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Brooklyn Basin Project at Oak to Ninth Ave.


Contents

Public Meetings
Project Background
Project Plan
Key Steps in the Planning & Approval Process
Public Trust Issues
Estuary Policy Plan Considerations
Tracking the Project
Community Participation
Ninth Avenue Terminal
University Research on Oak to Ninth
Waterfront Action's Position
Oak to Ninth in the News
Project Status Meter

Update: Project Status September 2016

First building at Brooklyn Basin Approved by Planning Commission.  On September 7, 2016, the City of Oakland Planning Commission approved plans for the Brooklyn Basin Terraces Apartments, located at 845 Embarcadero, in the Brooklyn Basin complex.

Detailed drawings are available as Attachment A to the Commission's September 7, 2016 Agenda Item 5. ( large file)

The start of this building will be good news for public access because the schedule for Bay Trail implementation at Brooklyn Basin is tied to the finish of this first building. By its completion, the applicable permits require construction of the Bay Trail at the Phase 1 of the project and construction of an interim trail throughout the remainder of the project.

Update: Project Status December 2015

Brooklyn Basin "Shoreline Park" Plan Approved by Planning Commission.  The revised final development plan for Brooklyn Basin Shoreline Park was approved by the City of Oakland Planning Commission on Wednesday, December 16, 2015.  Einwiller Kuehl Landscape Architecture developed the revised plan, which replaced the much-criticized earlier plans from Roma Design Group. Commissioners praised the revised plan's vision and features as well as the speed with which it was developed.

The revised plan as submitted is available for download here  (50 MB ).

Shoreline Park is the first park space to be developed in the project. It includes the footprint of the existing Ninth Avenue Terminal and adjacent waterfront land. These park areas were included in the 2002 Measure DD bond language but were removed from the scope of Measure DD when the Port of Oakland sold the Oak to Ninth development parcel to Zarsion/ Oakland Harbor Partners.

Update: Project Status March 2014

The Brooklyn Basin project broke ground March 13, 2014.  After years of planning, challenges, and financial uncertainty, the project is underway.  The first phase will include infrastructure development and 1,200 housing units.  The start of the project also triggers public access requirements that will ultimately close the largest gap in the Bay Trail along the Oakland Estuary.

Weixun Shan, Chairman of Zarsion Holdings Group of China, the major financier of the project, has expressed a desire to greatly accelerate the pace of the development. Remarkably, he called for completion "within three to four years" in a December 13, 2013 East Bay Express article: Massive Housing Development Put on Fast Track in Oakland.

Update: Project Status June 2013

As described in this Port of Oakland press release, on June 10, 2013 , escrow closed on the Oak to Ninth (aka "Brooklyn Basin") Project.

Public Access Implications: This event triggered a requirement that the project developer construct interim Bay Trail segments located at Channel Park and the Ninth Ave. Terminal. Under conditions imposed by Bay Conservation and Development Commission Permit 7-06 and the City of Oakland Development Agreement Exhibit N, these two segments must be completed within one year of the close of escrow. Between these segments, a wide gap will remain for a number of years under the terms of the controlling documents.

The permanent Bay Trial will be installed in phases as the project is built out over a period of about 15 years.

Update: Project Status April 2013

At its April 11th, 2013 meeting, the Port Commission extended the deadline for close of escrow for Oak to Ninth by one year and agreed to to amend to the Purchase and Sale Agreement to provide for this extension. The new escrow deadline is June 14, 2013.  

Update: Project Status April 2013

On  April 10th, 2013 Signature Development Group offered the following press release:

  • Signature Development Group of Oakland, CA and Zarsion Holdings Group Co. Ltd of Beijing have announced their agreement to co-develop 65 acres of waterfront property on the Oakland Estuary of San Francisco Bay.  The project, called Brooklyn Basin, will be an economic boon to the city and the region, representing an asset of more than $1.5 billion dollars at completion, with 3,100 residential units, approximately 200,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, and a marina with up to 200 boat slips. More than 30 acres have been set aside for waterfront parks and open space.

