Friday, November 30, 2007

Council approves Mission project

Acting against the wishes of a standing-room-only crowd, the City Council has approved a six-story development heralded as a gateway to Mission San Jose and suggested that Fremont's days of suburban sprawl development are coming to a close.

In a 4-1 vote taken after nearly two hours of public comment Tuesday night, the council approved a mix of 158 condominiums and retail shops on an undeveloped 12-acre parcel at Sabercat and Durham roads, just east of Interstate 680.

The project had galvanized neighbors — 600 people signed petitions against it — who argued that its buildings towered above the surrounding single-family homes; its location adjacent to an earthquake fault, power lines and underground gas pipes posed major safety hazards; and its 300 residents would exacerbate traffic congestion on Auto Mall Parkway.

Neighborhood opposition also was fierce last month when the Planning Commission rejectedthe project — a decision the council effectively overturned.

In siding with San Jose-based developer Michael Luu, council members cited the specter of global warming and projected state population growth to support their decision for taller, more densely populated developments, even near neighborhoods comprised of single-family homes.

"In the time that I've been in Fremont, the population has doubled — and it's going to double again, whether you like it or not," Mayor Bob Wasserman said. "Fremont is going to see

"In the time that I've been in Fremont, the population has doubled — and it's going to double again, whether you like it or not," Mayor Bob Wasserman said. "Fremont is going to see high-rises, it's going to see street cars — all the things we said we never wanted."

high-rises, it's going to see street cars — all the things we said we never wanted."

"The question in my mind," said Councilmember Bob Wieckowski, who brought up global warming, "is do we make a decision to move forward with something that has some benefit ... or do we continue with the standard development plan?"

Councilmember Anu Natarajan cast the dissenting vote. She said the project didn't fit the neighborhood and was too far from public transit to earn support on environmental grounds.

Opponents didn't rule out challenging the council's vote in court.

Most nearby residents would have supported a smaller development that, project opponent Ravi Pathman said, wouldn't have further clogged roads and strained city services.

"The council voted for development at any cost," Pathman said. "They want to be a big city and bring in the (Oakland) A's, but they can't provide basic services."

Luu said he was ready to work with neighbors on the project's retail component, which is slated to include a high-end grocery store.

"This project represents what the future of Mission San Jose will be," he said.

Luu hopes to break ground no later than this summer and expects the project to take about 18 months to complete.

The city approved a 105,000-square-foot shopping center for the site in 2000, but that project never moved forward.

Luu took control of the property three years ago and began work on the current plan, which will include a 55,334 square feet of commercial and retail space in four main structures on 12.2 acres, health club, 158 condos, a park and nearly 700 parking spaces. The four main structures would be 65 feet tall with a 20-foot tower on top, signifying a gateway to the Mission San Jose neighborhood.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

City, schools continue talks about developer impacts

In an effort to solve the puzzle of surging enrollment and fees that developers should pay to compensate for added students, Fremont City Council and Fremont Unified School District's Board of Education will begin discussing the situation at every quarterly joint meeting.

The two panels met Nov. 19 to finish a previous discussion cut short at a joint meeting on May 27.

At that meeting, the district presented several options to balance student enrollment at all of its campuses.

Options included redistricting school attendance boundaries, setting up new classrooms and facilities, eliminating class-size reduction or placing schools on multi track, year-round schedules.

In addition, the panels were supposed to discuss developer impact fees, but due to prior commitments, some board members claimed to have, discussions did not occur.

On Monday, school board members voiced concerns over plans for the Patterson Ranch development near the Coyote Hills, which had been presented to the city council Nov. 13.

Many board members said they were worried that when the development enters the construction phase, 800 homes proposed would be completed and filled well before any planned elementary school is built.

Boardmember Lara York was also concerned with the proposed distance of the school from the residential units.

Developers have proposed building the homes in the project all on the eastern side of Ardenwood Boulevard, while the school, parks and open space areas would be on the western side.

