Highlights from Victory Court stadium discussion at Oakland Planning Commission

Last night’s Planning Commission meeting was totally awesome. Really. It was the most enjoyable City meeting I have watched in quite some time.

I was actually really not looking forward to it, because I was convinced it would last for hours and there would be like a hundred public speakers, nearly all of whom would say nothing productive whatsoever. People kept asking me if I was going to go to the meeting yesterday, which I found completely baffling. Every time I know some meeting is going to be a circus, I stay the hell away from City Hall unless I, like, really, really want to speak on some item. Even then, I usually watch from home until it gets close to my turn.

Victory Court Scoping SessionI stole this photo from Max

So I watched last night from the comfort of my home. Which, in addition to being more a more pleasant place to hang out than City Hall, also has the advantage of allowing me to record the video of the meeting and share it with all you fine folks. Here it is:

That’s the entire ballpark portion of the meeting, start to finish. It’s about 2 hours long, which I realize might be a kind of a lot for some folks. But don’t worry! I’ve broken out some highlights for you below.

Anyway, the whole meeting was interesting. Sometimes discussions at the Planning Commission can drag out for like, a ridiculously long time on some minor issue that is of no interest to me whatsoever, but last night they kept it to a pretty good pace. And then there was one item that I had not paid any attention to before, or even bothered to read the staff report, because it sounded so dull from the description on the agenda. But it turned out to be totally fascinating. So that was a pleasant surprise. You’ll get to hear more about that one soon. Maybe as soon as tomorrow, or possibly not until next week. It just depends on how quickly I can secure a copy of the DVD, since I didn’t record that part of the meeting.

Victory Court Scoping Session

Anyway. So I was expecting the ballpark discussion at the meeting to be totally awful. And even though the hearing room was completely packed, and even the overflow room overflowed, the public comment portion of the meeting was completely manageable. And actually really interesting. There weren’t that many speakers total, and the ones they had were pretty much the perfect mix of crazy and productive. Even the people who were obviously there just cause they thought it was a rally or something seemed to make a sincere effort to stay on topic, which I thought was really sweet. And the people who were there with serious concerns did a good job of keeping things light and having a sense of humor about it all.

Anyway. At scoping sessions normally, they always explain at the beginning what the purpose of the meeting is and about how you’re not supposed to comment on whether or not you like the project, but of course, everyone always totally ignores that.

So I was super pleased that last night they took out the time to really do that right, and spent like a good ten minutes describing not only the purpose of that particular meeting, but also how the whole CEQA process works and why we do it. It was great. Also, I’m really happy to have this video now, so I can just post it every time I have to write about CEQA or an EIR or something, instead trying to figure out how to write the same thing I have written like fifty times in an at least slightly new way.

So then it was time for the public to weigh in.

Public Comment Highlights

Okay. It wasn’t the most entertaining thing of the night, but I have to feature Max’s comment, partly because he makes a very good point about taking care of freeway underpasses, but mostly because he mentioned my blog, and I always get really excited when I get a shout out at a public meeting. Also, he pointed out one of many reasons the 980 ballpark proposal is infeasible.

Then there was this guy. He starts out talking about how he’s not going to read the speech he had prepared because he now knows that it is not relevant to the hearing. Then he just talks about irrelevant things anyway. If he was going to do that, then maybe he should have just stuck to the speech. But even though his comments had nothing to do with this meeting, I could not help but smile the whole time he was talking. One, I always appreciate it when people take the time to prepare their remarks in advance, even if they don’t end up using what they wrote. Two, his enthusiasm was just really kind of heartwarming. I found it adorable. Like a little puppy!

Baseball Oakland’s Mike Davie urged that the EIR consider pedestrian and bicycle impacts of the project.

Brian Grunwald, the guy who wants to build a stadium on top of the freeway, gave the pitch for his site, and asked the Planning Commission to include his proposal as a “dual proposed action,” which would mean the City is considering it as seriously as Victory Court.

His argument is basically that the 980 ballpark plan is superior to Victory Court because it would require far less infrastructure repair and therefore be much cheaper, plus it is benefical from a social justice perspective because it would reconnect downtown and West Oakland, which are divided by the freeway.

Of course, the beauty of Victory Court is that whatever investment you have to make in terms of infrastructure is supporting all these other areas and not just the ballpark, which is what makes it a good location for a stadium. This guy just doesn’t seem to grasp that. More importantly, there is some degree of time sensitivity to getting something built, which really should be reason enough to rule this concept out. The Commission ended up saying it should be included in the EIR as an alternative, which was less than what Grunwald was asking for.

Ben Delaney, President of the Jack London District Association, also weighed in on the side of 980 park. He questioned what would happen to the existing businesses at Victory Court and how residents would be impacted by traffic and complained about the limited BART access at Victory Court, which a couple of people did during the meeting but I found completely bizarre, since the site really couldn’t be much closer to a BART station.

Not everyone was so afraid of having a ballpark in their neighborhood. The Chair of the Oak Center Neighborhood Association spoke in favor of 980 Park, which the group has apparently been asking the City to study for some time. Additionally, he emphasized the need for transparency during the EIR the process, which I totally agree with.

Some Jack London District residents were equally excited about living near a stadium, like this guy who lives in The Ellington: “It’s in my backyard. I’m not worried about it. Put it in my backyard. I’m excited about it.”

I thought this guy below was a hoot at first, all yelling crazily about the “idiots” who attend baseball games. But then he started yelling all panicked about how he’s terrified they’re going to take his house and tear it down to build the stadium, and then I just felt bad for him. I mean, it’s easy to think “Dude should calm down. We all know there is no way eminent domain for residential property is going to fly in Oakland anymore.’ And while that is an accurate assessment of today’s political reality, I can hardly blame people who have witnessed years of abuse of eminent domain in the past for not believing it when people tell them that.

And I’m sure that listening to comments like this one don’t do much to ease his fears.

980 Park wasn’t the only alternative location brought up at the meeting.

This guy suggested a different alternative location — Wood Street, in West Oakland, way out by the old train station. The selling point? 39 acres of totally vacant land with property owners eager to unload it.

Sharon Cornu of the Alameda Labor Council asked that the City examine the quality of the jobs that would be created by the project, and consider imposing certain conditions to ensure quality jobs are created by the project.

A representative of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network was concerned about the impacts of the project to Chinatown, and asked about rising housing values and possible job losses that could result from a new ballpark. She was one of several speakers who requested a health impact study be completed.

Finishing Up

Finally, it was the Commission’s turn to talk. You can watch all their comments below.

