Category: Army Base Jobs

Pressure Grows for Tagami to Turn Over Army Base Property to CWS

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo courtesy sfgate.

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo courtesy sfgate.

By Post Staff

Connected with the implementation of the Oakland’s garbage agreement is the unsettled question of when the city’s agent Phil Tagami will turn over property at the Oakland Army Base Development so that California Waste Solutions (CWS) can build a new recycling center and finally move out of the West Oakland community.

Henry Gardner

Henry Gardner

CWS’ recycling facility will mean construction and recycling jobs for Oakland residents and will take 18 months to build.

The city has promised to give the property at the North Gateway area of the Army Base to CWS in 2016, but some say the date could be put off for a year or more beyond that date.

Speaking at Monday’s council meeting, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan pushed the administration to fast-track efforts to turn the property over to CWS.

Addressing concerns of residents who are distressed that the company is still in their community, Kaplan said, “City Council voted years ago to move the recyclers out of the neighborhood and over onto the Army Base.”

Mayor Jean Quan

Mayor Jean Quan

“For reasons that still continue to baffle, years pass, and that piece of property still has not been turned over,” Kaplan said. “It is not the fault of the recyclers that they have still not moved.”

“Despite the vote of this council, … that has not been done. I want to be very clear that we expect that to be accomplished – immediately. Is work being done to expedite the process?”

Responding to Kaplan, City Administrator Henry Gardner said, “I have met with Phil Tagami, who is our agent on that site and our future developer.” There is an “urgency” and a “commitment” to make the property transfer happen, he said.

And there are questions why  the city is paying Tagami to be its staff/agent, which permits him arrange for his own businesses with taxpayers’ funds, while city priorities are paced on the waiting list.

Mayor Jean Quan said that the transfer of the property to CWS had bogged down in a lot of complicated issues.

“I started working with Fred Blackwell, and we will continue to work on how quickly we can get CWS into their space,” said a the council meeting. “The original delay is that they are still using part of that space over there as a staging area for the demolition of the (old Bay) Bridge.”

“This is something that needs collaboration. I don’t like that people are being blamed for something that’s pretty complicated,” said Quan.

Some say Tagami wants to push that date back, though other are saying that he is responding to pressure and seeking to start the project on time or move the date forward.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

In a recent email to the Oakland Post, Tagami wrote: “The city has requested an earlier delivery date of July 2016 in January 2014, and such a date is possible if the current sequencing plan continues without interruption or unreasonable weather delay,” Tagami said.

According to Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, Tagami is hearing the concerns raised by the council and community members and is seeking to address those concerns.

A major problem facing the infrastructure development is that it may run out of money before it is completed, according to a source close to the project.

If the development runs out of cash before it is completed, scheduling becomes crucial, because what is scheduled to be built at a later date may never get built, said the source, who raised some questions.

Will the project complete the work first for Tagami and his partner Prologis? Or will he expedite the city’s priorities – preparing the property for the recyclers and for OMSS truck parking?

Why is the city paying Tagami to be its staff/agent so he can arrange for his own businesses to benefit his personal private gain while using taxpayers’ money?

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 27, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Port Commission Kills Tagami’s Army Base Ambitions

By Post Staff

Fresh developments have raised new concerns about the City of Oakland’s Army Base project, led by its master developer and project manager Phil Tagami.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

The first blow came last Thursday when Tagami learned that he was not going to land a contract with the Port of Oakland to develop the port’s property at the Army Base.

The port decided not to go with Tagami because he could not bring money to the table, and the port is not in a position to take on debt, according to the Post’s sources.

The decision not to go ahead with the developer, who had an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with the port, was made at a closed session meeting of the Oakland Port Commission.

The second blow was the failure of the city to secure a nearly $50 million U.S. Department of Transportation “TIGER Grant” to help finish the infrastructure project the city has hired Tagami to head on the city’s Army Base property.

At this point, the financial future of Tagami’s project is tied to the passage of Measure BB, the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s proposal that would raise between $100-$200 million for the project, according to estimates.

The sales tax measure, which would be on the November 2014 ballot, would fund $7.8 billion in road, freeway and transit projects. A similar measure failed in 2012, largely because it grants $400 million for a BART extension to Livermore, which would pay for one that one station to the rail line.

