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Fremont Council Wrap

Centerville Redevelopment:

Well, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a bait and switch, but it definitely was a switch. Last October Blake Hunt Ventures was selected to develop the city’s vacant 6.6-acre site in Centerville into a retail center, anchored by a supermarket. That fizzled, but Blake Hunt survived. On Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to negotiate exclusively with the development firm on a completely different project with nearly 300 apartments, a pool, and more than 30,000 square feet of retail space.

Anu Natarajan and Bob Wieckowski never wanted the supermarket plan, so they were happy. Mayor Wasserman and Councilmember Bill Harrison seemed OK with it. Councilman Steve Cho seemed downright opposed until he voted in favor of it.

The folks from Centerville, who last time this was discussed said they didn’t want anyone there making under $80,000 a year, didn’t show up for this one.

Fences and walls:
The city is going to print a guide for residents who bought a home along a major roadway like Paseo Padre only to find that the fence put in by the developer is now starting to fall apart. Sorry, the fence is on private property, and the city has no intention helping pay for new fences even though some of the ones falling apart are a major eyesore.

Mega Homes
I’ve been asked not to call them Monster Homes, and I’m trying to oblige. The council did what they said they were going to do. Short moratorium on new two-story homes and additions in Mission Ranch and Glenmoor followed by new development standards.

Affordable Housing
Acting as the Redevelopment Agency, the council approved a $3 million loan for Allied housing to buy a 1.6-acre parcel at 3615 Main Street to build a 55-63-unit affordable housing development.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy
Good news: The city got a good interest rate on bond-like financial instruments that were issued just before Wall Street went kaput. Also, the city is using dirt unearthed from the big grade separation project to fill a big hole at the old swim lagoon. The deal should save the city about $500,000, Annabell Holland says.

Matt Artz

  • http://www.charles4council.com charles

    Another great example of top down planning. Sorry I missed this one, but I doubt my opinions would have changed the vote. More apartments? Another strip mall? Yuucck!

    Problem #1 : developer is there for quick cash. Apartments, and rentals are a good investment in a crashing home market. Not surprising.

    Problem #2: the developer does not intend to live in the neighborhood they will build. There is no longterm vestment. Nor do I believe would they want their kids to buy and live there…

    Problem #3: The development most likely will interrupt keep the scale, history, architecture, and surrounding residential life of the immediate area with this project. So this stretch of Fremont Blvd. will be another block-long eyesore and add more dissimilar, fragmentary elements to old Centerville, adding to the norm of sprawl.

    Idea #1: The centerville railroad station, weekend faarmer market, Dale’s Hardware, shuck’s radiator, Boogie’s pet food, and church cemetary proprietors could provide an architectural bases for the this particular stretch of Fremont Blvd.

    Idea #2: Rather than cash strapped city council and appointed planning commission, the property owning neighbors and businessmen should be the first tier and polity regarding what happens here. They should insist on a theme that complements their store fronts and district history.

    This is a BIG development that carries no personal liability or long-term, vested concern in how it impacts the immediate Centerville neighborhood. This is why it’s not the same as a small owner.

    In my mind BIG development stands in a differnt category from a small owner who may want to improve their shop front, open a residential business, or build a ‘monster house’. etc. This deserves more freedom. But a corporation deserves greater scrutiny since it’s long term goals are not the same as a proprietor living there.

    Idea #2: Block and vote down this development. Its another loser. Will add nothing to Centerville or existing ownership in that district. Anyone can come up with more stip malls and apartments! Leave the corporate developer with the choice to subdivide the land into small parcels and sell each indivdually– or work with a neighborhood committee who are sensitive to Centerville life and identity.

    Just throwing out ideas. Not entirely dogmatic.

  • Californiaguy

    Another Example of Our City Councilmembers Ignoring the voice of the people.
    We need a Change.
    I see some political cover because of the failed Redevelopment Agency (The City Council) and the up coming election.

