In the future, when people talk about the extra difficulties in getting things done in Oakland city government, they may bring up the Army Base tenant transfer as a good example.
This week, the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners began the last act of that saga when they were expected to give easy approval to first reading of an ordinance for a 30 month lease agreement for five acres of the Port’s portion of the old Oakland Army Base to the City of Oakland for truck parking and maintenance.
The Oakland City Council had earlier agreed to sub-lease the property to Oakland Maritime Support Services (OMSS) in order to move OMSS out of the path of the city’s $500 million 165 acre Gateway Army Base development project.
The city eventually plans to move OMSS to a 15 acre site on Oakland’s portion of the old Army Base property once those acres are prepared and a lease agreement with OMSS has been drawn up and ratified.
Earlier this month, two companies providing services to the Port of Oakland—PCC Logistics and Impact Transportation—began preparing for a move from warehouses on the Oakland side of the old Army Base to warehouses on the Port side, also to make way for the Gateway Development.
City of Oakland staff members said that it will probably take the companies at least two weeks past the July 15 scheduled eviction date to make the move out of the Oakland Army Base warehouses, but saw that as no problem.
It was difficult for outside observers to understand why any of the Army Base relocations turned out to be such a problem, since the solution seemed so logical and so simple.
At the beginning of the year, three companies with longstanding City or Port contracts—OMSS, PCC Logistics, and Impact Transportation—all sat on Army Base land that was needed to be cleared for the CCIG-Prologis/City of Oakland Gateway Development project.
Because the Port had delayed development of its portion of the old Army Base, it had warehouses and open space available onto which the three companies could move.
Making the transfer from city to Port Army Base land would allow the City to retain hundreds of needed jobs, continue to keep trucks from off of West Oakland streets for environmental benefit, maintain a continuity of Port contracts, and bring the Port millions of dollars in extra lease profits.
And yet the transfer from city to port land eventually took months of intense political and bureaucratic infighting and negotiations that several times threatened to drive the three companies out of business.
District Three Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney—who was elected last year to represent the development area—told the Council Community and Economic Development Committee this week that “my first committee meeting here (last January) we were looking at terminations of tenancy that started as early as February for some, and had we not moved in the direction we’ve gone, we would have looked at the displacement of (several) companies with significant throughput to our Port as well as employment opportunities here in the city. I’m pleased we’ve worked together as a team, together with the Port, to make sure that we moved forward.”
Attention now turns to Oakland’s Army Base Gateway development itself, which CCIG-Prologis developers project will begin groundbreaking in the fall.