The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) held a public meeting Thursday to discuss an application by the Oakland Athletics to remove a port priority use area designation at a site at the Port of Oakland where the team wants to build a waterfront ballpark. A BCDC staff report on May 2 stated that the land known as Charles P. Howard Terminal is not needed by the Port of Oakland, making it a prime area for new construction.
BCDC representatives, the Port, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf reiterated that sentiment during the public hearing Thursday, saying that the Port is expected to grow slowly enough to eliminate the need for Howard Terminal through at least 2050.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to address sea level rise and climate threats, to create thousands of good living wage and union jobs, as well as retain Oakland’s last professional sports team,” Schaaf said.
The commission is scheduled to vote on the proposed amendment on June 30 and held Thursday’s meeting to invite public comment as well as presentations from stakeholders. Other city officials and several public commenters said a new ballpark will not only bring utility to an empty part of the waterfront, but will create union jobs, and bring in up to $10 million in property taxes.
“This is bigger than baseball,” said Oakland resident Jennifer Arbuckle. “Hundreds of thousands of union jobs will be kept, and more will be added.”
With a record number of public comments, including those submitted online, some dock workers and maritime professionals spoke up in strong opposition to the proposal, saying that Howard Terminal adds to the city’s economic engine.
According to Susan Ransom, client services manager for SSA International, a company that operates at the Port of Oakland, Howard Terminal is not dormant, but functioning at 100 percent capacity as recently as two days ago.
Other members of the public were concerned with the increased rent prices that the ballpark may bring. Oakland A’s representative Dave Kaval said the ballpark will not only bring in $7 billion in economic impact, but retail space and 3,000 residential units, with some dedicated to affordable housing.
Trent Willis with International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 said that the proposed affordable housing will likely not be attainable for the average Oakland resident. The meeting continued Thursday afternoon but the commission’s vote on the proposal will not be until the end of the month.
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