Council Meeting Journal

The council is up and running early tonight with a discussion on future economic development.

I’ve clearly gotten a little too comfortable on this beat, because I’m wearing a sweaty t-shirt, shorts and eating my stinky homemade kimchi with tasty green lentils. I usually dress professionally, but this is the last week on the job for a longtime local reporter and he/she wanted company on a goodbye run around the lake to work off his/her goodbye pie.

The city’s long-term economic development plan is broad in scope and says pretty much what you’d expect: Good shopping, more tech companies, downtown green tech corridor, etc.

Councilmember Natarajan said the city needed to market and brand itself more aggressively. She also said she wasn’t pleased that a Goodwill second-hand shop opened at the high-profile corner of Mowry Avenue and Fremont Boulevard.

Councilmember Harrison said the city needs more entertainment, which I don’t think means more nightlife, but I’m not sure. As for the Goodwill Store, he noted that the rest of the intersection isn’t really any better: A bank, gas station, and the back of a fast food center.

Sue Chan likes green technology.

Very few details here and nothing for the council to vote on.

Wasserman notes that the city is going to have to figure out what to do with all those vacant office/industrial buildings in the south end of town that haven’t had tenants since the dotcom bust.

Next up affordable housing, which means mucho public speakers.

Several speakers are from the lefty group Congregations Organizing for Renewel. They want the city to build a youth center at Dusterberry and Peralta.

Ugh. City is wasting our time debunking myths about affordable housing. If affordable housing units are so great, how come only the nuns can build them in the Mission?

It turns out your typical very low income affordable housing tenant is a cook or electrician.

I feel like I’m in third grade.  Nap time.

Now they’re getting to the nitty-gritty: location and distribution of affordable housing.

Anu Natarajan doesn’t have an answer for how to avoid concentrating affordable housing in Centerville and Irvington.

More myth-busting. Wasserman, the former police chief, says affordable housing in Fremont hasn’t led to increased crime.

City says to get funding projects have to be close to transit and other amenities. Does ACE and Capital Corridor count as transit? Tension between city council’s stated desire to spread out affordable housing and fact that cheapest available land is in Centerville and Irvington.

Wieckowski says city needs to build affordable housing in Niles. There’s the old Henkel property near Mission and the not-so-pretty apartment complex nearby. He also wants the agency to buy up some foreclosed properties.

Matt Artz


  1. Having a gas station and a bank so prominently located on one of Fremont’s busiest intersections does not say very much about Fremont, for sure. But the Goodwill store there? It most definitely sends a message. I’ve driven relatives who have come from out of town through that area, and not ONE single person failed to comment about the Goodwill store, followed by a discussion about the recession’s impact on Fremont.

    Is this the impression about Fremont we want to leave with people– that we’re so hard hit by the economy, that we need a centrally located Goodwill store?

  2. The location of the Goodwill Store is not precedent setting. Hope Station, another second hand goods store is located just a couple blocks away on Fremont Boulevard near the corner of Walnut. It has been there for a number of years.

  3. This may well sound simplified, but what Fremont really needs are tree-lined streets.

    The type of tree-lined streets where the trees meet above it all and cover the road (not just ornamental ones on the side).

    Driving through Menlo Park and Palo Alto, I have often asked: “What makes THIS street look ‘classy’?” Often the shops and business are about the same as you would find in Fremont (more often than you would think), but the whole place feels different.

    Most of the time it’s the trees.

    Again, I do realize that this “fix” is a simplified answer to a larger problem.

  4. “Councilmember Natarajan said the city needed to market and brand itself more aggressively”

    First you have to establish a brand, then you can market it.

    So what is Fremont’s brand?

  5. The Goodwill store replaced a cell phone store, which moved to the other end of the pair of buildings. Would it have been better to keep Metro PCS on the corner and put Goodwill in the other building?

    The corner building was mostly vacant after Play It Again Sports closed.

    There isn’t a whole lot that could go in those buildings. They’re not very large, and there’s not much parking.

