Brunner Wants to Know How City Benefits From Army Base

City Council President Jane Brunner is raising major questions about the costs and benefits to the city and its residents of two competing Oakland Army Base development proposals and is seeking answers before the council makes a final decision.
“This is one of the biggest decisions we are going to make,” said Brunner, speaking at the at the council’s Community and Economic Development Committee meeting last week. Before making a decision is made, she said, the council needs to know: “What is the financial benefit to the city?”
At stake is the135-acre piece of the Army Base property that belongs to the city. Combined with 168 acres that belong the Port of Oakland, a total of 303 acres are available for development.
The front-runner in the competition is the AMB/California Capital Group (CCG) proposal, whose spokesman is developer Phil Tagami This mixed-use proposal focuses on logistics support for the Port.
The other mixed use proposal, back by Federal/Em Johnson and represented by Michael Johnson, focuses on retail and hospitality development for the site.
The group that wins council support will have 360 days to conduct exclusive negotiations with the city. The council’s decision is scheduled for next week.
Brunner said that she knows that if retail is built at the site, the city will receive sales tax revenue. But how does the city benefit when ships deliver cargo, which is then shipped to other parts of the country.
“To take the only land that we have and say that we are going to make this Port related …– I can see how the Port’s going to benefit…I can how lots of people are going to benefit,” she said “(but) how is the City of Oakland is going to benefit? Where is our revenue stream? I don’t see it in this report.”
She said she was also concerned whether the developers have the financial capacity to back up their proposals. It would be terrible to give one team 360 days to negotiate, only to waste a year after learning that the companies do not have the funds to deliver, she said.
Another problem is that the staff report does not say how much the city will have to pay to subsidize the project, she said. “We’ve been saying we are going to get a lot of stimulus money,” she said, “(But) I would like to have a sense of that.”
Brunner requested wanted to know why the staff has rejected retail development. “I don’t quite understand why you can’t carve out a little retail,” she said. “I hope when you come back that you give a real analysis of why retail won’t work there.”
Brunner backed comments by Port Commissioner Margaret Gordon, who said jobs are always promised to the community when projects are proposed. But they never materialize.
Brunner also commented on the flurry of accusations of improper influence that have surfaced. I’m a little disappointed this has gotten so political, who has who on their team,” she said. “It’s almost starting to feel like who’s been bought off with what?
In related news, the Port Commission on Tuesday awarded the right to negotiate development of its 168 acres of army base property to the AMB/CCG. team of developers.

Jane  Brunner

Jane Brunner