Tuesday was a wild one for the A’s.
They started off the day by announcing the club picked up manager Bob Melvin’s option for 2022. The press conference with Melvin, executive VP Billy Beane and general manager David Forst took place at 2 p.m., the same time the Alameda Board of Supervisors hosted the A’s and City of Oakland for a public meeting about the new stadium project.
If you thought a four-hour, nine-inning game with a lot of walks takes forever, try watching six-and-a-half-hour meeting between government officials and the A’s. Lots of powerpoint decks and bad baseball puns — but a lot of good information was revealed to the public after some forthright questioning by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
Like most sportswriters, I am wading into unfamiliar waters with this stadium situation. This was my first time sitting in on a public meeting, so by no means am I an expert in this super complicated topic. But I did my best to parse out the pertinent information from this very extensive and thorough discussion that also featured some spirited public comments.
If I made any errors in reporting this information, please let me know via Twitter (@rickeyblog DMs open) or email at email@example.com and I will correct any mistakes. I think it’s important that people know where the situation stands after Tuesday’s meeting.
Oh, also the A’s played a baseball game Tuesday and beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-4.
1. The parties involved
On May 28, the City of Oakland publicly announced it was seeking support from Alameda County in its effort to secure a new home for the A’s at Howard Terminal. That manifested itself in Tuesday’s meeting, which was hosted by the five-person Alameda County Board of Supervisors: Keith Carson, Nate Miley, Wilma Chan, Richard Valle and David Haubert.
The City of Oakland was represented by City project manager Molly Maybrun and assistant city administrator Betsy Lake. Team president Dave Kaval represented the A’s.
Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman, an influential heavy-hitter with business leaders in the region also chimed in to share his thoughts, along with public financing expert Bob Gamble to provide more clarity on the economic mechanisms being discussed.
2. Why does the County have to be involved?
That’s how supervisor Nate Miley started off the meeting — with basic exploratory questions. The A’s have been working closely with the City of Oakland on Howard Terminal for the past year and half, but just reached out to the County at the end of May.
“At whose behest was the County brought into this in the last two weeks?” supervisor Wilma Chan asked. “If people don’t know — we were only brought into this in the last two to three weeks. And then it was done semi-publicly in the news.”
For the sake of fiscal responsibility, assistant city administrator Betsy Lake said it was her determination to ask for Alameda County’s support.
“We don’t agree that the A’s proposed financial plan, which was in fact released to the city in writing in April of this year, we don’t believe that is fiscally responsible,” Lake said. … “We are asking you [Board of Supervisors] to make a motion declaring the county’s intent to opt-in to an enhanced infrastructure financing district over the waterfront ballpark site at Howard Terminal. This would only be a non-binding expression of intent at this time.”
3. What is an EIFD?
This is definitely alphabet soup territory.
But EIFDs are a key abbreviation to remember. It stands for “enhanced infrastructure financing district.” This is uncharted territory for the City of Oakland since EIFDs have only been around since 2014.
Basically, it lays out a 45-year infrastructure financing agreement for the A’s, City of Oakland and (potentially) Alameda County via the capture of future tax increases. Under the A’s proposal, they argue that the property values (and therefore property taxes) will only increase in the area due to the redevelopment connected with the stadium.
As it stands now, the Howard Terminal is mainly used as a parking lot for idling semi trucks and the lot of land is valued at $29.5 million. The A’s propose that their redevelopment with a stadium, 18 acres of public parks, 3,000 units of housing and millions of square feet of offices/retail will skyrocket Howard Terminal’s property value to $7.6 billion by 2037.
EIFDs have fixed geographical boundaries that would remain for the 45-year period and the A’s have proposed creating two — one on the immediate site of Howard Terminal and one for the surrounding Jack London Square area. But the City doesn’t see the Jack London Square EIFD as something worth pursuing since the area is already mostly developed and they don’t see a massive tax collection increase coming, unlike the Howard Terminal site which would undergo a radical transformation.
