Coalition opposes Athletics’ plan to build new stadium


OAKLAND, Calif. — A coalition of neighborhood groups, small business owners and Laney College students and faculty said Sept. 19 that it opposes the Oakland Athletics’ plan to build a new baseball stadium near Laney.

Members of the “Stay the Right Way Coalition” said at a news conference and rally that the project, which they describe as a “mega-development,” will have a negative impact on the Laney, Chinatown and Eastlake communities and may have repercussions that could ripple throughout Oakland and Alameda County.

The proposed site that the A’s announced last week is located between Lake Merritt and Interstate Highway 880 and currently is home to administrative offices for the Peralta Community College District and includes commercial warehouses, parking lots and office buildings.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said last month that she would have preferred that the A’s had chosen one of the other sites that were under consideration the Coliseum complex where the team currently plays or the Howard Terminal near the Port of Oakland.

Cici Zheng, a small business owner in Chinatown, said in a statement, “Working and living in Chinatown, I have deep feelings for my community. I don’t want the moving in of a stadium to change the history and values of this community.”

Joshua Fisher Lee, the director of Asian Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy & Leadership, said, “The potential of this stadium not only threatens the Chinatown and East Lake neighborhoods — it’s also a huge threat to over 10 schools within a few miles radius of the proposed site.”

Lee said, “The A’s say they want to build a site that is authentically Oakland. To me, authentically Oakland means supporting our young people and their families to continue to stay in their neighborhoods and attend their local schools, not uprooting them.”

John Reimann, a student at Laney, said Laney is the only accessible community college in Oakland and if the stadium plan goes through “the existence of Laney College itself would be up for grabs.”

Roger Porter, a Laney faculty member, said, “Given the proposed location of the new stadium and the current location of our college, it (the A’s plan) would throw the positive learning environment that we strive so hard to maintain into disarray. Porter said, “The truth is that there is no way that a major league ballpark and a community college can peacefully coexist as neighbors.”

Separately, the Golden Gate Audubon Society, which represents more than 7,000 members in Oakland and nearby cities, said in a statement that it also opposes the proposed stadium, saying it “could be disastrous for the abundant birds, fish, and other animals that rely on Lake Merritt.”

The Audubon Society said it’s against the site “because of the loud noise, intense light, trash, and harmful contaminants it would generate directly alongside the Lake Merritt channel, a narrow and vital waterway connecting the lake to the estuary and San Francisco Bay.”

The bird group said, “Peralta is the smallest and densest of the three proposed stadium sites. It is ill-suited for the huge footprint of a stadium plus parking and the additional planned housing and commercial development.”

The Audubon Society said, “Of the three properties being considered for a new A’s ballpark, Golden Gate Audubon supports the renovation and transformation of the existing Coliseum area complex because it “would avoid further displacement of people, wildlife and small businesses, utilize an already-developed site, minimize impacts to biodiversity, and allow for a re-imagined ballpark village that could help revitalize East Oakland and contribute to the city’s tax base.”

Officials with The Dellums Institute for Social Justice, which is led by former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, said in statement Sept. 19 that while they remained committed to supporting the baseball team, the organization was also concerned about the displacement of nearby residents, including those in Chinatown.

“The history of Oakland Chinatown is unfortunately replete with misguided development decisions that disrespected the Chinatown Community and displaced residents and community institutions. It is our great hope that the Oakland A’s new ballpark development does not add to this ignoble history,” according to the statement.

Members of a coalition of business, labor leaders and community leaders said at a news conference on Sept. 18 that they support the A’s plan to build a new stadium near Laney because they think it will create jobs and boost the city’s economy.

Among the speakers at that news conference were Oakland Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Leslie, veteran Oakland Chinatown activist Carl Chan, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Wong, Eastlake Merchants Association President Thu Pham and Rob Stoker, the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County.

Representatives from Oakland’s African American and Vietnamese chambers of commerce also said they support the A’s plan.

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