Oakland Mayor Quan with Bucher & Towny, 7/3/13

Update 7/5 5:00 PM – The Trib’s Matthew Artz confirmed what we were all thinking:

Get on that, Oakland. Chop chop!


Oakland Mayor Jean Quan continued to make the case for Howard Terminal on Bucher & Towny’s show today, talking up site control at both the waterfront site and at Coliseum City, which she more-or-less admitted MLB has little interest in based on their inquiries. She even got a dig in at Lew Wolff, saying that “to say there are no sites in Oakland you have to have blinders on.”

Streetscape of The Embarcadero adjacent to Howard Terminal

Quan also revealed that the A’s Coliseum lease extension is very close, that the JPA has been negotiating all spring, and one item remains to negotiate – the scoreboard replacement. A capital improvements fund that was set to cover replacement scoreboards was raided to cover costs associated with the Coliseum City study, and that chicken has come home to roost. There’s no reason to think that the scoreboard would be a showstopper for the two parties moving forward, but this is the JPA we’re talking about. Who knows what can happen in the coming weeks.

Chris Townsend alluded to a July 11 announcement that Howard Terminal could be fully available. In all likelihood that’s dependent on the Port approving settlement terms with SSA, which are now under fire by the longshoremen’s union.

Townsend also tried to get an explanation for what needs to be done with railroad tracks at Howard Terminal, which brought on the following exchange:

Townsend: Someone has told me that one of the problems with Howard Terminal – I wonder if you can speak to this – is that the railroad tracks that run through there… can you talk about that one main concern?

Quan: Well, the ones that go to the Amtrak are outside the (area) so I don’t see that as a problem at all. The other tracks were going straight to the ships. If that’s no longer a terminal they’ll just be lifted up or out, or maybe we’ll make it part of a new light rail system into the ballpark. I don’t know. All of the developers I’ve had look at it have never raised that as an issue.

A couple things to point out here. First, the main tracks that run down The Embarcadero are owned and operated by Union Pacific, who also has a huge yard just northwest of Howard Terminal. The rail line is a vital part of port operations, and that won’t be moved. There’s no chance of that. The issue, as we identified last year, is that a bunch of infrastructure has to be built in conjunction with Howard Terminal’s conversion to a ballpark site in order to support cars, bikes, and pedestrians that would all converge there for games. Plus there would have to be streetscape improvements and safety equipment installed to prevent people and drivers from playing chicken with heavy diesel trains. Add in the presence of a gas pipeline and you have a situation where the Public Utilities Commission will have to come in and approve everything that gets done along The Embarcadero.

Second, the tracks on the site are little more than an afterthought at this point. They were preserved as part of the capping process. If, as Quan says, the tracks can be lifted up or out, the cap would be breached. I always figured that the cap would have to be breached to prep the site, so no big deal there, right? But if a ballpark is supposed to be built without disturbing the cap, how is digging up and removing the tracks supposed to be compatible with that? Moreover, the thought that the tracks could otherwise be folded into a light rail or streetcar project shows how little Quan understands about the situation there. There are strict federal rules about separating freight and other heavy rail trains from light rail trains, to the point that grade separations are frequently required to ensure safety along both lines. The tracks as they sit feed directly into the big railyard, so they couldn’t be used for light rail or a similar purpose unless someone built another bridge to lift trolleys above the heavy rail tracks. The cost to do that would be astronomical on top of the other bridges that would be required there.