"We're trying to make elementary schools that are walkable for many students," York said. "We do have concerns with residential units on one side of Ardenwood and a school and churches on the other.

"We want to make sure that if residential can be built, so can a school," she added. "Having that assurance is important."

Board members reiterated that if homes were built before a school, students generated from the development would be forced to attend nearby schools like Forest Park Elementary School, which school officials say is already facing overcrowding.

The board said it did not want that to happen.

Boardmember Larry Sweeney noted the proposed footprint for the school in the Oakland Athletics' Ballpark Village plans. He said the team has proposed a four-acre site for the school.

However, Sweeney suggested four acres ideally weren't enough for an 800-student elementary school. He added many campuses in the district are at least seven acres in size to accommodate the school, play areas and parking.

Sweeney implored the city to work with the district in possibly convincing the A's to increase campus acreage.

"When it comes to school size and footprints, we ask the council to look at the school board as a full partner," he said. "If we don't get what we need at the beginning it will be a burden to the district, as well as the taxpayer."

Councilwoman Anu Natarajan suggested the district consider multi-story buildings on its campuses to combat the small footprint of the new school site.

School board President Nina Moore said the district was looking into that option for the A's ballpark village campus. She added the district would also install multi-story modular rooms at Warm Spring Elementary School because there is no room for students at that campus.

Vice Mayor Bob Wieckowski said developer impact fees are a main source of funding for school districts, and wanted to know if there was any other option to help with funding besides the district's proposed alternatives or a bond measure.

Wieckwoski recalled Proposition 13, which voters approved in 1978 to set limits to property taxes and to deny future increases. Property taxes are another funding source for school districts, and without increases, funding is the same each year.

"Maybe we need to start thinking about a bond measure," he said.

Moore responded by saying that a bond measure would not be beneficial to all district constituents.

"One challenge we face is that we are not overcrowded all over town," she said. "That's why we won't get all our voters to approve new buildings, because some of (the buildings) won't help them.

"We need to communicate with the city that a message needs to be given to developers that some areas in Fremont just have no room for more students," she added.

Both panels agreed that meeting quarterly instead of semi-annually to discuss the issue would help solve the problem more efficiently.

"As a result of quarterly meetings, I'd like to see a plan of action," Councilman Steve Cho said. "It's nice to get together and talk about (the problem), but we need to take action so we know we have the tools to deal with these issues."

Mayor Bob Wasserman said an option might be to go to the state level for advice.

"I think the next time we have a meeting on this topic, we should invite our local legislators," Wasserman said. "The best we can do is to keep going around in circles, and we don't have the means to solve this. If we want to solve this, we ought to ask those who have the means, and they're at the state level."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Development of Patterson Ranch advance

The first step toward city approval for the Patterson Ranch development was completed during a Fremont City Council work session Tuesday.

After years of public input and debate over the site of the project, city council was presented with a project and a development agreement for the ranch.

City staff said a plan had been submitted, and is now considered complete for processing and review.

Likewise, the environmental review process for the project has also begun.

The council's Nov. 13 work session was to initiate an entitlement request for a Fremont General Plan amendment, a preliminary planned district rezoning, and a development agreement for approximately 101 acres of land east of Ardenwood Boulevard.

The project would include construction of 800 residential units, in six varying types, and 25,000 to 50,000 square feet of neighborhood commercial uses, reports state.

The residential units would occupy 83 acres of the site, in the northern end of the property, along with commercial space on 2 acres of the site.

Additionally, a 3.2-acre park public square would be incorporated as part of the planned district use. Private parks would be built, taking about 7.4 acres. The project would also include 5.6 acres of trails and connections.

About 10 acres would be set aside for two religious facilities as well.

The staff report indicates that the development agreement would allow for the project to be built over a 15-year period.

Interest in creating a project for the site began in 2004, and the Patterson family submitted an application in 2005.

After six months of community outreach, the family spent another eight months revising the project.

