26 October 2007

What size school? + Killion wants traffic answers

The Argus' Linh Tat covers discussions by trustees of the Fremont Unified School Board, who want the ballpark village's school to be larger than the 4-acre concept the A's have been pitching:
Sharing their vision for the new school for the first time, trustees agreed at Wednesday night's board meeting that they would like 4 1/2 acres of play area alone, and Trustee Larry Sweeney said he would like the entire school to encompass a minimum of 8 acres. Typical suburban schools are spread over 8 to 10 acres.
This means negotiations between the district and the A's can begin in earnest. The trustees want no more than two stories for safety reasons and more play area, which could include more than one field or one really large field. The A's want a more compact design so that they can conserve land for housing or other uses.

We'll see where they can come to an agreement. It's possible the city might step in here, especially if the concept ends up being a shared school/park facility. The A's have been reluctant to go that route, instead suggesting a series of smaller pocket parks and playgrounds. I've mentioned before that a bargaining chip may be the city-owned 40 acre parcel next to the rail line and near the now-closed-to-the-public landfill. From the discussions that emerged from the school board presentation a few weeks ago, there's a good sense that all parties know how to make this work.

The Merc's Ann Killion
jumps on the alarmist traffic bandwagon. This time, her critique is two-fold. There are the actual public transportation and traffic issues to address. Then there's the cavalier nature by which Lew Wolff is responding to repeated inquiries.

Killion wants to act as the environmentally conscious journalist when she writes:

Twenty years ago, 10 years ago, even two years ago locating a stadium away from easily accessed public transportation was not such a big deal. It wasn't even that big a deal last year when the A's unveiled their swanky plans for Cisco Field.

But with every passing day, every new horror story about global warming, every new Prius sold, every bump in gas prices, the public becomes more and more aware of the desperate need for better public transportation. That the old model of bigger freeways and longer traffic jams just isn't going to work.

Excellent points. I hope to take a new train from Downtown San Jose to Fremont to attend games, even if I have to take a shuttle. Maybe I'll even buy a townhouse near Cisco Field so that I can walk. I'll try to make my contribution.

Here's the problem I have with these critiques: the writers are jumping the gun by playing the
FUD card. Yes, there are concerns about how to properly route ballpark-related traffic and even reduce it. Getting effective public transportation to the site will be no easy feat and will require buy-in from many different entities, including Fremont, Alameda County, the MTC, and several transit agencies. Everyone who is in any way associated with the project is keenly aware of these issues. That does not mean, however, that they are intractable. It will require some very creative planning to put together a solid, usable system of traffic management and public transportation at the site. Let's wait until the traffic and transportation study are released, then we can give a proper assessment. Tonight I'll try to frame the discussion by assessing the local (Tri-Cities) public transportation system, and why the existing suburban buildout might make it difficult to implement any significant changes.

Funny thing is, wasn't it Killion who around this time last year
lobbied the Giants to accept a payoff for territorial rights to Santa Clara County? She even wrote this:
I'm less perturbed by Wolff's posturing about leaving Oakland and voicing his frustration over the red tape he is facing than I am about his discussion of one of the biggest hurdles: traffic.
I wonder then, where Killion would like to see the A's located? Definitely to a place that has good public transit infrastructure already in place. Maybe a place that could get both BART and High Speed Rail in the next 15-20 years. Maybe a place like... Downtown San Jose.

Nah. From a San Jose-based columnist? Couldn't be that.

(awaiting first Anthony Rodriguez, er., Dominguez comment...)


Anonymous said...

But there is uncertainty and doubt about it somehow wrong to mention that? You've talked about some parts of some solutions, in great detail, but even if you'd laid out the foolproof 100% solution, there's no guarantee it'd be adopted. Just saying, even proving, that a problem can be solved doesn't mean it will be. As you've morphed from analyst to advocate you've grown less tolerant of that, well, inconvenient truth.

A big part of the plan may well be just having fewer fans who transport publicly...I don't think that's OK on several levels, and it's certainly not shrill or alarmist to ask the questions in print where more than just the hard-core ballparkistas can read them


Marine Layer said...

Absolutely not, FSU. However, there is a difference between adding to the discussion and not. Killion was basically repeating what Glenn Dickey wrote weeks ago, and what Gwen Knapp wrote months ago. When Killion writes about the 49ers or Raiders I expect a certain level of detail. In this case, I'll acknowledge she's not a subject matter expert but she could at least investigate the matter further.

The case of urban ballparks with good transportation links is far more complicated than it appears on the surface. We are embarking upon an era where citizens have soured on massive redevelopment projects, eminent domain, and major league subsidized stadia - all of which fueled the previous stadium boom. Do you think that if today's public were been transplanted 15-20 years ago we'd see nearly as many publicly subsidized venues? Or desperate civic leaders? Sure, an urban ballpark looks altruistic, but in most cases it's the product of something far less charitable - at least to the public. When calculating the cost to the public, the concept needs to be assessed in its entirety, not just a single hot-button issue.

