Oakland A’s waterfront ballpark gets planning nod on environment

Opponents of the project argue that the environmental impact report wasn’t thorough enough

Renderings of the A's new ballpark, the A’s president Dave Kaval and Margaret Gordon with West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (Getty, MLB, WOEIP)
Renderings of the A's new ballpark, the A’s president Dave Kaval and Margaret Gordon with West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (Getty, MLB, WOEIP)

Oakland’s planning commission threw its weight behind an environmental review of the proposed $12 billion waterfront ballpark for the A’s, voting unanimously to recommend the City Council approve the report, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The team wants to build a 35,000-seat stadium, along with 1.5 million square feet of offices, 270,000 square feet of retail, a performance venue, a 400-room hotel and parking for 8,900 vehicles.

The vote came after hours of public comments amid concern the report didn’t adequately detail the team’s efforts to mitigate air pollution or plans to clean up toxic substances. “You are really not taking into consideration our health,” Margaret Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, said at the meeting, according to the Chronicle.

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The report also neglected to cover seaport compatibility measures and possible disruptions to port functions, according to Mike Jacob of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which opposes the project. “When you look at the EIR, it is downplaying the project,” he said.

The planning commission’s decision indicates that commissioners are satisfied with the thoroughness of the report and found it in compliance with state law.

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“It’s a very important step and a very positive step towards getting to a final binding approval of the project,” A’s President Dave Kaval said. The report addresses concern raised by residents and the planning commission’s approval is “indicative of that.”

Where the A’s will play in the future is anything but certain, however. The team recently made an offer for land in southern Nevada to potentially build a $1 billion ballpark. While Oakland decides whether or not to allow the development, the team is also looking at “parallel paths” for a move to Las Vegas, Kaval said.

Commissioners said it will be the city council’s responsibility to work with community members to address any worries. “This was a huge, fairly extraordinary undertaking,” Commissioner Jennifer Renk said. “This is not the end of the conversation. There is a lot more work to do and the council will have to take up some of the feasibility questions that have been raised.”

The city council could vote to certify the report as early as next month.

[SFChronicle] — Victoria Pruitt

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