17 Nov Oakland A’s ballpark plan threatens jobs, port operations
In a drive to move Oakland’s last remaining professional sports team to the city’s working waterfront, A’s president Dave Kaval continues to push a false narrative that threatens economic opportunity and thousands of jobs that would be lost if the team prevails with its plans.
Kaval claims that his plan for a stadium and high-end development project at Howard Terminal will “activate” the waterfront, mischaracterizing the absolute necessity of this staging area, where more than 322,000 truckers moved containers of goods in and out of the Port of Oakland just last year.
“Activate” is a buzzword for developers and elected officials. It’s that shiny object that attracts and mesmerizes — while sidelining sound decision-making that makes for good policy.
This parcel generated nearly $6.5 million for the Port of Oakland in 2018, and serves as a transportation hub for the eighth busiest port in the United States. Its position as a staging area is critical for maintaining timely operations for containerized goods to flow smoothly to and from the port. Truckers facilitating deliveries to and from the port for import and export often need to wait for shipments at Howard Terminal all day or overnight, while at the same time plugging in refrigerated containers.
It is illogical to assume that this activity can efficiently take place elsewhere on the streets of Oakland or peacefully coexist alongside an “activated” real estate development and amusement area. The less flashy behind-the-scenes work of blue-collar men and women is what fuels our economy and keeps it moving.
Equally egregious is Kaval implying that the Port of Oakland is somehow inactive and underutilized. Insinuating that the port, which moves 99% of containerized goods in Northern California, needs luxury housing, a stadium and office space in order to become “activated” is insulting to our industry, and frankly elitist.
A recent economic impact report estimates the Port’s economic value at $130 billion. That’s 19 times the economic benefit the proposed development would generate in the first 10 years. It is clear that baseball is not needed to “activate” Oakland’s waterfront.
Considering all this, how can Howard Terminal, with its current use, be anything but critical to the economic success of Oakland? For Kaval and proponents of the Howard Terminal project to falsely call the area an “unused concrete slab” is blatantly dishonest.
This narrative does not reflect the irreparable damage to Port of Oakland operations and economic output that will result from converting Howard Terminal to a luxury development. Nor does the narrative reflect the conflicts – traffic congestion and constrained cargo growth – that will arise between the seaport and stadium. These conflicts will interfere with Oakland’s competitiveness, driving customers to other, more efficient ports on the West Coast.
While Kaval suggests that Howard Terminal is unused, I invite you to come visit our truckers and waterfront workers to learn more about what drives economic output, creates good jobs and supports working communities and families. These are the real activators in Oakland.
Andy Garcia is chairman of the board and executive vice president of GSC Logistics, which provides drayage services at the Oakland Port.