Fremont: The Unluckiest City

There’s been a depressing pattern for Fremont over the past year. Something bad happens, city folks try to make the best of it only to have fate spit on them again.

It happened with NUMMI. After the plant closed, the city was all gung ho on making area a hub for high-paying jobs. Then UP came along.

And now it might be happening with redevelopment. The city last year secured about $400 million in redevelopment projects, only to have Gov. Brown propose doing away with redevelopment. The city tried to make the best of it by racing through $140 million in redevelopment bonds that would at least pay for a BART station in Irvington.

The city was scheduled to issue those bonds this morning and sell them on the 28th. But what happened? More bad luck. The state late yesterday issued a 27-page framework for how it would do away with redevelopment. It includes a prevision that would give the state up to three years to review the validity of redevelopment projects approved after the start of the year.

Attorneys for the city are reviewing the document for items that need to be disclosed to investors. The city is hoping this is just a bump in the road and that it can issue and sell the bonds next week.

But there are a couple of reasons for concern.
1) The city was hoping to get the bonds sold before March 1, the date Gov. Brown had set for terminating redevelopment
2) Even if Fremont’s bond offering is solid, there’s no way to know how investor’s will respond to the state’s plan. If the pool of willing investors shrinks, the city could find itself paying a higher interest rate on the bonds, which could make them unfeasible.

And if the city can’t sell the bonds, there’s no money for that BART station

Matt Artz


  1. “And if the city can’t sell the bonds, there’s no money for that BART station.” Which leaves those new, currently under construction, low-income units being built in Irvington a good distance from public transportation. So much for transit-oriented development.

  2. Palookaville an imaginary town characterized by mediocrity, ineptitude, or stupidity…Thanks to the efforts of Fremont Citizens Network Fremont has become the REAL Palookaville. No upscale, no ballpark, no Whole foods and no future! Citizens of Fremont we have been doomed to purgatory by the no development FCN mob. Killing the ballpark was the beginning of the end…Welcome to Palookaville the home of Asian (all you can eat) buffets, RAILROAD YARDS & Kabob Huts!

  3. Has anyone questioned the fact that the state of California is broke. We finally get a Governer who is willing to do something about it, without making to many people mad.

    Then we have the Fremont City Council and Mayor pass several redevelopment projects in a hurried fashion to get there money before the spigot is shut off.

    Is that helping the State of California solve there debt problem. Are we Califorianians or ?

    Why is there no one questioning the Ethics of this action, the Integrity of our city leaders?

  4. We finally get a Governer who is willing to do something about it, without making to(sic) many people mad.

    My lord, West. Brown’s plan is to continue the Schwarzenegger-era tax increase and chop RDA funding. The former is nothing novel, and the latter is pissing off every elected Democrat in the state.

    Are you so thoroughly aroused by having a Democrat at the helm that you are unable to process reality?

  5. Reality is that it’s a choice between funding schools or redevelopment projects. I support Brown’s effort to put school funding at the top of the priority list. A third BART station in Fremont is a nice but not vital project. Good schools are crucial to the future of Fremont and California, besides being the main driver for Fremont property values.

  6. Carlotte, I’m not smart enough to predict what will happen to California schools if RDAs are in fact shut down.

    I can say for certain that 2002 was the last time state revenue was as low as what is projected to come in this year. 2002 was a poor year economically, but the state was in much better financial shape. RDA dollars were flowing, people were working and the schools were performing much better. Perhaps it’s time to think about what has changed since 2002. I think this exercise would provide the most accurate view of reality.

  7. Brown could do more to make sure important services and RDA impacts are mitigated by simply adding an Oil extraction tax to his budget. Every other state or country does so, but not California. Because? Well, because we love Big Oil more than we love our schools? Or maybe because, Big Oil can defend its handouts and tax breaks better than school kids and parents can?

  8. #3 West & Calguy…So now the truth becomes a racist statement? Shame on you!

  9. Hope the city fathers will hunker down and start paying attention to the neighborhood quality of life issues and stop chasing after development, big corporate employers, and big entertainment/sports boondoggles.
    Deliver something to the people that actually live here — good schools, clean well-treed neighborhoods with sidewalks you can walk on to useful destinations, civic amenities that enrich life for seniors, toddlers, and everybody in between.
    Let the other big Silicon Cities deal with the problems of big business, and just get better and being what Fremont has always been — a bedroom community. Make it such a nice place to live that executives from those businesses will want to live here and contribute, and raise their families.
    Actually WALK the neighborhoods and find out what the people who live here want and need — legible street signs, sidewalks that connect to something besides big muddpuddles, trees that shade and soundproof the areas, quality schools and safe enriching activities for their kids.
    Let’s get ‘insular’ and work on improving and enhancing the benefits of all the diversity touted for Fremont. Programs for people – Save a few families from evicition and keep the city from turning into rental property slums.