Commissioner Vince Gibbs said he was taking an “optimistic, but realistic” approach to the project, and asked for evaluation of the economic impacts of the displacement of any businesses, impacts to BART and AC Transit, the trains, and a job analysis. He also said he wanted to see an evaluation of what happens if we don’t get to keep the A’s, which I didn’t understand at all. I mean, if we don’t build a stadium there, then it stays the same as it is now. Right?

Commissioner Sandra Gálvez also wanted to know about job impacts, and was curious about possible flooding from future climate change. She echoed the concerns of several public speakers about how we need a health impact study, with a focus on pedestrians and bicyclists. And then (sigh), she said that since so many people had brought up the 980 stadium proposal, they really should study it as an alternative.

Commissioner C. Blake Huntsman was concerned about parking, displacing the vendors at the Laney College parking lot swap meet and other possible job displacement, and supported the idea of a job quality analysis. Commissioner Vien Truong wanted an alternative included that would keep the area as light industrial, and emphasized that the process should be transparent, with information being routinely made to the public. She was also concerned about the flea market vendors.

Commission Chair Doug Boxer expressed his delight at the quality of the public comment, and then asked that the EIR consider the location of the parking for the ballpark, the intermodal split of anticipated ballpark visitors, the fucking ferry, planned improvements to the Lake Merritt Channel, and that the location should be considered in conjunction with all the other nearby planning efforts going on.

And that was that. Fun meeting! I always love it when I’m pleasantly surprised by these things.

77 thoughts on “Highlights from Victory Court stadium discussion at Oakland Planning Commission

  1. Navigator

    V,

    A ballpark would increase the use of the ferry tremendously. It could be its saving grace. I think we need to look at the ferry as more of a tourist and recreational mode of transportation which allows folks to enjoy the natural beauty and wonderful views of the Bay as they travel at a leisurely pace. A ballpark would allow folks from SF and Marin County to use the ferry 81 dates per year to get to the ballpark.

    Of course, I’d start using the tourist ferries which are used for Sausalito and Alcatraz. In the summer months these open boats with plenty of deck space could be used to transport fans during baseball season.

    I think the basball crowd could actually help pay for the commuter part of the service.

  2. Naomi Schiff

    My promotional idea for major league baseball is a double header with boatloads of beer-happied patrons going from SF to Oak, or the reverse: an afternoon game followed by an evening game, with interlude on the bay. Then instead of a bay bridge series (the one the 89 EQ screwed up) we could have a flotilla series.

  3. Tab

    “The Commission” did not say the 980 plan needs to be an EIR alternative. A single Commissioner said that. I don’t know that those are synonymous.

  4. Navigator

    Max,

    What better place to act like “a drunken idiot” than a ferry boat full of A’s fans? At least they won’t be vandalizing the homes on Oak Street. We can keep the Ferry to 2nd Street route as the beer crawl. Can you envision all the new pubs and jazz clubs in the confines of the charming Produce District?

    Also, it was nice to finally see who you were. We were actually standing two feet apart while you were talking to a couple of other guys just outside the glass viewing area of the main room. At the time,I didn’t know it was you. I didn’t find out who you were until you spoke at the podium.

  5. Navigator

    Naomi,

    We could have a double header with A’s and Giant fans criss crossing the Bay in their decked out pleasure craft, It could be the greatest floatila since the D Day invasion of Normandy. As long as there are no exchanges of broadsides or any sunken vessels we’ll be OK. I think it would be great.

  6. Max Allstadt

    Just to clarify, I was being cute. On forms that ask me to specify ethnicity, I generally write “Pirate”. As such, I unequivocally endorse waterborne drunkenness of all kinds.

  7. livegreen

    I think a Victoria Court stadium is best, but wherever it goes I like that guy’s suggestion about a Museum at the 16th Street Station!

  8. Navigator

    Ralph, We can get accurate figures from the number of fans who take the ferry to AT&T Park.

    We can create a new ferry landing at the Jack London Aquatic Center at the foot of the Lake Merritt Channel. Water Taxis from the Clay Street Terninal running all the way up to the centerfield gate on the Lake Merritt Channel could also be a possibility.

    Of course the idea would be to have fans walk across Jack London Square on their way to Fallon & Victory Court.

  9. Navigator

    The thing that really amazes me about this whole keep the A’s in Oakland is how much suport for keeping the A’s in town realy exists.

    Let’s contrast the energy and excitement regarding keeping the A’s in Oakland and building a ballpark at Victory Court to the virtual silence coming from San Francisco Forty Niner fans as their team makes plans to relocate to Santa Clara. I don’t hear much opossition coming from Forty Niner fans.

    Let’s keep in mind that the Forty Niners are regarded by the media as the most popular sports franchise in the Bay Area and yet lttle old Oakland and Oakland A’s fans are putting up huge resistence to a move out of Oakland and to San Jose. I find this antonishing. It really speaks to the fighting spirit of Oakland A’s fans and people who support Oakland.

  10. Navigator

    Another use of water taxis would be by fans across the estuary in Alameda. We have 75,000 affluent and middle class people in Alameda with disposable income and many of them are A’s fans. What better way to get to the game then leaving your car at home and taking a 5 minute ride on the estuary in a water taxi all the way up the Lake Merritt Channel. This location will draw fans from the surrounding neighborhoods. You’ll have pedestrians, bikes, and watercraft converging on the ballpark.

  11. ralph

    Nav,
    I think my question on the ferry is how many people from SF and points north attend games. That would be my true indication of ferry need.

    As an Oakland resident, if I managed to get myself to JLS to hop a ferry, then why wouldn’t I just walk to the rest of the distance to the ballpark?

    I like the idea of water taxis from Alameda

  12. Navigator

    Ralph,

    Back on April 13, 2009 on Marine Layer’s blog there was a very good discussion regarding where Oakland A’s fans come from. The title of the thread was OFD Training Center. In the comments section Marine Layer broke down exactly where advanced ticket purchases made by credit card came from by city. Oakland had the largets per capita support of the A’s of any city inthe Bay Area with 8.8% of the tickets sold.

    The break down by County was Alameda County, followed by Contra Costa County, followed by SF County. I don’t have the figures with me since the comments section has been erased by Marine Layer. If I remember correctly it was around 13% of Oakland A’s fans came from San Francisco with another 5 to 6% coming from Marin County and the North Bay.

    So, if we break that down and devide 18% by 2.5 milion fans we would get about 450,000 fans coming from SF and the North Bay. If we devide that by 81 home dates we come up with 5,555 fans coming from SF and the North Bay on average per game.

  13. Navigator

    That last breakdown was very conservative and was estimated on an average crowd of just under 31,000 per game. If we fill the ballpark to its capacity of 39,000, then the figure from SF and the North Bay is 7,020 fans per game.

