19 January 2006

Oakland at a crossroads

Wednesday's Trib had an article on rezoning in Oakland. While the A's and Wolff's August plan weren't mentioned, it's possible that an A's ballpark and village concept could be developed with the help of the city's recent changes.

The proposed guidelines offer a new zone classification — CIX-2 — that allows some form of residential development along Mandela Parkway in West Oakland, the central estuary and large parcels straddling San Leandro Street near the Coliseum complex and San Leandro border.
All of those areas are currently zoned for industrial and commercial uses, but the city is under severe market pressures to convert large swaths of industrially zoned lands to housing.

Wolff's August plan would have pushed this change to occur much faster in East Oakland than current plans would dictate. Wolff's new proposal would involve a smaller amount of land, but it would also call for the City/County to acquire the land first. That would force the City/County to issue bonds to purchase the land, which at this point has to be considered a non-starter because of the past Raiders' shenanigans.
If Wolff is actually serious about building in Oakland, it may be possible with these zoning changes acting as a catalyst. That's probably the only entitlement he'd be able to get, however. Infrastructure - not likely. Below-market price land - nope. We're only two months away from Opening Day, and it looks like everyone's back to square one.


Anonymous said...

An unfortunate concert is about to begin very soon in Oakland, and this zoning news won't do anything to keep the ballpark fat lady from singing!

Georob said...

The article mentions nothing about any pending project with the A's, which would obviously be a big beneficiary of such a rezoning.

Therefore, my guess is that this zoning discussion predates any discussuion with Lew Wolff by quite some time, as older cities face pressure to convert brownfields and greyfields into residential to help ease the affordable housing crunch in the Bay Area.

I fear that there is absolutely no sense of urgency or priority within Oakland City Hall for any A's project. All the more reason for Lew Wolff to publicly set a reasonable, practical, but concrete deadline to this done. And making it clear when the A's final season at the Coliseum will be is a good place to start.

Anonymous said...

The housing vs. industrial zoning question has been growing in Oakland for a few years now and has nothing to do with the A's. The housing boom built up all the obviously desirable land; now developers are eyeing the next set of plots, like San Leandro St. And most though not all Oakland pols are eager for housing in these currently underused areas. The problem is that every such development means Oakland loses more capacity to host the good blue collar jobs its citizens desparately need. Also as an aside, this is all about market rate housing (and developer windfalls) and has zilch to do with affordable housing except in a very tangential way.

If the city does nothing else for the A's it will at least handle the zoning obstacles, which have never stopped a favored idea in this town. So ML is incorrect about this being A's related; however, the idea that Oakland is quickly reaching its put up or shut up point is right on. Of course, once it puts up Wolff will say thanks for playing, but here are your lovely parting gifts. But that's a different subject.

Georob said...

"Affordable Housing" is a broad term to say the least. But it all comes down to supply and demand, and one of the reasons so many people are buying homes 50 or more miles away is not just the price, but also the quality.

It's bad enough to pay over half a million for a home in places like Oakland, San Leandro, or Hayward. But when the homes are over 40 years old in dire need of updating, most folks(especially those with kids) would rather buy something newer(and cheaper)in Tracy.

Updating the housing stock closer to the inner cities is something that will need to be addressed in the years to come, and Oakland is taking steps(baby steps, mind you)
in the right direction.

Didn't mean to go off-topic here, Rhamesis. However, this issue DOES speak in many ways to the A's current marketing difficulties, as upwardly mobile families who are very likely to buy tickets are just too far away from the Coliseum.

Jazzbo Fun said...

I do not understand why the A's do not build a ballpark on the hill atop Lake Merrit where Children's Fairyland and the Bowling Greens currently exist. Childrens Fairland should be relocated near Knowland Zoo/Park anyways. And the lawn bowling crowd is (how do I say this in a PC way) getting smaller every year. The ballpark at Lake Merrit would be close to 19th Street Bart, is publicly owned, is near restaurants and shopping (Lakeshore/Grand) and near the downtown-Oaksterdam bars). Please someone tell me why we cant have a ballpark right there? Please!