The San Francisco Chronicle credited the initial announcement to Jerry Brown in Jerry Brown unveils $1.5B Oakland waterfront deal.  The project seems to have been re-branded as "Brooklyn Basin" and the developer's web site is now at http://www.brooklynbasin.com/.

Update: Project Status December 2012

At its December 20th, 2012 meeting, the Port Commission extended the deadline for close of escrow for Oak to Ninth by 90 days and agreed to to amend to the Purchase and Sale Agreement to provide for this extension and other revisions. The new escrow deadline is May 1, 2013.

Update: Project Status January 2012

At its January 26th, 2012 meeting, the Port Commission extended the deadline for close of escrow for Oak to Ninth by one year and agreed to to amend to the Purchase and Sale Agreement to provide for this extension. The new escrow deadline is January 31, 2013.  For context, read the Agenda Report for this item (pdf).

Update: Project Status May 2011

Ending the court battle over the EIR, the California Court of Appeal affirmed the August 2009 ruling of the California Superior Court and dismissed the appeal that challenged the EIR compliance with CEQA.

Update: Project Status January 2011

On January 20, 2011, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) approved the BCDC staff recommendation to grant a permit subject to certain special conditions.  Among these conditions were an accelerated implementation of both interim and permanent public access  improvements as described in conditions II-B-4 through II-B-6.  In addition, the conditions also require that the existing train trestle at the Ninth Avenue Terminal be retained for public access purposes.

Curiously, the BCDC staff recommendation refers to the project as the "Brooklyn Basin Redevelopment Project."

Update: Project Status June 2010

On June 28, 2010, the California State Lands Commission approved the trade of Public Trust Lands described in Chapter 542 of the Statutes of 2004 (SB 1622).  This trade removed the Public Trust from certain lands within the Oak to Ninth project area and transferred it to certain lands within the former Oakland Army Base, some distance from the shoreline.  The trade was necessary to allow housing to be built on filled lands owned by the State of California that were once navigable waterways.  These lands will be sold to Oakland Harbor Partners.

Update: Project Status February 2010

On February 16, 2010, the Board of Port Commissioners of the Port of Oakland approved the proposed Tidelands Trust exchange agreement and conducted the public hearing required by SB1622, as described below.  The approved trade removes approximately 8.28 acres of waterfront land from the Trust and exchanges it for approximately 6.76 acres of land in the Oakland Army Base area.  This trade is economically favorable for the Port because it had previously purchased the Army Base property with Trust funds to meet transportation requirements.  In effect, the Oak to Ninth waterfront land that will be removed from the Trust and sold will be exchanged for existing Port property.

The hearing and exchange were included in a single agenda item that also included extensive changes to the purchase agreement.  These changes included an extension of the the deadline for full payment to 2015, with an option for a further extension in 2015.  The changes and their background are detailed in the nearly 50-page agenda report for item C-1 (pdf).

Update: Project Status August 2009

The California Superior Court and determined that the revised EIR adequately addressed its deficiencies and was in compliance with CEQA.  The court vacated its order that had suspended the project's approvals.

Update: Project Status January 2009

In September 2008, the Revisions to the Analysis in the Oak to Ninth EIR (pdf) ordered by the court were published.  Public comments on the revisions were accepted until November 17, 2008.  Those comments and the City staff responses to them are published here (pdf). 

On January 20, 2009, the Oakland City Council adopted a resolution to the approve the EIR revisions and re-adopt the related EIR certification and CEQA findings.  After that step, the revisions will go before the court.

Update: Project Status March 2008

Following a February 27, 2008 ruling, Judge Lee will permit the EIR to be revised to correct the specified deficiencies and brought back to her for approval.  Further, she will allow the City's approvals of the project to stand without a new round of actions by the Council.

Update: Project Status November 2007

The project's environmental impact report (EIR) has been found deficient by a California Superior Court, resulting in invalidation of the Oakland City Council's adoption of that EIR and related documents.  The story was covered on November 23, 2007 in brief in a San Francisco Chronicle article and in detail in a Berkeley Daily Planet article.

