Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Tuesday Vote

On Tuesday, the City Council Community and Economic Development Agency (CCCEDA) held a regular meeting to discuss, among other things, the funding of the EIR for the proposed A's ballpark at Victory Court. After submitting the Request for Qualifications back in August, and sifting through the responses, the City of Oakland decided on a $750,000 deal with LSA Associates, who had performed the EIR for the Measure DD improvements at Lake Merritt, just a few blocks away from the ballpark site.

Nancy Nadel spoke (not as part of the panel) and expressed concern about the funding sources, citing what she perceives is a shortage of parking in DTO and the need for the parking garage at 21st and Telegraph to be built with that money. What she apparently forgot is that there is ample parking away from the Telegraph/Broadway area if you actually look for it; a later speaker pointed out that very fact. Nadel also questioned what she called the “righteousness” of the plan, stating that no funds should be extended without negotiations.

Bryan Grunwald was on hand to promote his ballpark-over-980 plan yet once more, but it was shot down by the panel because, in their words, Major League Baseball prefers Victory Court and exploring any other sites will only create unnecessary delays and complexity to the study. Grunwald will likely give it one last fling at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 21. As it stands, the EIR will have two alternatives: a ballpark at Victory Court, and a CEQA-mandated "no project" alternative (standard on all environmental studies in California).Other speakers were decidedly in favor of the deal. One stated emphatically that “we’re gonna have to take chances in this city.” Another bluntly called the Grunwald's idea “a waste of time.” The final speaker felt that the EIR should include a cost/benefit analysis of relocating the businesses at Victory Court, or as he called it, the “business environment.” It should be noted that environmental documents don’t include such things as “business environment”; they examine only the physical impacts, such as noise, soils, aesthetics, greenhouse gases, water quality, etc.

Recapping the final vote: the EIR funding passed 3-1, with an added provision that would take the City of Oakland off the hook for the balance of the $750,000 cost to LSA Associates should MLB halt the proceedings. The three “yes” votes were from Jane Brunner, Larry Reid and Patricia Kernighan. The lone “no” was from Ignacio De La Fuente, who wanted to hold off on funding until the City got a commitment from both MLB and A's owner Lewis Wolff.

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