East Bay News

Quan will move forward with 'Coliseum City' study

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan announced that she will move ahead with plans for a Coliseum City, despite the loss of one of its major tenants, the Golden State Warriors. The city will spend nearly $2 million to study the idea as part of a budget proposal the mayor says reflects an improving economy in her city.

Mayor Quan said at her press conference Thursday afternoon, this was the best budget she has ever seen in the decade she's served at City Hall, but others have their doubts about just how good it really is.

On its face, Oakland's new budget certainly looks good. For the first time in four years, Quan announced no cuts in jobs or services for the coming fiscal year.

"Part of the reason that we are not making layoffs today is our economy is growing and that's good news for Oakland," said Quan. "We have modest revenue increases, increases in sales tax, in our business taxes."

That comes after a tough decade when Oakland laid off 1,000 employees -- more than 20 percent of its workforce. Now the city plans to increase funding for a police academy and police reforms, senior centers and economic development. The budget also takes into account $6 million the city spent on officers and cleanup for Occupy Oakland.

"Like many cities, Oakland is still grappling with a significant amount of unfunded liabilities," said Deanna Santana, the Oakland City Administrator.

City leaders acknowledge Oakland has $2.5 billion in unfunded capital improvements and employee pension costs, which makes Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente wonder how they could call their budget balanced.

"I don't know if you can say it's a balanced budget when next week they're going to be asking us to vote for an additional $250 million in bonds to make payments for the pension liabilities," said Oakland City Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente.

The budget also includes $1.8 million from reserves to complete an environmental impact study on the proposed Coliseum City, just days after the Warriors announced they're moving to San Francisco.

"The Oakland deal as far as I'm concerned is farther along than the San Francisco deal. San Francisco is just an idea and a handshake with my good friend Ed," said Quan.

But some think Oakland should put its focus and money elsewhere.

"There's a lot of people and a lot of programs that could use that money. As opposed to just doing a negative study on something that's gone," said Donald Edward, an Oakland resident.

There will be plenty of debate about this budget before it becomes final. It's set to go before the full city council in a budget hearing set for June 4.

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jean quan, oakland, oakland coliseum, golden state warriors, east bay news, laura anthony
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