Category Archives: City Planning

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.



More Stores, Less Parking at Pacific Commons (5/10)

I’ve always been disappointed that the City has failed to implement a walkable retail ‘downtown’ area as seen in cities like Pleasanton, Livermore, Mountain View, and many others. Instead our retail activities have gravitated towards the big-box style retail seen at Pacific Commons. Of course, this retail follows a very suburban, auto-oriented model.

While Pacific Commons is thriving retail that is good for our tax base, it makes it even harder for local retailers in the rest of Fremont. We all have basically a fixed amount of money that we will pay for food, clothes, etc. Having two good grocery stores near you won’t make you buy twice as much food. Pacific Commons is competition for other, more local retail in Fremont. This means that more and more people drive to do their shopping as there isn’t enough walkable retail.

parking (more…)

Density Bonus Ordinance Update (4/19)

This is another one of those ‘wonky’ planning issues that may not interest a lot of people. But these kinds of issues can have a significant impact on how development is allowed to proceed. The State has mandated new guidelines that allow for developers to get a ‘density bonus’ if their project are in certain locations and meet certain requirements.

Since the affected locations must be near signficant transit, the only real place these changes will apply is the Walnut / Guardino development near Fremont BART. (The development near Warm Springs BART has already been approved.) There were two items in here that concerned me which is why I voted against it. I was the lone dissenting vote. (more…)

Master Plan for the Last Parcel By Warm Springs BART Approved

On 4/5 the City Council approved the Master Plan for the Old Warm Springs parcel by Warm Springs BART. I was the lone dissenting vote.

We were told that the development around the new Warm Springs BART station would be an ’employment-oriented BART station’. We were shown pictures of large office buildings and well-designed plazas lining ‘Innovation Way’. This was indeed a chance to build a mixed-use transit-oriented development (TOD) that could have been a model of how to do TOD. Instead, we got a 4,000 unit housing development that will be a boon to the developers that bought the land, and will provide little benefits to the existing residents of Fremont.

I see many examples of mixed-use, transit-oriented development near BART stations and CalTrain stations throughout the Bay Area. With ample employment and retail, these areas become destinations for the host city bringing in many employees and shoppers from outside of their city. These locations also become destinations for the local residents providing places to work and shop near home. This development claims to be mixed-use but I would disagree.

The parcel on the agenda was the last of the three big ones near the Warm Springs BART station. It is a 28.7 acre parcel to the north of Grimmer and to the east of Fremont Blvd. Of the buildable area, 73% will be dedicated for residential development with 42% of the total being townhomes. I don’t know how you call that “employment-oriented” transit development.


Council Backtracks on Tandem Parking Requirements

This is kind of a wonky planning issue but it revealed a lot about how the City has worked to accommodate developers and their desire to develop as densely as possible in residential areas.

‘Tandem’ parking is where two cars will be parked one behind the other. Of course, the issue is that it’s not at all as convenient to use as two side-by-side parking spaces in a garage. Given that, people living in houses with two tandem parking spaces will tend to use them as only one parking space and use on-street parking for a second vehicle if needed.

Developers like this to use tandem parking as it allows them to increase density and lessen the frontage on their homes that is garages. (There are many dense developments where a large stretch of the streetscape is mainly garages as seen in this photo.) From the City’s perspective, they’re really not providing the same amount of parking spaces if they use tandem parking which, again, can put a burden on the public streets.

Staff had recommended an ordinance be drafted allowing for no more than 30% of a project’s parking needs handled by tandem parking. The Planning Commission had recommended a more restricted use of tandem parking by allowing it only in R-3 (a higher density residential zoning) and in TOD (Transit-Oriented Development) areas.