Anonymous said...

Killion say there are 82 night games! Her skills as a knowledgeable sports writer, traffic planner, city planner, pot hole expert, origional writer, researcher, etc. are not very impressive.

Anonymous said...

It's a slow sports day when a secondary market sports writer has to somehow tie the baby boomer nation's Toyota " drove an SUV for 15 years until MY kids got into college now I can pretend to be a condescending PC environmentalist " Prius to a ballpark village development. Global warming will next be worked into reviews of local Vietnamese pho restaurants ,lol, as demanded by the food writer's idiot editors and managers
who want to stay " relevant ".

anthony dominguez said...

Who in the heck is Anthony Rodriguez? Anyhow, been in Da Islands Braddah for the past week and a half. Such a beautiful place is Maui...beautiful beaches, women (my wife doesn't read this blog), laid back lifestyle, and no Giants territorial rights (I think)! I've said this once and I'll say it again...Killion, like Purdy, have actually had the ear of Lew Wolff (unlike anyone who blogs on this site). I'm pretty sure they talk to Mr. Wolff at length before they put anything out on newsprint (even if an article is critical of his plans). As for DSJ, well, the site is still superior to Pac Commons in terms of transit options and infrastructure, and it is now spoken for by the city of SJ (the bloggers of Baseball San Jose would be proud...RIP). But as much as I've yearned for a downtown San Jose ballpark, I do think the traffic thing at Pac Commons has been blown out of proportion...I'll sit in traffic for a few extra minutes to watch the A's play in Fremont. Anyhow, here's to Wolff's "San Jose Plan, Part 6B!" Hey, if Tom Hanks can survive to see civilization after years on a deserted South Pacific Island, anythings possible (sorry, can't get Da Islands out of my head).

Marine Layer said...

Sorry Tony! I was reading about A-Rod while I wrote the post.

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned as a 4th generation Californian , Oakland , San Jose , San Diego ( and Fremont ) are all podunk towns no better than my hometown /cowtown in the Central Valley which is now itself approaching a million in population full of tracts , bored teens and strip malls . When I think of San Jose , I think of the 1960's rivalry between my home town's old single A team at Euless Field vs San Jose's old single A team the Bees . Or my hometown's yahoo college football rivalry with San Jose's Spartans. I.e, San Jose is just a bigger version of FRESNO. Both are stinkbomb towns with inferiority complexes going back a hundred years .
The only real " cities " in California are San Francisco and Los Angeles .
So all this talk of Fremont not being in the same " class" as San Jose is laughable and must be from the typical newbies from elsewhere who don't remember SJ as a stinky farm town 50 years ago.

Anonymous said...

First of all, most recent census figure on Fresno is 427,000, nowhere close to a million. Show a little respect for the facts.

Second, I spend a fair amount of time in Fresno because I have relatives there. If you see no difference between Fresno and San Diego, well, I can't help you.

Third, sure San Francisco and LA are more glamorous that San Jose or Oakland. If you think this makes them the only "real" cities in CA, well, you sound like a little bit of a poser.

Finally, who cares what San Jose or any of these cities were fifty years ago? If you go back far enough, LA and NYC were podunk cow towns as well.

What's interesting is what they are now, and what they might become. The first requisite for a world-class city is an economic engine to drive growth, which San Jose has in spades. San Jose may not be world-class now, but check back in another fifty years or so.

bartleby said...

Killion ignored a host of reasons why the traffic concerns are overblown. All of these have been noted here before, but because we still get all the arm-waving from the anti-Fremont trolls, and for the benefit of any newbies to the blog, I'll repeat them.

- It is not true that Pac Commons will not have public transportation. It will have a Cap Corridor station, buses, and shuttles to BART. If the Dumbarton rail project goes forward, there may someday also be Caltrain service to Cisco Field.
- Even if you put a BART station right at the gates of Cisco Field, it would be irrelevant to anyone coming from the South Bay, Peninsula or Fremont itself, more than 2 million people. Since the whole point of the Fremont move is to capture the South Bay/Peninsula market, it is reasonable to expect that this comprises half or more of the people who will actually be going to games.
- The small planned size of Cisco Field (32,000) itself significantly mitigates traffic concerns. Only 15-20% of A's fans currently use BART. So, even if no one used public transportion to Cisco Field (which they will), it would put less cars on the road for a capacity crowd than the Coliseum did before the closing of the upper deck, when capacity was around 42,000.
- The Coliseum sits next to Oracle Arena, which has capacity of about 20,000. The Warriors's season overlaps the A's by two or three months, and many other events are scheduled at the Arena over the course of the summer and fall. Currently this results in 50,000 people or more trying to fight their way into the Coliseum complex during many A's games, a situation that will not exist at Cisco Field.
- Currently, there is nothing to do in the neighborhood around the Coliseum, which many find intimidating anyway. As a result, everyone arrives and departs A's games at roughly the same time. At Cisco Field, surrounding bars, shops, and restaurants will result in staggered arrivals and departures for A's games.
- Cisco Field will have less traffic impact on Pac Commons than the previously planned use, offices. Traffic impact of A's games will be limited to evenings only for weeknight games, maybe 50 or 60 days per year. A major office development would impact traffic both morning and evenings every weekday all year long, about 250 days.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in Fresno ,San Jose was always it's " rival " in the media due to California League single A baseball and long time Fresno State/San Jose State grudge matches in the old PCAA , before the league morphed into adding other stinky towns all over the southwest.
Even today - the Armenian farmers who became dominant developers in Fresno and the Italian farmers who became dominant developers in Silicon Valley are both very connected politically over the past 60 years to their respective City Halls in both towns are parallel with histories of backroom shenanigans.

