A’s management announced an intention to
build a new ballpark in the above area near
Laney College in
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL
Legislation that would have placed short-term controls aimed at hindering speculative real estate moves in and around the proposed A’s ballpark near Laney College was put on hold Tuesday by the Oakland City Council Community and Economic Development Committee.
The ordinance authored by Councilmember Abel Guillen proposes to place a temporary two-year zoning overlay on the Chinatown/East Lake neighborhoods in order to limit demolition of buildings, construction of parking lots and plans for large-scale developments in anticipation of the team building at the site.
In the months following the announcement by the A’s to seek the Peralta site for construction of a roughly 35,000-seat ballpark, Guillen, who represents the area in District 2, has expressed consternation over the potential for real estate speculators to swoop in and set the stage for displacement of existing residents, many of which are immigrants.
But the committee members voiced concerns over whether the proposed ordinance was fully baked. “I just don’t understand the sense of urgency since there is no development and the Peralta board hasn’t made a decision [on whether to lease or sell the land to the A’s],” said Councilmember Larry Reid. Instead, he urged Guillen to conduct further outreach to all voices in the community. “The way it is right now, if you ask me to vote on it, I just couldn’t do it,” he said.
Reid, though, later expressed support for the team to build its new ballpark at the existing Coliseum site. He told the committee that he recently stated to A’s President Dave Kaval that, in fact, the Peralta location is the “worst site you could pick.”
The proposed zoning overlay would include areas between Franklin Street, Lake Merritt and Interstate 880 to the south and remain for two years or until permanent rules are enacted, said city staff. Demolitions in the area would require additional review and apply to all buildings. A similar overlay exists in West Oakland intended to reserve low-cost, non-historical warehouses for use by those in the makers community.
In addition, new large developments, which might typically be under the purview of the city’s planners, would instead be reviewed by the Planning Commission. Construction of newly-paved parking lots would also be limited under Guillen’s plan, which he said was created after meeting with local stakeholders over the past two months.
Guillen told the committee that the restrictions were needed now in order to dissuade speculators and protect vulnerable residents. The Peralta Community College Board of Trustees will also begin laying out its potential year-long process for determining its actions on whether to lease or sell the property to the A’s, said Guillen, thereby necessitating the city to keep ahead of speculators.
Greg McConnell, a representative for the Oakland Jobs and Housing Coalition, said Guillen’s proposal is a rush job that excluded property owners from the conversation and is tantamount to a moratorium on development.
There’s no evidence of speculation within the proposed ballpark area, McConnell added. “We understand that there are people in that community that need to be protected,” he told the committee, and a solution could be achieved through outreach with property owners.
Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, like other committee members said she supports the general proposal, but expressed concern the plan might hold some unintended consequences for her district across the freeway from the Peralta site.