Live Council Blog — Kimber Park

Fremont sprawls across 92 square miles, but apparently only 13 acres really matter.

The council is set to approve the general plan, which will guide development for the next 30 years. It would be another ho-hum affair if not for the battle in Kimber Park. Residents are fighting to keep the 13-acres of open space in  the middle of their neighborhood closed to development.

The property owner, Sheena Chang, and her development partners want to build 28 houses on the site and scale back the established fitness club.

Kimber Park residents have made a habit of showing up to these meetings in the dozens to the hundreds making their case for preserving the open space.

But Chang, who’s a well-connected landowner with holdings at Pacific Commons, is putting up a good fight. She marshaled dozens of supporters in red shirts, who made their way  into the council chambers before 5 p.m. So right now it’s a sea of pro-Chang red here in the capacity-filled Chambers with lots of green-glad, very angry Kimber Park residents watching the proceedings on television in the lobby. If we could get them together it would be starting to look a lot like Christmas.

In short, Chang, who bought the property for about $6 million several years ago, says she shouldn’t have to forgo profit and maintain land for the community without a chance to make some dough herself. The neighbors say Chang knew what she was getting when she bought the land; that they bought their property under the premise that the 13 acres would remain private open space, and that rezoning the property would give the well-connected Chang a windfall profit.

As for the General Plan, don’t expect the city to win any Greenpeace honors. It’s the standard stuff. More tallish apartments near trains, everything else still the Fremont you know and love. The council had flirted with making homeowners/purchasers do energy upgrades at the point of sale, but the real estate industry objected, and now that’s just something that might happen down the road.

Odd development, and possibly and ominous one for the property owner Chang. Councilmember Sue Chan has recused herself from this battle, saying that her husband’s dental business has a lot of customers in Kimber Park. Definitely one of the stranger recusals I’ve seen.

7:37: Everyone here is so polite. The mayor’s mic stopped working, but no one shouted that they couldn’t hear anything. Finally I got all New York City on them, and the problem is solved. We’ll now be treated to one hour of the green Save Kimber Park folks, represented by the venerable land use attorney Stuart Flashman, pleading their case.

7:40: I’m a dead man. Hundreds of upper middle class Fremont residents  are about to enter the council chambers through the door I’m sitting in front of.

7:41: Phew. The door is locked. Kimber Park residents are parading through council chambers to a standing ovation.

7:43: Still parading. This is like Fremont Festival of the Arts without the crappy merchandise and overpriced food. Save Kimber Park chant throughout the council chambers.

7:45: Still marching, still chanting.

8:11 p.m. The Kimber Park folks have an hour to state their case, and who do they have speak? Vinnie Bacon, the city council’s not so favorite person. Interesting choice.

8:30 p.m. John Dutra warns council that if they entertain allowing home construction on the 13 acres that “You are going down a road where it could be legit suggested that we have failed in our legal and moral commitment to that neighborhood.” Gets standing ovation from the folks in green.

8:42: Kimber’s lawyer warns that if the council allows homes, it would be violating the principals of a general plan that favors new development along transit corridors.

9:30 p.m. Council’s turn. Dutra says this isn’t the time to change the general plan, one week before it’ approved.

9:44 p.m. The mayor empathizes with the property owner.

9:45 p.m. 3-1 in favor to make the 13 acres a study area. That means the council wants some compromise from both sides and have the land owner come back with a proposal. Then we might go through this all over again. Ho hum.

Matt Artz

  • rosa suen

    this is so typical of Fremont, our current mayor is on his way out, permanently, and yet takes his “mighty power” to side with the owner, it was that kind of promise and behind the door, you scratch my back and I scratch yours mentality (ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, FILTHY POLITICS), otherwise the current owner would never have bought the place for overpriced money years ago… You see the connection is too huge not to support the land owner, politicians in Fremont say..

    two out of the current voting members are not going to be here next year, when reelection comes in; and two of current councils at least will try to run for the election of mayor.

    So watch out, voters and candidates! Citizens of Fremont, who have the right to vote will vote for the right and constitutional reason, a council or a mayor or any public servant (get it, Public Servants, not bosses) makes decisions for the public interest and not individual private favors, no matter how much that private interest is…


  • bbox231

    So we compel both sides to compromise a little and in another year or two SHeena Chang shows up again demanding the opportunity to screw the neighborhood she bought into for her personal gain. . . . . and our COuncil again requests both sides to compromise a little and we simply inch the line, ever so slightly, over time in Ms. Chang’s favor . . . . . instead of throwing the frog in boiling water, we just turn the temperature up slowly over a period of time. .

