Union City: Save Our Hills scheduled to hold rally Tuesday night at City Hall

Here’s part of a press announcement released by Save Our Hills, the grassroots group that opposes a plan to build housing east of Mission Boulevard near The Masonic Homes in Union City. Here’s the announcement: 

Save Our Hills and the community will speak out against this development and is asking for your support to protect pristine views of our hills for future generations.  We do not have enough open space and agricultural land in the region.

Please join our rally in the front of City Hall Tuesday evening.

Tuesday, June 10th

City Hall

34009 Alvarado-Niles Road

Union City

6:30- 8:00 PM


Chris DeBenedetti


  1. Chris, what requirements does one need if they wanted their cause showcased and promoted in a post to the TCB? Just a website and an assertion that one represents *something* seems to be it.

    My organization called “Save Our Hills From Save Our Hills” is scheduled to have lunch at 1230 pm today. At this lunch, we discuss/rally/protest/muse over the development of topic. Please notify the community of this pressing event.

    Martin Force
    Founder, Save Our Hills From Save Our Hills and aspiring municipal committee member.

  2. “Hill area” as shown on the general plan consists of three distinct hill areas, namely:

    (a) The hill area located above the toe of the hill line, subject to the provisions of the Hill Area Initiative of 2002.

    (b) The hill area located below the toe of the hill line but within the area affected by the Hillside Initiative of 1981. This area is generally located easterly of Mission Boulevard and I-680.

    (c) The other hill areas not included in subsections (a) and (b) of this section. These areas are generally located between the northern and southern crossings of Mission Boulevard and I-680 as well as the Coyote Hills area.”

    Hey – whatdya know – there’s more to it than just that thing we all point to and call “a hill”. . . but we all knew that already – – right?


  3. Yes box, there certainly is more to it than “saving our hills”. You get the joke.

  4. Oh hell no…. Youre not gonna play that “i was only joking” excuse are you??? #fail

  5. You got me, boxie. The website is totally serious. Caught again 🙁


    Martin Force
    Founder, Save Our Hills From Save Our Hills and a serious man.

  6. Geezus, Marty – at least have the guts to stand somewhere on your own convictions – – however flawed they may be.

  7. Come on marty at least have the guts to stand by your position and call it what it is. Humor isnt selective in its application.
    But since you appear to be flailing wildly to identify your own position … bigotry comes to mind..

  8. “…bigotry comes to mind..”

    Expound on that please. Sounds interesting.

  9. I would remind you that extremism in the defense of reasonable development is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of a professional sports franchise coming to your community is no virtue!

  10. Chirp, chirp…

    Boxie must be laying down and getting some rest after spending so many hours standing by his convictions.

  11. Union City is just wants to save there hills, like Fremont has…. Go to Hayward or Milpitas, the hills are covered with homes, looks ugly…

  12. Bill, this development is not on the hillside. It is a swath of land in front of the hills that is entirely flat. Look at a google map and drive by the land in question. The development is 100% in line with current development immediately north and south of the Masons property, all of which is not intrusive of the hill landscape in any way.

    Opposition to this development is hyperbolic crap.

  13. It may be hyperbolic crap Marty but it also respects Fremont’s definitions (posted below within this thread.
    You might take your concerns up with the CoF.

  14. Media isn’t giving this one the attention it deserves . . . why is that?

    My Word: Don’t allow development near Masonic Home in Union City

    By Jan Frydendahl
    Guest commentary

    Posted: 02/03/2010 12:01:00 AM PST

    UNION City residents: Your help is needed.

    The Planning Commission and City Council seem ready to ignore the hillside protection measure (which overwhelmingly passed in 1996 with nearly 70 percent of the vote) and allow development on property east of Mission Boulevard.

    This land was specifically set aside for protection.

    This is turning into a sad story of greed by the Masonic Home developers and a complicit Union City staff ready to ignore our vote and plea for open space.

