Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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Archives

    Stomped out


    Stadium supporters pack Trustees meeting

    By Brian Howey

    It was impossible to ignore the literal elephant in the room as nearly 100 supporters of the new A’s stadium, joined by A’s mascot “Stomper,” crowded the Oct. 10 Peralta Community Colleges District Board of Trustees meeting.

    Pro-stadium A’s fans and employees, clad in yellow shirts and calling themselves The Roots, filled the Peralta district headquarters to near capacity and preceded the meeting with chants of “Let’s Go Oakland!”

    “This is just part one,” ballpark proponent Kim Cusato said.

    The Alameda resident said an A’s ballpark in downtown Oakland would revitalize the surrounding community and prevent the San Francisco Giants from “overshadowing” the A’s.

    “This was an ambush.”

    Jeff Sanceri, College of Alameda history instructor

    Inside the meeting, several dozen members of the Stay the Right Way Coalition (StAy), a collective of community groups and local residents opposed to the proposed stadium, were outnumbered by the Roots.

    StAy members answered the Roots with chants of their own, but were drowned out by the pro-stadium group.

    “This was an ambush,” College of Alameda history instructor and StAy supporter Jeff Sanceri said.

    Members of the coalition believe the stadium will raise rent prices in nearby neighborhoods, disrupt the ecosystem of the Lake Merritt Channel, and degrade the educational environment at Laney College.

    Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) Organizer Alvina Wong was disheartened by the majority Roots turnout.

    “Tonight’s crowd is exactly what [this neighborhood] will look like if the A’s ballpark comes in,” she said, referring to the loud chants from the Roots and their sea of yellow shirts.


    But many at the meeting were optimistic about the stadium. Supporters believe the new ballpark would create jobs, affordable housing, and bring foot traffic to local business owners.

    “There’s so much we could do here,” Jose Marcias said. “We need this.”

    Marcias owns La Estrellita Cafe, two blocks from Laney’s campus. The local restaurateur is a vocal proponent of the ballpark and believes it would increase profits for business owners like himself.

    Rent control will protect the residents of Chinatown and Eastlake who face displacement, he said, and the city should protect commercial renters from being priced out via legislation and education.

    “I would hate to see the families move out, or any displacement.” Marcias said. “But I would like to see [the area] spruced up.”

    Commercial spaces do not have rent control in Oakland.

    Tenants rights group Causa Justa::Just Cause has also complained of loopholes in rent protections that allow exemptions to landlords who make minor repairs or claim to be moving into the unit.

    Finding Funds

    Peralta District Academic Senate President Cleavon Smith said the senate felt “cautious” about the A’s moving in.

    Faculty senates from non-Laney Peralta Colleges seemed apathetic about the ballpark, he said, probably due to a distanced relationship with the neighborhood surrounding Laney.

    Smith said indifference for the A’s could also stem from senators’ belief that their opinions lacked resonance with the Board of Trustees.

    Academic senates are only given “tidbits of information” from the Board of Trustees when they decide on important issues, Smith said.

    “Tonight’s crowd is exactly what it will look like if the A’s ballpark comes in.”

    — Alvina Wong, APEN organizer

    The lack of context makes it difficult for the senators to know what they’re voting for.

    The District Academic Senate met Oct. 3 to draft a process by which the Peralta Community Colleges District (PCCD) can move forward, should it accept the A’s proposal.

    The process, now just an outline, recommends an ad hoc committee to formulate planning and budget models for a potential deal with the A’s.

    The process was submitted to the Peralta Board of Trustees Oct. 6 for consideration.

    Infrastructure and maintenance are notoriously underfunded on Laney’s campus, and one of the big selling points for the new A’s stadium is that the team will assist Laney with their financial shortcomings in those areas.


    In an Oct. 9 forum, PCCD Chancellor Jowel Laguerre announced tentative plans to extend the Alameda County parcel tax that partially funds the district, and introduced a tentative new bond measure for the same purpose.

    Known as Measure B funds, the parcel tax provided over $8 million of revenue for the district in 2016, and will expire in 2020.

    An extension would require approval from Oakland voters.

    Smiwht was concerned that, if the Peralta district refuses the A’s, the parcel tax extension and bond measure needed to fix Laney’s issues may be a hard sell to voters, and could put the district in a “pickle.”

    Peralta’s use of Measure B funds fell under scrutiny in April 2017 when a San Francisco Chronicle report showed that earnings from the parcel tax had been misspent on nonacademic staff salaries and fringe benefits.

    Even if the A’s ballpark deal falls apart, the chancellor said others are interested in developing Peralta land.

    The Board of Trustees rejected the Chronicle report, and hired an accounting firm to audit the district.

    The audit found the district had followed laws that regulate fund spending.

    Neither the parcel tax extension nor the bond measure will see action until 2018, but Laguerre said he plans to push them forward regardless of how the proposed ballpark deal evolves.

    “Whether or not the A’s build on Peralta land, the district still needs the funding,” Laguerre said, seeming unfazed by the prospect of voter rejection: “We won’t know until we ask them.”

    Even if the A’s ballpark deal falls apart, the chancellor said others are interested in developing Peralta land.

    Laguerre hinted that a Chinatown businessman has shown interest in Peralta land, but wouldn’t name the mystery developer.

    Now the Peralta district and surrounding neighborhoods are disputed grounds. Both sides are entrenched, determined, and vocal.

    As each camp grows, the Peralta District offices may become the center of a historic conflict between new development and grassroots community.

    One side has a collection of veteran activists, well-versed in the art of demonstration.

    The other side has millions of dollars in private funding and a big, fuzzy elephant.

    The fight for Peralta land might get wild.


    Brian Howey is the News Editor for the Laney Tower. Email him at deathandtaxes(at)tutamail.com.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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