  • http://www.charles4council.com charles

    I think we can make a difference, but will take a couple election cycles. People need to get organized in their neighborhood, start their own groups, and motivate others..

    see my website: http://www.charles4council.com

    mostly an ‘idea clearing-house’. Bottom up planning, not top down, priority to ‘small’ over ‘big’. etc.
    thanks!

  • Jon Simon

    Lots of retail and apartments versus a vacant lot. Let me think about this one. The city has always been good about taking input from neighbors. It helps to have an already organized community, like Niles.

  • Matt Zinger

    I am not sure City has been good taking input from neighbors. Never with the current Mayor and his pals in office. There had been so many representations from the public about projects in different neighborhoods[Irvington, Mission, Ardenwood etc] but none had been given a thought or consideration by the City.The suggested alternatives which should have produced sustainable tax revenue base for many years had been rejected outright. Fremont is a big city and cannot afford to be a large bedroom community only.

    Before anybody supports the present City Hall blindly, think about other neighborhoods and residents too.

  • Jon Simon

    Every time I’ve heard of a project, the city has opened up to public comment and taken it into consideration. That’s part of why the Niles plaza took so long. Who is supporting city hall blindly? You guys are all in denial about anything positive done by government. From the sound of it, you’d rather live in 1950s Fremont.

  • Ron

    at this juncture i am happy that anything will fill the vacant lot. Perhaps the centerville area will see a lift with the added potential spenders in the area. Hopefully the retail will bring revenue as well.

  • bbox231

    California Guy hits this on the head – it’s election time and we’ve “fed” seeming good news to the media for the last several weeks – “The Globe” is *someday* going to have tennants – Centerville now has a plan that *someday* we’re going to implement.

    Why is it that these kinds of PROSPECTIVE developments coming into the light of day just now ??? We’ve had YEARS to make each a reality – but they stagnate – right up until election. BTW – I use the term “light of day” loosely here as both statements are PROSPECTIVE promises of something that might happen someday – and our Council and Mayor have certainly demonstrated an ability to have “plans” not realized. It is the constant delay of actions by our council that results in the kind of apathy expressed by Ron and others when they are “happy that ANYTHING” will fill this eyesore that has so much potential.

    We need to vote carefully in November – several individuals who are standing in the wings are well funded and will continue to deliver developer and civic-employee-centric policies which will result in an ever-increasing city operating budget and ever-sprawling developments with little or no control over either.

    We want our tax dollars and RDA funding spent WISELY and carefully with both delivering a PLANNED benefit to our city.

  • sonueu

    Fremont needs somebody to do something with Centerville. But Wasserman and Weickowlski and the other council members dont have a plan or a clue.

    Thamasbi and Chan are more of the same and are cut from the same “status quo” mold.

    If you care about Fremont you need to vote for Morrrissson, Bacon, and Stirling. . .. . . things will change downtown and we will begin to get some fresh and critical thiking.

  • Andrew M.

    Even better, attend the council study session next Tuesday and become part of the effort to find a solution instead merely carping from the sidelines.

    Here’s the info on the meeting…

    On 10/21 a City Council Study Session will be held on “Envisioning Fremont Boulevard.” The City’s architectural consultant, Field Paoli, will present a summary of the design ideas they developed–some specific to Fremont Boulevard, others that could apply more broadly–as a result of two public workshops in May and July. Staff will also seek input from the Council on policy issues related to streetscape design and traffic levels of service. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers and will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and on the City’s website, http://www.fremont.gov.

  • Matt Zinger

    Hello,

    The attendance and community inputs does not make a difference unless we have the right leaders who care to listen. Don’t tell that people are howling from the sidelines. Case in point. I attended General Plan Meeting and asked about housing developments and its impact on Schools. The City Staff did not even care to listen claiming that Schools are not part of City’s Plan. How can that be when Schools are very much a part of the Community. So, we got to have City leadership who can make the Staff accountable to the Fremont resident.

  • Sanday

    Morrison, Bacon, and Stirling don’t have a plan and a clue.

    If you care about fremont vote for Wasserman, Weickowlski, and Chan to get us a better downtown.

    Go Sue Chan!!!!!!!!!

  • Andrew M.