    Years ago, the Meyers family set aside hundreds of acres in the Union City hills for protection. Much of that land can be found in the beautiful Dry Creek Regional Park.

    Some of that land was agricultural land that fell out of the park. About 30 acres were sold cheaply to the Masonic Home (after the vote labeled it as protected property) and now the Masonic Home wants to build five-story condos and a retail center on property that we voted to protect.

    While the Masonic Home may have good intentions, it is acting like a greedy corporation, acquiring land cheaply and then trying to put a monstrous complex next to Mission Boulevard.

    What is sad is that elected officials of Union City are behaving even worse.

    At a public meeting last year, the mayor of Union City said that he thought the voter-approved protections were too stringent, so he was going to support undermining them. Recently, the chairman of the Planning Commission said in a public meeting, “When this project goes forward … .”

    This is highly unethical behavior. They are talking about land that we voted to protect. It is illegal to build on this property, yet they are meeting with developers in private and supporting a project we specifically voted to keep off this beautiful land.

    While my family would be directly impacted by this project (we would be looking right across Mission Boulevard into a five-story monstrosity), I strongly oppose this project for other reasons.

    This land needs protection. I have counted as many as 10 deer and more than 30 wild turkeys foraging on the site where they want to build a retail/townhouse complex.

    The East Bay Regional Park District has a parking lot on the north end of this property. This land should be given, or sold, or leased to the park system and Dry Creek Park should be expanded. That is the right thing to do.

    This will end up being a classic case of David vs. Goliath. The developer has money and an apparently complicit city staff to undermine legal protection of this property. They don’t seem inclined to listen to us residents.

    Please call City Council members, tell them we want the hillside protection measure to remain. If they don’t listen, then resoundingly tell them we want this property protected if they place it on the ballot again this November.

    Jan Frydendahl, Ed.D., teaches mathematics and statistics in Fremont, which he has done for 18 years. He resides in Union City.

  15. Calling Fremont City Council members will not help you…some are known hypocrites and most if not all have been compromised.

  16. It seems like if you were sincere about identifying reasons NOT to contact the Fremont City Council re this issue – – the MAIN point would be because it’s not a matter that (directly) involves Fremont.
    So you opted to emphasize issues which are more personalized in nature and off-topic. Why is that?

  17. Frickin’ hiralious. I am priniting that and bringing to the next meeting. PLEASE LEARN from this.

  18. Thank you for making the ‘rare’ laugh at this God awful hour on this God awful day at this God awful age.

  19. OK – humor aside.

    Like it or not, these lands were included in Union City’s voter decision in 1996 – Hills or
    No Hills. Now, Dominic Dutra smells
    money, and wants to reverse this voter decision. If successful, what will be reversed next?
    THE HILLS? (I think that is what these
    folks are trying to say – and IMO, is correct).
    The voters decided to protect the Masonic area as they did the hills. If
    you, Marty/Dominic, want to cash in; you need to start gathering signatures. Have fun in winter doing this – I’ve been
    there. Hopefully, due to the Karma
    coming back at you – it will rain.


    We need rain.

    Go for it.

    (GREAT website Marty and
    great try at side skirting that little voter thing)

  20. As always, I ignored Charlie.

    But I actually like what he has done with the wave. I picture Dominic/Marty standing under it
    gathering signatures….

    (…and Charlie – way to go: No mention of the A’s. The pills are working cupcake)

  21. As always, for only a $1 donation the *demonize a developer* crowd will give you one of these. Free Fremont… Viva Bacon…PLAY BALL!

  22. Beware Dan-O…if you eat one of these you might just take a campaign contribution from one of those evil developers. PLAY BALL!

  23. No on Proposition KK (Save the

    Reasons to
    vote no:

    Emergency parking along Mission.

    Just down the road from the
    Mason’s foothills high density housing was recently built along Mission. The result is the shoulders of Mission Blvd
    are filled with parked cars. There is
    nowhere for a car to pull over in an Emergency, flat tire whatever. The same will happen to Mission near the

    -Not enough
    water already. More consumption will
    increase drought probability.