“Most of Tagami’s developments are predicated on his use of the city’s or the port’s money. He uses taxpayers’ monies for his salary, and then he develops corporate welfare strategies to self-enrich while ignoring the promises to hire Oakland residents,” said Post Publisher Paul Cobb. “By holding the city’s Army Base lot as ransom in the CWS trash dispute, he could pocket another $2 million while also seeking to be the developer of other downtown properties. All of this occurs dring his record of delinquincies in payments to the city.”

According to Tagami’s email newsletter, Measure BB would pay for “infrastructure upgrades, including roadway and truck route improvements” on the project.

“Without new funding, Alameda County will lose job opportunities, experience increased traffic on degraded streets and highways, suffer potential cuts on buses and BART and see more costly transportation services for youth, seniors and people with disabilities,” the newsletter said.

Neither Tagami nor Mayor Jean Quan responded to the Post’s questions about possible jeopardy to future funding for the city’s Army Base project.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 20, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

Mayoral Candidates Dispute Council on Garbage Contract

Part 2

By Ashley Chambers

With Oakland’s garbage conflict capturing public attention, a number of mayoral candidates are expressing discontent with the two-year process of how the City Council came to a 7-1 decision.

Bryan Parker

Bryan Parker

“The city government really messed up the process. They created a process where Waste Management was almost guaranteed to win,” says Dan Siegel, civil rights attorney.

Last week, the Post interviewed mayoral candidates who hold public office – Mayor Jean Quan and Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Libby Schaaf –who upheld the council’s decision as democratic and transparent and called it the deal that will provide the best services and lowest rates for Oakland residents.

Siegel says he prefers CWS over Waste Management but adds that the Council “bought themselves a huge lawsuit and created incredible uncertainties to what’s going to happen” through this process.

While Port Commissioner Bryan Parker says he supports investment in a local West Oakland business, he also criticized the contracting process.

“I would have ensured that every concern – including whether a particular vendor had the capacity to provide services – was addressed before the contract was awarded,” Parker says. “Then the lawsuit could have been avoided. We need better planning, better processes and less drama. We need real leadership to avoid these issues in the future.”

Joe Tuman

Joe Tuman

City auditor Courtney Ruby has failed to comment on the heated trash debates. But mayoral candidate Joe Tuman, a professor at San Francisco State University, was willing to weigh in on the matter.

“I’m bothered by the fact that there has been misleading information,” says Tuman, responding to the Waste Management referendum that seeks to disrupt the trash contract with CWS.

Dan Siegel

Dan Siegel

“The process was fair and to claim otherwise is just silly,” he says, having personally witnessed paid signature gatherers make incorrect claims.

“City Council decided to award the contract differently than what city staff had recommended.” However, he says, “that’s just fine; we don’t elect our City Council members to be rubber stamps, we elect them to exercise independent judgment.”

While he believes in awarding the contract to the local company, Tuman criticized City Council for not being transparent about the franchise fee – $30 million – that the company awarded with the contract pays annually to the city, and would ultimately raise rates for consumers.

“The city knew full well that the winning vendor would pass that rate on to ratepayers…the money goes right back into the city’s pockets,” Tuman says. “Our city government should’ve been more honest about what that [franchise fee] was. It’s reprehensible that the council and the Mayors office weren’t more vocal and upfront about this.”

CWS will build a new state-of-the-art facility at the Oakland Army Base and offer job opportunities for youth, local residents, and Waste Management workers. The new contract is scheduled to start July 1, 2015.

Photos by Adam L. Turner.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 19, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Phil Tagami Responds to Oakland Post

Rendering of Army Base Project

Rendering of Army Base Project

By Post Staff

Master developer Phil Tagami of CCIG responded on Thursday to questions from the Oakland Post.

He was asked when the city’s Army Base property would be ready for California Waste Solutions (CWS).

“The city has requested an earlier delivery date of July 2016 in January 2014, and such a date is possible if the current sequencing plan continues without interruption or unreasonable weather delay,” Tagami said.

“On May 19, 2014, the city requested that we study delivery of the site for and earlier date – perhaps as early as Q4 2015,” he said. “That analysis is still on going and may require several other agreements with both public and private parties to be modified. There are costs associated with the changes under a number of scenarios under consideration, the total cost is not yet fully understood.  The disposition of the BNSF controlled easement being a primary issue.

Tagami was asked if he was opposed to the CWS contract and in favor of Waste Management.

“We have no interest or position on that matter,” Tagami said “We do support the sale and transfer of the land to CWS and CASS (another company) at the earliest commercially feasible date. I have been personal friends with the Duong family (CWS owners) since 1992 and have a potential business relationship with Mr. Juarez and Viridis bio-fuels vis-a-vie our railroad interests in Oakland Global Rail Enterprise providing service to their site. “army base

He was asked how he responds to residents’ charges that he has a conflict of interest at the Army Base, standing to gain in his private enterprises if companies lose their places or are evicted from base property.

