Oakland Planning Commission Session 12/1

I can’t be more glad to be late. Which is saying something, considering I’m habitually late.

The commission hasn’t started to address item #5 on the agenda, which is the ballpark proposal. The main hall is packed, it’s standing room only in the overflow room, and dozens are milling around in the foyer and hallways. I’d say it’s a good turnout so far. They’re about to take a break before item #5.

7:59 PM – Eric Angstadt is explaining the CEQA process now. Emphasizes that this study session is not about whether or not this is a good project, it’s only to get input that’s germane to CEQA. If you need a primer on the process, read this. I imagine that regularly having to explain the process can be a bit tiresome.

8:07 PM – Doug Boxer is laying down the ground rules. Explains that the fire marshal is upset. Gets a show of hands as to who approves, vast majority approve. Asks for signs to be taken down, people in hallways to go to the overflow room. So far there are 26 comment cards.

8:11 – Gary Knecht (thanks V) asks for current traffic counts and perhaps a new economic impact report, in reference to redevelopment funds. Also just ran into Nina Thorsen, who got booted from the main room.

8:13 – Max Allstadt wants to bridge the no man’s land that is the Nimitz.

8:15 – Mike Johnson has been an A’s fan since he was four. Says that the project has to be looked at in terms of business outreach. Ballpark is a good idea. It would tear him apart if the A’s left.

8:24 – The speakers are coming every two minutes and I can’t keep up, but I’ll point out speakers of note. Mike Davie (linusalf) is coming up.

8:27 – Ben Fernandez owns the Portobello condos near the site and enthusiastically supports the project. Refers to China Basin as a good example.

8:29 – linusalf wants to include impact of non-car transportation, especially bike travel and routes.

8:30 – BTW if anyone is looking, I’m behind the TV in the overflow room (ducks). Bryan Grunwald is coming up.

8:34 – Grunwald is up after Boxer’s jokey intro. Is explaining 980 Park’s site costs as lower than Victory Court. Talks up social justice aspect. The crowd here is not receptive. Asks for 980 Park to be considered along dual track with Victory Court.

Note: There’s some vague talk about costs. We’ll try to estimate those as well as we can but any numbers coming from anyone outside the City or landowners are uneducated.

8:43 – Bobby Tselentis is taking his two minutes. Wants for JLS to come back, including the Spaghetti Factory (ditto). Gets huge applause in this room.

8:45 – Rep from Alameda County Labor Council speaks. Wants quality analysis of jobs. In ACLC’s study, many Oakland families relied upon the so-called low paying seasonal jobs A’s a major source of income and benefits. Ballpark is good, but there are existing businesses that will be affected, and the protection of existing businesses and industrial land is important.

8:49 – Oak Center head (missed name) is up. Asks what happened to the other sites in the study. Supports 980 Park site.

8:52 – Ben Delaney of Jack London Neighborhood Association speaks. Also asks what what happened to the other sites. Wants to know what mitigation will be put in places for affected residents. Wants to know what measures will be made to have jobs for Oakland first. Says that Lake Merritt BART is suboptimal, freeway infrastructure is inadequate. Thanks the City for not choosing JLS North/West, where his house would be in left field.

9:03 – One speaker cites two different estimates for Caltrans to act on such a project – 18 months or 2-3 years. Given the time crunch, it’ll be necessary to get all of the various agencies on the same page. Another speaker has grave concerns about limited parking, especially because of the Laney College uses (day/night classes, flea market). Brings up eminent domain.

Several speakers, including some representing Chinatown, are asking for a thorough health study.

9:14 – KTRB’s Rick Tittle is asking if Oakland is a big league town as this is a watershed moment. “Are we going to sit around and let another city steal our team away?” Tittle also pleaded for the City not to get bogged down in the details (I’m paraphrasing). But that’s what CEQA is. It’s set up to be legal protection for the little guy, for the disenfranchised. You want to rush through something, move to another state. Or China.

9:15 – Ethan Pintard is up. Like the site but has concerns about a parking nightmare. Biggest concern is for prosperous established businesses at the site. Proposes the Wood Street development (West Oakland) as a possible site, because existing plans aren’t happening soon. 39 acres of adjacent land with willing sellers. Virtually all of the land is vacant. Would like to see the old 16th Street station as part of the development.

9:20 – Jorge Leon is up. He’s endearing, but he isn’t really helping. He’s the “Joe the Plumber” of the Oakland-only movement.

9:25 – The always interesting Sanjiv Handa gives a political retrospective. Thinks the Port of Oakland would be on their knees begging for the Victory Court ballpark plan in light of the failures at JLS (which is changing hands again). Mentions the cautionary tale of the Marine World almost moving to a site near the Coliseum, then bolting for Vallejo.