The final ruling will not be released until mid-December 2007, and its impact on the project is not yet clear.  At a minimum, the EIR will need to be revised to satisfy the terms of the ruling, and all steps in the approval process that depend on the City's adoption of that EIR will need to be repeated.  These may include action by the Planning Commission and City Council on such documents as the EIR, General Plan amendments, zoning changes, development agreement, etc. 

There may be a requirement for a new round of government approvals in public meetings.  We will announce meetings below and in our newsletter as they are scheduled.

Public Meetings

The proposed Oak to Ninth project will be an item for discussion or action at the following public meetings:

  • November 7, 2013 3PM, Jack London Aquatic Center, 115 Embarcadero, Oakland: public outreach meeting to introduce Phase 1 design & schedule.

  • February 27, 2006 6PM, City Hall: Landmarks Preservation Board

  • March 2, 2006 7PM, City Hall: League of Women Voters Forum

  • March 15, 2006 6:30PM, City Hall: Planning Commission (action- approval)

  • March 28, 2006 6:30PM, City Hall: City Council Workshop on Oak-9th

  • April 10, 2006 6:30PM, San Francisco: BCDC Design Review Board on Oak-9th (action delayed)

  • June 20, 2006 City Hall: City Council (action- approval)

  • July 10 or Aug 7 2006 (Date TBD), 6:30PM, San Francisco: BCDC Design Review Board on Oak-9th (third hearing)

  • January 20, 2009 7PM, City Hall: Council Hearing on EIR Revisions

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Oak to 9th photoProject Background

The Ninth Avenue Terminal, originally built in the late 1920's and added to in the 1950s, was designed for break-bulk cargo (cargo that cannot be moved in a container). Historically, much of the Port of Oakland's cargo was break-bulk, but today, less than 5% arrives on a break-bulk ship.

Noting that the need for the Ninth Avenue Terminal as a break bulk site had diminished significantly, the Port of Oakland worked with BCDC to determine if the Port Priority Use designation could be removed from 9th Avenue Terminal area.  BCDC agreed and removed this designation, which was one of a number of changes that enabled the Port of Oakland to enter into a contract with Oakland Harbor Partners (Signature Properties and Reynolds and Brown) for sale of the roughly 64 acres of land involved in the proposed project.

The project area falls within the scope of the Estuary Policy Plan, which specifies land use objectives for the entire area.

The area also includes lands designated as part of the public trust, with resulting constraints on uses of those lands.

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Project Plan

Overview

Oakland harbor Partners has proposed a project for the 64 acres of waterfront property that would include up to 3,100 residential units, 200,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, 3,500 structured parking spaces and approximately 27 acres of public open space, two renovated marinas and a wetlands restoration area:

Oak to 9th Land Plan

The majority of the buildings of the proposed project are under 8 stories tall, but the proposal includes several high-rise towers ranging from 20 to 24 stories. Most of the Ninth Avenue Terminal building would be demolished and replaced by park area, though about 9% of this historic structure would be preserved. 

Public parks and open space are planned along the water's edge. 

Although the Fifth Avenue site lies within the project boundaries, it is not part of the planned project.

Construction is planned in phases over a period of approximately seventeen years, as shown on the 3/15/2006 Phasing Plan and Phasing Plan diagram.

Further Information

Following the dissolution of CEDA, the City posted many documents related to the project on its Oak to Ninth Mixed Use Development page.

Oakland Harbor Partners have introduced an informative website describing the project.

Detailed views of the site plan are are shown on the December 2005 Preliminary Development Plan. (6MB)  This document is particularly useful, providing diagrams of proposed building masses, view corridors, and shoreline reconfiguration. In December 2005, City staff recommended that portions of the site plan be redesigned, as described in this staff report and as shown on the related diagrams.

