It took an eight-hour meeting that extended to nearly midnight, but the Oakland A’s completed a significant step Thursday in their quest for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal.
The Oakland City Council voted to certify the proposed project’s Environmental Impact Report, per Casey Pratt of ABC7 and others. The EIR process is now complete, and the team and city can shift their focus toward negotiating the final financial details of the $12 billion plan.
The EIR is a critical step in the path toward sealing this deal, and a long time in the making. The 3,500-page document studies how the project will affect the surrounding area, covering topics like housing, transportation, and the environment. Nearly one year ago today the city released its draft of the report, and in December they put out the final version including responses to public feedback. Four weeks ago, the Oakland Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the report for certification by the City Council, leading to today’s vote.
Apropos of every other chapter in this saga, Thursday’s success didn’t come quickly or easily. The council meeting featured several hours of rigorous public commentary, with some folks raising concerns and others offering enthusiastic support, plus further discussion by the councilmembers themselves. Sarah Ravani of the S.F. Chronicle summarized the proceedings in an extensive Twitter thread, which you can click here to read.
Public comment has ranged from support for the project and certification of EIR from building trades and some residents to opposition and concerns that the EIR doesnt fully take into account impacts of the project (cont)— Sarah Ravani (@SarRavani) February 18, 2022
As the evening wore on toward 9:00, everybody involved was at least able to agree on one thing, as noted by Steve Berman of The Athletic:
There was just a motion to extend the meeting past five hours, which was enthusiastically approved. Council members are a different breed.— Steve Berman (@BASportsGuy) February 18, 2022
Despite how long it took, the forum was an important opportunity for people to have their voices heard and their questions answered.
I thought the same thing when I was listening. You are right.— Casey Pratt (@CaseyPrattABC7) February 18, 2022
With the clock ticking past 11:00, the members finally took their vote, approving the certification by a 6-2 margin.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released the following statement after the vote:
Tonight’s vote by the City Council was a historic moment for Oakland’s future. The companion resolution by Councilmembers Bas, Kaplan, and Kalb ensures that all Oaklanders will benefit from the proposed waterfront ballpark district, and that a world-class development with 18 acres of new public parks, 3,000 units of housing – including new affordable housing – will get built with the most sustainable and highest environmental standards on our waterfront.
Now that the Final Environmental Impact Report has been certified, the floor is set for negotiating robust community benefits that our residents demand and deserve, as well as the final development agreement.
Tonight’s action is more than a milestone – it’s a giant leap forward in our shared mission to create a regional destination that gives back our waterfront to the public, connects a new vibrant neighborhood to our downtown, and provides tens of thousands good union jobs for our residents – and it does it all while keeping our beloved A’s rooted in Oakland.
The EIR is the second item on the agenda today. Up now is a resolution that directs staff to work on community benefits and freight compatibility — and bring to council either before or at same time of the [development] agreement.
Pratt shared videos of a few key speakers:
- Councilmember Carroll Fife: Expressing concerns regarding community benefits
- Councilmember Noel Gallo: Taking issue about the team’s threats of moving to Las Vegas
- Port Executive Director Danny Wan: Turning Basin feasibility study
- Councilmember and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan: Explaining the first resolution, about community benefits and freight compatibility
- Councilmember Loren Taylor: “Everyone can get what they want, we just have to work together.”
- Councilmember Taylor again: Expressing continued support, but noting there’s more work to be done and “we can’t and will not sell our soul of the city for peanuts.”
- Public comment: 17-year-old speaks up for the positive effect of sports on local youth
However, the public cavalry did remain confused on one detail of the situation, whether cavalierly or purely by accident.
0% of the public commenters who have mentioned Dave Kaval have pronounced his name correctly.— Steve Berman (@BASportsGuy) February 18, 2022
In two decades, we’ve never seen an Oakland stadium project get this far. Not even close. It’s still not a done deal, but out of the various big updates in the past year, this might be the biggest. There are multiple branches to this endeavor and one of them is now finished.
Next up is figuring out the money, for which there is already a non-binding agreement but not yet a final accord. That means one thing: It’s Binding Vote Season. #BindingVoteSzn