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Fremont loses another auto dealership

By Matt Artz
Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 at 2:13 pm in Uncategorized.

First it was Central Chevrolet. Now it’s Superior Nissan of Fremont.

The entire Superior Auto Group went under, including a brand new Toyota dealership in Oakland and several dealerships in Southern California. Fremont’s Nissan dealership was at the Auto Mall.

The nearest Nissan dealerships are now in Hayward and San Jose.

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  • ST

    With the loss of a second dealership, I’m wondering if the folks from Fremont Citizen’s Network have any suggestions for attracting businesses to Fremont that would contribute sales tax revenue to pay for city services and infrastructure that all citizens enjoy.

    Anyone?…..hello?

  • FremontResdiet200001

    Tesla.

    But connecting the stadium, which would drain revenues and NOT enhance it, to businesses closing due the poor economy is a non sequitur. Would having the stadium have kept the dealership open? I don’t think so.

    Thank you, come again soon.

  • Perry Masonary

    I’m not sure that it’s up to individual citizens (which is what FCN is, a grass-roots group of individuals) to go out and independently solicit businesses to come to town.

    I would assume that the City has a Community Development Director. I certainly hope that they have someone who is tasked with identifying and working with businesses who:

    (1) we should have here because they offer skilled, well-paid, full-time, benefitted, green jobs and

    (2) who want to come here.

    The problem, I believe, is that City management has been allowed to operate in a totally unsupervised environment for so long that they have become hopelessly stagnated and out of touch with the true needs of the City. It will be a long, messy process, but it’s time to drain the swamp, by whatever means are required.

    I think it would be a good start to get some people into City management who actually live in this town, so they have some concept of who and what we really are as a city. Sure, a degree in city planing will give you the smarts, but there are a lot of of “soft skills” that you also need to have to avoid becoming the next Bob Wasserman.

  • FremontGuy

    I agree w/ ST, the so called “Fremont Citizens Network” or shall we say “Fremont Citizens that don’t like Baseball Network” seem to be full of intellectual criticism, but lack the vision to suggest any alternative solutions to bringing positive change to Fremont. Hey ST, maybe we should create a group online too and complain all day, I’m sure that will bring some revenue to our town.

  • Matt Zinger

    Fremont Guy,
    I disagree with you. I am one of the diehard A’s fans who wear A’s hat and jersey whenever possible. A’s is one of the low-payrolls in Baseball that had done a commendable job in winning Division titles for so many years. I was very enthusiastic that they are moving to Fremont and be closer to home where I can take kids for a weekend home game.

    But in the end, impact of A’s on my pocketbook and quality of life made me to go the other way in opposing A’s move to Fremont. Even the present City Hall and Staff have not convinced me that it is good for Fremont in the long term. You have to blame City Hall for the fiasco and not FCN or anybody else.

  • ST

    Vehicle sales contributes a high percentage of overall revenue to the City. It was smart for Fremont to build the auto mall. However, all cities are facing declines in sales tax revenues due to fewer auto sales. When dealerships close in Fremont, it’s a significant loss in revenue.

    My question was meant to elicit responses so that I might understand what the citizen’s of Fremont, and specifically the members of FCN, would accept in terms of business development. Clearly, a professional baseball stadium was not one of them. Green jobs are great as long as the point-of-sale for any goods and services generated occurs within our city. A Tesla dealership would be great. I’m not sure that a Tesla plant would bring the same benefits.

    Now that the stadium fight is over, I’ll be interested to see how and where FCN chooses to spend their “political capital” that they’ve deservedly earned. It’s absolutely clear to me that the efforts of FCN were instrumental in getting the developer to pull the project.

    Whether FCN solely exists for the stadium issue or will become a long-term force for positive change remains to be seen.

  • http://noasws.blogspot.com NoAsWS

    FremontGuy, I don’t think the city and council spent enough effort to bring the A’s to Fremont. They were probably busily talking to the A’s and business groups, but “forgot” to raise the public awareness. It was too late when they realized they need to have local residents support first (not just Chamber of Commerce).

