Speaking at Tuesday’s Community and Economic Development(CED) Committee meeting, Councilmember Abel Guillén urged his colleagues to pass stronger regulations that would restrict development in the area surrounding the proposed Oakland A’s ballpark. Photo by Sarah Carpenter.
By Sarah Carpenter
Councilmember Abel Guillén is urging City Council members to pass temporary regulations that would restrict or block development near the proposed site of the Oakland A’s new ballpark – to protect residents and businesses from displacement.
Although members of the City Council’s Community and Economic Development (CED) Committee expressed sympathy for Guillén’s proposal at this week’s meeting, they decided to hold the resolution in committee, requesting that more information be gathered.
The proposal will be discussed again on Dec. 5, the final committee meeting of the year.
But Guillén–whose district includes the site of the proposed stadium–requested that the proposals be treated with urgency, saying that “the mere announcement of this preferred ballpark location by the team has the potential for immediate impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods.”
The Peralta Board of Trustees is set to make a decision regarding the ballpark on Dec. 12.
The city has labeled the area surrounding the potential stadium site, Chinatown and Eastlake, as the “S-5 Zone.”
Guillén’s proposal would place limitations on development in the S-5 Zone, such as prohibiting new parking facilities, increasing standards for demolition notifications and adding special regulations for hotels and large-scale developments.
Guillén said he has heard concerns from his constituents that speculative development alone could drive them from the area. He held office hours in both Chinatown and Eastlake, hosted three community meetings with community stakeholder groups and organizations and conducted an informal online community survey, which yielded 275 responses.
The proposal was first heard Nov. 1 by the City Planning Commission in a public hearing. The commission recommended amendments that should be added before it could be approved, including a “pro/con analysis” of the proposed controls and that buildings with at least 15 percent affordable housing be exempted from the controls.
The pro/con analysis was not completed by the Nov. 14 meeting but was promised by the Dec. 5 meeting.
Jeff Levin of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) argued that the 15 percent minimum of affordable housing was too small an exemption and recommended that only buildings that are “primarily affordable housing” be exempt from the interim controls.
Other speakers also wanted to strengthen the resolution. A representative from the Fifth Avenue Community requested that the S-5 Zone be re-drawn to include their neighborhood.
There were also concerns that the meetings held by Guillén did not include enough community outreach.
Opposing the proposed regulations was Aly Bonde, public policy manager of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
“These actions will actually hurt the very community that they are intended to protect,” because they would block small businesses in the area from developing, Bonde said.
The proposed actions would “send a message to the market that there is a moratorium on building and investment in this entire area,” added Bonde.