Alameda County Approves $85 Million Sale of Coliseum Site to A’s

And the Oakland Raiders go out with a whimper; we're all 49ers fans now.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the sale of its half of the Coliseum complex to the Oakland Athletics for $85 million to be paid over six years.

For years, supervisors have voiced a strong appetite for “getting out of the stadium business,” as some of them have described the county’s equal partnership in operating the Oakland Coliseum and arena.

The $85 million price tag, however, had been criticized by some as a below-market offer. An assessment of the property by the county asserted recently that half of the Coliseum site is worth $82 million.

Oakland city officials had opposed the Athletics’ effort to purchase an interest in the site. A temporary restraining order filed in Alameda County Superior Court by the city of Oakland last September sought to block the county’s sale of the property to the team.

City leaders then relented and ultimately dropped the lawsuit after Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested that the A’s could possibly relocate to another city if Oakland officials maintained their opposition to the sale.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf initially opposed the county’s deal, but offered support prior to Monday afternoon’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

“A sale represents progress for East Oakland, A’s fans, and all of us working to keep the A’s rooted In Oakland,” Schaaf tweeted. “My hope is that any sale by the County includes generous community benefits, affordable housing, and ensures East Oakland residents benefit the most.”

The A’s hope to develop the Coliseum site for housing, retail, a business park, and open space, among an array of proposed uses for the 155-acre, transit-friendly property. Proceeds from the development could be used to help pay for the team’s proposed privately funded downtown ballpark at Howard Terminal, team have indicated.

Alameda Approves Ban On Facial-Recognition Technology

Six Bay Area municipalities and more than a dozen nationwide have passed bans on the use of facial-recognition software. Alameda joined the list last week.

The Alameda City Council unanimously passed a policy against use of the invasive surveillance technology that is in its infancy, but poses thorny ethical issues because of its ability to identify residents using still-imperfect artificial intelligence software.

The council directed city staff to formulate a more-binding city ordinance to ban the future use of facial-recognition technology in Alameda, along with a data management and privacy oversight ordinance.

Privacy advocates contend the use of facial-recognition technologies gives government to greater ability to track a resident’s daily whereabouts by scanning their likeness and matching it against a database. There also are fears that the technology could be used to track protesters at political rallies and individuals attending places of worship.

Facial-recognition technologies are not yet ubiquitous in American civic life, but becoming more common. Yet there have been noticeable glitches, including high percentages of misidentifications of minorities and women.

“I doesn’t work,” said Alameda Councilmember John Knox White. “African Americans are five to 10 times more likely to be misidentified. People have a right to not being harassed because some white coders forget there are other non-white male people in this world that they needed to make sure their software worked for.”

San Francisco became the vanguard for banning facial-recognition technology when it approved an ordinance last May. In the months since, it has become the model for many in the region and country. Oakland followed with its own ban in July.

“It’s safe to say this is the new norm,” Oakland Privacy Committee Chairman Brian Hofer said of Alameda’s efforts to join the list of cities prohibiting facial-recognition software. “This is how things should happen at the local level.”

The policy approved last Tuesday, however, exempts Alameda Police when evidence is received from facial-recognition evidence gathered by other entities, such as the federal government.

In Other News …

Federal monitor Robert Warshaw said the Oakland Police Department has again taken a step backward in reforming its ranks, he wrote in a new report, the according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The latest misstep involves the department’s Force Review Board. … Adante Pointer, an attorney who works with civil rights attorney John Burris, was held at gunpoint by Oakland police officers during a 2017 traffic stop, according to a lawsuit, the East Bay Times reported. He also alleges police illegally searched his car during the traffic stop. Pointer has often represented cases against OPD police shootings. …

A fourth inmate died in a Contra Costa County jail this year, and the 10th since last year, the Times reported. The deceased, 61-year-old Samuel Martinez, suffered multiple seizures when he was found by sheriff’s deputies on Christmas Eve. An investigation into the death is being led by the Contra Costa County district attorney. … More inmates in California prisons are committing suicide, despite officials taking greater steps to prevent them, the Chronicle reported. A record 36 inmates committed suicide this year, a 26 percent jump over last year. … Contra Costa County is one of three California counties using a kinder approach to solitary confinement in jails, the Associated Press reported. One method includes offering extra cookies to inmates in exchange for them to comply with orders. … U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials signed four deals with private prison operators in the state, the Associated Press reported. The rush to sign the contracts came before Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s legislation to ban such deals became law on Jan. 1. The prisons are all in Southern California. …

Two homeless mothers moved into a vacant house on Magnolia Street in West Oakland last month to make a point about the city’s ongoing housing crisis. An aide for Oakland Council President Rebecca Kaplan said the city could intervene by seizing the property from the property owners if they do not negotiate with the women to purchase the house, the Times reported. … Mt. Diablo Unified School District substitute teachers in Contra Costa County were mistakenly overpaid and are being asked to give the money back in one lump sum, the Times reported. The mistake involves a change in state law involving holiday pay. …

The $25 million judgment for a Livermore man who was diagnosed with cancer because of using RoundUp herbicide is being appealed by chemical giant Monsanto and the Trump administration is backing the challenge, the Chronicle reported. …

Stadium hot dog vendor Jimmy Graff, a mainstay walking the concourses at the Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park, died on Christmas Eve, USA Today reported. He was 49. … “The Oakland Raiders are no more,” the CBS Sports play-by-play announcer said after the team lost its final game as the NFL team from The Town. With the season over, they will now be known as the Las Vegas Raiders. ¡Viva Los Raiders! The San Francisco 49ers sure picked a nice time to clinch the number one seed in the NFC playoffs.

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