    -Land fills
    are already past capacity.

    congestion which is terrible already will get worse leading to:

    -road rage

    -inability to get patients
    (senior citizens) to hospitals in an emergency in a timely matter

    -more smog as cars spend more
    time on the road

    -worse gas mpg as cars are

    -more lights and stop signs
    causing cars to idle longer causing smog and wasted gas.

    -worse gas mpg as cars are
    spending less time in overtime gears stopping/ slowing for these traffic

    -cramming all these people
    together has led to Spare the air no wood burning days.

    studies are showing that open land reduces stress, instill happiness, fights

    density housing tends to congregate tenants prone to criminal activity.


    tactics of Masons

    -Bought land dirt cheap with
    understanding they couldn’t develop on it.

    -Putting “Save the
    hills” on Yes on KK signs to
    confuse the voters.

    City Greed:

    -The city wants anything that will
    increase tax revenue. The population growth
    of this area has been obvious, but the city has done next to nothing to widen
    or add roads. They just want to
    build, build, build with no
    consideration of the quality of life of the people they serve.

    -If we allow them to open this door,
    they will likely be after the hills (Garin Park) next.

    Rebuttal: Building on this land will create jobs:

    Rebuttal to rebuttal:

    We do need more jobs but not
    more housing:

    -Union city already has high
    percentage of people living here but not working as there are few local places
    to work. Enough high density housing

    construction jobs will be temporary.

    -There is plenty
    of land already zoned for building. They
    don’t need to build on land voted for and zoned as open land.

  24. Chris does some painfully balanced reporting on Measure KK in this morning’s Argus. Nice job of letting the proponent/opponent speak for themselves –


    You wanna separate fact from fiction it’s REALLY simple folks. Drive north on Mission thru Hayward – do you like what you see? If so – vote “YES” on Measure KK. Alternatively – drive south thru Fremont on Mission – do you like what you see? If so – vote “NO” on Measure KK.
    The difference is in how Hayward and Fremont protect (or NOT) the hillside AND (far more importantly) THE SPACE IN FRONT (called the “toe” of the hill).
    The Masonic folks would like you to ignore this little consideration. They think the flat land in front of the hill is just a wasted opportunity. Fremont, on the other hand, sees it as a beginning of an important geographical feature.
    And while the pro-KK faction ignores this very important distinction, they also do a nice job of painting pretty pictures – – -Like it isn’t going to be a 7-11 at some strip mall – it will be a “….Napa style deli….” – – – MWAHAHAHAH!!
    In WHO’S LIFETIME will you EVER find a “Napa style” deli in Union City or in a 10 mile radius of Union City????? But – this is all speculation – right? If Sanjay opens another liquor store in front of the Masonic home – – as opposed to a “Napa style” deli – – – who’s gonna complain – – -and just what the frick do you propose to do about it?????
    AND – Vineyards ???
    Yeah – like plant a few running feet of vines and plop park bench at one end – – – you’ve pretty much filled that little promise haven’t you?
    Look – it’s all a question of how much in fill you want and how much of a loss you’re willing to take on your property values.
    Do you suppose the grazing deer in open fields are attractive to prospective buyers OR do you think another 7/11 and a strip mall (what the masonic folks are calling “a Napa style deli”) will encourage or discourage improving property values? Do the math!!!!
    You like Hayward or Fremont?
    You get to choose . .

  25. WOW!

    “Save our Hills – Vote YES on KK”

    I saw these signs posted up Alverado-Niles today

    .TO THE PRO-KK CROWD, I HAVE A QUESTION – What INCREMENTAL protections does KK offer *OUR HILLS* that is not already in place?

    And since the answer to this question is “none” – – then doesn’t that make these signs just a tad bit on the deceptive side?

