’re in agreement that a significant financial commitment to community benefits is needed to address affordable housing, equitable access to good union jobs and other community benefits over the 66-year lease of this valuable public land.”
6. The Molly Maybrun Show
During the June 15 meeting, Oakland Project Manager Molly Maybrun expertly walked everyone through the technical aspects of this project and made them digestible — even for policy-n00b sportswriters like me.
Only in that Alameda County meeting, she couldn’t go more than a slide or two without being sidetracked by the Board of Supervisors with their incessant questions. This time she was able to work through the first 20 slides while explaining basic facts.
I laid out the who/whats/wheres/whys more in-depth in the June 15 meeting blog but here is a summary of Maybrun’s overview:
Howard Terminal is located just west of the Cost Plus and the ferry dock at Jack London Square, but separated by the Port of Oakland to the west by metal recycler Schnitzer Steel. At the moment, the 55-acre lot is used primarily as a parking lot for idling semi-trucks and a staging area, with no maritime operator using it since 2013 due to shallow waters. Oakland estimates the land will be assessed at $7.6 billion by 2037 with the A’s proposed waterfront development, compared to its current $29.5 million valuation.
Maybrun also defined IFDs and Community Facilities Districts (CFDs) — the financial structures that will repay the A’s back for their initial infrastructure commitments. CFDs impose a “special tax” on tenants within the same fixed geographical boundaries of an IFD, with those two districts working in concert to capture future tax dollars. For more information on those, please read the explainer from the June 15 meeting.
7. Jack London Square IFD
Most everything to this point of the meeting was pretty status quo, but the second half of Maybrun’s presentation started addressing the areas where Oakland and the A’s don’t agree. Chief of which — the establishment of an off-site IFD in the nearby Jack London Square area. The Jack London Square IFD is outlined in red in the picture above, while the Howard Terminal IFD is outlined in gray. Oakland is on board with the gray IFD (Howard Terminal), not the red one (Jack London Square).
A’s president Dave Kaval has contended that the Jack London Square IFD is vital to this project’s success, with the organization anticipating a $1.4 billion revenue stream over the life of the project. Only the city of Oakland thinks the A’s are overstepping their bounds by poising to grab tax increments for such a wide area — East-West from West Oakland Bart to Oak Street, North-South from the waterfront to 8th street.
Project manager Molly Maybrun said the city’s department of finance studied Jack London Square’s development over the past 20 years and found an annual average growth of 6.4 percent.
“When we looked at and analyzed the A’s proposal for an off-site IFD, what we saw was that they were expecting or projecting 6.8 percent growth in assessed values and property taxes annually in this red area over the next 45 years,” Maybrun said. “It’s fair to say that an IFD over the Jack London District in West Oakland would capture a significant amount of growth — in fact the overwhelming majority of the growth — and assessed values and taxes that are generated in that area would likely have occurred absent the project. And absent the project, would flow into the city’s general fund and be available for critical city services, investments. And not just in this neighborhood, but throughout the city.”
The off-site IFD will be absolutely crucial for this negotiation and it doesn’t seem like either side really wants to budge.
I understand Oakland’s logic behind its desire to exit from any Jack London Square IFD agreement, as that area has proven it doesn’t need a stadium development to have consistent growth. The A’s might have to reel in their boundaries a little bit closer or tone down their future tax increment share (If they can do that? Can they do that?) to make an off-site IFD happen.
8. Downtown Specific Plan Area
Further complicating the A’s proposal for the Jack London Square IFD is that the eastern portion of the IFD falls within the city’s “Downtown Specific Plan Area” — a parallel, unrelated endeavor Oakland is undertaking to revitalize The Town. The grey line cutting through the Jack London Square IFD in the graphic below is a new addition by Project Manager Molly Maybrun to illustrate the overlap with the Downtown Specific Plan Area.
“The majority of the A’s proposed off-site Jack London IFD lies within the city’s Downtown Specific Plan Area,” Maybrun said. “Which is a parallel and unrelated planning effort that the city has undertaken, which will result in a lot of potential changes in uses and densification or intensification of uses in this red area here — which will itself, also potentially drive changes in assessed values.
“It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to determine the degree to which the A’s development of a Howard Terminal site will impact assessed values and property taxes in this proposed off-site district. I think it’s safe to say that the off-site IFD would capture taxes that would have otherwise flowed into the city’s general fund.”
I feel like this is the rub, here.
It seems like the municipalities — the City and the County — have been looking for ways in which they get burned by the A’s with this deal (thanks, Raiders). With the addition of a large off-site IFD, this seems like the A’s trying to creatively siphon from the city’s potential general fund for reimbursement under the guise of future tax increments. Only the A’s would get the money in hand before it even got to the city’s general fund, since they would be up stream to collect via the IFD agreement. Sneaky, sneaky.
