Council backs Patterson Ranch Development

The key votes were 4-1 to approve plans for 500-homes near Coyote Hills Regional Park.

Councilwoman Anu Natarajan cast the lone dissenting votes. Her opposition stemmed mostly from disappointment with the development plan rather than the environmental issues.

“I think we could have done better,” she said “We had the chance to do something that could have been a model.”

The other council members invoked voter opposition to Measure K, the 2006 ballot measure that would have prevented major housing development at the site. They also noted that the project is smaller and has fewer environmental impacts than earlier proposals.

The council meeting was a packed house with 30 speakers. Berkeley (Ugh) Fremont Schools Superintendent Jim Morris played all of his cards warning that because of school overcrowding some of the future homeowners could be driving their kids all the way to … gasp…. Warm Springs Elementary School.

The Patterson’s front man Richard Frisbie continued to argue that the school’s would get $6-$7 enough to build additional facilities at the already overcrowded Ardenwood Elementary School.

Morris, who was sitting near me at the meeting, said the additions Frisbie is pushing would leave the district with more than 1,000 students in a school, whose library, cafeteria and auditorium were all designed for a much smaller school.

*** Morris isn’t saying the Patterson Ranch Development would generate 1,000 students. He said building additions to Ardenwood would leave it with more than 1,000 students, while many of its facilities would still be designed toward for a smaller student body.

The council approved giving the city an additional 5 acres of park space west of Ardenwood that it would likely trade with the school district to allow the district to build new school facilities on city parkland in Ardendwood.

The two churches who have been promised first dibs at two sites west of Ardenwood Boulevard brought lots of folks out for the meetings. They outnumbered the environmentalists, at least for the first two hours before most of them left.

The head of Harvest House church, which sold its former site to a developer several years back, said he had a verbal agreement with the Patterson family for one of the designated church sites.

I hadn’t picked up on this before, but the Patterson site is contaminated with with some type of toxic pesticide. No homes can be built until they clean up the soil. It looks like the Pattersons are banking on a cheaper, less proven method for getting rid of the toxins, but if that doesn’t work, they’ll have to shell out some more money.

Another thing I didn’t pick up on until I talked to Bob Wieckowski after the meeting is that Cargill wants to develop land that’s even closer to Coyote Hills than Patterson Ranch. Wieckowski wants the city — and not the East Bay Regional Park District — to get the land donated by the Pattersons, so it has some leverage with Cargill. But apparently top city staffers don’t like that idea.

The East Bay Regional Park District definitely made it clear that they think they’re getting the 300 or so acres fronting the park from the Pattersons. The park district urged the council to support the development.

Matt Artz


  1. Martz, pretty easy to figure out where you wished you were last night instead of the Fremont City Council meeting….”Berkeley Schools Superintendent Jim Morris played all of his cards.”

  2. That’s OK we will forgive Matt Artz and others in the press.

    I do support Anu and was glad to see that once again she judged issues independently and was not afraid to be the lone dissenting voice. Additionally, she also signaled the developers that even though she accepts contributions from developers, she would rule on the merits of each issue. It takes more to do so than run on cheap slogans like “I do not take money from developers.”

    It is easy to take refuge behind a law which states that applications cannot be denied based on impact to schools. If so, then we would not need City Council members. The lawyers could run the city instead. But it requires real leadership to go protect our interest and the interest of our children and vote the way Anu did. Way to go, Anu.

    Kudos to Kathy McDonald for speaking up on behalf of our school children yesterday during the meeting. It is about time that we elect City Council members who are sensitive to issues impacting our schools.

  3. I’m curious about Morris’ statement about 1000 students. How does he arrive at this figure? Two children per home, every home – come on.

    I suspect this is yet another example of the opposition using fantasy projections to make their point, then wondering why those in charge don’t take their grievances seriously.

  4. “Fantasy projections . .. ” you mean like those that Anu and Bill used to rationalize a Utility Tax initiative just before we “discovered” a revenue surplus ?

    Much more significantly, and in the aftermath of the obvious Measure “K” debacle we added insult to our self-inflicted injury by completely avoiding the obvious need to air out what happened.

    Where was our “lone dissenting voice” at THAT time ????

    But, I’m glad to see that Anu is now hot on the trail of important topics . . . . . just in time for elections.

  5. 1000 students. Splitting hairs.

    There is expected to be turmoil in the city due to boundary changes resulting from such a large infusion of students from this development. Overloading 150 students from Forest Park is itself a big issue. Add this 20 to 30 more and we will start to see demands for secession from the School District that we saw 10 years ago.