Look, I don’t expect Quan to be on top of all of the little details. She seems content to delegate much of the work to her teams and committees, and that can work in many instances. On the other hand, this puzzling response about the rail safety issues clearly shows that her background info on Howard Terminal is very limited. Maybe there’s a reason for that, and that reason is that there is no environmental impact report. Townsend suggested that there’s an EIR for Howard Terminal is coming, but Quan backtracked from that, saying that the Coliseum City EIR is around the corner while not providing a timeframe for Howard Terminal. She said that she believed the Port Commission has ordered the review work. There’s no record of any initial or ongoing environmental review happening at Howard Terminal, so color me confused. Quan took some time out to talk about the importance of CEQA, so she’s fully aware of how mindbogglingly thorough CEQA can be. CEQA is so thorough that new construction has to at least have an initial determination of whether or not a project requires the rest of the CEQA process. So far, there’s no record of that step or any beyond that happening. Now, the Port could be doing some background work to help supplement an EIR if it gets formalized. If that has occurred it hasn’t been publicized. That’s far different from the running clock on an EIR. Oakland won’t be able to cut the EIR clock in half by doing prep work. There are hearings and public comment periods that are required.

Quan fielded election-related questions at the end, with the knowledge that no one of note is running against her in 2014. She’s full of bravado if not outright swagger, propelled by the green lights at the OAB Port project and Brooklyn Basin. She even articulated Oakland’s general stance about the stadium effort in a very succinct way, “You have to prove that we can’t do it.” Well, it’s been proven that Victory Court was a loser. Will Howard Terminal and Coliseum City be strikes two and three?

46 thoughts on “Oakland Mayor Quan with Bucher & Towny, 7/3/13

  1. ML, honest question. In your mind did you hear Quan explain exactly how everything will be paid for?

  2. @Mike – For Coliseum City she actually explained some of it though none of the important stuff. I think they’re only working with very general projections at this point.

  3. The reason I ask I know she said some about Coliseum City but nothing really about Howard Terminal. I had posted to 95.7 why won’t they ask her. I later got a DM from Bucher telling me I don’t listen, she said exactly how it would all be paid for…. Guess I hit a nerve, but its kind of weak to send someone a DM that’s not allowed to write you back.

  4. They talked about taxes and outside investors, but really, Bucher & Towny aren’t equipped to ask the “how to pay for it” question if the City isn’t first providing some info to review. Everything is a guess and a vague promise.

  5. Who has blinders on!?? It’s not Wolff and “baseball.”

  6. MLB sees the years and years of sellouts the Sharks have in Silicon Valley and now, the smashing success the 49ers are having in selling seats and suites at their new stadium. MLB, just to keep the Giants happy, is perpetually locked out of Silicon Valley and has to try to shoehorn a solution into Oakland, where the Raiders and A’s struggles selling tickets and suites are well-known and there’s no workable site, just a couple places circled on a map. Nice move, MLB.

  7. Pjk,
    Absolutely nothing suggests MLB is trying to “shoehorn” a solution in Oakland. Quite the contrary, SJ Lawsuit aside, the undercurrents still suggest the A’s being in San Jose by 2018 (Baer softening his stance from January,, “baseball”‘s view of Alameda Co. per Wolffs latest Sports Journal interview, Wolff stating the majority of owners back a move, etc). Take all of this into consideration, and the SJ lawsuit appears to be more of a negotiating tactic, not a serious attempt to strike down the AT exemption. That’s why IMHO it really doesn’t matter if the case is ultimately dismissed or proceeds to discovery; doesn’t change what Wolff and MLB wants. On this glorious day that celebrates our country’s independence…patience, San Jose will ALSO one day be free!

  8. Use of Howard terminal would require a pedestrian, auto bridge over UP Railroad tracks if for nothing else emergency access during games if EMT access were needed and trains were blocking the access to the terminal. The impact on private property of the bridge would be significant. Also the bridge is likely to cost $40M.

  9. The return of Coliseum City tony d and pjk… your worst nightmare… howard terminal sucks.. its better and cheaper for the A’s to have a new 35,000 ballpark right at the Coliseum Complex… it would do wonders.. epecially since the Warriors will be in Oakland a little longer… maybe Oakland’s wait it out game is fianlly opaying off

    Coliseum City 1
    San Jose 0

  10. I was a brakeman back when Southern Pacific existed and ran those West Oakland yards. Trains going south, and not just container trains from the Port, ran through Jack London Sq. at all hours of the day and night. Since UP bought the operation, it seems a bit different. It seems like every freight train I see these days is a container train. So maybe UP is sending other freight trains up and down Calif. on its other lines, and using the West Oakland yard primarily to go to and from the Port. But still — the number of long freight trains still running down that street every day is obvious, as is the Capitol Corridor traffic. Jean Quan is an idiot.