9:33 – Last speaker asks what will happen if Oakland loses the A’s. Will that be covered somehow? Is cautiously optimistic, hopes Lew Wolff is watching and sees the support.

Speakers are finished, commissioners are taking their turns. People are starting to file out. There’s an older, familiar looking man in a three-piece suit here. I can’t quite place him. EIR consultant, perhaps?

BTW, there are no exhibits or even a presentation. That’s for later.

11:32 – Just got home and the comment board is already lively. Thanks to Nina, David and LeAndre, all of whom I had brief chats with. The crowd was great and I didn’t see any pitchforks or torches. Plenty of different interests were represented, which gave the session a good sense of balance.

Quick note – The site may be down for a bit Thursday for some maintenance. Hopefully not for long.

And from the sometimes you just can’t win department – the same night when Oakland can puff out its chest a bit with this first study session, what’s on the front page of CNN.com? A video report on child prostitution along International Blvd.

12:25 AM – There were some reports earlier today that got comments from Ignacio De La Fuente. IDLF wants MLB to commit to Oakland before the City pays for the EIR and related study work. MLB may well be willing to pay for the EIR, but he probably won’t get his wish. More on that in a later post.

Also, just noticed this from KTVU’s report:

That looks somewhat familiar

84 Responses to Oakland Planning Commission Session 12/1

  1. jk-usa says:

    @Kenny—you’re the Earthquake’s fan i talked to last night. I’m Jim from Hayward– tall white guy in A’s cap and jacket. We both talked to Rebecca Kaplan about a trolley system downtown. Great crowd and good meeting. I’m tired of pjk disparaging Oakland 24/7 on here too. I’ve been battling this guy for months on here, and don’t know why I waste my time with this dude.

  2. Kenny says:

    @Jim that is correct. But I love the A’s as much, if not more than the Earthquakes.

  3. jk-usa says:

    @Kenny–i know you do. Sorry, I should of stated A’s fan first, Earthquakes fan 2nd. That’s rough having both your teams owned by the same creep, Lew Wolff.

  4. Hoyt says:

    @pjk-”re: San Jose firefighters. San Jose tried to negotiate with the firefighters for a reduction in their Cadillac salaries and benefits. The firefighters chose to let 49 of their brothers go to the unemployment line rather than budge. And San Jose doesn’t need much more money for a ballpark since it will be privately built.”

    Your previous comment regarding the City of Oakland being unable to retain law enforcement officers is in direct correlation to a deficit concerning the municipal General Fund. Unfortunately, this is also the case in San Jose. As current economics dictate, there is a lack of monies to provide vital public services for the City of San Jose, and the current fiscal crisis is also affecting a multitude of other communities on a truly global scale. Therefore, the lay offs of forty nine fire suppression personnel by the City of San Jose was deemed a financial necessity in the current economic climate. The point being, this is a dilemma which is not endemic to Oakland or attributable to “Cadillac salaries and benefits.”

  5. David says:

    @jk — i was in the second row right next to the wall, by the door in the front of room #3. You were sitting on the ground? i saw a guy on the ground with some sort of “doll” with the ‘Stay’ sticker on it. was that you? I am (black) and was wearing an A’s cap with an ‘O’ on it.

  6. gojohn10 says:

    Even though I disagree with most of the Oakland folks’ arguments, it was nice to see the support last night. My heart says Oakland, but my head says San Jose.

  7. Larry E says:

    A grown man holding a doll with a “stay” sticker? Whoe!

  8. David says:

    @Larry E — he was a passionate A’s fan (the guy with the “doll”) he was one of the 70ish people who spoke to Council. I believe it was a gray A’s Elephant “doll”.

  9. Larry E says:

    @ David , oh ok that makes sense. My little girl actually has an A’s elephant doll. Cool!

  10. tony d. says:

    What Jeffrey posted @ 906 is pure gospel! Can’t be countered because its reality, regardless of what bullshit SFGate puts out.
    And let’s be real people; San Jose’s RDA is one of the largest and richest in the state, and yes, EVEN IT has money problems.
    Where do you think that leaves Oakland’s RDA? Money doesn’t grow on trees, and RDA bonds still need to be paid for.
    Anyhow, Winter Meetings are right around the corner, and hopefully it will mean San Jose’s freedom. Stay tuned.

  11. tony d. says:

    David @ 912,
    Still doesn’t come close to San Jose/Silicon Valley money, wealth wise. By the way, Oakland simply began an EIR process…that’s it!
    But to hear the SF/Oak press report it, you’d think a VC ballpark was a done deal. They also stated a VC ballpark would be privately financed by Wolff (yeah right!).
    Boy, does the traditional Bay Area press suck or what! FYI, nothing in this mornings SJ Merc (print).

