BUILD IT NOW

During last night’s Oakland City Council meeting, Council President Rebecca Kaplan noticed a bunch of people carrying preprinted placards.

Who pray tell printed a cheer card like this?

At a previous meeting Kaplan similarly admonished the gallery for turning the City Council meeting into a planned cheering session. That warning got the A’s to lighten up on the propaganda so as to establish some decorum. Perhaps this is another warning from the dais. Regardless, the MOU passed 8-0.

I was hoping the draft EIR would be released around the time of FanFest this weekend. No such luck.

This also follows up last week’s Port Board meeting where the same MOU (memorandum of understanding) was discussed, approved, and sent to City Hall. That particular meeting had more port industry interests and fewer A’s fans in attendance. The purpose of the MOU is ostensibly to combine effort and remove duplicative effort, another way to streamline the process. The A’s spent a lot of lobbying time and energy to streamline part of the process, but we’re getting to the nitty gritty portion. The Port conveniently put together a flowchart, which covers only the areas related to Port development activities.

Compare that to the Ballpark Tracker page the A’s put together. Here’s one of the slides:

Now take that list of accomplishments above and try to overlay it on top of the required work the Port maps out in their flowchart. If it seems like not that much has actually been done yet, you’re not wrong. We’re essentially at the red star in the flowchart and the serious talks begin once the draft EIR is published. The complicated nature of building on the waterfront, in a city with unique development challenges and numerous stakeholders to mollify, makes getting a project like this going extremely difficult.

There’s a bit of a disconnect here. The A’s want to open the ballpark by 2023. The ENA term sheet also runs out in 2023, yet the ballpark project requires all of the dotted I’s and crossed T’s before the A’s can break ground. You’ve probably noticed that the tentacles towards the right side of the flowchart aren’t under the City’s control. Regional and State agencies will determine what mitigation measures need to be made and what’s actually feasible in what timeframe.

For example, let’s take the 45-day comment period. There will be plenty of comments from regular citizens and entrenched businesses. Staff will be required to respond. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s also the time for lawsuits from those with vested interests. Major lawsuits won’t be adjudicated in 45 days. It’s highly unlikely that the Port interests, who are ready to wage war, are going to roll over in 45 days. Thankfully for the A’s, AB 734 allows CEQA lawsuits to be limited to 270 days. However, legal maneuvers aren’t typically accounted for in project plans. Even with litigation limits baked in, that’s not going to stop the well-heeled from utilizing their retainers.

At some point later this year, we might yet again hear about how shocked or surprised someone from the A’s or the City is about recent news. No one should be surprised about any twists or turns this story takes.

District 3 Council Member Lynette Gibson McElhaney punctuated the proceedings by calling the MOU part of an “iterative, deliberative, intentional process to ensure that if a development goes forward that it is good for Oakland.” This time around, I don’t doubt that.

6 thoughts on “BUILD IT NOW

  1. I am all for scrutiny and all, but…

    Let’s face it the A’s are eventually (hopefully) going to get a sweetheart deal regardless, but it really fills like folks like Kaplan, and Kalb are at best trying to score political points, and at worse trying to derail a transformative project.

    And, while there is still a long way to go, fortunately Kaval is doting his “I’s” and crossing his “t’s” every step of the way. Oh, well it’s all part of this way, way too long process.

    • If Oakland has to take more time to prevent a repeat of the Mount Davis and Warriors funding debacles, they should take all the time they need.

      • @ ML

        “If Oakland has to take more time to prevent a repeat of the Mount Davis and Warriors funding debacles, they should take all the time they need”

        Of course they should take all the time they need, and once they do…some of these grandstanders on the city council, will still want to go out in a blaze of glory as if Oakland was getting nothing but hosed.

        If HT works, it may be a bigger deal for Oakland then the A’s, the fact of the matter is Oakland has been trying for over 60 years to open up JLS, to make it a destination spot while connecting it to downtown, this project has the potential (once and for all) to actually do that, and while the few crazies on the city council probably won’t take the project down, they will do their best to act like it before we can get a ballpark built.

      • Being a responsible civic leader doesn’t equate to being crazy. Take it down a notch.

      • @ML

        “Being a responsible civic leader doesn’t equate to being crazy. Take it down a notch.”

        That’s exactly my point, Oakland’s city council has had a long history of having a member, or two, or three at a time, that being a responsible civic leader was secondary to their own agendas, fortunately if the project gets that far they probable wont derail it. But, okay I get what you’re saying.

  2. That flow chart is a bit depressing. But I remain cautiously optimistic, at least until the EIR starts getting torn apart. I’m expecting that to be a difficult process, not to mention all the approvals that come after the city approves it. Good reminder that the real work getting this approved hasn’t even started yet. Hope the A’s are up for all the battles that are about to come. They folded awfully fast at Laney.

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