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Demonstrators last week demanded more concessions from the Oakland A’s in exchange for their support for a new ballpark at the Charles P. Howard Terminal.
About two dozen demonstrators chanted, “Our town, our terms,” at a Wednesday news conference outside the A’s headquarters on Harrison Street in Oakland.
“We are here this morning because we love Oakland,” said minister Cherri Murphy, who was representing Oakland United Coalition, one of two main groups of demonstrators present at the gathering.
Murphy said the two groups, theirs and the Oakland Chinatown Coalition, want a richer community benefits agreement from the A’s.
The A’s have committed $450 million in tax dollars to the city and the $12 billion stadium project is privately financed.
A’s President Dave Kaval last week called the deal for Oakland “an incredible offer.”
But some residents and City Council members want more.
Protections for existing residents
Oakland United wants 35 percent of the housing to be built at the site to be affordable as well as resources to protect residents from displacement, which may occur as the area is developed.
Howard Terminal is near the West Oakland neighborhood and not far from Chinatown, a thriving area for residents and not just tourists, the demonstrators said.
“We’re just down the street,” said Mike Lok of the Oakland Chinatown Coalition.
Lok was shocked the environmental impact report commissioned for the project did not analyze the impact the ballpark would have on Chinatown.
Oakland’s Chinatown is a little more than a half a mile as the crow flies from the proposed ballpark site, and the EIR only looked at areas a half a mile from Howard Terminal, Lok said.
“We need more than a TGI Friday’s with Chinese characters on it.”Mike Lok, Oakland Chinatown Coalition
Lok wants to be sure Chinatown’s vitality and cultural significance are preserved. He wants that for other nearby communities, too, he said.
“We need more than a TGI Friday’s with Chinese characters on it,” he said.
On the very top of his mind was parking.
“I can’t understate the parking thing,” Lok said.
He imagines that people will park in Chinatown and walk to Howard Terminal, and he wants parking to be for people who want to do business in Chinatown.
Lok also expressed concerns about the effect of the ballpark on air quality in Chinatown, considering the traffic already nearby.
‘A make-or-break moment’
In addition to affordable housing, demonstrators like Lok want the A’s project to provide good construction and long-term jobs to residents of West Oakland, East Oakland, and Chinatown. They want jobs to pay living wages.
Kaval has said to Oakland that it’s Howard Terminal or bust.
“This really is a make-or-break moment,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Wednesday morning.
She said the City Council needs to agree with some of the things the A’s want while the A’s need to step up regarding affordable housing.
“I see the deal,” Schaaf said.
She believes the deal is doable.
If not, the Oakland A’s may become the Las Vegas A’s or the A’s of another city.
At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the City Council is set to vote on the project, which may determine whether the A’s remain in the city.