  11. What I see here is that Oakland’s city official want to use the five year lease extension with the A’s as a window to get all the necessary prerequisite ducks in order before ballpark construction can ever get started. The problem is that all the prerequisite issues associated with the Howard Terminal site such as environmental, infrastructure, costs to build, transportation access, ballpark financing etc. are too numerous and impracticable to get a successful ballpark built and in operation at that location. As for the A’s, they will want the five year time period to be the maximum time to get a new A’s ballpark built and in operation at the site of their choosing. The lawsuit by San Jose will likely force the issue, and allow the A’s to move to their new San Jose ballpark in the five year time frame.

  12. Agree with standforcoliseumcity Aaron (if the A’s don’t move to SJ) – the Coliseum city plan is much wiser. The HT plan appears to be very impractical and costly. Besides, another by-the-bay phone booth gnats ball park? – no thank you.

  13. Say what you will about Xoot, but when he’s right, you have to give him props:

    “Jean Quan is an idiot.” – Xoot

  14. @ML
    Do you know any info on whats going on with the Warriors… i mean Oakland is actually showing some movement on the A’s… would the city be prepared if the Warriors come back??? It almost seems like Howard Terminal could be the distraction while both A’s and Warriors management finally get a look at COliseum City… i just feel that it would be a great least expensive alternative to give the A’s and Warriors new homes…

    also my take on the Raiders… i think the Coliseum is fine…. for football and the Raiders… i would love to see the Raiders maximize the coliseum without the A’s just like how the Chargers mazimized Qualcoom this past decade without the padres… i mean the padres are happy at petco and the SD Chargers have their own football field…

    • @Aaron – The Warriors are not in any discussions with Oakland/Alameda County/Coliseum JPA. They’ll push SF project or an alternative until they feel it’s no longer economically feasible. Then I figure they’ll just stay at the Coliseum Arena for a few years while they figure things out.

      Qualcomm is terrible for football. Virtually nothing has been done to improve it other than reconfiguring the lower bowl. It still sucks. They wanted a new stadium years ago and felt they deserved some public money since the Padres got public money.

  15. I remember going to a Padres game back in the late 90’s and I always said that Jack Murph stadium was like a really southern version of the Coliseum…I went to a Raider Charger game in 2010 ( we destroyed Chargers ) but looking around at Qualcomm I felt it was a nice place for football and baseball. Petco has nice charm its too bad the Padres get kicked around….either way in actually feeling positive vibes about Oakland chances on Coliseum City happening….as well as Howard Terminal…the A’s and or Warriors really should take anothe look and due to circumstances they might have too

  16. Qualcomm may be the most depressing sports stadium Ive been to for football and I went to the Vet many many times. Its turrible.

  17. Like Aaron, I also attended a Charger game (vs. Niners) at the former Murph in 2010. To suggest the place was then a nice place to watch football or baseball is to ignore every advancement in stadium and ballpark design in the last twenty years. The stadium sucks. The bathrooms are cramped. The concourse (I had to use) was cramped. The scoreboard is outdated. The amenities lacking. The waits to get on the trolley or out of the parking lot After the game were ridiculous. There is nothing nice about that stadium except the weather.

  18. @ white rob

    Well I wasn’t really out in the stands, I was at V.I.P with some lovely ladies from Oceanside, so I wad kinda distracted 🙂 but I still feel it wad a nice place.

  19. Even though Quan left some questions unanswered and displayed some gaps in knowledge in this interview (the trains running through JLS, as well as the Howard Terminal EIR), it seems like she’s really turned around her tenure as Oakland’s mayor in the last year. I thought she did a horrible job during the Occupy Movement, but now that the Brooklyn Basin project is actually happening, Howard Terminal has surfaced as a potentially viable ballpark site, and she has investors interested in Coliseum City with the Raiders (also interested) as an anchor tenant, it seems like she’s getting some stuff done. Good for her.