    CHang gets what she wants, just a little more slowly than she had hoped for.

    In the long run, our May-err and Council sell out the interests of our broader community – AGAIN.

  • IndependentGuy

    Bbox, just for clarification, Dominic Dutra should be excluded from your comment. He was the one councilperson who impressed me. He seemed to have done his homework, reviewed the general plan, stated his opinion very clearly and unambiguously, and backed it up with his vote (in the minority). The rest decided to waste everyone’s time, the taxpayer’s money, and, like you said, boil the water longer. I felt Anu got lost in the details of the plan, while Bill & Gus just rambled aimlessly and without much merit. But at least they didn’t recuse themselves as Sue did — which is typically done for a legitimate conflict of interest.

  • Tom Tsuei

    For people who chairs the city’s economic development advisory committee, I would expect he/she is able to come up some innovative ideas for the task. Is “house building” the only venue for economic development?

  • Juicy8914

    Why the author did not mention the current zoning for this parcel? The zoning is clearly stated its residential zoning (residential low 2-3.5)at City of Fremont’s website.


    Why the neighbors are asking land owner to let them use the property at someone else’s expenses? Does that make sense? Are we living in communist country? Why thing is not about what is right and what is wrong anymore? The points neighbors brought up is not based on facts!!! All they are saying is how much they love this property and trying to steal it!!!

    Did they ever ask themselves what have they contributed to this property? Did they ever pick up trashes or empty bottle in the bushes? Did they trim the trees? Did they pay property tax on it? THIS IS NOT A PUBLIC PARK!!! The property tax is not out from taxpayer’s pocket!!!

  • Marty

    The only solution I see is high density apartment style housing on this lot with a bus line stopping hourly on Canyon Heights Dr. That way the concerns of Kimber Park residents have about adhering to the “general plan” are met, and Ms Chang can make a return on her investment.

    Vinnie Bacon sure does pick em well. Fighting to keep a R2 zoned parcel vacant for some of the most wealthy NIMBY’s in the city.

  • Gus Morrison

    #3, Independence Guy, I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t ramble.

  • IndependentGuy

    #7 – my apologies for the error.

    BTW, on my use of “ramble”, my expectation was that each council person would have done their homework, read through the plan, referenced the merit (or lack) of the Planning Dept staff and Planning Commission recommendation (or else why have them), then each present a well-formed opinion & decision.

    Where I do agree with the mayor is that I also don’t think a win-win is likely. The landowner and I assume her investors want a return on the $6 million they invested. The community want “no development”. It may be he case that the club and its real estate could be profitable, but no numbers were presented for that profitable case. Nor at what price point of the real estate that would be possible. I doubt it could be profitable at $6 million. At $2 million, my WAG would be 500 members at $300/month in fees.

  • Marty

    #8 – I’m wondering why you think the margin on developing that property is any of your business?

  • IndependentGuy

    Marty, like your guess of high density apartment style housing with a bus line, I’m just thinking through what might be possible or not. Nothing more than that.

  • Marty

    I was being facetious. In reality, I think housing that is similar to the existing community should be accepted. Otherwise, Kimber residents are just asking for a place to bring their kids to trespass.

    BTW, a side note to Vinnie Bacon – There are a couple hundred square miles of open space east of the Kimber Development. Why not work with the EBRPD to open some of that space rather than your usual routine of playing errand boy for potential campaign donors in the Mission/WS?

  • bbox231

    #11 –

    Because *someone* has to counter the lard-ass council members who are operating as errand boyz and gurlz (Hello sue chan)operating on behalf of the second-tier developers who are pounding out low-rent condo’s or buffets all around town.

  • Marty

    But, nobody is talking about condos and buffets on this property.

    Hyperbole aside, Vinnie Bacon will swallow whatever it takes to get on the good side of moneyed donors in the Mission and Warm Springs districts. That is fo sho.

  • Charlie C

    Vinnie Bacon is a phony. I take that back, what I ment to say is Vinnie Bacon is a *PHONY* and will do or say whatever it takes to get elected. Kathy Mac wears the pants and Vinnie wears the kilt! Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Cloudsuk

    Why is this voting and action by 3 out of 5 of your Councill members not finding its way onto the Argus?

