By Paul Cobb
The Oakland A’s have finally met their match. Councilman Noel Gallo bravely introduces two important bills to end the bullying of the city of Oakland by the A’s.
Gallo convinced his Council colleagues to vote unanimously for a public hearing and independent third-party analysis of the costs, benefits and risks to the city of funding the A’s stadium and luxury condo project at Howard Terminal.
He also introduced legislation to impose a measure on the November 2022 ballot to allow residents to vote on whether to spend public funds on the private development of A.
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 on getting these issues under control. Instead, the A’s try to bully them into spending more billions on their new stadium and luxury housing project.
Let’s peel 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 Colosseum if they built their stadium there. And it wouldn’t cost $1 billion because the land is already approved for development and there are fewer infrastructure requirements than at the Howard Terminal. Meanwhile, if the A’s build at Howard Terminal, they weaken a working port and threaten to lose hundreds of well-paying ILWU union jobs.
The A’s threaten to leave and eliminate Oakland’s last athletic team if they don’t succeed. Right now, there are fewer fans at A games than there are homeless people living on the streets of Oakland. We should care more about our homeless, mostly black residents than 2,000 to 3,000 baseball fans.
The A’s say they are adding 3,000 new homes to the desperately needed city. But the A’s are reluctant to make more than a measly 15% of those units affordable. They do not specify affordability income levels. Will homeless people be included?
Unlike every other developer, the A’s don’t contribute to community benefits, especially in the East Oakland area where emergency affordable housing is badly needed.
But rather, in a deceptive and clever ploy, the A’s would make the community pay for their benefits, unwittingly accelerating the wave of gentrification that could increase homelessness. They reneged on past promises and pushed people like Margaret Gordon, an outspoken community advocate, to drop her support for the team.
More infuriating than all of the above, the A’s negotiate with Las Vegas as they arrogantly bully Oakland.
Many people believe this is all a sham. The A’s exploit a potential site in Oakland only to get a good deal in Vegas. And, ironically, they enrich themselves further by simply “occupying” the Colosseum site and profiting from the increased land value of their part-ownership share of the Colosseum.
Questioning the co-owner’s financial ability, city staff raised the price to sell his half interest to a black-led group for more than $30,000,000.00 than that of Alameda County, who owns the remaining 50% of the Colosseum.
Oakland doesn’t need the A’s.
Oakland needs to deal with its own critical issues. The city’s Department of Race and Equity should be at the table with the city attorney to ensure that the financial interests of Oakland residents are protected and treated fairly.
But even if these issues weren’t so urgent, city officials need to stand firm and not let any developer intimidate and disrespect them the way the A’s disrespect them.
Thank you, Mr. Gallo, for standing up for the residents of Oakland and not bending the knee to the A’s.
We urge the Council to back Mr. Gallo by taking the A’s public spending request to voters in November. Let 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.