Category Archives: Development

Residents Pan Fremont Development Activity Report

Back in September of last year, the Mayor made a referral to have staff report on development activity within the City. I was a little puzzled what the purpose of the referral was. I assume it was motivated by growing concerns within the community about the City’s development policies.

Soon after this, the City produced a mailer about development in the City. It said the recent development in Fremont was “designed intentionally to protect and enhance existing neighborhoods and elevate the community as a whole.” A number of people disagreed with the intent of the report and questioned why the City chose to use precious public funds to send out a propaganda piece trying to justify its development policies.

A total of 13 people spoke at the Council meeting and were all critical of the City’s development policies. I share many of their concerns.

Read the Mercury News Article on this.

Beechwood Development Approved by a 3-2 Vote

There were two main items on the agenda last night; Beechwood and the Affordable Housing Ordinance. I’ll deal with Beechwood in this post.Beechwood is a 19 unit development near the corner of Fremont and Ferry in the Brookvale area. The proposal included preserving the historic Motha house and building 18 new three story townhomes.

I expressed a number of concerns about the plan. The main road into the proposed project would have almost nothing but garage doors on both sides. The roadway is only 26 feet wide with over 30 foot high buildings on each side leading to a real chasm effect. The front doors for 13 of the units open up onto a thin walkway with a fence bordering the project on the other side of the walkway. I couldn’t see these walkways being used very much. Also, given that most of the units could be 4 bedroom units I’m not sure the nine common use parking spaces would be enough. Overall, I don’t like projects like this where there are as many three story townhomes as possible stuffed onto a vacant piece of land.

One resident had a concern that the free-standing unit directly behind the Motha house would tower over it as it’s 32 feet high and the Motha house is a single story. The applicant had proposed landscaping to address this but I didn’t see that as a viable solution.

The project was approved by a vote of 3-2 with Councilmember Mei and myself voting no.


Connolly's Shopping Center Allowed to Apply for Residential Conversion

This shopping center is located on Fremont Avenue in Irvington – a major commercial thoroughfare. The owner of the center wants to convert Connolly’s (a furniture store) and several surrounding businesses to residential.

I don’t believe it is a good idea to allow residential development on a retail shopping thoroughfare simply because the owner believes he can make more money that way. Instead, the City should promote investment in our retail shopping areas to make them more attractive and viable. Unfortunately, Council ended up voting 4-1 to allow the applicant to move forward.  (I cast the sole dissenting vote.)  Fortunately, this was not a final approval of the project but it is a step in that direction.

I believe this decision sends a message to commercial property owners that if they let their properties deteriorate enough that the City will reward them by allowing them to convert the use to housing. This sets a dangerous precedent and could lead to even fewer viable retail areas in a City that is already sorely lacking in attractive places to spend time.