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Key Steps in the Planning & Approval Process

Environmental Impact Report- Complete, but court action pending

The issue: An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Key steps & status:

  • EIR Notice of Preparation (NOP) comment period ended 6/30/2004.  Waterfront Action sent a comment letter.
    Status: Complete

  • Draft EIR Published 9/1/2005.  Copy available here. (62MB )
    Status: Complete

  • Draft EIR Review Period 9/1/2005 - 10/24/2005
    Waterfront Action sent a comment letter.
    Status: Complete.

  • Final EIR Published 2/1/2006.  Copy available here.  (30MB )
    Status: Complete

  • Final EIR Certified by Planning Commission 3/15/2006
    Status: Complete

  • Final EIR Certified by City Council 6/20/2006.
    Status: Council certification set aside by order of Alameda Superior Court due to a finding of certain deficiencies in the EIR.

  • Revisions to the Analysis for the EIR released 9/30/2008  Copy available here. (9MB )  Comment period ends 11/17/2008.

  • EIR revisions approved and related EIR certification re-adopted by City Council 1/20/2009
    Status: Complete; Court action on revised EIR pending...

Amendments to City of Oakland General Plan,
Estuary Policy Plan section - Complete

The issue:  The Estuary Policy Plan called for parks, open space, mixed use commercial businesses and a hotel in the Oak to Ninth area, as no housing can be built on Public Trust lands. Therefore the proposed project could not proceed until the City Council adopted amendments to the General Plan permitting private housing on the site.  (Details)

Key steps & status:

  • Amendments must be approved by the City Council.
    Status: Complete.  This set of amendments to the Estuary Policy Plan was adopted by the City Council 6/20/2006. 

BCDC Approval - Complete

The issue:  Under the provisions of the McAteer-Petris Act, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission has jurisdiction over those lands immediately fronting on the Bay.  The Commission imposes certain requirements on projects in these areas and grants approval when the requirements are met.

Key steps & status:

  • BCDC Design Review Board action (staff report)
    Status: No Position

  • Commission action (staff recommendation)
    Status: Complete. Approved 1/20/2011 subject to special conditions specified in staff recommendation.

Trade of Public Trust Lands - Complete

The issue:  The Public Trust Lands in the Oak to Ninth area cannot be used for housing, so the Port intends to remove the trust restrictions from these areas through a land exchange.  (Details)

Key steps & status:

  • SB1622 language providing for the land exchange carried by Senator Perata
    Status: Legislation signed into law 9/15/2004

  • Lands to be traded must be identified by Port.
    Status: Complete

  • The Port must hold at least one public hearing regarding the proposed land trade.
    Status: Completed 2/16/2010

  • Proposed trade must be approved by California State Lands Commission.
    Status: Complete. Approved 6/28/2010

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Public Trust Issues

Under the provisions of the California State constitution, the Public Trust lands now located within the planned Oak to Ninth project cannot be used for housing and other non-trust uses. 

The project property includes over 75% Public Trust land, so the Port arranged for Senator Perata to carry legislation (SB 1622) to trade the "after acquired" Public Trust lands within the Oak to Ninth area for another site in Oakland of equal or higher value. The bill was approved by the Governor September 15, 2004 (bill history). 

WAI Action.  Waterfront Action believes strongly in the importance of public process in any consideration of public trust trades, and we want to make sure that any trade preserves public access to the region's waterfront.   With the assistance of a number of other non-profit organizations (Oakland Heritage Alliance and California Sierra Club) and staff support of Rachel Richmond (Wilma Chan's office) and Gareth Elliott (Senator Perata's Sacramento office), we were successful in amending the legislation in Sections 4 and 7 of SB1622 to include the following language which is intended to insure public access and public process (additions are underlined):

Section 4: (h) the final trust lands will provide vertical access from the public streets to the shoreline and continuous lateral public access consistent with policies OAK-9 (Improve the Embarcadero east of Oak Street as a multimodal landscaped parkway with bicycle, pedestrian and vehicular facilities.) , OAK-10 (Create a network of pedestrian-friendly streets that opens up views and access to the water.), OAK-11 (Design parking to be convenient and complementary to the public orientation of uses within the area.) and OAK-12 (Establish a management program for special events access and parking.) of the Estuary plan in effect on June 1, 2004 for the Oak to 9th Avenue property to the water along the entirety of the Oak Street to 9th Avenue property.