    Do you know what San Jose do before bringing the A’s to the city? Their city and council members will first talk to the neighborhood trying to understand and help with their concerns (if you read today’s Mercury News).

    Why many people living within 1 mile of Pacific Commons still don’t know there is a plan to build a baseball stadium? Have they consult the residents before secretly putting Warm Springs as alternative? And later even officially became the preferred site! The city asked the A’s to “mitigate” concerns with the residents; while during the closed-door invite-only small-group so-called “community meetings,” the A’s told the residents to raise the concerns to the city and council. When the residents went to council meetings and asked for help, the response was: “this is premature”, “we cannot have judgment at this point”;-( Thank you, mayor!

    Both the stadium proponents and opponents should know that the mayor and council really didn’t spent enough effort to bring the A’s to Fremont!

  • ST

    FremontResident claims that the ballpark would drain revenues and not enhance it. Where’s the proof of this? Was a fiscal impact report released for the project? Was an EIR released that analyzed the impacts to city services? Was there evidence that no mitigations could have been possible to reduce impacts? Or, was it all just based on conjecture, prediction, and perception? Or studies from other city’s ballpark plans? I saw very little factual evidence throughout this debate that related directly to Fremont. Sadly, the opportunity for this analysis is gone.

    Here’s a fact: did you know that our beloved parks are a drain on city revenues? According to the 2008/2009 budget, the Parks and Recreation budget is almost $13.5 million. $7.8 million comes from the General Fund. Only $4.4 million comes from recreation fees. It’d say that’s a drain, but I love the parks just the same, even though traffic is horrible on “music in the park days”.

    Here’s a missed opportunity: there was to be a development agreement to go along with the project. In a DA, the City can negotiate for whatever it wants with the developer: street improvements, urban design features, and even fees. I think I see a nexus between the ball park development and the need for additional fees to support athletic programs for our kids. I’ll bet that an ongoing financial contribution to the Parks & Recreation budget would sure help the bottom line during these tough economic times. Oh. Wait. Too late for that!

  • No Personal Insults Please

    ST, I attended one of the 25 guest neighborhood meetings where the Wolffs told us what they hoped to do for Fremont. BTW, there were several residents there who weren’t from the WS neighborhood. The stadium was pretty and they had ways to keep the lights and sound contained. But it was just a stadium. Unfortunately, they said they didn’t know when…if ever…the development or village part of the plan would appear. They didn’t mention any ongoing financial contribution to the Parks and Recreation division, though they said they would make donations to the schools and have fireworks. They mentioned roadblocks to neighborhood streets and extra hired security on game days but not street improvements or more money for Fremont police. I would assume that the A’s were trying to present the very best possible scenario and it was still sounding pretty risky. With that presentation, it was very hard to stay pro-A’s and I “went to the other side.”

  • Brian

    This is all a game from Wolff. C’mon, you guys don’t see it? Wolff has been in the developer business for a very long time. You would think that he has not anticipated this overwhelming opposition from the residents when he proposed the WS site? He held off the NOP with the WS site as alternative for 7 months, until the election is over. He anticipated the accusation of back-room dealing from residents. He know what button to push. Fremont Guy, Wasserman, Harrison, and others, you have all been used by Wolff. Even Fremont residents and later FCN. This is Wolff’s strategy to get to San Jose without having to build a stadium in Fremont, but still come out ahead. His ultimate goal in Fremont is to get his land rezoned for residential, where he will make an obscene amount of money.
    Keith Wolff said it in meetings that he and his father encounter resistance from residents all the time in the line of work that they do. They know people react when you get too close with a project like this.
    Wake up and smell the roses, we have been used. Wasserman, city council, Nina Moore, Dirk Lorenzo, local A’s supporter, anti-stadium supporters, everyone.
    If you don’t believe me, think about this too. What is so un-resolvable with the Big 3 at Pacific Commons. Wolff did not have to change site. Just pay off the Big 3, or relocate the stadium a bit south (hey, they were willing to change the location of stadium at the PC site in the revised NOP 2 months later), in the early stages. They didn’t have to name the WS site. They knew that the residents would not stand quiet once that NOP come out.
    Wasserman and Wolff are making FCN and Fremont residents the scapegoat for this whole thing. Seriously, think about the events that transpired in the last few months. Wolff backed out without even a fight. For someone, who is stubborn and determined, this battle was won by Fremont residents and FCN too easily.

