Q: Where is the “Howard Terminal”?
A: The Port of Oakland (“Port”) owns approximately 50-acres of waterfront property located at 1 Market Street, which is commonly referred to as “Howard Terminal” (“Howard Property”). First acquired by the Port in 1978 and activated in 1982, it was the site for container, bulk, and Ro-Ro (automobile) operations for more than 30 years into 2014. The last Howard Property marine terminal operator requested early termination of its lease in July 2013. Because of its small size (50.3 acres) relative to modern container terminals, older container gantry cranes, limited room for expansion (i.e., it is separated from the next nearest marine terminal by private land holdings), and the lack of 50-foot depth at berth, Howard Property is no longer being used as an active cargo terminal.
Q: What is the Oakland A’s ballpark proposal?
A: The Oakland Athletics (“Oakland A’s”) propose to build a baseball stadium and mixed-use buildings (“Project”) on the Howard Property. The main feature of the Project is a new open-air, waterfront multi-purpose Major League Baseball stadium with a capacity of up to 35,000 people that would serve as the new home for the Oakland A's. The proposed Project also includes residential units, office buildings, a hotel and retail uses, as well as parking. Public access to the waterfront is an essential component of the Project, including parks and open space at the waterfront as well as a proposed performance center.
Q: What are the benefits from the Project?
A: The Project will result in 1,000 affordable housing units, tens of thousands of construction and permanent jobs, rail safety measures, new infrastructure, and new parks and open space for the public to enjoy. The A’s will clean up the Project site from old contamination in the soil and raise the Project site to protect against sea-level rise. The Port sees potential benefits that include improvements to an under-utilized property, greater nationwide visibility, more visitors at Jack London Square, and a boost for neighboring businesses.
Q: Has the Port already approved the Project?
A: The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners (“Port Commission”) has not made a final determination on the Project. In May 2019, the Port Commission approved a term sheet that gives the A’s up to four years to obtain necessary approvals and agreements.
Q: Has an environmental study been done?
A: The Oakland City Council certified the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Project on February 17, 2022.
Q: What other approvals must the Project need before it can proceed?
- On June 30, 2022, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (“BCDC”) will consider whether the Howard Property should be removed from its Port Priority Use Area (“Port PUA”) designation to allow for the proposed Project use.
- The Oakland City Council (“City Council”) is expected to consider amending the City’s general plan and zoning to permit the Project use, as well as a funding plan for infrastructure and community benefits sometime during summer 2022.
- The Port Commission will consider whether to enter into various real estate transaction agreements setting forth financial terms (such as lease payments) and conditions of use and operations for the Howard Property after the City Council action.
- Other permitting and regulatory agencies, such as the California State Lands Commission and the Department of Toxic Substances Control, will need to act on each respective agency’s policy and permitting decision before the Project can proceed.
Removal of Howard Property from BCDC’s Port Priority Use Designation (“Port PUA”)
Q: What is the decision before the BCDC?
A: The BCDC Staff Report and Preliminary Recommendation for Proposed Bay Plan Amendment No. 2-19 Concerning Removing Howard Terminal from Port Priority Use published on May 2, 2022 (“BCDC Preliminary Staff Recommendation”) states:
The Commission’s role is to determine whether the Oakland Athletics, as the applicant for a Bay Plan Amendment to remove a Port PUA, has met the burden to demonstrate that the removal would not ‘detract from the regional capability to meet the projected growth in cargo.
Q: What is the Port’s position on the removal of the Howard Property from the BCDC Port PUA?
A: The Port concurs with the conclusion of the BCDC Preliminary Staff Recommendation that:
… the Applicant [the Oakland A’s] has demonstrated that removing Howard Terminal from Port Priority Use would not detract from the region’s capability to meet the projected growth in cargo and has demonstrated that the cargo forecast can be met with existing terminals.
Q: How should BCDC cargo forecasts be applied? Which growth scenario is the most reasonable for planning decisions?
A: Although the BCDC Preliminary Staff Recommendation projects a “moderate” rate of cargo volume growth in projecting Bay Area land needs for cargo volume growth, the Port notes the Port’s historical growth rate is less than 0.5% per year since 2005. The historical rate of growth and continued competitive and environmental constraints on cargo volume growth suggest that the Port of Oakland will grow, but at a more modest rate of cargo growth than the “moderate growth scenario” assumed in the BCDC Preliminary Staff Recommendation. The moderate growth scenario would project an annual cargo growth rate of 2.2%, significantly higher than the historical growth rate at the Port of Oakland.
The moderate growth scenario is on the high end of projected outcomes and could provide significant cushion for planning purposes.
A “strong growth scenario” is unrealistic under current known conditions. Under that scenario, container volume would grow from the current 2.5 million TEU’s to over 7 million TEU’s, almost tripling the current cargo volumes at the Port of Oakland. This kind of growth in a highly urbanized area surrounded by historically disadvantaged neighborhoods would require restructuring of the transportation and energy systems and growing Port activities at a rate which has never been achieved in the Port’s modern history.
Q: Doesn’t the Port need Howard Property to handle growing container cargo volume?