    If we can get just 15% to take the ferry to the ballpark, we’re talking 1053 new ferry riders, times 81 dates per year. That’s three packed ferry boats full of drunken A’s fans per home date. Not too shabby.

  14. ralph

    I never would have thought that there was a significant SF Fanbase. Absent other facts, I have some questions about the methodology but it is good schtuff. Thanks

  15. Navigator

    Keep in mind that some of those fans from SF come to see the Giants play the A’s in Oakland. At one point before Wolff tarped the third deck, crowds of around 50,000 per game were not uncommon for each game of an A’s Giants series in Oakland.

    I think this is another great aspect of having teams in Oakland and San Francisco. It makes for a great rivalry full of intersting and colorful transportation options. You can’t take a ferry to San Jose.

  16. ralph

    Good point. As I am not a fan of interleague, I tend to forget about it. I think Americans should play with Americans and Nationals play with Nationals. They should only socialize during the “Midsummer” and Fall Classics.

    Leaving the transportation out of it, good point #2, from a baseball perspective SJ – SF is not going to the economic draw as Oak – SF. This reason alone makes more sense for the A’s to Oakland.

    I do like a tarped 3rd deck. No one should pay to watch baseball in a football stadium – bad fan experience.

  17. Oakland Sí

    I’m a season ticket A’s fan who lives in Oakland, and always BART to games. There are always a good number of fans waiting after the games with me who live in SF. in fact, I first became an A’s fan in the early 80′s when I lived in SF.

  18. Navigator

    Oakland Si,

    I think the number was 13% that come from SF. I know some are Giant fans and others just baseball fans who want to see American League baseball.I agree that there’s a good number of Oakland A’s fans in San Francisco. It’s not unrealistic to include San Francisco support for a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. Many of the people who work for SF corporations actually live in the East Bay.

  19. Navigator

    It would be interesting to compare the cost of a BART fare from downtown SF to the Lake Merritt station, to the cost of taking a Ferry from the Ferry Building. Also, comparing the time to the ballpark assuming a Ferry landing near Jack London Aquatic Center.

  20. ralph

    Nav,
    I believe the ferry from SF to Oak takes twice as long and cost twice as much. From Powell St it is roughly 13 min to LM and from Embacardero It is 11 min. It is $3.10 from either station. The ferry is 30 minutes and $6.25.

    When I lived in JLS, I considered ferrying to work but I could never make a good case for it. The walk from my home to the ferry was longer than the walk to LMB. And then there was the aforementioned extra time and money. Apparently, I did not dislike the crowded BART train as much as I disliked the extra time and money.

  21. Naomi Schiff

    Some people consider the ferry ride an experience. I used to take my kids on the ferry for a cheap thrill (much cheaper than a bay tour!) and then BART home. If you do that, then the time and cost differential is halved. (We once took a whole birthday party on the ferry to the now-dead rotating restaurant on top of the Hyatt Regency and bought a whole round of Shirley Temples.)

  22. Navigator

    Ralph,

    Thanks for the info. Wow, I didn’t realize BART was that quick. It’s hard for the ferry to compete time and cost wise. I guess the positives for the ferry would be the spectacular views and the more relaxed environment. Although, a new ferry landing at the Jack London Aquatic Center may put fans a bit closer to the ballpark than the LM BART station.

    Also, Marin County doesn’t have BART. Maybe we should begin orienting ferry service in a more north and south direction instead of always east to west.

    Anyway, it’s great to know that a ballpark on Victory Court would be only 11 minutes from the Financial District in SF. San Jose can’t match the proximity to the incredible population density within a 15 minute BART ride.

  23. Navigator

    Naomi,

    Great points. I view the ferry the same way. It has to be a fan who is looking at it as an experience and making a cruise on the Bay and a ballgame part of the “Bay Area experience.”

  24. len raphael

    so how does this work.

    Have we already signed binding contracts with outside consultants for their part of the eir?

    If MLB decides in favor of SJ before say Jan 1 11, do we fold our cards without getting stuck paying the consultants? or are they working 24×7 now to produce an eir?

    re. that 8% ? number of tickets purchased from Oakland addresses. Is that a typical percentage for the hometown?

  25. Max Allstadt

    I agree on the ferry too Naomi.

    Here’s a tip gentlemen: a sunset ferry ride from SF to Oakland followed by a drink at Heinhold’s and dinner at Encuentro = perfect second or third date plan.

  26. Navigator

    Len,

    Oakland outperformed every city in the Bay Area on a per capita basis with that 8.8% Oakland bought more tickets than Alameda, San Leandro, San Larenzo, Hayward, Union City and Fremont combined. Oakland sold more tickets than the population of those entire cities combined. Oakland actually supports the A’s better than even wealthy Piedmont.

    Despite miconceptions that Oakland doesn’t support the A’s, the city does a great job and more than its share. One of the biggest underperforming cities is Fremont with apopulation of over 200,000. Actualy the areas south of Oakland underperform. Lew Wolff wants to take the A’s away from their fanbase which is strongest in Oakland, Berkeley, Orinda, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, Danville, and SF.

    I’m doing this strictly from memory. Perhaps Marine Layer can give us the figures for advanced ticket purchases by credit card. He had it listed in the comment section of his April 13, 2009 “OFD Training Center” thread.

  27. len raphael

    Nav, from my viewpoint i like that only a small percentage of ticket buying fans and spending visitiors come from here.

    but would think MLB look at it completely opposite, since they dont want Oakland to canabilize the SF market.

  28. Navigator

    Len,

    The reality of the situation is that teams just don’t draw from their home cities, they draw from the region. Considering that Oakland is a city of 446,000 residents in a metro East Bay area of 2.6 million residents, Oakland’s share of attendance wouldn’t be considered small.

    Also, the Giants draw most of their fans from the Peninsula, the South Bay and Marin County. Also, territorial rights don’t prevent teams from advertising and competing for fans in each other’s markets. The A’s are free to advertize to SF corporations from Oakland and the same goes for the Giants in the East Bay. THe Giants may not like it, but they probably would llike it less to see their corporate supporters and fans in the Peninsula and the South Bay be taken by the “San Jose” A’s.

  29. ralph

    Len,
    I know Baltimore has a good regional base. I think the radio signal is huge for drawing in fans. Baltimore also lost followers when the Nationals came to DC. But I am equally curious to know the average hometown paying fanbase for MLB teams.

    Max,
    I like your idea, but I would make one change. As an Oakland guy, I would probably start RT my sunset ride from Oakland. Like the rest, I think the Oak – SF ferry ride is more an experience than a mode of transportation. It is the one case where the benefits exceed the costs, woo knows no financial boundary.

