Oakland – Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Council President, strikes against Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf,again! In the middle? The MLB Playoff-bound Oakland A’s.
The Oakland Athletics, who host the visiting Tampa Bay Devil Rays in tonight’s American League Wild Card Game of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, have joined Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in the legal crosshairs of Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan (D- At Large).
UPDATE from Rebecca Kaplan:
“In the interest of reducing strife and litigation, the Oakland City Council has unanimously asked our Administration to meet directly with County leaders, on strategies to resolve issues regarding our shared public property.”
For you out of town press visiting Oakland for the 2019 MLB AL Wild Card Game, here’s the simple story: Councilmember Kaplan and Mayor Schaaf have been bitter political rivals for at least 9 years. This legal skirmish over the sale of the Oakland Coliseum is the latest in the war. Rebecca has long held that the Coliseum Stadium should not be sold to the Oakland A’s (or technically, the County of Alameda’s half-ownership of the Coliseum Stadium with the City of Oakland owning the other half), and recently issued her plan for the future of the home of the Oakland A’s and the Oakland Raiders (this matter does not involve the Oakland Arena formerly called Oracle Arena, and the Golden State Warriors are set to play in their new Chase Center in San Francisco for the 2019 NBA Season and beyond.)
To the endgame of preserving the Oakland Coliseum Stadium for the plans that were originally called “Coliseum City”, Rebecca, the Council President (and vocal member of a group of concerned Oakland City Councilmembers) pinged Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker to drop a legal bomb on the Oakland A’s and the County of Alameda. The formal complaint that led to a temporary restraining order and filed Friday September 27th, 2019, can be seen with a click here at Oakland News Now in its entirety and reads, in part, as follows:
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE AND COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
1. The City of Oakland (“City”) ﬁles this>action to enforce the state mandate that publicly-owned land — if it is to be sold — ﬁrst be made available for affordable housing, park and recreational, or open-space purposes. The California Surplus Land Act (hereaﬁer sometimes the “Act”) addresses a housing crisis that continues to create untenable shortages of housing available for low income Bay Area families by prioritizing the use of public lands for this critical purpose while serving the additional goal of preserving public land for park and recreational and open-space purposes. ‘
2. In negotiating a deal to sell its undivided interest in jointly owned City-County land, Respondents and’Defendants the County of Alameda (“County”) and its Board of Supervisors (“Board”) have made no efforts to either comply with the procedures of the Surplus Land Act or even ensure its public lands will be used to fulﬁll the salutary aims of the Act.
3. In recent years, the County has indicated its intention to extn’cate itself from ownership of the Oaldand-Alameda County Coliseum Complex, the real property situated in the County of Alameda, City of Oakland (the “Complex,” as more speciﬁcally deﬁned below). The County and its Beard have treated the Complex as surplus land and haye sought to sell the Complex in an effort to, as stated publicly by Board Supervisor Scott Haggerty, “get us out of the sports business.” Whatever its motivation, the County must comply m’th the Act prior to selling its interest in the Complex. As publicly stated by Board Supervisor Nate Miley, “We own the property. We’re making a decision, and if the [City] wants to challenge that they can. We can always go to court.” The County and’Board’s failure to comply with its obligation now forces the City to “go to court” to protect the public interest.
4. Sale of the Complex is imminent. The Board has already agreed upon a term sheet for the sale of the Complex to the Athletics Investment Group, LLC (“Oakland Athletics”) and has directed its staff to enter discussions to develop a binding formal agreement with the Oakland Athletics for the disposition of the County’s undivided interest in the Complex. City ofﬁcials and staff have been told by the Oakland Athletics and the County that the Board’s ﬁnal action to enter into a binding agreement is imminent. The Board’s regular meetings are scheduled to occur on a weekly basis and the Board can additionally schedule special meetings on one day’s notice. California’s open meeting law allows the Board to hold a regular meeting by providing 72 hours advanced written notice to the public and to conduct a special meeting aﬁer providing 24 hours advanced written notice. California Govemment Code §§ 54954(a) [regular meeting], 54956 [special meeting].
5. The City is only one of the many eligible entities under the Act that have not received a properly noticed offer from the County to negotiate in good faith to acquire the County’s interest in this . valuable public asset and develop it for continued public good. The City in recent years has discussed with the County possible terms for the City to take ownership of the County’s interest in the Complex. But when the County provided a proposed term sheet to the City in February of 2019, the County did not provide any notice under the Surplus Land Act informing the City that it had 60 days to review the proposal. Nor did the County inform the City that the County was close to ﬁnalizing a non-binding agreement with the Oakland Athletics. The City later learned that this non-binding agreement included more favorable terms and conditions than those’proposed in the County’s last proposal to the City in February of 2019.
