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Oakland Army Base - Pick AMB / CCG for developer

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To some the title of this blog may seem like a turnabout considering that I suggested mixing the development teams with AMB/CCG as master developer and Federal Oakland Associates working for them in redeveloping the Oakland Army Base, and it is just that. After a lot of thinking about this matter I decided to go with the AMB / CCG team flat out.

My initial reasons for suggesting a mix of the teams were borne of my concern that the Federal Oakland Assocates / AMB/CCG organizations show a racial split - the first black and of color, the latter far less so when AMB Properties is considered. But with that, and I've noted this before, the AMB/CCG team brings credibility and California Commercial Investments President Phil Tagami has worked hard to bring to Oakland a billion-dollar organization that normally would have looked past our city.

Give Phil credit for his hard work.

It would have been easy for me to just push Phil's team because he's my friend in much the same way that Oakland City Attorney John Russo is my friend. I've known him since 1991, that's 16 years and going back to when he was just a poor community activist and housing redeveloper who constantly complained of being "equity rich and cash poor." I know his brother Ted Tagami well and for an equally long time; we're both active players in the new media space today. So because of that, I largely stayed away from the matter, but still wrote about Phil's other new accomplishment, the Fox Theater in downtown Oakland.

I stayed away even though someone-I-will-not name approached me in front of the downtown Oakland restaurant Osumo last year and said they would need my help "digging negative information up" about Phil. "Well, I can't do that; he's my friend," I explained. I had no idea why this person wanted to do that because we never talked again.

But now in hindsight and with the recent actions of the Mayor's Office - a study of the Army Base created without the Mayor's knowledge and secretly calling me to get it delivered in an effort to get a split vote decision on developer selection - I see that some had to work in a less-than-above board way to get what they wanted. Meanwhile, all Phil did was work his ass off.

That's all he ever does.

There are Oaklanders who are openly jealous of Phil for all the wrong reasons. Oakland's a crabbarrel town where people seem to dislike ambition or the ambitious, then complain about where they're going to get the dough to pay the rent. Phil's openly ambitious. (So am I.) Yeah, sometimes he can be overbearing. (Me too.) At times, he doesn't listen (Me too.) But one thing I can say is Phil cares. (So do I.) It's not just business for him, he enjoys the work of making Oakland better through development. (I prefer via the media.) It's something we've talked about for a heck of a long time. This is his dream come true; of course he's going to have to work his tail off even more to get it done.

So I thought about that and an email exchange with District Three Councilmember Nancy Nadel, who seemed to forget she was communicating with a vlogger (or just plain old blogger in this case).

But in that transmission with her, I realized that Nancy has lived the reality of problems of environmental damage and air pollution and had a particular vision for the area that as an effective representative for her people - and I'm one of them even though I'm over at Lake Merritt - she should be able to see through to reality. I also recalled the countless number of West Oakland community meetings I've attended where the mostly African American audience complained of the toxics from industrial activity. If Nadel feels AMB/CCG has the right land use mix and can get the job done, I'm behind her 100 percent.

So after decades of debate and a dormant West Oakland, it's time to turn the page. The Oakland Redevelopment Agency should enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the AMB / CCG team for the Oakland Army Base.
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