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Oakland

Opinion – The Oakland Coliseum Should be Developed by and with Blacks

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When I heard the sad news of the death of former Oakland A’s player Joe Morgan it reminded me of last week’s talk with Dave Kaval, President of the Oakland A’s last week about his team’s views on the

Future of the A’s franchise in Oakland. I was particularly impressed with his upbeat attitude toward economic inclusion.

Of the Black community in the team’s development vision for the Coliseum area and the Howard Terminal Port of Oakland site.

He reiterated his commitments to include the West Oakland community in their plans to provide extensive economic, environmental and employment benefits.

He was confident that the Port and the City, led by the Mayor, would be supportive of their efforts to build near the estuary.

I asked him why the A’s needed to purchase the Coliseum if they preferred to go the Howard terminal site. He said he felt a sense of commitment and responsibility to help with the development of the East Oakland site that had been neglected for more than 50 years.

At that point I proposed an alternative plan to garner maximum support from the Black community and the elected officials.

I explained how the A’s had opportunity to champion significant Black participation and ownership that no other American city has achieved thus far.

I proposed that the A’s promote their Black Vice President Taj Tashombe and put him atop the A’s development corporate entity that could function as a co-development with a Black Developer to complete the commercial and housing complex within the coliseum complex zone. I also told Kaval that I had not consulted with Taj, but I was just recommending a major move to help establish credibility since Taj had grown and played in the shadow of the coliseum.

I further recommended that he set aside an equity stake for Taj, Black investors and former Black A’s stars who had helped to bring championships to Oakland. They could joint-venture with a group of Black investors who are also seeking to own the Coliseum.

The A’s could make a major statement about race and equity modeling by building half of the planned 4,000 housing units in the first phase, before the market rate units, as truly affordable for very, very low-income displaced Black residents. The homes could be dedicated for the first right of refusal for those who are now dwelling in tents and makeshift shelters in East Oakland. The development could be a joint effort with several non-profits and faith-based housing development groups. He said he thought it was an “interesting idea” but wondered aloud if the state, county or city would approve. I told him he should go for it and the community would thank him for recognizing the “Black straws that stirred the A’s drinks” for many years.

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Bay Area

Unanswered Questions Over Costs of Proposed Howard Terminal Ballpark

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There is growing public scrutiny of the deal the Oakland A’s are offering to the city in a proposal, released the end of April, to “privately fund” the building of a $1 billion ballpark and a massive $12 billon real estate development, almost a city within a city, on the waterfront at Howard Terminal and Jack London Square in downtown Oakland. 

 

     The Oakland A’s “term sheet,” released on April 23 and available at www.mlb.com/athletics/oakland-ballpark/community-report, proposes a construction project that, in addition to a 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark, would feature 3,000 units of mostly market rate housing, a hotel, an indoor performance center and 1.5 million square feet of offices and 270,000 square feet of retail space, as well as a gondola to transport fans over the I-880 freeway.

 

     Many of the details of the proposal are vague,  and there are many unanswered questions about how much this project will cost Oakland taxpayers and what benefits the city would ultimately see. 

 

     Among those who raised questions was Mike Jacob, vice president and general counsel of Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, an opponent of moving the A’s to Howard Terminal.

 

     “I think it’s hard to say what’s going on. They haven’t made it plain what they’re asking for and what they’re proposing,” Jacob said in an interview with the Oakland Post. 

 

    The A’s term sheet proposes a cost of $955 million for infrastructure and $450 million that will be utilized for community benefits, but that funding would be paid by taxpayers, presumably with a bond, he said. 

 

    “It is unclear whether (the funding) is underwritten by the bond, whether it is backed by general fund money and pretty unclear what the scope for the infrastructure really is,” said Jacob. 

 

   Do infrastructure costs include toxic waste cleanup at the site, which would be considerable, the cost of the gondola, multiple safe railway crossings for pedestrians and cars and any required construction if the Port of Oakland shipping is impacted? He asked.

 

    In addition, not only would taxpayers pay the millions of dollars in community benefits they would supposedly receive for various types of services and other projects, the money would be spread over a 45-year period. 