So that’s $1.4 billion the A’s projected from the Jack London Square EIFD the City wants to find elsewhere. The City isn’t asking for the County to be the whole $1.4 billion pie, but to help out to be a piece of the pie with a $156 million infrastructure commitment that will be paid off with future tax increments.
(EDIT: Thanks to independent Oakland reporter Jaime Omar Yassin for providing more context on EIFDs.
“I think it’s important that [must have been Schaaf] teamed with the City a couple of years ago to get SB293 passed, because both she and Kaval imagined the off site infrastructure being paid with it, so they needed to remove the resident vote that would have likely nixed it. The EIFD allows the residents and landowners to be able to protest the creation of the district, and vote against the issuing of bonds. That would never have worked for a Jack London Square IFD. Now that they aren’t going to do JLS, no need for SB293, as A’s would be majority landholder on HT”)
4. Different timelines
The City and the A’s are hoping that the County can deliver a non-binding vote by the end of the month. Oakland requested an action item to be voted on by next Tuesday, June 22, but don’t expect the Board to be coerced into any vote.
With a $12 billion project that will have a major impact on the Port of Oakland, West Oakland, Jack London Square and Downtown Oakland, you can see why they feel rushed to make a decision by the end of the month with very limited information. Questionable and unverified info from a vested party (the A’s), at that.
Supervisor Wilma Chan was the first to suggest September as a more reasonable timeline for the Board.
“If you’re going to consider this as an option — and we will look at it, we’re not people who are going to say we’re not going to look at it — I really feel we’re going to need ‘til the fall,” Chan said. “Until September, an extension, to look at this. It’s really unreasonable to ask a body that’s responsible for so much public money, when you’ve been having this negotiation for a year, and we just got it.”
In closing statements, supervisor Richard Valle said he also agreed with Chan’s assessment for a September vote, rather than later this month.
A’s president Dave Kaval was probably punching the air after Tuesday’s meeting since it seems to open up a whole new can of worms if they want to deal with the County. It’s clear that he and A’s owner John Fisher are just trying to rush this project to its completion.
“We just need to know if people share the vision,” Kaval said. “We’re prepared to deal with the consequences of either decision, but I think living in this limbo state of going sideways, which we’ve done for the past almost 20 years, that has to end. That’s, I think, why we’re all here. That’s why there is a lot of pressure from the league and other entities. Because we are running out of time.”
Alameda County has other fish to fry, like trying to settle the 2022 budget and reopening of the county after COVID-19. Chan appealed to Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman to work with MLB and the A’s to slow their roll.
“This is a $150 million deal for us,” Chan said. “I don’t think anyone would make a business deal without all the information. All I’m asking, with the great influence that the Bay Area Council has, could you work with Dave [Kaval] and with the baseball league to give us until September to look at this? We need to do our own analysis.”
This was a key talking point for the County, which said it would like to do its own independent research on the financial projections provided by the City and the A’s.
“I don’t think anyone sane would enter into a $150 million business deal and be pressured to do it within three weeks of being told, ‘Oh by the way, you’re going to be a partner,’” Chan said. … “If the A’s choose to leave because they can’t give us a couple weeks or if the City Council can’t act for whatever reason it is, that’s not my problem. My problem is, I need all the information, I need a little more time, then we’ll make the right decision.”
The Oakland City Council is scheduled to vote on the A’s during its July 20 meeting, but it’s unclear how the County’s reluctance to do a non-binding vote by then will affect the City’s decision-making.
5. Alameda County does not want to be painted as bad guy
It’s worth repeating that this meeting was requested by the City of Oakland, not the A’s.
There definitely appears to be some tension between the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the City of Oakland in regards to the responsibility of the project. Also, the public perception of the project.
“The County shouldn’t be held over the barrel that the last five years you’ve been attempting to work out a deal with the City of Oakland,” supervisor Nate Miley told A’s president Dave Kaval. “We were never a part of that, never at the table, never informed, never solicited. Then, all of the sudden we’re told, ‘Hey, here’s 20 days. Make a decision or you derail [the project].’
