The new executive director of the Port of Oakland believes the proposed new Oakland A’s baseball stadium can be compatible with the port’s maritime operations despite concerns raised by union and business leaders.
Executive Director Danny Wan, a former Oakland city councilman and a long-time port attorney who took the reins in November, said Wednesday he believes “that the ballpark can be achieved if the proper measures are implemented to ensure compatibility with the maritime business.”
To help ensure that the ballpark doesn’t impinge on the port’s ability to move cargo, Wan proposed that an “industrial sanctuary policy” be adopted at the “city and regional levels.”
Wan made the suggestion during his first “State of the Port” address Wednesday in front a few hundred business, political and community leaders.
While the proposal drew applause, Wan offered few details about what such a policy would look like.
“From the perspective of the port, the objective of an industrial sanctuary is to provide and preserve the land use, transportation and infrastructure both inside and outside the port area to accommodate transportation, commerce, business and jobs needs of our region.”
“The need for an industrial sanctuary does not preclude the proposal by the Oakland Athletics to build a major league ballpark at Howard Terminal.”
The ballpark proposal, however, has drawn sharp criticism from International Longshore and Warehouse Union leadership as well as from some of the ports tenants.
During a question and answer session after Wan’s remarks, Andy Garcia of GSC Logistics, which operates a major shipping company at the port, asked Wan if anyone from the port had been in communication with “our customers” and suggested the ballpark would essentially be a “playground” that, if built, would impede the port’s growth.
“We also have a mission to support a vibrant waterfront for the public.”
Wan added that port officials had been working with stakeholder groups to make sure the project won’t conflict with the port’s maritime function.
The event was also attended by former Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who now serves on the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Joint Powers Agency Commission, which manages the arena where the A’s now play and where the Golden State Warriors and Oakland Raiders used to call home.
De La Fuente said of the ballpark proposal:
“(Wan) is trying to walk a tightrope.”
“To me, it’s pie in the sky that will never happen.”
In addition to the ballpark proposal, Wan addressed several goals and projects that the port is working on as part of its long-term land-use and infrastructure plan.
For example, the port is working to improve its logistics functions and traffic circulation patterns and is upgrading equipment and technology in order to “move cargo in and out of the port quickly with the least amount of congestion and environmental impact,” Wan said.
The port is also working on an air quality plan to reduce pollutants and emission of greenhouse gasses, he said.
The Oakland International Airport, which the port runs, is also the focus of ongoing improvements, including to its food offerings and to the dyke that surrounds runways in order to cope with projected sea-level rise over the next 30 years, Wan said.