Oakland-As-Howard-Terminal-Ballpark-Interior

Howard Terminal Oakland Athletics Ballpark Community CBA Update: Draft EIR Friday, Transit Concerns Shared

Howard Terminal Ballpark update with the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report, here. The last OaklandNewNow.com blog post update on the process toward building a new ballpark for the Oakland Athletics at Howard Terminal, revealed that the City of Oakland was in search of a new consultant to focus on the work of the Howard Terminal CBA Planning Group (Where, “CBA” simply means “Community Benefits Agreement”).

I have included what I will call a “primer” for what you’re about to read. It’s the full “who’s who” of the Howard Terminal CBA Planning Group, based on City of Oakland information here:

Howard Terminal proposal Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)

The equity-centered Howard Terminal proposal Community Benefits Agreement (“CBA”) is an opportunity to set a national precedent. It will be the first CBA to use existing conditions of racial disparities data from the Oakland Race and Equity Baseline Indicators Report that was published in 2019 to establish race and equity baselines from which CBA will be developed. It will also be the first to be developed through a collaborative multi-stakeholder Steering Committee and developed from a grassroots level through seven working groups that have been identified as Topic Cohorts: Community Health & Safety, Culture Keeping & History, Economic Development & Jobs, Education, Environment, Housing, and Transportation.

Steering Committee Members

• Culture & History

David Peters, West Oakland resident

Eric Arnold, Black Arts Movement District

• Community Health and Safety

Marj Wolf, West Oakland resident

Angie Tam, Communities for a Better Environment

• Economic Development / Jobs

Derrick Muhammad, West Oakland resident

Saabir Lockett, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy

• Education

Phyllis Hall, West Oakland resident

Denisha DeLane, Civic Corps and West Oakland Community Collaborative

• Environment

Victoria Harris, West Oakland resident

Alvina Wong, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

• Housing

Jabari Herbert, West Oakland resident

Elaine Brown, Affordable Housing Developer and Activist

• Transportation

Mercedes Rodriguez, West Oakland resident

Steve Lowe, Old Oakland resident

• Chinatown At-Large

Mike Lok, Asian Health Services

• Jack London Square At-Large

Savlan Hauser, Jack London Square Improvement District

• Old Oakland At-Large

Michael Schaefer, Resident

• West Oakland At-Large

Stefanie Parrott, Resident

• City of Oakland

Molly Maybrun, Project Manager

• Port of Oakland

Amy Tharpe, Director – Social Responsibility Division

• Oakland Athletics

Taj Tashombe, Vice President of Government Affairs

Cecilia V. Estolano
Cecilia V. Estolano

The City of Oakland files explain that The Howard Terminal Planning Group retained Los Angeles, CA-based Estolano Advisors (led by University of California Regent Cecilia V. Estolano, who, in 2010, experienced the small-minded treatment of then L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) to advance the Community Benefits Agreement process, which includes reviewing the list of what are called “Topic Cohorts’ Initial CBA Recommendations”, and from that, producing a document that will be used as a baseline for the next phase of the process. Estolano Advisors wrote that it will not be changing any of the content of the initial recommendations; instead, the LA firm will work to ensure that there is “clarity and consistency that accurately reflects the Topic Cohorts’ recommendations and intentions”. Estolano Advisors wrote that it will meet with “Topic Cohort representatives” (the people listed above) if further clarification is needed, to achieve this outcome. To that end, what follows is the “meat and potatos” of that meeting with Topic Cohort representatives.

This is what a key email presented in that Oakland News Now blog post, read, as of January 1, 2021:

As the Planning Group, we want to share our thanks with each of you for your work in 2020 and introduce how we will plan for the Howard Terminal Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) process going forward in 2021.

When we began our work on developing the Howard Terminal CBA in January, we knew our road ahead in 2020 would be challenging. We knew that our equity-centered, data-driven, and collaborative multi-stakeholder CBA process was the first of its kind, and as with all firsts, we were navigating together with equal parts optimism and caution. Thanks to your commitment, together we achieved the following important milestones:

January: Over 150 community members and stakeholders participated in the CBA orientation at Preservation Park to get involved with the CBA.
February: Over 100 community members from the four impacted areas (Chinatown, Jack London, Old Oakland, and West Oakland) collectively selected community representatives to the Steering Committee.
March – August: Almost 200 community members organized into seven Topic Cohorts held 50+ virtual meetings and developed a robust list of initial recommendations.
August – November: The Steering Committee continued to meet to refine the recommendations.

