Liveblog from Oakland Community Meeting 5/1

This morning I’m at Peralta Elementary School for the community meeting. Jane Brunner is running the show. Here’s a pic of the nice turnout so far. Brunner is explaining how as much of a fan she is, the real reason she supports an A’s stadium is economic development.

Nina from KQED arrived to grab audio of the event, some of which was cut into Cy Musiker’s interview with Neil DeMause today (5/3).

A KCBS reporter is on hand. Don’t see other media. Brunner is explaining recent history, including a brief admission that “we’re partly at fault.” Now she’s talking about the MLB panel. The reason why there isn’t a decision is because of the expanded search to include Fremont and San Jose. If they choose Oakland, that’s when the negotiations will start. She hands over to Eric Angstadt, deputy director of CEDA.

Angstadt further explains the process, including the description of a “matrix” of information required by MLB. (Reminds me of the RFP process.)

Now Angstadt is going into the three JLS sites. Howard Terminal is the biggest, it would require a pedestrian overcrossing (see?). JLS West would be difficult to put together. Victory Court has some city-owned land, and from a development perspective is considered a “hole in the donut.” the study of these sites is important with or without a ballpark. Infrastructure would be required as part of a broader development plan.

Brunner introduces Doug Boxer, who will go over the Let’s Go Oakland economic study. He urges for the community to “continue to challenge us” on the ballpark and other matters in order to get all issues discussed. One of the reasons he’s done this is to “correct the record” regarding the city. He advertises the Facebook group. Makes a connection between the number of members in the grow and the projected size of the stadium.

Boxer emphasizes that the study done by GG+A is very conservative. Also pumps up the economic development angle, just as Brunner did. Cites the $4.7 billion in increased property values, and $930 million in increased property tax revenues as a result. (Important to note that most if not all of the area under discussion is in some kind of redevelopment district.)

He compares JLS to LoDo in Denver. Mentions the guy who was kicked out of a game for carrying an anti-ownership sign.

Brunner: We want Lew Wolff to come to the table, whether MLB decides on Oakland or Fremont/SJ don’t work out. We want to keep a cordial relationship with ownership.

Public comments begin. So far there are no negative comments, though one commenter has rightly asked what the strategy is if the A’s leave. Lots of passion from the commenters, all fans.

One bit of concern: the presenters only lightly went over costs. It’s easy to be for this when there’s no price tag attached for the land acquisition and infrastructure costs. It appears that the stance is that such details will only be discussed or explored if MLB chooses Oakland. Considering what has been made public for the other two cities, that’s at best a double-edged sword.

Just as I was finishing that last paragraph a commenter asks the right questions about costs.

Another asks if the city can make small improvements to make the Coliseum better for fans, such as a TV in Stomper Fun Zone so parents can check the game.

Lots of blame going towards ownership. The requisite Major League reference.

Bobby “510” makes an interesting observation (paraphrasing): I grew up on the streets of Oakland. Me and my friends didn’t get into drugs or gangs because of the A’s. If the effort isn’t spent to keep the A’s, be prepare to spend a lot more on police since the kids will have one less outlet.

About the last paragraph: what the city and Let’s Go Oakland need are more events like this, more town hall situations. I mentioned before how much of a learning experience the health care debate was, when President Obama really started to hit the personal anecdote strategy hard. This is obviously not as broad an issue, but it is probably Oakland’s best strategy right now.

Public comments over. Boxer has the mic again, mentions us and is emphatic in saying that there is a plan. He also mentions San Jose’s referendum requirement, says that Oakland doesn’t need one – though there could be a legal challenge (we know how that goes in Oakland). Angstadt says that all city staff have been asked to be circumspect, not go on the attack.

Angstadt talks money, especially redevelopment. Explains that redevelopment is the core tenet. Difference between this and Raiders deal is the use of redevelopment money, not general obligation bonds. Stadium is a catalyst.

