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09 December 2008

The genie is out of the bottle

Last night I spelled out the four types of comments we'd likely see in tonight's session. It pretty much fell in line with that demarcation, but I wasn't ready for the considerable intensity of one particular type of comment.

I took shorthand of each of the 42 comments and tabulated the totals. Suzanne Chan took her own poll and had it as 8 for, 30 against (!), and 4 neutral, giving the caveat that most of the negative comments were not negative about the project in general, but rather a specific site. I had slightly different numbers. Read 'em and weep:

You can see that 20 out of the 42 comments were related to the Warm Springs alternative, in which the ballpark would be decoupled from the village and placed near the future BART station. Opposition was passionate, some parts thoughtful and others hysterical. One resident didn't want a ballpark serving alcohol a half mile or less away from the local elementary school. Another mentioned the twelve traffic light cycles he had to wait through at the Auto Mall/Osgood intersection on Black Friday, as shoppers entered and exited the nearby Fry's parking lot. Two commenters talked about "letting the genie out of the bottle" as the ballpark would start to transform the area from a safe, well-heeled neighborhood into East Oakland around the Coliseum.

The addition of the Warm Springs alternative was a response to suggestions by BART and the MTC. The transit agencies and the A's feel that a ballpark could fit into a transit-oriented development design, though the concept is merely in its infancy. Surely they knew what kind of wrath they would encounter if they floated the idea, right? Many of the anti-WS folks were not opposed to the A's or the Pacific Commons site. They were vehemently against having it in their backyard.

Had Warm Springs not been included in the Notice of Preparation, tonight's comment distribution would've looked more like this (Other means neutral):

That's fair when you consider that sessions like these tend to bring out more negative comments.

Matt Artz of the Argus (thanks for the shout-out BTW) focused his article on Catellus, who officially came out against the project as it exists in the Notice of Preparation. Catellus is the real estate unit of ProLogis and has been working with the A's and the city to mitigate existing retailers' concerns. Unfortunately, I think Artz left out something. The statement read by Catellus veep Aidan Berry was not so much a general disapproval as it was frustration over where the ballpark was placed in the original plan. The site plan placed the ballpark less than 1/4 mile from the three big box anchors: Costco, Lowe's and Kohl's. Those three have been and always would be the most difficult to deal with because their business models don't mesh with a ballpark. The statement suggested that another site within Pacific Commons would've been more agreeable. The ballpark location hasn't changed since conception, ergo Catellus can't sign off. I can only guess that the A's didn't want to pursue a change because it would require a major change in the EIR, especially with regard to environmental concerns (I could use some expert verification of this, e-mail address in my profile hint-hint), and that would lengthen the process yet again.

How difficult is this? The NIMBYs want the project as far away from them as possible, at the expense of environmental and transit concerns. Some business owners and transit advocates want the ballpark at Warm Springs, but had little to say about the NIMBY issues. Meanwhile, there are supporters out there who want either Pacific Commons or Warm Springs or don't care either way. And that, my friends, is why ballot box planning is so problematic. People tend to look only at their own interests. They have every right to do so, but that doesn't make them good planners.

Council member Anu Natarajan chided the crowd at the conclusion by bringing up frequent complaints by Fremont residents that there aren't enough entertainment options in the city, that there isn't enough good retail. She initially supported the plan in an effort to address those quality of life issues. No good deed goes unpunished, eh?

37 comments:

gojohn10 said...

The Warm Springs NIBYs are well-organized and they made themselves heard tonight. Still, the council appears intent on requesting a more thorough review of the Warm Springs site. I would suggest A's supporters be more vocal next time. We were outnumbered, but were vastly underrepresented on the podium.

Marine Layer said...

It's more than that. They were organizing while they were there. If someone had walked off the street and knew no prior history, he might've thought that Warm Springs was the preferred option and Pacific Commons was the alternative. WS got more than half the attention, that's for sure.

Dan said...

Frankly though I can understand the NIMBY's concerns in this case when it comes to Warm Springs. The neighborhoods next to the site across 680 are in a quiet upper middle class suburb with an elementary school very near the site. They're not the kind of neighbors that you'd expect around a major league ballpark. And their concerns are eminently valid. They will not benefit at all from the stadium and frankly will likely end up being hurt by it considerably in dropped land values, increased crime and traffic congestion 81 days a year. I'd oppose it too if I were them even as much as I want the A's to get a new park.

jesse said...

ML, Is 2012 even a remote possibility now?

Marine Layer said...

jesse - yes and no. If the PacCom site is chosen, they can still hit the schedule. If it's Warm Springs there will be a delay of some months.

Jesse said...

Can they hit the schedule even with Catellus unhappy over the box stores being so close?

Marine Layer said...