  30. Mike D.

    Actually the concept of a “ferry boat doubleheader” was a popular series back in the Oakland Oaks and San Francisco Seals PCL days. I would love an A’s vs Giants one as well.

  31. Steve Lowe

    As a twenty-year resident of the Jack London District and long-time participant of its current neighborhood association (JLDA) as well as the organization preceding it (JLNA), I can’t believe that the concerns of the residents here regarding the viability of the Victory Court ballpark are to be so blindly waved aside by over-avid VC proponents. Linked with the health and transportation concerns of the Chinatown groups, the JLDA concerns, if not justly mitigated, may give enough of an opening for Lew to justify to his fellow MLB millionaires that he simply can’t make it work in Oakland. And because they don’t know jack about the reality of what Oaklanders really think, feel or want, they’ll back him up. And you know he’ll use every argument in the book plus a few new lawyerly slimeball ploys to get his way, leaving us with no Victory at all if we put all our eggs in one site.

    So when JLDA, OCNA, WON, WOCA, WOEIP and others all put their names on a single document directed to City policymakers regarding those concerns, it’s more than a little confusing to think that such a document might be waved away like some pesky fly or something just because everyone who hopes to keep the A’s has their fingers crossed, believing that Lew will suddenly change his San Jose-blinded mind when presented with this one-shot plan. Let’s face it, Lovable Lew is almost certainly prepared to spend another $3M + of the Fisher’s money to escape Oakland, just as he already done did down in Fremont in one of the most laughable fiascos in Bay Area history. So the 980 ballpark and the Coli really have to be inserted into the DEIR as alternatives because Oakland is, at the end of the day, selling itself to MLB, not to Wolff nor even the Fishers – both of whom couldn’t care less about this City, and it’s a total surprise that any of ‘em deign to even come over here in the first place and mingle amongst We the Polloi.

    Meanwhile, there’s interest from the 49ers in joining the Raiders in a revised football-only stadium. And Rebecca wants to get a WNBA team out here to share the Arena with the Warriors So if the ballpark were to be put out there, too, the Coli would be unique in America with five major league teams in one facility, a draw for sports-themed retail like no other, and right at the epi-convergence of every transportation venue imaginable, airport included.

    Lew sulked when presented with that option (pre-Rebecca and pre-49er interest) because the City just couldn’t give him the additional 66 acres he astoundingly demanded that Oakland hand over once it had invoked eminent domain and taken virtually all the industrial properties north of the Coli. What a maroon! But then again, he probably knew from enough of the businesspeople in the area and others he frequently lunched with that his terms were totally impossible, giving him the just the excuse he needed back then to leave hated Oakland. Would MLB still agree with Lew’s anti-Coli prejudices, especially if the Yorks were insisting that the new retail mix (well, any retail mix, actually…) out there under those circumstances wouldn’t be a game changer?

    No backup strategy comes from the same mindset of folks brought up in the day when no exit strategy was necessary, ‘cuz we’re just going to win, no matter what. Good luck with that, ‘cuz Oakland’s sure going to need it if Victory Court doesn’t make the cut come MLB Announcement Day.

    – S

  32. Navigator

    Steve,

    MLB wants a new ballpark by 2015. I don’t see how a baseball park could be built at the current Coliseum site while we build a new football stadium for the Raiders and Forty Niners and while the A’s and Warriors play their seasons.

    Where would the A’s play while the football stadium is being built? Where would the A’s play while the Coliseum is torned down? Do we have enough room to build a new ballpark for the A’s on the Coliseum site as well as the retail village while the Raiders, Warriors, A’s, concerts, ice shows, circus, are all going?. Can we do all this by 2015? Is this realistic?

    I’ll agree with you that the Coliseum location is the best location anywhere in the Bay Area for accessability to the entire Bay Area. I think the Coliseum is a great location for a state-of-the-art football stadium to be shared by the Raiders, Forty Niners, major concerts, International socer matches, etc.

    However, I think a ballpark at Victory Court for the A’s makes much more sense for Oakland because with 81 home dates it would bring together the various downtown neighborhoods. Oakland gets more bang for the buck with a dowtown ballpark for baseball.

    As far as the neighborhood concerns, we have to remember that this ballpark has the chance to be the greenest ballpark in the nation. With BART, Amtrak, Ferry, Water Taxis from Alameda, and the walkability and bikeability of the surrounding this urban neighborhoods around Lake Merritt, Produce District, Chinatown, and the future Oak to 9th development, we can reduce the number of auto related emissions which an average 39,000 seat ballpark would produce. Also, building a multi-story parking structure across 880 on the Laney College parking lot would allow a good portion of auto traffic to arrive from various directions and be contained right next to 880 away from the majority of dense residential housing.

    Steve, I think we have to take our best shot. Whatever the mitigations maybe, I’m confident they’ll be addressed and delt with. At the end of the day, we will present MLB with a very attractive site. They can take it or leave it. We know that Wolff holds the cards. Selig is his former frat buddy. We know this could all be a farse. But , if MLB decides to yank Oakland around just to prod San Jose, I think this time, unlike 1995, and 2002, when they yanked Oakland around, there will be a price to pay. MLB needs to understand this before any money is thrown away by Oakland.

  33. ralph

    When did MLB become concerned about Oakland’s use of funds? I thought Oakland’s elected and appointed leadership determined use of funds. I would assume funds are used for projects that are positive.

  34. Steve Lowe

    Nav, you’re starting to leave longer posts than me: totally unacceptable!

    Let’s see what I can do to answer some of your (mostly) well-taken positions:

    Your concern that “a baseball park could be built at the …Coli…(and)…a new football stadium for the Raiders and 49ers…while the A’s and Warriors play their seasons” is built on the speculation that a whole new stadium and ballpark are required, while modifications to the existing stadium are probably all that’s really necessary for the Niners and the Raiders. The erection of Mount Davis is pretty much the example, I’d think; but I forget whether games couldn’t be played back then because of that construction: who can remind me?

    I think we do “have enough room to build a new ballpark for the A’s on the Coliseum site as well as the retail village,” as there were plans to do the ballpark in the South Lot that got torpedoed by Wolff, citing some report or rumor that it couldn’t happen – no real evidence. If we wanted it there, guess what? There’s a consultant out there just waiting to prove that it can, too. “Can we do all this by 2015? Is this realistic?” Depends on the level of commitment that we have at all levels, seems to me.