But wait, the city has more concerns with the Jack London Square IFD.
9. “Different animal”
Establishing an IFD and CFD on Howard Terminal would be a breeze, since there are currently no residents on the plot of land. Establishing an IFD and CFD at Jack London Square, on the other hand, presents a whole new set of obstacles.
“CFDs, you may remember, require the imposition of a special tax, which is higher than normal property tax rates,” Project Manager Molly Maybrun said. “As a result, CFDs require 2/3 of the property owners in the district to opt-in to pay that higher special tax. While it’s relatively simple to form an IFD or CFD over a site like Howard Terminal, where there’s essentially one or two property owners, doing it over a district like this which has hundreds of property owners is a really different animal.
“There’s no certainty that that could actually happen. We would have to get hundreds of individual property owners to agree, essentially, to raise their own taxes.”
Death, taxes … and special taxes! ‘Murica!
That’s not all, though, folks. Citizens opposed to the imposition of a special tax could band together and dash the execution of an IFD/CFD altogether.
“The EIFD law includes a protest procedure which could prevent formation of the district, if the majority of the property owners and residents in the district protest its formation.” Maybrun said.
So, even if the A’s somehow convince Oakland to include a Jack London Square IFD in the deal, the district might not even get created. Lots of work to do here, yet.
10. Initial infrastructure
Project Manager Molly Maybrun kept dropping new interesting nuggets at this point of her presentation.
Another major point of contention is the source and timing of funds for the initial off-site infrastructure costs. Maybrun explained the transit plan in detail during the June 15 meeting, but infrastructure upgrades like grade separation to protect pedestrians, bikes, cars and trains from colliding with each other during congested hours.
“The IFD doesn’t produce the funds that are needed when they’re needed,” Maybrun said. “The city and A’s have slightly different numbers on the bonding capacity in the early years of the off-site IFD. I think in the staff report, Century Urban’s was $37 million, might have been $39 million for the off-site IFD before opening day of the ballpark. I think the A’s number was a little bit south of $50 million.
“In any case, both of those are grossly inadequate to actually pay for the costs of the off-site infrastructure and grade separation that are needed prior to opening day of the ballpark — which are closer to $300 million in total.”
Whether it’s $267 million or $250 million, that’s a massive shortfall of money for necessary off-site infrastructure.
Later in the meeting, when answering questions from councilmembers, A’s President Dave Kaval addressed the off-site infrastructure concerns.
“From our perspective, we think the off-site [IFD] is required as well,” Kaval said. “In terms of the gap in the off-site infrastructure. The draft EIR [environment impact report], only states that $22 million of the off-site infrastructure is required for the ballpark. So, I think it’s important to remember that some of these things can be phased. The off-site IFD could be used to fund these things over time.”
Getting fans from downtown Oakland and BART stations safely will require off-site infrastructure changes, and investment, especially near the rail line that cuts through Jack London Square.
Sounds like the A’s are willing to do a patchwork job off-site until the funds come through, but how will it affect traffic and pedestrian safety? The City will likely investigate this closely.
11. Non-relocation agreement
The ghost of the Raiders still lives in Oakland.
The City and the A’s are in agreement about coming to a non-relocation agreement, which was explained by Project Manager Molly Maybrun.
“I think all of us who have lived through the departure of the Raiders and the Warriors know exactly what I’m talking about, in terms of the fallout of the departure of a team,” Maybrun said. “A non-relocation agreement is designed to prevent that.”
Maybrun noted that episodes like the Oakland/Raiders/Mt. Davis fiasco have made non-relocation agreements standard across American new stadium negotiations in recent years. Here are a few of the high-level agreements the A’s and Oakland have come to, in terms of the non-relocation agreement:
- All home games (except special preseason exhibitions) would be played in new ballpark
- A’s would need to maintain franchise in MLB in good standing
- A’s would need to keep team headquarters in Oakland
- A’s would have to use Oakland primary geographic identifier (i.e. they’ll never be the Bay Area A’s or California A’s, but the Oakland A’s)
- Any new owner would be subject to non-relocation agreement as well
- Equitable and injunctive relief in terms of a team default (Basically Oakland would enforce agreement through courts/lawyers)
However, there are three areas of the non-relocation agreement where the A’s and Oakland are not aligned:
The city wants the A’s to be prohibited from exploring other markets, except during final years of term agreement. Sounds like the A’s want to keep all their options open at all times.
Secondly, the A’s haven’t agreed to pay liquidated damages (aka money) to the City in the event they would relocate from the ballpark Howard Terminal before the term.
Third, and most importantly, Oakland and the A’s don’t agree on the length of the non-relocation agreement.
“Staff recommends that the commitment agreement or non-relocation agreement expresses a commitment from the A’s to Oakland at a minimum on par with Oakland’s commitment to the A’s,” Maybrun said. “Their current offer is a 20-year non-relocation agreement, contingent on no increases in city taxes that would affect their operations during that time.