In addition, we added language to require a public hearing:

Section 7: (b) (12) the port has approved the exchange after holding at least one public hearing.

Finally, SB1622 requires that the California State Lands Commission determine that the Oak to 9th land to be traded is no longer needed for any public trust purpose:

Section 3: (e) As described below, the Oak Street to 9th Avenue exchange lands are, subject to the findings of the commission required by this act, no longer needed or required for the promotion of the public trust or any of the purposes set forth in the Oak Street to 9th Avenue legislative grants.

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Estuary Policy Plan Considerations

The Estuary Policy Plan, which was adopted by the City Council in 1999 as part of the City's General Plan, called for parks and open space in the Oak to Ninth area:

"Public space is planned to be the primary new use within the Oak-to-Ninth District, occupying all of the land along the shoreline and extending inland at Lake Merritt Channel, Clinton Basin, and a new ‘Crescent Park’. (See Policy OAK-2.4). Recreational use of the shoreline will be the most significant agent of change within the district. It will create a series of extraordinary amenities and recreational resources for the community, as well as an attractive setting for new and existing development. Within the larger framework of a major waterfront open space system, development should be guided by the following policies: POLICY OAK-4: PROVIDE FOR LIVELY, PUBLICLY ORIENTED ACTIVITIES THAT COMPLEMENT THE ADJACENT WATERFRONT PARKS AND OPEN SPACES."
(p. 92)

Figure III-11 (p. 89) of the Estuary Policy Plan depicts the land use envisioned for Oak to Ninth:

Note that although the historic Ninth Avenue Terminal is not shown in the above graphic, the text page 91 of the Plan suggests the terminal's potential role in the area.

Before the proposed project could proceed, the City Council needed to adopt amendments to the General Plan permitting private housing in place of some of the planned public areas.

On March 15, 2006, the Planning Commission approved a set of amendments to the General Plan for recommendation to the City Council, and Council adopted them on June 20, 2006.

As an example, the amendments concerning land use deleted the following language:

"Public space is planned to be the primary new use within the Oak-to-Ninth District, occupying all of the land along the shoreline and extending inland at Lake Merritt Channel, Clinton Basin, and a new ‘Crescent Park.’ (See Policy OAK-2.4)."

Instead they inserted the following language:

"A mix of land uses can be accommodated within the Oak-to-Ninth District, including open space, recreation, commercial, civic uses, marinas, and, as designated in the PWD-4 land use classification, residential development."

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Tracking the Project

The City of Oakland hosts an Oak to Ninth webpage listing steps related to CEQA Review, EIR Scoping, Draft EIR Report preparation, and public outreach.

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Community Participation

The City has provided this Q&A document covering frequently asked questions about community participation in the Oak to Ninth Mixed Use Development Plan.

Photo of Mike GhielmettiOn February 1, 2, and 3, of 2005, the City of Oakland hosted small group interviews to obtain input on the project.  Then on March 30 and April 9, 2005, the City hosted two open house community meetings regarding Oak to Ninth.  More

Input from these community meetings is documented in the May 2005 Summary Report prepared by CirclePoint.  The executive summary provides useful highlights of the 13-page report, which identifies issues and suggested improvements to the project.

On March 2, 2006, the League of Women Voters of Oakland held a public forum on the proposed Oak to Ninth Avenue Development.  More>
 

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Ninth Avenue Terminal

From the early stages of planning, controversy arose concerning the disposition of the Ninth Avenue Terminal, a break-bulk shipping facility with historic roots, but limited beauty.  In response to a request for proposals from the City, Placeworks LLC has submitted a proposal for a "Vintner's Hall", to be used by wineries of the the East Bay Vintners' Alliance, and to include a restaurant and water-oriented recreational retail facility.  The proposal background and concept are presented on the Ninth Avenue Terminal Partners web site.

