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26 August 2006

Fremont's budget woes

A handful of articles have been put out over the past few months questioning how infrastructure will be paid for at Pacific Commons should a ballpark come in. Chief among these concerns is the extra policing that will be required for event security, traffic control, and additional presence in the new “entertainment district” that should be expected. Officer.com, a police industry website, has the Argus story from June detailing Fremont’s budget woes. In the story are the following nuggets:
  • AT&T Park typically has 18 SFPD officers on staff for a Giants game, 24 for Giants-Dodgers games
  • The Giants pay for security inside the park, SF City/County pays for traffic/crowd control outside the park.
  • In 2005, overtime for Giants games cost $250,000.
  • Fremont typically has only 16 officers deployed at any one time throughout the entire city.
  • Fremont has slashed its budget by cutting $25 million and 220 jobs over the past few years.
  • Fremont may have to dip into its reserve fund to pay for 2006-07 city services.
Sounds daunting, doesn't it? It does, but only when viewed through the prism of those facts above. There are several things to keep in mind:
  • Population has grown 1-2% in the past 5 years. That along with the state's budget crunch have severely limited appropriations to Fremont. With the creation of new housing at Pacific Commons (5,000-10,000 new residents), by law appropriations will grow proportionally.
  • Rezoning and reassessment of the remaining Pacific Commons should increase property tax revenues significantly, on the order of several million dollars per year. Fremont gets 15% of every property tax dollar, while Alameda County gets 20% into its general fund.
  • New retail development will increase sales tax revenue. Of the 8.75% sales tax rate in Alameda County, a 0.5% chunk automatically goes towards local public safety. Should 250,000 new square feet be built, that small 0.5% chunk would translate to as much as $500,000 per year alone for local public safety (based on $400 per square foot, per year in sales).
  • Hotel tax revenue growth has been flat since the dot-com bust. The creation of a new hotel (a new Hilton to replace the old Fremont Hilton?) and buzz in the South Fremont area could translate into increased revenues, especially the Fremont Marriott. Fremont's hotel tax is 8%, lower than both Oakland (11%) and San Jose (10%), so there is room for a hotel tax hike if it's warranted.
If all of that fails to bring in the necessary revenue, there is always one possibility: a ticket tax. Historically, such a tax has proven unappealing to teams because they see a ticket tax as eating into their own ticket revenue. However, even a nominal tax - say, 50 cents per ticket - should produce upwards of $1 million per year depending on attendance. That should go a long way towards funding the necessary police presence at Pacific Commons. The introduction of such a tax will be a bone of contention. The good thing about it is that the tax wouldn't be used to pay down any bond-related debt, only for budgeted services.

If anything, the big question is where the staffing will come from. Fremont certainly isn't going to hire a dozen or so police officers just to staff A's games. Much of the time stadium detail is overtime work and is charged accordingly. It's possible that staff will have to come from neighboring jurisdictions such as Newark and Union City. The Alameda County Sheriff's department may be tapped as well. The Sheriff's department has grown as a result of the closure of the Oakland City Jail, though I'm no expert as to how prison guard work translates into stadium detail.

Fire and emergency services are no small requirement either, and both of those have been hit by the budget crunch. Again, the incremental increases in revenue should help this even if the state's budget problems remain. The fact is that the city needs to grow economically to insulate itself against future crises.

As Fremont celebrates its 50th anniversary, its leaders need to plot how the next 10, 20, 50 years will look. A decision on the ballpark development will go a long way towards establishing that legacy.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer,
What's the population of Anaheim and Arlington Texas (Angels, Rangers). Are either bigger/smaller than Fremont? It would be interesting to see how both realatively "small" city's handle police/security at Angels and Rangers games. IMO, I don't see policing A's games at Pacific Commons as a big problem whatsover.

Oakland Si said...

A huge issue is transportation.From what I've read the Warm Springs station project doesn't expect to be completed and open for business until 2013 -- and that's assuming all of the preliminary steps are successful to allow construction to begin. Any additional stations would depend on funding and, I imagine, other regulatory steps -- none of which can be assumed as certain to be built.

Having BART 5 miles away from a new ballpark means that auto traffic to and from the game will need to increase. Besides the problems that will create for 880 it also will mean losing fans who need and want to take public transportation.

BBSJ Spirit! said...

Marinelayer,
Is it any coincidence that Lew Wolff will be speaking at the SJ/SV Chamber of Commerce EXACTLY ONE YEAR after Bud Selig spoke in San Jose (Wed., 8/30)? Also, it's been almost one year since Baseball San Jose went silent (RIP)...miss blogging with you all over there!

Jeff said...