While we have collectively gathered an impressive initial list of recommendations, too little substantive progress has been made since August. We have heard – and share – the frustration of many Steering Committee members in this regard. We are now at a point at which we must reassess and redirect the process in order to achieve the goal of reaching a CBA term sheet in 2021. As part of that reassessment, we have decided to hire an experienced third-party consultant to bolster our team.

At the beginning of this CBA process, six local Black consultants were approached, and all but one, Surlene Grant, who has been working with the group from the outset, either declined to work on the project or did not respond to multiple outreach efforts. Therefore, beginning in January 2021, the services of Estolano Advisors will be retained to work closely with the Planning Group to provide technical review, advice, and guidance on advancing the CBA process and initial list to a final term sheet.

Estolano Advisors is a woman- and minority-owned consulting firm that specializes in inclusive urban planning and public policy, which includes experience with multiple Community Benefits Agreements. Estolano Advisors has worked positively with the City’s Department of Race and Equity previously, has a history of working on projects of this magnitude, and we have a high degree of confidence they will be able to assist us as we work collaboratively towards a successful conclusion to this process.

We are working hard to develop a path forward, including a detailed plan of action and schedule, and will update all stakeholders in early 2021. In the meantime, please continue to contact Veronica Cummings, Stakeholder Engagement Lead with the City of Oakland City Administrator’s Office, at vcummings@oaklandca.govwith any questions, concerns, or suggestions you may have.

Developing a CBA is challenging. In true Oakland fashion of meeting challenges, we are doing so even amid the pandemic. Thank you again for your continued engagement and invaluable service to your community.

Sincerely,

Howard Terminal CBA Planning Group

That was from my blog post in January. Now, here’s the update based on a set of emails sent to me this week, and with today being the morning of February 26th, a Friday. This email was sent February 16th, 2021, and is from Chris Norman, the Research Analyst representing the consultant Estolano Advisors.

On Feb 12, 2021, at 1:53 PM, Christopher Norman wrote:

 

Good afternoon Stephen and Mercedes!

My name is Chris Norman, and I’m contacting you on behalf of Estolano Advisors, a consulting firm working with the City of Oakland on the Howard Terminal CBA process. As Veronica Cummings mentioned in her message below, my team is reviewing each topic cohort’s recommendations and developing a standardized template to create consistency between the categories. This will make it easier to evaluate each recommendation equally for consideration in the CBA process. Again, we will not be changing any of the original content.

My team would like to meet with you as Transportation topic cohort leads to 1) clarify any questions, and 2) receive your general feedback on the new form. Could you please share with me your availability for a one (1)-hour meeting over the next few weeks?

 

Here are windows of time that work on our end:

  • Tuesday, February 23rd from 9am – 1pm                         (can meet from 11:00 up to 5:00)
  • Wednesday, February 24th from 1:30pm – 5pm               (can meet from   2:00 up to 5:00)
  • Thursday, February 25th 10am – 1pm; 3pm – 5pm          (can meet from   1:00 up to 5:00)
  • Friday, February 26th 10:30am – 1pm                              (can meet from 11:00 up to 2:00)
  • Tuesday, March 2nd from 9am – 1pm                               (can meet from 11:00 up to 2:00)
  • Wednesday, March 3rd from 1:30pm – 5pm                     (can meet from   1:30 up to 5:00)
  • Thursday, March 4th from 10am – 5pm                            (can meet from 11:00 up to 5:00)
  • Friday,March 5th from 10:30am – 2:30pm                        (can meet from 11:00 up to 3:00)
  • Tuesday, March 9th from 9am – 1pm                                (can meet from 11:00 up to 2 :00)

Once I have your availabilities, I’ll set-up a Zoom meeting for us to connect (audio is fine if you do not prefer video). We will send the filled document over to you 2-3 days in advance of our meeting for your review and will use our meeting to work through any questions we have. After our meeting, we will make edits to the document based on your feedback

 

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you again for your work to date on this process, and I am looking forward to connecting soon.

Be well!

