Judge dismisses challenges to Plan A for $12 billion waterfront baseball stadium in Oakland

Judge dismisses challenges to Plan A for $12 billion waterfront baseball stadium in Oakland

Oakland A’s plan for a new ballpark and waterfront development project took a step forward on Thursday when a judge dismissed opponents’ claims that the Howard Terminal stadium would cause serious environmental and safety risks.

In upholding the city’s environmental review of the $12 billion project, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman also said Oakland reasonably decided not to build a new baseball park. on the current site of the Coliseum, which has been home to athletics since the team moved from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968. The Coliseum also hosted the Oakland Raiders from 1966 to 2019, when the NFL team moved to Vegas.

While some neighborhood groups have argued that a rebuilt Colosseum site would be faster, cheaper and better for the surrounding community, Seligman said Oakland officials concluded that the site, surrounded by industrial users, did not have the same advantages as a port location.

The Colosseum site “has no waterfront or natural features that would enhance the aesthetics and experience of the ballpark,” Judge wrote. He said townspeople were less likely to visit the area when no baseball games were scheduled, compared to the Howard Terminal site near Jack London Square.

The three lawsuits were filed in April by the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, the Capitol Corridors Joint Powers Authority and industry and labor groups including the Union Pacific Railroad, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Mike Jacob, vice president of the shipping association, said she was considering appealing.

“We will also continue to push to resolve our concerns about this short-sighted project, regardless of the outcome of this case, because the negative impacts of the project are detrimental to the thousands of Oaklanders who live in nearby neighborhoods. of the proposed development or those whose jobs depend on the Port of Oakland’s ability to grow and prosper,” said Jacob.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement that the decision was “a victory for the climate and for the people of Oakland.” Today’s order proves that the waterfront project, which will bring 18 acres of new public parkland to our beautiful coastline for all residents to enjoy, will be built to the highest and most rigorous environmental standards. from California.

On Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will join Schaaf and Rep. Barbara Lee on Friday to tour a part of the city that received $14.5 million in federal funds to improve bus lanes, pedestrian walkways and walkways. cycle lanes in parts of Jack London Square – critical funding of the Howard Terminal baseball stadium plan. The city has agreed to pay nearly $260 million for infrastructure upgrades in the area using state and federal funds, but has not yet identified the sources of that funding.

The new stadium would have around 35,000 seats. The waterfront project would also include 3,000 residential units, a hotel and retail stores. Two new bridges, one for vehicles and one for pedestrians, would be built over the nearby railway tracks.

Oakland’s December 2021 environmental impact report found the plans contained reasonable measures to limit pollution and safety risks. But plaintiffs in the lawsuits and advocacy group Communities for a Better Environment said the measures were insufficient to prevent crashes from increased traffic on the tracks or to limit air and water pollution. ‘water.

But Seligman cited planned safety measures, including railroad crossing improvements, sidewalk improvements and bus lane additions. He said the city reasonably concluded the project would not increase greenhouse gas emissions or overall air pollution due to impending limits on natural gas use and overall emissions. And he cited a 2018 environmental study that found underground soil contamination would be adequately protected by a clean layer of soil.

Seligman also said city planners had reasonably rejected proposals to close the six road-level crossings near the stadium site because a closure would block access to a fire station and others would prevent the access to local businesses.

In assessing the adequacy of the government’s environmental review, Seligman wrote, courts “are not looking for perfection but for adequacy, completeness, and a good faith effort for full disclosure,” criteria that, according to him, are fulfilled in this matter.

And the Howard Terminal baseball stadium is unlikely to draw the same level of nearby boat traffic as Oracle Park in San Francisco, where small-boat fans congregate in hopes of catching the ‘splash shot’ of a slugger, Seligman said.

In addition to rules that would require watercraft to avoid the site, the judge said, the planned exterior walls are not adjacent to the bay and the nearest water would be 700 feet from home plate. The longest confirmed home runs in major league history, he noted — by Colorado’s Trevor Story in 2018 and the Texas Rangers’ Nomar Mazara in 2019 — were 505 feet.

Sarah Ravani, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, contributed to this report.

Bob Egelko is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: begelko@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @BobEgelko

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