“We are unaware of any such claims, and if there are such claims they indicate a total lack of understanding of the agreements in place,” he said. “There is simply no benefit to CCIG under such a scenario”

“In fact it is quite the opposite, as the infrastructure project as a whole relies upon the sale of the property.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 13 (postnewsgroup.com)

Phil Tagami’s Conflicts of Interest Could Jeopardize Trash Deal

By Post Staff

Army Base master developer and city agent Phil Tagami has a long-term relationship with the City of Oakland that creates a conflict of interest that could possibly influence turning over base property to build the new California Waste Solutions (CWS) facility, according to sources close to the project.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

The city has promised to turn over the property at the North Gateway area of the Army Base to CWS in 2016.

Some say Tagami wants to push that date back, and some city officials are pushing staff and Tagami to move the date forward. The new facility will take 18 months to build and handle trash and serve as the company’s headquarters and truck yard.

Among the roles that Tagami plays on the city’s base project are master developer and project manager of the whole development. He is also the property manager, which means he is the landlord representing the city at the base; he is the finance broker, which means he gets commissions if he can bring money to the table; and he is the rail operator.

Because Tagami wears so many hats, in practice it is not clear whether he reports to city staff or staff members report to him, according to sources.

“He is being paid by the public to build an (Army Base) facility that he basically gets to own, and he is paid by the public to evict other companies, which he then can replace, because he is the real estate agent for the city on the base,” said Brian Beveridge of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.

In the past, Beveridge said, Tagami “had been offering (CWS and other base businesses), which goes with a certain amount of pressure, to let him build their facilities.  He said they don’t need to own their own land or facilities, but could lease from him.”

“Of course, by the time these new facilities get built, the businesses could belong to him or companies tied to him. It all would have been turned into Tagami rail, Tagami trucking, Tagami cargo facilities, Tagami recycling.”

Brian Beveridge

Brian Beveridge

This is contrary to the exclusive negotiating agreements that all these companies thought they had with the city, Beveridge added.

According to another source, “It is better for him to have tenants who will cut him in on their action where he has some kind of profit sharing with whoever the tenant is.”

According to another source, Prologis, which is Tagami’s partner, has paid a fee to Tagami  so that its part of the project at the East Gateway can be built before other parts of the development. This could rearrange and set back the city’s commitment to CWS and other companies.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 13, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Army Base Project Hired Only Eight Workers from West Oakland

Oakland Army Base

Oakland Army Base

By Ken A. Epstein

More and more people in the community are raising concerns that the $1.2 billion Army Base project is not living up to its promises to deliver jobs to local residents who are trying to break into the construction trades.

George Holland

George Holland

In particular, the project hired only eight workers who live in West Oakland out of 171 total new hires between October 2013 and Aug. 1, 2014.

During negotiations several years ago it was agreed upon by all parties at the table that community benefits would prioritize jobs for West Oakland residents, who have been adversely affected for many years by the Army Base and the Port of Oakland.

Because of legal restrictions, the city can only require hiring by zip code and residence but not by race. However, activists have wanted to see increased percentages of African American workers, who have long been underrepresented in many construction unions.

At the Army Base, though African Americans represent 27.3 of the city’s population, they have received only 14.9 percent of the total work, which means they are 45 percent underrepresented in comparison with their percentage in the population.

Focus is now being turned to the benefits agreement, which was negotiated with community groups at the table and passed by the City Council requiring that 50 percent of the jobs go to local residents and allegedly providing stronger guarantees than ever before that these promises would be delivered upon.

But along the way, say activists, the verbal agreements were subverted. As written, the agreement does not match up with what everyone had thought they had agreed upon during negotiations.

“We believe that the African American community has not received a fair portion of the jobs available at the Oakland Army Base – the process, whatever it is, is not working,” said attorney Gorge Holland, president of the Oakland chapter of the NAACP and member of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce.

Margaret Gordon

Margaret Gordon

“We were led to believe that a large number of jobs were supposed to go to West Oakland,” Holland said. “There should be better oversight to make sure those who are affected by lack of employment would be considered more favorably.”

The West Oakland Job Resource Center was supposed b a “clearing house” for Army Base jobs, a place where all the jobs would be listed, so that the proof of what was happening at the base would be transparent to all.

