Coming Soon to the Oakland Army Base: Good Jobs and Community Benefits

June 27, 2008 -- East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable...

By Kate O’Hara, EBASE Community Benefits Program Director

Reuse of the Oakland Army Base is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create good paying jobs for Oaklanders. With over 400 acres of land slated for development, the former army base is strategically located to support growing businesses that provide family-supporting jobs with benefits, career ladders, and training opportunities.

Control over development of the base has been split between the Port of Oakland and the City of Oakland. After several failed plans and proposals, the City of Oakland is now in the process of selecting a developer for the Gateway Development Area, a 108-acre section of the base.In January 2008, the City released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), which set out the City’s goals for developing the base.

Thanks to the work of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), the Alameda Central Labor Council, ACORN, ILWU Local 6, and the Teamsters Local 70, the RFQ outlined goals including the creation of good-paying jobs, local hire, and labor harmony.  Additionally, the RFQ required potential developers to report on the number, type, and wages of the jobs their developments expect to create.  Such reporting is an unprecedented step towards transparent and accountable development at formerly converted military installations in this country.

The RFQ yielded 13 proposals from potential developers, and the City is now in the process of evaluating them.  The proposals involve local companies as well as international development firms. Recommended ranges of use for the Gateway Development Area include mixed-use retail development, hotels commercial space, and warehousing and logistical services.

To create good jobs for Oakland’s families, we are encouraging the City to use the Gateway Area to encourage warehousing and logistics-based development.  Warehouses are high-technology centers in which imported goods are brought in, repackaged, and moved quickly to retail stores and other final destinations. Warehousing and logistics development would support the Port of Oakland, moving goods faster through the Port, and reducing truck traffic that currently moves goods from the Port to Central Valley warehouses before returning them to Bay Area stores.

Warehousing and logistics jobs are also generally accessible to people with high school degrees or less and pay more than other jobs.  EBASE’s Putting Oakland to Work recently found that the median wage for logistics jobs is $19.85/hour and that over half the people working in logistics throughout California have a high school degree or less.

In the coming months, EBASE will be working with our labor and community partners to ensure that the Army Base is a model of responsible development.  The City’s next step is to narrow the pool of developers and to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) to those developers. The RFP is the next place to establish job quality and community benefits expectations for the developers. We are working now to ensure the RFP sets such standards for development at the Army Base.

The City will never again see such a large amount of land to develop as one piece - and if it is done correctly, the Army Base will be one giant step toward meeting EBASE and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums’ vision of putting 10,000 Oaklanders to work!  This redevelopment is just getting started and we are pleased that the City has prioritized creation of good jobs at the Gateway site.

We will keep you posted as the City Council moves closer to concretely selecting a developer and a plan, so that we can work together to ensure that the Oakland Army Base is built for everyone!

For more information, visit our website at http://www.workingeastbay.org.