Oakland Bulk And Oversized Terminal: Correcting The Oakland City Attorney

Regarding the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker’s recent newsletter made several misleading claims and misstatements of facts including this: “In 2015, the City learned that Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT) was seeking to develop a coal terminal on the site.”

That statement was apparently designed by the Oakland City Attorney to have Oaklanders avoid reading information that would disprove it – what follows is that information.

History Of The City Of Oakland’s Partnership With California Capital Investment Group In A Multi-Commodity Bulk Terminal

• On July 21, 2009, the City of Oakland selected California Capital Investment Group (CCIG) Oakland Global as the developer for the reuse plan of the former Oakland Army Base, including the West Gateway portion. Fro the start, the land use plan for the West Gateway included a proposal for the development and operation of a multi-commodity bulk terminal, capitalizing on the site’s unique access to existing rail operations in immediate proximity to a deep-water port.

• As originally planned in and around 2010, the original prospective tenant at OBOT was Kinder Morgan. This fact was communicated to the City, and in October 2011, a Kinder Morgan presentation, present in the City of Oakland’s records from that time, shows that the typical throughput for a Kinder Morgan facility at that time included 34 percent coal and 14 percent Petcoke among other prospective commodities.

• In 2009, the City of Oakland ordered a market study to assess the viability of the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal. That study, which was released April of 2012, specifically referred to the market for coal, and identified Utah as a likely provider for that commodity and for the OBOT’s successful operation.

Later that same year, then Oakland Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell gave an interview to this video-blogger and mentioned on video that iron ore would be one of the commodities handled in the facility. It’s commonly known that steel is produced with both coal and iron ore; no steel production facility would order iron ore and not coal. Also, Blackwell’s statements are public evidence the City of Oakland knew OBOT would be a bulk, multi-commodity terminal well before 2015.

• In January 2013, The City of Oakland’s own Long Range Management Plan, prepared by City staff and consultants, and as required by governing agreements with the State of California and other entities that were and are supporting and funding the project, expressly described the proposed bulk terminal as handling “lumber, coal, and sulfur…”

That document was approved by City of Oakland governing bodies and forwarded to the necessary State of California and other agencies.

• In January 2013, staff of the Port of Oakland, a subsidiary of the City of Oakland, emailed regarding the prospect of coal being transported through the Port rail yard.

• In May 2013, the Port of Oakland commissioned a study by Lautsch Davis:

That Lautsch Davis study identified coal as one of several potential commodities for the new State Transportation Corridor Improvement Fund-subsidized rail yard to be at the former Oakland Army Base.

• City of Oakland project managers Pat Cashman and Doug Cole, in their analysis, employed the Metro Ports Wharf G in Long Beach, the Port of Stockton, and the Richmond-Levine Terminal as comparable facilities upon which the proposed bulk terminal and its operations would be patterned and against which what’s now called OBOT would compete. All of those comparable facilities handle coal, and that was confirmed by, among other things, a video presentation they admitted they saw in March of 2013.

• The City of Oakland entitled and vested OBOT’s multi-commodity bulk terminal to be built and operated on July 16, 2013.

• Kinder Morgan withdrew from the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with OBOT in April 2014.

• The City of Oakland approved a renegotiated project obligations and financing agreements where the developer assumed much greater obligations in exchange for expedited timing for processing and approval of OBOT. It was called the “Mid Project Budget Revise” and done on November 4th, 2014.

The Mid Project Budget Revise also identified the sublease between OBOT and Terminal Logistics Solutions (TLS), following Kinder Morgan’s withdraw from consideration.

• OBOT entered into an option agreement with TLS on November 4, 2014. TLS’s commodity line-up was similar to Kinder Morgan’s and as shown in their presentation to City staff and officials in October of 2014.

• Even had the City of Oakland not been directly provided all of the information noted above, a simple Google or Yahoo online search, then and now, shows the standard and prevalent commodities that make up the market of “bulk commodities cargo” shipped daily by such facilities: “Bulk cargo is commodity cargo that is transported unpackaged in large quantities. It refers to material in either liquid or granular, particulate form, as a mass of relatively small solids, such as petroleum/crude oil, grain, coal, or gravel.”

• The City of Oakland, both staff and elected officials, knew that the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal was to be a bulk, multi-commodity terminal well before 2015, and there’s ample evidence that shows that truth.

The Oakland City Attorney built a false narrative just to renege on its obligations, and its efforts were exposed in Federal court. A Federal District Court judge revealed every aspect of the City of Oakland’s fake news effort to kill the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, so long as it would not unilaterally commit to not handle coal and in direct avoidance of market norms and expectations, considering worldwide commodity use.

The Port of Oakland has long considered a bulk terminal, and as far back as 1990 – it was always assumed it would handle many commodities for shipment, including coal.

Stay tuned.

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