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Appeals court rules in favor of proposed Howard Terminal stadium

Oakland A's, city restart discussions on project, according to new mayor
The Oakland A's released renderings of their proposed new ballpark at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square in Oakland.

An appeals court panel last week affirmed a lower court's ruling that the environmental review was adequate for the Oakland A's proposed stadium at Howard Terminal on the city's waterfront.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco on March 30 rejected all but one claim by the East Oakland Stadium Alliance about the inadequacy of the project's environmental impact report. The Oakland City Council certified the report in February 2022.

The appeals court ruling means the project can move forward once the city and A's address what the lower court ruled was an inadequate mitigation measure related to wind. The appeals court upheld the lower court's requirement to revise that measure.

"This is great news for Oakland residents and fans throughout the Bay Area," Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement on March 30. "Today's unanimous decision once again confirms that the City not only complied with the law but undertook a thorough and thoughtful environmental analysis of the A's potential ballpark development at Howard Terminal."

Thao said earlier this year that the Oakland A's and the city have started discussing the project again following her election as mayor. The Major League Baseball team has reportedly been exploring Las Vegas as an alternative location for a new stadium amid the lengthy consideration process in Oakland.

Still under consideration is how infrastructure off the project site will be paid for. Community benefits such as the amount of affordable housing is an issue, too.

The proposed waterfront ballpark will seat about 35,000 people and the overall development will include much more.

Three thousand residential units are planned along with 270,000 square feet of retail space and 1.5 million square feet of other commercial space.

Up to 400 hotel rooms may be built in addition to a 3,500-seat performance venue and about 20 acres of parkland.

"We are pleased with the appellate court's decision, which affirms the significant and thorough work completed on our environmentally sound visionary waterfront ballpark project," Oakland A's officials said by email last Friday.

The East Oakland Stadium Alliance was pleased with the court's ruling regarding wind mitigation, but was otherwise unhappy with the outcome.

"We are disappointed with this ruling's conclusions regarding numerous additional failures by the A's and the City of Oakland," said Mike Jacob, vice president and general counsel with the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which is part of the alliance.

"The project proponents have consistently ignored concerns raised by environmental justice groups, business groups, labor groups, and local advocacy groups about the impacts of the proposed stadium project," Jacobs said.

The East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, a nonprofit that promotes economic justice, is concerned primarily about three categories of community benefits. Those are jobs policies, affordable housing and environmental mitigation.

The nonprofit would like the A's to hire Oakland residents for jobs at the park if it is built, said Isaiah Toney, deputy director of campaigns.

Toney said the alliance wants the A's to give formerly incarcerated people a chance to work at the park and to pay a living wage, which the alliance suggests is about $22 per hour.

The alliance wants the A's to pay for the construction of 450 affordable housing units as part of the development's 3,000 units at Howard Terminal and to pay for additional affordable housing elsewhere, Toney said.

Even though the court approved most of the environmental impact report, Toney's group wants additional environmental mitigation.

That may include requiring new housing to be built to the highest environmental standards. Toney said that is Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

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