  10. Marty, that’s a good idea – comparing the 2011/12 budget to the 2002/03 budget. First, there are about 3 million more people in California than there were in 2002. Next, revenues for the state’s General Fund were $93.9B in 2002. For 2011, revenues if Governor Brown’s solutions (tax measures and eliminating redevelopment) are not adopted minus the deficit from 2010 will be $76B. That’s about a 20% cut from 2002 not counting the increase in population.

    The budget categories have changed by a few percentage points since 2002/3. Higher education is the big loser, down 3.1% of the total spent. K-12 loses 2.2% of total. Corrections are up 1.9% of total, and spending by the Legislative, Judicial, Executive, and General government functions appears to be up by about 1% of total. Health and Human Services has gained about 1%.

    So the biggest change is that there a more people and a lot less money to spend.

  11. Charlotte, from CA Legislative Analyst’s Office, general fund revenue in 2002 was $79.2B.

    The addition of 3M people to the population having no effect on state revenue signifies that the standard of living has declined for the states producers while the cost of services and employee pay has increased for the state government.

    Also, since 2002 income tax has increased by 0.75 % on most earners, sales tax is up 1% in most counties, bridge toll have increased 300%, property tax revenue is up 6-10% YOY despite the RE bust (turnover), and fees/fines have gone up in essentially every aspect of government.

    So, the biggest change is that our state government has found a way to provide magnitudes less on the same amount of money collected a mere 9 years ago, despite tax rates being increased across the board.

  12. Seems like a good thread headline to ask this question. How come Fremont doesn’t have a Patch.com link? Newark and Union City both do as well as many other CA cities.

  13. Maybe we are looking at the problem from the wrong direction. It might not be too little money, too few teachers, too few services. It might be too many people requiring all these things ……

  14. Marty, the data source I’m using for the budget numbers is http://www.dof.ca.gov/budget/historical/2002-03/

    Here’s a quote from the beginning of the October 7th State Budget Highlights document: “For only the fourth time in over 50 years, this $98.9 billion
    Budget reflects a year-over-year General Fund expenditure

  15. I think it should be noted how much the state has scaled back since the boom. It’s a monumental amount, close to $50B that the state has been working without.

    By and large, the presence and function of government in CA has remained the same. It just goes to show what a monumentally stupid decision it was to not have saved years of surplus money the state could obviously have functioned without. It also shows how inefficient and redundant the state workforce is when you can furlough a good portion of their time on the clock and their absence goes barely noticed.

  16. Fremont doesn’t need a third bart station. There will be already 3 stations serving fremont if you include union city station. Lets save some dollars here

  17. Andy you might be right that Fremont doesn’t need a third BART station. But, the City has already allowed two new affordable housing apartment complexes to be built in Irvington on Main St. based on the assumption there would be an Irvington BART station. And the Planning Commission, at their March 10 meeting, will review plans for a high density town home development called Central Park South, to be built between Washington Blvd. and Paseo Padre Parkway. This is part of the transit oriented development concept. So what’s the plan if there is no transit to orient to?

  18. BART has had operating losses of about $300 million in each of the last three years. If it were a business, it’d be bankrupt. I’d think adding stations in Irvington and Warm Springs (not exactly areas of exceptionally high populations) will only sink BART further in the red.

    Sorry, I don’t buy the “unluckiest” adjective. I think it’s more inadequate due diligence, lack of considering key scenarios, putting too many eggs in one basket, and “drinking the kool-aid”.

  19. I have not heard of anyone that really wants a Bart Station in Irvington.
    Just the city council playing developer, which usually brings disatrous results look at Centerville.
    Perhaps they should put projects like this on the ballot to see if anyone wants it. It is the taxpayers money!

  20. BART to Wrm Springs an to San Jose has been voted on twice in Alameda County and at least 3 times in Santa Clara, all winning resoundingly. In this county, it is part of Measure B, the half cent sales tax for transportation which got over 70% of the vote.

    And, when it passed, more people in Alameda County commuted to Santa Clara County than commuted to San Francisco, with nothing between here and SC except the auto and a few VTA buses.

    BART to SJ has been the number one transportation priority of the COF for at least 20 years. No one from Fremont has ever expressed opposition to the project to the city council. And getting to S requires the Warm Springs station. Irvington has also been a priority in that it helps the econcomy of Irvington and it provides another location for Fremont folks to board the train.

    And those who don’t like BART ought to envision what the freeways would be like without it.

  21. Gus’s comment reminds me of the ’89 quake, which left BART the only practical way to get directly from much of the East Bay to SF.