    The city staff was correct in their response. A state law passed in 1998 (SB 50) prevents planning agencies (in which the city and its planning commission are included) from denying approval of a project on the basis of the the adequacy of school facilities.

    If you are advocating the breaking of state law by our city council, then you should do so plainly and clearly. I’ve appended the relevant paragraph from the state law.

    Ch. 407 —52— 87
    (b) A public agency may not, pursuant to Division 13
    (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code or Division 2 (commencing with Section 66410) of this code, deny approval of a project on the basis of the adequacy of school facilities.

  • http://www.charles4council.com charles

    Hello sonueu,

    Matt and Andrew have brought up something important. We have a facade of citizen involvement in city decisions. Also, the problem has gone beyond ‘personality’ but is structural as well, i.e., it has been institutionalized by state law and cemented by a bureacracy that has become autonomous and top heavy.

    Sonueu, the problem is neighborhood input is virtually ignored. Neighbors typically are considered NIMBY (not in my backyward) while city planners understand the “big picture”. In this framework, you are just are just a number (with an unelightened opinion) and a component of revenue generation.

    Planners have an interest in generating expanding a tax base in order to secure their privileges. Presently, you exist to pay the salaries of the planner class, not the planners existing to serve you.

    Is there an answer?

    1. get your neighbors together and attend these city meetings. Try to at least bog down the process with inane questions since they won’t listen to your opinions. Any neighborhood group, once galvinized, needs to stick together beyond the given issue of the day. You need to stay plugged in city politics, support candidates who agree with you, and run your own, i.e., become a permanently organized constituency. This kind of local, citizen organization is the backbone of any viable reform movement. Reform movements cannot be based on personality or a single candidate, but be centered in grassroot organizations. Grassroot comes first.

    2. Remember, Fremont was incorporated to protect our five townships from the incroachment of “big” hayward. Now we need protection from the incroachment and aggrandizement of “big” Fremont, or at least the planner class. The Planners, in my mind, need to be broken, and since the problem is partly structural, people might consider government overhaul. If the planners refuse to reform or surrender power, then a return to Township government is justified given Fremont’s failure to uphold original intent and the very reasons for 1956 incorporation.

    Bottom line: if government is growing tyrannical, break it up just like any Anti-trust into smaller parts. Smaller government will make neighborhood voices bigger. It will also break the back of the planners, and hopefully the individual townships won’t repeat the mistake of rehiring more staff with all the ridiculous departments (like Human Relations) that have evolved over the years.

    Crazy? No. I don’t think so. These are structural problems we are addressing. You beat such by forming counter-structures. A counter structure may be anything between the neighborhood interest group you form to attend city meetings from Township government.

    After the election, the Minutemen will begin a campaign in the Nile and Centerville areas to not only stop some very bad developments, but also to reform government structurally.

    Meanwhile, if any of these ideas have a gleam of merit, please read more here:
    http://www.charles4council.com

    This website will later be modified to be more suitable for a Township Movement webpage rather than individual promotion of a single candidate, myself..

  • Storm Trooper

    I am responding to sonueu’s comment about Centerville.
    I am sure that a good number of Centerville residents will recall that a lot of community meetings were held (over 7 years ago)to decide on what was needed at the intersection of Fremont blvd and Thornton and a recommendation was made on which developer to select for he project (TM??)

    Well, two city council members – Steve Cho and Wasserman to be specific felt that they understood the community’s needs better and voted against the community and planning department’s recommendation and assigned the project to another developer. Well, there you have it 7 years of NO PROGRESS, wasted opportunities and a negative impact on businesses in the neighborhood. I recall that the Creamery site turned into a Florist in anticipation of the development in that area,

    It’s time to hold elected official accountable! They need to listen to what the community wants and follow through.

  • Matt Zinger

    In response to Andrew,

    Don’t support the City Staff blindly. Are you one of them? Just because of some State law, you are saying that City cannot do anything about it. If they have real intentions, they can work within the frame of law and not overburden the residents. Just look at neighboring Cities, OK. I know that everybody looks after their own interests and that is true even with City Staff. We need a new City Leadership who can make the employees serve the Fremont residents better. They should be made accountable.

