Glenmoor and Mission Ranch

monster houseI never feel more out of place in Fremont than when the City Council debates whether large two-story homes should be allowed in the Glenmoor and Mission Ranch neighborhoods.

On one side are residents who want to protect the architectural integrity of single-story tract homes. Opposing them are people who want to build bigger houses so they can live with their mothers.

I come from a land of staircases and retirement homes. For me, the so-called “monster home” debate is like going to a sports bar and having my friends argue over whether to watch gymnastics or synchronized swimming.

Here’s a quick refresher. Residents in both neighborhoods came to the city two years ago concerned that new folks were tearing down ranches to build much bigger homes that ruined the feel of the the neighborhood and cut down on their sun and privacy.

The people building the bigger houses, most of whom are Asian immigrants, said they needed the extra space because they had their parents and children all under the same roof.

Six months ago the council sided with the tract home supporters, passing an emergency law that limits new second-story additions and new two-story homes. A few hours ago, the council agreed to continue the limits for another 18 months with new, stricter building guidelines.

Second stories will be allowed in Mission Ranch, but not in Glenmoor. Additional restrictions would limit new single-story homes to about 3,600-square-feet in Glenmoor and 4,000-square-feet in Mission Ranch. That’s a pretty big house, although the garage would count toward the total square footage and two-story buildings would have to be smaller.

Ranch home dwellers cheered the council’s vote, while those wanting the freedom to build larger homes left disappointed.

Matt Artz


  1. Matt, you and I both originally hail from the East Coast. Homes there, of comparable age, have larger yards, which sets the homes farther apart. The problem comes with trying to squeeze an East Coast home on a California-sized lot.

    Drive up Joyce Ave. and take a look at the number of McMansions that have been built there. They’re easy to spot. Every one is yellow-beige stucco, white trim and terra cotta-red tile roofs. If some architectural individuality had been exhibited it might have helped, but they still look out of place on the small lots. Their scale and proportion are out of whack. Reminds me of Baby Huey trying to sit in a kindergarten desk.

    Since it appears Mr. Lau is fortunate enough to have the income to afford such home I suggest he look into finding a larger lot rather than trying to fit 10 lbs. of poatoes in a five lbs. sack.

  2. I do think Glenmoor is a cool and interesting looking neighborhood.

  3. The Glenmoor neighborhood was here long before many of these “newbies” were. I don’t believe that it is generally old families who are coming up on their second or third generation in a Glenmoor house who are building onto them in such haphazard fashion. Given the age of these structures, many of them have been remodeled in a reasonable and appropriate fashion that maintains the quality of the neighborhood.

    If they need more room, buy the kids and/or grandma their own house. It’s not like there aren’t some on the market these days. And if you’re the guy who wants to expand his house to offer public concerts, have some consideration for your neighbors and get a commercial structure.

  4. From what I’ve seen in Glenmoor the remodels are in keeping with the area. Maybe it’s the HOA that helps maintain control. I don’t see the second-story additions like in Mission Ranch. It’s probably due to lot size and the aforementioned HOA.

    In Mission Ranch those additions are not necessarily for momma, but for brother and his family, who want their kids in the MSJ schools. Only one family can use a single-family residential address legitimately, which creates problems when enrollment time rolls around.

  5. I keep hearing from various sources that there are rules in the City about having multi-family homes, but nobody ever seems to know exactly what they are, where they are documented (Muni Code?, what one would do to report a violation or how a violation would be investigated. My neighborhood is full of them – so many people living in one house that their cars fill up all the curb space on the street. Garage conversions certainly don’t help – why does the City keep approving them? Don’t they get the same property tax from a house with a functioning garage as they do from a house with a garage converted to living space?

  6. Fremont Lifer, I can’t answer your question regarding city code, but I can tell you FUSD does conduct home visits if they believe someone is attempting to illegally claim residency at an address to enroll their child in a specific school.

