Now that funding for the Victory Court EIR has been approved, what will the next year-plus look like? How does the process work, and what could speed up or slow it down?
I posted a possible timeline for the EIR work at AN. Here’s the entire comment:
Jan-Mar: Draft EIR prepared
Apr: Notice of availability, distribution of Draft EIR
Apr-May: 45-60 day comment period
Jun-Nov: Final EIR prep
Dec: Final EIR notice of availability and distribution
Dec-Feb: Final EIR comment period (30-60 days)
Mar: EIR Certification, 30-day period to allow for challenges
That leaves anywhere from 12-18 months to do land acquisition, depending on if/when MLB gives the green light. That could be the biggest problem, since there’s little chance that Oakland will start negotiations or property takings if MLB doesn’t commit to Oakland. The later it starts, the worse it gets. Construction should start in a 6 month window between November 2012 and April 2013 if all parties want to make Opening Day 2015. Also, this schedule is based on everything going smoothly. For big projects in Oakland, often someone mounts a legal challenge that inevitably delays the process.
The final EIR prep may be shorter or longer because it is largely a response to new information requests and comments by various public agencies and private parties. There’s also the possibility that some of the methodology may be questioned, which could cause some portion of the EIR to be redrafted.
CEQA‘s flowchart shows more detail:
CEQA usually calls for a feasibility study to scope out the cost of mitigation for the project. That’s the last step before the City approves the project, and the cost of mitigation tends to vary greatly depending on what’s involved. This is often a point where lawsuits come in, because certain parties may not feel that mitigation measures are comprehensive enough or even completely lacking.
MLB could make this much easier on Oakland by making a decision in the City’s favor sometime in the next few months. Then Oakland could start the land acquisition process, though that would be with the idea that they’d have an uncooperative ownership group for whom they’d be buying the land. A long period for land acquisition helped San Jose in the long run, as SJRA benefited from dropping property values over the last three years.
Oakland and its boosters would also have to get MLB to commit to bringing in a more Oakland-friendly group, a task which will range somewhere between difficult and impossible. Looking for Larry Ellison? Don’t bother, since he and his buddies will be investing $150 million either in San Francisco or Newport, RI over the next 2-3 years. At this point, I think it’d be more likely that MLB buys the A’s as they did the Expos and as the NBA is buying the New Orleans Hornets. If MLB can’t find a suitable buyer or Oakland drops the ball, then well, I really don’t want to go there.