    You know who should be blamed, everyone!
    1. FCN – for uniting the anti-stadium supporters
    2. Fremont residents who are anti-satium supporters – for voicing out their dismay and doing something about what they believe in and for not having faith in the workings of the City and City Council
    3. Fremont residents who are pro-A’s stadium – for naively trust the City to do its job and trust that Wolff et al meant what they said about determined to get Fremont to work and earn their rights to be in Fremont. Look what happened, first sign of difficulty at Pacific Commons, Wolff et al change location. First sign of difficult at Warm Springs, Wolff et al took off, not even waiting for the EIR to be completed.
    4. Fremont residents who are pro-A’s stadium – for believing in that you are the majority in this City, and maybe you are, but you have not done anything about it with the exception of blogging and complaining on the blogs. If you believe in this project so much, why did you not unite and form a group when FCN was formed? Why did you not research and rebuttle the data and questions that FCN has raised? FCN was created in the last month and a half, you could have too. You are a big contributor of why this project did not continue in Fremont.
    5. Fremont Chamber – for not research into whether a stadium of this magnitude will actually be economic booster for Fremont. Thus far, no actual data have been presented. Only the word – “we believe it will!” Show the residents the data.
    6. Mayor, City Council, City Manager, Planning Commission – for not doing their diligence and their job; for believing that once elected or appointed, they are far and above all of their constitutents that elected them into office; for believing that there are no force within this City that will stand up to them; and worst of all, for beliving in Wolff, when he said that he is determined to make it work in Fremont.
    7. Wolff et al – for being good at what they do; for knowing how to push buttons to get their way

    Supporters of A’s stadium in Fremont, would you feel the same if it was a Warrior stadium or a Raiders stadium in Fremont? Would you think that these would be of economic benefit to Fremont? Regardless of sport, a stadium is a stadium if indeed a stadium will bring economic boost, correct?!? Therefore, it is not about baseball, and it is not about the A’s.

    It is about a “Stadium” in Fremont!

    Whether or not anti-stadium residents like baseball or even the A’s has nothing to do with it.

  • Doug

    NoAsWS has nailed it. It is unfortunate, but our political leaders got it bass ackwards. The Warm Springs/BART stadium “solution” was a knee-jerk reaction to the Pacific Commons fiasco; can’t build it there, then how about over here? No outreach to the surrounding community, which just happens to be some of the most expensive real estate in Fremont. How do you expect those people to react, with open arms?

    As many of you have said, Lew Wolff is a businessman and probably a pretty good poker player. When he looked at the hand he was holding he decided it wasn’t the time to raise the ante, it was time to fold and wait for another deal.

  • FremontResdiet200001

    ST and others who keep asking FCN to suggest an alternative, you still miss the point. Sure car dealerships make the city significant tax revenue (well, $0.0075 per taxable dollar spent), but stadiums do not. You want proof? There is lots of proof out there.

    1) Take a look at all of the economic studies on the FCN website. Significantly, those studies analyze actual historical data. In contrast, stadium promoters/supporters all provide forward (that is expected) studies that do not try to show net economic impacts. Additionally, they do not try to address city expenses.

    (2) Look at the raw numbers for just the stadium. I posted in another spot, but the net tax revenues from just the stadium were on the order of $240k for an entire year! How is that a great benefit when that won’t cover the costs of just 2 police officers!

    (3) Impacts upon local retail — there is no local retail at the WS site. The zoning changes that were requested would also not allow retail establishments to be placed there, nevermind all of the existing unoccupied land would need to go to the stadium and parking lots.