Chris Norman

 

Now, this is from Mr. Norman three days later, on February 19th, 2021:

Sent: Friday, February 19, 2021, 04:47:21 PM PST
Subject: RE: HT-CBA Meeting Requests with EA Re: Scheduling, Matrix and Expanded Vision – Wednesday, February 24, 2021 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Mercedes and Stephen,

Happy Friday to the both of you! In preparation for our meeting on Wednesday, 2/24 at 3pm I am sending over items for your review, and a few “homework” requests! Attached to this email you will find an agenda for our meeting and a spreadsheet populated with the transportation topic cohort’s recommendations. We currently have one-hour scheduled for this meeting, but in preparation for our meeting I realized we may want more time. Would you be able/willing to add 30 minutes to our meeting? No worries if not; we will work with the hour we have!

To reiterate, our team is working with leadership from each topic cohort to create a standard template that all recommendations will fit in. Our goals for the meeting with you include:

clarifying the recommendations highlighted in orange (there are 19 that we would like to better understand), and
filling out the blank cells

By close of business on Tuesday would you be able to fill in the timing, leverage ($), and stakeholder columns to the best of your ability? This would allow us to have a more efficient conversation when we meet on Wednesday.

For timing you can enter time frames such as “short-term,” “medium-term,” or “long-term”
For leverage you could enter ballpark estimates for how much an request might cost.
Fill out the stakeholder column if you know the agency/partners that would be involved. I started filling in potential partners.

We don’t need exact figures for these columns, but it would be helpful to have a better sense of what the topic cohort was thinking. Please let Cynthia and me know if you have any questions or concerns in advance of Wednesday. Thank you again for your dedication to this process, and for meeting with us. Looking forward to our chat!

Best,

Chris Norman

Research Analyst

Estolano Advisors

Now, here’s the Transportation Community Steering Committee Leaders comments from February 23, 2021, and in response to Mr.Norman’s email, above :

Steve Lowe: Community Benefits Group member involved with transportation planning:

The area nearest Howard Terminal obviously requires a Precise Plan, the next step beyond any Specific Plan, especially as neither the DOSP or WOSP embraces such a Ballpark-Village concept and the profound impact on area Transportation & Land Use, Land Use being one of the missing ingredients that the HT-CBA framers seem to have left out when contemplating our stand-alone Transporation Cohort!

Given that so many of our Waterside Oakland needs, with respect to pollution and congestion, cannot be met by the CBA, but still remain achievable via a stimulus package that the City and regional agencies would surely be thought derelict in failing to apply for, it should be an imperative for the CBA process to pause for a brief moment of recalibration at this historic juncture in Post-Trump, Bay Area Economic Development so that we don’t inadvertently lose this rare opportunity to coordinate and streamline our Port and all other area traffic so that the highest and best environmental benefits can flow, rather than remain jammed up and perpetuating a profoundly negative impact – surely the worst in Northern California! – on both our local neighborhoods and the regional economy.

What would Estolano advise if hired not just to guide our CBA process but to help actuate a smarter project meant to benefit, as nothing else can, the entire San Francisco Bay Area?

Thanks, as always, for your invaluable input!

Mercedes S. Rodriguez response, in her role as co-leader of the Transportation Steering Committee with Steve Lowe:

We have been working on this process for almost two years beginning with the Equity Research Team along with the WOEIP which is continuing to this day with the HT-CBA.

We are on the Transportation Cohort because of our concern for our community. As you have so clearly outlined, the Bay Area, that super-clogged aorta is all to obviously the daily transportation snarl throughout the area surrounding Howard Terminal, where the City and Port are hoping they can plop down a new ballpark (and village!) without causing much more than a mere ripple or two even though the Bay Area’s economy depends on Oakland’s throughput so much that it’s a near miracle we manage to get any goods whatever moving through these over-constricted arteries and vessels we laughingly call a freeway system.

Transportation is very important to me because the trucks in the West Oakland area are a major problem for residents that live in proximity to Howard Terminal, which includes myself. It wasn’t until Mayor Libby Schaaf had Yvonna Cazares, Policy Director, Community Engagement person send to me, Ms. Margaret Gordon, Brian Beveridge and Marcus Johnson on February 11th the notice of TEMPORARY TRUCK ROUTE NOTICE, Overweight Trucks Moving to and from Port Using Temporary Route through February 19th. For a limited number of days through Friday, February 19, 2021, trucks weighing overy 80,000 lbs. going to and f rom the Port of Oakland will use 7th Street between Maritime Street and Mandela Parkway during the evening hours of 9 pm to 6 am. Upon receipt from Yvonna Cazares of the above notice all three of us responded with our concerns.

