Oaklanders voice opinion about new A’s stadium at Peralta College meeting

Listen to some of the voices from the first Peralta Community College District meeting after the Oakland A’s announced they want to build their new stadium on the Peralta headquarters, across the street from Laney College and near the Chinatown and Eastlake neighborhoods. (Video by Lucas Guilkey.)

More than 100 community members attended a rare standing room-only meeting of the Peralta Community College Board of Trustees on Tuesday night. The unusually large crowd came out to share their opinions about the proposed construction of a new stadium for the Oakland A’s between 8th Street and the 880 freeway on land currently owned by the Peralta Community College District. Tuesday’s meeting was an opportunity for Peralta Community College Board of Trustees to hear public concerns about the project and assess the potential effects of a new baseball stadium.

“I love the A’s, I want the A’s to stay in Oakland. However, I will not trade my community for it,” said Chu Chou, an 83-year-old Chinatown resident who spoke through a translator. “If the stadium gets built on 8th Street, it’s going to be a problem for all the residents, especially Chinatown seniors,” he said, citing concerns about increased traffic.

Most of the people who spoke during the meeting’s public comment period agreed that it is vital to keep the A’s in Oakland. However, they differed on their preferred location for a new stadium. Some advocated prefer keeping the A’s at the Oakland Coliseum in East Oakland, the current home of the A’s and the Oakland Raiders.

The A’s have been searching for a new location because the 51-year-old Coliseum is in need of significant repairs. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas within the next two years.

 “We all are opposed to this because it will impact the people, the environment, and also the communities living here right now,” said Anya Huang of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, which opposes the proposed stadium site. “This new stadium proposal is going to be smack dab in the middle of two immigrant low-income communities of color, Eastlake and Chinatown,” she said.

“We’re talking about the livelihood of Chinatown and Eastlake and immigrant communities,” said Alvina Wong, a representative for Stay the Right Way, which represents several nonprofit organizations that oppose the new stadium. “It’s going to pour gasoline on Oakland gentrification and push out immigrant communities,” said Jennifer Bobrow, who lives about a mile away from the proposed location.

A large portion of the crowd was comprised of A’s fans in matching yellow t-shirts that read “Rooted in Oakland.” “I think a lot of people falsely believe this is a sports versus city argument,” said Jacob Russell-Snyder, who backs the plan for the new stadium. “We want this stadium not because we want a better sports team, but because we want Oakland to be represented around the world.”

Steve Stevenson, the owner of 1-2-3-4 Go! Records on 40th Street in North Oakland, said he supports putting a stadium in the Eastlake neighborhood, calling it a “huge opportunity for partnership that could be really exciting for the neighborhood.”

Members of the Laborers International Union of North America also came out in support of the proposed stadium. “We’re going to support any construction project for living-wage jobs,” said Rafael Gonzalez, president of LiUNA Local 304, whose members are largely construction workers.

Students and faculty from Laney College, which is less than half a mile from the proposed stadium location, also spoke. “We think Laney College will be closed if this goes through. It will be devastating to the learning environment,” said Evelyn Lord, a librarian at the community college. “Developers always want to promise jobs to black and brown residents and it doesn’t pan out,” said Margaret Traylor, another librarian. “Eventually they’ll take more land and small businesses and residents will be pushed out.”

The Peralta Community College Board of Trustees has yet to take a vote on whether or not to sell their land to the A’s. A’s officials have said that they will negotiate with the school over the next year to come up with a stadium plan that the community will approve. A new ballpark would take about two years to build, and would not open until at least 2023.

4 Comments

  1. Wayne Deboe

    I support the proposed stadium location

  2. Michael Eisenscher

    This debate has less to do with sports and stadiums than with development and profits. There is no debate about wanting to keep the A’s in Oakland. There is no question that the site that offers space for a new stadium with the least negative impact on its surrounding community is the current Coliseum location.

    The A’s want to locate next to Laney because they know that land around the stadium will instantly become more valuable for developers eager to profit from a downtown location.

    As developers start to buy up those properties, renters will be driven out. Small business owners who think that having the A’s there will be a boon for their businesses need to face the fact that well heeled A’s fans who can afford ever-higher ticket prices don’t want to shop in small bodegas, liquor stores and restaurants. They will frequent fancy bars and restaurants that cater to upper middle class patrons.

    Over time, these small businesses and most local residents of modest means will be pushed out. Want a real life example? Look at South of Market, or Uptown Oakland.

    An A’s stadium next to Laney College will make it a nightmare for students, instructors and staff to get to school whenever there is a game. It will plug up Interstate traffic coming off the bridge or north on I-880 even worse than it is now.

    And Laney itself will be in the sites of developers looking for more land on which to build their upscale projects. It is only a matter of time before Laney too will be pushed out. That will have a dramatically negative impact on low income students who would have much greater difficulty getting to classes at Alameda or Merritt Colleges, which have no BART access.

    Fewer working class students will be able to obtain degrees needed to compete for the available jobs. And those who do get (mostly low-wage) jobs working for vendors at the stadium will have higher costs and greater difficulty getting to work because they will not find affordable housing anywhere near where they work.

    We should fight to keep the A’s but reject a stadium siting plan that will further gentrify our community and that makes residents of Chinatown and Eastlake, and other low income residents pay the price. The A’s should build at the Coliseum.

  3. Takako

    First of all, people are easy to forget what happened to residents, family restaurants, and small stores in San Francisco. When SF downtown was replaced with many expensive condos, these small businesses vanished in a short time because the rental costs have skyrocketed. As you already knew, teachers, who work in SF institutions for many years, suffer greatly. The SF city hall did not prepare nor do anything much to help teachers, staff, and students.

    Second, I wonder how many of A’s fans who attended the meeting live in this area; how many of them –including Oakland business owners — are actually upper Fruitvale, San Antonio, or Chinatown residents? I am sure that most A’s fans, who don’t live in these areas, don’t really care about people who live within 1-2 miles from the Peralta headquarter. Good example of history repeating itself: nimby.

    I have been the A’s fan for 30+ years but I don’t live in this area (I live at the Oakland hills)– it would be bias of me if I want the new stadium in the Peralta when residents in Chinatown, San Antonio or Fruitvale are against it. I do care about their communities. I am in favor of repairing/renovating the Coliseum or building the new stadium (even I am happy to pay tax for it) at another place– anywhere else but the Peralta headquarter.

  4. Takako

    First of all, people are easy to forget what happened to residents, family restaurants, and small stores in San Francisco. When SF downtown was replaced with many expensive condos, these small businesses vanished in a short time because the rental cost has skyrocketed. As you already knew, teachers, who work in SF institutions for many years, suffer greatly. The SF city hall did not prepare nor do anything much to help teachers, staff, and students.

    Second, I wonder how many of A’s fans who attended the meeting live in this area; how many of them –including Oakland business owners — are actually upper Fruitvale, San Antonio, or Chinatown residents? I am sure that most A’s fans, who don’t live in these areas, don’t care about people who live within 1-2 miles from the Peralta headquarter. Good example of history repeating itself: nimby.

    I have been the A’s fan for 30+ years but I don’t live in this area (I live at the Oakland hills)– it would be bias of me if I want the stadium in the Peralta if communities in Chinatown, San Antonio, and Fruitvale are against it. I am in favor of repairing/renovating the Coliseum or building the new stadium (even I am happy to pay tax for it) at another place– anywhere else but the Peralta headquarter.

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