The City’s willingness to consider any request from a developer no matter how outrageous was well demonstrated by the Kimber Park fiasco.
A developer owns a piece of land which is zoned as open space. The developer wants to build houses on the land and asks for a re-zoning. Why the City even considered this request is unclear – why not just say no, sorry, this is zoned for open space. You can’t develop housing there. Instead, the Council wasted hours and hours of meetings debating whether to grant the request.
The neighbors formed a group called Save Kimber Park. They were so concerned that they spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteer hours gathering signatures for an initiative to make it harder for the city to re-zone open space, the Open Space Initiative.
The neighbors gathered enough votes to force the City Council to make a choice: either adopt the proposed initiative or put it on the ballot in November.
Last night, by a 3-2 vote the City Council decided to adopt the Open Space Initiative, instead of going through the costly and time-consuming process of putting it up to a vote of Fremont residents.
The Council’s decision saves the backers of the initiative from having to go through the campaign process which would have cost them a lot of time and money (in addition to what they have already spent gathering signatures).
A big congratulations goes to the Save Kimber Park people for making this happen. Their work in raising this issue, gathering signatures, etc. is the kind of civic involvement that our City needs more of. While the adoption of the initiative does not fully resolve the issue, this is a big step in the right direction.
But why did we have to go through this? Why didn’t the City Council simply reject the request in the first place? This is yet another example of the City Council bending over backwards to try to accommodate every developer’s scheme to make more profit.
In my opinion, Council should have made it clear from the get go that they would NOT be in favor of changing the zoning to allow for housing on the site. That would have prevented this whole situation from occurring in the first place.