Brunner clarifies, “We don’t have a secret plan. We have the three sites, the Coliseum is out.” Affirms that there are no details because there are no negotiations. We need a willing owner and we’re not going to do this through the papers. Doesn’t want to get into a bidding war with the other cities. If Oakland gets the nod, this will be done through the City Council. This is a business retention deal just like any other. Mentions a certain blogger and his Q&A (coming soon!). Also says that there will have to be an education on the difference between general fund and redevelopment money.

That’s all folks! I’m getting a beer. BTW, while there was plenty of criticism of Lew Wolff, it was quite civil and yes, circumspect.

P.S. englishmajor from AN was on hand to capture all the audio, though I don’t know how much will be used. We spoke briefly when the session wrapped up. I also finally met LeAndre when he approached me as I was just about to drive away. He was a bit pessimistic about the session, though I said that Oakland should be prepared just in case SJ falls through. We both agreed that the city should just pick Victory Court and prep a bid in advance. We also agreed that there’s a decent chance that the MLB panel may not render a recommendation/decision until after the season ends, which is also around the time of the planned SJ ballot initiative. I ended our nice chat with the observation that this may be the only bidding war in which all three bidders are behind the proverbial 8-ball.

23 thoughts on “Liveblog from Oakland Community Meeting 5/1

  1. ML,

    The picture is outside the margins. Thanks for being there today

  2. Thanks for covering this and all other meetings – it’s very much appreciated.

  3. The picture shows about 20 people.
    Most likely there were more.
    What would you estimate the audience size to be?

  4. ML, what does a hole in the donut mean?

    • @jesse – An area that could be redeveloped that has no current plans.

      Moreover, much of the Chinatown/Lake Merritt area has development in the pipeline. Then there’s O29 and JLS. Victory Court is the “hole.” speaking of which, I’m getting a donut across the street before th place closes.

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  6. ML, it was nice chatting with you too…and even though I was pessimistic, I also agree that Oakland needs more meetings like this…

    BTW, you didn’t tell me you were gonna grab a beer afterward ; )

  7. LeAndre, why were you pessimistic?

  8. Correction to a Boxer comment: referendum in SJ needed only IF a public subsidy (i.e. tax hike or bond monies) is used directly for construction of a ballpark/sports venue. A land give away or below market land-lease aside, a referendum would not be required for a privately financed venue. Lastly, question from a SJ partisan: why is Oakland waiting on a MLB decision before moving forward on land-acquisitions, EIR’s (environmental type) and a financing package for a ballpark? You’re free of any territorial restrictions as the A’s currently play in your town; you should be going “balls out!” to keep them in The O! Respectfully, these “Mom and Pop” gatherings aren’t going to cut it. Good start, but you’ll need a lot more. Brunner wants a “willing owner” for Oakland? Don’t hold your breath. By the way, nice ceiling artistry!

  9. Here is a personal anecdote for ya. I was talking to a mom at our Fremont little league funraiser last night. We got to talking about favorite MLB teams. She is a SD transplant and likes the Pads, but said she will adopt the giants now that she lives here. When I gave her a hard time about choosing a different team in the NL west instead of the a’s she said “it’s because of the stadium. It’s all about the atmosphere.”

  10. I hope there’s still a good chance for the three Jack London Square sites!!! Let’s Go Oakland!!!

  11. Jesse, I guess you can say I was just a little disappointed. I was really hoping that Oakland would outline the next phase of plans they were going to pursue and unfortunately they didn’t…

    if it were up to me, I would focus all my actions on Victory Court (because its the most realistic site of the 3, plus it makes the most sense) and begin negotiating with the businesses…It would be unwise to buy the land at the site before knowing for sure if the team will move there, but what I think they should do is talk to the businesses and ask what they would offer in case Oakland gets the decision. Maybe even contracts stating that they would be willing to move… This packaged together would certainly give them a better chance of the MLB’s decision being that they want a site that can be built as fast as possible…

