A’s ballpark legislation passes early committee; another bill to be heard Wednesday

Like an early season extra-inning baseball game, A’s fans waited all afternoon for an opportunity to show their support for an Assembly bill that could stitch together a crazy quilt of land trust issues for the proposed Howard Terminal ballpark

It wasn’t a walk-off victory just yet, but the Assembly Natural Resources Committee Monday evening moved the bill introduced by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, as the city, Port of Oakland, and other jurisdictions begin laying the groundwork for regulatory approval of the privately financed waterfront ballpark.

The bill moves next to the Assembly Local Government Committee after the 7-0 vote.

“This project means a great deal to Oakland and the East Bay. It’s not only about baseball,” Bonta told the committee. “AB1191 is vital to keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland,” he added, referring to the legislation’s number and the team’s marketing slogan.

An estimated 2,000 construction jobs will be created by the proposed ballpark at Howard Terminal, said Bonta.

But the bill heard Monday hopes to stitch together a “patchwork” of wetlands, filled-in former tidelands, and title uncertainties at the Howard Terminal site, which is just north of Jack London Square.

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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in Sacramento April 22 to register her support for the A’s Howard Terminal ballpark proposal.

The legislation does not remove authority from the governmental bodies that typically oversee waterfront issues in the area, such as the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), State Lands Commission, the Port of Oakland, and the City of Oakland, Bonta told the committee.

The issue of maintaining local governmental oversight appeared to be crucial to some members of the Natural Resources Committee, based on their comments Monday.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and A’s President Dave Kaval briefly addressed the Assembly committee in support of the legislation. A long line of supporters clad in A’s green and gold also offered encouragement.

But an equal-sized group of union members who work at the port, stated opposition to the bill, asserting a ballpark and housing would undermine the working port and ultimately mean a loss of jobs.

Another piece of legislation associated with the proposed Howard Terminal ballpark comes to the State Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Wednesday. Senate Bill 293, authored by East Bay State Sen. Nancy Skinner will allow the city of Oakland to establish an infrastructure financing plan for the ballpark waterfront district and later the issuance of bonds.

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