However, by November 2006, Measure K was placed on a ballot to keep a portion of the Patterson Ranch free of heavy development.

About 13,000 residents signed a petition last year to put the measure on the ballot, but the initiative was quashed by more than 65 percent of the vote in November.

Open space advocates aimed at keeping developers from building 1,276 housing units, and 20,000 square feet of commercial space on 520 acres west of Ardenwood Boulevard.

After the measure's defeat, the applicant decided to move forward on smaller projects, and keep the residential development on the eastern side of Ardenwood Boulevard.

The development will still be built just north of a vacant piece of land currently owned by Cargill Salt, and east of the Coyote Hills Regional Park.

The entire project site stretches from the Union City border to the Cargill-owned property, which is located along Route 84.

Scott Ruhland, a city planner, said Cargill has an industrial user lined up for the property, but that the company will not disclose who that might be. Adjacent to Cargill's property is the Dumbarton Quarry, which has ceased operations.

Ruhland said quarry operators are in the process of removing equipment and rock, and will turn the land over to the East Bay Regional Park District.

Currently, Ruhland said the project is in a scoping period, which will end Nov. 20. He added a draft environmental impact report for the project should be ready by February.

Many residents in attendance were pleased with the Patterson family's ability to listen to the concerns of the public. Residents also said they appreciated how the family revamped the project to meet those concerns.

Greg Simas, the pastor at Harvest House Church, said the new development could provide a new home for his congregation.

Josh Roder, another pastor with Morning Star Church, said the project has addressed both community and economic concerns.

"We feel the plan not only meets the rights of the owners, they've been very proactive in meeting the needs for the community," he said.

Newark resident Howard Harter and Union City resident Richard Stormo said the fields provided by the Patterson development would give Tri-City youth much needed, safer facilities to play on.

Despite strong community support early in the development stage, opponents still raised concerns over the project.

Dan Ondrasek, a member of the Friends of the Coyote Hills, had a number of questions for both the city and the applicant.

"Development is development is development," he said. "This doesn't belong west of Ardenwood. Why doesn't this combine parking? You're paving paradise and putting in not one, but six parking lots.

"You're putting schools on an island separated by six to eight lanes of traffic," he added. "Why is Fremont burdening Ardenwood residents with more high density housing? Why are Fremont residents resigned to accept this?"

Resident Ann Rice said many of the amenities, such as the fields and the schools were inappropriately placed. She said placing playing fields in the middle of an open space area breaks the project into divisions.

"This also puts a community park way out on the periphery of Fremont, where people have to drive a long way to get to it," Rice said. "There must be a better place for (the park)."

Rice also noted there was no written guarantee in the plans that land would ever be donated to the city. In Ruhland's presentation, he claimed Fremont Unified School District was planning an elementary school and a junior high school for the site.

Rice also pointed out the district was only preparing for an elementary school there.

Other concerns came from the Ohlone elders. Carmen Saldovar, speaking on behalf of the elders, asked if discussion with them had taken place, as required by law.

"This land is Ohlone land," she said. "If you're going to give back some of it, why not give it back to the Ohlone? (Parts of the site) were not just part of the Ohlone village. They were the Ohlone village. Families want to know how this is all being handled."

Council members said they too were pleased with the applicant listening to the community.

"The biggest thing we've seen here is that development has moved to the east side of Ardenwood, and that's very important," Councilwoman Anu Natarajan said.

Mayor Bob Wasserman addressed the concern over a possible junior high school on the development.

"I know the applicant said there would be an elementary school," Wasserman said. "But I thought if a junior high isn't built, something should be written that says the space should go back to us."

Planner Ruhland said the project is now in the normal review process, and he maintained it will be presented at future Fremont Planning Commission and city council meetings.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

EMC releases VERY encouraging poll results in regard to the A's project!