The developer presented his approach and plan at a well-attended recent Waterfront Action meeting.  More about the proposal is presented in the San Francisco Chronicle article: Historic port terminal may get elaborate makeover into winery.

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University Research on Oak to Ninth

The Oak to 9th project has been the subject of pioneering research conducted by the U.C. Berkeley Health Impact Group, which includes graduate students and faculty from the U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health.  The research aimed to understand how the project might best contribute to community health assets, whether the project might lead to adverse health impacts, and how the project can be improved in a way that best protects and promotes health.  On March 15, 2006, the researchers presented a report focused on traffic safety to the Oakland Planning Commission.  The group presented its priority recommendations for health promotion to City Council on March 28, 2006, and a final report of its full findings is available has been published. (all reports are )

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Waterfront Action's Position on Oak to Ninth District Development

Four points define the position we advanced prior to project approval by the City Council:

bullet  Support mixed-use development.
bullet  Seek improvements to the proposed project.
bullet  Support the Estuary Policy Plan.
bullet  Respect the Public Trust.

The details and rationale for these points are presented in our full position statement.

Now that the Council has approved the project plan, EIR, and development agreement, we:

bullet  Continue to support mixed-use development.
bullet  Seek improvements in the implementation of the project.
bullet  Support the Estuary Policy Plan as revised by the Council.
bullet  Continue respect for the Public Trust.

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Oak to Ninth in the News

Infrastructure work starts on Oakland's biggest active project June 9, 2015, San Francisco Business Times
Mega-development getting underway along the Oakland Estuary  March 13, 2014, Oakland Tribune
Massive Housing Development Put on Fast Track in Oakland  December 13, 2013, East Bay Express
Jerry Brown unveils $1.5B Oakland waterfront deal  April 11, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle
Judge rules Oak-to-Ninth project environmental review inadequate  November 23, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle
Judge Throws Out Oak-to-9th Plan EIR  November 23, 2007, Berkeley Daily Planet
Vintner's Plan Ages Well  May 18, 2007, Oakland Tribune
Ninth Avenue Terminal: Wine's haven?  April 1, 2007, Oakland Tribune
Historic port terminal may get elaborate makeover into winery  March 16, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle
Massive waterfront project approved  July 19, 2006, Oakland Tribune
Oakland Greenlights Oak to Ninth  June 22, 2006, Oakland Tribune
City Council backs vast estuary project  June 22, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle
Oak to Ninth heading to council vote June 22, 2006, Oakland Tribune
Oak to 9th Ave: Lessons for Democratic Community Planning April 9, 2006, Jack London News
Huge Oakland housing project criticized April 9, 2006, Oakland Tribune
Oakland Council Looks at Giant Waterfront Project  March 31, 2006, Berkeley Daily Planet
Mini-city plan draws a big council crowd: Hundreds weigh in on Oak to Ninth proposal  March 29, 2006, Oakland Tribune
Let's vote on huge housing project March 23, 2006, Oakland Tribune
Planners put faith in mini-city  March 17, 2006, Oakland Tribune
Mini-city will face critics, planners  March 15, 2006, Oakland Tribune
Fighting over the soul of Oakland waterfront: Vast housing plan raises issues of affordability, access Nov 30, 2005, San Francisco Chronicle
Commission to weigh Oak to Ninth plan  September 25, 2005, Oakland Tribune
Activists confront waterfront developer  March 31, 2005, Oakland Tribune
Terminal's status leads to debate  May 31, 2004, Oakland Tribune
Port of Oakland's Board Approves Sale of 60-Acre Waterfront Parcel for Development  September 4, 2003 press release, Port of Oakland
Oakland port OKs selling waterfront land September 3, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle
Port of Oakland Selects Master Developer for Extraordinary Waterfront Opportunity  September 4, 2001 Press release, Port of Oakland

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Project Status Meter

Here is Waterfront Action's estimate of progress on the project:

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Waterfront Facts

Project Links

City of Oakland 
page on Oak to 9th

Oakland Harbor Partners Oak to 9th

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