    The problem we have with our City Council members is that they time and again they skirt the issue of schools. And the scant attention of the Council towards our school was in full display when the Mayor cut off the Superintendent yesterday after 2 minutes. I have no doubt that the citizens wanted to hear from the Superintendent directly and watch how the Council would react to school issues, particularly when the Sup took the time to come to the City Council meeting. and present the issues to them. The developer was given all the time he wanted. But our Sup was just brushed aside. You think it is time to have someone on the Council who will be more sensitized to our school issues. Kathy did demonstrate that she will do so when on the Council.

    And lastly, some of the posters here like #4 should read up on the City Council meeting minutes of the past 4 years before expressing any opinions.

  6. Chimnoy, I am sympathetic to those issues, but am I supposed to overlook the fact that I’m being lied to? Is the council supposed to do the same?

  7. How come people voted for Suzanne Chan in 2008 who touted schools and kids in her list of priorities. People voted based on ethnicity, I know a lot of people in Mission who had her campaign signs in their yards in the last election. They are getting what they wished for.

    2010 – Do not make a mistake, voting for Anu Natarajan who is just giving a reason not to vote for Patterson Development, in reality she is afraid of losing the Indian and Chinese vote in Ardenwood area.

  8. The actual vote was unanimous in favor of accepting the EIR and amending the General Plan to allow the higher densities required by the proposed development. Anu voted for this. She voted against the specific development plan presented by Frisbie.

  9. Chinmoy Roy –

    If there was significant discussion and inquiry made about the significant “miss” in revenue projections and the consequence to taxpayer confidence in their leadership this had – please, feel free to site specifics.

    I’ll be glad to correct my conclusions.

    In the absence of specifics, yours are just another unsubstantiated inference – convenient at election time.

  10. Charlotte, I didn’t see any problem with the EIR. That is if the EIR is looked at in isolation and on the basis of the engineering merits and demerits. I have not reviewed the EIR like you seem to have done. I am basing my opinion on the presentation made by the city at the start of the discussions.

    The point you raised yesterday about the water issue was a good one. What I didn’t gather from your address to the Council is whether you agreed that the water issue was addressed to your satisfaction. And if you did, then wouldn’t it be OK to exclude that issue in a subsequent version of the EIR?

  11. Chinmoy, I haven’t seen the amended information on the water supply that Staff got from ACWD as they didn’t make it public, so I can’t say whether or not the water supply issue has been satisfactorily addressed. I plan to ask ACWD for a copy of the letter they sent to Staff. Whether or not the water issue has been resolved there won’t be a subsequent version of the EIR because it was approved last night on a 5-0 vote.

  12. I am not familiar with the details of the school situation now. But way back in 2002, there were 4 “super schools” in the district. Schools were designated “super schools” if the number of enrolled students were 950+. Consequently, they had to have a Vice-Principal and when we were looking to cut programs due to budget shortfalls from Sacramento we couldn’t make the Vice-Principal positions at these 4 schools as part-time positions.

    Now of those 4 “super schools”, three were in the Ardenwood area: Ardenwood, Forest Park and Warwick. The fourth was Weibel. Judging from the population increase, it is very likely that the situation has worsened.

    What I was surprised to learn yesterday was that Forest Park had close to 150 overloads which is more than 10% of its student population. This should cause enough of a concern, even larger than the concern some are expressing at the Sups slip of the tongue. His is a projection. Shouldn’t we be concerned with the situation on the ground today?

  13. Bbox231: #11

    These questions are asked in several Committees and Commissions. Maybe that is a better place for you to go look before forming your opinions. I know I do and have even volunteered and have been appointed to few Committees, most of them were schools.

    Besides, I have not made any comments about Measure K. so the question of “unsubstantiated inference” does not arise. My comments have been restricted to the proposed Ardenwood development, near where I live, the school issues arising from the development with which I am familiar and have quoted some figures in an earlier post.

  14. To the best of my knowledge, Ms. Natarajan did not cast a dissenting vote. She voted with the 5-0 unanimous vote to amend the General Plan to allow way more houses than are currently allowed, thus hugely increasing the value of the property for the owners who have contributed to the campaigns of both Bill Harrison and Anu Natarajan. THIS IS WHY WE NEED INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES WHO DON’T TAKE MONEY FROM DEVELOPERS!

  15. I think a lot of the opposition to Measure K was the fact that people didn’t agree with the voters forcing a private land owner to do something, or not do something in the case of Measure K with their land. At least that was the sole rationale of the people I spoke to back when this was a ballot issue. They didn’t want an additional 500+ homes anywhere in Fremont, let alone right next to Coyote Hills, but didn’t feel it appropriate to make the Patterson’s sit on their land. I myself voted for Measure K because a little bit of my soul dies every time I have to drive through Ardenwood and they don’t need further expansion.
    People in Fremont do not want further cookie cutter, cheek by jowl housing developments.
    This is why people need to vote in some new councilmembers. The ones we have just do what they want regardless of public opposition. Anything has to be better than the ones we have. Maybe some new blood won’t be so full of themselves from years of being rubber stamped into office that they might actually listen to their constituents.

  16. Matt – this is sloppy reporting! Why did you decide to call the 4-1 vote the key vote and not the 5-0 vote? It must be nice for Anu to come out looking like she voted against this horrible development when she actually voted for it! She has taken thousands of dollars from the Pattersons – do you really think she would have let them lose on this?

  17. Jenny,

    Your “sloppy reporting” is my dedicated midnight blogging from an empty City Hall, if you don’t count the cleanup crew.

    My real sloppy reporting was not being clear on the extent of the toxics issue or the potential for development on 91 acres of Cargill land adjacent to Coyote Hills. Referring to Jim Morris as Berkeley’s schools superintendent wasn’t too swift either.

    I wrote that Anu’s opposition was directed toward the development plan and not the environmental issues. Yes, Anu did vote with the majority to certify the EIR and as the sole dissenter when it came to the development plan.

    Jenny, you are probably one of only 50 people in Fremont who care about the distinction.

    I did ask Anu last night if her vote was politically motivated, since it was a politically savvy vote. She said it wasn’t. Not much I could do with that answer. She did give Frisbie the business last time the Patterson Ranch project went to the council.

  18. What you wrote implies that she was against the Patterson Ranch development when she actually voted for it – this seems kind of important for those who do not want to see this development happen which is more than 50 people!

  19. Jenny, just stop -with the votes we just gained from Chinmoy’s “unsubstantiated inference at election time” and Matt Artz’s savvy electioneering, I think we have this one in the bag. You simply don’t have the votes now.

  20. In 27 years in Fremont…I listen to all of the candidates at various forums, vinie will agrue against anything and everything whether he is trying to convince himself or others I don’t know, kathy will stumble and go in circles trying to remember what vinnie told her to say and think, Khan is fussing about nothing, the purple man is more a civil rights activist than anything else, Anu is not trying to rock the boat and bill is speaking with his pockets for the day to be mayor. You and I know the issues, argue back and forth and at the end of the day we do nothing but wait around for another blog to vent!!! If none of these are right for the seats, then who is the question and if it is you why didn’t you stand up and come forward? If we don’t offer solutions then we are apart of the problem!

  21. I am tired about what is said about measure K the ballot measure that would have preseved Coyote Hills Wld Life Area.
    Everyone talks about it losing. Here is why. Cargill spent $1.4 million dollars against a organization that had only $20k.
    They threatened Fremont Homeowners a $500 dollar assement on the lawsuit they were going to file. it became a pocket book issue and they rarely pass.
    Dispite this over 15,000 Fremont residents voted for it measure K.
    I thought The Fremont City Council were acting like petty politicians by stating misinformation about measure K.
    With that said it is not over!

  22. Fremont is overcrowded and traffic is terrible, the ranch land should be made into parks for recreational use, not more homes and condo’s.

  23. #26
    …or industrial.

    Did you know that Fremont has allowed up to 900,000 square feet of Industrial development to be built in front of the Southern part of the Coyote Hills? That is the size of the old Sun campus in Newark (now almost empty).

    A reminder from the Fremont C of C:

    Cargill’s property is an undeveloped, 92 acre parcel zoned as Restricted Industrial (biotechnology, high-technology), the same zoning as to what is across Paseo Padre Parkway at the Ardenwood Technology Park. Fremont’s current General Plan allows for Cargill to develop at least 900,000 square feet of restricted industrial space (as estimated by the city) and for a number of years Cargill has been a part of Local Improvement District #25 (LID #25). A LID is a public finance mechanism used by local jurisdictions to build the infrastructure needed (public streets, water, gas, NOT on-site improvements) to accommodate future development and financing by assessing a fee to those parties who are creating the need for the additional infrastructure.

  24. Just to be clear (#27), Fremont has assigned a General Plan designation of Industial to the 92 acre Cargill property. They have not approved any development on that property. In order to develop anything, they must comply with all regulatory agency requirements. I know that much of that property is constrained by wetlands, regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Any estimate of how much development would be allowed on the site is pure speculation, until an official delineation is established.

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