The Port of Oakland’s Board of Commissioners approved the settlement with SSA that will free up Howard Terminal for a future ballpark. The unanimous approval was the first of two, but the second is expected to be a formality. SSA will vacate Howard Terminal to move down the harbor, where it will consolidate operations. SSA rival Ports America lobbied against the deal and is dangling a lawsuit threat over the Port. The longshoremen’s union is also protesting the new terms.
Now that we’re here, let’s present the remaining steps that will need to be completed in order to have a truly shovel-ready site.
- Need to draft and certify an environmental impact report. Can’t build anything on Howard Terminal without an EIR.
- Determine cost to cleanup/prep site. – Howard Terminal proponents claim they can build on the site with as little as $50 million in infrastructure. I’ve investigated this and I estimate that it’s not doable for less than $150 million. Who’s right? We’ll need the EIR (above) to find out.
- Determine cost to provide proper car & pedestrian access. – If there’s going to be a lot of parking on site, at least one new multi-lane overpass will need to be built over The Embarcadero at Market Street to provide access for those cars as well as emergency vehicles. Add to that at least one pedestrian bridge from the eastern end of the site and numerous streetscape improvements, and the infrastructure bill could grow significantly.
- Avoid other lawsuits. – In working to settle one lawsuit, the Port could find itself fighting a lawsuit two-front war against Ports America and the ILWU. While the labor battle could be resolved through arbitration, a Ports America lawsuit could end up like SSA, dragging on for years. To satisfy SSA, the Port agreed to take it on the chin to the tune of $40 million over the next four years.
How much of this will the Port and Oakland backers accomplish? It’s up to them. There’s only one way to find out – get cracking on that EIR. Without these steps Oakland doesn’t have a site. MLB is looking for something that’s shovel-ready, and the road to getting there is a long one.