26 July 2007

A's promise school

Linh Tat's article in the Argus addresses the school situation:

Besides opening an elementary school, A's officials said they are willing to consider offering a specialized technology or health program for students, tutoring, math and reading programs, internships and scholarships. A program recognizing Fremont's teacher of the year also was suggested.

"These are just our ideas that we would love to explore with you. . . . We really think there's a great opportunity to get creative," said A's official Keith Wolff, son of team co-owner Lew Wolff.

"Our commitment is to whatever the student population is (that's) created by the village," Keith Wolff said. "We're going to need to work with the district to serve them. That will be an obligation."

The A's project $10.7 million in developer fees will go to the district, but both sides acknowledge the fees won't be enough to build the school on their own. There are four questions that come out of this challenge:
  • Where in the village will the school be located?
  • How big will it be?
  • How much will it cost beyond the amount covered by developer fees?
  • When would it open?
With the A's and Cisco partnering with FUSD, it could become quite a desirable grade school.


Anonymous said...

Well, they finally came to their senses. But it will be a big bill, and again, where to put it? Best bet is essentially the "Center of Town" sort of speak. Would the A's request use of the previous parcel that the school was going to be built on?

Marine Layer said...

No, I think the 40-acre parcel has been nixed. I have advocated a land swap of sorts if the parties can come to an agreement. For instance, it would be a good idea to have day-of-game employee parking on that parcel. They'll already have shuttles, so it makes sense.

The size of the school is the key. I would advocate a school/park combination for max utilization, but it would have to come at the expense of a few pocket parks and such.

Anonymous said...

They should build a school middle of the Townhomes.

I think they should build a Monorail from Bart to the Ballpark Village inside the Parking Garage.

Jeff P said...


Maybe I'm a little off topic here...but I don't see any mention of the Alameda county political machine. Are any of the county supervisor's involved at any of these meetings? I would be curious as to their stance on the relocation effort. This move will affect county services in a general way.

Marine Layer said...

That's a good question. Haggerty's been involved from the outset, but I haven't seen him in a while. When it comes time to assess county service needs, he'll step up. Coincidentally, Pacific Commons is in Gail Steele's district, which is probably why you haven't heard her complain even though she's on the Coliseum board.

The obvious need will be for police presence. Fremont can't justify hiring a bunch of officers just for the ballpark, so they'll have to reach out to other municipalities. Talk is that Newark and Union City may be involved, but the obvious solution comes from the AC Sheriff's office, where they've hired a bunch of personnel over the past couple of years.

Jeff P said...

I think I've mentioned this before...but the ballpark itself will require little policing effort. The games are scheduled events that are of short duration as far as policing goes. There really aren't a lot of cops at these types of events, especially ones that are considered family friendly. I would imagine it would be easy for the A's to contract with Alameda county for deputy sheriffs to police games on overtime. The real question for Fremont PD is the village....if police staffing at idea population ratio's are still indicative of effective policing. In other words, how many cops would Fremont have to hire when the build out is complete to maintain their current level of policing? On the plus side, new residential units aren't quite the drain on services that existing neighborhoods are. A combination of Fremont PD and Alameda SO would seem to be the most logical use of resources, especially since these are the two local government agencies that stand to gain the most from increased retail/residential use in the area.

Marine Layer said...

I estimated 9 new cops based on current ratios. It might be more because of the denser nature of the project and the longer business hours. It would be a good idea to establish a community policing center in the village.

Jeff P said...

That's not to bad....although nine never means nine when you're talking about hiring police. Inevitably the Chief will want a detective or two, plus supervisors, probably a Sergeant or two and a Lieutenant. Still, that's a pretty reasonable increase in staffing considering what's being planned. A community substation that is jointly shared by Alameda county SO on game day is an excellent idea. It will certainly discourage rowdy elements at the games if they face the prospect of not only being arrested, but also detained pending a transfer to the county jail or release on citation. Either way, they miss the game.

