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Town Hall Says Don’t Let Fisher’s Stadium Project Choke the Port of Oakland

Post publisher Paul Cobb said the newspaper has been discussing the different sides of this issue and hopes to help clear up the confusing messages the public is receiving about whether this project will help or damage the prospects of good jobs for Oaklanders.

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Howard Terminal Courtesy Port of Oakland website

A town hall meeting this week examined the negative consequences of placing John Fisher’s privatized, multibillion dollar real estate development on publicly owned land at the Port of Oakland, the region’s thriving and growing economic engine.

More than 100 people attended the town hall on Wednesday, which was live on Zoom and Facebook.  Councilmembers Carroll Fife and Noel Gallo were among those who attended.

Speakers included voices of those who are directly impacted by the project: members of the longshore union, the ILWU, who said the project was a dangerous threat to the livelihood of port workers, over 70% of whom are Black; representatives of the Pacific Merchants Shipping Association and several of the largest businesses based at the port; and Paul Cobb, publisher of the Oakland Post.

ILWU Local 10 President Trent Willis, with other union members, speaks on June 19, 2020 about shutting down West Coast ports for Juneteenth. Photo by Workers World, Judy Greenspan.

Though called a baseball stadium project, the massive, luxury real estate development is what backers have called a “city within a city.” Besides a stadium, the plan calls for 3,000 luxury condominiums, with no guaranteed affordable housing; 1.5 million square feet of high-rise office space; a 400-room hotel; retail shopping; and a performance venue with seating for 3,500.

Linda Adams, a member of the ILWU who is who is one of the workers “responsible for moving the cargo on a daily basis,” said, they are “compromising our jobs.”

“They say they can build these high rise luxury condos, and (we) can work around them. But we’re moving cargo around the clock, (with) thousands of (workers), trucks and cargo coming into the port.” She pointed out that luxury tenants will go to court to stop the noise, pollution, bright lights and thousands of daily trucks and railroads that are wrecking their days and nights, pushing companies to leave Oakland for other West Coast ports.

Susan Ransom, representing SSA Marine, the Port’s largest tenant, said the Port has over 84,000 total employees and moves the products on which everyone depends – food, household goods and medical supplies

“We have grave concerns about the A’s (stadium) project,” she said.   ”We operate 24/7, (our work) would not be stopped during a game” or for a fireworks display.

Mike Jacob of the Pacific Merchants Shipping Association which represents employers, said, “We have real issue here. Do we want to preserve our industrial base? Do we want to make Oakland a smaller kid’s version of San Francisco? Should Oakland continue to be a blue-collar city with good blue-collar jobs.”

Jacob said he was talking with the A’s, but they stopped meeting with him in 2019 when he raised concerns that would be expensive to mitigate. “You don’t have to be either pro- or anti-baseball to be pro-port,” he said.

ILWU business agent Aaron Wright, broadcasting live from on top of a port crane, showed the basin where ships have to turn around, which would be impacted by the project, and the Howard Terminal property, where thousands of trucks park daily instead of where they parked in the past on West Oakland and other neighborhoods’ residential streets.  “One day at the port can do more for the economy than all of the team’s home games,” he said. “You can’t bring in thousands of sports fans to block all of this.”

Andrea Luna Bocanegra, who works for a manufacturing company that does business with the port, said that disrupting shipping at the port would cause a ripple effect, damaging manufacturing businesses throughout Northern California that utilize the port as a dependable way to ship their products and the receive goods they need to run their operations.

Post publisher Paul Cobb said the newspaper has been discussing the different sides of this issue and hopes to help clear up the confusing messages the public is receiving about whether this project will help or damage the prospects of good jobs for Oaklanders.

Cobb displayed an Alameda Labor Council flyer promoting jobs for Blacks. He said “it’s encouraging to see Labor unions join the fight to hire and protect Black workers. By working together with civil rights groups we can finally expand the narrow definitions of PLA’s (project labor agreements) and redefine them as CLA’s (community labor agreements) that will hire Blacks and formerly incarcerated across all trades.”

“We are being lobbied on both sides of this issue,” he said. “Some say Howard Terminal is no longer vital to port operations, but others it very important to the economy” and to keep the port running daily.

A number of people submitted written comments during the Zoom meeting.

Housing rights activists James Vann wrote, “There are innumerable negatives from placing an A’s stadium at Howard Terminal. Can anyone name just one benefit from placing the stadium at this location within the Port?”

BART Director Robert Raburn, wrote, “A significant and unmitigated impact is public safety at the unprotected railroad grade crossings.”

“In addition to BART, I also serve on the governing board for the Capitol Corridor, which operates 30 passenger trains. a day on West Embarcadero (and) another 20 trains deadhead to the Amtrak yard each day,” he said.

