Groups are expressing various grievances over a proposed Oakland A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal, pointing to concerns such as traffic and the facility’s impact on bar pilots.
Late last year, the A’s unveiled a plan that calls for a new ballpark at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal that will be surrounded by new development. The organization is hoping to open the new privately financed ballpark in time for the 2023 season, but must complete several steps before moving forward with the project, including an environmental review of the site.
Amidst concerns about an effort to get state lawmakers to push a bill that would fast track the project’s permitting process, several groups are voicing their opposition to a ballpark at Howard Terminal. Among them is Save the Bay–which fears that the lack of transit accessibility will increase vehicular traffic–and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, an entity representing several Port of Oakland tenants that is concerned that adjacent development will complicate the ability of trucks to get in and out of the Port and ultimately limit future industrial uses.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Bar Pilots is expressing concerns that lighting from the ballpark will adversely affect the vision of pilots and potentially contribute to collisions with kayaks. The A’s have emphasized that they are not turning to state lawmakers to fast track the permitting process, and that they are working to address the concerns. More from the San Francisco Chronicle:
“Navigating a large container ship through such congested waters would substantially increase the risk that a small vessel or kayak will be damaged or sunk … resulting in personal injury or fatalities, or cause the ship or tugs to go aground or strike a pier in evasive maneuvers, resulting in an oil spill,” [San Francisco Bar Pilots President Joseph] Long contended in the Jan. 14 letter to the BCDC.
The opposition appears to be mobilizing because of a concern that there is a behind-the-scenes effort to get state lawmakers to pass legislation to fast-track the permitting process for the stadium.
“Our concern is that the A’s and the citizens of Oakland are creating an approval process that may be legally vulnerable,” Lewis said.
A’s President Dave Kaval said there were no plans to ask Sacramento to shortcut the process — if anything the team is pushing to include “environmental justice” issues.
As for the questions about traffic, lights and blinding the bar pilots, Kaval said the team was looking at “everything from the traffic to the ballpark’s lights to make sure the stadium is designed and built to take into consideration all of the stakeholders’ uses.”
The A’s have been searching for years to replace the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. A previous proposal for a new Oakland ballpark near Laney College stalled in late 2017 amid neighborhood opposition, so the team has been hoping that their latest proposal–which also includes a redevelopment of the Coliseum site–can clear the necessary hurdles. Whether some of the skepticism surrounding Howard Terminal can be addressed remains to be seen, but it will be an area to follow as the A’s continue their push for a new ballpark at the site.
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