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Elephant Rumblings: Oakland City Council expected to vote on Howard Terminal EIR today

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Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval displays a map of the Howard Terminal site and surrounding area in Oakland, Calif. on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 where the baseball team is hoping to build its new stadium. Photo By Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Happy Thursday, Athletics Nation!

Around the same time that the MLB and MLBPA will be meeting for the next round of lockout bargaining, the Oakland City Council will gather for a public hearing about the final Environmental Impact Report on the Howard Terminal ballpark project. There is some expectation that a binding vote on the EIR will take place alongside the hearing. This follows unanimous recommendation of certifying the EIR from the Oakland Planning Commission in January.

While the certification of the EIR doesn't mean an immediate jump to shovels in the ground, it’s another step in the slow march to a new ballpark for the A’s. There are a few key things to know about today’s hearing, and ABC Bay Area’s Casey Pratt detailed them on twitter yesterday.

First, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf put out a statement, and spoke publicly regarding the hearing and potential vote.

While the Mayor’s words stay relatively surface level regarding the vote, she does emphasize the amount of work done, even after the Planning Commission’s recommendation.

The scope of the EIR doesn’t just relate to the environmental feasibility of the stadium itself, but also the surrounding area’s infrastructure, namely getting people to and from the park.

Lastly, certifying the EIR with a binding vote allows things to continue moving forward, even if everything adjacent to the direct environmental impact of the ballpark site is not yet settled.

The Mayor’s words and Council’s memo seem to show that we should expect the binding vote on the EIR to happen today post-hearing, not only to help advance the project, but also to free up city resources. Between the long, long, long span of time we have waited for a new ballpark for the Athletics, and the crawling pace of this winter’s lockout negotiations, it will be nice for A’s fans to have a bit of progress (however small) on both fronts today.

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