Oakland city councilmembers and the city’s Major League Baseball team appear to be still far apart on the terms for a new stadium in the city, based on comments at a recent council study session.

For the Oakland A’s it’s Howard Terminal or bust, Dave Kaval, president of the A’s, reiterated at the virtual meeting Wednesday.

Kaval said the agreement with the city must be some derivative of what the team released to the public in April and cannot be an “organ transplant” of that.

“We can tweak it around the margins,” Kaval said of that proposal.

At the study session, councilmembers asked questions and provided feedback on a city staff report on the Howard Terminal ballpark proposal.

City councilmembers were joined by some staff members, Kaval, and Port of Oakland representatives.

City staff asked for feedback on several items that are part of the proposal including a non-relocation agreement, affordable housing, and infrastructure financing.

Some councilmembers opposed the A’s proposal to limit the non-relocation agreement to 20 years. Instead, they preferred an agreement that lasts at least 45 years.

“Twenty years seems very low,” said Councilmember Dan Kalb, who chaired the meeting.

Kaval said 20 years seems appropriate given the nature of the proposal, which is being privately financed.

Affordable housing a sticking point

The A’s also want Oakland to waive a requirement that 15 percent of the housing to be built at the ballpark be affordable housing. Some councilmembers balked at the idea.

Some members of the public during the public comment period demanded that 35 percent of the housing be affordable housing.

Councilmember Carroll Fife, who represents areas such as West Oakland, which likely will be greatly impacted by the ballpark, said development in the past in Oakland “has been very racialized.”

Development has been very traumatic for some populations, she said.

Vice Mayor and Councilmember at large Rebecca Kaplan said, in the past, Black Oaklanders have been driven out of West Oakland by the construction of the freeway and other projects.

Councilmembers expressed their concern about the impacts the new stadium will have on traffic, parking, as well as related concerns around air pollution in places like Chinatown.

The A’s on Wednesday also filed a lawsuit against Schnitzer Steel Industries, which is adjacent to the property where the ballpark is proposed, over air pollution concerns, Kaval said.

Financing district would support project

Councilmembers expressed support for one onsite infrastructure financing district.

The district would provide money in the form of incremental tax revenues to pay for infrastructure and affordable housing needed to support the ballpark project.

Councilmembers in general opposed a dual onsite and offsite district, proposed by the A’s, because the offsite district wasn’t expected to be beneficial enough.

City councilmembers will meet July 20, to vote on the A’s proposal.

Kaval said, overall, the A’s want to see whether the City Council has the same vision as the team.

The July 20 vote will be non-binding, but Kalb said typically few things change after such a vote.

The City Council will then need to vote on the project’s environmental impact report, which won’t be ready for consideration until probably November.

The city has received over 400 comments from the public on the EIR and is in the process of responding to the comments.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.