“No stadium in the US permits postgame crowds of up to 35,000 to risk crossing mainline railroad tracks at-grade! The costs to mitigate these hazards are not included in the (A’s) ‘term sheet.’”

Organizers of the townhall are asking community members to attend the City Council meeting Tuesday, July 20. The council will consider voting on a non-binding resolution regarding the term sheet for the development. Public comment begins at 9 a.m.

People are encouraged to email council members at https://form.123formbuilder.com/4755450/

The video of Wednesday’s town hall can be watched on Facebook at  https://fb.watch/6M9NiSMAxc/

Bay Area

Council Approves Additional Public Safety Investments

Councilmember Thao’s amendments included direct investments in West, Central, and East Oakland, including West Oakland Community Centers, Central Oakland traffic safety, and Oakland 911 response. 

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Stop typography on a sidewalk in Sterling Virginia during the fall photo courtesy of Obi Onyeador via Unsplash

Councilmember Sheng Thao

Councilmembers, community leaders, and city staff,  approved public safety investments for Oakland recommended by Councilmember Sheng Thao

These additions, approved Monday afternoon, included investments that align with the city’s reimagining public safety goals. The City Council unanimously approved Councilmember Thao’s budget amendments, which included investments in:

  • Traffic Calming and Sideshow Prevention
  • Faster 911 Response
  • Restoring Foot Patrol officers in business corridors during the holiday season
  • Business District Ambassadors
  • Adding Public Restrooms near homeless encampments
  • Investments to job training and resources

“My top priority is public safety, which means addressing violent crime, street safety, poverty, and homelessness,” said Thao.

“These budget amendments invest in our community and increase our Police Department’s ability to prevent and respond to violent crimes. These amendments will also protect our business corridors so Oaklanders can feel safe while they shop, and in turn, invest in our Oakland businesses.”

Said Oakland Police Chief LeRonne L. Armstrong, “I would like to thank Oakland City Council Member Sheng Thao and other Council Members for their vote and support with additional funding.

“These funds will provide walking officers in our business districts across the city during this holiday season. The funds allow us to restore much needed public safety services, walking officers, while our community and visitors shop across our city.”

Councilmember Thao’s amendments included direct investments in West, Central, and East Oakland, including West Oakland Community Centers, Central Oakland traffic safety, and Oakland 911 response.

“These amendments also help address decades of divestment from our BIPOC communities in East Oakland,” she said. “By bringing investments into street safety, beautification, and city services. It is important that we stay committed to equity for East Oakland.

“Our office made a point to work with Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Councilmembers Treva Reid and Loren Taylor to bring these amendments forward, and I thank them for their strong partnership in this work,” said Councilmember Thao.

 

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Bay Area

Where Do Negotiations Go Now After A’s “Howard Terminal” or Bust Ultimatum?

The A’s are seeking to develop 55 acres at the Port of Oakland. The proposal includes a 35,000-seat baseball stadium, which would cost $1 billion, or 8.3% of the total project.

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Oakland A's Photo Courtesy of Rick Rodriquez via Unsplash

FILE – In this Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Oakland Athletics President David Kaval gestures during a news conference in Oakland, Calif. TheAthletics will be phased out of revenue sharing in the coming years as part of baseball’s new labor deal, and that puts even more urgency on the small-budget franchise’s plan to find the right spot soon to build a new, privately funded ballpark. Kaval, named to his new A’s leadership position last month, is committed to making quick progress but also doing this right. That means strong communication with city and civic leaders as well as the community and fan base. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

John Fisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Fortunato

Rebecca Kaplan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oakland’s City Council rejected the A’s proposed non-binding term sheet, which the team had presented to the City along with an ultimatum, “Howard Terminal or Bust.”

At a packed City Council meeting last week, attended by 1,000 people on Zoom, many residents were angry at what they viewed as the A’s real estate “land grab” at the Port of Oakland and either said that the team should leave or stay at the Oakland Coliseum in East Oakland.
Rejecting the A’s term sheet, councilmembers at the July 20th meeting voted 6-1 with one abstention to make a counteroffer, approving city staff’s and Council’s amendments to the A’s term sheet.

Council’s vote was to continue negotiating with the A’s, and the A’s gained substantial concessions, $352 million, enough to return for further negotiations, in Oakland. The Council’s vote didn’t derail A’s pursuit of Las Vegas.

Now, over a week since Council’s vote, neither A’s President Dave Kaval nor owner John Fisher have spoken publically on the A’s intent to continue bargaining with Oakland for their proposed $12 billion waterfront development at Howard Terminal.

The A’s are seeking to develop 55 acres at the Port of Oakland. The proposal includes a 35,000-seat baseball stadium, which would cost $1 billion, or 8.3% of the total project.

In addition to the stadium, the development features 3,000 condominium/housing units; over a million square feet of commercial space (office and retail); a 3,500-seat performance theater, 400 hotel rooms and approximately 18 acres of parks and open space.

