Oakland Howard Terminal Ballpark

In Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Ballpark Issue, Senate Bill No. 293 Is The Project Bible To Know

In the Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Ballpark Issue, there are way too many people, some who don’t even have a house or apartment in Oakland, who are weighing in with their opinions on the matter, and claim to have some information no one else has. Well, the most important information there is available on this project and should be on the mouths and in the minds of everyone, but especially Oaklanders, is in something called California Senate Bill No. 293, or “SB-293 Infrastructure financing districts: formation: issuance of bonds: City of Oakland”.

Formed by California and Oakland Senator Nancy Skinner, following the law will remove all of the wrong-headed opinions and prejudices you have read or been told to date. People say they know it, but then they toss out information that a simple review of Senate Bill No. 293 shows they don’t. Here’s the truth about the Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Ballpark Issue and from the perspective of the The Project Bible on it.

A Momentary Aside On The City of Oakland’s Habit Of Negotiating With Sports Organizations Via The Media

But, before I focus on Senate Bill No. 293, I must ask my friend Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to stop trying to negotiate with the Oakland Athletics in the media. She’s already made a giant mistake: sending out a media advisory that blasts the A’s on the matter of public money, and just two weeks after calling for the Oakland City Council to pass the A’s legislation, even though it’s not ready, was really sloppy. And that’s being kind.

The last time this happened was 2017. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell personally hated that Mayor Schaaf did that in the run up to the NFL Owners Meeting on the Las Vegas Stadium Relocation Vote that occurred March 27th, 2017 in Arizona. I can tell you that the Oakland A’s don’t like it either. We do not treat other Oakland firms like that; why do it to the Oakland A’s? This ego-battle stuff that Oakland Politicians seem to like to do with respect to sports team owners again and again has to stop. The elected officials need to get over not being sports team owners, or national TV stars, and do the jobs they were elected to do.

When the media calls or texts, just say “no comment for now” and leave it at that. Handle communications in private.

Mayor Schaaf Needs Her Own Stadium Advisory Group That Includes The East Oakland Stadium Alliance

The best way forward for Mayor Schaaf is to form her own Stadium Advisory Group, and have it consist of people who are noted for their experience in getting large scale developments done, and working with sports teams and leagues on large scale facilities and events. Mike Welch, the The East Oakland Stadium Alliance, Scott McKibben, Phil Tagami, D’Shon Dixon, Ray Bobbitt, Steve Lowe, Andy Madeira, and Charise Fong, are some of the names of what should be a 20 person group.

The idea of the SAG is to lay out a strategy for the Mayor and to represent her as a kind of intellectual support, and as an aide to City Staff, and finally as simple project advocates. Right now, the Mayor has no one – certainly no set of people she can count on. The list is deliberately controversial, and it says to Oakland that if you’re serious about getting the A’s stadium done, you work with your best people in the community. Period.

Also, by having the The East Oakland Stadium Alliance on the SAG, current disagreements can be ironed out behind closed doors or in secured ZOOM meetings.

The Howard Terminal Project Bible SB 293 Skinner

I refer to Senate Bill No. 293 AKA “The Project Bible One” – Section 53395.82 of the Government Code. I refer to these specific parts of full sections, and I could add more, but this is sufficient.


“This bill would establish alternative procedures for the formation of an infrastructure financing district by the City of Oakland under these provisions. The bill would require the City Council of the City of Oakland to initiate proceedings for the formation of the district by adoption of a resolution of intention to establish the district that, among other things, directs the preparation of an infrastructure financing plan. The bill would require the infrastructure financing plan to include a provision for the division of taxes, but would prohibit the division of taxes with respect to nonconsenting affected taxing agencies and specified local educational agencies. The bill would require a district board, composed of specified members, to hold 3 noticed public hearings on the infrastructure financing plan and to conduct a protest proceeding, as provided. The bill would authorize the establishment of the district if fewer than 25% of the combined number of landowners and residents in the area file a protest to the infrastructure financing plan, or if between 25% and 50% of those landowners file such a protest and the infrastructure financing plan is submitted to the voters and approved. The bill would require the district board to provide an annual report to each landowner, resident, and affected taxing entity that participates in the plan, as provided. The bill would also authorize the district board to approve and issue bonds for the district by adopting a resolution that contains specified information. The bill would authorize a district formed under these provisions to finance specified facilities and projects.”


Section 53395.82 SECTION 1 (e) It is therefore the intent of the Legislature to provide the City of Oakland, hereafter referred to as the city, with additional latitude, within the framework of the laws governing IFDs, to create and operate an IFD in a manner that optimizes its financing options to facilitate the construction of much needed public facilities and affordable housing meeting the stated goals of communitywide significance. The city may wish to establish an IFD at Howard Terminal or another location. This will spur private investment and provide additional dollars to support development and revitalization of urbanized areas that include housing for all income levels with equal access to public transit, goods, services, and economic opportunities. In order to adapt the provisions of Chapter 2.8 (commencing with Section 53395) of Part 1 of Division 2 of Title 5 of the Government Code, relating to infrastructure financing districts, to the unique circumstances within the city, a special act is necessary.