“As we talked about previously, the IFD term would be for up to 45 years and the port’s ground lease is 66 years.”
It begs the question: Why would the A’s put all this effort into developing a new stadium and district then want to leave in 20 years? What’s the rush? I feel like a 45-year commitment, consistent with the IFD, is reasonable.
12. Community benefits
A key talking point for A’s president Dave Kaval is his touting of a $450 million Community Benefits Agreement over the course of 45 years. That’s an average of $10 million annually, and much of the funds won’t be realized for years, as the new construction and development are needed to capture the new tax increases.
It’s not just a big, ‘ol $450 million check the A’s are going to write the City. In fact, the A’s aren’t going to write any checks under the current proposal, they’re just going to pass off future tax revenues (back to the City where they built?).
In terms of the mechanics of the IFDs and how those captured funds can be applied to assist Oakland, the City has another issue.
“IFD proceeds are very limited in their use,” Project Manager Molly Maybrun said. “They can be spent only on public capital facilities and they are specifically prohibited from funding the costs of ongoing operation or providing services of any kind. This is letter of the law.
“So, using the IFD as the sole source of community benefits, by definition, limits the scope of those things that can be paid for by an IFD, and excludes many of the benefits that were identified by the community as being of utmost value to them.”
What’s a public capital facility?
According to LawInsider.com, “Capital facility means a structure, improvement, piece of equipment or other major asset including land that has a useful life of at least 10 years. Capital facilities are provided by or for public purposes and services including but not limited to the following: Airport, Fire and rescue, Government offices, Police, Libraries, Parks, Sanitary Sewer, Sidewalks, Stormwater facilities, Streets, Street lighting systems, Traffic signals and Transit. The capital facilities listed above include necessary ancillary and support facilities.”
This sounds like a $450 million infrastructure commitment from the A’s and not a $450 million community benefits commitment.
As citizen Reisa Jaffe noted in the public comment period, the devils are in the details. When you break down the A’s offer for community benefits, it doesn’t look as shiny.
It seems the A’s think they are doing their part simply by being master developers for the project, whereupon they’ll provide new tax revenue streams. From there, it seems the A’s are trying to wash their hands clean, saying they’ll let the city/community figure out what to do with the funds, even if the money legally can’t go to the services Oakland needs.
Don’t get me wrong, $450 million — even over 45 years — is a great start, but it doesn’t seem like much effort is ultimately being put forward by the A’s in terms of community benefits beyond that big dollar figure. Especially if those dollars will be restricted in their use.
Maybrun also noted that the A’s have committed to use “unionized labor in the construction and operation of the ballpark,” but made “no other commitments to specific community benefits.”
Then there’s the whole timing issue. IFDs are dependent on the new development that would be constructed. Once tenants fill the buildings and start paying taxes, the revenue stream will start flowing. But that will take years, if not decades.
“The nature of an IFD is that funds accumulate slowly at first and grow over time as new development is completed and placed on the tax roll,” Maybrun said. “WIthout another source of up front or early funding, most of the benefits would not be realized for at least a decade.”
13. Alternative community benefits approach
As Oakland is unsatisfied with the A’s proposal for community benefits, the city is proposing an alternative three-pronged approach centered around affordable housing, equitable hiring for well-paying jobs for locals and the establishment of a community fund administered over the course of the 66-year Port lease.
As the proposal stands now, 15 percent of the 3,000 on-site residential units (450) are slated to be affordable housing. While independent organizations like Oakland United are pushing for 35 percent (1,050 units), the City of Oakland is recommending 15 percent (450 units) be affordable housing, instead of the A’s paying about $74.7 million in impact fees to forego building affordable housing altogether.
Project manager Molly Maybrun also said, “The staff recommendation is to target 30 percent affordability, using both on and off-site strategies.”
But I’m unsure what that means, to be honest. Perhaps the City is proposing the A’s build some affordable housing in the surrounding Jack London Square area as well?
Oakland also wants to create a $50 million fund — aside from the IFD — to “implement displacement prevention strategies. Which would include new construction, preservation, renovation, down payment assistance and other forms of capital expenditures related to implementing affordable housing strategies off-site,” Maybrun said.
14. Job policy
Project Manager Molly Maybrun then shared the City’s approach to construction and port jobs affected by the project.
Oakland also desires a similar Port operations job policy to the CenterPoint-Port of Oakland deal in November 2018, which prioritized hiring local workers for a new 440,000-foot logistics complex.
“We would expect, based on the CenterPoint deal,” Maybrun said, “that would address, at a minimum, living wages and benefits for workers, priority for disadvantaged workers and fair-chance hiring policies.”
