By Paul Cobb
The Oakland A’s have finally met their match. Councilmember Noel Gallo is courageously bringing forward two significant pieces of legislation to stop the A’s bullying of the City of Oakland.
Gallo convinced his colleagues on the Council to unanimously vote for a public hearing and an independent third-party analysis of the costs, benefits, and risks to the city of funding the A’s privately owned stadium and luxury condo project at Howard Terminal.
He has also introduced legislation to place a measure on the November 2022 ballot to allow residents to vote on whether public money should be spent on the A’s private development.
We salute Noel and encourage the Council to support his efforts.
Oakland faces many critical issues including homelessness, affordable housing, crime, and keeping schools open. City officials need to focus attention on getting those issues under control. Instead, the A’s attempt to bully them into spending over $ billion on their new stadium and luxury housing project.
Let’s peel away the layers of the onion.
The A’s promise union jobs. But the truth is that all the new jobs they promote are construction jobs that could be created at the Coliseum if they built their stadium there. And that would not cost $1 billion because the land is already approved for development and there are fewer infrastructure needs there than at Howard Terminal. Meanwhile, if the A’s build at Howard Terminal they weaken a working port and threaten the loss of hundreds of good-paying existing ILWU union jobs.
The A’s threaten that if they don’t get their way they will leave and eliminate Oakland’s last sports team. Right now, there are fewer fans at A’s games than there are homeless people living on the streets of Oakland. We should worry more about our unhoused, mostly Black residents than 2,000-3,000 baseball fans.
The A’s say they are adding 3,000 new housing units to the city that desperately needs housing. But the A’s balk at making more than a paltry 15% of those units affordable. They do not clarify the income levels of affordability. Will unhoused people be included?
Unlike every other developer, the A’s do not contribute community benefits, especially to the East Oakland area where emergency affordable housing is urgently needed.
But rather, in a deceptive and clever ploy, the A’s would have the community pay for their benefits, which unwittingly would hasten the gentrification wave that could increase homelessness. They reneged on past promises and caused people like Margaret Gordon, a strong community advocate, to drop her support for the team.
More galling than everything above, the A’s are negotiating with Las Vegas while they are arrogantly bully Oakland.
Many people believe this is all a sham. The A’s leverage a potential site in Oakland only to get a sweet deal in Vegas. And, ironically they stand to further enrich themselves by just “occupying” the coliseum site and taking advantage of the increased property value of their half-ownership share of the Coliseum.
By questioning the financial capability of the co-owner, the city staff upped the price to sell their half interest to a Black-led group for more than $30,000,000.00 than that for Alameda County, which owns the other 50% of the Coliseum.
Oakland does not need the A’s.
Oakland needs to take care of its own critical issues. The City’s Department of Race and Equity should be at the table with the City Attorney to make sure that the financial interests of Oakland residents are protected and fairly handled.
But even if those issues were not so pressing, City officials must stand firm and not let any developer bully them and disrespect them the way the A’s are disrespecting them.
Thank you, Mr. Gallo, for standing up for Oakland residents and not bending the knee to the A’s.
We urge the Council to support Mr. Gallo by placing the A’s request for public spending before the voters in November. Let the voters guide the decision of whether the City should fund the A’s or take care of our own problems.
We encourage all voters to demand that the Council let the people vote.