I live on Market Street between 8th and 10th Street which is a 7 minute walk from Howard Terminal. Illegal parked and idling trucks have been a major problem for my neighborhood. I have been the Neighborhood Watch Block Captain for 20 years. I have had signs installed on both sides of the street. It wasn’t until I voiced my concerns about this new truck route that I received a response from Keith S. Schuerholz – Parking Services & Transportation Liaison. As you can see, enforcement is a major problem. It should not have taken 20 years for me to get a positive response regarding the truck problem that I am experiencing in West Oakland. We shall see where this eventually leads.

I explained the above, because those of us on the CBA Steering Committee have provided a scaled down number of approximately 150 recommendations. All of these recommendations will cost $$$. The A’s have not committed to any dollar amount that they are willing to provide to the CBA. Estolano Advisors asked you and I three questions in preparation for our meeting with them tomorrow Wednesday, February 24th 3:00 PM. One of the questions was regarding could we enter a ballpark estimate for how much a request might cost? My answer was:There is no way that we can estimate the cost. The A’s have not even committed to any type of dollar amount they are willing to fund the CBA.

I am also concerned about the sincerity of the City, A’s and the Port regarding this CBA process especially since our original list of recommendations has been reduced to approximately 150. After all of the time that we on the Steering Committee have devoted to this process, the A’s have not made any type of financial commitment. I like yourself am skeptical of the outcome, and I sincerely hope that the work that we have been doing will not be in vain. I believe in what we are trying to accomplish with the CBA because my purpose in this process is to see that the four impacted communities receive the benefits that they totally deserve as a result of a Ballpark being build at Howard Terminal.

I should also mention that at the December 12, 2020 Steering Committee Meeting there were many complaints from Steering Committee Members about the process for getting Estolano Advisors involved. At the time of the meeting Estolano Advisors had not been hired. I sent correspondence after the meeting on December 23rd as follows:

Dear All,

Thanks to Steve for providing us with this very information article on Cecilia Estolano. It appears as if Cecilia is a person that is very knowledgeable that may be working on our team for the CBA. Naturally we all have our opinions about Estolano Advisors and why they were chosen over other agencies in the Bay Area. Some of that information was provided to us at the Steering Committee Meeting. Needless to say, it would have been best if the idea of having a consulting firm work with the CBA had been discussed with the Steering Committee prior to the presentation of Estolano Advisors at the meeting. More than likely we would have had a better response from the members. What we also came to understand at the meeting is that Estolano Advisors has not actually been hired, nor do they have a signed contact for the CBA as Consultants. For those that are still concerned and if it is agreeable, I would suggest that we have a meeting among Steering Committee Members to discuss options that are available regarding Estolano Advisors or another company altogether, if anyone has recommendations that they would like to provide.

Steve, prior to the January 2021 Steering Committee Meeting, on December 31st 2020 we were informed by Veronica Cummings that Estolano Advisors had been hired. This is without further discussion with the Steering Committee Members that had definite concerns about Estolano Advisors. In other words, community members concerns were not taken into consideration.

I am committed to working with Estolano Advisors. Since the City has hired them as consultants, and therefore they must naturally have had experience with other CBA’s and EIR’s, then they should take the lead as professionals and work on behalf of the Steering Committee. They should provide the expertise that the Steering Committee Members don’t have in evaluating the 150 recommendations and to make sure that everything that we have recommended is what is contained in the Term Sheet.

Regards,

Mercedes S. Rodriguez
HT-CBA Transportation Steering Committee
Block Captain, BayPorte Village Neighborhood Watch

And this is Mr. Lowe’s response to Mr. Rodriquez and the Transport Committee:

Hi Mercedes!

After our Friday call with Veronica, I’m continuing to have concerns about the sincerity and motivation(s) of the all the parties to this still-muddled community negotiation, which some might see as more of a marriage proposal than the (sub)standard business transaction I fear it really might be, once the basic costs are in a position to be fine-tuned and the overall totals pared back a bunch to fit the A’s budget.

