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08 October 2008

Fremont election coverage

This week's East Bay Express has an article on the three (four?) -man race for Fremont mayor, and how it maps out in terms of the baseball village issue. The piece was penned by Robert Gammon, who also co-wrote the excellent "How we got to this point" article from two years ago. This comes on the heels of Wes Bowers' coverage (Fremont Bulletin) of a candidate forum from two weeks ago.

During the initial discussions about the plan, both Mayor Bob Wasserman and Councilman Steve Cho painted themselves as supportive of it, though Cho distinguished himself in remarking that a public vote would be a proper thing to do. He also said at the time that he felt that voters would support the plan. Wasserman and the other council members did not support a referendum, declaring that they didn't support ballot box planning.

The third mayoral candidate is former Mayor Gus Morrison, who was termed out prior to Wasserman assuming the reins. Morrison has been to date the most vocal critic of the plan, even after a one-on-one with Lew Wolff.

Morrison's interest anti-growth stance has been well documented in Fremont. There's an interesting wrinkle to it, captured in this quote:
"Originally downtown was supposed to be equidistant between 880 and 238. We had a plan for a life center when I left office the only life center between Oakland and Santana Row and it sort of died after I left," he said. "Now the A's want to come along and build a project with a life center the only one between Oakland and Santana Row and we can't have two. There seems to be a conflict."
So is the issue so much about the development in general, or where the development is located? There's no chance of the A's looking to downtown Fremont even though it has BART, because the area is 2 miles of traffic lights away from either 880 or 680. Are there business interests who'd prefer to push such a development downtown? Is that realistic?

He's not alone in his disapproval. Local Sierra Club chapter leader, Vinnie Bacon, is running for city council. Bacon has also been against the project from the beginning. Two city council spots are up for election, and those could also have a huge effect on the plan's status. Cho's term is up at the end of the year, as is Councilman Bob Wieckowski, a noted plan supporter.

A look at the LWV roster of candidates for the two council seats shows a laundry list of interests: public safety, budget/revenue matters, growth, business development. Another council candidate, Alan Stirling, is obviously anti-stadium when he said this:
"Not one sports stadium in the history of this country has been built without public money," he said. "You have to look at your money when looking at this process. (Teams) have walked away from deals when public money wasn't offered."
I can name a stadium that was built without public money: Stanford Stadium. And it was built in record time, by a developer who knew what he wanted, and partnered with public and private entities to get it done. The quote above smacks of vague generalism, and isn't reflective of the current political/economic environment in California, and to a finer point, the Bay Area.

I can't say I know much about any of the other candidates. Planning commissioner Suzanne Chan and Larry Montgomery are supporters of the plan. Curiously, Montgomery supports building a convention center adjacent to the baseball village. As a San Jose resident, I'm an outsider to the process and have my own home issues to worry about (BART to San Jose).

The desirable outcome for plan supporters would be to have incumbents Wasserman and Wieckowski to keep their seats and leave the final seat up for grabs. Even if Bacon were to get the final seat, that would leave the Mayor and four out of five councilmembers as supporters of the plan. The nightmare scenario for the Wolffs would have Morrison winning and Bacon displacing Wieckowski.

11 comments:

Mike D. said...

"I can name a stadium that was built without public money: Stanford Stadium. And it was built in record time, by a developer who knew what he wanted, and partnered with public and private entities to get it done. The quote above smacks of vague generalism, and isn't reflective of the current political/economic environment in California, and to a finer point, the Bay Area."

I'm sorry but your grasping at straws here. Its incomparable to compare cisco field or any other professional sports facility to a college one.

Marine Layer said...

I didn't see a distinction between pro and college facilities in the quote, did you? I'm pointing out an exception to the "rule."

Besides, make that argument to fans of the University of Minnesota football program, who are getting a stadium instead of the Vikings. Price tag: $300 million.

Anonymous said...

Several of us have been noting for months that Gus' motivations were all about "downtown" Fremont, better known as the Hub. You can't listen to a thing he says about Pacific Commons because he will say anything to kill any threat to his dream of a downtown at Fremont and Mowry. But that's never going to happen, and Wolfe is offering a real downtown opportunity (at least the equivalent). I have to believe the reason he is so adamant about the Hub is he has a financial stake in that area. Otherwise, he should be ecstatic that a developer wants to hand him a downtown. No one else is ever going to do this.

