OAKLAND, Calif. - A key Bay Area commission may reverse a setback dealt to the Oakland A's plans to build a new waterfront ballpark.
Staff for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission said in a report released Monday that the land where the A's propose to build the ballpark is not needed by the Port of Oakland.
That announcement could reverse a setback in March when the commission's Seaport Planning Advisory Committee recommended the land be maintained for maritime use.
The report released Monday is a preliminary recommendation on the land known as Charles P. Howard Terminal. The commission is expected to decide June 30 whether to accept the recommendation.
Monday's "report is great news for Oakland and our region," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. "The best use of a dormant Howard Terminal is to convert it into a thriving waterfront ballpark neighborhood."
Port of Oakland officials also agreed with the recommendation.
"This is an important step that will allow the Port of Oakland, City of Oakland and the A's to continue making progress on the proposed project's economic and community benefits potential to transform the Oakland waterfront," port officials said in a statement Tuesday.
"The Port Commissioners will be able to move forward with planning efforts at the Howard property and the integration of Jack London Square into the project," port officials added.
An affirmative vote by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission next month would be a key step toward a new A's ballpark in Oakland.
Such a vote would remove 56 acres from Port land and "would not detract from the region's capability to meet the projected growth in cargo," the report says and is a key argument for relinquishing the land to the Oakland A's.
Based on a variety of input, the Oakland A's have "demonstrated that the cargo forecast can be met with existing terminals," the report says.
The referenced terminals include not just the ones at the Port of Oakland but around the region including, among others, Benicia and Redwood City. But dock workers maintain that the Port needs Howard Terminal to thrive.
"It is a nexus between the port cargo area, ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) training area, and ship turn-around," Trent Willis, past president of the ILWU Local 10, said in a statement. "It is critical to keeping trucks off of the streets of West Oakland and is next to a fully functioning industrial railroad."
Monday's preliminary recommendation is a step toward a new A's ballpark, but the team has more hurdles to jump.
The team is facing two lawsuits, one by the Union Pacific Railroad Company and another by the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, a coalition of marine, port and transportation interests.
Both lawsuits are challenging the certification of the ballpark's environmental impact report, another important part of process to approve the project.