    Meanwhile, you thought that “a ballpark at Victory Court for the A’s makes much more sense for Oakland because…it (unites) the various downtown neighborhoods” and gives us “more bang for the buck with a downtown ballpark.” I’m not saying no to the VC option, the 980 option or even the Howard Terminal option (though I do think there are way too many problems with that latter choice). Our overall objective is to prove to MLB that Oakland is every bit as viable as any of the other sister-city choices, particularly San Jose and especially Fremont. Then comes the public participation, the financing and, hopefully, the wonderful day that Lew throws his hands in the air and sells his shares to the kind of owner who really cares about America’s Pastime. So let’s go A’s fans; keep ‘em here in Oakland at any one of our wonderfully viable sites without knocking one to support the other. And all the while keeping in mind what the bottom line will say: if the 980 site costs only a quarter of the Victory Court option and does for downtown what Bryan Grunwald says it will (he being the guy who scoped out Mission Bay for the City of San Francisco), is that a wiser and more productive expenditure of Redevelopment funds for us all?

    You mention that “we have to remember that this ballpark has the chance to be the greenest ballpark in the nation. With BART, Amtrak, Ferry, etc.” But any new ballpark built from scratch would have to be all that even if it were simply for marketing purposes, only with maybe not so much ferry action. Certainly the Coli is more accessible than akmost anywhere else in the country, and 980 is closer to BART than VC. (As to your citing the Produce District as an attraction, those of us who really like it and believe that it’s truly a City icon need to watch out: for as long as I’ve been in Oakland and fighting for the Produce Market’s survival – both the structures there and the wholesale industry, as well – only to be thwarted at every turn, I have to believe that there are way too many enemies of it for such a unique place to remain much longer. Lots of people see it as blight and couldn’t be happier to think that it might be razed tomorrow. More Ellingtons where this 94-year-old institution still stands is exactly what any number of eager beaver economic development “leaders” want to see, and, to add insult to injury, every one of them that I’ve talked to – including a former head of CEDA, no less – has sneered at Oakland’s preservation-based aspirations.

    I agree that “we have to take our best shot.” But when you say “(t)hey can take it or leave it,” what options do we have if something crops up that Lew’s lawyers might find to queer the deal? Better to have Option #2 and #3 in your vest pocket to throw on the table so that MLB can’t say that Oakland just doesn’t have a great site. Meanwhile, insofar as San Jose is concerned, I think we need to demonstrate loudly that there will absolutely be no BART to San Jose if the price we have to pay is losing the A’s. Maybe that’s throwing a spitball, but looking at it from Chuck Reed’s POV, he couldn’t care less about Oakland, so why in the world should we want to see his economy propped up by our loss?

    – S

    (And, Ralph, I’m thinking that MLB doesn’t want to commit to a town where the bucks simply aren’t available and enough in evidence to get us to first base….)

  35. ralph

    Steve,
    If responding to my bucks query, I understood Nav to be saying that MLB should make a decision before Oakland puts any money into any studies etc. I just don’t think that is MLBs concern.

    I do however think that we need a modern football stadium. I think what we want is something that is Super Bowl eligible.

  36. Steve Lowe

    Yes! SuperBowl capability was lost when Zennie’s efforts to garner political support were sabotaged by Oakland’s world famous undertow. For all the work he did in convincing the NFL that this was the place, right in the middle of everything, and the best weather to boot, all he got was bupkus upon his return to Oakland to secure the local buy-in needed. Not exactly the same magnitude of Wilson’s 14 Points being rejected by the US Senate way back when, but a great example of the same sort of insular thinking that’s left us permanently suspended in aspic.

    Meanwhile, I thought Doug ran a good meeting the other night and can be depended upon to take the community discussion in the right direction by eliciting the most reasoned responses from all of us – as long as everyone is agreed about not attacking the legitimate concerns of those who’ll be most affected. It’s not productive for anyone to stand there and talk about “breaking eggs to make an omelet, blah, blah, blah.” All it does is entrench those all the more who feel they’re not being listened to or that they’re about to be railroaded – or at least under-represented.

    Now if HSR were to be routed through Oakland so that folks could jump off and take in a game or two (billions of dollars for Oakland, as opposed to zilch the way HSR is configured right now), maybe the benefits to us all would outweigh the deep, deep concerns so many of us have for this project.

    Thanks,

    – S

  37. Navigator

    Steve,

    You’re right about the historic Produce District. Those buildings, with the overhangs and the 15 foot wide sidewalks, are sitting there just wainting to be restored and turned into restaraunts, pubs, and jazz clubs serving the throngs of A’s fans walking down 2nd Street on their way to Victory Court.

    I can’t think of a more charming setting for a lively music and arts district. Think of it as Oakland’s French Quarter.

    Oakland needs to come of age in a big way. We need massive projects like the Victory Court ballpark and Oak to 9th. We also need more hotel rooms so that when Oakland gets that Superbowl and other large events, we don’t end up sending business to San Francisco.

  38. Navigator

    And, please don’t get me started on how Oakland got screwed by San Jose on the HSR route. Another reason to tell SJ to keep their dirty hands off of our Oakland A’s. What else do they want? Maybe they’ll convince the Port of Oakland to relocate to a dredged Alviso. They act like their corporate money can buy anything. Unfortunately, it didn’t buy them any of the California elections. Oakland trounced Silicon Valley 2 nil. Money can’t always buy you love.

  39. J

    Has anybody else noticed the amount of posturing the Giants have been doing in the form of fan outreach, in particular the actual carrying of the world series trophy in the San Jose holiday parade. It, in my opinion, is a clear message to MLB that they have no intentions on giving up the rights to JS. Making the stadium option down there far more daunting. The other owners wont allow MLB to just up and take the rights away from the newly crowned best team in baseball, to give to a team that wasn’t even in the playoffs. This is an inescapable fact that works in favor of Oakland.

  40. Navigator

    San Jose has always been Giant country. The vast majority of fans down there are Giant fans and have always identified more with SF than with Oakland. It’s no surprise that the Giants players received a huge ovation during the SJ parade while Oakland players were virtually ignored by the SJ crowd. This entire thing about trying to get the A’s to move down there is simply about SJ politicians who smell an opportunitty to give their low profile city “major league status”

    The SJ crowd had a trojan horse owner in Oakland who bought the team with the idea of eventually moving it down there with the rest of his business holdings.

    The “bring the A’s to San Jose” is not an organic movement by any means. It’s a contrived exercise by a few wealthy businessmen and some inferiority complexed politicians.

    San Jose discovered the Oakland A’s when Lew Wolff started flirting. Before that it was “the Oakland who?”