 

    To help fund the project, the A’s propose the city create a tax district for property owners along 1.5 miles near downtown Oakland to help pay for city services and infrastructure to serve the development. 

 

    The A’s also have said in their literature that the project would generate 6,000 jobs but are short of details about what that promise means. According to a letter to a state agency in August 2019, many of the estimated 6,667 would be jobs at offices in the development, in effect counting as new jobs any existing Oakland businesses that lease space in one of the new office buildings. 

 

    For their part, the A’s are pushing the City Council to approve their deal before the council recesses for its July break. 

 

    “We are really excited to get that (the term sheet) out there, and we are even more excited to get this to the City Council to vote this summer,” Dave Kaval, A’s president, told the San Francisco Chronicle. 

 

    While Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has thrown the weight of her office behind the deal, she is expressing some reservations after the term sheet was released and community opposition to the Howard Terminal project has continued to grow. 

 

    In a comment to the Chronicle, Schaaf spokesperson Justin Berton said: 

 

    “Our goals for the project are unchanged: We want to keep the A’s in Oakland – forever. We need a deal that’s good not just for the A’s, but for the City, one that provides specific, tangible, and equitable benefits to our residents and doesn’t leave Oakland’s taxpayers on the hook.”

 

    “The A’s contend that the growth in tax revenues attributed to their project will be sufficient to fully fund those investments and that they will benefit the entire community, (and) the city is critically examining these claims,” said Berton in the East Bay Times. 

 

    The impact of the decision on the A’s proposal could be huge for Oakland, noted Berton. “The commitments requested by the A’s would pre-determine the use of a substantial portion of tax revenue from this part of the city for years to come,” he told the East Bay Times.  

 

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Art

City Council Approves $480,000 in Arts Grants

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

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The Oakland City Council approved $480,000 in grants to 17 Oakland-based non-profit organizations and 20 individual artists through the city’s Cultural Funding Program, Neighborhood Voices.

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

The grant program seeks to bring Oaklanders together to create and support a sense of belonging within a community, to foster social connections that lift people’s spirits, to encourage community well-being and offer visions for a collective future, according to the announcement.

The following individual artists each won $7,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Frederick Alvarado; Karla Brundage; Cristina Carpio; Darren Lee Colston; Maria De La Rosa; Elizabeth D. Foggie; Rachel-Anne Palacios; Laurie Polster; Hasain Rasheed; Kweku Kumi Rauf; Carmen Roman; Michael Roosevelt; Fernando Santos; Teofanny Octavia Saragi; Kimberly Sims-Battiste; Cleavon Smith; Lena Sok; Babette Thomas; Ja Ronn Thompson; Joseph Warner.

Each of the following organizations received $20,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Asian Health Services for Banteay Srei;

Beats Rhymes and Life;

Chapter 510 INK;

Dancers Group for dNaga GIRL Project;

Dancers Group for Dohee Lee Puri Arts;

Dancers Group for Grown Women Dance Collective;

East Oakland Youth Development Center;

Higher Gliffs for Endangered Ideas;

Hip Hop for Change;

Junior Center of Art and Science;

Mycelium Youth Network;

Oakland Education Fund for Youth Beat;

Oakland Theater Project, Inc.;

Sarah Webster Fabio Center for Social Justice;

The Intersection for Alphabet Rockers;

Women’s Audio Mission;

Youth Radio/YR Media.

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Community

Fourteenth Street Market Gives Community Healthy Alternatives in Oakland

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Photo credit: Auintard Henderson

Owner Oscar Edwards stands in front of his “14 Street Market” located at 416 14th St. in Oakland which opened on March 6.  Edwards says he “. . . built his grocery store to give access to his community and provide healthy alternatives and still have things they know as well.”  He adds that “Black press for him is the voice that helps to bring my ideas and expressions full circle to the people.”

“14 Street Market” is open 7 days a week, 10am – 8pm Monday through Saturday and 11am to 7pm on Sunday.  It’s your neighbor market with groceries, snacks, drinks and more.  

Follow them on IG:  https://instagram.com/fourteenthstreetmarket  

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