Last Minute Negotiations to Keep Big Rigs Out of West Oakland
By Ashley Chambers and Ken Epstein
Community members scored a big victory this week in their ongoing struggle to keep big rig polluting trucks out of West Oakland. Bill Aboudi of Oakland Maritime Support Services (OMSS) finally signed a lease to move to five acres of city-owned Army Base land.
Casting a shadow on that victory, however, the city is moving ahead with plans to evict OMSS and other small businesses at the Army Base property. The city also so far has not found 10 acres to replace the truck parking that will be lost when OMSS moves.
Aboudi signed the lease Monday to relocate OMSS from its current 15-acre property, where 18 small businesses provide services and truck parking for drivers coming through the Port of Oakland 24 hours a day.
The work to make the lease happen was the result of efforts by Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell, master developer Phil Tagami, City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney and community groups.
The lease to OMSS means that one of Aboudi’s tenants, Horizon Trucking owned by Miguel Silva, will be able to continue its contract with Apple Inc. As reported last week in the Post, Silva has a three-year agreement with Apple to provide German-made glass for the new Apple headquarters in Cupertino.
That contact was in jeopardy, until this week, because OMSS and Horizon were about to lose their property at the Army Base, which must be vacated by Sept. 3 so the city’s massive development project can start.
“The city is stepping up,” said Silva. “It’s given me a great solution; we’ll be able to do our job. We are excited and thankful,” he said.
While OMSS is already busy weed whacking and cleaning its five acres, Aboudi is negotiating with Blackwell to secure the additional 10 acres of truck parking he needs for the hundreds of drivers who have been parking at his old site.
The meetings with officials are continuing, and the resolution of these negotiations is still in flux. One possibility is that the port has offered the city over 11 acres, according to Robert Bernardo, communications manager for the port. Whether some of this land will be offered to OMSS to accommodate truck parking is still undetermined.
If Aboudi’s request for additional space goes unanswered, more and more truckers may be forced to park on the streets of West Oakland. Already community leaders say they are witnessing increased traffic and parking in the community.
According to Ces Butner, president of the Port Commission, the port already provides parking for trucks, and any additional spaces are the responsibility of the city, not the port.
“Our responsibility is to provide 15 acres. We’re already doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” said Butner.
The city has said tenants must be off the Army Base property by Sept. 3 or face eviction. On Wednesday, Alameda County Sheriff deputies served a “Notice to Vacate” on Aboudi, which indicated the eviction would proceed on Friday, Sept. 6.
However, John Monetta, project manager in the city’s real estate services division, told Aboudi on Wednesday that the eviction would not proceed until Friday, Sept. 13.
“We´re working hard to move. What will happen if we’re not ready by Sept. 13?” Aboudi asked Monetta.
“We’ll talk about it when we get to Sept. 13,” Monetta told him.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 31, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)