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Lawsuit challenges new Oakland ballpark

It just wouldn’t be a large California development if there weren’t lawsuits challenging every step in the process: A coalition of shipping interests is challenging the environmental review of the waterfront Oakland Athletics ballpark for being inadequate.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday in Alameda County Superior Court by the East Oakland Stadium Alliance; Schnitzer Steel, a metal shredding facility in West Oakland; Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents port workers; the Harbor Trucking Association; California Trucking Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union. It comes in response to the Oakland City Council approving a 3,500-page environmental impact report (EIR), moving the Howard Terminal waterfront project along and meeting state requirements, specifically the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

The lawsuit argues that the city of Oakland did not follow state guidelines to identify and mitigate all potential adverse effects of the $12-billion Howard Terminal development, one of the largest non-transit developments in state history. The A’s have proposed a downtown Howard Terminal waterfront development featuring $12 billion in private investment, including a billion dollars for a new 35,000-capacity ballpark to replace the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as the team’s home. The development would also include 3,000 units of housing, as well as 1.5 million square feet of office space, 270,000 square feet of retail space, a 400-room hotel, 18 acres of parkland and an estimated $450 million in community benefits. It would represent a massive makeover of the Oakland waterfront, transforming a industrial site into a mixed-use development.

The groups filing the lawsuit have consistently opposed the project, arguing the waterfront makeover is inappropriate for a shipping port and that the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site is more appropriate for a new ballpark. The team’s counterargument is that the planned site is a disused storage area, not an essential part of a working port.

How much impact the filing has will be known fairly quickly, however, as state law requires that such lawsuits be resolved within 270 days. There is also plenty of other site work to be tackled as well in the rest of 2022, as the A’s development team will need to prepare mitigation plans for the likes of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and Department of Toxic Substances Control as well as work out details on affordable housing and community benefits for the project. And let’s face it: when dealing with any large development in California, there are going to be inevitable lawsuits challenging actions every step along the way. Both the A’s and the city were expecting this very lawsuit after the city approved the EIR. From SFGate:

“We think it’s absolutely crazy,” said Oakland A’s team president Dave Kaval Friday evening. “We think they should drop the lawsuit. It’s an odd way to use an environmental law to prevent the environmental review from being completed.”

Kaval added he spoke with Oakland city staff Friday about this lawsuit. “We are disappointed collectively about this.”

The A’s president also said “we will be very forceful to have this rescinded.”

Rendering courtesy Oakland Athletics.

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