By Jesse Douglas
Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid blasted Oakland developer Phil Tagami’s and Oakland city staff’s handling of the removal of small business tenants from the old Oakland Army Base this week, telling members of the Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee that Oakland was operating a “double standard” between the small businesses and Tagami’s California Capital & Investment Group (CC&IG) and his Army Base development partner Prologis, with the developers getting preferential treatment while small businesses were “getting screwed, big time.”
“There are other folks who could have done this project other than CC&IG,” Reid said. “That’s why the Port [of Oakland] is having their issues with CC&IG and why they allowed their [Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with CC&IG] to terminate and why they’re going out into the market to look for someone else. We could have done the same thing.”
“It’s almost like the city doesn’t care about you, so long as you pay the rent,” Reid told Army Base business representatives at the CEDA meeting. “If I’d known about this all along, my vote would never have been there to do an agreement with [CC&IG] or with any Master Developer who mistreats these small businesses in the city of Oakland. If I were a small business, I wouldn’t think about coming to Oakland.”
Reid called upon the Oakland City Auditor to “look into the process of the development of the Oakland Army Base,” and agreed with fellow Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney’s request for a full hearing before CEDA on “the economics of the Army Base deal.”
Oakland has an agreement with Oakland-based CC&IG and international industrial developer Prologis to develop 120 acres of the old Army Base property for Port of Oakland-related business support and activities as well as a long-term lease for the two companies to manage the property once it is developed.
The Port of Oakland dropped its exclusive negotiating agreement with Tagami’s company two years ago to develop the 168-acre port portion of the old Army Base property.
In response to Reid’s comments, Tagami told the Oakland Post by email, “I have reached out directly to Councilman Reid to address his statements. I do not believe that it is appropriate to debate Mr. Reid in the Oakland Post or any newspaper on an issue of such vital importance to the City of Oakland.”
As for Gibson McElhaney’s call for a full hearing on the Army Base deal, Tagami wrote that the Councilmember “specifically asked for information related to a Keyser-Marston Associates report that was commissioned by the City of Oakland. Ms. Gibson McElhaney and all councilmembers should feel free to review that document and any of the documents that were available prior to the Army Base development approvals and are available today.”
Council’s CEDA Committee has been monitoring the removal of existing businesses from the old Army Base property to make way for the development, with several of the business representatives complaining that even though their work is critical to the Port of Oakland, they have been running into difficulties moving into adjacent port property so that they can continue their operations.
Some of those businesses have blamed the problems on CC&IG, which Oakland city staff has put in charge of the eviction negotiations.
This week, city staff members reported to CEDA that lease termination agreements had been signed with Pacific Coast Coast Container, against whom the city recently filed an unlawful detainer action in Superior Court in order to ensure the company’s departure. PCC officials were not contesting their removal, but had only sought to delay it until they could secure a space on the Port of Oakland side of the old Army Base property.
At this week’s CEDA meeting, a number of organizations and community leaders came out to express support for Oakland Maritime Support Services (OMSS), the truck support company which has also been having difficulty moving from the Oakland portion of the old Army Base to the port side.