Is Phil Tagami Stacking the Deck Against California Waste Solutions?

Aug 15, 2014

Posted in Army Base JobsBusinessEconomic DevelopmentEducation/Schools/YouthLaborResponsive Government

By Ken A. Epstein

The Oakland Post has been hearing community concerns that Army Base Master Developer Phil Tagami of CCIG may have been trying to undermine the city’s new trash and recycling company – California Waste Solutions (CWS) by keeping the company waiting to move ahead with the construction of its new facility at the North Gateway of the Oakland Army Base.

CWS has already put up $600,000 to show its commitment and was supposed to take possession of the Army Base property in 2013. Now, the company is being told it will get the land in 2016, though some people close to the project says it will not be turned over until 2017 or 2018.

According to Post Publisher Paul Cobb, he has heard from many sources that, “The developer in effect is saying he can’t give CWS the North Gateway, and there seems to be no one in this administration that is taking control of this project. They just seem to listen to whatever Tagami says.”

Phil Tagami

Responding, Tagami sent an email to the Post, saying, “It is in all parties interest to get out of the ground as soon as possible.” Tagami’s statement is printed in full at his request on the Post’s website at

Paul Cobb

CWS says it will take about 18 months to build its $80 million facility at the North Gateway section of the base – 27.3 acres that has been set aside for indoor recycling facilities and an additional seven acres for truck parking.

A key part of the company’s operations, the CWS facility will dedicate 200,000 square feet to process and transfer the various components of the city’s trash stream – composting, organic materials and recyclables like paper and metal.

The site will also house the truck corporation and maintenance yard and become the new headquarters for CWS and its employees.

Until CWS takes possession of its property and builds the facility, the company has arranged with East Bay Municipal District (EBMUD) to utilize some of its property.

People close to the Army Base project have suggested that Tagami and CCIG have never wanted to give any property to recyclers – Cass metals and CWS – even though the City Council voted to give them space on the base, said Cobb.

The problem, says Cobb, is economic. Tagami has been hired to be the city’s agent but is also a private businessman who will make less money if property goes to CWS.

“Any space that is turned into a warehouse is a revenue for the city and revenue for CCIG (Tagami),” he said. “When recyclers get a lease, there is no revenue for Phil – there is just rent for the city.”

“ I’m hearing that his financial interests as an individual are in conflict with the city and its overall goal,” which is to use a portion of the base property for CWS, Cass metals and OMSS, to get the recyclers and truck parking out of the West Oakland community, Cobb said.

Cobb noted that if the city had structured an arrangement with Tagami that is similar to the $1.5 million payment to the city that it required from CWS, Tagami would be paying the city for the privilege of receiving the contract, rather than the city subsidizing him at the same time he is benefitting.

Cobb says it is in the interests of the city to turn the base property over to CWS on or before July 1, 2015, but that seems to be opposite for Tagami.