  41. Steve Lowe

    Well, we’re talking about San Jose taking the A’s from Oakland and, at the smae time, using BART to do it. And even though the economy of the entire Bay Area would improve much more incrementally if HSR came through the Altamont, SJ wants that as well! To make everything even more hilarious, BART to SJ could be approved and completed all that much sooner if HSR came through the Altamont, as the train could have a Grand Central at Union City or thereabouts and not have to cross through the entire Bay Area: that task would be left to BART.

    I mean, how would you spend, say, $20B in federal transportation funds? Would you improve BART so that it was really efficient and had express trains that didn’t stop at every station but could bypass the whistle stops? Would you be thinking about how to increase the pace of commerce throughout the Bay Area by making sure dude #1 could get from Fremont to, say, SFO in a half hour guaranteed instead of the 2 hours it sometimes takes today? Or would you impale yourself on the steps of Pelosi Manor because you’re basically lovesick over the idea that HSR should come right into San Francisco while the rest of us queue for needless hours – apparently the amount of working hours lost to BART backups, slowdowns and malfunctions every year equates to about a $B in wages! Sorry that I can’t back that up with real data because it doesn’t appear to be googleable, but I do remember hearing it at an upscale bar some years back just before some wiseguy stepped on my fingers, so I know it’s true…

    That’s where the real money to bring this downtrodden area back to life could come from: BHO wants to use HSR just like FDR used the TVA and a bunch of other alphonyms to pull this country out of the Great Depression. So, he’s looking to sink serious dough into infrastructure, but because we’re just crummy Oakland to the rest of the Bay Area, we simply don’t rate.

    – S

  42. Navigator

    Steve,

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you say “because we’re crummy Oakland to the rest of the Bay Area we just sit here and take it.”

    How else can we explain the fact that the city which is the mostly centrally located in the Bay Area and is the nexus of the entire BART system, is left without a HSR station? Not only would it make sense for the accessibility for the entire region, but it would make it much less expensive because we wouldn’t need to underground in the Peninsula and through San Francisco.

    Oakland just waved the white flag and the rest of the Bay Area and taxpayers wil be worse for it.

    Also, the Bay Area has to be one of the most elitest, if not racist, area’s in the Country. How else do we explain the nehgativity towards beautiful Oakland.

  43. Navigator

    My observation is based on my recent visit to NYC. People in New York seem much more tolerant of living in areas with poor people and a bit of grime. As I walked through the lower East Side in 21* weather with a wind chill factor of 9*, I was amazed at the vibrancy and trust exibited in a neighborhood which just ten years ago was so dangerous that cab drivers would avoid. Even the churches keep their doors unlocked throughout the day.

    People are not as squeemish to live next to poor people and a little urban blight as they are here in the Bay Area. The place is grittier than most areas of Oakland and they can still comand 3 grand in rent for a small apartment of less than 1,000 square feet.

    It’s obvious that NYC spends more on keeping midtown and the upper East Side beautiful for the wealthy and the tourists.

    I just think that if gritty NYC, with its challenging climate can turn things around and make things happen, why is Oakland always stuck in this negative duldrom despite its great location, great weather and wondeful topography?

    In my opinion, it’s a malaise and can’t do negativity stemming from years of marginalization coming from elitists and racists from across the Bay and elsewhere in the region.

    One way to get the “crummy” off of Oakland’s back is to think big and get projects like the ballpark, JLS, and Oak to 9th, completed.

  44. livegreen

    Wo, Nav, I don’t get the comparison to LoEasSida at all. Yes it has a blue collar background, and a few projects. But while the architecture and grit hasn’t changed, both the population and safety has.

    It’s far-and-away safer than gritty parts of Oakland. And it’s had a lot more gentrification in the last 20 (not 10) years or more.

    The only possible near comparison is what’s happening on the art scene in Oakland between DT and West Oakland. & that’s approaching what happened on the Lower East Side or Williamsburg years & years ago (again, minus the safety).

    Yes, Oakland should promote it’s Art Scene. But Oakland MUST become safer too.

  45. Navigator

    Livegreen,

    The question is what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Does the area become safer and then the gentryfication occurs or does the gentryfication make the area safer?

    I guess my point is that New Yorkers seem a bit more tolerant regarding diversity and grime therefore taking chances in the kind of neighborhoods that people in the Bay Area would never consider. I think that gets back to the “Oakland is dangerous” mantra which is constantly projected in the Bay Area.

    As far as safety, it would be interesting to do crime check on neighborhoods on the lower east side. The demographics don’t seem much different than many parts of Oakland. Chinatown is also grittier and dirtier than Oakland Chinatown.

    For some reason the name Oakland evokes terror in many Bay Area residents despite the areas looking nicer than many NY neighborhoods. I think fear generates empty streets and the possibility of more fear and more crime. Oakland needs more people on the streets day and night. Unfortunately, despite crime being down the fear factor is still up.

    This is why we need that darn ballpark, Oak to 9th, and a vibrant Jack London Square, to go along with Uptown, Chinatown and Lake Merritt.

  46. Livegreen

    Both happen together. Especially as Oakland is not a destination city, like SF or NYC. Right now if u want a cheaper alternative to SF u go right around Oakland. Sure artists are willing to put up with Oakland because it’s eclectic and closer to SF (they’re not yet going to Walnut Ceek). But nobody’s following them, at least not in big #’s.

  47. J

    Well hey this is a little off topic but think how great for Oakland it would be if SF actually goes through with their little toll idea for downtown. The city could just send letters to every business and store in downtown San Francisco and say ” Oakland, we don’t charge for your employees and customers to get here”. We could draw over companies that would never dream of coming to Oakland otherwise.

  48. Naomi Schiff

    I just want to say that Oakland is quite a bit safer than it has been at times in the past, in every neighborhood I’m aware of, including east and west Oakland. Part of our crime-awareness at present is the internet factor. I just walked home from city hall, at 11:30 pm. When I moved here I didn’t generally walk near Lake Merritt much after dark. Too dangerous.

  49. wefightblight

    While crime is down, and that is a good thing, we still have unacceptably high levels of crime and should not be lulled into a false sense that all is well. Both the real, high levels of crime in Oakland, and the historical and existing perceptions of Oakland as a high crime community deter people from within and outside of Oakland from shopping, recreating, visiting, residing and locating businesses in Oakland. This has a negative, downward pressure on people being out on the streets, particularly at night, for fear of becoming a victim of crime and deters or prevents the creation of additional vibrant commercial areas. Not to mention a huge lost opportunity relative to tax revenues. Not having enough police continues to feed the perceptions of Oakland as an unsafe, high crime area and limits the police’s effectiveness as a deterrent to crime. Increase the number of police to sufficient numbers so that there is an active police presence (visible deterrent) on the streets in the form of foot patrols, bicycle patrols and visible car patrols and that can respond rapidly to crimes in progress and you will begin to address both the perception and reality of crime. Developing new facilities like ballparks in DTO will attract more people on the street before, during and after games and will help with eyes on the streets to deter crime. It may also attract more businesses. Attracting residents with high disposable incomes to DTO also helps by generating a demand for new businesses. Both are legitimate strategies and both are needed to make Oakland even safer than it currently it.