John DeJulio said...

By "life" center does Morrison mean lifestyle center? There's one of those in Oakland?

I lived in Fremont for the first 23 years of my life. I've read about the visions for a downtown in Fremont since I was a kid. Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath.

Jesse said...

Wasnt Dodger Stadium and Pacbell Park built without public money?

Georob said...

As awful as this sounds, this may be a good time to revisit the subject of contraction and why it could or could not happen.

I know you and others have stood by the theory that the only reason it was brought up last time was as a premptive threat leading up to renewing the players association contract.

People forget though that at time we were still getting over the high tech bust as well as 9/11; and that the economic future looked very shaky.

So as the dow tanks yet again this morning, I ask the question: What about now? If the Fremont project is put on hold for an extended period, the A's won't stay in Oakland beyond 2012, and it makes no sense to move out of the Bay Area, what's left to do?

Perhaps this is where San Jose finally comes into play, but I'm sorry Tony; the Giants will still want to be compensated for it. And in this economic climate, who's gonna come up with the money to do it?

Sorry, but we need to discuss contraction.

Marine Layer said...

Rob, I'll post your comment as a basis for a new post shortly.

FC said...

ML,

I may be mistaken, but I don't think I've ever heard your take on what you think would happen should the Fremont deal fall through, for whatever reason.

I personally agree with Rob in that MLB will approach the Giant about releasing their hold on Santa Clara, though I don't know whether the price tag will be as high as most think. If MLB determines that San Jose is the next best option for the A's, I'm sure they will try to do everything within their power to make it happen. Otherwise why even put that option on the table.

Lew Wolff seemed to have indicated that there may have been some discussions in the past with the Giants, but those discussion went no where. I think the A's may have to rethink their position. They need to consider the costs they would incur should they decide to pull up stakes and move out of state? There's no guarantee that they will be successful should they decide to move. On the otherhand, I think most people would agree that a move to San Jose would be a success. I guess the point I'm trying to make is, if you're the A's maybe you bite the bullet and pay the Giants the cash. In exchange, you get to setup shop in a major metropolitan area, with an established fan base.

So maybe if the elections don't turn out to be favorable for the A's, and maybe if MLB does a little prodding, and maybe if the A's loosen up their wallets, a ballpark in San Jose may become a reality.

Then again, that's a lot of maybes.

Anonymous said...

I've written to Bud Selig many, many times ... he actually replies in a timely manner and in surprising candor. The tone of his replies has always been under no circumstances will the territories of the teams be changed around and that San Jose was off-limits to the a's ... I would think that he would have been a bit more vague if other possibilities existed and there is a chance that he's outright lying in his letters, but I doubt it very much.

- a fan from the south.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't put a lot of stock in what Selig says publicly concerning SJ. He'll go to great lengths to avoid controversy among the owners. A good reference book on his management style is "Juicing the Game", by a guy named Bryant. It really gives a solid perspective as to Bud's motivations.

When it becomes clear that SJ is the only viable option, Selig will change his tune in short order. He'll package it as a proposal to the other owners in which it is the only realistic solution. He'll gain their consensus and then force the proposal on the Giants.

AsToFremont said...

The Cisco Field/Ballpark Village is alive and well in Fremont! The City of Fremont is waiting for the Envirenmental Impact Report (EIR) to come back and that process takes anywhere from 12 - 18 months to complete. A lot of the cost of the stadium will be offset by the revenue generated by the sales of the residentail portion of the ballpark village. these additonal residence will generate additional tax reveune to cover the additional services and the A's pay for the additional police services needed, just as they do now in Oakland. The BART extension to Warm Springs had been fully funded, which was a major concern. I had the opportunity to see the A's presentation in regard to how they plan to address the traffic concerns that was presented by Vice President of Wolff Urban Development, Paul Menaker, and it was amazing to see how creative and thorough their plan is to address these issues. Mr. menaker made the same presentation to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber was so impressed, that the Fremont Chamber of Commerce voted to give their formal endorsement of the Cisco Field/Ballpark Village project! You can learn more about the project by going to www.TheFremontBaseballVillage.com and you can sign up to show your support for the A's move to Fremont by going to www.AsToFremont.com