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Ports & Terminals

Oakland’s Proposed New Ballpark and Condo complex “Long-Term Threat” to Port

PMSA’s Jacob Warns Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Ballpark and Condos Pose “Long-Term Threat” to Port of Oakland Maritime Operations

Mike Jacob, vice president and general counsel, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA), called the recently-released City of Oakland draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) analyzing the Oakland A’s proposed ballpark and condominium complex at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal “inadequate.”

Jacob said the report was vague in its analysis of the complex’s impact on harbor trucking, air quality and container rail movements.

Jacob warned that, if approved, the A’s project poses “a long-term threat to growth at the Port of Oakland.”

Nevertheless, the City of Oakland is moving forward with approving the complex at a time when the Port of Oakland:

  • Attracted new container ship business from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach
  • Attracted it first port of call ocean carrier service from Asia with CMA
  • Is the only the third port in the United States to handle 18,000 twenty-foot unit mega-container ships
  • Is installing new mega-container ship to shore cranes at the Oakland International Container Terminal built in China by ZPMC.

Speaking to the Propeller Club of Northern California (PCNC), Jacob said that the City of Oakland’s EIR failed to adequately take into account four crucial factors:

The impact that 3,000 new residential and condominium owners could play in opposing the growth of Port of Oakland terminal operations including opposing additional trucking and intermodal rail. The effect would be to “organize future opposition to growth” at Port of Oakland marine terminals where additional trucking and rail operations reflect positive developments. Unfortunately, such growth could be perceived as a negative development by future Howard Terminal condominium owners.

The failure of the EIR to provide a detailed analysis of the changes in harbor trucking patterns when the complex displaces the staging of harbor trucks currently at Howard Terminal that support marine terminal container moves. The EIR’s shortcoming also fails to anticipate how the displacement of trucks will have a domino effect of spreading truck traffic on the roads leading to and from marine terminals with potential negative impacts on Port operations. In addition, the complex threatens to drive truck traffic and parking back into nearby Oakland neighborhoods after the Howard Terminal truck staging area had eased the impact to neighbors.

The EIR’s failure to anticipate the worsening level of air quality from displacing trucks at the Howard Terminal staging area. The level of air quality also is not adequately quantified or projected after trucking is uprooted. The EIR also fails to anticipate potential changes in air quality with re-routed trucks generating emissions moving through nearby Oakland neighborhoods and the respiratory effect on Oakland residents.

The EIR’s analysis does not fully anticipate possible impact on intermodal Union Pacific rail operations moving containers to and from Port of Oakland marine terminals and is “half-baked.” The EIR only looked at rail operations for one week in which the report noted that Howard Terminal was blocked by a train once for 87 minutes. Jacob said one week’s EIR survey was inadequate to comprehend complex rail operations at the Port of Oakland and that Howard Terminal could be blocked more than once a week by trains.

According to the City of Oakland, the Oakland A’s project proposes the following:

  • Construction of an approximately 35,000-person capacity Major League Baseball park for the Oakland Athletics.
  • Up to 1.77 million square feet of commercial development,
  • Up to 3,000 residential dwelling units,
  • A new hotel with approximately 400 rooms, and
  • A new performance venue with a capacity of approximately 3,500 individuals.

In response to Jacob’s remarks:

Rita Look, an Oakland resident, said she had been opposed to the ballpark complex at Howard Terminal from the inception and worried about the future of the Port of Oakland: “What’s going to happen to the Port of Oakland?”

Susan Ransom, client services manager for Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) International which operates the Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) said that SSA operates the largest container terminal at the Port of Oakland. It generates 6,000 container moves per day. Ransom said SSA is worried that the ballpark and condominiums will adversely impact its container handling operations and said that ocean carriers are refusing to sign long-term contracts with SSA out of concern that the ballpark and condominium complex will undermine terminal operations.

Evey Hwang, vice president San Francisco Division Alba Wheels Up, is a customs broker and the president of the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of Northern California. She was critical of the EIR for failing to anticipate the impact of new condominiums that are to be built in addition to the ballpark: “The EIR does not fully take into account what will happen when the ballpark and condominiums transition the area from industrial to residential.”

The project site consists of approximately 55 acres that comprise the Charles P. Howard Terminal and adjacent parcels, located at the Port of Oakland along the Inner Harbor of the Oakland-Alameda Estuary. The site is bound generally by the Oakland Estuary Middle Harbor on the south; Jack London Square on the east; Union Pacific railroad tracks and Embarcadero West on the north; and the heavy metal recycling center, Schnitzer Steel, on the west.

Public comments on the draft EIR must be submitted to the City of Oakland by April 12th.

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis

WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT

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