It figures that right before a hearing, hours after I mention the latest lawsuit in a post, that one of the parties chooses to drop the lawsuit.
That’s what happened tonight, as the Oakland City Council ordered the City Attorney to drop the lawsuit over the Coliseum land. Per the Chronicle’s Sarah Ravani:
That was followed by the A’s own release:
Okay, now what? Well, don’t break out the shovels just yet. Why? Because the key sentence in the City’s statement is this:
Additionally, the Council directed the issuance of a surplus land notice on the Coliseum site, a legally required precursor to selling public land.
According to the checklist (PDF) put together by nonprofit law firm Public Advocates, that’s gonna add at least 60 days to the land sale process. I expect the City to continue to negotiate concessions from the A’s in the interim. As affordable housing is not a huge moneymaker without some sort of subsidization effort, I wouldn’t expect a ton of better offers than what the A’s can provide. The important thing, though, is that the process is being followed properly, and codified in the Surplus Land Act is a desire to approve bidders that can provide 25% of the constructed units as affordable or below market-rate.
There’s also a provision to approve park uses for surplus land, which may require a small zoning change if it’s what the A’s have on the drawing board – converting the Coliseum into a park/amphitheater.
Throughout all of the legal and political wrangling during the fall, both City and County had rather different takes on who was following the right procedures with the Surplus Land Act. Both the park and affordable housing are in the A’s plans, which has me wondering why the City and County couldn’t get on the same page in September when this mess started. Similarly, why would the A’s go along with a plan so likely to face political friction? Perhaps they wanted to take the procedural express lane to Howard Terminal. So much for that. Over at Beyond the Box Score, Sheryl Ring provided greater insight into the specifics of the law.
For this whole concept – ballpark at Howard Terminal, redevelopment of the Coliseum – there’s a great deal of work to flesh out the details. If the A’s end up putting no affordable housing at Howard Terminal and try to place all of the affordable units at the Coliseum, that’s likely to go over like a lead balloon. Then again, it’s unclear if Howard Terminal itself is subject to the Surplus Land Act, which would really throw a wrench into the A’s projections.
I was surprised when Rob Manfred used the move threat card at what I considered a very early juncture. Then I remembered that the commissioner can use it whenever he likes without fear of reprisal. Antitrust exemption, you know. Exhale, everyone.