SEC. 2. Section 53395.82 is added to the Government Code, to read:
53395.82. (a) This section applies only to the City of Oakland and any infrastructure financing district proposed by the City of Oakland, as described in this section.
(b) In addition to the findings and declarations in Section 53395, the Legislature further finds and declares that consolidating in a single agency the ability to capture property tax increment revenues to finance qualified public facilities in the City of Oakland will provide communitywide benefits.


SEC. 2. Section 53395.82 (d) (1) A district may finance the design, purchase, construction, expansion, improvement, seismic retrofit, or rehabilitation of any real or other tangible property with an estimated useful life of 15 years or longer, as described in this chapter. The facilities need not be physically located within the boundaries of the district. However, any facilities financed outside a district shall have a tangible connection to the work of the district, as detailed in the infrastructure financing plan adopted in accordance with subdivision (e). Subdivision (b) of Section 53395.3 shall not apply to the district, but the district shall only finance public facilities of communitywide significance that provide significant benefits to the district or the surrounding community.

I could go a lot further, but the point is, THE CITY OF OAKLAND CONTROLS THE SHAPE OF THE DISTRICT, NOT THE OAKLAND A’S. The Project Bible explains a truth that runs counter to the fears expressed to me of late: that the Oakland A’s hold control over the shape of the industrial financing district boundaries. The law simply does not allow that to happen.

Also, SB 293 clearly allows for all of Oakland to benefit from the tax increment revenue produced by the Howard Terminal Project. Like it or not, the fact is, this would be one sports facility that did help its city’s economy.

The City of Oakland and the Oakland City Council must approve formation of the new agency, and then have the agency make a boundary and then calculate the TIF revenue, and then concern itself with the infrastructure cost matter. But, it can change the boundary to improve and reform industrial areas. The TIF Revenue from the stadium ALONE allows for that – a potential multi-billion increment buys a ton of power to reshape Howard Terminal and the area to meet the needs of not just the Oakland A’s but the longshoremen and Schnitzer Steel, and the community, too. The law allows the shaping of a win-win, thanks to the sheer size of the bonding potential.

Use Of Tax Increment Financing Was Proposed As Far Back As 2010 For Howard Terminal, Jack London Square

That video presents a study written by Gruen and Gruen Associates in 2010 (and for The “Let’s Go Oakland” group that first tried to get a baseball stadium built at Howard Terminal) and features an analysis of potential levels of tax increment financing from a district. It’s a good report to read and also to learn why the revenue potential is so great:

2010 Oakland A's Ballpa… by Zennie Abraham

On The Conversation About Shifting The Stadium Effort To The Oakland Coliseum

Regarding a Coliseum-Focused development, I am not opposed to a Coliseum TIF, but I am on record as saying the total potential tax increment revenue beyond the $2 billion stadium will be less. Given the city-wide scope of the TIF revenue, as spelled out in the law, that’s taking money out of our pocket. That said, I am way not in favor of the A’s having dual site control both Coliseum and Howard Terminal – it’s one or the other. Why? It robs the City of Oakland of way too much economic development control.

Plus, Oakland has a GIANT opportunity for sports gambling down there at the Coliseum. Oakland is a city that has billions of dollars of sports facilities and yet has not even taken a cursory look at the growing sports gambling industry. That is just mind-boggling, but here we are.

Sports gambling at the Coliseum should be a city-led project, and in concert with its sports organizations, the A’s, the Roots, and The Oakland Panthers, to start.

Now, do I think a viable baseball stadium alternative can be done there at the Coliseum? Yes. But the chance to make a crown-jewel stadium and an industrial operation for the future at Howard Terminal, right together at Jack London Square, to me, is way too cool to pass up.

But that’s me.

The other concern I have, here, is this is what would Governor Gavin Newsom say about a change in the law he signed? I think Gavin would say “Why throw that law away when there’s so much to be used from it?” I think the best move is to grab the existing money that SB-293 promises for the East Oakland Stadium Alliance and make them co-planners with the Oakland A’s. There’s a freaking bitcoin / gold mine there right now. But the City has to get off its ass and work.

The Mayor of Oakland and the City Council must establish the new agency (that could be called The Oakland Facilities Development Commission) and a person to run it, right now – and before any City Council vote on the project is done. The Oakland A’s must stop trying to rush the vote, and work in accordance with the law. The City of Oakland should know the law well enough to stop this, but the Mayor of Oakland’s actions show that’s not the case.

Where we should be right now is the Oakland City Councilmembers should have their project wish-lists that would be financed with tax increment revenue from Howard Terminal. That would be good use of SB-293, and point a clear path toward rebuilding our Oakland economy so that it works for everyone.

On The Matter Of A Possible Land-Write Down For The Oakland A’s, Put Your Thinking Cap On

Some have expressed concern that the City of Oakland, or the The Oakland Facilities Development Commission agency not formed, would write-down, or reduce the sale price of land where the ballpark would be built. Given that the Oakland A’s would build a new stadium and pay property taxes for a bond issue that could be $700 million in size, that’s wrong-headed. The TIF revenue calculation is based on the new ballpark, so that wipes out any land-value write down. We win.

Give up direct control, Mayor Schaaf – let the new agency, The Oakland Facilities Development Commission (as I think it should be called) do it for Oakland.

Stay tuned.

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