Oakland Global Newsletter for January 2015

Brought to you by the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center and California Capital & Investment Group



Monthly Updates on the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center Project

Oakland Global News, January 2015
Dear Reader,

Oakland Global News is a monthly newsletter for readers interested in staying current as the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center (former Oakland Army Base) project evolves. This issue takes a broad look at the project’s many environmental components.

Brownfields Program = Base Reuse

The redevelopment of the Oakland Army Base was premised on returning a shuttered military base to a productive use. But that goal likely would not have become a reality were it not for a little-known environmental cleanup program that came into existence in 1995 and had some of its first successes in nearby Emeryville.

Through the Brownfields Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides cities and potential developers with a framework for analyzing former industrial sites, determining what new development can safely occur on the land, and providing funding to help projects get off the ground.

“Before the program, contaminated but valuable land would just sit there because there was no universally accepted set of standards or a way to arrive at a remediation plan. It was a moving target.” said Dan Nourse, the environmental project manager on the Oakland Army Base project.

Starting in the early 1990s, Nourse managed soils and other environmental issues on successful Emeryville redevelopment projects for more than a decade.

Since 1995, the Brownfields Program has provided grants for municipalities and developers to answer the following foundational questions:  1) What is the property’s level of contamination?  2) Given the level of contamination, to what extent can it be remediated and reused?  3) What resources are available to execute a cleanup plan for an appropriate development?

The answers to the questions result in remediation and management plans governed by state and local regulators. The regulators, such as the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, dictate the level of site cleanup and monitoring required throughout construction and after the new project is complete. The Oakland Army Base project is governed by such a plans, which influence daily decisions about soil and water quality.

In 2014 the Army Base project underwent its first full year of infrastructure construction. That process is expected to last through 2015, at which point modern warehouses and deconsolidation facilities will be erected, enabling the Oakland waterfront to import and export more goods. In turn, a large polluted and obsolete piece of land will have been converted into a valuable asset.

Similarly, the Brownfields Program deserves some credit for Emeryville’s transformation from a struggling city abandoned by heavy industry, to a thriving retail hub. By the mid-1990s, Emeryville was littered with more than 230 underused or vacant acres.

Soil and groundwater contamination impaired ninety percent of the city’s fallow land.  But, with a $200,000 Brownfields Program seed grant in 1996, city officials, the EPA and developers targeted abandoned property ripe for development. Less than 20 years later, Emeryville is the envy of cities wishing they could attract more shoppers and capture the related tax revenue.

Because the Army Base project centers on logistics and goods movement rather than retail or housing, it compounds the basic environmental benefits that come with cleaning up a former industrial site in an inner-urban area.

The project will mean that fewer warehousing facilities need to be built on suburban or agricultural land and that goods will be sorted and consolidated near the Port of Oakland — where they arrive — as opposed to being trucked to the outskirts to be packaged and shipped. Existing and new rail connections will allow a high percentage of goods to be shipped by train, reducing the carbon emissions associated with trucks.

Air Quality Watched Closely

Maintaining healthy air quality around the Army Base project is primarily governed by the project’s Environmental Impact Report, which contains reams of analysis and 600 mitigation measures.

Many of the measures relate to emissions and require developers and the City of Oakland to reduce air impacts during the construction and operation of the new logistics facility on the former base.

Examples include construction dust control measures, a directive to reduce truck diesel emissions and guidelines to promote the use of energy saving fixtures and designs.

A new environmental requirement added by the Oakland City Council in July 2013, directs the City of Oakland and developers to convene quarterly meetings with stakeholders to discuss the creation and adoption of air quality and trucking related measures.

In addition to facilitating the quarterly stakeholder meetings, the city makes new air quality and trucking plans available to the public for a 17-day review before the plans are finalized. The plans are then approved by the City Manager and must be presented to the City Council as an informational item.

On top of all of the EIR-driven mitigation measures, developers and the City of Oakland have followed through on a promise to  install three air monitors in West Oakland during construction at the Army Base to understand changes to the air — if any — in the neighborhood.

The Bay Area Air Quality Monitoring District (BAAQMD) helped develop the air monitoring strategy, including approving the locations for the monitors. A fourth monitor, installed by BAAQMD also provides useful information and a source for comparison.

Air quality is a top concern in West Oakland because the neighborhood sits adjacent to four existing pollution sources: The Port of Oakland, the Union Pacific Railroad, and two freeways. Historically, area residents have suffered high rates of asthma and other illnesses associated with diesel truck and machinery emissions.

The monitoring stations collect two types of data. One type is PM2.5, which is fine, breathable particles that are smaller than 2.5 microns in size. The other data comes from samples of elemental carbon. The quantity of elemental carbon helps determine what percentage of the PM2.5 is due to diesel emissions.

The public can access air monitoring data 24-hours a day at  http://ngem.com/OAB_AQM/.

Army Base Photography 

As a recurring feature, the Oakland Global News presents photography from the Army Base.The photos below are by Dan Nourse.


Issue 28
Brownfields Program
Water / Soil
Air Quality





Oakland Global Website 


Stay informed

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center development. I believe that the Oakland Global Newsletter will prove to be a useful tool for staying informed and current on this important project going forward.

Sincerely, Phil Tagami

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