This isn’t a vision – it’s a list.

So the exciting news about the Army Base is that it looks like pretty much everyone (except Ron Dellums) is on the same page. Nancy Nadel, who I’m thrilled to agree with for once, told the Committee that she liked to Eco-Oakland option the best, and that she wanted to see the land used for maritime support services so that they could move out of West Oakland. She’s completely right – trucking companies and recycling centers belong next to the Port, not next to somebody’s house. She also noted almost everything in the “vision” (except for logistics) could locate somewhere else in Oakland, but this is the only suitable place to stick Port support.

Seriously. Look at where we’re talking about:

The base is sandwiched in between the Port and a wastewater treatment plant. It isn’t a fun place to hang out. It isn’t near anything. (And of course we’re getting yet another park that nobody will ever go to.)

There were a number of speakers on the item, and they basically all said that the area should be used primarily for logistics and trucking. EBASE, who I’m also surprised to be agreeing with for once, jumped on the logistics bandwagon as well, saying that it can provide almost as many jobs as big box retail, but pays much better. They also said that even with fewer jobs, logistics would yield higher tax revenues for the City than retail because it is so capital intensive (I have no idea whether or not that is true. I hope it is!).

Several Committee members complained that it has taken far too long to do something with the land, and the last thing they want is to be sitting here in another four years with still nothing done there. Henry Chang proposed considering what he called Alternative #5 and just selling the land to the Port: “The market goes up and down, but the one thing we know is the Port. The Port is always strong.” He noted that perhaps there are better places in Oakland for most of the uses referenced in the proposal before them.

Jane Brunner complained that all the Dellums preferred option did was give a little bit of space to every conceivable use, saying “This isn’t a vision – it’s a list.” But she seemed primed for doing something non-maritime related, noting “We will never have this much land again. It’s a gateway to our city and it should be spectacular.” Personally, I think shipping cranes are pretty spectacular.

She totally dissed the office tower, saying she wanted something unique for the space, and building more office space somewhere completely random would mean only that we would be competing with ourselves.

She also mocked the retail power center proposal, saying that when she thinks of bringing retail to Oakland, she isn’t talking about Costco: “Women want to be able to go buy a sweater.” She and Larry Reid both mentioned that an outlet mall might be the right fit. Larry Reid agreed with Jane Brunner, saying “This truly is an opportunity for us to do something special” and that we should use it to “showcase our city.”

Oh, and Jane Brunner hilariously passed on a message from one of her constituents who thinks that we should use our public art money for a signature piece of art welcoming people to Oakland – like Seattle’s Space Needle or New York’s Statue of Liberty. Is Ron Oz’s scary freedom tower idea back?

In the end, Ignacio De La Fuente proposed, and the Committee agreed, to direct staff to simply come back with a resolution to issue an RFQ for the whole space, and see what comes back.

Given the number of completely unsolicited proposals they’ve already recieved, I’m guessing that come choosing time, they’ll have plenty of options. I’d love to see them just give the whole thing to ProLogis. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they don’t get star struck again and give it to Emmitt Smith or something.

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3 thoughts on “This isn’t a vision – it’s a list.

  1. Kevin Cook

    I agree that ProLogis is by far the best choice. They and their environmental consultants have the experience and the expertise to deal with what is sure to be the complex series of environmental issues associated with any former military site.

    However, Emmett Smith does have Super Bowl Rings and was on Dancing with the Stars, so it’s kind of a toss-up