“That’s kind of what’s being put out in the press — we [Alameda County] are going to derail the project because we didn’t take the first vote for it. That’s not right. Actually, it’s kind of angering all of us to be put in that position. You did not do that. City people did it. They would be very upset if we did it.”
Supervisor Richard Valle added: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing to get done if we can do it. I also would agree that it’s up to Oakland to carry the water at this point.”
Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman defended Oakland’s request, however, saying, “There will be benefits. They’re measurable and they’re valuable. The question is — are they worth the investment you have to make. Oakland’s not dispatching its responsibility. It’s not proposing to dispatch its responsibilities. It’s proposing to share them and bring in other partners.”
6. Alameda County has Raiders PTSD
Alameda County’s board of supervisors does not want to deal with this headache and supervisor Nate Miley said as much.
“It’s been my desire — and I’m glad that the Board of Supervisors finally proved that — that we get out of the sports business,” Miley said. “Now it’s like we’re being dragged back into this. It’s like the Godfather and we’re being dragged back in. They can’t let go of us. Even though we want to get out, they keep dragging us and pulling back in.”
The Raiders and their failed Mt. Davis experiment, which burned Alameda County taxpayers, is still clearly fresh in the mind of the County. The Raiders were mentioned several times throughout the meeting. Supervisors were constantly trying to find out the risk that they would face in this negotiation.
A’s president Dave Kaval repeatedly said the franchise would be taking on all the risk with the project, meaning if their revenue projections (i.e. future tax collections) fall short of expectations, they would be the ones footing the bill, not the County.
However, smaller tax revenues could also mean the County would have to wait longer to get reimbursed for the project. But, at least in this scenario, the County’s general fund won’t get burned by revenue shortfalls, like what’s happening now as the County is still paying off debt for luring the Raiders back to the Bay from Los Angeles in the 1990s, even though they’ve already left for Vegas.
“It is also possible that the fiscal impact to the City and County will be less than projected, for sure,” said Oakland project manager Molly Maybrun. “Projections are just that.”
“So that’s the risk to us as long as we’re going on those assumptions,” supervisor Wilma Chan said.
Chan followed up by asking if the County could get sued by the A’s if the project falls short of projections, but Kaval reiterated, “In this scenario with the way we structured it with the on-site infrastructure, we’re on the hook for that. If there’s a gap.”
The current proposal’s projections call for Alameda County to receive a $62.32 million in direct fiscal impact based on construction, followed by $10.65 million in annual EIFD county revenue.
7. Shoutout to Molly Maybrun
City of Oakland project manager Molly Maybrun did a great job of trying to explain this ridiculously complicated topic which touches so many areas of the city. She expertly broke down EIFDs with the help of public financing expert Bob Gamble and gave a solid geographical overview of the Howard Terminal site, while also explaining the city’s reluctance to opt-in to the Jack London Square EIFD.
Getting through this whole process took so long because one question led to another and she couldn’t get through her powerpoint. She ended up just skipping around slides to answer a wide range of inquiries from the County but stayed super patient and gave clear, digestible answers.
A few hours into the meeting, supervisor Nate Miley told her, “I really appreciate you being so responsive on your vacation in Hawaii. I know this must be a hardship for you. But hey, we didn’t ask for this. You have to suffer with us.”
8. What’s a CFD?
But wait, there’s more acronyms.
Technically the EIFD isn’t a risky thing to enter for the County or the City, since a Communities Facilities District (CFD) or “Mello Roos” district will be established, which will charge property owners on Howard Terminal a “special tax” on their property, over and above regular property taxes. Same geographic boundaries, different district, different acronym.
City of Oakland project manager Molly Maybrun said every EIFD that has issued bonds to date has been financed with the aid of CFDs. Here’s a long but important explanation on the issue.
“The proposed structure that we’ve been looking at, is really the one that’s been used for every infrastructure financing district that has issued bonds to date,” Maybrun said. … “CFDs are used oftentimes by developers to access kind of low-interest for infrastructure. Because even though it’s a private capital, it’s a special tax above and beyond the existing property tax rates, it’s because it’s collective through the assessor’s office. It’s viewed as a secure revenue source and is treated by the bond market as public financing and deserving of … really attractive interest rates compared to private capital.”
