Attorneys for the city of Oakland have asked a judge to issue a preliminary injunction barring Alameda County from selling its half ownership of the 155-acre Coliseum complex to the Oakland A’s baseball team for $85 million.
The city’s lawyers expected Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch to grant the injunction, which would extend a preliminary temporary restraining order he issued on Oct. 1, because the city likely would prevail if the case goes to trial.
The city filed its legal papers even though the City Council voted this month to enter into exclusive negotiations with the A’s to sell the city’s half of the Coliseum to the team.
However, the city still has not dropped the lawsuit it filed on Sept. 27 seeking to bar the county from selling its half ownership of the Coliseum complex to the A’s.
In filing its latest motion, the city also ignored a large group of business leaders who held a news conference on the steps of City Hall calling on Oakland to drop the lawsuit.
Oakland attorney Burt Boltach, one of the members of the Town Business group, said, “The lawsuit is not in the best interest of the city. We need leadership, not lawsuits.”
The city and the county have jointly owned the Coliseum complex since 1964 and the city has been trying to buy the county’s half of the property since 2015, but the talks broke down in February.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors then voted on April 23 to authorize negotiations with the A’s to sell the county’s half interest for $85 million.
The county’s proposal to sell its share of the Coliseum property to the A’s, who currently play at the aging stadium there, comes as the team is pursuing a plan to build a new baseball-only stadium at the Howard Terminal waterfront site north of Jack London Square.
Simultaneously, the A’s want to redevelop the existing Coliseum complex into a site that could include a large park, housing and businesses.
The city of Oakland’s lawsuit accuses the county of violating the Surplus Land Act, a state law that requires publicly owned surplus lands to be considered for affordable housing before the lands are sold or leased.
But Andrew Sabey, an attorney for the county, wrote in a brief filed on Oct. 31 that the city “incorrectly asserts that Alameda County was required to follow Surplus Land Act notice and procedural requirements” in its proposed sale of its share of the property.
Sabey said, “What the city misses is that the Surplus Land Act is but one of several alternatives for disposing of public property.”
Sabey said the county proposes to sell its half interest in the Coliseum site under the Economic Opportunity provisions of the Government Code, which he said is an authorized alternative to the Surplus Land Act.
He said those provisions “authorize the county to sell or lease property to create an economic opportunity if it approves the sale after a public hearing and makes specific findings regarding the sale.”
Sabey also alleged that, “The city’s application for urgent injunctive relief is based on a manufactured emergency, which the city created in order to elbow its way back to the negotiating table.”
In addition, Sabey warned that “an injunction at this delicate stage could begin the process whereby the Oakland Athletics decide they need to leave Oakland.”