City of Oakland and the A’s have released their final plans for a new downtown baseball ballpark, and will seek City Council approval in February. While we support in concept a ballpark in Jack London District, the proposed bike access to Howard Terminal location is inadequate and the handshake agreement between the A’s and city officials to have Oakland pay for all transportation improvements to the ballpark is hugely problematic. The first opportunity for public input is at Oakland Planning commission, January 19, 3:00pm. Make your voice heard.
As we stated in our April 27, 2021 comment letter on the project, we like many of the on-site bike improvements, such as Bay Trail extension and bike parking for the ballpark, and we like the planned street changes for 7th Street in West Oakland and MLK Jr Way below 8th Street, adding protected bike lanes as key access corridors to a new ballpark. And we support the many new sidewalks in the area and new pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks. But overall the off-site bikeway changes fall short of what are needed to get thousands of people safely to the ballpark by bike or scooter, and the project provides no funding for increased transit service. 3rd Street needs protected bike lanes and has plenty of width for these while maintaining parking, and the planned protected bike lanes on MLK Jr Way should connect to planned bikeways on 14th Street. Equally important, more frequent, faster transit service is needed between the three nearby BART Stations and the ballpark. Bus only lanes and a transit hub capital improvements are planned, but the A’s are contributing no money to run more buses and shuttles, service which AC Transit also has no money to fund.
Money for these additional transit services will have to come from somewhere. The handshake agreement between city officials and the A’s to have the city pay for offsite transit improvements will unfairly redirect staff resources and existing funding from other neighborhoods of Oakland to the area around the proposed new ballpark. We support the concerns expressed by Communities for a Better Environment and their coalition of organizations that this project is not equitable. We also support their concerns about the lack of affordable housing proposed with the development piece of the project. Oakland can and should do better.
Join us January 19 at Oakland Planning commission and then later at City Council to push for better, more equitable access for this project.