  12. David says:

    @Tony D — i know where we are, duh …. i was at the (EIR). All the steps in the process were clearly defined, before the meeting began.
    I am a realist. I know what’s up and where all the “players” are in the various attempts at building a ballpark for the A’s. I suggest you calm down. If you don’t get too “high” or too “low”, makes things easier to digest (especially if things don’t go your way). This is the approach i am taking.

  13. jk-usa says:

    @David–Okay, I saw you there. I was right next to the guy with the doll, to your right as you’re looking at the wall, and to my left as I’m sitting on the floor (i was standing at first, but sat down). Good crowd, good time. I was there longer than a 13 inning game at 4 hours, 10 minutes, but the time flew by and am so glad I went. My wife, who didn’t go last night, has a little stuffed A’s teddy bear she calls Kingman. She bought in 1985 when Dave Kingman was a big slugger of ours. In his 3 years with the A’s (84-86), which were his last 3 in the majors, he had 100 hr’s, and 303 rbi’s, but struck out a ton and barely hit his weight.

  14. Bryan Grunwald says:

    @ML–You got the lead story wrong. The Planning Commission minutes will reflect that 980 Park will be considered as a alternative in the EIR. Stay tuned to what type of alternative.

  15. Marine Layer says:

    @Bryan – You’re getting a little ahead of yourself, aren’t you? When there is an action to make 980 Park an alternative, then it’s worthy of being the lead. If not, it’s really just self-aggrandizement on your part.

  16. pjk says:

    re: IDLF wants MLB to commit to Oakland before the City pays for the EIR and related study work.

    In turn, MLB would want Oakland to commit bigtime public $$ to construction of the ballpark, which isn’t going to happen.

  17. Nam Turk says:

    I don’t think we can say what MLB wants anymore, since even they won’t say…

  18. Briggs says:

    Which ever way MLB decides (if they ever do), you know certain regulars here are gonna make it nasty and hostile when in the end, all this is about finding the A’s a place to built a ballpark.

  19. pjk says:

    Well, it seems obvious that the easy way out, a new ballpark in Oakland, has not emerged as a clear, doable option. Which leaves MLB in the sticky position of looking at the lucrative San Jose market that it has foolishly locked itself out of while pondering the Oakland-is-victim aftermath that would happen if the A’s get the OK to go to San Jose.

  20. Sid says:

    I have another theory on why this is taking so long with the BRC and MLB. Lew Wolff spoke of something called “baseball time” versus “normal time”. “Baseball time” goes much slower and seems to be a more arduous process for some odd reason.

    The reasoning I think is because MLB doesn’t make any decisions during the season. They always wait for the owners meetings to discuss any “league wide” changes or pressing issues. The TR issue in the Bay Area strikes me as something that is a “league wide” issue since the Giants won’t give permission to the A’s to explore San Jose.

    If the BRC had not completed their study in time for the owners meetings last December then by default we all would have to wait another year for it to be presented at once to all the owners. MLB has never been known to vote on anything mid-season. The owners meetings are the only time when “league wide” issues get discussed.

    Hence why I think BS told San Jose to relax and that a decision was coming soon. If no decision is made in the upcoming owners meetings on Dec 6-9 then I am wrong. But my thinking is that the BRC has been done for a while they just weren’t ready to present the information at last years owners meetings…..They simply only needed a little but more time not another whole year.

    That is why it looks “ridiculous” on the length of time this has taken. 1 year makes sense to me since the BRC had to evaluate several things. But since they were appointed in January 2009 and last years owners meetings were on December 2009 it tells me that 11 months was not enough time.

    This is the way MLB and the other sports leagues work in general. Never decide on anything until all the owners can sit down together and discuss….That never happens during the season only after.

    Any thoughts anyone on my theory??

  21. jk-usa says:

    @pjk–outside of the Expos, MLB has done a good job keeping teams from relocating the last 40 years. They should stick to that and give Oakland its fair shot. San Jose should only be as a last resort option. Put the team up for sale to local owners who will embrace the VC site if Wollf/Fisher don’t want to be decent gentlemen and stay in Oakland. A group will emerge to buy the team, no doubt. There’s a lot of money in the BA, and it’s very prestigious to own a sports team, especially the A’s with their great history here in Oakland.

  22. Sid says:

    @Jk-usa

    Find a owner who will buy the team and pay for the stadium???

    Even if the A’s stay in Oakland they are going to be a welfare case for the other owners. Bottom line.

    History? History shows the City of Oakland has mistreated the A’s time and time again. What happened last night is too little too late.

    As Jeffrey put it on this thread “Oakland just entered the horse race” while San Jose “Is in the final turn”.

