Over the weekend, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that allows the Oakland A’s to receive an expedited judicial review process if a Howard Terminal ballpark project faces a legal challenge over environmental concerns.
The A’s are in the process of evaluating their site options for a new ballpark, including the waterfront Howard Terminal and the Oakland Alameda-County Coliseum property. The team has not made a final decision, but the bill signed into law by Brown on Sunday could help it if it moves forward with a Howard Terminal ballpark.
Under the terms of the bill, any legal challenge against the A’s over environmental concerns from a new ballpark project would have to be resolved within 270 days. As noted, the team has not made a final decision on a prospective ballpark site, but the bill has particular implications for Howard Terminal. While the Coliseum has already been subjected to thorough environmental testing, Howard Terminal will require a full environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). If a proposal at Howard Terminal were to be met with a legal challenge, this legislation would mandate a faster resolution. That is why ballpark proponents were hoping that this legislation would be signed into law, as the A’s are working to open the new facility in time for the 2023 season. More from the San Francisco Chronicle:
“Not only does this bill help keep the A’s rooted in Oakland, it’s a ‘W’ for local workers, affordable housing and the environment,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. “I will continue to work with the A’s to build a ballpark that’s responsible to our taxpayers and enhances neighborhood vitality — whether that neighborhood is at Howard Terminal or the Coliseum.”
Team President Dave Kaval said the law ensures that a ballpark would be ready for a 2023 opening. For now, the A’s are working out economic terms of potential land deals at the two sites, he said.
“We’ve been really pleased, especially with the port and their staff,” he said recently.
The Sierra Club and Judicial Council of California — the policy-making arm of the state court system — both opposed the legislation.
It should be noted that approval of such legislation is not uncommon for certain development projects in California, including new professional sports facilities. The A’s have been working for years to replace the Coliseum, with their current efforts focused on constructing a replacement ballpark in Oakland.
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