  20. @Lev: Yeah, that 100-block crime reduction plan of Quan’s was brilliant, and brilliantly praised by her. More pertinent to this site, her claim last summer that the Giants told her they’d use litigation to delay the A’s move to San Jose — now that was masterful PR, whether it was true or not. The best work I’ve seen from her was the extra innings she spent in the RF bleachers last season doing the Bernie.

  21. So much irony with Quan- working with the gints behind the scenes to delay the A’s move to SJ. In the mean time the gints were working with the Warriors behind the scenes to move then to SF- and Quan was clueless. And to top it off- her chief strategist to keep the A’s in Oakland, doug boxer, is working for the city of SF to help the Warriors move- tell me that isn’t dysfunctional-

  22. @GoA’s, Your right, this is a comedy of errors, but if Quan with Boxer and a lot of help from I don’t know who, can make HT a new ballpark for the A’s I would be thrilled. Oakland needs to make some choices, and with the Warriors on the way to SF, perhaps that will make it a little easier. My home town needs all the help it can get. If the Raiders, and or A’s are all they have to dill with perhaps they can make it happen for one, hopefully both.

  23. @LSN- problem is that HT is a pipe dream- and she knows it and doug boxer knows it and so does knauss- and most importantly- so does MLB. she continues to do nothing while playing a PR game. If she had any idea of what she was doing then I would give her a little credit- the whole strategy for Oakland has been to delay and hide behind TR- in the meantime she has already lost the opportunity to try and develop a downtown arena- and she will lose the A’s- either to SJ or out of the bay area- it just a matter of time-

  24. @GOA’s well if it’s true, that MLB is interested in the site, and would prefer that a ballpark be at that location, then there is hope that it can work, in spite of Quan or Brown before her. Hay if Oakland gets anything done we know it’s not because of Quan, but she in her inept way she is trying, the guy she ran against was not willing to try to retain the A’s at all. I do believe Wolf donated 25,000.00 to his run for mayor’s office, wow that’s more money spent on a run at the mayor’s office then, I believe he has put toward improving the O.co, and, yes I know it’s not his responsibility to fix the Coli, but it was not the Giants responsibility to fix Candlestick the last year or two they were there, but they did. So no the A’s don’t have the responsibility, to fix up the place but they could do something, more than likely they will be playing there for 3-5 more years. Wolf put money on someone’s run for the mayor’s office in Oakland, because the guy said “they’re out of here”, for some one that really tried to find a solution in Oakland that says a lot.

  25. And the guy she beat had his priorities correct- in my opinion-

  26. The Guy that donated 25G to the effort, had his underhanded priorities-in my opinion

    • Update 7/5 5:00 PM – The Trib’s Matthew Artz confirmed what we were all thinking:

      @newballpark Port says no work yet on EIR for #HowardTerminal and no plans for one right now. Would first need detailed and stable project.— Matthew Artz (@Matthew_Artz) July 5, 2013

      Get on that, Oakland. Chop chop!

  27. Wasit Quan, Knauss or just Oakland only supporters that claimed an EIR was in progress at HT- or all of the above?

  28. What, no EIR without an actual project’s impacts to analyze and report on? I’m sure Mayor Quan simply misspoke if she claimed the EIR work was underway. I’m sure she’s just as aware of the laws of CEQA as she is of the many trains rumbling past the HT site every day. Yeah, that’s it. She just misspoke.

