Oakland A’s ballpark plan gets critical vote to go ahead

Oakland — A month after the city released its final 3,500-page report assessing the environmental impact of a proposed waterfront ballpark and housing development, the Planning Commission asked the city council on Wednesday to recommend the report be certified. Voted, an important document whose approval is vital to make development a reality.

The Planning Commission’s vote was unanimous, but it was a controversial decision for a group of dozens of people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting urged the commission to delay the decision. Some said they believed the document was not sufficient and wanted the commissioner to ask for a further analysis of the project’s impact.

While many decisions are yet to be made, including actual certification of a legally required environmental impact report by the city council, supporters of A’s proposed project celebrate the commission’s vote as a milestone.

Mayor Libby Schaff said, “Tonight’s recommendation by the Planning Commission to send the final environmental impact report to the city council for certification is a huge victory for our entire region and allows Oakland to build a historic waterfront ballpark district with the highest environmental standards.” one step closer to it.” in a written statement.

Since its release as a draft in February, the report has received nearly 400 comments or questions from various government agencies, community organizations and individuals about the project’s potential impact on traffic, air quality, infrastructure and other environmental elements. Huh.

City employees who spent months responding to comments indicate in their responses that they believe building a 35,000-seat ballpark at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal and replacing it with 3,000 housing units, 1.5 million square feet There are no significant environmental constraints in the encirclement team’s plan. office space and 270,000 square feet of retail space, as well as hotel rooms and parks.

Others – including those who have long opposed the project – disagree.

In a written statement, a coalition dubbed the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, which largely consists of businesses that work at the port and their union’s staff, said, “The final EIR fails to address those important concerns. community stakeholders and agencies, particularly with regard to health, safety, traffic, air quality and toxic treatment.”

Members of the group have expressed concern that the environmental report does not provide enough detail about plans to clean up toxic substances in the soil at the site, which will be overseen by the state’s Toxic Substance Control Department. They also express concerns about the project’s impact on the trucks that currently use Howard Terminal in their port operations, and on the overall traffic impact in the area.

Mike Jacob, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and a part of the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, has stated several times that he is concerned about the project’s impact on port operations, and that the environmental impact report did not adequately address the concerns. Is. ,

The planning commissioners clarified during the meeting that they were not officially approving the project and that the city council would have to address several questions from the public regarding it. Instead, his greenlighting of the environmental report was an acknowledgment that, in his estimation, the report complies with the law and is sufficiently complete.

The city council may consider the environment report as early as next month, city employees said in December. But no vote has been set. Even if they approve the report and “certify” it as required by law to proceed with the project, other major steps must be taken before any construction can begin.

Cities and A are still negotiating the terms of a financial deal and issues such as affordable housing and community benefits are sticking.

City leaders want at least 15% of A’s 3,000 housing units to be affordable and that at least $50 million be shelled out to build affordable housing elsewhere in Oakland. Kaval said last month the city and team had not finalized a housing plan, but “the city knows what our situation is.” He did not elaborate, but had opposed that plan earlier this year.

There is also the issue of $400 million in funding for infrastructure work such as improvements to roads and sidewalks and sewer, water and power lines, as well as the construction of pedestrian bridges to bring people to and from the site.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors tentatively indicated its intention to join the city in creating a special funding district to help fund infrastructure improvements, but its support was weak and non-binding. County supervisors indicated that they would conduct their own financial analysis before making a final decision.

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