Tagami breaks off settlement talks, blames city
News is breaking that would-be coal-terminal developer Phil Tagami has walked away from negotiations with the City of Oakland. The developer has filed a motion with Judge Delbert C. Gee to resume litigation in California state court. The case, OBOT & OGRE vs. City of Oakland, was paused while the parties met to negotiate a settlement. It is currently set for trial in April 2023.
According to a city staffer who is part of the team negotiating with Tagami, the city has been negotiating in good faith, the parties have exchanged numerous drafts of a settlement agreement, and the city has responded to all of Tagami’s drafts. The city wants to nail down language that guarantees that coal will never be shipped from OBOT – the core of a “settlement framework” described by Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker in early February – but Tagami is not accepting the proposed language and instead broke off negotiations. The city stands ready to continue negotiations, according to the city staffer participating in the talks.
In a reprise of his role as “a front man for Vikas Tandon, a financier who has taken over plans for a coal terminal next to the Port of Oakland” (as reported by KPIX in July 2021), Greg McConnell has claimed that the city “did not follow up to finalize a settlement agreement.” Tandon is the current lessee of the West Gateway site, where Tagami has been angling to build a coal terminal despite public and private assurances that he would not ship coal from the Oakland waterfront. What McConnell’s vague assertion may actually mean is that the City insisted on closing loopholes in the no coal commitment that developers hoped to slip through after the settlement was finalized.
NCIO is watching for any formal response the City may choose to release, which could play out in formal motions before Judge Gee rather than in the press.
UPDATE: Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker posted a press release on July 21, 2022, confirming the City’s active and engaged role in settlement negotiations as understood and published by NCIO two days before (above). Excerpting: “The City has actively and responsively engaged in settlement efforts with OBOT regarding language that will provide an enforceable coal prohibition without loopholes for OBOT or their successors-in-interest over the 66-year term of the Ground Lease. […] The City remains committed to securing a comprehensive settlement that is in accord with the settlement framework that the parties agreed to in January—and hopeful that it has negotiating partners in OBOT. The City looks forward to continuing confidential negotiations to reach a successful resolution well before the April 2023 trial date.”