Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A's Ballpark Proposal at Laney College Abruptly Scrapped

The A's say they're shocked and disappointed by the Peralta district's decision to kill the stadium plan.

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 11:53 AM


Following a closed session meeting of the Peralta Community College District board of trustees last night, district Chancellor Jowel Laguerre issued a statement that the college is discontinuing its community engagement process regarding the Athletics' plan for a new ballpark on the school's campus.

"The board provided direction to the chancellor to discontinue planning for a community engagement process on a possible baseball stadium," read the release.

At first, it was unclear what exactly the chancellor's statement meant. Laguerre's staff told the Express he's been in meetings this morning and couldn't immediately clarify what the statement meant regarding the proposal to build a new A's ballpark at Laney.

But then the A's issued their own statement making it clear that the school's trustees killed the ballpark plan.

The A's proposal to build a new stadium on Peralta district-owned land at Laney College had been rolled out with much fanfare. The A's even set up a website featuring local leaders promoting the deal.

But from the start there was significant opposition from many quarters.

Chinatown and San Antonio neighborhood residents said the ballpark would negatively impact their lives, drive up nearby rents, and possibly cause speculators to buy up properties and demolish homes and businesses to build parking garages. Some small business owners feared it would drive them out of the neighborhood, while others felt it could bring in new customers.

Most Laney College students, faculty, and staff came out against the A's plans also. Last month, faculty voted to oppose the A's ballpark proposal.

And environmentalists said the ballpark could devastate Lake Merritt's bird population.

Still, it's not exactly clear why the Peralta district board chose to end talks this week with the A's over the ballpark. Calls to several board members went unanswered this morning.

But Oakland leaders said today they hope this doesn't mean the A's will leave Oakland.

Upon hearing the news, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued the following statement: "Oakland remains fiercely determined to keep the A's in Oakland. It is unfortunate the discussion with Peralta ended so abruptly, yet we are committed, more than ever, to working with the A's and our community to find the right spot in Oakland for a privately-financed ballpark."

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said today that the Coliseum remains the obvious and preferable site for a new ballpark because it already has environmental planning clearance and access to mass transit. She wants the A's to refocus on that location.

"That site could house a new A's ballpark, along with shops, bars, restaurants and hotels to create a vibrant and successful environment," said Kaplan.

“This is a victory for all of us who have been working to make Laney and Oakland places where working class people color can thrive,” said Alvina Wong a member of the Stay the Right Way coalition, which opposed the A's plan. “The Peralta Board of Trustees did the right thing by putting the interests of Laney students and the surrounding communities first.

But Wong said she and others are planning to march on the Peralta District chancellor's offices this afternoon to protest, because Laguerre's statement about the ballpark was vague.

"We need to know that the chancellor is committed to doing the same, and that he won’t try to revive this stadium plan again next year," said Wong.

Wednesday’s Briefing: Peralta Kills A’s Laney Ballpark Plans; Berkeley Council Votes to Make Affordable Housing a Right

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 10:17 AM


Stories you shouldn't miss for Dec. 6, 2017:

1. The Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees has halted talks with the Oakland A’s for the team’s controversial plans to build a new ballpark next to Laney College, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle. The board’s decision indicates that it has no plans to move forward with the A’s ballpark proposal. The A’s would need the board’s OK to build the ballpark because it would be on district land.

2. The Berkeley City Council voted last night to greenlight a plan to greatly streamline the construction of affordable housing in the city, Berkeleyside reports on Twitter. The proposal, authored by Councilmember Lori Droste, would allow affordable housing developers to build in Berkeley without having to go through public hearings — as long as city staffers approve the projects and they comply with zoning rules.

3. The city of Alameda unveiled its newest fire station — Station 3 — a 9,000-square-foot facility at 165 Buena Vista Ave., reports Laura Casey for the East Bay Times$. The new station features “two apparatus bays, a conference room, a public lobby, and a large kitchen.”

4. The Berkeley school board is considering a plan to build teacher housing in the city, reports Natalie Orenstein of Berkeleyside. The board may decide to put a bond measure on the 2018 or 2020 ballot to finance the construction of workforce housing for teachers. The skyrocketing costs of housing in the region have made it difficult for school districts to attract and retain teachers.

5. The city of Oakland and PG&E are proposing to transform an old power plant in the Jack London district into a solar powered facility, reports David R. Baker of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The 40-year-old plant runs on jet fuel and is used just a few times a year to help meet electricity demand in the downtown area.

6. Wildfires, fueled by strong winds, are continuing to rage in Southern California with the most recent blaze destroying homes and tearing through brush near the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the LA Times$ reports. The big Thomas Fire in Ventura County, meanwhile, jumped Highway 101 and reached the Pacific Ocean, burning 65,000 acres.

7. About 3,000 city of Oakland workers went on strike for a second day today, as libraries, recreation centers, and Head Start programs remained closed, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The employees rejected the city’s offer of a 4 percent raise.

8. And 16 Democratic U.S. senators, including Kamala Harris of California, have called on Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to resign following new allegations that he sexually harassed a woman in 2006, CNN reports. Franken said he plans to make an announcement tomorrow.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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