OK, not gonna lie, I got in the weeds here with all this, but it sounds like the A’s are assuming risk on CFD and the City and County should hypothetically be fine with the EIFD agreement.
“Imagine we have a CFD sitting right on top of an IFD,” Maybrun said. “What actually happens, or what has happened in the past, and what we anticipate happening here as well, the IFD will never issue debt. The debt that would be issued would be CFD debt.
“The general idea is that the special tax is set at such a level that it’s anticipated that the incremental taxes that are captured by the EIFD are at such a level that the special tax really never has to be paid because you have these EIFD revenues flowing in. But the bonds that are issued are CFD bonds and they’re backed by special tax and they have recourse to those tax revenues.”
9. Reminder: EIR isn’t certified, either
OK, one more acronym.
The A’s and the City of Oakland have a draft of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which examines the ways the stadium stands to affect local transit, environment, wildlife, etc. It’s a major piece of the puzzle that has yet to be voted on or certified by the City.
“We took all the comments and that’s a city-led process,” A’s president Dave Kaval said. “And they’re in the process of responding to comments and producing the final Environmental Impact Report that can hopefully be voted on, I think in September, they’re telling us. Somewhere around that timeline. That can be a definitive action of the City Council.”
Supervisor Nate Miley immediately voiced his concerns to Kaval.
“We need to understand how a waterfront ballpark will impact the Port and if those impacts will be mitigated,” Miley said. “We don’t have a certified document to even make that determination. … It’s disconcerting that minimally the council hasn’t certified the EIR just yet. Furthermore, with all of the best of intentions, we could end up doing something today and in the near future, that would harm the ability of the port to thrive, expand and take additional opportunities going into the 21st century.”
10. Inflated property values
One slide in City of Oakland project manager Molly Maybrun’s presentation particularly caught the attention of the Alameda County assessor Phong La.
La was locked into Maybrun’s figures based on the projected property values for the housing units that would be developed at Howard Terminal. Thanks to @Newballpark for capturing a screenshot of the slide in question.
“My office received this yesterday, and we quickly, as best we could, reviewed some of these numbers,” La said. “The only line items I was actually able to vett really today was the condominiums and in some ways the apartment line item. The assumption on the condominiums is that it reflects the average sale price of what’s going on and I’m assuming it’s in Jack London Square, since that’s probably the most comparable area to what Howard Terminal will be.
“We’re finding that these numbers are inflated by about 30 percent. That the value that you see if is the highest, it’s actually higher than the highest sale value of a condominium in Jack London Square from January to May of this year.”
La added that the annual growth for Oakland is significantly less than the 6 percent it was showing in recent years, so that also put another damper on his outlook from the expected 6.4 percent annual growth the City is projecting from the area.
In short, the A’s grandiose financial projections might be based on faulty numbers. La said he wanted to get the source of Maybrun’s numbers so he could independently verify.
11. City backtracks on EIFD statement
The meeting was marked by a few contentious moments, like the one between supervisor Wilma Chan and assistant city administrator Betsy Lake regarding the City of Oakland’s insistence to involve the County.
Chan initially asked Lake, “All I’m saying is, would you be asking us to do this if it wasn’t related to the A’s?”
Lake said, “Yes. If there were an opportunity to redevelop this site for a mixed-use project that had the same opportunities to connect the downtown to the waterfront with regional benefits, yes.”
While A’s president Dave Kaval was definitely the biggest salesman on the call, Lake also seemed like she and the City are trying to sneak something past the County or at least get them a rushed vote due to pressure from the A’s and MLB.
“You would be coming to the county to say, ‘Let’s do that’ if it weren’t for the A’s issue?” Chan asked. “That would be shocking.”
For the sake of transparency, the County asked Lake once again if she would still be proposing to create an EIFD for Howard Terminal if it weren’t for the A’s involvement.
“The answer is, at this time, no,” Lake said.
What was she hiding initially?
