Opinion: a Vision For The Future of the Coliseum Area

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo courtesy of NBC Bay Area.

In recent months, there have been many important and valid concerns expressed regarding the future of the Coliseum Area which may include the Oakland A’s. We hear what people do not want to see happen at the Coliseum.

This includes wanting to avoid taxpayer funded giveaways and wanting to avoid loss of jobs, the location being abandoned and blighted, and finally the further erosion of our African American population, most of which has called East Oakland their home for decades.

As we look toward the future and work on these concerns, we thought it would be valuable to talk about what would be good to see happen at this site.

This large, well-located expanse of public land can and should be used to provide development that benefits the community in multiple ways. The Coliseum site, co-owned by the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda, provides a unique opportunity with about 200 acres that are on BART, have freeway access, easy airport connection, Amtrak, and great central location in the growing Bay Area.

We can, and should, work toward a future for the site that provides local benefits, including housing at all income levels, jobs, recreation and health, including for our youth, tax revenue and revitalization.

The future of this great site should ideally include:
• A significant amount of new housing, at all income levels, including deed-restricted affordable housing, workforce housing, and ADA accessible housing.

• Large-scale hotel and convention/conference facilities.

• Maintain and use the Arena, including by seeking to bring a WNBA team and other uses. Arena can also be used in partnership with hotel/conference facilities to host large-scale events.

• Soccer options. Explore options to provide outdoor soccer fields. Be able to accommodate significant soccer tournaments and provide much-needed locations for our local youth teams etc., to practice and play. Outdoor soccer fields to be designed to be able to accommodate other uses when not in use for soccer.

• Retail, restaurants, bars, and entertainment. Snack stands, inside and outdoors.

• Improved and widened pedestrian access-way from BART, to make the welcoming experience pleasant and easy to cross, without requiring people to go downstairs and back up, no chain link, well-lit and attractive, and with access to shops and food and more.

• Quality jobs for the local community – Oakland residents – including opportunities in construction, and incorporating existing workforce from Coliseum/Arena such as concessions, security, etc. Local hiring, equity, and quality standards policies for jobs.

• Local/small business involvement and opportunity, opportunity for local/small businesses to participate in the new development at the site.

• Protections from displacement for existing surrounding local residents and local businesses.

• Option for inclusion of City of Oakland and Alameda County public needs such as a police administration building.

• Secure bike parking/valet.

• Utilize existing approved Plan/EIR, so development can move forward more easily and quickly.

• And, for the sake of public trust, to avoid problems with the project, and to ensure a fair and transparent process, we should start the process of issuing notification of the availability of the land for opportunities.

The Bay Area Community Benefit Organization (BACBO) is a faith based, community driven organization, developed to work with small community and faith based entities in the area of social services and community development.

The East Oakland Community Development Corporation’s mission is to promote social welfare and economic self-sufficiency for low-income households.

Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan is an honor graduate from MIT and was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember, she was re-elected in 2016. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC).
Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland and Facebook.

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