Bonta bill would limit regulatory lawsuits against A’s proposed ballparks

A few years back Major League Baseball instituted a pitch clock to speed up the pace of the game. On Monday, East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta introduced legislation, if approved, that could do the same for two sites in Oakland being eyed as the next home of the Oakland Athletics.

Bonta’s bill would limit the time frame for the filing of lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The law was enacted to protect the environment, but has also been used in recent years, through litigation, to bring large construction projects grinding to a halt.

“It is the type of large-scale project that will benefit from a streamlined judicial review process and the procedures described in the California Environmental Quality Act,” according to the bill. “It is therefore in the interest of the state to expedite judicial review of the proposed project, as appropriate, while protecting the environment and the right of the public to review, comment on, and, if necessary, seek judicial review of, the adequacy of the environmental review of the project under the California Environmental Quality Act.”

Howard Terminal rendering
Although the Athletics have stated interest in Howard Terminal, a rendering of the proposed ballpark has not been released. A previous interpretation from 2015 includes iconic Port of Oakland cranes on the right field porch.

Assembly Bill 734 is similar to legislation that involved new downtown arenas for the Sacramento Kings, and locally, for the Golden State Warriors’ arena, under construction across the bay in San Francisco.

Ironically, the Warriors arena bill, authored by San Francisco Assemblymember Phil Ting, was opposed by Bonta in 2013. In fact, the nine votes in opposition mostly came from the East Bay. Assemblymember Bill Quirk and then-Assembymembers Nancy Skinner, Susan Bonilla, and Bob Wieckowski voted no. Same in the State Senate with Sen. Ellen Corbett and Mark DeSaulnier opposing.

Like the Warriors’ Chase Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, the Howard Terminal ballpark site, located just north of Jack London Square in Oakland, is on the waterfront. Howard Terminal, due to its past industrial uses could provide some environmental concerns. In addition, building near the San Francisco Bay is notoriously fraught with regulatory concerns.

Bonta’s bill also includes references to the franchises other stated venue for a new ballpark–the current Oakland Coliseum complex.

But the legislation appears tailored more toward Howard Terminal. In either case, the Athletics plan on privately financing the new ballpark, wherever it will ultimately be located in Oakland.

 

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