    And since the answer to THIS QUESTION is “yes” – then, just what kind of campaign HAS TO RELY ON DECEPTION?????

    Why can’t you simply argue the merits of your case????


    Come on guys, at least have the guts to stand up and call it what it is. You need to amend the previously granted protections to construct your vision. There are NO incremental protections offered to the hills by measure KK.

    And, while, If the electorate shares your vision – no problems – I can respect that – but, when you have to rely on deception to win your case – sorry – for this one alone, you lose in my book.

    Folks – it’s real simple –
    If you want to PROTECT the hills – you vote NO on KK.
    If you want to see more in-fill and construction closer to the hills than is currently permitted – vote YES on KK (and watch your property values to a nose dive when you do).

  26. Why are the Masons willing to spend $500,000 + to buy your vote in exchange for only 63 acres? 1. Local politicians are expensive and it’s not easy to fool the people of Union City. 2. This is only the first step of their master plan to develop the entire hills. DO NOT BE FOOLED – VOTE NO on Measure KK

  27. Oct. 21

    Oakland Tribune Letters to the editor

    Posted: 10/20/2014 04:00:00 PM PDT0

    Updated: 10/20/2014 06:32:39 PM PDT

    Union City voters should reject KK

    Union City residents should vote no on Measure KK. Keeping the flatlands along Mission Boulevard zoned for agriculture, not development, is in keeping with its residents’ past voting history. The Masonic Home has spent more than $200,000 to overpower the residents’ 1996 vote to keep this land open space by using deceptive advertisement under the guise of senior services to sway votes. We all should be in favor of medical facilities and housing for our elderly population. However, the Masonic Home is not required under this measure to provide any of these things, certainly not to the public.

    Once the zoning is changed, the Masonic Home has no legal obligation to fulfill any campaign promises. Measure KK supporters have already tried to sway the city and its residents on two separate occasions by presenting fancy, expensive plans of housing and shopping. This is the third attempt. If voters pass this, who’s to say plans for the Masonic Home won’t change again. No laws will prevent it.

    Please save our open space by voting no on Measure KK.

    Codel Frydendahl

  28. Oakland Tribune editorial: Union City voters should reject Measure KK

    Oakland Tribune editorial © 2014 Bay Area News Group

    Posted: 10/21/2014 01:00:00 PM PDT

    Updated: 10/21/2014 02:37:46 PM PDT

    The backers of Measure KK, the Union City initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would allow development of 63 acres along Mission Boulevard, seem hellbent on alienating residents.

    At issue is a small flatlands portion of 6,100 acres that voters in 1995 declared off-limits to development as part of an effort to protect the city’s eastern foothills.

    The Masons of California own the 63 acres and are seeking to remove it from the building restrictions. Their initiative would allow for development of senior housing, a health care facility for dementia patients, single-family homes and retail. The plans would still undergo environmental review and the city approval process.

    Some limited construction on that narrow strip of flat land, which already has development on both ends, might be reasonable. But the Masons have gone about it all wrong. Voters should reject Measure KK.

    If the Masons want to develop their land, they should work with the community rather than trying to run roughshod over it with a half-million-dollar-plus campaign that has created ill-will and unnecessarily divided the city.

    A disingenuous last-minute compromise offered last week by project backers has come too late and is unenforceable. Three weeks before the election is not the time to try negotiating. That should have occurred before launching the initiative drive.

  29. Union City: Measure KK opponents reject ‘compromise’ offer on development plan

    By Chris De Benedetti
    The Argus

    Posted: 10/21/2014 03:50:57 PM PDT

    Updated: 10/22/2014 06:26:27 AM PDT

    UNION CITY — Opponents of Measure KK have rejected a late-campaign offer that would set aside the northern half of a 63-acre property for open space, saying they still oppose development on all of the area’s protected land.

    Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle, a measure supporter, hatched the idea last week, saying he hoped that reaching “a compromise” on the contentious issue would “heal some of the pain the community is suffering.”

