By Meghan Hall
The Oakland Athletics are on a tight schedule for the construction and opening of their new home, known as Howard Terminal. However, that timeline was disrupted for nearly a year after several opponents filed a lawsuit stating that Howard Terminal should not be subject to an expedited environmental review. This week, the lawsuit was dismissed by the Alameda County Superior Court, allowing the project to proceed.
The initial lawsuit was filed in March of 2020 by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, the Harbor Trucking Association, the California Trucking Association and Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. The parties—stakeholders with the Port of Oakland— alleged that the Oakland A’s new stadium did not meet the qualifications to be considered under California AB 734. The lawsuit contends the project did not meet the January 1, 2020 deadline necessary for consideration.
“We disagree with the Alameda County Superior Court ruling that the Governor has the power to certify the A’s proposed Howard Terminal project for environmental fast-tracking and have filed a Notice of Appeal,” said Mike Jacob, vice president and general counsel for the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, in a released statement. “The fact is that the A’s clearly failed to meet the generous deadline set forth by the Legislature because the A’s struggled for months to provide evidence that their project would meet the minimum environmental requirements written in the law.”
The Oakland A’s filed an application with Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Planning and Research in an effort to gain expedited environmental review certification. Under AB 734, approved projects must settle legal challenges in no more than 270 days.
The stakeholders have already filed an appeal under the same premise of its original lawsuit. If the lawsuit had succeeded, a full review of the project under CEQA would be required.
The legal back and forth puts pressure on the Oakland A’s to get the ball rolling on their new home, as their lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires in 2024. Initially, the A’s hoped to be moved in by 2023.
“This was completely a 100% roadblock. We are concerned about the timeline and pace of progress because of COVID and the lawsuit. It’s great that we’re off the lawsuit and we’re moving forward,” A’s president Dave Kaval told The Mercury News. “But you know, I think the timelines nonetheless are one of the biggest challenges that we face with the project right now.”
For now, the city can post the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) up for public review. Once the EIR process is completed, the City can vote formally to approve the project.
In October of 2020, the Oakland A’s formally closed on an $85 million deal to purchase a 50 percent share of the Oakland Coliseum from the County of Alameda. Upon completion, Howard Terminal would seat 35,000 fans and cost $500 million to build.