    I spoke with Doug Boxer privately face to face and told him all of this…He basically disagrees with me and told me that the MLB doesn’t think by having 3 sites hurts their efforts and said that talking to the owners of any of the businesses or making any contracts of any sort just wouldn’t be a good idea until they get the green light…He assured me that if they did get the green light he and the city would begin discussions with the land owners right away and that the process wouldn’t take as long as I think…He also said an EIR would be done easily and extremely quick…

    There were a lot more questions I wanted to ask him but he understandably didn’t have the time…Even though I wish Boxer would take my advise, I trust what he’s doing…After speaking with him I have a much greater deal of respect and genuinely believe he is doing what ever he can to get a new ballpark for the city of Oakland…He also assured me that Oakland very much still has a chance and that the MLB are seriously taking them into consideration…they apparently really, really like the JLS sites…

  12. I guess there’s enough “MLB really, really likes…” to go around! After the SJ meeting with Reed, Dupuy and Wolff, Reed stated that “MLB really likes San Jose” but that they had to be patient with the process. By the way, when did Boxer meet with Dupuy and Wolff?
    You know, the Oakland effort (or lack thereof) got me thinking: perhaps what we have here is a case of a “reverse” bidding war of sorts for the A’s new ballpark. In other words, Oakland (as well as Fremont) now acting as the modern-day versions of “Tampa-St. Pete” to A) prod the SJ effort along and B) to act as a backup just in case SJ completely screws this thing up. So far so good, as SJ now has the cash in hand to complete the Diridon South acquisitions and Autumn St. Phase 1. Only thing left is the actual deal between the A’s and SJ, which should determine if a referendum will actually be necessary. Only then will the “decision” be made by the MLB committee. It will also help when the sale of the Texas Rangers goes through so that committee member Irwin Raij can focus on the Bay Area.
    By the way, aesthetically I like the JLS sites to for a potential A’s ballpark as well. To bad that would put an A’s ballpark a lot closer to the Giants/AT&T Park (not a good business choice if you’re MLB).

  13. Given the situation, I can’t blame the city of Oakland for taking a wait and see approach. No sense spending a lot of time and effort when it appears that MLB is internally negotiating San Jose territorial rights. It sounds like they’re ready to start action if those negotiations fall apart. JLS would be a great location, so no major complaints from me if it turns out that way. Except that it would mean a few more years delay. Despite what Doug Boxer said, no EIR in California is quick and easy. Nor would I expect site acquisition to be. But I do have hope that they can be accomplished eventually.

  14. That ‘Wait and See’ approach can also be interpreted as “Oakland Doesn’t Care” which could backfire on them.

  15. where would SJ be today if they had taken a “wait and see” approach—defintely not in the front runner position—Oakland needs to take a page from San Jose’s book as it prepares to try and keep the Raiders and W’s–

  16. Yeah, but it’s not like Oakland really has anything to lose here. It’s pretty clear that MLB is trying to negotiate a deal with the Giants to get the A’s into SJ. If successful, it doesn’t matter what Oakland does. The A’s are moving to SJ. If MLB fails, Oakland doesn’t have to worry about how it looks compared to SJ because SJ will be ruled out. They can then get their plans together basically without competition, except Fremont which has it’s own issues.

  17. How about the construction numbers? Why so many more jobs and more of an impact in Oakland? Is the project proposed to be larger in Oakland (Howard Terminal?) or are they just overly optimistic (or SJ more conservative)?

    San Jose officials have said they need a decision by late July in order to schedule a November ballot measure on a proposal to let the team build on city-owned land.

    So if there is a decision after July, SJ moves forward with the ballot initiate regardless? I suppose that way MLB could ensure the ballpark measure passes before getting their hands dirty. Not only that, but ballpark opponents may have a harder time gaining traction against a ballpark plan that may not even more forward, vote notwithstanding.

  18. wow, wrong thread.

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