    I also want BART in South Fremont, preferably in both Irvington and Warm Springs. The existing station is overloaded. My only quibble is that I think the WS station would have been better placed south of Mission, placing it at Grimmer seems pretty close to the Irvington station. I figure BART will finally run to San Jose just in time for me to retire.

  22. Gus Morrison said: “nothing between here and SC except the auto and a few VTA buses”

    There’s also ACE and Capitol Corridor, which both go from Centerville to Great America (center of the “Golden Triangle”) in about 20 minutes, but not frequently enough.

    There are plans to upgrade ACE to high-speed-rail standards, with one of the possible routes connecting with Warm Springs BART before heading for the Golden Triangle.


  23. I think Bart is excellent. I am looking forward to going to San Jose and not driving my car.
    I was just questioning the need for Bart Station in Irvington, so close to the Existing Bart Station and the Warm Springs Station. There is only a few miles betwen stations?

  24. This is strictly supposition on my part. The MTC drew up plans for a multi-agency passenger intermodal station situated alongside an Irvington BART station at least five years ago. The plan was to link VTA, BART and ACE. It may not happen in Irvington but it could happen at the Warm Springs location. The ACE high speed rail will have a stop there according to their map and VTA owns the old rail line all the way to Irvington.

    UP was very smart to buy the parcels offered at NUMMI. They can use the southern portion for their rail yard and make a very nice profit selling the northern piece for the MTC intermodal station. Like I said before, UP is playing chess.

  25. #25 Hi West, me again. Not sure distance between stations is a good measure of why stations are located where they are. In SF or Oakland, there are only a few city blocks between stations, not even miles. BART in Irvington makes plenty sense to me just out of sheer self-interested convenience.

  26. SayGoodNightGracie, You are right in Oakland and San Francisco the Stations are located fairly close to ech other.
    That is because of the density of people. Have you ever been to one of those stations, they are all crowded with people getting on the Bart train.
    Do you think you can equate that to Fremont.
    Do you want to spend around 40 million dollars of our (taxpayers) Money. Does that really make any sense.

  27. West, I believe I read the Irvington BART station would have a construction cost closer to $100M. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong. On the plus side, having an Irvington stop does spread the traffic more. The morning/evening traffic to/from Warm Springs is pretty bad. Splitting commuter traffic to BART three ways makes sense to me. I can understand SGNG’s wanting a station closer in. Why have public transit if it isn’t easily accessible. People are more likely to consider it if they have access. Heck, Fremont has nine exists off of I-880. Imagine if there was only one on the north end and another on the south.

  28. I agree with Charlie in that Fremont is doomed by the narrow-minded likes of the FCN.

  29. Why have public transit if it isn’t easily accessible?

    VOR, you have more brains than every bay area transit official combined.

  30. #29 Agree with VOR. #28 Yes I am very familiar with BART stations in SF, Oakland and Berkeley, they are crowded during rush hours and less so at odd hrs of the day, but they are always in use. It simply pays to build for the future West. Public transit has to be improved everywhere, and I see no problem investing in infrastructure, especially one that helps to move people around the Bay Area. Fremont is stretched out north to south, I’m pretty sure we can use a couple more BART stations to provide better access along the corridor.

  31. Caltrans train from San Jose the 221 train leaves San Jose to S.F. departs at 7:20AM Arrives 8:48, that is a 1 hour and 27 minutes.
    The 221 train has 27 stops?
    I do not want Bart to turn into CalTrans

  32. Bart runs from Fremont to S.F in 45 minutes and has 11 stops. The distance from Fremont to S.F. is longer then San Jose to SF
    Catrans see above.

  33. West, please consider the laws of physics when comparing a passenger train powered by a diesel locomotive vs. an electrified third-rail BART car. The length of time BART stops at a station vs. CalTrain has got to be significantly less, although I admit I have never ridden CalTrain. But, I would think the delay is longer and the time to get back up to speed is longer. Also, I believe CalTrain has double-decker cars so additional time must be allowed for people on the top deck to get off. I don’t think it’s a fair comparison.

  34. #34 West, a better comparison would be time it takes to drive your car or take the Bus to Fremont or Union City BART, versus hopping on BART at the future Irvington station. Your Caltrans to BART comparison is a false dichotomy anyway, the decision isn’t between faster or slower mass transit but between more transit access or only a little bit more mass transit access. As a base concept we can all agree that having no mass transit is by default the slowest form of mass transit around.

  35. SayGoodNightGracie, #36
    The time may not make much of a difference to you but to commuters like me, it is important.

    You sound like someone who never uses mass transit. You may disagree but I showed you facts and you came back with something that made no sense , except perhaps to you.

    I would like to see the 40 million, for the Irvington Station, go to another project that is REALLY NEEDED!

  36. #37 West, what I think I sound like to you is like somone who disagrees with you about the Irvington BART station. But that’s cool. Nothing says we need to agree on that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *