Dave Kaval, president of the Oakland Athletics, wants a “partnership” with the Port of Oakland maritime industry so as to build the new A’s ballpark and “preserve and protect jobs on the waterfront.”
Speaking to the Harbor Safety Committee of the San Francisco Bay on August 8th, Kaval said that the A’s have pledged to:
Kaval projects groundbreaking on the site by 2021 and opening the ballpark by 2023.
Nevertheless, Kaval’s assurances still drew criticism from representatives of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
The two organizations’ opposition to the A’s ballpark reflects a new unity on the Oakland waterfront forged by two organizations that have not always worked together in the past. The two organizations say they are fighting to protect the Port of Oakland’s maritime future including the longshore, trucking, warehousing, freight-forwarding, brokerage, marketing and rail jobs that they say are under attack by real estate developers and their political allies.
Aaron Wright, business agent for ILWU Local 10, spoke out against the A’s proposal arguing that the A’s already had plenty of land at the current Oakland Coliseum site to build a new ballpark and for new condominiums.
Wright’s concern is that, in addition to the ballpark, the Oakland A’s are proposing to build condominiums next to the planned Howard Terminal ballpark.
“The overall picture is they want to put residential on this site right next to ….container operations. You have overweight trucking and rail running through here…. No multi-million condo owner is going to accept that at all…. Show us the overpasses. Show us the parking. Show us how this is going to work.”
Wright said he fears the result will be that maritime business and jobs will be driven away.
He urged Harbor Safety Committee members to support the ILWU’s effort to persuade the Oakland City Council to require the Oakland A’s build the new ballpark at its current site in East Oakland.
Kaval said the A’s are in the process of working with stakeholders on the environmental impact review and on the ILWU’s concerns and “to make sure this works for everyone.”
John Berge, vice president Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, appeared to agree with Wright and raised questions about whether the Athletics were acting in good faith.
Berge said PMSA is concerned that the Oakland A’s will not keep their environmental impact promises. He said the Athletics have hired lobbyists to work in the California Legislature, which he considers worrying. He says the lobbyists may be working to persuade legislators to insert amendments that would “bypass CEQA.” The result would avoid having the ballpark plan abide by provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
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