Assemblyman introduces CEQA-streamlining bill for future A’s ballpark village

Now we know something is happening.

Sort of.

Yesterday, Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) submitted an amendment to AB 734, a bill working its way through the Assembly. Its purpose is to limit the number and length of potential legal challenges to an A’s ballpark and ancillary development. The language allows for the ballpark to be built at either the Coliseum or Howard Terminal sites.

(c) The city has identified two viable sites for the new baseball park, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site principally owned by the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda, and the Howard Terminal site owned by the Port of Oakland. The city seeks to capitalize on the development of a new baseball park to maximize the economic benefit of the team and its facilities for the city, county, and port, including critical transit and transportation infrastructure, affordable housing, open space, and job creation. Essential to the success and feasibility of the new baseball park is the development of complementary adjacent mixed-use residential, commercial, and retail uses that will support the baseball park and further the city’s and region’s goals for sustainable transit-oriented development, including an increase in supply of housing, including affordable housing.

Bonta’s district includes most of Oakland including West and East, Alameda, and San Leandro, so he can’t be accused of playing favorites among the sites. Though it’s somewhat curious that Peralta isn’t mentioned. That indicates that all parties have moved on.

Elsewhere in the text is the definition of the project (for CEQA purposes), which the A’s haven’t yet publicly presented:

(3) “Oakland Sports and Mixed-Use Project” or “project” means the following components of a sports center and mixed-use project located at the Howard Terminal site in the City of Oakland or the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site in the City of Oakland, from demolition and site preparation through operation:
(A) A baseball park that will become the new home to the Oakland Athletics and adjacent residential, retail, commercial, cultural, entertainment, or recreational uses developed by the Oakland Athletics, and that meets all of the following:
(i) The baseball park and each new mixed-use building achieves at least LEED Silver certification or its equivalent for new construction after completion or the project achieves at least LEED Neighborhood Design Silver rating or its equivalent.
(ii) The uses are subject to a comprehensive transportation demand management plan to reduce single-occupancy vehicles and prioritize other modes of transportation, such as public transit, waterborne transportation, ride-share, bicycles, and pedestrians.
(iii) The project is located within a priority development area identified in the sustainable communities strategy Plan Bay Area 2040 adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

The particulars are designed to ensure that the stadium project would qualify for CEQA streamlining. The implicit deadline for opponents to challenge the project is July 1, 2019, slightly more than one year from today.

A previous version of the law, AB 900, allowed for a few major sports facilities to be built, including the Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Center and the upcoming Chase Center. It also tracked with three failed SoCal football stadium projects: Farmers Field, the City of Industry Stadium, and the revamped Qualcomm Stadium.

Should the A’s end up starting a project (one should hope so), they should be prepared for resistance from all manner of environmental and community groups, as they saw with Peralta. The worry there may be diminished with the Coliseum, which already went through this process when Coliseum City was approved. Howard Terminal doesn’t have that yet, and may never get to that point. It’s expected that A’s brass will pick the site by the end of the year, kickstarting the CEQA review in the process. But could they try both sites simultaneously?

The All Bay Collective, a group of policy planners and environmentalists, started looking at areas in the Bay that could use strengthening against sea-level rise. Their plan for the Coliseum/Airport area, renamed Estuary Commons, is fascinating.

ABC’s Estuary Commons (Coliseum/Airport area)

Among the changes being considered are tidal ponds in the Coliseum parking area and a rerouting/tunneling of I-880 near Hegenberger Road and San Leandro Street. As far as I know these ideas are not being offered officially by the City of Oakland. Still, it’s interesting to consider the possibility of the Bay reclaiming part of the Eastshore as it’s doing with parts of the South Bay.

9 thoughts on “Assemblyman introduces CEQA-streamlining bill for future A’s ballpark village

  1. This is good news, it really gives an indication that something will acutely, hopefully, get done. I do find it odd that the CEQA was for HT, and the Coliseum site, as ML mentioned I guess that means Peralta is out of consideration all together.

    Of course I would prefer it at HT as many other fans would, and in spite of its many challenges we may as well find out if it’s possible, after all we have waited this long.

  2. Listen, if SF was able too pave the way for development of the land for the Chase Center, then it is within reason to believe that Oakland can as well.

    • The Warriors already got their first option, Piers 30-32, rejected. Chase Center is happening because its biggest opposition came from someone associated with, but not officially a part of, UCSF Mission Bay.

  3. Bonta’s billl needs to be broadened to include all feasible sites for the A’s in Oakland

  4. Hopefully the A’s hiring of Adam Buckfielder, as Vice President of Finance is another positive sign toward the eventual building of a ballpark in Oakland, or anywhere in the Bay Area. Da*n, this is taking forever.

  5. Have the A’s ever thought of taking the Kansas City route and keeping the seating bowl (one of the best in baseball) at the Coliseum, and redoing all the rest of the ballpark, from tearing down Mount Davis to reconstructing all the concession and player spaces in the ballpark? This weekend I saw a peak of the Oakland hills through the stands at the Coliseum and it reminded me of how nice the views used to be. And you could create a whole outfield pavilion with park or fountain. As dilapidated as the Coliseum is, there’s not a better place to watch a game, and I hate to lose that with a new ballpark.

    • @ Scott Schroeder

      That’s not a bad idea, in fact it makes a lot of economic since when just consider the cost of building of new ballpark.

      But, the coliseum is not Wrigley Field, and there have been rumblings about the Royals needing something new, and not simply remodeled.

      The A’s have to get this right, and sometimes you have to just do something new.

      At this point they stand to lose a lot of the wow factor if they build a new park at the same site, let alone remodeling at that site, which is why despite the heavy lift I think they are really considering HT.

    • The other problem with just shaving off and rebuilding the upper deck is that it still leaves you with the, well, crappy-ass pipes and plumbing in the lower bowl. Even redoing the player spaces won’t do it, because they would still have to connect up to a poorly designed drainage system that is (I believe) below mean sea level…and destined to get much worse, if you believe the Envirokooks.

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