Two bills intended to ease development of a new Oakland A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square moved forward in the state Legislature last Friday.
The A’s have stated an intent to build on the land, which is part of the Port of Oakland adjacent to Jack London Square, but is no longer operating as a marine terminal. Trucks still use the property and Schnitzer Steel operates there.
Senate Bill 293, introduced by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, passed the state Assembly 48-7 on Aug. 30, according to Skinner.
That bill would create alternative means for the city of Oakland to form an infrastructure financing district, which would make a financing plan to spend unspecified tax dollars on infrastructure projects related to the ballpark.
The funds could be spent on highways, sewage, flood control and water run off in addition to childcare facilities, libraries, parks, ground pollution restoration, low-income housing, port infrastructure, seismic retrofit and other improvements to the area.
The bill already passed the Senate unanimously, but will return for another vote before going to Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign, Skinner said.
A second bill, AB 1192, would authorize the State Lands Commission to settle some boundary disputes, facilitate an exchange, and work with agencies that would have jurisdiction on the project’s development, such as the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
The bill was introduced by state Assemblyman Rob Bonta and passed the state Assembly 69-1 in May. On Aug. 30 it passed the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously.
Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval trumpeted the votes on Twitter.
“Another great vote today in Sacramento!” Kaval wrote, referring to the Bonta bill. He also addressed Skinner directly: “Thank you for your leadership on this critical piece of legislation for the Athletics waterfront ballpark!”
The ballpark projects, and Bonta’s bill, have drawn some opposition from companies and unions operating at the port, who argue that the site of the exiting Coliseum is a better location for a new ballpark and that building at Howard Terminal will disrupt business at the port.
“AB 1191 prematurely mandates action by the State Lands Commission to expedite these waterfront developments, without justification and years before a specific Howard Terminal project’s impacts and alternatives have been evaluated in an Environmental Impact Report,” said a statement by a coalition of 15 unions, companies and advocacy groups, including local chapters of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.
“No action by the State Lands Commission to exchange public trust lands is justified at this time,” they said.