The deadline for negotiating a deal between the City of Oakland and the A’s baseball team is fast approaching a climax and several community groups demonstrated outside the A’s office just south of Jack London Square last Wednesday on July 15. A special City Council meeting has been called for tomorrow morning on Tuesday, July 20 (details below on how to listen or participate).
Oakland Minister Cherri Murphy, from the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy, said that the billionaire Fisher family, the owners of the A’s and the primary developers of the ballpark, were ignoring the needs of low-income Oaklanders and residents near the proposed waterfront ballpark site at the Howard Terminal.
The action included a call for building affordable housing, living wage jobs, local hiring, environmental protections, and other agreements as part of the community benefits package.
“We would see that there is a third way forward: a path for this project to create affordable housing and living-wage job opportunities for Oaklanders, a way for the project to advance racial equity in concrete terms,” Murphy said.
“To guarantee this, we need a strong community benefits agreement. The City Council should adopt a term sheet that requires John Fisher to commit to a community benefits agreement that invests in Oakland’s people, not just real estate subsidized by taxpayers,” Murphy added.
Major differences have arisen between the City and Dave Kaval, President of the Oakland Athletics, after the City released its analysis for future revenues. Both expect significant future tax revenues from the ballpark and from any housing and business development in the area. But the City revenue analysis was only for a single special financial district in the area of the ballpark.
Kaval and the A’s are asking for a second, larger special financing district that would capture tax revenue from the greater Jack London area and those revenues are already committed to developing that area independent of the ballpark.
Adding to this difference, the A’s has recently clarified that they would not commit any funds or future revenues to low-income housing or the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) that many community representatives have worked on for all of 2020 and in recent months.
At the start of that process, representatives from the A’s allowed participants to believe that the team and site developers would consider ways to fund the CBA after the details were ironed out, including the possibility of using some of the ballpark revenues and/or developer profits from the housing and business development there. That no longer seems to be the case, and that has energized community groups to become more active at this 11th hour.
“If this project is done wrong, like what the A’s owner John Fisher is proposing now,” said Kaila Mathis of Urban Peace Movement, “it will continue to gentrify Oakland’s flatland neighborhoods and make it unlivable. But if John Fisher commits to real community benefits— 35% affordable housing, resources for tenants, environmental protections, living wage jobs, and hiring people from the community—we can see both the A’s and long term residents stay rooted here in Oakland.”
The rally also featured speakers from Chinatown. One speaker was concerned that the City’s Environmental Impact Report did not include impacts on Chinatown, including reduced air quality and a negative impact on business on game day since the proposed ballpark is less than a mile away. Tommy Wong said Chinatown was an important but ignored business and cultural hub for all Oaklanders and “This is what the A’s could plug into… if they had a Community Benefits Agreement.”
“…The community worries that Howard Terminal traffic will block access to Chinatown in search of parking and then bypass its businesses in favor of food and entertainment at the new development,” stated Evelyn C. Lee, president of the board of the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, in a Mercury News op-ed.
The next stage in this long saga occurs 9am tomorrow on Tuesday July 20th, at a special City Council meeting that many Oaklanders are expected to participate in.
ACCESSING JULY 20 SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING (from the City)
• To observe the meeting, the public may view the televised video conference by viewing KTOP channel 10 on Xfinity (Comcast) or ATT Channel 99 and locating City of Oakland KTOP – Channel 10
• To observe the meeting online from the City’s Agenda Meeting Calendar, at the noticed meeting time, please click on https://oakland.legistar.com/calendar.aspx and click on the “In Progress” link under “Video” for the corresponding meeting.
• To observe the meeting by video conference, please click on this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84979220775 at the noticed meeting time.
• To listen to the meeting by phone, please call the numbers below at the noticed meeting time: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 929 436 2866 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or 833 548 0282 (Toll Free) or 877 853 5247 (Toll Free) or 888 788 0099 (Toll Free) or 833 548 0276 (Toll Free) Webinar ID: 849 7922 0775 If asked for a participant ID or code, press #