  50. Steve Lowe

    Nav, I think we’re getting closer to what’s what here, as we’re in total agreement as to why Oakland is given the short end of the stick even though it’s the absolute hub of the greater metropolitan region. And by asserting control and assigning responsibility, our new Mayor can change all that dramatically, even though she’ll probably have to fight like anything to get Sacramento to go along with the changes she can make, since Frisco pretty much hold sway up there, as you know.

    I think you and I and a bunch of others who might agree on this aspect of Bay Area dysfunctionality might want to spend some time honing our mutuality so that, when it comes to big projects, we’re more in synch. Otherwise, all that most others hear is the same kind of dissension among the citizenry here that has forever kept Oakland from moving as steadily as it could towards its highest and best incarnation. You believe, for instance, that a number of major projects should move ahead, while their critics want changes or, in some cases, no project at all. So let’s first identify what the projects are and then see which elements need to be preserved and which, if best for their eventual success, need to be tweaked, okay?

    I’d say for starters that we’ve got the following:
    • Ballpark
    • 029
    • JLS
    • Jack London BART station

    Whoops, all of these are smack dab in the Jack London District or directly adjacent, so we’ve got to take into consideration the folks who live down here, as well as the businesses whose properties are going to be the most impacted by the construction, traffic changes, increased pollution, etc., all big stuff that, even though as one VC ballpark proponent said, “you gotta to break a few eggs to make an omelette,” could really become an omelette that’s simply indigestible because smashing the eggs left too many eggshell shards in the final serving.

    One such shard – or even a big piece of chickershit for that matter – is the use of eminent domain to take the VC properties. This is where utmost finesse is required, and yet we’re seeing the old bulldozer effect at City Council (complete with the usual hamfisted, rebuttal-free logic that keeps this town at the bottom rung of respect among its sister cities and up at Sacto) that’s sure to doom whatever victory might otherwise have been snatched from the jaws of defeat that plagues us always.

    That’s why I think we really have to rethink the ballpark issue, come up with something that everyone really likes for VC (just because our betters have this thing already built in their own perfect minds doesn’t mean it’s really the best that we can do, is it?), review the alternatives scrupulously (instead of sweeping them under the rug in the bizarre belief that no alternative should be allowed into an EIR where one is required – Huh?), and take a harder look at funding scenarios (Redevelopment? Is there enough to take from the CEOPAC and WOPAC jurisdictions to make this work, or is this some sort of Hail Mary pass that Lew Wolff will be happy to catch in the end zone?).

    More later…

    – S

  51. Steve Lowe

    As to 029, why is it so absolutely essential to that project that the 9th Avenue Terminal be razed? If this were Frisco, does anyone believe even for a moment that the only remaining breakbulk terminal in the entire Bay Area would be allowed to be torn down to fulfill one developer’s plans? I’ll ask that question at BCDC today, knowing in advance that, outside of sacred Frisco, development in the Bay Area equates to whatever the developer wants, whether at the Square or 029 or anywhere else – the public’s needs be damned.

  52. Livegreen

    “knowing in advance that, outside of sacred Frisco, development in the Bay Area equates to whatever the developer wants”.

    I thought Tagami (whatever his faults) has done an excellent job getting input and buy in from various parties. Now that might b also because of his connections, but both the FOX and Army Terminal got widespread support from often opposing factions.

    I realize not every developer is Tagami, & I agree, it would b nice to have a plan to preserve and fully use the terminal.

  53. Navigator

    Steve,

    I believe Signature Properties agreed to save a portion of 9th Avenue Terminal. I’m hoping they can save as much as possible and still have enough area for the 3100 high density housing units along with the 30 acres of parkland.

    As far as Oakland not having much pull in Sacramento, that should change when an Oakland resident takes his oath of office. Hopefully, Jerry will be sympathetic to Oakland causes like retaining the Oakland A’s. I know Jerry’s wife is related to A’s owner John Fisher so this should be an interesting dilema for Jerry should the ballpark need assistance from Sacramento. Just do the right thing Jerry. And the “right thing” is the A’s remaining in Oakland.

    Also, I think Oakland has outdone SF in historic preservation. We saved our Fox Oakland Theater while SF’s was torned down. Oakland has also preserved the Paramount Theater, the Rotunda Building, the Cathedral Building, the Flat Iron Building, Preservation Park, all of the older buildings surrounding Frank Ogawa Plaza, Old Oakland, Dowtown Historic District, Uptown, Produce District, etc. The redlining, the racism, and the pejudices exibitied by developers who redlined Oakland for decades while eagerly tearing down and investing in Frisco, have made Oakland the only historic city in the Bayb Area. Also, Frisco lost much of its historic architecture in 1906.

  54. Naomi Schiff

    I too want the chunk of 9th Ave Terminal that is preserved to be larger: at least it ought to be longer than it is wide. It is weird to lop off so much. And, I HOPE we will have saved the Produce District. Unfortunately, it isn’t safe yet. It is among our most endangered districts, yet it holds potential to be a great draw and attraction. We should be proud of our eccentric mix of architecture–commercial, industrial, and residential.

  55. annalee allen

    Re: Oakland’s historic landmarks – don’t forget City Hall, aka “Mayor Mott’s Wedding Cake.” When the city hall was originally being built (the groundbreaking took place in May, 2011, nearly one hundred years ago) the mayor then was a man named Frank K. Mott. He was a bachelor at the time (remind you of anyone else we know?) but decided to get married, while in office. The newspapers thought the new building looked like a big white wedding cake, hence the nickname. In 1989 our city hall sustained quite a bit of damage, but because it was listed on the National Register, FEMA came through and supplied the city with the funds to retrofit and restore it.

  56. len raphael

    Which city buildings are either mortgaged or sold and leased back? One of the budget documents mentioned two leases. I assume one is the Museum. The other ?

    And last year when the cc was getting ready to sell the HJKcenter, was there something about moving debt off the HJK onto another building?

    -len

  57. livegreen

    Good marketing campaign: “Historic Oakland”
    or “Come Visit Historic Oakland” & have tours of the various DT neighborhoods, building highlights, & points of useful interest (restaurants & galleries).

  58. livegreen

    Thanks annalee. Walking tours aren’t the same as a marketing campaign. Though they could greatly contribute or be a part of a marketing campaign.