The A’s seem to be proposing that they’ll be Waterside Oakland’s fond neighbors, friends, economic development partners, etc., all pretty wonderful stuff, yet still no solid appreciation from anyone in the A’s, Port, City, County, CalTrans, ABAG, etc., an interagency snakeball if ever there was, as to the profound impact this project – if fully realized and developed as more than merely another residential venture but with a major sports venue attached – will have on the regional economy, the entire Bay Area centering on our West Oakland-Jack London-Old Oakland-Chinatown geographic and transportation epicenter.

As such, I’m getting the cribbles all over again thinking that all the time and effort we’re being asked to provide on this will turn out to be all for naught – or maybe all for just the watered-down version! – as my near-thirty years of involvement in Waterside community planning have almost always ended up when one negotiant decided towards the end of the process to “modify” its commitment, or another party had a key employee leave the scene of the crime, or the process itself got too moldy because it simply took too long to get to the point of consummation.

It’s kinda puzzling that Economic & Workforce Development Department (OEWD?) isn’t already more than just casually involved with this project – they being, as you accurately point out, the experts we need to provide the kind of analysis, numbers, estimates, etc., that Chris is asking for, certainly more than you and I and most of the other Steering Committee members can! – we can only stab at that kind of information, especially now in the midst of all the economic upheaval, inflation and turmoil we’re seeing everywhere all across this country.

And, peeling back the onionskin – and maybe this is something that Veronica’s former professors and colleagues over at UCB could confirm – Joe and Kamala (46 & 47 as some prefer to think of them!) are trying to identify stimulus-worthy projects throughout the country designed to reboot the national economy, the same way that a heart surgeon might need to apply a series of shocks to the cardiovascular system of a sickly patient to get him or her going again: the point being that the pinky finger or little toe isn’t going to be where the main stimulus is applied; it’s got to be right at the heart if it’s going to do any good, leaving thousands of needy little pinkies to throb on their own until such major surgery by 46 & 47 has been completed and elective minor procedures can resume again.

Here in the Bay Area, that super-clogged aorta is all to obviously the daily transportation snarl throughout the area surrounding Howard Terminal, where the City and Port are hoping they can plop down a new ballpark (and village!) without causing much more than a mere ripple or two – even though the Bay Area’s economy depends on Oakland’s throughput so much that it’s a near miracle we manage to get any goods whatever moving through these over-constricted arteries and vessels we laughingly call a freeway system.

This aspect of the transportation mitigations that you and I and so many of the other participants on our Transportation Cohort have frequently alluded to is evidently not being as responsibly addressed or understood as it should be by the Port and the City, nor is there much, if any agreement from the regional agencies that an ablation of such a grotesque coronary occlusion so adversely affecting the greater Bay Area metropolitan region is the single most important and most-needed stimulus we should all be asking for – from Milpitas to Millbrae to Mill Valley! – especially as the suffering residents of Waterside Oakland, the most diverse and most deserving community anywhere in the Bay Area, can at long last receive its (over) due redound.

If Estolano Associates is working towards that kind of partnership going forward, I’m personally eager to proceed with our HT-CBA work, but if this is just another group of personable facilitators retained to make it easier for the A’s to negotiate an iffy exchange of land from the Port in return for buckets of dollars from the team, then the effort will likely get the same amount of cautiously conditional participation that the WOSP, DOSP and other vision-impaired, insincerely begat efforts received in the past because it’s not highest and best, it’s just another Oakland-as-Usual transaction looking for a community rubberstamp.

Cordially,

– Steve Lowe

The Howard Terminal Transportation Plan Is Still A Community Work-In-Progress, Yet Here Comes The Draft EIR, Today, Next Meeting, Saturday, February 27th 2021

The City of Oakland reports:

The next Howard Terminal CBA Steering Committee meeting will take place on Saturday, February 27, 2021 beginning at 9am. Amid COVID-19 precautions, the meeting will be hosted on the digital platform Zoom (details below).

The meeting is open to all Oakland stakeholders to observe; however, participation is limited to Steering Committee members and the facilitators only.

To Join the meeting:

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

http://bit.ly/FebCBASCMeeting

Stay tuned.

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