The most fundamental sticking point, along with all the other complications, is whether a commercial/residential development, ‘a city within a city,” in the middle of a working seaport are compatible uses for the land. Many experts are saying that the existence of upscale residences and thousands of tourists strolling around will eventually destroy the Port of Oakland, which is the economic engine of the city and the region.

According to Kaval, who had pushed for the Council to approve the ultimatum, “We’re disappointed that the city did not vote on our proposal … we’re going to take some time and really dig in and understand and ‘vet’ what they did pass and what all the amendments mean.”

Although the A’s stated a willingness to be open to the amended terms Council approved, Kaval expressed uncertainty whether the Council’s amended term sheet offers “a path forward.”

“The current [amended] term sheet as its constructed is not a business partnership that works for us,” said Kaval, saying the team would have to examine the Council’s counter-offer before deciding to resume negotiations or return to Las Vegas or focus on finding a new home someplace else.

City Council President Bas and Mayor Libby Schaaf joined city and labor leaders to discuss the Council’s vote. Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan made it clear that the amended term sheet the Council approved should be considered a “road map for future negotiations … a baseline for further discussions.”

Upon Kaval’s dismissal of the Council’s stated positions, Fife said, “I don’t know where we go from here,” abstaining from the vote on the proposed term sheet.

Many find Kaval’s statement confusing because he used words like partnership but apparently ignored and/or disregarded the City of Oakland – the A’s major stakeholder and a business partnership since 1968, more than 53 years.

Some are asking if the A’s understand that Oakland’s 53-year relationship with the team is the basis for the meme “Rooted in Oakland?” Are the A’s willing to accept, as the Council has determined, that the terms of the business “partnership” must be equitable and mutually beneficial for all of “us”?

And the question remains after a 53-year relationship, is it reasonable to terminate that relationship or negotiate further for an equitable and mutually beneficial business partnership?

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Bay Area

East Oakland Fire Brings the City’s Struggle with Homelessness Into Light

Just after midnight on July 24, 2021, an empty warehouse in the Melrose District of East Oakland caught fire; by 12:30 a.m. the structure was engulfed in flames, the intense heat snapping power lines and causing nearby transformers to blow, leaving nearly 1,500 customers without power.

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Firefighter sprays water toward the remnants of a structure that caught fire in the early morning hours of July 24, 2021. The intense heat snapped power lines and blew transformers leaving 1,486 customers without service (Photo Credit/ Franklin Avery)

Just after midnight on July 24, 2021, an empty warehouse in the Melrose District of East Oakland caught fire; by 12:30 a.m. the structure was engulfed in flames, the intense heat snapping power lines and causing nearby transformers to blow, leaving nearly 1,500 customers without power.  

Days before the fire, a homeless encampment with a few tents were pitched up against an outside wall of the wood warehouse, according to a resident of the neighborhood. 

Early Sunday morning, just before 1 a.m. an alert of a structure fire went out on the Citizen app. Videos posted by citizens in Oakland showed different angles of a two-story structure on fire on the corner of 12th St. and 45th Ave near High Street. 

According to an eyewitness account, the building was completely engulfed in flames at 12:30 a.m. Firefighters arrived on the scene at 12:40 a.m. and went to work on the flames, containing the fire to the warehouse and preventing it from threatening nearby buildings. 

An apartment building next door was evacuated for a short time. One resident hosed down the roof as large embers threatened the building before firefighters arrived. Eyewitness video shows firefighters walking through a smoke-filled hallway of the apartment building. 

Although the fire is still under investigation, an eyewitness to the fire and resident of the Melrose District, Franklin Avery, recounted his experience. “Two evenings ago, while walking my dog Roosevelt, I met up with Gerald, one of the street people I know…He confirmed my suspicion that one of the new tents that was placed on the sidewalk caught fire. He was there at the time, and he said that he tried to put it out by running across the street to the smog place to get buckets of water to throw at the blaze. Gerald said that the fire kept spreading because he couldn’t run back and forth fast enough.” 

As Oakland struggles with a swelling homeless population, fires in encampments have tripled over the past 2 years, according to a KTVU article.   

Garbage, hazardous materials, cooking equipment, generators, and illegal wiring have contributed to many of the fires throughout Oakland, adding pollution to the air and burnt out structures and cars dotting the landscape. Housed residents worry about keeping their homes safe from fire. What is the solution? 

In 2019, Oakland opened its first 24/7 safe rv parking location for recreational vehicles. Today there are three sites open to the homeless with a fourth planned. Each site has power and plumbing. No fires have been reported at any of the sites to date. More resources need to be put into finding all the unhoused safe, sanitary living conditions. 

Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan told The SF Chronicle “When RVs are parked in managed locations with proper utilities, they don’t tend to have fire problems.”

Information in this article is sourced from eyewitness accounts, Citizen app, KTVU, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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