Oakland, CA – The Oakland Coal issue (and the “Oakland Coal Case”) have been marked by fake news. First, it’s not really an issue of Oakland and coal. The original plan was and has been to build what is the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal or OBOT.
OBOT is, as the developers Insight Terminal Solutions, and California Capital Investment Group describe “is a unique opportunity to intensify nearly 20 acres of underutilized maritime property through development of a state-of-the-art, multi-commodity marine bulk terminal development located on the West Gateway of the former Oakland Army Base in Oakland, California.” The Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal will carry iron ore, coal, and other minerals bound for ports of call in the Pacific Rim.
Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal Meets A Long-Wanted Need
Second, OBOT is the culmination of a long-held dream expansion of Port of Oakland services and land. To be sure, it’s a reuse project to recover jobs lost due to military base closure actions impacting Oakland. Moreover, the Bay Area as a whole handles about 10 percent of the total port-handled cargo in California. Studies have noted that the infrastructure needed to maintain even that small percentage has not been effectively upgraded.
As the developers have explained “With direct access to San Francisco Bay channel depths that reach 50 foot mean lower low water (MLLW) and newly constructed near-dock rail lines designated for Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal customers, the OBOT / Oakland Global development is positioned to streamline customer logistics supply chains, create more service options for U.S. shippers seeking greater access to and from foreign markets, solidify Oakland’s reputation as a major west coast trade center for American resources, and carry on the proud history of Oakland’s working waterfront through the creation of long-term job opportunities for Oakland residents. Investment from OBOT and its Oakland Global private sector partners unlocks over $325 million in federal, state, and county grants, and protects past investment in rail connections, distribution centers, and deep navigation channels.”
The 1999 closure of the Oakland Army Base (this blogger was on the Alameda Base Reuse Committee in 1993 and has long been a proponent of OBOT) resulted in the loss of over 7,000 jobs for the region, and abandoned 366 acres of underutilized maritime and industrial property. The loss of that economic activity and reduction of Oakland’s already eroding industrial base has lead to a sharp decline in the economic vitality of West Oakland.
After several years of community planning, neighborhood workshops, and public hearings, the City of Oakland, Port of Oakland, community members, and private development partners, including Oakland Global / Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, co-authored one of the most robust community benefits packages in the nation, and incorporated that benefits package into the Oakland Global project documents now available here. http://obotjv.com/community-benefits/
As the City of Oakland itself has said, the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal was designed to be environmentally friendly. It’s not an iron ore, or coal, or any other kind of materials or minerals factory – it’s a transfer terminal to take, say, iron ore, from rail to container ship – and to do so cleanly, cheaply, and quickly. And the developers have noted that “Rail access adjacent to the break bulk terminal eliminates the need for freight to be trucked to OBOT, which increases roadway safety and reduces harmful truck diesel emissions.”