6. The City, qualiﬁed housing sponsors, and other local agencies have the right, before the County disposes of the land to other interested parties, to receive a written offer from the County to consider for sixty days and participate for an additional ninety days in good faith negotiations to purchase or lease this surplus land so that the land will be used for affordable housing, park and recreational, or open-space purposes. The County has failed to deliver the written otfers required under the Act prior to moving forward with the disposition of its property, and the Board intends to approve the sale of the County’s tenancy-in-common interest in the Complex in violation of its duties under the Act. Futther, by failing to comply with the Act’s requirements, the County is not ensun’ng that if the purchasing entity or its successor in interest constructs ten or more residential units on the Complex, ﬁfteen percent of the total units be affordable to low income households for 55 years.
7. Upon the County entering into a binding agreement for the sale and transfer of title to its interest in the Complex in violation of the Act’s stn’ct requirements, the City’s opponunity to explore whether the Complex could be developed for affordable housing, continued recreational uses or other public good on behalf of the City’s residents would be extinguished. The harm to the City from the proposed sale would be signiﬁcant and irreparable because the Complex’s location makes this a key public asset to beneﬁt from the Act’s protective measures. Its location in an inﬁll opportunity zone, its existing use for public sporting events, and its proximity to public transit makes this surplus land a
prime candidate for a mixed use transit-oriented development that could include various public beneﬁts such as affordable housing, public recreation, and employment.
Oakland City Council Versus Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and The Oakland A’s For The Future Of The Oakland Coliseum
The local mainstream media got the story wrong, as per usual. Council President Rebecca has a blog space here at Oakland News Now that she regularly uses. Last week, Kaplan posted an Oakland News Now entry entitled “Oakland Coliseum Area Vision: Rebecca Kaplan Oakland Council President, Community Groups Present Plan”. Here’s an excerpt from the post, so you won’t have to click away:
OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT REBECCA KAPLAN, BAY AREA COMMUNITY BENEFIT ORGANIZATION, AND THE EAST OAKLAND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION PRESENT A VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF THE OAKLAND COLISEUM AREA
OAKLAND, CA – In recent months, there have been many important and valid concerns expressed regarding the future of the Coliseum Area which may include the Oakland A’s. We hear what people do not want to see happen at the Coliseum.
This includes wanting to avoid taxpayer funded giveaways and wanting to avoid loss of jobs, the location being abandoned and blighted, and finally the further erosion of our African American population, most of which has called East Oakland their home for decades.
As we look toward the future and work on these concerns, we thought it would be valuable to talk about what would be good to see happen at this site.
This large, well-located expanse of public land can and should be used to provide development that benefits the community in multiple ways. The Coliseum site, co-owned by the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda, provides a unique opportunity with about 200 acres that are on BART, have freeway access, easy airport connection, Amtrak, and great central location in the growing Bay Area. We can, and should, work toward a future for the site which provides local benefits, including housing at all income levels, jobs, recreation and health, including for our youth, tax revenue, and revitalization.
And prior to that post, Kaplan expressed her displeasure with the A’s Coliseum plans, siting that the sale of the property to the A’s would be done at a rate that devalues it. And to be fair, she’s not the only Oakland Councilmember who’s balked at the idea of the A’s outright owning even half of the Oakland Coliseum Stadium. Councilmember Dan Kalb (District One) expressed his displeasure on social media, many times.
How The Oakland A’s Screwed Up This Oakland Coliseum Stadium Matter
The collective ire of the City Council had to do with a very politically clumsy presentation by the Oakland A’s of land that included a ballfield in the place of a torn down Coliseum Stadium – and little else other than place-holder drawings of office-style buildings.
The Oakland A’s plan was done with zero attention paid to or mention of the Coliseum Area Specific Plan. In a continuance of a behavior by the Oakland A’s that famed Old Oakland Developer Steve Lowe called out as uncaring of the desires of the Oakland Community in the case of Howard Terminal, the A’s Coliseum plan looks more like a kind of place-holder for its own future plans. It has noting to do with the Coliseum Area Specific Plan.
