Not so fast, my friend

Thank goodness Jonathan Riley from the East Bay Express talked to landowners and businesses at the two legitimate JLS sites about how viewed a potential ballpark. I was wondering if I’d have to go door-to-door at some point.

The mixed reactions aren’t surprising. Nor is the fact that the City of Oakland hasn’t yet contacted landlords since there is no land use plan yet. They’re not even close to that step yet. However, I would expect Oakland booster groups to do this job in advance and trumpet it to the high heavens when the time comes. Maybe that’s happening, I don’t know.

While we’ve loosely discussed the requirements that MLB is placing on the “winning” city, the actual description of those requirements has never been made public. Knowing what we know from what cities here and elsewhere are doing, we can make certain educated guesses:

  • 32-36,000-seat baseball-only stadium
  • ~1,200-space parking garage for team, VIP’s
  • Upgraded access to the venue as needed including: public transit, additional parking facilities, and revamped street networks/freeway ramps – subject to public process (EIR)
  • Land for the ballpark leased at $1 million per year

It was thought previously – and in other instances – that the ballpark should also be publicly owned. However, that won’t work as a tax dodge because a tenant like the A’s would still have to pay a possessory interest tax in lieu of property tax.

Now that the table’s set, debate away.

23 thoughts on “Not so fast, my friend

  1. “Is San Jose ready? No, not even close. They have a certified EIR, which is a big step. But they stopped with land acquisition proceedings and the prices are only going to go up. San Jose would have to sell the portion they’ve already acquired to the A’s, which is good for the city’s budget. The A’s would be on their own to do the rest. The city’s issue would be the renewed political squabbling that an impending deal would cause, especially neighborhood outcry. A lawsuit would seem possible if not altogether likely. The city could also buy the remaining land and lease it to the A’s for cheap, similar to what S.F. has done with China Basin for the Giants. That would be harder to accomplish because of limited resources and budget constraints.” –Marine Layer 5/16/2008

    As a San Jose A’s backer I wonder how much has changed since that day. According to the Draft EIR they only have 5 of 16 parcels acquired (http://www.sanjoseca.gov/planning/eir/Ballpark_PP05-214/NOP_11-16-2009.pdf) I have seen very little of substance and am well aware of San Jose’s estimated $100 million dollar deficit. What I have seen is big talk and big words thrown around by Wolff and Chuck Reed. Can you give me some details that I havent seen about progress made since 2008?

    • The better question is, why should the City of San Jose complete purchase of those sites until they are ready to do something with them?
      I don’t think Oakland does much land banking. I know Fremont doesn’t. San Jose has land banked that can be used to purchase the rest of the parcels. This has nothing to do with the general fund as people have mentioned below.

  2. Is Oakland ready…not even close….is Fremont ready…not even close…is San Jose ready…no…BUT they are the one city that continues to move forward with the revised EIR due next week—this by itself is a 12-18 month process that neither of the other city’s have started. Land acquisition….complete…no…but it has begun and funds are set aside and targeted for completion….property values going up…..based upon what data….quite the contrary compared to what it could have cost if they had invested even a few years ago…neighborhood oppositon? Sure…that’s why they put together their good neighbor meetings a year ago–to begin to talk through issues and concerns and try to develop win-win solutions—has Oakland started this process…or for that matter Fremont….umm no—lawsuit you say—–they are a dime a dozen—is Oakland or Fremont protected from lawsuits…nah…..ahhh and of course that horrible budget deficit in the General Fund that is not associated with Redevelopment projects—-of course only San Jose has one of these…oh Oakland has one too—-and its much worse than SJ and Fremont too—-oh my.

    This all from a city that is currently prohibited from having a MLB franchise other than the gints locate in its city limits—-and your pissing and moaning about what they have done since 2008—-get MLB to free the territory and you will see just how fast things can move—-maybe a better question for you to ask is what has Oakland or Fremont done since 2008 to make them a better choice for locatoin of the A’s new ballpark?