But somewhere along the line, the job center turned out to be something different. Though the center has found work for a number of people, only 11 people have been employed at the Army Base through June.

When the job benefits were originally negotiated, there were a number of community groups at the table along with city representatives and master developer Phil Tagami of CCIG.

Questions about what happened to the promises and what can be done to repair and enforce the agreement were directed to the community groups who sat at the table and negotiated the agreements. Besides OaklandWorks, which is speaking out, there were a number organizations claiming to represent community interests: East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Alameda Labor Council and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County.

Post spoke with leaders of OaklandWorks but by deadline was unable to interview Andreas Culver, secretary treasurer of the building trades council.

Despite repeated calls, the Post did not receive replies from EBASE, ACCE, or Josie Camacho, executive secretary treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council.

“There are so many loopholes now that it comes down to a voluntary, ‘good faith’ agreement,” said Margaret Gordon of OaklandWorks, who was at the negotiating table.

People negotiated one thing, but then the agreement went to labor and other “stakeholders,” and it was changed before it went to the city council, said Gordon.

At this point, the discussion must go back to the City Council, which has to deal with Phil Tagami, has final say-so over changes in the written agreement, she said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 23, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Oakland Mayoral Candidates Talk Army Base Jobs

By Ashley Chambers

Oakland is in the midst of a hot mayoral campaign season, and the city is beginning to see a rising concern about unemployment and jobs as top issue for candidates, along with public safety and affordable housing.

Dan Siegel

Dan Siegel

This week, the Post asked a number of the candidates what their stance is on the $1.2 billion Oakland Global Army Base project’s s promise of thousands of jobs for city residents.

The candidates were asked if they believe results so far of the Oakland Global project are transparent to public oversight and if equal opportunity to jobs is available to all Oakland residents?

If they become mayor, the Post asked, how would they ensure that major development projects that utilize public funds and public land deliver on promises to local and minority residents?

Master developer Phil Tagami of California Capital & Investment Group (CCIG) has served as the city’s agent on the project. Until recently, transparency has been stifled amid concerns that local, minority residents are not getting jobs on the project.

Mayor Jean Quan and Joe Tuman did not return the Oakland Post’s requests for an interview for this article.

Civil rights attorney Dan Siegel said he strongly “disagrees with the model for the Oakland Army Base development where the master developer has so much control over the project. That concentration of authority explains the inadequate efforts to hire local residents.”

The city needs “complete transparency and strict, impartial oversight over city development projects,” said Siegel.

Libby Schaaf

Libby Schaaf

Siegel says his highest priority as mayor would be “creating good paying jobs for Oakland residents…and require a developer such as Tagami to pay for the recruitment and training of workers to fill the jobs at the Oakland Army Base.”

Councilmember and mayoral candidate Libby Schaaf also expressed her concerns.

“This half-billion dollar project should be creating thousands of jobs. It’s frustrating to see the slow hiring process and the slow hiring of Oaklanders,” she said.

However, she says, the horizontal infrastructure development is slow work that will not employ many people, but later there will be vertical development of warehouses and business that will create more jobs. “I am very optimistic that the vertical construction will indeed hire thousands more,” she said.

Bryan Parker

Bryan Parker

Promoting the hiring of ex-offenders, Schaaf says Oakland should “look at hiring Oaklanders first, hiring ex-offenders and taking care of our own,” adding that the the city must also to ensure that local, minority firms have a fair chance at winning contracts in the city.

“We need to work with a variety of firms to ensure we get great projects, like the Army Base,” she said. “There are far too many locally grown firms already here that we should be using.”

Deeply involved in the port’s side of the Army Base project, Port Commissioner Bryan Parker says the project is in “the first inning of a nine inning ballgame,” referring to the five-year construction phase of the project and the vertical construction that will come afterward.

“I want to see more African American jobs created – as an underrepresented group, that is fair,” Parker said. “However, we must also recognize Oakland’s overall diversity and also make sure all races, ages, and sexual preferences are addressed in our job plans.”

Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan

He said that the 425 jobs created – half of which have gone to Oakland residents – is “fairly significant.” A city consultant has projected 1,523 construction jobs for the first phase of the project, he said.

“As mayor, I am going to insist that any developer who develops in Oakland receives all the benefits Oakland has to offer, but in exchange, invests in our economy including vital safety services,” Parker said, emphasizing his support for re-entry residents.

