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The Official Site of the Oakland Athletics

Letter to Peralta Community College District

September 12, 2017

Jowel C. Laguerre, Ph.D.
Chancellor
Peralta Community College District
333 East 8th Street
Oakland, CA 94606


Dear Chancellor Laguerre,

Since 1968, the Oakland Athletics have been proud to call the City of Oakland and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum our home. Playing at the Coliseum, we've brought six pennants and four World Series titles to Oakland. However, after nearly 50 years, the A's need a modern venue so that we can put the most competitive product on the field and provide the best experience for our fans. In order to support the continued success of the A's franchise, we are ready to move forward with a process to build a new home for the team in Oakland. In planning for our future, we're also honoring our Oakland history. The A's are Rooted in Oakland, and we are committed to building a distinctly Oakland ballpark for our fans and our community.

Over the past twelve months, we considered many potential ballpark sites and eventually short listed the Coliseum, Howard Terminal, and the Peralta District Offices Site (the "Peralta Site") for more detailed evaluation. After analyzing these three sites across a range of feasibility variables, beginning to engage stakeholders in each neighborhood, and inviting an expansive array of community input, we have a clear priority: the Peralta Site. We firmly believe that the Peralta Site represents the best opportunity to keep Oakland's last professional sports team in Oakland for the long term. Within walking distance of BART, City Center, Uptown, and Lake Merritt, this site is the most transit-friendly of all the options and will allow the A's to create an authentic ballpark that celebrates the best of Oakland. Planned responsibly, we believe a ballpark and related mixed-use development at this site can strengthen Laney, the three other Peralta colleges, and the surrounding neighborhoods of Chinatown and Eastlake/San Antonio. For this to work, we must leave Laney College and the Peralta District stronger than they are today, and we must address the forces of displacement already at work in the surrounding neighborhoods by preserving existing affordable housing and creating new housing (including new affordable housing), creating living wage jobs, and supporting existing residents and small businesses to ensure that they stay rooted in their neighborhoods.

We came to this decision to prioritize the Peralta Site through careful evaluation of each site, centering on three main questions:

  1. Will the site enable the team to privately finance the ballpark without taxpayer funding?
  2. Will the site and any ancillary new development have a positive impact on the neighborhood and Oakland as a whole?
  3. Will the site create an amazing fan experience, including providing great transit access, walking/biking connectivity, a comfortable climate, and a strong connection to neighborhood amenities?

In order to answer these questions, we engaged a team of engineering, planning, architectural, environmental, and economic experts. And we went on a listening tour. In forums, office hours, and community meetings, we met with over 800 hundred residents, workers, local business owners, union representatives, and community/political leaders. We walked the streets, hosted focus groups, and conducted phone and online surveys that generated over ten thousand responses. At Laney College we held three open forums - one each for faculty, students, and staff. We also held open office hours at the Peralta District offices and met with the Peralta Federation of Teachers, the four Peralta District college presidents, and key Peralta workforce development leaders.

The feedback we received was passionate and diverse. We heard a lot of excitement about keeping the A's in Oakland and bringing a ballpark close to downtown. We also heard concerns about how a new ballpark might add to traffic congestion and gentrification pressures that residents and small businesses are already experiencing. In meetings with Laney College representatives and other Peralta stakeholders, we heard enthusiasm for the potential of a new ballpark and related development to help improve Laney's facilities and drive enrollment, as well as trepidation about how the college and ballpark could successfully co-exist.

We recognize that to be successful, the project must achieve several overarching goals. The first of which is to support a stronger Laney College and Peralta District. In meeting after meeting, it was clear to us that Laney has been a pillar of valuable, accessible education for decades, and that it needs substantial new investment to continue to thrive. It is important to note that we are not proposing to build on the Laney campus itself. The ballpark is proposed for the Peralta Site, and we would also like to explore a larger partnership with Laney and the Peralta District on adjacent property, including the large surface parking lot across the Channel from the Peralta Site. We believe there are opportunities for mixed-use development, consistent with the Laney Facilities Masterplan, that could generate significant long-term revenue to support the college's educational mission and deliver a valuable and comprehensive community benefits package. In addition, the ballpark project presents an opportunity to reimagine nearby underutilized public sites (including City, County, and BART properties) in a comprehensive, connected plan.

The project must also address the very real concerns that residents and small business have about displacement. These concerns are critical to Oakland's future and are bigger than any one neighborhood or development project. We believe there are ways to work with community groups and City officials to make sure that the new ballpark and any ancillary development lead to an inclusive and equitable set of outcomes in the long term.

The A's are committed to engaging with community leaders to think creatively about ways this project can maximize opportunities for new mixed-income housing, workforce training, living wage jobs, and small and local business investment. We also believe there are immediate interim land use controls and other policy measures that can be put in place to protect against displacement and speculation in the short term. We have provided City leaders with a possible template for interim controls, and we urge swift action on these measures by City Council. Through these short- and long-term strategies, we want to help preserve the important cultural history of the surrounding neighborhoods, safeguarding and adding new vitality to Chinatown, Lake Merritt, and Eastlake/San Antonio.

Any plan must also lead to improvements to the area's infrastructure and ecological resources. Large-scale investment in utility and transportation infrastructure by the City and County is essential to meet current neighborhood needs and will be critical for a successful ballpark and related development project. The A's are already working with a Ballpark Transportation Task Force that includes participation from the City of Oakland, BART, AC Transit, and the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) to create a comprehensive transportation plan. This plan should not only mitigate traffic issues on game days, but it can be a catalyst for pedestrian safety measures and congestion-reducing improvements that have been on the drawing board for some time.

The development plan also needs to integrate into and enhance the surrounding natural landscape, furthering the vision of Measure DD to make the Lake Merritt Channel into a public amenity for the entire region. We want to work with the City and the community on a larger-scale plan for investment in other local neighborhood parks, such as nearby Madison Park.

In order to produce an authentically Oakland project, we must establish an authentic community planning process. Over the next 9-12 months, we will continue to engage stakeholders at all levels, throughout the city and the region. This process starts with Peralta, Laney, and immediate neighbors in Chinatown and Eastlake/San Antonio. We are putting together a world-class urban planning and design team that will help lead community meetings beginning this fall to set project principles and identify key opportunities and challenges. Any project must evolve to reflect the input we receive and ensure that we are meeting our common goals. We are full of visionary ideas for the ballpark, but we know that a successful plan will be built on collaboration and shared values for Laney and the surrounding community.

We will be simultaneously working with stakeholders and neighborhood groups to develop a plan for reusing the Coliseum site. We envision continuing the site's legacy as a sports-related hub in Oakland, with new playing fields and facilities for community use serving as an anchor project to entice additional redevelopment including significant commercial and residential uses.

The Oakland A's are excited about the prospect of working with the Peralta District, Laney College and the three other Peralta colleges, the City, and the surrounding neighborhoods in this process to strengthen all of our Oakland roots. We look forward to discussing next steps toward a partnership with the entire Peralta District -- including District officials, faculty, students and Classified leadership -- in the coming weeks and months.

Play ball,

David Kaval
President
Oakland Athletics

 

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