    All of the historical data shows that the net impact upon local retail, when you look at an entire city, are zero — that total spending in the city remains the same. Yes, some businesses right near the stadium have increased sales, but other businesses in the city lose business as people with set spending amounts spend near the ballpark and not at other parts of town.

    Also, look at the reason for the big box stores complaints. They do not want the traffic there. Stadium supporters say the big box stores should welcome the stadium because they will bring fans who will purchase things at the those stores. The stores, however, know better and realize from actual data that fans will not buy things at Costco, Lowes, or Koehls, and instead the traffic brought about by the stadium will drive away business that would otherwise come to those stores — will you want to fight traffic on a weekend to hit PC Costco, or just go somewhere else? These box stores have read the studies, they have conducted them themselves, they understand that many local businesses will suffer from a stadium.

    Stadium supporters — since you ask what does FCN suggest about bringing in other businesses, what is your business case for the stadium? Not just conclusory fantasy statements like “it will increase jobs and business in the city,” but actual plans and facts?

    I am confident that you cannot make such a case as the actual historical data all demonstrates that stadiums are a drain upon cities — they are a consumption expense rather than an investment with a positive economic benefit.

  • FremontResdiet200001

    ST, you also asked about what FCN will do next. I do not know, but I understand that it wants to continue to work with the community to support rational and reasonable growth.

    For me, rolling up my sleeves and looking at how the city council works was an eye opener. Really looking at the economics of stadiums, city finances, funding, etc. has given me great concerns about how the city runs itself.

    Reasonable and well-thought out growth is the key. I do not have a planning degree, or know much about city planning, but I can read financial statements and economic reports to understand when they do and when they do not make sense. For example, as it stands, if the ballpark village was built as proposed without the stadium, I am not sure how Fremont will continue to operate. 3150 households will actually bring in more like 2500+ school age children (data shows 85% of households have children under the age of 18). The A’s economic report assumes only 600 school age children. How will a single elementary school really address the 2500 kids as you will have jr and high school students in that bunch and we already are pretty stuffed in our schools.

    Where will funding for city services for schools, police fire, etc. come from? Since this is redevelopment land, the increased property tax revenues will go to the redevelopment agency and not to the city’s general fund. That means the city will need to find other funding sources for these critical services. And remember, property taxes are the largest source of income for the city (~40%), with sales taxes 2nd. Sales taxes also only come in at 0.75% of every taxable dollar spent in the city. So for every $100 spent in the city, the city only gets 75 cents.

    I am not opposed to the development, but I would like to see a true plan for how the city will deal with these issues. Perhaps a staged development with smaller sets of residences built over a number of years. Maybe more developer contributions. I do not know, but something will need to happen if the city wishes to continue to offer adequate services to its existing residents.

    It is all about reasonable growth and development.

  • Annie

    ST (#8) You got my attention. Parks and Rec spend 13.5 million for 1 year? That seems really high. What do they spend it on? I’m curious.

  • bbox231

    ST wants to create an analog between the value of our parks and recreation and the construction of a private MLB ballpark in our midst ??? ST wants to suggest that the communal value received is comparable ????

    I’m sorry – this kind of logic and reasoning can only be described as foolish. Again and again, those that were proponents of this plan reveal a foolishness that I can only presume got us this far afield in the first place.

  • Annie

    There is no comparison. I just want to know if those numbers are accurate. Is this an example of wasteful over-spending, I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking ST since he provided the numbers.

  • bbox231

    Annie -

    I understood you question of ST.

    THere’s a great deal of publically available fiscal information through a variety of government resources.
    I dredged this up several years ago and it’s pretty dated right now – just an example of what you can find out there if you have some time.

    http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/gc024x4.pdf

  • bbox231

    Here is another resource if you wish to do comparisons of various California cities and their spending.

    The California Leave of Cities is a good resource of a lot of info and is more current than the ’02 census data.

    http://www.californiacityfinance.com/#SPENDING

  • ST

    Annie, the 2008-2009 Adopted Operating Budget is on the City’s website. Here’s a link: http://www.ci.fremont.ca.us/CityHall/Departments/Finance.htm. Parks & Recreation begins on page 142.