A's have been working very hard this past year to reach out to the community for feedback in regard to the A's proposed Cisco Field/Ballpark Village proposal. I am very proud of the efforts I have seen the A's go to in an effort to reach out to the community and to make people aware of their project. The A's even went as far as to hire, EMC Research, to poll citizens of Fremont to see if the A's have been focusing on the concerns and issues that are most important to the citizens of Fremont.
I am attaching the press release , so you can review the poll results for yourself. I am sure you will be just as encouraged as the A's were when they first saw the results.

We support for the A's effort to build the most State of the Art facility in all of Major League Baseball, right here in Fremont!
Go A's

P.S. Make sure to tell all of your friends that share your same desire to support the A's to sign up for our A's To Fremont Support Group online at

For more info on
A's Public Opinion Presentation go online at

To: Lew Wolff, Keith Wolff, Michael Crowley
From: Alex Evans, Tom Patras
Re: Fremont Research
Date: October 17, 2007

EMC Research, Inc., recently conducted a telephone survey in Fremont, California.
Outlined below are some of the results and key findings from this study.

Key Findings
A strong majority support the A’s ballpark village project. When asked whether they
support or oppose the construction of a new baseball village within Fremont, 62% say
they support the project, compared to 34% who are opposed; only 4% are undecided.
Awareness of the project is extremely high, with nearly all (98%) having heard
something in the news recently about the project.

Considering nearly everyone has heard of the project, and only 4% are undecided, it is
particularly encouraging that 62% are in support of the project today. People have heard
of it and most of them like what they hear.

Fremont, along with supporting the project, has a strongly favorable opinion of the
Oakland Athletics baseball organization. When asked if they have a favorable or
unfavorable opinion of the A’s, 69% say they have a favorable opinion of the A’s,
compared to 18% who have an unfavorable opinion of the organization.

The job creation and revenue generating aspects of the ballpark project are
important to people in Fremont. When told the project would create hundreds of local
jobs, 73% indicate they are more likely to support the project. Similarly, when told the
project will generate revenue for Fremont city services, 72% say they are more likely to
support the project.

The construction of a new elementary school is another popular component of the
project. When asked to rate “a brand new, technologically-advanced elementary school”
on a 1 to 7 importance scale, 69% rated it as a 5 or higher.

Fremont places high importance on the potential transit connectivity of the project.
Respondents were asked to rate certain components of the project on a 1 to 7 importance
scale. Seventy-four (74%) rated the potential for transit options, “including connection to
BART, CalTrain, and ACE Train service,” as a 5 or higher, including 53% who rated it a


The research suggests that the Oakland A’s project is popular in Fremont. By and large,
people like what they have heard about the project so far and generally believe it would
be a good thing for Fremont.

People like the many positive aspects that the project brings to Fremont, including: job
creation; generating revenue for the city; a new state-of-the-art elementary school; new
parks and landscaped open spaces; and potentially expanded transportation options.


The sample for this survey consisted of 400 registered voters in the City of Fremont,
California. A pre-test of the survey was conducted with 25 voters on September 24,
2007. The remaining interviews were conducted September 25 through September 27.
The overall margin of error for this study is +/- 4.9%.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Third poll results

Voting for the third is now closed. Here are the results:
  • A. Westfield Mall ( Valley Fair) - 3 (50%)
  • B. General Growth ( Newpark Mall) - 0 (0%)
  • C. Mixed-use development - 3 (50%)
  • D. 1 stories Shopping Center - 0 (0%)
  • E. 2 stories Shopping Center - 3 (20%)
  • F. Entertainment Center - 3 (0%)
  • G. None - 0 (0%)
The winner is Westfield Mall ( Valley Fair) and 2 level Shopping Center/mall.
People want is Mixed-use development. Finally people want is Entertainment Center.

The next poll topic is What do you want the City of Fremont turned into?

The question:

What kind of shopping center, should they build in Fremont?

  • A. Westfield Mall ( Valley Fair)
  • B. General Growth ( Newpark Mall)
  • C. Mixed-use development
  • D. 1 stories Shopping Center
  • E. 2 stories Shopping Center
  • F. Entertainment Center
  • G. None

If you like, you can post a comment here to go with your vote

A's submit ballpark application to Fremont. What's next?

