Best of the Beat, Part II

This one, called “Tourism in Fremont,” is from last summer, around the time when the City Council was considering asking voters to increase the hotel tax. The council did just that and the voters approved it.

Here it is:
When Councilman Bob Wieckowski first broached the hotel tax hike, he talked up Fremont as a hotspot for tourists, which generated some raised eyebrows at the press table. Other than Niles, it’s hard to think of any attraction in Fremont that would make someone book a hotel room here. It’s more of a day trip city.

So here are some suggestions for new attractions that could get more people into city hotels:

goose-poop.gifThe Central Park Goose Poop Obstacle Course
Why bother spending all those millions on a new water park when geese provide plenty of fun for free.


The Left Turn Arrow Museum
Left turn arrow traffic lights weren’t invented in Fremont, but the city has embraced them nonetheless. For some reason traffic engineers here just don’t trust anyone making a left to nudge into the intersection and complete the turn when the coast is clear. Drives me nuts. Maybe it’s time to celebrate the history of traffic signals that keep the roads so safe for pedestrians and so frustrating for drivers.

The Men’s Health Monument
I’m convinced that nothing makes Fremont officials prouder than having been named the Healthiest City for Men by Men’s Health Magazine. You’d be surprised how often the accolade works its way into city reports that have nothing to do with health. It was even mentioned in this year’s budget. To memorialize Fremont’s triumph, perhaps the city, which has doubled in population since 1970, could build a monument to its own virility. The structure above would do the trick. It could be the centerpiece of the city’s planned downtown or, even better for tourism, a new red light district.


Best of the Beat: Part 1

Am I breaking my pledge of no posts until March 23? Technically, yes.

But since we’re on break, I thought it was a good chance to rerun some of the better posts from last year.

Below are pictures of the fire that destroyed part of the Henkel Buildings on Niles Boulevard. Turned out to be arson.

UPDATE: OK, the pictures should now be visible.

Story should be online soon and in Wednesday’s paper soon enough. I hope it’s ok. My first story got lost in our new computer system so I had to write it again from scratch. I miss DOS.

Here are the pics by Bea Ahbeck and Anda Chu:









I will be away on furlough for the next two weeks.

During my spare moments when I’m not casting hexes on all the Tri-City area folks who are destroying local papers by getting their news for free online, I’ll be eating hamentashen and monitoring the blog for c-words and other foul language. I’ll start posting again on March 23.

See you in the spring and thanks for reading.



Police building prone to collapse in earthquake

When Fremont built its three-story police headquarters right next to the Hawyard fault about 14 years ago, it was supposed to withstand a powerful earthquake.

But a recently released city report found that in a significant earthquake the building could partially collapse. And in a really major earthquake there would be “a significant global probability of collapse.”

The most prone part of the building is the second level. The penthouse atrium is less prone.

The cost to retrofit the building is estimated at between $5.3 million and $11.2 million, depending on how thorough a job the city wants done. Fremont has already put the project on its wish list for the federal stimulus package.

You have to figure no one at City Hall is going to be happy spending millions to retrofit a building that was completed in 1995.

I still don’t know much about the history of the building. Apparently the contractor  put in a low bid, and then couldn’t deliver, so costs kept climbing. It was already under construction when the Northridge quake hit, which apparently demonstrated that the police building’s construction was faulty.

More on this in a few weeks.


Vector control on the prowl

UPDATE: The bees have been exterminated

Last year Fremont property owners voted to tax themselves $10 a year to join the county’s vector control district. Today it paid a few dividends. A woman riding a bicycle today in Fremont crashed into a truck that had pulled off the road because it had been swarmed by bees.

Neither the cyclist nor the truck driver got stung. Vector control was heading out to deal with the bees. Here they are:


Tri-Cities could still face water conservation measures

It was a rainy February, but the Alameda County Water District, which only serves Fremont, Union City and Newark, is still working on contingency plans that could include restrictions on water usage or even higher rates for water wasters.

So far, we’ve had about 13 inches of rainfall this wet season, compared to the average of 18 inches, Water District GM Paul Piraino said. The Sierra snowpack is about 80 percent of normal.

March will be the make or break month, Piraino said. Right now the long-term forecast for the month is lots of sunshine.

The contingency plans will probably go to the water board by the end of March, Piraino said, adding that it was too early to determine if district would recommend more voluntary conservation measures or mandatory ones.

Water usage is down 7 percent on average, though it’s hard to tell if that’s because people are being stingy or the crummy economy means businesses and manufacturers are using less of it.


Water Park

UPDATE: It appears the discrepancy is because the city’s  water tally only included the pool, while the water district was including the pool, irrigation, toilets, showers, etc. When all of that is factored in, the city thinks it would be closer to four million gallons a year, but that number is not definitive.

It’s still unclear how much water Fremont’s new water park is going to use. Earlier this year, the water district said it would be about 6.2 million gallons a year — the equivalent of 50 single-family homes.

But the city said that was way off, and that the most it would use would be about 1.1 million gallons — equivalent to about nine homes.

It turns out the district is using figures from the project’s architect and the city is using projections from the pool manager, said Water District GM Paul Piraino. He said the two agencies haven’t reconciled their numbers yet, and that, obviously, they have some concern about the discrepancy.


Return of the ubiquitous one?

Say this for Steve Cho, the former councilman didn’t spend a dime of his own money in last year’s failed bid for mayor. And, unlike most top-level candidates he ended the race with nearly $15,000 in the bank.

Cho said he didn’t spend his surplus on the election because the money came in late and he wasn’t going to do anything that could leave him with a campaign debt.

So what will he do with the money, which can only be used for campaign purposes, either his or someone else’s?  “I’m going to sit on it and wait for another opportunity,” he said.