    “This measure is pulling people apart instead of bringing them together,” Valle said.

    Measure KK would allow development on the protected flatland next to Mission Boulevard, between Whipple Road and O’Connell Lane. But hillside preservationists say that would damage one of Union City’s most scenic areas.

    The race has grown hostile, with both sides accusing each other of misleading voters.

    Valle sought to settle the dispute last week by asking the property’s owner, the Masons of California, to sell 30 acres to the East Bay Regional Park District, sparing half of the land. Masons leaders accepted the proposal Friday, asking opponents to consider it.

    “For us, this is a way to bring the community together in a way that benefits the city,” said Gary Charland, a Masons executive.

    But Tuesday, Save Our Hills group members and other opponents rejected the plan, saying it would be “a disservice to the voters of Union City” who’ve already mailed in absentee ballots.

    “The proposal came way too late in the campaign, and its timing and purpose are very suspicious,” said Bob Garfinkle, a Save Our Hills leader.

    Opponents also question the Masons leaders’ sincerity because the East Bay Regional Park District has not yet agreed to purchase the 30 acres, Garfinkle said.

    In past years, the park district has shown interest in acquiring part of the property, said Bob Nisbet, assistant general manager in the park district’s land division. However, nobody has asked park district leaders, specifically, to purchase the northern half of the property or to support the compromise, Nisbet said.

    That makes it difficult to take the offer seriously, said Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci, who opposes the measure.

    “For there to be a compromise, the main parties have to be involved,” she said.

    Garfinkle and other preservationists say the measure will take away open space currently spared from development because it is part of 6,100 acres protected by Union City’s Hillside Area Plan and Measure II, both approved about 20 years ago.

    But Masons leaders say the initiative would allow only what its ballot language states — the construction of new senior housing, health care facilities, low-density single-family residences, retail, parks, open space, trails and a community garden.

    The “Yes on KK” committee, funded almost entirely by the Masons of California, has amassed about $560,000 in contributions, outraising opponents 40 to 1.

    Measure opponents say the large campaign war chest indicates that the measure is big business, promising large profits.

    However, Masons leaders say they want to expand their longtime mission of giving health care to senior citizens and will keep reaching for that goal despite their offer being rejected.

    “We’re going to continue with the campaign,” Charland said. “We’ll continue with our message and in promoting our vision for that property.”

  30. Letter to the Editor: Filipino Advocates weigh in on Measure KK

    We at Filipino Advocates for Justice cannot support Measure KK on the November 2014 Union City ballot.

    It’s never a good policy for voters to give developers a blank check. As informed voters we have to examine what Measure KK actually does vs. what its promoters promise it will do. In fact Measure KK only removes the protections for part of Union City’s hillside; protections which were put into place by voters in 1996 because Union City valued protecting the environment from over-development.

    While Measure KK supporters promise jobs, hillside protections and no cost to taxpayers; no language in Measure KK will do that. Measure KK lifts hillside protections so the developer can do whatever they want. Bad idea. In fact, when the Masons sought support for development in 2009, they put their plans on hold when they were asked to include a Community Benefits Agreement and Project Labor Agreement. These agreements would have provided jobs and services but the Masons thought such agreements were too costly. Without specific plans contained in the text of the measure, there are no assurances of any kind.

    Voters need to look at this Measure in the context of the development that is already under way in the same part of town. Additional developments like the Mason’s proposal will double the impact of traffic and the need for services (like garbage pick up, police, fire, water and increased energy) to support additional infrastructure. The city estimates that the necessary upgrades for infrastructure and emergency services will cost well over $100 million. These additional services will become the responsibility of taxpayers in the form of increased taxes. KK benefits the developers greatly at taxpayers expense.

    Further development in the east side will increase rents and displace Decoto renters. They are already bearing the brunt of Union City development. Additional single-family housing will likely re-zone the Decoto neighborhood again, pushing Decoto children out of neighborhood schools.

Leave a Reply

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