12. Current state of Howard Terminal
There is probably some confusion as to where the Howard Terminal site actually sits.
It’s not actually connected to the Port of Oakland, as Schnitzer Steel occupies the plot of land West of Howard Terminal and acts as a separator. A’s president Dave Kaval has continuously said that the stadium and the Port would be able to coexist, since Howard Terminal is basically a big parking lot and staging area at this point.
City of Oakland project manager Molly Maybrun noted that Howard Terminal lost its maritime operator in 2014 and spent years trying to find another client but to no avail.
“There are a couple primary issues as I’ve been informed by my colleagues,” Maybrun said. “One, the water’s too shallow for the new larger boats. And two, the backlands are too small.”
13. Kaval reiterates $200+ million spent on stadium search
A few times throughout 2021, A’s president Dave Kaval has floated the information that the franchise has spent more than $200 million dollars the past five years in its effort to secure a new stadium site.
Damn, are digital renderings that expensive?
But Kaval offered some more insight into how the A’s have run up the bill so high, when pressed by supervisor Nate Miley.
“We’ve paid for everything,” Kaval said. “The way it works, is there’s a PEP agreement with the city, where all the staff on the project — so they don’t take away time from the regular staff on other projects — are underwritten by a fund that we put up. We’ve also paid fees and consultants and all other type of stuff. That’s been going on for five years.”
It just makes you think that there might be a 25-person roster in some Oakland cubicles making more money than the 25-man roster on the field at the Coliseum.
14. Affordable housing is big deal
The County is also focused on the 3,000 residential units that the A’s are proposing to include as part of the waterfront district at Howard Terminal. City of Oakland project manager Molly Maybrun said that the current plan is to have 15 percent (450 units) designated for low-income residents while the other 85 percent (2,550 units) would be sold at market rate.
The County pressed Maybrun for how the A’s arrived at a 15 percent marker, to which she said, “The EIFD does not actually have — in our read — a requirement for a minimum amount of affordable housing,” Maybrun said.
The key issue here, Maybrun said, is that the A’s aren’t displacing any current residents on the Howard Terminal site since it’s just a parking lot. Therefore, there was no minimum threshold for the amount of affordable units, but Maybrun said they arrived at 15 percent after consulting with its steering committee.
Obviously, this site is ripe for the possibility of the gentrification of the historically Black West Oakland neighborhood.
“I just don’t want to longer be a part of continuing to negatively segment people that have been negatively impacted since we arrived as slaves on this shore of this country,” supervisor Keith Carson said. “The majority of the housing that has been built in the city of Oakland has been market-rate housing. There’s no evidence that it’s been anything other than that.
“Affordable doesn’t really exist for people of color who have been living in this city for this long. It doesn’t exist any more. The extent that we go forward building more market rate housing, it will accelerate the exit of African Americans, Spanish-speaking people and others who are not getting these high tech jobs that are coming into this area.”
Team president Dave Kaval also mentioned it’s a possibility the A’s could simply pay an impact fee instead of constructing and offering low-income housing. AKA this promise of 15 percent affordable housing could simply be lip service to appease voters and they might just pay their way out of it.
“It could potentially be either way,” Kaval said. “We’re looking for direction from the community groups on the best way to allocate the funds. Could be in either category. We’re open to either.”
15. Housing area restrictions because of Schnitzer Steel
City of Oakland project manager Molly Maybrun also provided some more clarity on the proposed housing construction in terms of its proximity to Schnitzer Steel, which has been a target of an environmental lawsuit by the A’s last August.
Schnitzer Steel has been the site of a few fires throughout the years that pollute the area with thick black smoke. Maybrun noted that the parcels No. 13, No. 14, No. 15, No. 16 and No. 17 in the image above, located on the west end of Howard Terminal, would not be used for residential units.
But if people can’t live on those lots, can people still work there throughout the week? Can they put parks there? And what if a fire breaks out in the middle of a game, will they have to cancel or postpone?
Schnitzer Steel just seems like a ticking time bomb, tbh.
