Another day, another lawsuit: the port operators and trucking firms steadfast in their opposition to a new Howard Terminal waterfront ballpark and development pitched by the Oakland A’s are back again with yet another lawsuit, this one arguing that a state agency improperly approved the project.
In late June the the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) approved the Howard Terminal waterfront ballpark and development, ruling the project would not negatively effect Port of Oakland operations. The A’s, as well as port officials and BCDC staffers, argued that the project could co-exist with port operations well into the future, and that the existing port operations would not expand to where the Howard Terminal area is located.
The group of port operators and trucking firms took issue with this decision, saying the BCDC did not adequately assess the environmental impact of the project, as mandated by state law. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Mike Jacob, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents port workers, said BCDC failed to properly evaluate the project’s impacts before recommending that the commission should vote in favor of the A’s request. He said the commission should have allowed their advisory group to do further analysis on the staff recommendation before taking a vote.
“There is absolutely no question that there are significant environmental impacts,” Jacob said. “It’s more complicated than the A’s and the city would like it to be. They are trying to push something through, but that’s not how you do regional planning and that’s not how our system is set up.”
So far there are three lawsuits opposing the project (including this one), but by law they need to be decided within 270 days of the lawsuit being filed. Legal opposition to the project seems to have coalesced around the argument that the project has not received the proper level of analysis about environmental impact. And that’s the key to this newest lawsuit: the BCDC did not do a proper level of environmental impact. How seriously the courts consider this lawsuit will depend on how the courts interpret an evaluation of the economic impact of the project.
The A’s are proposing 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 an industrial site into a mixed-use development.
If these lawsuits end up going nowhere, the next steps will be the city and the team working out leases for the ballpark and project, addressing issues like community benefits and affordable housing. State and federal funds are planned for use on infrastructure upgrades in the area; the vast majority of this development will be privately financed.
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