I 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.