Almost a year to the day that the Oakland Athletics publicly announced plans to move their baseball team to Fremont, team officials submitted a formal application Thursday to build a stadium with a surrounding neighborhood of retail stores and housing.

The "Ballpark Village" would be sit just west of the Pacific Commons shopping center, near Interstate 880 and Auto Mall Parkway. The stadium, with just 32,000 seats, would be the smallest of the 30 Major League Baseball parks. Retail stores - including restaurants and a hotel - adjacent to the stadium would be open both during game times and non-game times. The mixed-use area also would include apartments built on top of the stores.

A's officials say they hope to have the stadium ready for the 2011 baseball season.

Village would create a brand new neighborhood

Approximately 3,000 lofts, apartments, and homes eventually will be built in the complex, with most of the housing in areas south and west of the stadium. The residential area of the Ballpark Village also would include a new elementary school and several small parks.

In previous discussions, A's officials proposed an "urban-style", multi-story school that would sit on just four acres - about a quarter of the footprint of many suburban schools. Fremont Unified School District trustees recently said they would prefer a more traditional suburban design for the school. In their proposed plan, A's officials say they will work with the city and school district to arrive at a "mutually agreeable size and location" for the new school.

How would those who live and work in Fremont be affected?

At their November 27 meeting, City Council members are expected to approve the hiring of a consultant to perform an environmental study of the planned Ballpark Village. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be completed before construction can begin.

The study will address possible impacts of the project to surrounding communities as well as to wildlife and natural resources where the complex would be built. The study also includes possible ways to mitigate problems that it identifies.

The EIR process is expected to take about a year and a half to complete, Fremont Economic Development Director Darren Fields said. Before it can begin, the public will be invited to a "scoping session", where they will be able to request specific issues they would like the EIR to address. The public also will have the opportunity to review and comment on a draft version of the report once it is completed. Those comments, as well as responses to them, become part of the final report that the City Council must approve at a public as part of the approval process.


With 81 regular-season home games, each attracting tens of thousands of spectators, it should come as no surprise that the most talked-about impact is traffic.

A's officials say they will encourage the use of public transportation, running shuttle buses from the Fremont BART station four miles from the stadium and the Milpitas light rail station seven miles south of the stadium. The BART shuttle will move to the new station in the Warm Springs district - about 1-1/2 miles from the stadium - once that opens.

A's officials say they also hope that the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) and Capitol Corridor rail services will build a new station at the northwest corner of the complex. That land is owned by Fremont's Redevelopment Agency.

Those who drive will be able to take one of three exits from Interstate 880 to get to the stadium. Each of the exits (Cushing Parkway, Auto Mall Parkway, and Stevenson Boulevard) would lead to a separate parking area, distributing traffic to and from the stadium. Team officials say the shops and restaurants also would help relieve congestion, as some spectators would arrive early and leave late to eat and shop.

The business end

City officials also will be discussing the financial aspects of the project with the A's management. The private negotiations will include any incentives sought by the A's, as well as an analysis of potential benefits to Fremont. Once the two parties reach agreement, the terms of the deal will be presented to the City Council at a public hearing.

Heading home

With the EIR and financial arrangements complete, the plan for the stadium and surrounding development will be discussed by the Planning Commission at a public meeting. If the city's planning commissioners approve the project, it will be sent to the City Council for final approval. The public will have the opportunity to express their views at each of these meetings.

Included with the A's formal application was a check for $700,000 to pay for the environmental study. The team also will pay for the experts in Major League Baseball and stadium deals who will represent Fremont in the business negotiations with the A's. Though arguably the most significant development in Fremont's 50-year history, Fields said Fremont is handling the project just like it would any other.

"Any developer pays for their application. If you want to build in Fremont, the general public doesn't pay," Fields said.

For more information...

Click here to read the development application submitted by the A's.

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