  29. Oakland has their priorities wrong.

    They are trying to keep the Raiders. That is stupidity as with a 1B NFL stadium opening 35 miles away there is no way any investor in their right mind would invest in another 1B NFL stadium in the same market. Especially in the poorest and as Al Davis said “depressed” portion of the Bay Area. On top of the fact the Raiders lease expires after this season with no new lease signed yet…..Tells you they are seriously thinking about sharing Levi’s Stadium in 2014. SMH

    Then you have the Warriors, who in reality are telling Oakland that they are not even using them as a back up plan and are heading to SF. If SF fails, it maybe a solid bet they team up with the Sharks and do a massive renovation to the SAP Center for two teams and move there. The Warriors can charge higher prices in San Jose worst case. Yet Oakland sits there and does nothing, they should be offering sites for a new arena and renovating the current arena with public dollars actually made them money…..Yet they sit there and do nothing.

    Then you have the A’s…..Who unlike the Raiders (new stadium 35 miles away) and Warriors (Moving to SF or SJ) are stuck in Oakland. The city should be committing to the A’s and not the Warriors and Raiders because their options are limited to the East Bay currently. The fact San Jose is suing shows Oakland’s incompetence clearly. They should be going all out and even perhaps proposing public dollars to help build it.

    Jean Quan is lost in space, Oakland is going to lose all 3 teams because of their inability to prioritize which teams are more important.

  30. @Sid

    Preety deep and interesting points… As a more Raider fan.. I do wonder what is going on in Mark Davis head??? Is he really committed to Oakland??? Or is he thinking L.A or Santa Clara… Oakland loves the Raiders… so if and when the Raiders start winning on the field… they will have a better chance off the filed for a new stadium. I just hope Mark Davis has patience and should allow Oakland a few years to get their plan in order for a new stadium… so really Oakland may not be able to get the Raiders a new stadium until 2018 (and I predict that is when a deal will get done)so in my mind if Mark is willing to wait…he could have a new stadium by 2023…

    but we all are going to have to wait… as for the A’s… as fun as Howard Terminal and C.C have been… I think San Jose acting first could mean the end for the A’s in Oakland… its still a chance MLB will give Oakland a chance on Howard Terminal.. but Oakland’s only site and logical is the COliseum north site… which in my opinion could still be a great least expensive ballpark… im surprised nobody would welcome a site right next to the sma e Coliseum we go to anwyays.

  31. Xoot, I’m getting a vague sense you are not a JQ fan 🙂

  32. TW, I’ve had two mayors in a row here whose politics, in the abstract, more or less match mine, but who did (or, in the case of Quan, so far have done) nothing concretely positive for the city. Without the aggressive, if self-serving, reign of Jerry Brown, as he laid a foundation for his moves to AG and Governor, this town would be in terrible shape right now. As it is, with property and sales tax rebounding, it’s just in bad shape, with uncertain management.

  33. MLB snub of Donaldson, Balfour, etc. = due to SJ suit?

  34. Yes, the Giants are in last place or bordering on it and have 3 All Stars. The A’s are in first place and have just one. I guess that makes sense.

  35. Oakland city officials should perhaps be better served by retaining the Dubs and/or Raiders. It appears that both Wolff and San Jose are in this for the long haul. Wolff has already mentioned that in the future he would plan on turning over more responsibilty to his son to continue the A’s plans for the move. Also, with the value of pro sports franchises soaring, one would beleive a steep price would be needed to purchase the A’s from Wolff/Fisher.

    Furthermore, many San Jose city officials, both past and present, beside San Jose mayor Reed, are for the A’s move (this isn’t the whim of one politician), and the lawsuit is costing San Jose’s budget mininally. Both the A’s and San Jose appear determined to continue pressing the issue, and have plenty of incentive to continue doing so, with little reason to quit.

  36. @PJK and A’s fan

    all star stubs= small market bias and games being played late. If you are not LA/SF your players don’t get shown highlights of or voted on by fans. PPL know the A’s are good, but are still surprised that they are still in first place.