  7. My father as lived in the same house in Glenmoor for 51 years. He was the first resident on the court and the only one left. Only two home have been remodeled on the court as far as the outside and they both hold the Glenmoor style and are beautiful. In my opinion the 2nd story add ons look out of place. And I agree with you Matt Glenmoor is a cool place. Just not as cool as it used to be.

  8. Lifer,

    The courts have defined “family” very loosely, removing the ability of the city to enforce many limitations on habituation. But, in general, garage conversions into living space is not permitted without replacing the covered parking space somehow. I would hazard a guess that most garage conversions were not approved by the city.

    As for cars, we once had a neighbor, a normal family with three children and nine vehicles, before all the children were drivers. Some things cannot be controlled.

  9. I had to post because usually I disagree w/ the comments on this blog by you regulars, but seems we have common ground.

    So I grew up in UC, my folks bought a home on the top of Tamarack Drive in 1956 (when UC was called Decoto). It was an area surrounded by apricot orchards and an amazing, country place to grow up in during the 70’s/80’s. The hills and endless trails of Garin Park and dry creek were damn fun for an adventurous lad like myself.

    My parents would talk about how Glenmoor was very desirable, but out of their price range ($25k). So after college and years of working in SoCal, I came back to the East Bay, got married, had a kid and like any couple looked for a home.

    We were looking everywhere, Pennisula, Mt. View, Sunnyvale and were somewhat turned off by the lack of diversity in all of those areas. We now live in a completely renovated, expanded (1 story) rancher in Upper Glenmoor near Meyer Park. We chose this neighborhood for the family oriented neighbors (several generations of families), good schools and beautiful “old school” ranch homes. I don’t mind paying my $120 bucks a year to preserve a community. The character of this hood is so great, the McMansions would just kill the appeal, so glad the City got this one right!

  10. Fremont Guy,

    I had to refamiliarize myself with Tamarack Drive. I often park on the corner of Palmetto to to use Dry Creek/Garin and always thought those homes were outstanding. Looking at zillow’s armchair appraisals, it looks like that area has taken a beating since the bubble deflated. The Tamarack area certainly looks like a bargain compared to “hillside” homes south of vallejo mills. What’s your opinion of that neighborhood?

    This looks very interesting, though the API score at Emanuele elementary is very low: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/33015-Palmetto-Dr-Union-City-CA-94587/24919932_zpid/#

  11. Hi Marty-

    Ahh yes, Palmetto Drive, use to be fun cruising down that street on my BMX, after my paper route (delivering the afternoon edition of The Daily Review that is)….

    Sadly, the neighborhood appeal of Tamarack has taken a beating as many of the homes have become rentals and pride of ownership has been sacrificed as a result, although it’s still a bit intact. 33015 was owned by one of Decoto’s original fire chiefs, he passed away about 15 yrs. ago and his son owned the property. I know this because my Dad was a volunteer fire fighter and was a good friend of his and his son went to Moreau High School with my brother.

    The problem with that property Marty is it’s right next to Chapel of the Chimes. About 3 years ago, the cometary was expanded up the hill, and right against Palmetto drive. So as long as you don’t mind sleeping next to… well, you get my drift. Think Poltergeist! 🙂

    It’s such a nice house w/ amazing views, but you’ll notice the home has been on the market for years and there is a reason for that. Butternut court has some nice properties, I thought I saw one there for sale as I still run in the Garin Hills on the weekends.

    I hope that helps.

  12. Thanks for the info, FremontGuy. The cemetery does not bother me in the slightest. Good price/sq ft and the park access, but now 33015 seems to be off the market.

    I’m going to keep an eye on that neighborhood along with all the communities skirted along the hillside as toward Hayward.

  13. Emanuele had a great staff when I taught there briefly. It has a lot of low income families, which makes the score.

  14. Interesting house you found there.

    Hayward School District has a pretty poor reputation. That doesn’t mean it’s deserved. At least property prices stay relatively reasonable because of it. I don’t know anything about Stonebrae in specific, other than what could be found with a google search.

    I’ve said it before: API scores tell more about the income and values of parents than the quality of schools. The one Hayward family I know well has used Headroyce in Oakland for their children.

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