The Oakland A’s Also Tried To Land Rights To Build A New Stadium At Laney College
While focusing on the Howard Terminal / Coliseum Plan Exclusive Negotiating Agreement, the A’s also worked on receiving approval for a new ballpark at Laney College. Zennie62Media was on the scene for the community gathering to promote the ballpark to the neighborhood:
As this Zennie62 on YouTube video shows, the Laney College Community rejected the Oakland Athletics, as students pointed to concerns with lack of plans for much-needed affordable housing:
Oakland Coliseum City Was To Retain The Sports Teams And Add Market Rate And Affordable Housing
The original plan for what is now called Oakland Coliseum City was created in 2004 by Steve Lowe, the late Frank Dobson, and the Oakland Real Estate Legend Bob Lesty (owner of the now-torn-down Mac Arthur Broadway Shopping Center). Here’s the Zennie62 YouTube video from 2009 where Bob Lesty introduces the plan during a meeting of the late Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums Sports and Entertainment Committee:
That original plan was for a series of retail uses to be built around the Coliseum Stadium, but it was taken by Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid (District 7), and formed into a giant redevelopment plan for the entire Coliseum property in 2010. The City of Oakland issued request for proposals in 2011.
From that point, the Coliseum City Development Project saw a list of developers come and go: Colony Capital, the humorously rumored Price of Dubai, New City Development led by Floyd Kephart, and finally NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, and his USC Football friends Rodney Peete and Marcus Allen, partnered with Drew McNight of Fortress Investment Group.
None of the would-be Coliseum City developers panned out: Colony Capital lost interest, the Prince of Dubai, originally said to be in, but was never involved (contrary to the words of then-Oakland Mayor Jean Quan), Floyd Kephart didn’t have the money to make it happen (according to the City of Oakland). And The Lott Group / Fortress Investments were either duped by the same Oakland Raiders that were blamed for not working in good faith with the City of Oakland, or in kahoots with the Raiders all along. (Marcus Allen’s cheerleading for the Raiders Las Vegas Stadium, combined with a lawsuit aimed at Rodney Peete claiming that the The Lott Group’s developer plans were a scam, made this blogger wonder what was going on? As a note, Peete said there was no “scam” to TMZ.)
So this dream of Coliseum City and a home for the Raiders, A’s, and Warriors remains just that. And there’s a lot of hard feelings about it. This is Coliseum City…
Why The Oakland A’s Want Both Howard Terminal And Oakland Coliseum City Land
The Oakland Athletics want Oakland Coliseum City land primarily because it was made available to them by the Mayor of Oakland with the initial approval of the Oakland City Council. In an effort to keep the A’s in Oakland, Libby made a faustain bargain: she effectively gave up Oakland’s planning and economic development future impacted by the use of 1,000 acres of land (when the Coliseum and what will be the Jack London Square Redevelopment Area are combined).
In approving the agreement, the Oakland City Council was under the impression that the Oakland A’s would pick one or the other area of land, Howard Terminal or Oakland Coliseum Stadium; the A’s fooled them by picking both, but for a financially-related reason.
At the time, the A’s did not know that legislation allowing a new tax increment financing (TIF) zone to be made by the Oakland City Council for the A’s Howard Terminal Stadium would sail through the California Legislature.
So, the MLB baseball team was faced with trying to figure out how to privately finance a 35,000 seat stadium that would certainly top 1.5 billion in development costs when finished at Howard Terminal in Oakland. The answer was a variant of the “baseball village” idea: where ancillary retail estate development revenue is combined to finance the payment of private bonds to build the stadium.
That plan is being used to build the LA Rams New Stadium called So-Fi Stadium in Inglewood, California. It is also something that was used to build a new baseball stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002. To make it work, one needs either a lot of land or control of valuable buildings. In the Libby Plan For The Oakland A’s, the storied franchise led by its President Dave Kaval, got both.
But, when it was clear the tax increment financing legislation would pass, rather than listen to the Oakland community war drums and back off the Coliseum purchase plans, it went to press on ahead. And why not? The A’s had the backing of Oakland’s top boss, Mayor Schaaf as well as California Assemblyman Rob Bonta, and State Senator Nancy Skinner – poised to give him both the Coliseum and the TIF.
But the truth is, the TIF zone will gain the A’s over $400 million in public financing at Howard Terminal – and that’s with the most conservative land assessed value growth projections possible. Realistically, the A’s could see $600 million from TIF. Arguably, the A’s don’t need the Coliseum land if California Governor Gavin Newsom signs the TIF bill into law.
Thus setting up what has become Oakland’s political version of Godzilla versus King Kong: Libby versus Rebecca (and no, I’m not calling either one of them monsters) – in court. Yes, the case is called “City of Oakland VS The County of Alameda”, but make no mistake about it, it’s really Libby versus Rebecca.
The court battle date is November 14th, 2019, 9 AM, Department 17, Rene C. Davidson Alameda County Courthouse, 1225 Fallon St, Oakland, CA 94612. The MLB Playoffs Wild Card battle date for the Oakland A’s is tonight at the Oakland Coliseum.
GO A’S and beat the Rays!
Then straighten this mess out.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media