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Elephant Rumblings: New details on Howard Terminal negotiations

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Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval leads a private tour of the Howard Terminal site 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 Friday, Athletics Nation!

You may recall that A’s President Dave Kaval was pretty tight lipped in his recent remarks to SFGATE about the team’s willingness to meet the Oakland City Council’s demand that 15% of housing at the proposed Howard Terminal development must be affordable, i.e. sold or leased at below market rate.

“I don’t want to negotiate through the media,” Kaval told reporter Alex Shultz.

But yesterday, Kaval was more forthcoming in comments to The San Francisco Chronicle, as East Bay Reporter Sarah Ravani detailed yesterday.

Kaval stated that the A’s are indeed willing to commit to the city’s onsite affordable housing requirement—in exchange for tax revenues from business activities at the site such as parking to help pay for infrastructure upgrades. However, the city rejected the A’s proposal, citing a belief that there are better ways to shore up the necessary infrastructure funds.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told The Chronicle the city is confident the A’s will meet affordable housing demands and will be submitting a counterproposal that lays out “superior ways” to cover the infrastructure costs.

This alternative would likely involve creation of an infrastructure financing district that would divert property taxes generated by the development to provide necessary infrastructure funding. The city is also seeking public funding from Alameda County; its supervisors have expressed support, but have yet to take a binding vote on the matter.

Meanwhile, Council Member and project opponent Noel Gallo has proposed a November ballot initiative that, if approved, would require an independent financial analysis on the project. This could be a setback for the project, as the same election could bring significant changes to the makeup of Oakland’s decision makers. Mayor Schaaf, an outspoken champion of the project, will term out of office this year. The A’s say Gallo’s proposal is merely a stall tactic.

Per Casey Pratt, the City Council’s rules committee voted to put a discussion of Gallo’s proposal on the council’s July 5th agenda:

Clearly, there will be plenty of hurdles ahead for the A’s if the next big one is cleared on June 30, when the SF Bay Conservation & Development Commission votes on Howard Terminal’s port designation status. But it does appear we may be getting into the late innings of this stadium saga.

Gird yourselves, AN.

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