Council Votes to Endorse November School Bond Measure

The City Council voted on to endorse a $9 billion Statewide bond measure that will be on the ballot this November. The vote was 4-1 with me casting the one dissenting vote. While it sounds nice to provide money for schools, this bond measure is, in my opinion, the wrong way to do it.

The bond measure puts the burden of paying for new construction on taxpayers. I believe housing developers should pay for the new school construction that is necessitated by their developments.

schoolsWe are all aware of the current school overcrowding issue in Fremont and other cities. The main reason for this is that new development has continued at a rapid pace and the State simply doesn’t have the money to build the needed schools. I believe that the responsibility for building new schools should rest on the developers that are making those new schools necessary, and profiting handsomely from those developments.

Currently, the fees that developers are required to pay to cover new school construction are capped by state law. The fees only cover about one-third of the needed infrastructure.

By State law, developers have to pay either Level I, II or III fees. The higher the level, the higher the fees.

Fremont has been able to show that we’re impacted enough such that Level II fees are now required. For Level III fees to be implemented, it would have to be shown that the money that the State set aside for schools from the last bond measure has been exhausted. This money has basically been exhausted since 2012 but the developers have successfully lobbied hard to avoid Level III fees kicking in. These fees would be implemented by the State legislature.

If successful, the proposed bond measure would exempt developers from having to pay Level III fees. They would continue paying only one third of what is needed to accommodate new development. That is why groups like the Building Industry Association have spent millions in support of the bond measure. While some of the proceeds of the bond would help our current schools, a full third of the bond money ($3 billion!) would go to new construction, letting developers of the hook from paying their fair share.

Governor Jerry Brown, who has the unenviable task of trying to balance the State’s budget, had this to say about the bond measure:

“I am against the developers’ $9-billion bond. It’s a blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money that would be far better spent in low-income communities.”

If developers want to continue the rapid pace of developing housing in the booming California real estate market, they need to pay the true costs that this development has on local communities. I stand with those that have gone to Sacramento to push for Level III fees to be implemented immediately. I will not support a bond measure that doesn’t have developers paying their fair share of new school construction costs.

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