  6. Niles is already the most economically diverse neighborhood in Fremont, and it has achieved this status without the benefit of social engineering.

    I’m not sure what the future holds for the Henkel site, but if it is another taupe colored high density crap shack then the council can expect a monstrous level of push back from the township’s residents.

  7. Marty – what information are you using to assert the claim that “Niles is . .. the most economically diverse neighborhood in Fremont . . ” ??

    And what the heck is Bobbie W thinking ?

    I think he’s just throwing a healthy dose of sarcasm on the table as he heads out the door – – – increased term limits was a chuckle – –

    and in that same spirit of humor, here’s a look at (what I think would be ) the Niles response to Bob’s latest suggestion –


  8. Box, My personal observation. In short, I can go street by street, but there are dozens of vintages of development in Niles, lending to the great economic diversity.

    But, the long of it…

    You can buy a $1.2 M suburban rancher on the north west end, or rent an in law unit for $500/mo.

    There are modern McMansion wannabes selling for 800K built merely a few feet from dated apartments from the 70’s that rent for $1100/mo.

    Take a stroll down the letter streets –

    I st is a mix of a recently built development of SFHs that go for 700K next to victorians from the 1940’s that would go for much less.

    J st, one street over is a mix of post modern remodels across the street from unkempt and trashed homes with broken-down cars on the lawn.

    De Salle is another recently built development of SFHs, but the next street over to the south is lined with multi-unit shacks inhabited by Mexican immigrants.

    North 2nd has some beautiful ranchers and some uninspiring mid-80’s stucco boxes. Go south and you’ll see more A frames that rent for a pittance, and pseudo-Craftsman’s with detached garages that house high earning professionals.

    There’s two converted motel apartments on Niles Blvd, one near the Henkel property and the other next to Mikey’s.

    And don’t forget the old Essanay bungalows on Mission.

  9. It is kind of silly of the council to condemn the “Goodwill store.” They are an honest business just like any other. Why wouldn’t they be allowed there? The place has been vacant for over a 1 1/2 year and out of desperation the property owner rented it out to the Goodwill store to probably get some cashflow from a stable tenant. Where were the council members and Anu then? They didn’t protest an empty building. Why now after the fact are they complaining?

  10. Niles folks always over-estimate the worth of Niles. Frankly, it is a community without good access and poor transportation and hodge podge of old, random buildings.

    Because of good transportation, Centerville is best situated for affordable housing, followed by Irvington.

  11. About85% of the jobs are created by Small Business. Goodwill stores is a Small Business creating jobs.Anu and her Council wasted about 3 years time and resources marketing the brand of Oakland A’s to Fremont, even though the owner was not interested.

  12. This is an interesting tool and can provides useful information by “district” –


    You can modify the tool to examine and compare other “districts” –

    According to Zillow – the highest Niles listing is currently $945k with the lowest price condo/townhome offered at $146k.

    Similarly – Centerville’s “high” is currently $1M and their low is around $138k .

    Irvington ranges from approximately $1M to $185k.

    Using the offered price of a single-family dwelling as a basis for “diversity” – all three districts would appear rather comparable, based on this limited data.

  13. I’m not so certain that any conclusion can be made from comparing the limited sample size of properties for sale in Niles (50), or any other township for that matter.

    But yes, I’d imagine the center of the pie would be the most representative of what surrounds it. And by chance, Centerville would have a bit of everything.

    I dont think Nilseans overstate the worth of Niles, but I do think it’s one of the top 25 neighborhoods to live in the Bay Area. And it can be had at any income level.

    The average price for a SFH (if for sale) in Niles is in the low $300/sq ft, which when considering a ~900 API elementary school, renovated main st, historical character, parks and trails, and if it is right for you, it’s the best place on earth.

    Personally, if it weren’t for the schools, proximity to work and Niles, Fremont would be completely useless to me. Take one of those away, and I’m gone (hint… hint).