    • Agreed. Other than territorial rights San Jose is the furthest along. Oakland it seems though has fallen off the map if this report is true. They have no site. The North JLS site has far too many land owners, many of whom won’t sell. And the Victory Ct site has a coffee company who don’t want to move and will cost $30 mil alone to move out if they’re forced out. I’m getting the feeling Mr. Dellums just pulled a marker out and drew some lines on a map and called it their bid with the lone goal of derailing SJ and Fremont rather than actually doing anything useful.

    • GoA’s,
      Could not have said it better myself. Little disappointed with SanJoseA’s…Cmon brah! But as you alluded to, it does highlight how light-years ahead San Jose is over Oakland or Fremont. Land acquisitions, EIR’s, public buy-in…IT AINT EASY FOLKS!

  3. Whatever is obvious to us – Oakland not really doing any significant legwork on their “sites” – is probably doubly obvious to the BRC. Whatever facts we have about what the three cities are doing, or not doing, the BRC has more. I am an Oakland resident and would prefer that the A’s stay, but the lack of effort coming from Frank Ogawa Plaza is not encouraging.

    • Well we should know within the week what the BRC decided. Then it’s in the owners hands if the BRC chose SJ. If they chose Fremont the long road starts again there, though it’ll have a better shot this time with NUMMI gone.

      If they chose Oakland I’m not hopeful based on this latest info. I fear choosing Oakland with their lack of progress is going to be the most certain way for the A’s to leave the region. But I’d be delighted if they prove me wrong.

      • Agreed. I’m saying that if Oakland’s proposal looks thin to us, it must look even thinner to the BRC with the access, facts, and resources they have.

      • Don’t assume we know what is int eh MLB panel proposals based on news reports. We are not on the inside and don’t know. We ahve a good idea of what was in San Jose’s and Fremont’s. But not Oakland’s.

  4. After reading the article i hope the Oakland government can see that the businesses are behind keeping the A’s – a clear boost to Oakland’s image – and should treat them with kid gloves. In business deals there’s a lot that goes into an amicable relationship that turns testy deals into both parties leaving happily. If they get too hung up over getting the absolutely lowest price for the land, they’ll find those businesses backing out. It’s not NYC, it’s a very politically active public who will rise to the occasion of protesting vehemently.

    I think Oakland can get this done if they’re serious and offer a fair price – the owners weren’t completely against it, they sounded like they were against getting screwed. Of course they’re gonna protect their interests, as they should – it’s their livelihood.

    I think there is serious hope here even if it initially doesn’t sound like it. If I were the city I’d be doing a preliminary evaluation of property values so they can move forward with a top pick if MLB gives oakland the first window to make a ballpark.

    Any chance some of those businesses want to relocate to the car spots on Broadway who were looking to vacate? I seem to remember something with those businesses wanting the new stadium there so they can get bought out….. but if they can turn an abandoned warehouse into a Whole Foods I’m sure they can turn a showroom around.

    All I’m trying to say: based on the article, my reading is that there is a successful way for the city to properly acquire the land without ruining the relationship with local business owners.

    • ru155,
      Correction to your first sentence: SOME “…businesses are behind keeping the A’s.” Not all.

      • Another thing to consider… These businesses are working to get the best deal for themselves. One way of driving the price up is to say “I am not for this.” I think this could explain some of the opposition, of course… not all of it.

        The value of the land and structures at Victory Court is around $40 Million. I don’t expect that MLB or the A’s are going to move forward with anything less than the entire 20 Acres of land in that area. That means, whatever it costs to move the coffee company needs to be added on to that $40 Million. I have no ides what the other companies in the area will cost to move. So, land acquisition and business relocation is going to be expensive here… at least $70 Million bucks.

        That said, Victory Court appears to be the likeliest scenario in Oakland.

