District 3 Oakland City Councilmember Lynette McElhaney.
By J. Douglas
With a June 15 deadline looming for Oakland City Council to decide whether or not to take eviction action against several business tenants occupying warehouses in the old Oakland Army Base, city and Port of Oakland and Army Base development officials continued extended negotiations this week to try to break the roadblock to moving those businesses over to the port side of the base property.
Several port-related businesses representing hundreds of workers—including Pacific Coast Container Logistics, Oakland Maritime Support Services, and Impact Transportation—must soon move from warehouses on the city portion of the old Army Base property in order to make way for the first phase of California Capital and Investment Group’s massive development of the base.
The businesses were originally scheduled to vacate the property on May 31, but the Ccouncil granted them a two week extension to give the relocation negotiations a chance to be completed.
The businesses have been promised facilities on the Port of Oakland side of the old Army Base property, but relocation has been delayed while the Port, the city, and CCIG work out the financial details of the move.
Noting that in the past local businesses have suffered when the city and the port have battled over land issues, District 3 Oakland City Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, who represents both the port and Army Base areas and has been part of the relocation negotiations, told Councilmembers at this week’s regular meeting that “there is an African proverb that says that when the elephants wrestle, it’s the grass that suffers,” adding that she hoped this wouldn’t be the case this time around.
McElhaney said that negotiators were “close to resolving the relocation issues between the city and the port” and expected to provide council with a further update on the negotiations by the end of this week.
City of Oakland real estate agent John Monetta, who has been coordinating the Army Base business relocations, told council that if the negotiators were not able to come up with a deal by the June 15 extension date, he would recommend that the council authorize staff to immediately begin eviction proceedings against the companies.
Monetta said that such immediate action was necessary in order for the first phase of the Army Base construction to begin on September 3.
Representatives of the Army Base businesses have not been part of the relocation negotiations, and told Councilmembers this week that they are not the ones standing in the way of the relocation deal.
“We don’t want to hold the development up,” said Oakland business consultant Dexter Vizinau, who is representing OMSS and PCC Logistics in the Army Base development project. “”We don’t want stipulations. We don’t want unlawful detainers. We are ready to move.”
OMSS President Bill Aboudi added that “our trailers are packed up and we’re ready to go as soon as the decision [by the negotiators] is made.”
A spokesperson of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Bay Area office confirmed that their agency has issued a call for applications to replace PCC Logistics as customs inspector for the Port of Oakland in the event PCC is not able to relocate close to the port facilities.
The customs agency has set a June 25 deadline for applications for the inspection contract.
Last week, West Oakland community leader Brian Beveridge told Councilmembers that the Horizon Beverage property near Raimondi Park on Wood and 20th streets had been purchased by a local business entrepreneur for the purpose of bidding on the port inspection contract.