15. Community fund
The third part of the City’s alternative community benefits approach was the establishment of a community fund, which would be run similar to an endowment fund with five- to 10-year strategic plans implemented throughout the course of the 66-year port lease. The fund would be run by an appointed community advisory committee and selected fund manager.
As laid out in more detail on page 15 of the July 1 staff report, the city envisions four funding sources raising about $412 million for the community fund. You can see a basic breakdown of the four sources above, with the highest coming from condominium transfer fees — a 0.75 percent tax which would be captured from buyers and sellers who move in and out of residences.
Project Manager Molly Maybrun shared why the City feels better about this strategy than relying solely on IFDs to fund the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).
“A few advantages to having multiple sources rather than just the set-aside from the IFD, there’s the smoothing effect that if one source falls a little short, another may make up the difference,” Maybrun said. “There’s earlier deposits into the fund in this scenario as well as more flexible uses when we’re not limiting the deposits only to IFD sources — which, again — have limited uses under legal structures.”
Here is a yearly breakdown of how Oakland arrived at the roughly $412 million figure over 66 years.
Near the end of the session, Councilmember Dan Kalb voiced his concern about the impact $412 million will have over 66 years. Annually, that averages $6.24 million a year.
“I know $411 million or whatever thereabouts, sounds like a lot of money,” Kalb said. “But if it’s over 60-plus years, it’s not really a lot of money. It’s just not a lot of money. I just want to point that out. That’s great. Having money is better than not having money, if you want to have good things. I just want to point out the reality of how much money we are, or we’re not talking about.”
In short, the A’s are proposing $450 million of community benefits over 45 years, but the funds will be limited and reliant on rising property taxes. The City is envisioning $412 million of community benefits generated from the project over 66 years, but the funds would be more flexible to spend, since they wouldn’t have IFD restrictions.
16. Don’t forget the EIR process
It bears remembering that the all-important Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which analyzes ways a new stadium development would affect the environment, pedestrians, traffic, housing, noise levels, pollution, local wildlife, etc., is still a draft and hasn’t been certified.
According to Project Manager Molly Maybrun, Oakland staff and consultants are in the process of reviewing more than 400 public comments that were submitted during the comment period. When A’s president Dave Kaval says the team is spending more than $2 million a month on the new stadium search, you’d think that much of that money is going toward the extra city staff and consultants doing all the dirty work to push this project to completion.
“The City of Oakland, as lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), has to take the first binding action of this entire project, which is certifying the EIR,” Maybrun said. “And then approving a general plan amendment, rezoning of planned unit development (PUD), a tract map and a development agreement including community benefits. These are all city actions. Not a single one of those can happen until the EIR is certified.”
Later in the session, Councilmember Noel Gallo asked Maybrun how long it will take the city to finish its review of the public EIR comments so it can be presented for a vote.
“It’s fairly impossible for me to precisely project at this time when we will be through and out the other side of this process, given that we have not received all of the obligations from the applicant [the A’s] yet,” Maybrun said. “But we are endeavoring to have a response to comments on the EIR side done by the end of October. Which means that the project could potentially proceed to its first public hearings in November. That would be starting at Planning Commission before it comes to you, at council.”
Again, another reason why it seems so bizarre that the A’s are putting the PR/social media blitz on for this July 20 non-binding City Council vote. The project is still in major flux and I don’t see how they figure out all of these issues in the next 11 days and feel comfortable about it.
The City is guessing the EIR will be approved by November at the earliest. Not to mention Oakland wants Alameda County to get involved with infrastructure costs, and the Board of Supervisors said it needs until at least September to get a full grasp of the project.
Kaval says the A’s are “running out of time” and have been going “sideways for 20 years,” but he needs to tell owner John Fisher to be patient. If they can’t wait four months to make it happen in Oakland — or even see if it can happen in Oakland — maybe they never wanted to.
“Howard Terminal or bust” is one thing. “Howard Terminal by July 20 or bust” is a whole ‘nother.
In short, I appreciate the massive efforts the A’s have undertaken but they need to chill and trust the process at this point. There are so many parties in play.
17. But wait, there’s more …
For my own sanity, I’m going to cut off this blog here.
Again, I want to give a big shoutout to Project Manager Molly Maybrun for expertly explaining this super, ridiculously complicated topic with so much clarity. This was an incredibly insightful snapshot into this ongoing negotiation.
Even since the June 15 meeting with Alameda County, there have clearly been significant changes made to the term sheet proposed by the A’s.
At this point of the meeting, Maybrun got everyone up to speed on where the City stands with the A’s proposal. Over the second half of Wednesday’s meeting, Councilmembers got to ask questions to Maybrun and City staff, along with A’s president Dave Kaval.
There were definitely some notable exchanges and information revealed, along with some sidestepping and politicking by Kaval. Over the next couple of days I will try to break down the meaningful information shared and follow up with Part 2 by early next week.
[UPDATE: I didn’t have time to get to Part 2, my b!]
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