      • Jeffrey,
        Curious: does Oakland (or their Red. agency) have that kind of money lying around? I ask because in my latest edition of Downtown Dimensions (mailer for SJ Downtown Association), Mayor Reed is interviewed about the SJ Red. Agency budget and it isn’t pretty. Not only has the recession taken its toll but the State raid on Redo will hurt as well (to the tune of $75 million for SJ). “This year is going to be particularly bad” Mayor Reed said about the SJRDA budget. If not for that banked-land that you mentioned, I don’t think SJ could afford to purchase the remaining parcels at Diridon; let alone pay for business relocation. The good news: Mayor Reed has made the ballpark his top priority for the SJRDA budget.
        So what’s the story for Oakland? I can’t imagine their RDA being in any better shape than SJ’s; perhaps it’s even in worst shape financially? Just curious. No one has been immune to this recession.

      • I honestly don’t know. I am sure you can find some info by searching Yahoo! with “Oakland CEDA 2010 Budget” or something

  5. I just want to see a ballpark built in the Bay Area, preferably in San Jose. If the panel recommends Oakland, fine, let’s move forward. I just hope if we ever get to that point, the City of Oakland recognizes the opportunity that has been given to them, and acts accordingly. If all of this has been a feeble attempt at saving political face, I’ll be plenty pissed. Either act, or get out of the way!

  6. If those comments in the article are really from Dennis Herrera, I hope they don’t bite him in the ass when he attempts to run for Mayor of Oakland:

    “If the city has to use eminent domain to keep the A’s in Oakland, then so be it.”
    Posted by Dennis H. on February 9, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    “All I would say to the business owners is to not get caught in the path of righteous change.”
    Posted by Dennis H. on February 10, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    • ED is a non-starter. Hopefully whomever Dennis H is he realizes that. The A’s don’t want to use ED.. The owners surely don’t want ED used. And I suspect the public doesn’t want ED used for this. It does nothing but create ill will when it’s abused like this plan would have to abuse it.

    • That’s not really him.

      • ED might be required in SJ for at least one parcel. This wouldn’t slow down the process as one may believe. Once filed ED actions typically settle quickly especially when the “parcel” is on a slippery slope. SJ won’t go forward with any more negotiations on these parcels until they get the “high sign” from ABS. SJ will not pay more than FMV for the remaining parcels because of the threat of ED. And, BTW ED is a loser for any property owner in the cross-hairs once MLB and ABS give thumbs up. In fact, as it turns out the FMV of the remaining parcels have been driven down by the economic times and now Harry M. looks like a genius in only pursuing those parcels which were easily purchased without paying premiums that the other owners wanted. Moreover, Harry M. and the other folks at SJCH were equally genius in continuing the EIR process even in the face of the eariler Fremont ballpark plan. “Hats Off” to Harry M. and his staff of soliders over at SJCH.

      • RS,
        Isn’t there a state law forbidding ED and then selling the parcel to a private party for a private development? If ED did come into play, I guess there’s nothing wrong with leasing the land to a private party.

      • The key terms are “public use” and “public benefit,” both of which have been and continue to be broadly interpreted. Without going into a long winded legal diatribe check out this law firm website for some general answers to ED questions.

        http://www.eminentdomainlaw.net

        Additionally, I think the general public is not aware of the deal points that possibly, err may exist between the A’s and SJCH. These are also key to the answer of your question.

      • Ironically, this cuts both ways. The original Airport West deal was for $132 million. It was renegotiated down to $89 million by Wolff. So while RDA turned a slight profit on that bit of land banking, the economy forced them to sell for less than they initially expected, making for less funds to buy something else – say, Diridon parcels.

        Regarding ED, there were two measures in June 2008. Prop 98 was more restrictive and failed. Prop 99 passed and only applied to owner-occupied homes. It would have no effect on Diridon, it could have an effect on JLS North.

      • True. But to be fair Airport West wasn’t purchased strictly as a land banking move. It was purchased because it was needed at the time for the airport expansion. An expansion that never materialized and now never will. The city was left holding a piece of undesirable land and having to pay the 7 mil in tax service on it yearly. Dumping Airport West for any amount more than they paid in the end was a win for SJ as it took the tax liability off their books.

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