06 July 2007

A word of caution

Earlier this week former Fremont mayor Gus Morrison submitted a letter to Fremont's City Council (posted in the Tri City Voice) urging caution in their dealing with the A's. Morrison wrote, "I have long thought this project was one where the cart seemed to be getting far ahead of the horse." He went on to suggest that "a Fatal Flaw Analysis ought to be performed to find out if there are things in this project which could kill it." Among those, parking and ingress/egress were considered paramount.

Morrison is absolutely right. It took a while for the Council to get the report and it's taking longer for them to get the plan, which appears to be getting out to different stakeholders on a piecemeal basis. I don't know what goes on in the twice-a-month sessions, but I hope that it's not the same kind of situation.

To the Council's credit, they've expressed their interest in being part of the planning process. Paraphrasing council member Anu Natarajan, she cautioned the A's that she didn't want to receive an already packaged plan without going through proper planning steps.

While Morrison's concerns are well placed, he may be jumping the gun a bit. The key indicator of this is the reported number of condos and townhomes in the project, which seems to vary with each newly released piece of information. It shows that the plan is still undergoing major gestation. What isn't clear is how much the city is helping to scope it out. If anything, the only part with real detail is the core village area. Everything else lacks detail. It is that "everything else" that will be heavily debated over the next few months.

If the plan were submitted today based on the graphic released for FUSD, it probably wouldn't pass. Vice-Mayor Bob Wieckowski, who Morrison endorsed previously, clearly said that placing the school on the public parcel outside the neighborhood was a non-starter. And there's no way the plan would work with only Auto Mall Parkway as the single major freeway access point, especially if the Fremont Boulevard/Cushing Parkway interchange can be utilized. Thankfully, there are ways to address these concerns. They'll require compromise from both the A's and Fremont. As I noted in my review of the economic impact report, there are creative ways to make everything work.

Of course, the cart-horse analogy should be studied further. It would appear that in this case, the A's are both cart and horse. I suppose that makes the City of Fremont the reins.