16. Transportation station
As it stands now, Howard Terminal is still very far away from having the infrastructure that’s able to handle tens of thousands of fans in compact windows.
While the idea of a gondola from Downtown Oakland was floated by the A’s in recent years (replete with renderings and video) this proposal contains plans for a nearby “transit facility” at 2nd Street which would serve shuttles and buses to the stadium for people who don’t want to walk all the way from downtown Oakland BART stations.
“A big part of the reason that this project requires a lot of public investment is that we really took seriously the need to provide safe connections across the railroad tracks for people on foot, people on bikes, people on scooters and people in cars,” said City of Oakland project manager Molly Maybrun. “That’s expensive. That involves grade separation. Grade separation is the gold standard in terms of rail safety.”
Currently, there is a working railroad line that cuts through the northern border of the Howard Terminal site along Embarcadero West that only features gates on pedestrian sidewalks and has led to the occasional death by train collision. Grade separation would mean the construction of pedestrian and auto bridges above the railroad line that could let traffic flow simultaneously without stopping.
Maybrun also said Embarcadero West would be retrofitted with better infrastructure to protect pedestrians as well. The plan is to funnel fans to the stadium along transportation-mode specific corridors that wouldn’t interfere with Port of Oakland business.
“What we’ve called out in our transportation plan is different corridors for different uses,” Maybrun said. “Market Street would be the primary vehicular point of entry and would have a vehicular grade separation. On 2nd street we would have a multi-modal transit facility which would be the primary point of arrival for buses and shuttles taking people who don’t want to walk to the BART stations. They would be able to get directly from that bus drop-off point to this little pedestrian and bike crossing. So, there would be direct access from BART via shuttles to 2nd street, then a grade-separated crossing for people to get them safely on the site.”
17. Master developers
The A’s … AKA owner John Fisher and his opaque and at times controversial Sansome Partners investment firm, are probably going to be responsible for footing most of the private financing capital for this $12 billion vision.
Team president Dave Kaval said the A’s will take on the role as “master developers” for the entire project, not just the stadium.
“We’re the horizontal developer, the master developer and we’re seeking entitlements to that effect,” Kaval said. “The first vertical development is the ballpark. But there will be, most likely, other partners. … It wouldn’t be something where we do every piece of it.”
Would this development deal just lead to Fisher and his cronies getting hella richerer?
Supervisor Nate Miley made sure to ask if minority developers would also be considered.
“Will the City be obligating the A’s or will the A’s be providing equity participation with minority developers and other parties?” Miley asked.
City of Oakland project manager Molly Maybrun didn’t have an answer / misunderstood the question, but Kaval provided his thoughts.
“At the current time, we don’t have any other partners identified,” Kaval said. “But we’re very open to who those partners will be over time, because they will exist. But it just hasn’t been established at the present time. Basically because we’re just focused on the entitlements and the horizontal development.”
18. Coliseum deal
In October, the County of Alameda cut a sweetheart deal with the A’s to sell their half of the current Coliseum site to the franchise for $85 million. Now A’s president Dave Kaval and MLB are parroting that the Coliseum is unviable for redevelopment, without providing much evidence than their word and a creaky stadium.
Sure, the lease is expiring in 2024, but they have been tacking on years to that thing for decades. Ain’t no other tenant about to swoop in the Coli.
The County cut the A’s the deal in an effort to keep the franchise in Oakland, but now the Board sounds like it might have some regrets.
“We could have easily have said, ‘No, we’re going to put this thing out there for a bid. We’re gonna take the highest and best possible offer, relative to our interests.’” Supervisor Nate Miley said. “But we didn’t do that. Legally we constructed it so we could sell our rights to the A’s with the impression that we keep them here.”
I wish the supervisors hammered Kaval a little bit more on the logic behind MLB’s determination that the Coliseum site is unviable, but they didn’t pry too much on this issue.
19. Future of the Coliseum site
As part of their pitch to buy the Coliseum site from the County last year, the A’s offered to redevelop the site and use those funds to help support the construction of Howard Terminal. Now it appears those plans may be on ice and A’s president Dave Kaval is pinning the blame on the City of Oakland.
