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Fans, Neighbors Differ Over Proposed A’s Stadium

Fans, Neighbors Differ Over Proposed A’s Stadium

A packed Peralta board meeting opened discussion Tuesday evening on proposed A’s ballpark project next to Lake Merritt.  Photo by Ken Epstein.

Meetings of Peralta Community College District’s Board of Trustees are generally sparsely attended, but this week an overflow crowd filled seats and folding chairs and stood along the walls at the district headquarters near Laney College to speak out for and against the 35,000-seat stadium that the Oakland A’s want to build on the site.

At one point during the meeting on Tuesday evening, opponents of the stadium began chanting, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people because the power of the people don’t stop!” A’s supporters tried to drown them out with “Let’s go, Oakland!” – a chant that is popular at A’s games.

Supporters of building the A’s stadium in downtown Oakland on 8th Street and 5th Avenue next to Laney College and Chinatown included A’s fans from Oakland and around the Bay Area, business owners who argued that the increased foot traffic and development would be a shot in the arm for the downtown economy, building trades unions, the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and the African American Chamber of Commerce.

Opponents included senior citizens, high school students, organized by groups in the Oakland Chinatown Coalition, students and instructors in the Save Laney Land for Students Coalition, members of Eastlake United for Justice, 5th Avenue Waterfront Community Alliance, Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merritt and Causa Justa; Just Cause.

They say they want the team to stay in Oakland but not at Lake Merritt, where the stadium and associated development projects would swamp low-income neighborhoods, jeopardize the future of Laney College and destroy natural habitats.

The administration and board of Peralta are planning for an inclusive process to discuss the proposal, which the A’s organization initially sent to Peralta on Sept. 12.

“The board has not had any time (so far) to consider this issue,” said Peralta Chancellor Dr. Jowel Laguerre.

Sharon Cornu, a consultant who is working with Peralta to lead the community discussion, emphasized that the process is just beginning. “Let’s begin with where we are today,” she said. “There is no commitment, there is no decision, and there is no deal. “

“We’re here to start the process of community benefits and engagement so the trustees can make a decision in the best interests of the Peralta Colleges’ community,” she said.

Speakers in favor of the proposal included Carl Chan of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

“This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said, arguing that the stadium would be good for public safety, jobs, business opportunities and workforce housing.

Alice Lai-Bitker, business owner and former county supervisor, said, “I’m really optimistic about the A’s proposal. I am hoping it will benefit Laney students and businesses and residents nearby in Chinatown and Eastlake. ”

Among the speakers opposed to the stadium was Jing Jing He, who said Chinatown residents, including senior citizens, came to Tuesday’s meeting to “fight for the life of their community.”

“The A’s team has tried to leave Oakland in the past few years,” she said. “They only stayed because San Jose denied their move, and now they say they’re all for Oakland.”

Focusing on environmental impacts, Cindy Margulis, executive director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, said, “We understand the A’s want to be downtown, but this particular site is a catastrophe for the (wildlife) refuge at Lake Merritt.”

James Vann, a member of the Stay the Right Way Coalition, said the project would not be good for Oakland.  “The impacts are monumental. There will never be a way to mitigate the impacts on the channel, on traffic, on the neighborhoods, on freeways, on the college.”

Alvina Wong of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) handed the board a petition opposing the project signed by 1,700 Chinatown residents.

“We’re here, and we’re living here every single day. We don’t get a choice to go somewhere else,” she said. Local residents would be crowded by tens of thousands of A’s fans “who are coming here for one single purpose,”

While her organization has brought people to the meeting and hired translators, the A’s corporation has not done anything yet to reach out to the community.

“I don’t know how we can keep trusting this process,” said Wong.


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  1. Irene Chung

    17 October

    My husband and I live around Laney College and work in downtown Oakland. We think having Oakland A’s in Oakland downtown is not a bad idea. It will promote business opportunities but the City has to look at traffic and parking situation. We suggest Oakland A’s built a new campus for Laney College at where the old stadium is. So, Laney can have a new campus and Oakland A’s can use the old campus for their stadium. This way, the district where the old stadiums are (Warriors moving to San Francisco, Raiders going to Las Vegas) will not be left empty and will have a viable community and revive the area at the same time. This is a win-win situation for everyone.

  2. John A.D. Cunningham

    6 November

    It’s all well and good. I waa really hoping to see the community rally around building a major sports and entertainment center out on Alameda Point.

  3. Build a new and improved Laney College at the site of the Oakland Coliseum. Plenty of space for a state-of-the-art community college campus, athletic facilities, housing, parks, retail, entertainment, and more. Plus parking, and easily accessible by Bart. Would be large enough to absorb students from College of Alameda (and possibly other bay area community colleges) leaving that valuable Alameda space open for development. And make the A’s and the developers pay for it.

    Build a new and improved stadium for the A’s at the current Laney College site. Bart accessible. Would bring baseball fans to an area of Oakland with which many may not be familiar. Would bring attention and revenue to an already growing downtown, Lake Merritt, Chinatown and Jack London Square. A day trip to downtown Oakland could include a ride on Bart, lunch, shopping, OMCA, a walk around Lake Merritt, an event at the new Kaiser Center, a ball game, and a late dinner or drinks. And in the off-season it could be used for events, concerts, etc.

    The Coliseum site has room for all the existing buildings of Laney College, College of Alameda and the Peralta CC Administration. And the entire West Valley Athletic Complex. And an 18-hole golf course (space which could be used to expand the campus or for residential, commercial, nature) built around Oracle Arena, which could remain for events like concerts, sports, or graduations.

    That’s AT&T Park dropped into the Laney site for size reference. The new A’s ballpark could create new Oakland experiences by connecting downtown and the currently dis-connected east Lake Merritt. A landscaped, environmentally-friendly pedestrian/bike pathway could connect Lake Merritt to the water at Brooklyn Basin, continue up the waterfront to Jack London Square, then into downtown and back to the lake, completing a loop of beautiful experiences completely unique to Oakland. And there would be so much real estate to develop in between, that the residents of Chinatown could negotiate with current property owners and developers to avoid gentrification.

    • Show a commitment to education from the city of Oakland
    • Revitalize the current Coliseum site after the W’s and Raiders leave
    • Bring in tax dollars and jobs
    • Allow for the development of the valuable property downtown, and
    • Make the downtown Oakland area a destination to be enjoyed by the entire Bay Area and tourists

    Creative Satchel | Oct. 8, 2017

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