“Investing in our re-entry residents is a step at making a safer Oakland,” he continued.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan says she is backing local jobs by ensuring that the city addresses “the disparity in city contracting between large corporations and local, minority-owned firms.”

City administration “needs to do a better job when it comes to enforcing the local hire rules in place” at the Army Base Project, she said.

As mayor, Kaplan says she won’t “just promise local jobs and do a ribbon cutting but make sure we’re actually creating the jobs.”

Courtney Ruby

Courtney Ruby

“Oakland is the best city in the Bay Area, but it has the worst city government,” said City Auditor Courtney Ruby. “A big part of the problem is a failure in leadership that has squandered opportunities by bouncing from crisis to crisis, always looking for a political solution, instead of implementing sound decisions by focusing on results.”

“The only way we can rebuild trust in local government is to focus on transparency and results,” Ruby said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 15, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

West Oakland Residents Not Receiving Army Base Jobs

By Ken Epstein

The Oakland Post has received replies from Master Developer Phil Tagami and the City of Oakland providing some of the numbers detailing the construction jobs Oakland residents have obtained so far at the $1.2-billon Oakland Global Army Base project.army base

To date, the project has produced jobs for 425 workers, who have worked a total of 95,515 hours. Of these, 14,264 hours went to African Americans, according to data supplied by the city.

In other words, while African Americans represent 27.3 percent of the city’s population, they have received 14.9 percent of the total work – underrepresented by 45 percent.

Only 3,503 hours or 3.7 percent of the total hours went to workers who live in West Oakland, the community next to the Army Base that is directly impacted by Port of Oakland truck and maritime traffic.

According to another city report, 171 new hires were put to work between Oct. 1, 2013 and Aug. 1, 2014. Of these, 98 or 57 percent were Oakland residents, though 25 of these were apprentices, who are near the bottom of the pay scale.

Workers in West Oakland, zip code 94607, were hired in eight of the Oakland positions, including four who were apprentices.

Tagami, who is both the primary developer and the agent hired by the city to oversee the project, has said the Army Base is in the initial five-year phase of the development, which will take 20 years to complete.

Concerned about what many are saying are unsatisfactory numbers of new jobs, community members are asking about what results have been produced by the West Oakland Job Resource Center, which has sent only 11 workers to the Army Base through June.

construction at army base

Phases of Army Base development

The job center was funded by the City Council at about $500,000 a year to serve as a jobs pipeline and clearing house for the project. It was designed as a watchdog over all the new jobs to avoid the broken promises of the past, to ensure a place at the table for Oakland residents who want to break into good construction jobs.

But somehow, either in the way the agreement was ultimately written or by staff interpretation, the job center has turned into something else.

Deborah Barnes, manager of the city’s Department of Contracts and Compliance, explained that contractors and unions are allowed to bypass the jobs center to send people to the Army Base.

“There is no provision in the Community Jobs Agreement or the Project Labor Agreement that designates the Job Resource Center as a ‘clearinghouse’ for all jobs on the Oakland Army Base Project,” said Barnes, describing how the city is implementing the center.

“The unions do not inform the Job center of every new hire they send to the project. There is no provision in the (agreements) that requires the unions to provide this information to the center,” she said, adding that the information can be taken from reports contractors submit to the city.

However, when the proposal for the job center was approved by councilmembers, they were told that it would be a “clearinghouse” for jobs at the Army Base, said Lynette McElhaney, whose district includes West Oakland and the Army Base.

“It is supposed to be a clearing house, to do outreach and provide resources – a place where employers can find workers and that will support job seekers,” she said.

McElhaney she had been told by staff that the job center has only sent 11 workers to the Army Base. “They tell you how many hours people have worked, but not how many people are represented by those hours, how many people are from West Oakland,” she said.

Brian Beveridge, a leader of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and OaklandWorks, sat at the table and was part of the negotiations that produced the agreement to create the job center.

“We tried to create a system that doesn’t punish the people who have always had the jobs (in the past) but would help the workers who have not been part of the process,” he said.

If a contractor needed a worker, he could call the job center or the union, which would notify the job center. “There was supposed to be to be a simultaneous call to both the job center and the union,” he said.

The job center would maintain a central database of workers, their skills and training needs that employers could draw upon and would provide transparent proof of whether the city and developers were “delivering on their promises or not,” said Beveridge.

But now, he said, “We essentially have the same system that we had before the Job Center. They’re still not putting people in West Oakland to work.”