  • Andrew M.

    No, I am not on the city staff though over the years I have served on a few boards and commissions. I also attend occasional city council meetings, budget reviews and the occasional Ohlone and FUSD board meetings, sometimes speaking at them. I believe making an effort to understand and improve things is far better than complaining from the sidelines. And yes, I am saying that just because some state law makes it illegal it really does tie the city’s hands. By-the-way, if you search Google on the subject you will find the same complaint about SB 50 registered by many cities.

  • SuperDuper

    Andrew -

    Tried to do a google on “SB 50″ + “california” and can’t seem to see the “complaints” you mention – not saying they aren’t there -but I cant get to them readily. Perhaps you have some specific links you can share ?

    I do see references to the bill, analysis of impact, etc., but I have as of yet been unable to find where cities are complaining. . . . . Anecdotally, I *did* find one link where where some cities were reported as “openly defiant” about some aspects of SB 50 – Livermore was mentioned.

  • Andrew M.

    SuperDuper, it takes some time to sort through the chaff, but searching combinations of terms such as california, housing, schools, planning, deny comes up with a few. Here’s one…
    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/education/chulavista/20040201-9999_z1m31schools.html

    That’s how I found the text of SB 50.

  • SuperDuper

    Thanks Andrew and I take your point that, by State Law, it is not possible for staff to deny a development simply because of perceived adequacy of available schools. I’ve read through the link you provided and it is englightening.

    I think the issue that Matt Zinger raises goes beyond simple legality, though. And it is emphasized both in Matt’s posting AND the article you supplied -Matt states that “..the staff didn’t even care to listen..” and the article you supplied states repeatedly that the solution involves careful communication between city staff and school administration -it also acknowledged that the latter was not occurring, which seems to circle back around to the same point that Matt Zinger is making.

    Concise open communications between constituency, council, and staff (and now school administration) helps. I think Matt is saying that he felt that his attempts to communicate were ineffectively handled.

    BTW – as far as “carping from the sidelines” goes – you raise a good point, we certainy can all get more involved . . . but, last time I checked, I paid my taxes to the City of Fremont in full !

  • Jim G

    Seems like Pleasanton has an interesting approach to the balancing of development and funding for schools.

    Check out this -

    http://www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us/BusinessServices/Purchasing/DeveloperFees.cfm

  • Gus Morrison

    The Pleasanton process is exactly the same as the Fremont process. Developer pays the school district fees and shows the receipt to the city.

    The ballot measure which set the fee arrangement maximum also reduced the requirement for passing bonds from 2/3 to 55%. School people generally supported the measure because of the bond vote change, with the current result.

  • Fremont Native

    Am I missing something, Mr. Morrison.
    The Fremont Unified District process is not same as Pleasanton. Until recently, FUSD was charging only $2.70/sqft based on 1970′s law. The additional money generated via developer fees is good enough only for staff overheads. But the impacted schools do not get any money for infrastructure improvements. If FUSD Board and Staff had been pro-active for the past decade, they should have generated extra revenue from the developers and that should have helped facilities across the School District. But since majority of the current school board trustees and city council members are supported by developers for their campaigns and charities, they just did not bother to negotitate to get extra monies for schools all these years.

  • Gus Morrison

    Just to clarify, Jim G. posted a link to the Pleasanton School district page telling how the fees are processed, not how much is collected. The process is the same in both places.

    As far as what FUSD charges developers, I do not know the amount, but if it isn’t the maximum the state law permits, the board and administration of the district are derelict.

  • Jim G.

    this is interesting, i had No idea how this works in Fremont.

    It seems like FremontNative knows the Fremont charge per square foot of development. But, does anybody know what Pleasanton charges ?

  • Jim G.

    found it right after I asked my own quetsion… if you follow the link to the Pleasanton school page I provided.

    I looked at the chart they provide and I dont see anything that is anywhere as low as the 2.70 that Fremont Native indicated. In fact, it seems like for most common large-scale development they might be charging several multiples of what fremont does.