    My point wasn’t to connect the ballpark with Parks&Rec. The point was to show that valuable community services are not usually 100% cost-recovery enterprises and that the money to pay for them has to come from somewhere. Fremont lost an opportunity, in my opinion, to study a possible development that could have provided resources and other benefits to the City (through a Development Agreement, EIR mitigations, and/or conditions of approval), opportunities for business-to-business goods and services exchanges, and tax revenue.

    So, what should Fremont focus on next? A larger automall? More hotels? A vibrant, walkable downtown that attracts people from all over the area?

  • Annie

    Thanks ST for the website. Got me. I really don’t know what Fremont should focus on next. Maybe at least get some good theaters built at PC for starters. This might keep people in town at least the kids would be closer to home. Money is tight today, so I don’t see anything happening for quite awhile. I always thought that the stretch on Mission Blvd by Ohlone College and the Mission Church could have been made into a quaint area for shops, maybe an outdoor restaurant,etc…That is if someone had vision. Look at it today. Nothing spectacular there in my opinion.

    Thanks Bbox231 for the websites, too. I will look at them when I have time.

  • FremontResdiet200001

    ST, I do not think that people will disagree that some city services or activities do not include 100% cost recovery. You seem to understand that comparing the stadium to a park is not an valid comparison (public park open to all without fees and for the public benefit compared to a private enterprise requiring admission fees for the benefit of the team owners).

    A discussion of what should now go “there” is really a useless discussion as the fight over the stadium is about a single development.

    Basically, is the city better off with or without the stadium? If the stadium is not a “positive” investment, then the city should not pursue it as it is better off status quo rather than spending money it does not have.

    The city should be spending money seeking out and attracting corporate entities to set up shop in Fremont. Use the money and tax breaks it was willing to provide to support the stadium to attract companies.

    Develop PC further and offer tax and other incentives to large chain stores (Macy’s, Nordstroms, etc.) to build up a retail environment at PC. Make PC a hub of retail and restaurants. Perhaps add a multi-screen movie theater there, although such a theater would be bounded by Great Mall to the south and Union Landing to the north.

    Focus upon brands what people want/need. We do not need another Walmart or Lowes/Home Depot, but there has to be other stores that we could use in this area.

  • Annie

    Fremont Res,
    I was trying to say keep the money in Fremont by having a theater in Fremont even though there is one in Milpitas and Union Landing. It will probably never happen though because of the other two theaters and people aren’t going to movies as much. Macy’s is doing
    poorly and there is one at Newpark Mall so I’m sure they wouldn’t be interested. I heard they tried to get a Nordstroms to Fremont, but they weren’t interested. Most Nordstroms are near high-end shops and I don’t even know how well they are doing today. Westfield shopping center is doing poorly. Good luck trying to figure this one out. Let’s see Whole Foods isn’t interested, so what’s left?

  • Fremont Resident 200001

    Annie,

    I agree with you totally. There are substantial problems, particularly right now with the state of the economy, with attracting new retail outlets. And as you state, many of the standard options are already present nearby.

    I do not have a quick solution. I would hope that someone who actually does this professionally can analyze what stores could benefit by being in Fremont, and how their presence could benefit Fremont.

    In times like these, it is probably just a wait and see who survives, and then once the economy begins to pick up again, aggressively pursuing the ones you identify. After all, you do not want to attract a new franchise just to have it close a few months later (a la Mervyns in Newark).

  • Fremont Lifer

    Fremont managed to chase the Grocery Outlet out of town; too “down market” for our image, I suppose. Now they have one store in Newark and two in Hayward. I hear that they’re doing pretty well under the current economic circumstances.

    http://www.theunion.com/article/20090209/NEWS/902079997/1005/NONE&parentprofile=1053&title=Discount%20store%20booms%20amid%20depressed%20economy

    Also, has anyone else noticed that Newark never seems to have large numbers of citizens protesting at their City Council meetings? Their mayor has been in office since Moses was a boy (he’s currently serving his sixteenth consecutive term), but I haven’t heard of any recall efforts against him. Maybe it’s because he does his job and doesn’t insult the citizenry.

