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15 July 2007

Morrison unswayed, gets company

Chris De Benedetti of the Argus has the results of last week's Morrison-Wolff koffee klatch, and the former mayor remains unconvinced. Morrison added a new concern: the residential component would introduce 1,400 students, not 684 as was previously estimated. Morrison claims that he received the figure from a school board member, but FUSD superintendent Douglas Gephart disputed Morrison's number, saying,
"I think the number generated by the A's is within reason," Gephart said. "We don't expect 1,000 kids at all."
It appears that another former mayor, Don Dillon, also shares concerns about the ballpark village project:
Don Dillon, another former Fremont mayor, echoed Morrison's concerns about land-use issues. "Mainly, what troubles me greatly is that we're going to have to put 3,000 houses in our industrial zone," said Dillon, 85. "It's a total departure from the concept ... of keeping that area available for the kinds of uses that produce real income and local jobs without a whole lot of expense. (Rezoning) scraps that idea badly."

Dillon also questions the wisdom of holding several meetings with the A's before a development application has been filed.

However, Wasserman strongly defended the city's efforts with the A's, saying that type of criticism "is ludicrous."

"This is the biggest project, by tons, that this city will ever deal with, so it takes a lot of time," Wasserman said. "To say we don't sit down to talk with developers is really wrong. The (A's) have some of the best architects in the country working on this. They have deposited $500,000. It would be foolish for us to tell the A's, 'We're not going to talk to you.' "

This is where I got confused. Why wouldn't the city want an ongoing dialogue with the developer, especially if it increases the likelihood of a positive outcome for all parties? This project is far too complex to simply be taken in a single vote with minimal or no discussions.

Look beyond the posturing, and what you have here are simple philosophical differences. On one hand you have Morrison, who tends towards a skeptical approach to development. On the other hand you have Mayor Wasserman, who looks at the project as more of a partnership. Remember that it was Wasserman and county supe Scott Haggerty that initiated these discussions. There is something of a precedent when it comes to development decisions: when Morrison was still in office he opposed a Warm Springs Wal-Mart store, while Wasserman approved of the store as long as it wasn't a SuperCenter (grocery store component as well).

All of this highlights the notion of political will and its importance. It's likely that if Morrison were in office today, this plan would not have gotten past square one. For better or worse, Wasserman and the city council have the project at a relatively advanced stage, and are willing to play ball (pun intended).

15 comments:

Dean M. said...

Is this the first time that Wolff has said that the All Star Game will be at Cisco Field within five years of opening?

Ramon said...

This BS wouldn't happen in San Jose. It's still not too late, amigos!

Anonymous said...

The former Mayor's seem to want to generate headlines based on limited information and a distrust that the current elected officials are capable of fairly and properly evaluating the A's proposals.

Marine Layer said...

dean m. - I think so. There was a mention on NBC-11's late newcast on Friday night about an All-Star Game. Normally it's Selig that holds out the carrot, this time I guess he's entrusting Wolff with it.

ramon - It is happening in San Jose. It's happened before in San Jose. It will happen again in San Jose.

anon - Morrison has enough sway for Wolff to set up the koffee klatch, but beyond that? I suppose it depends on whether Morrison has suggestions for improving the plan or if he's simply going to pick it apart.

anthony dominguez said...

Mi Amigo Ramon!
Call me the eternal optimist (Rob probably thinks I'm insane), but I believe that once Mr. Wolff gets all 140 San Jose acres (FMC/Edenvale) for "soccer," something beautiful might happen down here in San Jose...IT'S NOT TOO LATE AT ALL! ( I'll stop with my SJ "nonesense" everyone once those pile drivers start putting in work at Pac Commons).

James said...

I've been studying the village layout that ML posted on June 30th and have some ideas with respect to the parking issues raised by Morrison.

Section R4 appears to be within 400 feet of the stadium. My solution would be to align Christy Street to descend below grade, and have a multi-level (3 or 4 story)parking structure beginning at the current street level, creating a single structure with the western boundary being the R4 plot. Condos could be built around the edges of the R4 plot to minimize the the parking structure appearance, and commercial space might even be built on the street level, with parking beginning at the second level. Christy Street could be configured in such a way that there are dedicated lanes into the parking structure with electronically monitored signs directing cars to specific areas of the garage. Traffic coming from the south could exit 880 at Fremont Blvd/Gateway and travel along the frontage road. Once inside the garage, the main pedestrian egress and parking payment machines could be on the northern-most portion encouraging foot traffic into the ballpark village.

The area currently designated as VIP parking could be developed as a highrise condo project, to replace the units lost in the R4 plot. The north-of-Auto Mall property could be redeveloped as a highrise office park (councilmember Anu Netarajan indicated her desire to see office space as part of the development) and could be the catalyst for improving and redeveloping that blighted Albrae corridor; perhaps the city could designate the west side of 880 between Auto Mall and Stevenson a redevelopment district which would give those property owners incentive to redevelop the property.

James said...

I want to clarify my previous post. My idea would have the parking structure extend from the R4 lot across a descended Christy Street so that the street would run partially under the parking structure, onto what I presume is now intended to be a surface lot. When I reread my post, it looked as though there might be confusion in thinking that R4 would be the only area where I thought there should be a parking structure.

One other clarification. I went to google maps and noticed there is no frontage road along that stretch of I-880, so those comments in my original post are not feasible.

Marine Layer said...

Good ideas James, but without a frontage road and with a major redo of Christy St, the Solectron folks (bottom right corner) would be severely impacted.

I don't think city officials want to entertain too much additional rezoning if they don't have to.

James said...

Thanks, ML.

If lowering the roadway isn't an option, can't they just connect the two parcels on the second level of the parking structure? There can be merge ramps along each side so that traffic coming from both north and south could enter the garage, and, likewise, exit. For example, fans heading south on Christy into the structure could enter through one of two ramps, the first for VIP and mobility impaired fans which would take them into the section that is now at the proposed R4 plot; the second ramp would bear left over Christy Street. As long as the two sections connect seamlessly, it sounds to me to meet the current restrictions Morrison is concerned about. I don't see anything wrong with having the structure be over the roadway.

Marine Layer said...

They don't need to resort to dedicated ramps. They're costly, take up a lot of space, and would have limited use. They're going to use cops to funnel the traffic regardless of how the parking is built out, so they shouldn't build anymore infrastructure than is absolutely necessary. To that end, I'm certain they'll combine whatever parcels they have on hand and build a surface lot or garage. There's no need to keep them separate. I'd rather they push ahead to acquire the other Brandin Ct properties because it'll give them a lot more flexibility.

Anonymous said...

ML,

Lew Wolff is not going to spend on ramps. Only Redevelopment Agency would have to pay for ramps. They would spend on ramps

http://www.fremont.gov/Construction/Redevelopment/IndustrialRedevelopmentArea.htm

Marine Layer said...

Ah yes, just give it to the Redevelopment Agency. Except that it's not clear how they'd pay for it, or that Redev would even approve if it got to that point. It all sounds good until it has to be budgeted.

Anonymous said...

They use their Redevelopment Agency Funds. I think they were talk about it.

On the General Guidelines Said
"5. The City may work with the Redevelopment Agency to use resources for activities permitted under the Industrial Redevelopment Plan."

Anonymous said...

Ml,

I can't find that NBC-11's late newcast on Friday night.

Can you tell me what they say about All-Star Game?

James said...

Anon 10:24,

I saw it. It was just a passing comment that the next allstar games in the bay area will most likely be held in Fremont in 2015.