  37. @duffer,
    Agreed! Oaklands sole focus for sports should be the Raiders, who actually want to stay in town and whom the town has bent over backwards for since 1996 (see Mt. Davis). The A’s/Wolff on the other hand want out of dodge, are more reliant on corporate support/ higher disposable income for private financing and want to be in San Jose. MLB most likely also views SJ as the future long term home of one of its franchise (based on recent quotes from Wolff). Oakland, focus on and work hard to keep the girl who actually wants to stay with you!
    OT and FYI: The Farmers Union Restaurant (60 taps!) and updated O’Flaherty’s Irish pub (54 taps!) are adding to the beer scene of downtown San Jose. Will be perfect for future downtown baseball…;)

  38. @duffer, I agree with you. What the San Jose lawsuit is doing is forcing MLB to make a decision on whether to allow the A’s to move to San Jose much sooner than they would have wanted. The lawsuit has put a crimp in the plans of both MLB and Oakland’s city officials who wanted to use the proposed Howard Terminal ballpark site as a delaying tactic. It was hoped that the time covered by a five year Coliseum lease extension for the A’s could be used as a way to further play around with this Howard Terminal ballpark fantasy. Hopefully, both San Jose and the A’s will soon be getting the ball finally rolling towards getting the new A’s ballpark built.

  39. Wolff should agree to Howard Terminal, provided MLB is willing to double the A’s revenue-sharing and pay it in perpetuity. A lot of money is going to be needed to remedy the railroad and environmental situations at HT and MLB might as well be willing to pay it if it wants the A’s to stay in Oakland.

  40. @Tony D, llpec, definitely. Especially considering the contingency deal between San Jose and Cotchett (not costing SJ taxpayers a dime) The writing is on the wall concerning the A’s move to SJ. The A’s, San Jose, and the Cotchett firm appear to be bulldogs and will not be deterred easily.

    Also, knowing the SCOTUS view on about the MLB ATE (even though there have been a few stories to the contrary) the SCOTUS is evidently against the ATE (one of its judges even commenting that MLB stands little chance of retaining its TR privledge) and their recent 9-0 ruling against the NFL receiving a similiar TR exemption status as MLB’s – they may be looking for an excuse to do away with the MLB ATE entirely, and the the San Jose vs MLB case may give them an opportunity to do so. Selig likely does not relish the possibility of going to bat for the Giants in court and losing the ATE in the process.

  41. Why is HT being brought up? No money, no EIR, no consensus.

  42. The reason why I say Oakland should let the Raiders move to Santa Clara is because a football stadium will cost around 1B. A baseball stadium is around 500M and a basketball arena is around 500M as well.

    The Raiders will not be able to obtain any kind of private financing with the 49ers building 35 miles south in Santa Clara. No bank or investor are going put their money into something so expensive with something competing with it so close by.

    At least with the A’s and Warriors, their stadium or arena will draw multiple dates versus 10 for the Raiders and are half the price each to construct.

    With a new arena, Oakland can compete with San Jose for concerts and other events. A baseball stadium/arena can be used as a catalyst for businesses in the nearby area like ATT Park in SF. If the Warriors move to SF or SJ then the current arena is a waste of space. Oakland actually made money on the arena renovation but lost big on the Coliseum renovation…yet they cling to the Raiders???

    For Oakland to try with the Raiders and not the A’s or Warriors is flat out stupidity, the 49ers sealed the Raiders fate when they obtained financing for Levi’s Stadium. It costs double to build for a NFL team for 10 dates versus 41 (Warriors) and 81 (A’s).

    Instead the Warriors and A’s have announced their intentions to leave Oakland while the Raiders have a solid plan B already being constructed 35 miles away and can bolt after this season.

    Oakland should have been trying to build a baseball stadium and arena and forgo the football piece to cut costs down. Too bad there is not a site in Downtown Oakland or JLS where they could build both, or even in Brooklyn Basin.

    That would be pretty cool for the East Bay and it would be fun for people all over the market to come to and hang out with proper ancillary development.

    To bad it is to little and way to late.

  43. BTW…Coliseum City is not a cool place to build as the area around it is not good.

  44. @sid
    Im very anxious on what the A’s ballpark would look like in Coliseum City

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