    At the very least – why is this voting and very significant action by 3 out of 5 of your Councill members not found in this blog?


    How does a newspaper which includes the name of this city as part of its masthead NOT provide ANY FREAKIN’ coverage of this action???????
    HELLOOOOOOO – - anybody home???
    On the other hand –
    I have absolutely no doubt that Raj, Billy, Sue all REALLY, REALLY like it this way.
    Could it be that Raj, Billy, Sue have all suggested – directly or otherwise – somewhere – to someone – - that we need to tone it down and not make any waves ??
    And – does it really matter – as, from all outward appearances our local “journalists” are glad to oblige. P.S. – That includes Marshak over at TCV – - who has waxed altruistic and completely devoid of any Council critique since recovering from his round of litigation with BANG.
    The benevolence of our media coverage to the actions of our politico is nothing short of astonishing. The less of a limelight we shine on actions like these – - the less noise there is surrounding those “I’m a swell person” mailers you all receive at election time.
    Where’s Will McAvoy when we need him??????

  • Charlie C

    Vinnie, Anu, Raj, Billy and Sue might be in India on a taxpayer financed snipe hunt, shamelessly doing what they do best…NOTHING!

  • Bill Spicer

    The Oakland Tribune AKA The Argus, has little to do with Fremont. The Bang Newspaper Group has NO Integrity. They have and continue to fail, being a local newspaper. They have one reporter where there was once three.

    They are profit driven to the point that they are cheating the people of Fremont. Several of us was considering a petition the The FCC pointing out that the BANG Newspaper group is failing Fremont as a local newspaper. I have quit my subscripotion. I do not care what happens in Oakland, I never go there. I am San Jose oriented. Please quit your Subscription to the Argus.

    That was a good post Cloudsuk, Not like Charlie or Michael’s of Niles, Drivel….

  • Cloudsuk

    Irony = MNG or BANG (not quite sure who anymore) hauling TCV into court claiming the TCV tabloid format and distribution methods did not service the community. Curious that since then, Argus continues to provide less and less coverage of the Fremont region AND they relegate what coverage the DO provide to something called the “Fremont Bulletin” which is a TABLOID periodical, with 1X weekly print runs, and no (directly) paid subscriptions. EXCEPT – that there’s absolutely no Op Ed – e.g., critical coverage of our local political scene

    WOW! Hello pot, this is kettle . . . at least TCV (used to) provide critical coverage of our council actions. I say “used to” as – for whatever reasons, Marshak, who HAD been the one remaining source of critical op ed in our community, has been consistently toothless in his op ed virtually since the completion of the legal battle with MNG.

    Don’t get me wrong, Aliyah over at Fremont Bulletin does some very nice COVERAGE, e.g., factual reporting. In fact -some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. But, REPORTING is only half the battle. To deliver on it’s journalistic responsibility, media also needs to remain critical of political figures and actions. . . . critical commentary of Fremont politics is completely absent in our media. Why is that?

    And with that in mind – Here’s something every Fremont resident (except those in Niles) need to read –


    The key takeaways –

    “..whites now make up only 39 percent of the state’s population, they’re 57% of voters who show up..”

    “There are things that need to change (but) if we don’t vote, it will be the same thing.”

    “Instead of seeing how low we can go maybe we can get a little ticked off.”


    And, who’s job is it to give voters a reason to want change? – ummm, in part – that’s the job of journalistic coverage. But – as long as you continue to serve up pablum that doesn’t explain situations like – for example – that 100% of Fremontians pay taxes while 20% decide where those taxes will be spent – - – NO ONE’S GONNA CHANGE A THING! The 20% LOVE YOU for it!!!! THank you very much.

    P.S. – Don’t know who is continuing to rework the MNG/BANG web design but it’s getting worse. Try reading this BLOG on any kind of regular frequency in various browsers (e.g., iOS Safari, IE, and/or Firefox) Initial page-load times suck terribly or (frequently) can’t get there at all and on mobile devices do not consistently arrive at the mobile version. In this day and age, this should NOT be tricky – - – for the most part – yours is static content. Here’s another one – Try opening more than one MNG page at a time while you edit a BLOG comment . . . you know, like you were going to do something really tricky like cut and paste a quote from an MNG article into the comment entry form . . . I’m still waiting for the page to load.

    Your web design folks are your own worst enemy at present . . .and one of several very good reasons that so few/no one is returning to this site.

