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.


Fremont/Newark News of the Day

fremont_news_linkFrom the cops:

Shortly after 9 p.m. two men and a woman robbed someone at a Newark 7-Eleven. Police suspect that some of those folks then went up Central Avenue to Fremont, where they punched a small woman in the face and took her purse as the victim was trying to get into her apartment.

From the wire:

Tesla to officially open Fremont factory tomorrow

Earthquake kits.

Patterson Ranch heads to the City Council tonight.


McDonald would make cops and firefighters live in Fremont

Just chatted with Fremont City Council candidate Kathy McDonald about the city’s budget for what is sure to be a riveting story in tomorrow’s Argus.

We got a little off-topic when we started talking about public safety, which accounts for most of the budget.

McDonald said she’d like to require cops and firefighters to live in the city — all of them, not just new recruits. Current public safety employees  would be given a certain amount of time to move to Fremont.

Granted, the requirement would make it harder to recruit, but McDonald said the city would have a more responsive police force and fire department. She also said there would be more cops around to provide back up, especially on the edges of the city.

McDonald’s proposal made me think what I would do if my newspaper insisted that reporters live in the cities that we cover. I’d probably pretend to live at a friend’s home in Fremont, and stay in Oakland. No offense. It’s not you. It’s all the red light left turn arrows and the Applebees.


TCB Makes a Difference

I’m happy to report that two Tri-City Beat readers answered the call and did a lot of tough yard work for that 78-year-old double amputee.

One of the volunteers is not in this photograph. I’m told they would have gotten even more done had that lanky schmuck in the photo carried his weight instead of just standing around with a shovel.



Save postage

Just got a call from a woman, who I’m guessing is going to vote against the school district’s parcel tax.

She’s mad because her absentee ballot came with instructions that the minimum postage required was 78 cents. But when she went to the post office and weighed her ballot, it only cost 61 cents to mail.

She figures the post office is making a killing on this absentee ballot thing, although I’m guessing most people will just put two stamps on the envelope no matter what.

Anyway, if you want to save 17 cents, you’ve just been empowered by The Argus.


Fremont schools parcel tax

I’ll have a story in Saturday’s paper about Measure K — a parcel tax to support Fremont schools.

After doing a little research for the story, the only question I really wanted to ask district officials was a softball: Why the heck didn’t they ask for more money?

The district is asking all property owners except seniors to fork over $53 per property over five years. That’ll come out to about $3.3 million — enough to potentially maintain library hours and maybe some instructional specialists, but nowhere near enough to make up the the $24 million in state funding the district has lost over the last two years.

If Measure K passes Fremont would be the ninth district in Alameda County with a parcel tax to help fund schools. I looked at every parcel tax election in the county over the last 10 years.

Fremont’s $53/parcel Measure K is by far the lowest.

Here’s the tale of the tape:
Dublin — $96 per parcel
Livermore —- $138 per parcel
Alameda — $120 per parcel
Emeryville — 10 cents per square foot, so the owner of a 1,600 sq. ft. home would pay $160
Piedmont — $1,141 for a parcel under 5,000 sq. ft. / $1,479 for parcel under 10,000 sq. ft.
Oakland — $195 per parcel, and they’re asking for a second $195 per parcel tax this year
Albany — $250 per residential parcel
Berkeley — Don’t even ask. They already have two separate parcel taxes and it’s a lot of money

There you have it: Fremont’s $53 per parcel tax would be nearly half the next lowest parcel tax to help fund schools.

But what about all those overpaid teachers who can’t get laid off?

Well, remember that the City of Fremont pays nearly an additional 30 percent on top of every cop and firefighters salary just to fund their pensions.

Teacher pensions aren’t so generous The district pays 6 to 7 percent on top of teacher salaries to fund their pensions, according to the district.

So why isn’t Fremont Unified asking for more money?

It doesn’t think it can get it. Polls showed a $68 per parcel tax failing to get the two-thirds majority required for passage.

And Fremont likely voters — like most likely voters — tend to be older. About 80 percent of Fremont likely voters don’t have kids in the district.

And there’s the example of Newark. Only one schools parcel tax in the county failed to win at least 50 percent of the vote over the past decade. Fremont’s neighbor asked voters for $150 per parcel in 2003. It only got 49.3 percent of the vote.


Fremont News of the Day

From the Cops:
Officers were called out to beautiful Irvington (Fremont Boulevard and Chapel) on a report that a man had tried to run over a woman and her child, who she was wheeling in a stroller. The cops tracked down the perp in Newark, where he was arrested.


A cautionary tale of district elections

From Berkeley:

Earlier this year the Berkeley city council voted 5-4 to close a swimming pool in a district represented by a council member disliked by most other council members.

Apparently two of the council members who voted to close the pool, did so because they didn’t want to hand a victory to the council member they didn’t like, who’s in the middle of a tough re-election fight.

That’s according to the Daily Cal. Interesting read.

Nevertheless, just because Berkeley is prone to dysfunctional politics doesn’t mean that would happen in Fremont if it had district elections.

If Fremont always followed Berkeley, there would be naked old hippies in Central Park, undeoterized Green Party members at City Council meetings and a Whole Foods somewhere on Mowry.


Why Fremont doesn’t have swimming pools

I still think Kathy McDonald is correct to find it strange that there aren’t any public swimming pools in Fremont.

But now I know why.

The year was 1961. Fremont held a special Nov. 21 municipal bond election.
One of the proposals was $140,000 “for building swimming pools.”

Exactly 6,100 people cast ballots, and the vote was 54.4 percent to 45.6 percent against swimming pools.

So there you have it: The people have spoken. No swimming pools for Fremont.


Fremont has lost its Make A Difference Day Spirit

I’m still in Make a Difference Day hell. I don’t just have to write the lame preview, which I think was in The Argus yesterday. But I have to call around to the project organizers and figure out where on Saturday to send our photographer and reporter.

I thought I had a decent lead with a project to help a 78-year-old double amputee with yard work. Only one problem. No one has volunteered. The poor old lady might have to cancel the project.

Shame on all of you.

I’d go help out myself. But it’s supposed to rain and I don’t want to get my new sneakers muddy.

If anyone is tougher than me and more gallant than the average Fremont resident, click here for details.