    I understand the visitors bureau has one going on now, but forget where I saw it. Needs more behind it (difficult in hard budget times…).

  59. Navigator

    I agree, Oakland has much to offer but unfortunately very few people realize how much historic architecture has been preserved in Oakland.

    Also, is there pressure to tear down the Produce District? There’s no way that anyone should touch that area. Are most of the structures still in use as produce related businesses? I know that the Oakland Grill is located in one of the buildings. If the buildings are vacant I wonder why we don’t have more restaraunts and other small entertainment related venues establishing businesses there.

    Oakland’s niche has to be historic architecture along with dining and entertainment, mixed in with a healthy dose of baseball at Victory Court.

    However, Oakland needs to promote itself. We don’t get freebies from the SF media like Frisco does. We have to pay.

  60. annalee allen

    I’m impressed with all the viral marketing efforts going on through the blogs and the Oaklandish, Art Murmur Sites, etc.

  61. Navigator

    Livegreen,

    You’re right when you wrote that it was 20 years ago when things were real bad in the lower east side and in New York in general. I had said 10 years but after doing a little research, I was proven wrong.

    Looking at the NYPD crime map and their weekly compstat reporting its amazing how much the NY crime rate has been reduced. The numbers are staggering. Whatever they’re doing in New York, Oakland should be doing the same thing. Take a look at these historic yearly comparisons. For example, in 1990 there were over 2200 homicides in New York and in 2009 they had fewer then 500. Amazing. http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/crime_statistics/cscity.pdf

  62. Steve Lowe

    Nav, you “believe Signature Properties agreed to save a portion of 9th Avenue Terminal,” and hope “they can save as much as possible and still have enough area for the 3100 high density housing units along with the 30 acres of parkland.” I would contend that SigProp can save a whole lot more than they’re letting on, as 9AT is as much a park as is Fort Mason or Fort Point, and the wish of the Port, the City and even BCDC to tear as much of it down as they can get away with is based solely on the usual I’m-the-damn-developer-and-I-already-spent-a-lot-of-money-on-this-and-I’m-damn-sure-not-going-to-change-a-single-thing-because-a-bunch-of-namby-pamby-preservationists-who-never-built-anything-in-their-lives-come-a’crying-to-some-weak-kneed-politician insular attitude. But wait a minute: isn’t this a public trust, one that the Port signed off on because it was acting in the best interests of us poor polloi? (Particularly those of us who participated for over two long years in the Estuary Plan process and without whom there could not have been an 029 in the first place? The same poor volunteers and waterfront supporters who all wanted to see 9AT developed to its highest and best use?) Don’t quite compute, does it?

    As mentioned yesterday at BCDC, if this were over in Frisco, there’d be no talk of tearing it down for fear of resurrecting rampant vigilantism from practically every sector of the city, even those who are furthest from the waterfront, no? But this here’s Oakland, and we really don’t have a champion on that Commission, and historic preservation (outside of SF) is just about the last thing on the mind of anyone there.

    As to Jerry’s sympathies re “Oakland causes like retaining the Oakland A’s,” hey, fuggetaboutit. Who never bothered to meet with the Fishers regarding the A’s when Lew was making his outrageously goofy demands of the Coli? You’re right that Jerry’s wife was one of the top legal people at the Gap and could have done lots and lots for Oakland’s team retention efforts but, oddly enough, they both feigned indifference because, at less than 20% ownership, Lew is merely a front for yet another I’m-the-damn-developer-and-I-already-spent-a-lot-of-money-on-this-and-I’m-damn-sure-not-going-to-change-a-single-thing-because-a-bunch-of-namby-pamby-preservationists-who-never-built-anything-in-their-lives-come-a’crying-to-some-weak-kneed-politician kind of guy: the move to San Jose is all about the Fishers want to make money on the team. Keep hoping that Jerry will “do the right thing” for Oakland, but please don’t hold your breath any longer than a year or two, because the right thing in his Barzaghi-bent brain is whatever works for Joe O’Donahgue is great for Oakland, maybe even the entire State, too.

    When you mention that “we saved our Fox Oakland Theater,” you need to know the very same preservationist community that SigProp and others dislike so much was there at the beginning, mostly because Naomi, Annalee and a bunch of others OHA-related folks formed Friends of the Oakland Fox (FOOF) and finally got Jerry’s attention long enough to see that the building was the very hearth of Uptown – if indeed not the entire retail hub of Oakland itself. Me The People was still enamored of Forest City and pushing for that already-ultra-wealthy corporation’s $60M+ subsidy, thinking that would surely be the savior of downtown. I betcha just about anybody who walks down Telegraph today believes it was the other way around.

    As to the Produce District, it is only designated an Area of Primary Importance (API), not an official Historic District: because the City really wants it flattened so that the dirt can support even more Ellingtons and become part of the 10K dream. Maybe I sound a little grumpy about our former Mayor sometimes, but he went and used the Produce Market as a primary theme of his first campaign when in search of great ideas to prove he was just the right innovator that Oakland needed to turn the town around. Once elected, all talk of the Produce Market suddenly shifted gears, and anything other than razing the place to make way for housing was all that the Jacques-strapped heads of CEDA dared entertain: who in the world would want to argue with his city planning expertise, right? To the eternal consternation of all Oakland’s bureaufolk, the Estuary Plan fixed the Market with a height limit that gives it some breathing room, even though we all know in our hearts that history will repeat itself when the economy turns and the demand for Jack London real estate begins again to bubble.

    I have a tirade about Old Oakland, too; but that can wait for another day – suffice it to say that, just for the sake of illustration regarding today’s dilemma, the funding setaside for the public parking garage behind Ratto’s went to some other use – maybe a ballpark study? – and the city’s promise to build one (based on the economic feasibility study done to assure OO’s lenders that leaseup would occur as soon as prospective retailers could be assured that their customers would have easy access to the project) just sort of vanished, and with it those selfsame retailers… So one question to ask, as Nancy did the other night, is the proposed downtown parking garage more or less important than the Victory Court study?

    – S

  63. Naomi Schiff

    Len: I don’t believe the museum was ever mortgaged. The big convention center and the Henry J. Kaiser. I believe.

  64. Steve Lowe

    Jacques was – and, if recent sightings are to be believed, probably still is – truly a more unpleasant person than almost any I’ve ever encountered, including Art Piver whose exclusive rule as the all time head bully of the Fort Bragg Elementary School playground is still spoken of today amonst those few of us who somehow managed to survive it.

  65. Naomi Schiff

    OH, no! Jacques the B recent sightings? Not around here, I hope? (interrupting myself to make sure I have police emergency number entered in cellphone)