While other media types suspected that only men were behind the opposition to the Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Ballpark, I knew better: it was Vivian Kahn. This is what I wrote at Oakland News Now on August 4th 2018 (My birthday!)
The Oakland A’s are still deep in the “exclusive negotiating agreement” period, where two sites for a new baseball stadium, the Oakland Coliseum and Howard Terminal near Jack London Square, are under scrutiny.
To speed up the environmental approval process, Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval teamed up with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and California Assemblyman Rob Bonta to advocate for passage of special legislation. Called AB 734 (Bonta) , the proposed law simply seeks the same California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemptions for construction of new stadiums that other projects in California have received.
As Kristen Kortick of the law firm of Abbott & Kinderman pointed out, The Los Angeles Rams, Sacramento Kings , Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Clippers, all received California Legislature approved exemptions from the full CEQA process for construction of new stadium or arena projects – the Oakland A’s seek the same approval.
What Assembly Bill 734, would allow Oakland A’s to do is seek the completion and certification of an environmental impact report or what’s called a “mitigated negative declaration” that explains how the new stadium causes the least harmful impacts to the environment. Assembly Bill 734 limits appeals of the new Oakland A’s stadium to 270 days from the Oakland A’s filing of the certified environmental impact report to completed court opinion. Any opposition would go to appellate review, and not court under the proposed law. Abbottt & Kinderman explain that the new Oakland A’s stadium approval process calls for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for all new construction and sets out express benchmarks for projects approvals, public comments, and the timeline for judicial review. This is all well and good, but the Oakland A’s have to get around Jack London Square dweller and urban planner Vivian Kahn.
Recently, a flyer was released by a group called “Protect Oakland’s Shoreline Economy.” While the flyer doesn’t point to any one person, speculation by those not familiar with the history of the Oakland A’s New Stadium at Howard Terminal idea, has pointed to names that have not been involved directly in the project – and all men, as if women don’t count. They have obviously never heard of the great Vivian kahn, and yet it was the Oakland urban planner and member of the Board of Directors of The Jack London Improvement District, Ms. Kahn, who gave Mike Ghielmetti and Doug Boxer a hard way to go when they were leading the charge for a ballpark at Howard Terminal. Take my interview with the group back in 2014:
This is how Vivian, who’s a friend of this blogger, is described on the Jack London Improvement District Board Of Directors file:
Vivian Kahn – Business Owner and Property Owner
Vivian Kahn, FAICP, is a 40+ year resident of Oakland who has lived in the Phoenix Lofts at far-western end of the District for more than three years. She is an Associate Principal with Dyett & Bhatia, city and regional planning consultants, in San Francisco and is also a partner with her husband Larry Mortimer, AIA, in Kahn / Mortimer/Associates, a planning and architecture consulting firm based in Oakland. Vivian’s long involvement in Bay Area and Oakland civic activities includes serving on the Boards of the Greenbelt Alliance, Jubilee West, West Oakland Housing Corporation, and Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity and as president of the Metropolitan Greater Oakland Democratic Club. Vivian, Larry, and their bully dog Hennessy particularly enjoy Jack London’s many great drinking and dining spots including Bocanova, Heinhold’s, The Fat Lady, Urban Legend, Campovida and Venga Paella.
So now after almost a week, I got an email from my friend Vivian Kahn, and after someone representing the Jack London Improvement District expressed the group’s preference for the Coliseum on the same blog post at Oakland News Now (I figured it was Vivian), Mr. Kahn admitted that I was correct. She wrote this on her Facebook profile:
“My old friend Zennie has blown my cover. Although our property values would increase if the Howard Terminal site is where the A’s land, I oppose this location and Bonta’s as bad planning. Bonta’s legislation may be appropriate with respect to the Coliseum site, which would be true infill development, but that is not the case for Howard Terminal. Although the Howard Terminal site is currently developed for port use, some of which occurred prior to the passage of CEQA, development of a ballpark would be a significant change of land use with both economic as well as environmental implications for the western part of the Jack London district, which is now a great mix of light industrial, maker spaces, and retail. Moreover, although the Coliseum site already has a specific plan that was subject to environmental review, no such plan yet exists for the Howard Terminal. In fact, the proposed development of a ball park is not even consistent with the Estuary Plan, which functions as the City’s current planning policies applicable to the site. This is one of the reasons why I eagerly supported development of a Specific Plan for Downtown Oakland, which includes the Jack London district south of Interstate 880. Unfortunately, regretfully due to poor decisions by the Oakland Planning Department, that effort has not yet generated a plan.”
However, Ms. Kahn does not know Bob Apodaca, the person said to have been behind the group “Protect Oakland’s Shoreline Economy” but she says that Schnitzer Steel is also opposed to the plan.
So, that rounds out the people who have lined up against Howard Terminal for the Oakland A’s. Pretty much the same as the folks that were against Howard Terminal for the Major League Baseball team, before.