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School Board Criticized by City for Proposing a Resolution on Development

As mentioned in a previous Facebook post, when told about the City of Fremont’s plans for residential growth at our last joint meeting, all five of the School Board members expressed strong concerns as to how our schools would deal with all of this development.

At last night’s School Board meeting a resolution with the following title was on the agenda – “Support for Reducing the Negative Impacts of Unrestricted Land Development on Fremont Schools”.

The resolution begins:

“Whereas, Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) has been experiencing strong year-over-year enrollment increases as a direct result of the City of Fremont approving new housing developments that generate large numbers of new students to the school district, and … (lots more whereas statements)”

And ends:

“Now Therefore Be It Resolved, FUSD formally requests a full accounting of all available property owned or controlled by the City of Fremont, and is asking the City of Fremont to suspend further approval of all developments until the land and/or funds are provided to FUSD to build the new schools needed to house the students generated by the developments approved by the City of Fremont.”

In my opinion, this is a simple and reasonable request – don’t approve more and more development that hurts our schools.  However, the City of Fremont, without consulting with its City Council, sent a notice to the School Board asking them to reject this motion!

The Fremont Chamber of Commerce also criticized the School Board for even considering to speak out against continued, unchecked development.

Unfortunately, the School Board did cave into this pressure and did not approve the resolution.

In short, if you’re the School District and you try to speak out against the rampant development that is causing huge problems for your schools, the local City government and the local Chamber of Commerce will criticize you and tell you to stop it.  This is not right!  Let the School District tell everybody what’s really going on in this City regarding development!

Click below for the full resolutions and replies from the City of Fremont and the Chamber of Commerce.

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Council Endorses Alameda County Affordable Housing Bond (7/19)

On a 4-1 vote the Fremont City Council endorsed the Alameda County bond measure that will be on this November’s ballot. I was very much in favor of this.

Since I’ve been on the Council I’ve come to believe that affordable housing is one of the most important issues facing many local municipalities including the City of Fremont. Working people are having more and more trouble renting in Fremont let alone buying a home here. When affordable housing becomes available, the number of applicants is enormous.

In my position paper on affordable housing (http://bacon4fremont.com/affordable-housing/), I note that Fremont has a ratio of 8.30 lower wage jobs to places that people with these jobs can afford to live. That means that for every lower wage job in Fremont, 7.30 people have to commute here in order to work. It’s estimated that this translates to 6,000 people who work in Fremont and have to commute from somewhere else. (The corresponding figure for the City of San Jose alone is over 21,000.) If you wonder why traffic is so bad in the Bay Area, this imbalance is a good part of the reason.

Given the current situation, one could easily argue that Fremont, and many other local cities, should have asked for more affordable housing fees on past development. Obviously there was a need for it. But the past is the past and we can’t go back and change it. We can’t go back and ask those developers to pay increased fees. We are stuck with the current situation. Even if we substantially increased fees on future development, that wouldn’t resolve the problem.

I don’t see any other immediate options available that will help resolve the huge affordability problem that we have in the Bay Area. This bond measure will be local money used to resolve a critical local issue.

Council Approves Citywide Design Guidelines and Mission Palms Neighborhood Designation (7/12)

This may seem like a wonky planning issue but it has significant implications for many Fremont residents. The guidelines put limits on exactly how one can improve their current home. Residents are still free to make additions to their home, but within specified limits.

The attached photo is how a neighbor’s oversized addition can greatly impact ones privacy. This is now the neighbor’s new view from their kitchen. This home was modified by a ‘flipper’ who wanted to radically increase the existing home size and sell it for maximum value. I believe that residents who move into a neighborhood have a reasonable expectation that the neighborhood will retain its original character.

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Proposition 13 Reform Support Not Considered by Council

Proposition 13 was designed to help retired homeowners on a fixed income whose property taxes were rapidly rising. It limited the amount one’s property tax can increase annually even if their property values go way up. This was a laudable effort.

However, the rules of Proposition 13 apply to commercial and residential property. Of course, applying Proposition 13 to commercial properties does nothing to help homeowners. It’s estimated that this costs California nine billion dollars a year!

California used to be one of the leaders in how much we contributed to our public schools. Now we’re near the bottom of the list. Many have attributed this to Proposition 13. That’s why many school districts including Fremont’s, Hayward’s and Alameda County’s have signed on to a petition developed by Evolve to reform Proposition 13. A number of local cities and over 900 elected officials have signed on to this.

I made a referral to have the Fremont City Council sign on as well. Staff analyzed this and suggested that we simply monitor the situation. Despite this, I made a motion that the Fremont City Council sign on as well. My motion failed for a lack of a second.

Read more about the petition at http://evolve-ca.org.