    San Jose has the corporate base and “money talks and money walks”. If Oakland wants the A’s then they need to realize public money is needed. Not RDA funds…GENERAL FUNDS….The dreaded word.

    IDLF knows this and he is the only one who with sense says MLB needs to commit to us. Commit? MLB has in Oakland for 42 freaking years!!! 42!!! If that is not a commitment I do not know what is?

    Cisco will not put 120 million towards an Oakland stadium, but they will in San Jose. The SVLG will support the A’s in San Jose but not Oakland.

    To be an owner in MLB is a special breed of person and they are businessmen. They love the game but the bottom line always comes first.

    Fair shot? Oakland had its fair shot for years. It is San Jose’s turn to have a chance for a MLB team.

    If the BRC really thought Oakland was viable they would have come forward already with options…..Too bad Pro-Oakland fans cannot seem to see this.

    San Jose A’s in 2015…Eat your heart out Pro-Oak fans!!

  23. pjk says:

    I second Sid’s latest post.

  24. David says:

    I wonder how some folks on here can handle coming to Oakland (right now) to see games; with such a low opinion of “the town”? To read this board you’d think we were talking about Detroit…

  25. Ralph says:

    It’s almost humorous how predictable some of the Pro-San Jose comments are now, since the same opinions have been repeated time and time again. I do get a laugh when the “psychic’s” come out.

  26. Tony D. says:

    It’s almost humorous how predictable some of the Pro-San Jose comments are now, since the same opinions have been repeated time and time again. I do get a laugh when the “psychic’s” come out.

    Ralph,
    Replace “Pro-San Jose” with “Oakland-only” and you got it right! Seriously, many of us have been A’s fans for years and going to the Coliseum for games. I’ve stated previously that I’ve been part of many a “Lets go Oakland, lets go!” chant in the past. But alas, enough is enough. I know guys like JK want MLB to give Oakland 50 years to come up with a ballpark plan/actual ballpark, but really, 15 years is way more than enought time. And the A’s moving 35 miles down the road isn’t even close to the Expos situation; you really think A’s fans (most) are that stupid JK!? Anyhow, its never been about SJ vs. Oak; it’s always been about our team getting a new yard in the Bay Area YESTERDAY! San Jose offers the best chance at making this happen in our lifetime. That’s all I’ll say on this thread/subject; be back next week!

  27. Nam Turk says:

    I’ll admit a couple SJ diehards make this a pretty unwelcoming place for non-troll Oakland types. The real annoyance is that nothing new is being said.

  28. Larry E says:

    David says:
    December 2, 2010 at 5:05 PM David(Quote)

    I wonder how some folks on here can handle coming to Oakland (right now) to see games; with such a low opinion of “the town”?

    Not a low opinion of the town David. I love Oakland! Its low opinion of Pro- Oak Fans like JK who put down san jose by calling it a “burb” and making comments like “id follow the A’s in Philly before i follow them in SJ” (paraphrasing of course). We ve been making the trip up 880 for years. Why cant you guys?

  29. Ralph says:

    Exactly.

  30. Jeffrey says:

    To clarify, the horse race analogy was only in reference to the development process in California. If a ballpark gets built at Victory Court, I will be a season ticket holder.
    .
    I am with Tony on this point: it is about getting the A’s a freaking stadium in the Bay Area. Period.

  31. Jeffrey says:

    One more thing: the myopic Oakland Only and San Jose as Jesus crews have more in common than they would care to admit. I welcome all plans and hope MLB opens their mouth so this friggin limbo can end.
    .
    If they say Oakland Only, I hope they dispatch Bob DuPuy post haste A’s they did in Miami, where the WORST owner in all of sports was negotiated around, and get this flippin’ thing done.
    .
    If they say San Jose, I hope they dispatch a dude with a muzzle to San Francisco.
    .
    I am just done with the ridiculousness

  32. GoA's says:

    @Jeffrey–completely agree—I’ve been wondering when LW would make a comment on what’s happened recently to see if he feels its a game changer….according to Mark Purdy who spoke to LW by telephone on Thursday, Wolff said only that he is hopeful Selig will have an announcement before the New Year. “I am expecting an answer sooner rather than later.” Lets hope so….this whole process has been ridiculous—as a season tix holder a ballpark in either city is just fine—having said that if BS had the balls to make a decision we would have one beginning construction in SJ right now….by his decision we’ll see if BS is runnign the league or BN

  33. pjk says:

    Excellent column by Purdy today talking about San Jose’s seriousness and Oakland’s neglect in the A’s matter. 16 businesses would have to be relocated from the Oakland site.That ought to take at least 5 years alone.

  34. Steven says:

    Providing the link to Purdy article mention above:
    http://www.mercurynews.com/mark-purdy/ci_16765087?nclick_check=1

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