  • Charlie C

    Bacon means business is currently the biggest lie going.

  • Bill Spicer

    If you are going to call someome a liar, then I guess that means you are a Scum Bag, or a mentally challeged adult which is it Charley or Michael of Niles….

  • Charlie C

    Billy-If you lead the movement that chased thousands of jobs and bilions of dollars out of Fremont then you don’t “mean business” and therefore yes… you are a liar. Give up Scum Bucket!

  • Cloudsuk

    If it was so good for business, why did Catellus not want anything to do with it?
    Answer – because it wasn’t good for business.

  • Charlie C

    Catellus is insignificant compared to a professional sports franchise…Catellus couldn’t give 2 craps about what would be good for business. Give up Box!

  • Cloudsuk

    Glad to give up when you can present some facts that prove my position wrong, until then, I’ll simply keep setting the record straight. . . . . with facts.

  • Charlie C

    Fact is the demoinze a developer crowd continues to be clueless… think I’ll have to go off to India to ponder that one Box. Maybe Vinnie can get me some taxpayer money to help with the expenses?

  • Cloudsuk

    I haven’t seen anyone on this blog “demonize” a developer, Charlie. Frankly – if we’re guilty of any offense, it would be our ongoing love-fest with the developer crowd. .
    If Centerville is any example – we’re SUCH good friends with developers that we’ll even pay developers to do absolutely NOTHING. . . . .
    You need to get off your paranoia about the “demonize” a developer crowd, Charlie. That little anecdote – - just like all your other cute anecdotes has no merit for anyone paying attention to the facts.

  • Charlie C

    Would you rather take a campaign contribution from a developer or go to India on a taxpayer financed SNIPE-HUNT? Keep sweeping it under the rug brother!

  • Cloudsuk

    Different topic, Charlie.
    The point YOU were trying to make is that Fremont is full of folks who unfairly demonize developers.
    You’re clearly wrong.
    We’ve paid developers to sit on their thumbs and cash our checks in Centerville.
    Keep avoiding the facts Brother!

  • VinnieBacon

    Yes, changing the topic to the only one Charlie cares about. But I’ll bite since this is interesting.

    First, CSL is the go-to consultant for sports teams when they want analysis showing that sports teams really help the local economy. These studies are usually done when the sports teams are asking for hundreds of millions of dollars from the local municipalities. They attempt to rationalize expensive improvements which will, not coincidentally, add millions of dollars to the value of that team.

    Secondly, I can’t believe you’d want to mention the Vikings. This stadium deal is one of the most maligned public policy deals in recent history. Google it and you’ll find many editorials slamming the deal.

    From the Vikings site itself the public costs are:

    – $348 Million from the State of Minnesota
    – $150 Million from the City of Minneapolis
    – $7.5 Million per year in maintenance from the City

    Property taxes are also waived on the site. One estimate is that the total public subsidies are over a billion dollars.

    When the high PSL prices were announced, the Governor was upset. He complained that with all of the public funding they shouldn’t need PSLs. The Vikings responded saying they were allowed in the contract. Pay up Vikings fans.

    Unlike the 49ers deal, all proceeds from the tickets, concessions, naming rights, etc. go to the team. All the City gets in return is the right to use the facility rent free in return and some money to help with operating costs.

    The bond payments for the State were to be made via a gambling tax on pulltabs(?) that were estimated to net $35 million a year. They ended up netting less than $2 Million. The State is working on new tax ideas to get the money they need.

    Yet we’re supposed to say this is a good deal for taxpayers because the team’s consultant tells us so? Even using CSL’s inflated figures, the additional annual tax revenue from the stadium ($27 M) will be less than the bond repayments ($30 M).

  • Charlie C

    Vinnie, the facts our not on your side and you know it. Heck…since the “means business” fooled um so good the last time around I can already visualize the “Bacon walks on water” campaign signs for the next election.


  • VinnieBacon

    That article is a lesson in how poor journalists are at reporting on sports facility financing. He interviews developers and realtors but not economists and planners.

    Is he seriously trying to say that new office development over five miles from the stadium is related to the stadium? Notice that only two of the 19 developments listed (the only two of undetermined size) are within a half mile of the stadium.

    Of course, Silicon Valley is a hotbed of development in general as noted in the article: “To be sure, some of that development would have occurred anyway because of the technology boom
    that has been underway for the past three years.”

    This rebuttal piece and the comments are pretty good.