“Our plans for the Coliseum are kind of on hold, because the City has decided to move forward with another entity to sell its other share to,” Kaval said. “We’ve been working hard to see if we can secure the full site. It appears that that’s not going to happen, at least in the near-term. So we’ve just been focused on the waterfront to get approval there of our $12 billion project. That’s really been our focus, especially the last year since COVID.”
Oakland is also exploring the possibility of bringing a WNBA team to Oracle Arena, so the Coliseum’s future seems up in the air at this point.
20. County wants to sweeten the deal
Once the Board of Supervisors had a better feel for the entire situation, it realized it has some leverage in these negotiations. Adding another government party sounds like a necessary headache for the A’s and Oakland.
“I think the City ask, based on what I’m looking at and hearing today, I think it’s a reasonable ask,” supervisor Nate Miley said. “But you need us more than we need you. I really feel we need to negotiate a tax sharing agreement. We really need that, because there’s a lot more things that are going to be beneficial coming out of this that are going to go to the city that the county will not be a part of. That’s been raised a few times.”
Power move by Miley.
21. Public comment section
The East Oakland Stadium Alliance markets itself as an organization trying to protect the East Oakland community from losing the A’s, but it’s more like an anti-West Oakland alliance formed by business interests at the Port of Oakland. Schnitzer Steel, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and Harbor Truckers Association are bankrolling EOSA and its very vocal supporters.
Back on opening day, I ran into a guy holding a picket sign at BART who was hollering all of EOSA’s talking points. His name was Aaron Wright and I asked him who was paying him to say all of these talking points, but he demurred.
Well, guess who sounded like he was reading off an EOSA-prepared script early in the comment section? A concerned citizen named Aaron Wright.
Other notable comments included @BleacherDave who is championing a “reparative justice community investment agreement.” He wrote me on Twitter to add that his organization West Oakland Cultural Action Network’s “charter is to address current racial disparities that are the legacy of redlining.”
Independent Oakland reporter Zennie Abraham also showed off his policy knowledge with even more alphabet soup that I didn’t understand.
A woman named Melody Davis feverishly declared that no black people will live in the affordable housing offered by the A’s and that Howard Terminal would lead to more gentrification.
“I’m asking that you guys [the Alameda County Board] please take your time,” Davis said. “Betsy, lady, all you guys you brought out [from the City], you’re very well-versed. But this is not for the county to get into. Put what you guys wanna do — put it up at the Coliseum. That’s where it needs to be at. You just don’t wanna be around nobody black. Bye.”
A couple more EOSA parrots talked along with invested parties at the Port, like Susan Ransom who said business for her marine operator SSA would be affected negatively by the stadium at Howard Terminal.
Almost everyone went over their two-minute allotment for public comment, but my favorite guy was someone named mkay who kept his short and sweet, saying, “Yeah I just wanna say, vote yes. I’d like to buy that first condo available.”
22. What’s next?
Lawdamercy, where do we go from here? No idea, but I think things just got more complicated.
Even though the City was just seeking a “non-binding” vote from Alameda County, it doesn’t look like the Board of Supervisors will come to any public conclusion before the Oakland City Council votes on the A’s proposal on July 20.
Supervisor Keith Carson likened the proposed County’s “non-binding” vote to telling your young daughter you will take her to Disneyland — until the prices get so high that you can’t afford it.
“It’s hard for you to walk back from “non-binding” once it’s public, because the expectation level is there,” Carson said. “I respect that. It doesn’t mean that I’m saying I’m not supportive of looking at this in a very serious way.”
With the County’s approval and the EIR looking at September execution dates, the A’s either have to be patient or keep strong-arming the City of Oakland for their crown jewel by the Bay. Or, A’s owner John Fisher finds a couple more investors and gets the $319.4 million from the City/County that’s supposedly holding this whole $12 billion project back.
The whole thing is a headache and there’s definitely some politicking going on, but Tuesday’s meeting was great for putting everything on the table and taking stock of this cluster-you-know-what.