OAKLAND, Calif. - City councilmembers could take a crucial vote Thursday afternoon that will move the city closer or further away from an agreement with the Oakland A's for a new stadium in the city.
Councilmembers will vote on whether to certify the final environmental impact report, a necessary step toward a new ballpark. The A's are also considering building a ballpark in Las Vegas and moving the team there.
The $12 billion proposed project in Oakland includes a stadium seating about 35,000 people, up to 3,000 housing units nearby, a hotel with about 400 rooms, about 1.8 million square feet of commercial space, an arts venue for about 3,500 people and about 18 acres of parks.
The development will sit on about 55 acres at Howard Terminal on Port of Oakland property bordering the Oakland-Alameda Estuary. "A certified EIR will set the floor for the remaining negotiations, including robust community benefits and a development agreement that ensures that all Oaklanders benefit from this once-in-a-generation development," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said.
City councilmembers will act on three items Thursday. Councilmembers will consider a resolution surrounding the project's community benefits and compatibility with freight operations nearby.
Then the council will consider whether to certify the final EIR and whether to approve a jurisdictional ordinance describing what the city and what the Port of Oakland will do concerning the project. Oakland A's president Dave Kaval said the A's are hoping the City Council certifies the EIR.
"It's a big deal," Kaval said. "Years of work have gone into this." Community benefits may include the construction of affordable housing as part of the project, which has been an important issue for city officials, as well as anti-displacement support and traffic congestion mitigation.
The project is close to downtown and Chinatown. Benefits may also include environmental and air quality protections. Kaval has previously said the project will result in cleaner air in West Oakland, the neighborhood nearest to the proposed project and one that has suffered from air pollution from freeways and the Port of Oakland.
Many of the goods traveling through the Port go by rail, making it important that the project is compatible with freight operations. Not only will a bicycle and pedestrian bridge be built to accommodate travel over the nearby railroad tracks, but a bridge for vehicles is also planned, assuming the project is built.
The vote to certify the final EIR requires councilmembers to agree that the report complies with the California Environmental Quality Act, that the impacts of the project have been analyzed and mitigations have been identified and imposed and that the benefits of the project exceed adverse impacts that cannot be mitigated feasibly. Oakland cannot enter into any binding agreements with the A's for a new ballpark until councilmembers certify the final EIR.
The City Council will not be considering the construction of a gondola that had been proposed to take people to games at the ballpark. Councilmembers will also not be voting on a development agreement, also known as a binding financial agreement, for the project, and the final binding agreement necessary for the project.
Assuming the City Council approves the jurisdictional ordinance, the city will then take responsibility for Howard Terminal, which is currently on Port property.
The City Council could fail to vote Thursday, moving the vote to March.
City officials do not see that as a major stumbling block to getting the project done.
Following the vote on the final EIR, all the remaining approvals come forward together including a general plan amendment and among other things, the development agreement.
Summer is the soonest for those approvals, according to the city.
Kaval said the team continues to pursue sites in southern Nevada.
"We remain on parallel paths," he said, in Oakland and in Nevada until the team gets a new home. He said the team is "driving forward with great haste" toward that home. The A's lease at its current home at the Oakland Coliseum expires in 2024. "We're desperately running out of time," Kaval said.
The City Council meeting starts at 3:30 p.m. and the public can watch at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85184082009.