Like in the past, the system is “failing the people in West Oakland who really need to work,” Beveridge said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 15, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Commentary: The Transfer of Army Base Property to CWS Is “Critically Important”

By Phil Tagami

I do not think it is productive or appropriate to frame conflict where there simply is none. The transfer of the subject site to CWS is critically important for all parties as the anticipated sale proceeds of the site are needed to balance the sources and uses to satisfy the state matching grants that all parties benefit from.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

We are generally unaware of the details of the city’s new trash /recycling contract other than what we have read in the newspapers.

We have a standing request to Public works and CWS to better understand the nature of the proposed CWS operations now that they are doing the whole trash/recycling operation opposed to just the recycling as originally intended for the north gateway site.

The CEQA requirements for the OAB project include 660 conditions and mitigation of approval many that are in specific to operations. Air quality and trip generation are just a few sensitive areas that need to be better understood to ensure compliance.

There remain a large number of issues that could impact the delivery of the public infrastructure and thereby impact delivery dates for all of the parties. We wrestle with these each and every day. It is in all parties’ interest to get out of the ground as soon as possible.

Though we are benefiting from the dry spell we need to guard against the onset of winter rains as we are unable to conduct a number of important construction operations in inclement weather.  Getting too much going at one time could lead to unintended consequences and unforeseen costs.

The Oakland Global team has been working diligently with City staff to ensure all of the base tenants/development partners can get access to the site in a timely basis and have access to utility connections.

A few changes have been introduced by the temporary location of OMSS in the north gateway and the interim bicycle parking for the bay bridge in late 2013 that lead to a re-sequencing of the project from what was originally proposed. We have been working on yet another re-sequencing with the city staff to reduce the overall delivery of the project by as much as 10 months.

New delivery dates for the various development sites is anticipated in the next 30-45 days pending city staff approval.

 

 

Is Phil Tagami Stacking the Deck Against California Waste Solutions?

By Ken A. Epstein

The Oakland Post has been hearing community concerns that Army Base Master Developer Phil Tagami of CCIG may have been trying to undermine the city’s new trash and recycling company – California Waste Solutions (CWS) by keeping the company waiting to move ahead with the construction of its new facility at the North Gateway of the Oakland Army Base.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

CWS has already put up $600,000 to show its commitment and was supposed to take possession of the Army Base property in 2013. Now, the company is being told it will get the land in 2016, though some people close to the project says it will not be turned over until 2017 or 2018.

According to Post Publisher Paul Cobb, he has heard from many sources that, “The developer in effect is saying he can’t give CWS the North Gateway, and there seems to be no one in this administration that is taking control of this project. They just seem to listen to whatever Tagami says.”

Responding, Tagami sent an email to the Post, saying, “It is in all parties interest to get out of the ground as soon as possible.” Tagami’s statement is printed in full at his request on the Post’s website at postnewsgroup.com

Paul Cobb

Paul Cobb

CWS says it will take about 18 months to build its $80 million facility at the North Gateway section of the base – 27.3 acres that has been set aside for indoor recycling facilities and an additional seven acres for truck parking.

A key part of the company’s operations, the CWS facility will dedicate 200,000 square feet to process and transfer the various components of the city’s trash stream – composting, organic materials and recyclables like paper and metal.

The site will also house the truck corporation and maintenance yard and become the new headquarters for CWS and its employees.

Until CWS takes possession of its property and builds the facility, the company has arranged with East Bay Municipal District (EBMUD) to utilize some of its property.

People close to the Army Base project have suggested that Tagami and CCIG have never wanted to give any property to recyclers – Cass metals and CWS – even though the City Council voted to give them space on the base, said Cobb.

The problem, says Cobb, is economic. Tagami has been hired to be the city’s agent but is also a private businessman who will make less money if property goes to CWS.

“Any space that is turned into a warehouse is a revenue for the city and revenue for CCIG (Tagami),” he said. “When recyclers get a lease, there is no revenue for Phil – there is just rent for the city.”

“ I’m hearing that his financial interests as an individual are in conflict with the city and its overall goal,” which is to use a portion of the base property for CWS, Cass metals and OMSS, to get the recyclers and truck parking out of the West Oakland community, Cobb said.

Cobb noted that if the city had structured an arrangement with Tagami that is similar to the $1.5 million payment to the city that it required from CWS, Tagami would be paying the city for the privilege of receiving the contract, rather than the city subsidizing him at the same time he is benefitting.

Cobb says it is in the interests of the city to turn the base property over to CWS on or before July 1, 2015, but that seems to be opposite for Tagami.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 15, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)