  • Annie

    FR: 100% agreement. Sit tight and see what happens. I have the feeling even the professionals don’t know what to do.

  • La Boca

    Great discussion; but, what’s sad to me is that City Planning Staff is currently updating the General Plan where all these ideas should be under discussion in a more thorough PUBLIC PARTICIPATORY PROCESS?

  • tbone

    San Jose has a public participation policy that address General Plan updates among other things. (see link below and copy).
    Mayor Wasserman and his clones likes to fly things under the radar without the public’s input. Public input to Wasserman is giving each speaker no more than two-minutes at the council meetings.

    http://www.sanjoseca.gov/planning/pdf/Public%20Outreach%20Policy.pdf

  • La Boca

    Great work Tbone! I particularly liked:

    “Where a proposed private or public development may be of significant interest, the Council’s experience is that extensive public outreach efforts can improve communications, alleviate concerns, and clarify misunderstandings or points of contention that typically arise at a Public Hearing occurring much later in the
    process. Timely and informed community involvement results in better projects and decisions.”

  • Gus Morrison

    It’s all well and good to talk about what the city ought to put in Pacific Commons or other commercial areas, but remember, the city doesn’t put things anywhere. Nothing happens until someone writes a check for construction. Fremont has an active Economic Development Department which works hard to facilitate business development, both in seeking businesses to locate here and in helping them through the process of getting established.

    In many cases, what one wants just can’t happen. For instance, movie theaters. We have the Cinedome in town, old and probably outdated. The owner of it, and the Cinedome in Newark, has had a plan for at least 6 years to build a new theater above Red Robin in Newpark and then to close both Cinedomes. The economics of movie theaters is such that they compete for films and the firm that can generate the most money gets to show the movie. With theaters in UC, Milpitas, and either the old or new theaters in Fremont/Newark, it is tough for others to compete.

    In other economic development ideas, traditional shopping centers are not doing well and old style anchor tenants (Sears, Macy’s, etc.) are also not doing well. A few years ago, the only retailer really doing well was Kohl’s. Since they pretty much competed with Mervyn’s, I imagine they will also do well. Life style centers, based around things other than traditional anchors, things like Barnes and Noble or REI type stores, are more successful today. The Emeryville Market is an example. People go there, park their cars, and wander around, stopping to eat or drink.

    Often a major retailer will not come to a city without some financial contribution from the city. Where there is redevelopment, there is a possibility of some help, generally with infrastructure, but often the requests are exhorbitant. In Buffalo, Bass Pro Shops, a unique fishing oriented concept selling everything from hooks to boats and motors, is getting a subsidy of something around $60 million from the city. Other stores look for significant contribution.

    After spending lots of hours in workshops and seminars, the consensus is that, if you want commercial development in your city, the best thing to do is to find a resident of your city to open a busines, then help him grow and prosper. Locally owned businesses withstand downturns better than chains, they advertise and spend locally, and they give back to the community. If you look at who gives back to Fremont the most, you will find Dale Hardware, NUMMI, Fremont Bank, and Fremont Flowers on the donor list of almost every non profit in Fremont. So, look for local folks when you are spending your precious dollars. They stay local and help in lots of ways.

  • Fremont Lifer

    Gus – I’m curious, do you know how one would become more familiar with the activities of the Economic Development Department? I don’t recall ever hearing about any community outreach from that department. I do believe in your idea that a city’s best bet is to find local residents to open businesses, but are you aware of what steps the Economic Development Department is taking to reach out to residents? Is that done through the Chamber of Commerce or what? Thanks.

  • Gus Morrison

    The Economic Development department works mostly with businesses, recruiting through various trade shows and organizations and helping existing businesses through workshops, a business newsletter, and through working with commercial real estate people. Their contacts are usually through business organizations such as the chamber of commerce.

    They do good work, most of it unseen by the public but appreciated by the business people they help. You can check out their page on the city’s web site.