Pick up the Fresno Bee and you can be dang sure there is hype about the Fresno State/San Jose State football game . Pick up the San Jose Mercury News which is the paper I read daily here in Palo Alto and , yup, there's the article about the San Jose State / Fresno State football game rivalry .

Nothing changes. Two cow towns . Both deserted after dark in the office areas. Both with fake " village " gathering places River Park/Santana Row .

BTW, Fresno /Clovis/southern Madera metro area population is pretty close to 1 million and expected to double in next 20 years . Sprawl doesn't care what the official census number is within city limits. The decades worsening choking summer smog is in the growing Cental Valley and it's drifting is destroying forests in the Sierra .

BleacherDave said...

I have a lot of respect for your brains and effort, ML.

But, FSU has a valid point: you have morphed from analyst to advocate.

Not that there's anything wrong with that sort of thing.

3 cheers for Killion. FUD for everyone. Whoo Hoo!

Jeff said...

Interesting analysis about my home town in this thread. Although I would object to Madera being lumped into the "greater Fresno Metropolitan area", I can see why some would feel inclined to include it from a geographical point of view. But why stop there? If you add Visalia to the mix you easily eclipse the one million mark. The obvious solution is to relocate the A's to Fresno.

By the way, spot on observation about the Armenian farmers political influence in Fresno....though to be fair, their influence has begun to fade in recent years due to increased urbanization. But as with all things, change is inevitable. Perhaps in 50 years there will be pro teams considering Fresno as a viable market. While Fresno may remain a cow town for a while longer, I think it's a pretty fair statement that SJ is one no longer.

I don't understand the criticism of ML. I've been following this blog for a couple of years now, and he's never deviated from his original point. I don't recall him ever taking a journalists "neutral" position. He's identified possible sites and critiqued each one on its merits. Now that Fremont has been identified as the target site and the A's ownership has taken steps to cement their intentions, he's focused his efforts primarily on Fremont. I don't see how that equates to advocacy. This blog was created to monitor developments related to a "new A's ballpark". I think the location question has been put to rest, so why wouldn't he focus his energy on the site that has been identified by ownership? It seems to me that that is the entire point of his blog. He's merely moved past the point of speculation and is now working with the reality. While I get the impression he supports the Fremont plan, I wouldn't place him in the role of an "advocate" either.

All this is from someone with no particular dog in the fight. I'll drive down to see the A's as before. It makes little difference to me if I turn left on 680 or not when I do. I'll leave my cows at home when I do.

FWIW, FSU's objections to Fremont (if any still exist) are the most logical and well intentioned of any I've heard. He knows exactly what is being lost and what it's being exchanged for. As much as I agree with his sentiment, he's as much a realist as anyone I've encountered.

Jeffrey said...

I spent the majority of my wayward years (Jr. High and High School) living in the major metropolis of Lemoore, CA. In this fine city (which I do not mean to denigrate as I have many fond memories) I spent many an evening traveling North to the neighboring cow town of Fresno to catch Pro Wrestling, a Monster Truck Show and the occasional Fresno Falcons hockey game (Oh how I still despise the Burbank Jets!).

I think is is laughable to argue that in the present day Fresno and San Jose are even similar as far as "wow" factor (I say wow factor because I don't know the technical definition of world class city). I'll admit, we certainly got up in those parts when the Spartans of San Jose were drawing near, what with the Big West title and a trip to the California Raisin Bowl on the line.

I think the major difference between the two cities, at present, is education and affluence. I haven't looked at median income or how many people have master's degrees, but that is my impression. San Jose is light years more sophisticated than Fresno and the surrounding "metro area." Visalia included or not.

I would actually argue that transportation in Fremont is slightly better than transportation in Fresno. Although I have always rooted for a BART type operation in Fresno County just so I could say I road Fresno Area Rapid Transit.