If the Oakland city jail was a true city jail, its closure has no effect on the Alameda county sheriffs department, other than the impact of the prisoners being transferred to the county jail. They would have been administerd by separte municiple entities. Most counties staff their jails with Deputies. To varying degree's, some of the deputies are new employees, some are veterarns who prefer to work in the jail (massive overtime), while most deputies are just putting in their time until they can transfer to the streets. Being that Fremont is a smaller municipality, I imagine that they would contribute a couple of officers with a large contigent of reserve officers. Alameda county would probably contribute the bulk of the actual law enforcement functions. Joint ventures between cities and county agencies are fairly common. Law enforcement is really not an issue, as a game requires very little contigious law enforcment. The detail would most likely be staffed by overtime and would be paid for in part by the team. It poses very little challenge for administrators as the time and duration of their presense is already known. To be honest, the law enforcement function is the very least of concerns.

NotBiasJustTrue said...

I am not Marine Layer,

But to answer the anonymous poster, Anahiem has a total population of 332,361, Arlington's population is 355,007. Fremont's total population is 204,525 making it quite smaller than both Anaheim and Arlington.

Anonymous said...

It's worth noting that Arlington, Texas and Anaheim, California are also more accessible to their larger metro areas than Fremont, largely due to geography.

BBSJ Spirit! said...

Anon 3:40,
How exactly are Anaheim and Arlington "more accessible to their larger metro area's" than Fremont? Looking at a map of the Bay Area, your statement doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Last time I checked, there weren't Himalayan-like mountains north and south of the Fremont city line. 880/680 from San Jose/Santa Clara Co. and 880/680 from the greater East Bay/Contra Costa Co. will serve Fremont Pacific Commons just fine...I guess some are just hell-bent on looking for flaws in Fremont's location.

NotBiasJustTrue said...

As mouch as I don't want to agree with bbsj, he/she has a point. Fremontis actually in a good location, and is accesible to all three major cities in the Bay. After all, Fremont is the fourth largest city in the Bay Area. However, Fremont still leaves much to be desired and whenever I go to San Jose, I can't help but forget that I actually went through Fremont to get there!

Marine Layer said...

As cited here previously, Arlington is also the largest city in the US without a public transportation system.

Anonymous said...

Something has to be done though. I wish a stadium deal could just be announced now! I can't stand looking at our poor, poor field!

bbsj spirit! said...

The Coliseum field does look pretty shitty now. The A's deserve so much better. To be fair, it's also pretty sad the Raiders have to play on infield dirt...I guess there are no true winners with the current Coliseum arrangement. The A's need a stadium announcement now!! Marinelayer, any chance the A's could play at AT&T Park while the new yard is being constructed...I'm sure the players would like that arrangement.

Anonymous said...

Nobody uses public transit in Texas. Arlington is well-located in the center of the metroplex and is extremely accessible for people all over that metro area. There are probably six freeways that get you there.

A similar point can be made about Anaheim, also resting in a flat location central to its intended fanbase of Orange County. LA is another car-centric area.

Fremont is between mountains and the bay requiring people not already in that particular city to take bridges or one of two major freeway routes. It's not possible to take city streets, access roads or "the other freeway" from San Mateo over to Fremont. Highway space going across the bay is limited and at 6:30pm can be significant slower than at other itmes of day.

Also, many residents of San Francisco especially don't own cars and rely on mass transit. This is not the case in LA and Texas where EVERYBODY has a car, certainly everybody who can afford to attend baseball games in shiny new ballparks.

I'd like to see more exploration of West Oakland BART as a location. The placement of the tracks is unfortunately bi-secting a large piece of real estate in an area that could be greatly revitalized by a ballpark. It also features great public transit access, freeways, proximity to downtown Oakland, a very central location and also more convenient access from SF. The hundreds of thousands of people working in downtown SF everyday could get from work to West Oakland BART in 15 minutes without any difficulty. The trip to Fremont is more like 45 minutes, requires a particular train to come by (one of 4) and WOULDN'T EVEN GET YOU TO THE BALLPARK requiring another leg.

It is well established that transit ridership falls with each additional connection required to reach the destination.

Anonymous said...

Fremont has always been a low crime city and it would be really nice to keep it that way. No on the A's ballpark!

Georob said...

Ah, NIMBY-ism is alive and well in Fremont!. Give ol' anonymous there a free dinner coupon to Everett and Jones courtesy of the OAFC

BBSJ Spirit! said...

I didn't realize crime was such a problem at AT&T Park. Nor did I realize that AT&T had brought waves of crime to South Beach/SOMA...IT HASN'T!! But again, some people are hell-bent on finding negatives of the Fremont/Pacific Commons site. It's going to happen people, LIVE WITH IT!!

jrbh said...

Today was my first live game since the Raiders marched up and down the field, or at least their defense did, and I was expecting it to look pretty ugly, but I have to say the field looked like it was in good shape.

I heard that they're now using pallets under the supporting poles for the temporary football stands, and that it's made a huge difference.

Also, the grounds crew has gotten much better at figuring out how to obscure the yardlines from the football game. It doesn't effect the quality of the grass either way, but it sure is a nicer look.

NotBiasJustTrue said...

Yea I've seen the Coliseum field look much worse than it does now. The Coliseum is still a decent place to watch a game!

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that in Fremont, the police stopped responding to home alarms that went off since the police budget was getting too costly.

Fremont Sees Increase in Burglaries One Year After Controversial Policy

FREMONT, CA (KCBS) -- It was one year ago that Fremont Police adopted a controversial policy of not responding to most burglar alarms in an effort to cut costs.

Now statistics show the city has seen a spike in burglaries according to KCBS reporter Matt Bigler.

In 2005 there were 977 burglaries in Fremont compared to 854 in 2004. That is a more than 14-percent increase in one year.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that Oakland homicides are totally out of control:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/breaking_news/15397618.htm

And the field looks like shit. More importantly, the outfield plays like concrete.

Marine Layer said...

That's it guys. No more city-bashing, this isn't the place for that.

Jeff said...

The city bashing is a little ironic. The communities in the bay are unique, and each has something to offer. But this was never about "communities". The whole issue involves marketing. Nothing more, nothing less, and nothing personal. Oakland has had ample opportunity in the last 20 years to develop it's long term land use, and they cannot possibly have been ignorent of the stadia construction boon within MLB. They have known this day was coming for a long time, but they are helpless to change the current realities within the city and within MLB. I am very happy that the A's will remain a Bay area team. In the end, that was really the only best case scenario available. I feel for the Oakland supporters, especially the ones who live within the city. It would suck to loose the team from your own town. But on the other hand, the team gets it's own park, and they are just down the road. And who knows, the public transportation problem may soon solve itself. In fact, the teams relocation may be a catalyst for completing the BART loop. There is lot more positive for a lot more folks in the preliminary relocation plans. I hope most Oakland supporters eventually see the truth in that.

Georob said...

Jeff, your point about "unique communities" is a good one. Because of the geography of the Bay Area, it's very easy to consider one's own locality quite different and separate from areas only 20 miles away.

When you live in Central Contra Costa, the world ends at the Caldecott Tunnel. If you're in Marin, your world ends at the Bay on two sides unless you work in SF.

As for SF and even Oakland, because the layout of those cities is very dense and urban compared to the rest of the region, anything that remotely "smells" of suburbia may as well be in Death Valley.

And from reading this blog, I now have the impression that many San Jose residents pretty much consider everything north of the Dumbarton Bridge to be Oregon.

Am I right?

Jeff said...

LOL...that was funny Rob. Soon papers may be required for transit. "Sir, are you transporting any vegetables or other undesirable substances into Fremont." Do we face deportation if we cannot produce documentation and attempt to attend an unathorized A's game? Because if what you say is true then both of us are in real trouble. What would the equivalent of Fresno be? Saudia Arabia?

Georob said...

I thought Fresno WAS Saudi Arabia:)

James said...

ML,

I'm curious about your comment that the hotel at Pacific Commons might a Hilton. All of Wolff's current hotels are top-tier including six Fairmont properties and six Four Seasons (among others). Hilton strikes me as being too under-stated of a brand for Wolff (unless it was Conrad-branded, keeping it in the Hilton family). So I was wondering what specifically, if anything, you have heard. If Wolff wanted to go with Hilton, could the contract be nullified with the current Fremont/Newark Hilton? What benefits would the Hilton Corp. get from doing so if they are just trading out one Hilton for another? And if Wolff wanted a Hilton-family brand, why not just brand it Doubletree or Embassy Suites?

Jeff said...

No way is Fresno Saudia Arabia. Saudia Arabia is no where near as hot.

Marine Layer said...

Wolff is all over the place with hotels. He built the San Jose Hilton. The LA Convention Center hotel he was going to build was supposed to be a Hilton. He's worked with Marriott. He runs the two local Fairmonts and the Rosewood group of luxury hotels. He can go any number of directions with a hotel property near a ballpark, and he probably already knows what brand to place there.

We still don't know what the residential component will look like. If there are high-end towers in the plan, then a luxury hotel makes sense to go with it.

James said...

ML,

Thanks for the clarification. I got my info off of his website, and all listed properties were high-end. Perhaps he develops other brands and then turns them over to other management companies or sells them. It's also a good point about the hotel brand possibly being related to the value of the residental component.

Along related lines, there is something I've been wondering for quite some time relating to the dedicated wetlands adjacent to Pacific Commons. Can/will any sort of folliage or landscaping be installed? Would that skew the purpose of the wetlands habitat? If they could so plantings, could they perhaps also install an elevated jogging/biking trail causeway connecting the southern development (Marriott area) with PC? Has any of this been discussed? The wetlands looks pretty bad and I'd hate to think that will stay the way it is, especially againt the backdrop of what hopefully will be a stunning ballpark development. I think a view of an uninhabited parklike setting would help the value of the PC condos. Any thoughts?

Marine Layer said...

The wetlands is going to look vastly different over the next 20 years. I'll go into further detail in my next post.

Jeff said...

Having never seen the "Wetlands" spoken of in this thread, I have a question. Is the term "wetlands" synonymous with a foul smelling bog or perhaps a stench filled marsh? It never occurred to me to ask before, but this little detail suddenly seems important.