With all of the construction cranes around town, one may be forgiven for overlooking the permanent cranes on our skyline: those that facilitate the import-export activity at the Port of Oakland and the logistics that support it.
As Oaklanders, we are excited that our city has become one of the hottest places in California to do business and to invest in new residential and commercial real estate development. But amid all this growth, it’s easy to take for granted the most significant and most consistent driver of Oakland’s economic success: our industrial waterfront.
There is no reason for Oakland’s latest investments in development to come at the cost of our vital industrial sector or the thousands of family-wage careers it sustains. Yet, despite its role as a linchpin of Oakland’s economy, the port is facing its greatest threat yet: blinding enthusiasm for an unnecessary waterfront stadium and condo project for the Oakland A’s, which will remove our last industrial buffer zone and replace it with thousands of new residential units. And it’s not just the Oakland A’s. City Hall planners have also focused with laser-like intensity on capitalizing on these trends in their quest to build a whole new community surrounding the stadium on our waterfront.
This is a colossal mistake. Inviting dense luxury housing, retail and commercial space into the backyard of heavy industry will damage the long-term economic viability of the port, cost Oakland blue-collar jobs, increase traffic congestion and put public safety at risk. Nonetheless, the A’s slick architectural renderings and the recently released Draft Downtown Oakland Specific Plan double down on the removal of Howard Terminal from the waterfront’s industrial operations. In the place of our current industrial buffer, the city and the A’s are proposing to put more than 30,000 new residents.