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.