So predicted Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty in remarks last Friday to the Valley Real Estate Network, an organization serving Realtors and those who have businesses in the real estate field.
Haggerty was most adamant in talking about Oakland sports teams, a subject he knows as a board member who oversees the Oakland Coliseum. He told Realtors that the A's owner Lew Wolff believes Oakland is no longer a viable market for his team. But the chances of the team moving anywhere else in the Bay Area, where the San Francisco Giants rein supreme, are almost nil. So why barter with the A's over stadium issues when it's the Raiders who want to stay in Oakland? They play and draw crowds in lousy winter weather, meaning that a new stadium sized for football would also be available for revenue-generating concerts, professional soccer and other events in the good weather months.
As for the Warriors, Haggerty also thinks their much-ballyhooed plans for moving into a new arena along the San Francisco waterfront are fraught with problems. Environmental issues and opposition to building an arena along the waterfront are likely to kill the deal. The high cost of the project could also slow down investors who don't like to make long-term commitments in the current economic climate. Even if the Warriors move, the Oakland arena lease arrangement with Alameda County is one of the best ever negotiated, Haggerty said, and that obligates the Warriors to pay all of the debt outstanding on the facility.
Beyond sports, Haggerty, who is on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), said BART to Livermore is certain if voters approve Measure B3 in November. The transportation measure would add another half-cent sales tax in Alameda County, doubling what the earlier Measure B that voters approved some years ago now assesses. In addition to the full penny sales tax, the two measures would provide $400 million for the BART project with the MTC adding another $100 million that it's already committed. The BART to Livermore project will cost an estimated $1 billion and another $400 million is also available in a fund split between Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Haggerty said he might have to give some of that to fund an eBART transit system Contra Costa is planning, but there would be enough left over to proceed here. He's confident federal funds would make up any shortfall.
Haggerty said Measure B was approved by 81% of voters. Polls show Measure B3 is generating support in the 70s, which means it should pass with the required two-thirds majority of those voting in the election. Once in place, both measures will continue their taxing powers in perpetuity, or at least for another 20 years when voters must extend the tax, but at that time with only a simple majority required for approval.
Toll roads also are high on the supervisor's wish list. The I-680 high occupancy toll (HOT) lane on I-680 is now generating $1 million in revenue with most of it going for operating expenses. Haggerty said a similar HOT lane will replace the current free high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane on eastbound I-580 as soon as work starts on a westbound carpool lane. These will be just the start of toll lanes in the Bay Area. The MTC is proposing toll lanes throughout the area with motorists one day able to "pay their way" from San Jose to Napa, Haggerty said.
Speaking of transportation, Haggerty told the real estate group that bus systems such as Wheels and The Rapid in the Tri-Valley and transit systems serving Fremont and the Tri-Cities should be combined to provide better and less costly service. It now costs about $190 per passenger hour; a jointly operated transit agency could cut those costs in half.
Another project on Haggerty's priority list is the Alameda County "greenway." This would involve the county acquiring an abandoned railroad corridor that slices through the county and spending the money to convert it into a pedestrian trail and possible bicycle paths.