10 September 2007

Planned school site changed

Common sense has prevailed according to Matthew Artz's piece on the ballpark village. You may remember that the school being planned for the village was originally going to sit on a 40-acre Fremont-owned parcel, 3/4ths of a mile away from the village (upper left corner of pic below). For the school district that was considered a non-starter and they lobbied to have the school located within the community.

The school won't be placed within the shopping center portion of the village, and it wouldn't work adjacent to the ballpark. Chances are it'll go in the area that's slated for temporary parking, where the last phases of the residential buildout are planned. Obviously some homesites would be displaced, but it probably works for the city since many on the council want to see greater variety and higher densities in some sections of the village.

Out of today's luncheon at the Fremont Marriott (sponsored by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce) came this:

Many of the questions from the audience were about traffic issues, which Lew Wolff said were "not quite as serious as everybody says."

The team anticipates that 5,000 fans - about 18 percent of a sellout crowd - would walk or take public transit to games, Keith Wolff said. The same percentage of fans walk or commute to the McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, he said, even though it is next to a BART station.

Where does that 5,000 figure come from? I'm baffled. We know that right now 15-20% take public transit, and without a BART option that is just as convenient as is currently in place, that percentage will surely drop, perhaps precipitously. A mode switch to a shuttle could drop utilization to half of current levels, and that presupposes a Warm Springs BART station. Diesel trains could pick up some of the slack, but nothing close to what BART does (Caltrain accounts for 2% - correction, 4-8% - of attendees at AT&T Park).

As for walking, estimates could be optimistic. Let's say that half of those 5,000 would walk to the ballpark. So 2,500 would either be residents of the village or anyone who works in the vicinity. So to get to that estimate, slightly less than 1 person per residence or business would walk to the ballpark. Is that realistic? Sure, the village will attract fans who want to live near the ballpark. At the same time it's still market rate housing that will attract buyers for other reasons, whether it's the lifestyle center, Fremont's historically low crime rate, or proximity to Silicon Valley. Housing demand, even in this current market slump, won't allow for buyers to purchase based something as peripheral as proximity to a ballpark.

There'll be a chance to further analyze this when a traffic study is released, but if these are the estimates, they have to be immediately labeled specious.

It's been reported that the A's have been selected to open next season in Japan. The likely opponent will be the Boston Red Sox, whose roster contains two Japanese stars. Since the Sox sell out every game at Fenway Park and would leave a good deal of money on the table by forgoing a bunch of home dates in Japan, you can guess as to who will "take one for the team."