  14. WordPress must have had it’s way with my post. The first line should read that:

    …a conclusion can not be made from comparing the limited sample size of properties for sale in Niles (less than 7 for sale) to Centerville (about 59 for sale).

  15. Huh ?

    What are you looking at, Marty – these are nowhere near MSJ ?

    From the link I provided above –

    Here is a cut-n-paste of the Zillow listing when sorted w/Price High to Low – there are at least two more pages of listings in Niles –

    36887 Montecito Dr, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $945,555

    35201 Noel Pl, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $899,950

    35224 Noel Pl, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $875,000

    475 Barcelona Dr, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $829,950

    153 H St, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $819,950

    35655 Embassy Cmn, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $808,800

    1152 Silver St, Union City, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $799,000

    36998 Montecito Dr, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $799,000

    924 Darlington Cmn, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $798,800

    35673 Embassy Cmn, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $759,900

    35313 Terra Cotta Cir, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $750,000

    Canyon Oaks Ct, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $709,900

    427 Calistoga Cir, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $679,900

    350 Summerwood Dr, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    Make Me Move®: $679,000

    35640 Terrace Dr, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $629,999

    381 De Salle Ter, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $599,999

    36150 Easterday Way, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    Make Me Move®: $575,000

    357 Sunnyslope Dr, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $560,000

    393 Fieldstone Dr, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $559,000

    354 King Ave, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $549,000

    36621 Nichols Ave, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    Home For Sale: $529,000

    55 Blaisdell Way, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $515,000

    89 Snyder Way, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $510,000

    381 L St, Fremont, CA (Niles)
    House For Sale: $475,900

  16. Box, your link must be loading from your browser cache. The first property is see is:

    43542 Gallegos Ave, Fremont, CA (Mission San Jose)

    Zillow is horrendously inaccurate. Errors I see off the top of my head from your pasted list:

    153 H St was listed for $819K during the bubble, but sold in 2009 for half that, and it’s not for sale. 381 L St is off market (and Zillow has it mapped on the other side of town) as is 35655 Embassy Cmn. Two of those are “Make Me Move” homes, not MLS listed, one is in Union City. 924 DARLINGTON Cmn was sold in late 2009 and is not for sale (925 Darlington just came on the market though, but is not listed on Zillow)

    I cant go through them all, but Redfin is the gold standard and shows 5-6 homes in Niles, 9 if you include east of Mission.

    But we’re straying from my point – that Niles offers an exceptional level of economic diversity with not a single mandated low income development.

  17. Bbox’s was sorted high-to-low price as he said. Gallegos is at the top for the default “featured” list.

  18. Marty: I buy your basic point that Niles is diverse, I’ve made the same comment before. I think most high density low-income housing will be built nearer to transit, my guess is that Niles would get some units more like the townhouses on Washington. High density is more likely to go in near the new BART stations, including downhill from the Weibel people you love to bait.
    So… to try to put it nicely, do you feel like a NIMBY now?

  19. So… to try to put it nicely, do you feel like a NIMBY now?

    Not really. It’s inevitable that a residential development will put on the Henkel site. I think relevant commercial space would be even better, but I wont put up a fuss either way.

    What I would have a problem with is suburban-chic design, and/or being told the city council that Niles needs their feel good brand of low income housing.

  20. Just a quick note on Niles. The property on both sides of the new Niles Town Plaza is zoned for Commercial.
    That is a two story buildings with the shops on the first floor and living units on the second floor.
    I am not sure when this will be developed.
    I think the Henkle site is good for low cost housing. There will be no upscale housing there because of all the train noise

  21. Andrew Cavette is right. More tree-lined streets is what would improve the atmosphere around this town. Unfortunately this city doesn’t seem to be to keen on aesthetics.
    If it was we’d still have the coolest city hall in all of the bay area.

  22. Just remember who is now responsible for those trees. Hint: not the city.

  23. If the city did anything right they’d grow the trees and be more than happy to have a couple of crews take care of em. The money would spent on city workers actually doing productive work.
    That ain’t gonna happen.

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