A: As is indicated in the BCDC Preliminary Staff Recommendation, the Port has sufficient container terminal capacity to meet the predicted container growth and “removing the Howard Terminal would likely not detract from the regional capacity to meet container cargo growth demand . . ..” Currently, the Port of Oakland’s Outer Harbor (Berths 22-24) offers 120 additional acres of deep-water wharf and terminal space available for investment to activate for future cargo terminal operations.
Q: Isn’t Howard Property needed to satisfy the projected regional demand for automobile loading and unloading terminal facilities (roll-on and roll-off or “Ro-Ro” operations)?
A: No. The BCDC Preliminary Staff Recommendation concludes that, given the availability of “a reserve of total cargo space across the Port PUAs and the relative uncertainty of the Ro-Ro export forecast, there would be adequate additional acreage to accommodate Ro-Ro cargo growth to 2050.”
In any case, the Howard Property is not a viable Ro-Ro location when financial and operational considerations are factored in. An unlikely source of significant investment would be needed to convert Howard Property into a Ro-Ro operation. If converted, it would be inefficient, too small, and commercially noncompetitive for handling the import of vehicles, given the availability in the Bay Area region of larger and more efficient Ro-Ro facilities with expansion capacities.
Q: What about the use of Howard Property as a bulk commodity facility?
A. Bulk Cargo demand can be met without the Howard Property. The Port Commission has approved a lease of 18 acres of Berths 20-22 in the Outer Harbor for bulk materials, which puts the Port significantly ahead of the 2050 projected demand. The BCDC Preliminary Staff Recommendation concurs that “removing Howard Terminal from Port Priority Use would not detract from the region’s ability to meet the dry bulk forecast under the Moderate Growth projection.”
Q: Is the Howard Property needed to satisfy regional need for ancillary seaport uses like truck parking?
A. The Port of Oakland has enough acreage—without Howard Property—to meet the overall ancillary use acreage and truck-parking-specific acreage needed under all three forecasted growth scenarios. The Port and the City of Oakland are both committed to, and currently provide, a minimum of 15 acres each in the Seaport area for truck parking, meeting the forecasted needs for truckers. The BCDC Preliminary Staff Recommendation confirms that the Oakland A’s “has adequately addressed this issue per Seaport Plan Cargo Forecast Policy….”
Q: Will the Ballpark Project cause new fill of the Bay to be needed?
A. The proposed Oakland A’s Ballpark Project DOES NOT propose any fill of Bay waters. The Oakland A’s do not have any rights to negotiate for development of water or submerged areas.
Seaport Operations Compatibility:
Q: Why is the Port of Oakland considering using waterfront land at the Howard Property for uses other than a maritime cargo terminal?
A: The Port Commission unanimously voted to enter a term sheet for negotiating with the Oakland A’s. This decision followed an extensive review of the Howard Property which revealed that the area is not physically suitable nor financially feasible for continued modern maritime use. The Port Commission also took into consideration hours of public testimony on the matter. The main factors for considering uses other than a cargo terminal at Howard Property included the property’s small size in comparison to other modern container terminals, older container gantry cranes in disrepair, limited room for expansion, and its location which is separated from the rest of the Seaport by Schnitzer Steel (a privately owned property).
In its submissions to the BCDC, the Port noted that the rehabilitation of Howard Property’s functionally obsolete facilities for modern day terminal usage would be cost-prohibitive and a poor use of limited Port funds. Without significant investment, rising seas will impact the viability of Howard Property for any use by 2050. As noted above, such investment is unlikely given competing infrastructure priorities at the Seaport.
Q: Won’t the Oakland A’s proposal prevent maritime businesses from growing?
A: No. The Port and Port tenants have made significant investments to accommodate growth, so we expect growth to continue. With land inherited from the transfers of military base lands, the Port has developed new capacity both at the waterfront and backland support areas. The Outer Harbor (Berths 22-24) offers 120 acres of deep-water wharf and terminal space available for investment to activate for cargo terminal operations.
Q. How are the maritime industry’s concerns being addressed?
A: The Port Commission has directed Port staff to work with maritime stakeholders to develop Seaport Compatibility Measures to ensure that the proposed development does not hinder Seaport operations, for example, keeping Project automobile traffic away from the Seaport.
Q: What about traffic impacts?
A: The Project includes a comprehensive traffic management plan to minimize vehicular congestion and avoid conflicts between vehicular and pedestrian traffic generated by the Project and Seaport-related traffic, especially trucks. The Project includes pedestrian and vehicle bridges to separate Project-related traffic from Seaport trains, trucks, and vehicles.
Q: What is the “turning basin” proposed for the Howard Property?
A. The turning basin is an open water area next to the Howard Property used by container ships to turn around for berthing and navigation purposes. To accommodate longer modern ships, the turning basin needs to be enlarged into a portion of the Howard site. The Port’s agreement with the Oakland A’s reserves up to 10 acres of the Howard Property for the turning basin.
Q: What about the current uses at the Howard Property? Can the Port still accommodate containers and trucks and other ancillary maritime uses?
A. Yes. None of the three temporary, ancillary uses currently sited at Howard Property need to be located there. The current uses are:
- A training center
- Container storage
- Temporary parking
The use of limited and valuable waterfront property for truck parking and container storage is not the best use of the Howard Property.