The more that is revealed about this plan the more I like it. The residents of Fremont will be well served by their political apparatus if all comes to fruition. A brand new neighborhood that has the infrastructure to attract non residents and entice them to spend money, an increase in police services without the attendant drain of established areas, and a new school that is at least partly funded by an outside source. Green spaces and parks developed for them, not to mention infrastructure being built up to protect the adjacent wetlands. Lots of open space with moderate density urban areas.

Quite an opportunity for a municipality the size of Fremont. I can understand them wanting to tread carefully, but it looks as if they can't loose.

Jonclaude4 said...

Maybe I missed something, but haven't seen any reference to school "bonds" to pay for the school?? ie, like the ones on our property tax bills.

Anon 11:52 re: "Monorail from Bart" ... great ideas need to keep being brought up, so they're not forgotten.

Anonymous said...


I believe that many times when new communities are planned, the developers actually have to build the schools - so in this case, Lew Wolff and the A's would be footing the bill, and no bonds would be issued (no debt).

Of course, I could be wrong here, and if so hope to be corrected by ML or someone who knows better.

Marine Layer said...

It sort of depends on negotiating stance. The Wolffs could say, "Look at all this stuff we're putting in here, yet you want me to foot the bill for the school too?" I don't think it's an open-and-shut case. We'll just have to see how obligated they really feel they are.

Georob said...

Maybe I've lived in Fresno too long, but I can't see a whole lot of families with kids wanting to live in a development like this. In a dense city like SF? Yes, because the whole town's like that. But in an urban ballpark village with upscale amenities, crowds of people, and traditional tract housing within a short distance? No sir!

This whole school discussion is misguided and possibly a distraction by those who want to de-rail the whole project.

Better for Lew Wolff to do something for the existing schools in Fremont, but a whole NEW ONE at Pacific Commons? Give me a flippin break!

Anonymous said...

Gerob, I believe we're talking about luxury town homes. And I know people who live in 'gated communities', so yes, there is a demand.

Jeff P said...


As a fellow hick in the sticks with a child going into grade school I have to disagree. If I were looking for a home in the bay area, this would actually seal the deal for me. We are talking about living in an area that can aptly be described as a megalopolis. What area would be more attractive than a smallish community such as Fremont with not only a brand new school, but a brand new neighborhood to boot? Everything you could want in family entertainment/convienience is merely a step out the front door? A strong police presence, low attendant crime, nearby parks, lots of open space, and most of all, a school district with a positive track record. Throw in the fact that such an area would almost surely be guaranteed to produce positive equity in your home in a short amount of time. Can't lose proposition from a family guy's perspective.

Georob said...

The question here is would a family with school age children want to live that close to a major league baseball stadium? IMO, the answer is not enough to warrant its own school. Perhaps ML has touched on this, but if the A's want to fund a charter school at PC that would attract kids from all over the district,(if not beyond) that would be different.

My guess is that we'll see young professionals with no children or very small ones, or older couples/individuals. That's a good market, and one with the disposable income to shop at the "amenities" within walking distance. However, upscale bistros, sports bars and gift shops are not the same as supermarkets, dry cleaners, and banks. Residents will still drive to where they need to go, trust me.

Let's not forget that this is going to be a major tourist atttracion when completed, and I can't think of a better example than Disneyland. I think all of us at one time or another have fantasized about what it would be like to live inside Disneyland (Ol' Walt actually had an apartment above the Main Street Fire Station) But if one had the opportunity and cash, would you really want to?

Jeff mentions that this would be a great investment, if nothing else. I don't know if that's what Lew Wolff had in mind, but I can't help thinking that we could see a lot of people buying these to use as vacation rentals, provided the CC&R's permit it.

Marine Layer said...

It's partly this concern that will shape how the development looks. The neighborhood designer, Pappageorge/Haymes, put together a plan that tapers structures from 4-5 story condo blocks down to townhomes and rowhouses the further you get away from the ballpark. This was obviously done to cater to the market forces at work. Natarajan in particular was not impressed by this. So the battle begins.

