'Deeply concerned': Alameda city leaders oppose Oakland Airport expansion

Alameda city officials released a harsh 110-page response to a proposal by the Port of Oakland to greatly expand the Oakland International Airport

The expansion plans for OAK, which is managed by the Port of Oakland, would be the first major upgrades in 40 years for the airport and would add up to 25 new gates. Travel forecasts say the upgrades would potentially bring around 24 million travelers to the area by 2038, an airport spokesperson previously told KTVU.

But Alameda officials said in their report that port authorities failed to adequately measure the impact on air quality, noise and traffic congestion when they conducted a draft environmental impact report.

The planned expansion at OAK already faced protests over the summer by Alameda residents worried about how more flights and travelers would affect their city of 80,000. 

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Alameda city officials said in Oct. 16 letter they are "deeply concerned with the [report's] failure to identify and mitigate… all of the potentially adverse impacts" from the proposed expansion.

"Of particular concern is the [report's] vague and misleading project description as well as the inadequate analysis of the Project’s potential air quality, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, human health risks, noise (including construction noise), and traffic/parking impacts, among others," Alameda's response letter states. "The [report's] failure to meaningfully consider a reasonable range of alternatives, including an environmentally superior and/or reduced size alternative, is also troublesome."

The Alameda response identifies five main themes it categorizes as deficiencies in the draft environmental report: 

  • An inadequate description of the project.
  • A lack of evidence for baseline environmental impacts.
  • An inadequacy to describe and mitigate potential adverse environmental effects.
  • A lack of sufficient alternatives for the project.
  • A lack of acknowledgment for previous settlement agreements between the City of Alameda and Port of Oakland regarding the duo's relationship.

Alameda city officials included comments from experts specializing in air quality and greenhouse gases, and noise pollution in their response letter. 

"In the areas of construction air quality impacts, operational air quality impacts, greenhouse gas emissions, and human health risks, the [Port of Oakland's report] omits important information and presents confusing data," Erin Sheehy, president of Environmental Compliance Solutions, Inc., wrote. "The [report] fails to adequately disclose to the public and decision-makers potential impacts associated with air pollution exposure as required by [California law]."


Oakland airport expansion proposal faces criticism

A proposal to add a third terminal to Oakland International Airport sparked a protest by environmentalists on Tuesday who predict it would contribute to climate change and increase pollution.

Alameda residents also voiced their concerns, which ranged from a lack of a rail transit for passengers to noise complaints to climate change impacts. 

The Port of Oakland said in a statement that it received Alameda's response and will review it. 

"The Port of Oakland appreciates all comments and input received on the Draft Environmental Impact Report and will review and respond to comments received," David DeWitt, a Port of Oakland spokesperson, said. "We also value the continued collaboration with the City of Alameda and other stakeholders on this potential Airport Terminal Modernization & Development project."

City leaders requested the Port of Oakland address the issues outlined in its response letter, but for now the expansion project is opposed by Alameda city officials. 

"Without proper mitigation, including best practices being implemented at other airports in California, the expansion Project will directly and unacceptably affect the well-being of the Alameda community, which is not an acceptable outcome to the City," Alameda leaders wrote. 

Read the City of Alameda's response letter in full here: