Oakland groups choose sides over A’s site

Members of a coalition of business, labor leaders and community leaders said Monday that they support the Oakland Athletics’ recently announced plan to build a new baseball stadium near Laney College.

However, members of another coalition, which includes the Oakland Chinatown Coalition, Save Laney Land for Students, Eastlake United for Justice and Causa Justa Just Cause, said the city should reject the proposal, which they describe as “a mega-development,” and said they plan to hold a rally against it on Tuesday.

Project opponents say they’re concerned about traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, parking availability and the possible loss of affordable housing in the area.

The A’s proposed site is located between Lake Merritt and Interstate Highway 880 and currently is home to administrative offices for the Peralta Community College District and includes commercial warehouses, parking lots and office buildings.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said last week that she would have preferred that the A’s had chosen one of the other sites that were under consideration — the Coliseum complex where the team currently plays or Howard Terminal near the Port of Oakland.

Speaking at a news conference this morning at the Oakland Marriott City Center, Oakland Chamber of Commerce president Barbara Leslie said she believes the new stadium is “an incredible economic opportunity” that will create thousands of jobs and support small businesses.

Leslie acknowledged, “There are opportunities and challenges along the way” with any large construction project but said she thinks the A’s can address any objections in a thoughtful way.

Rob Stoker, president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Alameda County, which represents about 40,000 workers in 28 unions, said he supports the project because it’s estimated that it will create 2,000 middle-class construction jobs that include standard wages and benefits.

Mark Everton, president of the non-profit tourism advocacy group Visit Oakland, said he thinks the planned new stadium will be “an icon” and is in “an optimal location” because people will be able to walk to it from nearby public transit stops.

Everton said the development also will include affordable housing an open space.

Oakland Chinatown activist Carl Chan said he thinks the Chinatown area, which is near the planned stadium, will benefit from the project because of the resources, jobs and business it will generate:

“City leaders should have the backbone to embrace this opportunity and make sure all of us will get benefited.”

Thu Pham of the Eastlake Merchants Association said traffic and the potential displacement of current residents are issues that must be addressed but said:

“There’s a solution for every problem.”

Pham said the Eastlake community currently is “like a dead town” and she thinks the project is “an opportunity to bring prosperity to the area”:

“It will stimulate business if it’s done the right way.”

Referring to plans by the Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors to leave Oakland in the near future, Give Something Back chief executive officer Sean Marx, who also is president of the Oakland Rotary Club, said city officials should support keeping the A’s in Oakland because:

“We can’t afford to have another sports team leave Oakland.”

Representatives from Oakland’s African-American and Vietnamese chambers of commerce also said they support the plan.

Referring to the A’s plans, Peralta chancellor Jowel Laguerre said in a statement Monday:

“No decision, no commitments and no deals have been made.”

Laguerre said the community college district’s governing board will likely discuss the proposal when it meets in October.

Laguerre said the board will work with the community and the district’s colleges:

“… to assess the impact on students, faculty, staff, the classroom environment, the community surrounding us, the residents of the area and the city overall.”

Members of the coalition that opposes the project said in a statement:

“This announcement of a new stadium and planned mega-development threatens the survival of the vibrant, diverse, and working-class communities of the Chinatown and Eastlake-San Antonio neighborhoods already facing displacement. … It also obstructs the learning environment at Laney College, the most affordable higher education resource accessible to low-income students and nearby public schools.”