Most housing starts in the Bay Area nowadays are attached homes, not SFR's, so everyone's dealing with urbanization. The developer is also trying to make the non-village residential area limited access or gated to keep parking cheapskates out. There will have to be a balance between the city's desire to have a prototype mixed neighborhood and the developer's financial feasibility. There will be plenty of kids to start at least a small school in the area, say 300 kids at first.

There will be prospective homebuyers in the market that will be no doubt turned off by the high-energy/high-traffic village, but many of them will be offset by families that like the amenities. If the master plan ends up with gated communities, I think much of the concern will go away. The city has to consider it since from a practical standpoint, if they don't police costs may go up as a result.

Zonis said...


You are asking if people with small kids would like to move to an area with modern housing and a school which should be within walking distance, that their kids would not be bussed to? With a place close by for their teenagers, or themselves, to have ready access to entertainment and food?

The answer is yes. Yes they would like that.

Hell, in Albany, our entire attraction is that your kid can go to a good school and not have to be bussed anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Why would a elementary Students want to live that close to a major league baseball stadium?

Are they having is upscale bistros and sports bars.

Lew Wolff should focus on adults. So,adults can live on the house and go to sports bars. And he should build more condos.

If elementary Students may walk home from school. They may have Gangs and crime.

Georob said...

You know, I've yet to see anyone on this board say that they're putting down a deposit as soon as the homes become available.

I love baseball stadiums. That doesn't mean I want to live next to one.

I love grest shopping districts. that doesn't mean I want to live in one.

I love the concept of upscale urban living. But would I want to raise school age kids there? Not sure on that one, it would depend on the city.

The point is that great urban neighborhoods take years, if not decades to take shape. But one big flaw in the "new urbanist" theory is that you can put together all the pieces, flip a switch, and everyone's in perfect harmony from day one.

It doesn't happen that way. Pacific Commons will take shape its own way, on its own time and will develop its own character. A character very different from San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, or even the rest of Fremont. And twenty years from now folks will look at the original concept plans and probably laugh.

That doesn't mean that it won't be a great place. but I go back to my question about whether one would like to live in Disneyland. Frankly, I think some of you still are in Fantasyland.

And ML, if FUSD builds a neighborhood school for only 300 students, that's fiscally irresponsible. A charter school is the way to go here.

Marine Layer said...

Rob, you're imposing your own beliefs on the development, and that's irresponsible. I can take your reasoning and turn it completely around. If the planners assume (as you do) that there won't be many kids at the outset, what will happen in 20 years when the neighborhood inevitably changes and a school becomes necessary? The area will be completely built out with no place for a school. It will look extremely bad for all concerned. With the continuing urbanization of the Bay Area, there has to be the realization that old notions about demographics and family environments are bound to change. So it would be poor planning to not at least have land set aside for a school, whether they build it 3, 5, or 10 years after the first resident moves in.

I didn't say that FUSD should build a school only for 300 students. I'm saying that's a bottom line number for when a school should open, with an eye towards expansion. The nearest elementary school enrolls 569 students and can't handle too many more. Another school 1 mile east has 388 students. Over the first few years of development, it will be prudent to bus kids since the housing will be phased in over 7-10 years. During that time the parties can assess what type of school belongs there. But to not anticipate demand would be foolish.

The good thing about the phased in approach is that 41-acre parcel west of Cushing Pkwy, the one earmarked as temporary parking. It wouldn't be difficult to assign a school to that land and rework the housing plan as needed.

I grew up in North Sunnyvale in the 80's. I know busing like the back of my hand. 2 years after my parents moved us from SF to the neighborhood, the nearby, award-winning elementary school closed down. KRON-4's Vic Lee even did a news story on it. Prop 13 obliterated the district's finances, and the then working-class population weren't capable of footing the bill. The school didn't reopen for 20 years, when the dot-com boom raised property taxes high enough to support the school. Now the neighborhood has a good grade school, a new day care facility, and a good site sharing agreement between the school district and the city with revamped amenities.

These arguments are rather moot. It appears the A's and FUSD have agreed there's no question of "if," it's "where" and "when."