Yes, they still could. If the Council wanted to ram the project through despite objections, then can.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I really appreciate your dedication. You are correct we the NIMBYs don't mind getting a ballpark. The objection is to the location of Osgood/Grimmer.

I am a new resident who moved here because Mission San Jose High school was listed in top 100 schools in USA, and not so I can be close to a Ballpark.

I moved here knowing traffic issues at present are so bad that
it would increase my commute by 40 minutes. (This is at present time)

I moved here knowing the crime here is increasing due to lack of police presence. Again, this is at present time.

I moved here knowing there is no grocery store nearby, I actually have to go to Walmart to buy milk on the other side of 680, and deal with traffic it takes 30 minutes. Not even a lousy 7/11 nearby.
The great divide between residential/commercial zones here is the highway 680.

If the ballpark was created at the
Osgood/Grimmer location. Here are the problems, which I see.

1. The traffic will be worse.
2. Crime will go up.
3. Noise pollution will go up.
4. Light Pollution will go up.
5. CAR pollution will go up.

So can you blame us?

DL said...

You said in your blog "How difficult is this? The NIMBYs want the project as far away from them as possible, at the expense of environmental and transit concerns. ....People tend to look only at their own interests. They have every right to do so, but that doesn't make them good planners."

This is so incorrect - the reason for not wanting it in Warm Springs is in fact for environmental and transit concerns - did you not hear the concerns about freeway exits jamming up and also the pollution it would bring in a residential neighborhood? I suggest you read the EIR for the possible environmental and traffic implications of having a ballpark.

Marine Layer said...

DL - Where is this EIR you're referring to? The project EIR hasn't been published yet.

Residents of MSJ - Relax. If you haven't noticed, I'm trying to get all perspectives. I completely understand what your concerns are. I have friends that went to MSJHS and other friends that live in the area. A few days ago I delineated the problems with the WS site in advance of last night's session. I'm simply playing the role of messenger here.

Anonymous said...

How feasible is it to build light-rail from the Warm Springs BART station to Pacific Commons?? The distance from the two doesn't seem to be very far. Just from using google map it's less than two miles.

Anonymous said...

2 plus years since the stadium in Fremont was announced and all we have at this point it continued debate as to if/where it should be located. Catellus is against the PC stadium location, and the NIMBY's against the WS location--both require changes and additional time to the EIR completion. Fremont is shaping up to be placed on the ballot-which will be another delay-
Seems as if Wolff and Selig have what they need to pursue other options---San Jose better have its ducks in a row---

rcs said...

Can't help but think that the REAL reason the warms springs alternative has suddenly resurfaced is due to opposition from 'anchors' including Costco, Lowe's and Kohl's. Proximity to BART appears logical but is just a smokescreen. Warms springs BART is NOT a new idea.

Anonymous said...

People who don't know the WS site might assume the 680 Freeway is a wide trough in the ground and the NIMBY neighborhoods are " way over on the other side " from a proposed WS ballpark.
It's actually an overhead freeway, and you wouldn't even notice it as you drive under it from the ballpark to the residential side on Grimmer - the commercial/residential would be spitting distance from each other - it'll almost feel like it's on the same block .
Neighbors are already not thrilled about the future WS BART station as it is -who wants crime intenders who can easily ride BART right into their back yards , steal something in the middle of the day and quickly escape back to points north or in the future points south ? These are $700-1,000,000 homes . The $2-10 million dollar homes are a mile further up Grimmer , to give you an idea of the demographics within walking distance of the WS proposal.
Many on the city council live in this area as do many of their best friends , as you would expect. So you know what that means , ultimately, if you have any common political sense.

Anonymous said...

One thing I don't understand is why Fremont is in such a rush to get the ballpark done. Don't you understand that once the ballpark is comleted, it is going to be around for 30 to 40 years? Better to come up with a smart plan that addresses the legitimate concerns of all parties than rush the project through. So what if the ballpark is completed in 2014 instead of 2012? Why the insistence on instant gratification?

FC said...

Assuming opposition to the ballpark (both at PC and WS)grows, at what point do the A's turn their attention elsewhere? Will they have to wait for an actual "no" vote by the council before they make their move for the door?

In a way, the Selig letter can be viewed two ways. 1) It puts pressue on Fremont to get the project moving and approved or 2) it takes the pressure off of the council and the residents, because now there's another possilble alternative (SJ) down the road. Let the ballpark be built in someone elses backyard, while we enjoy jumping on BART to get to the game.

At this point in the game, I think the odds are 50/50 the A's pull out of Fremont and turn their attention elsewhere. I think Catellus, NUMMI and other businesses in the area will turn up the heat.

BTW, ML, the other night you signed off with a question about Schott and the Giants. Were you going somewhere with that question?

Anonymous said...

RCS-

WS Bart is not a new idea but building it is--now that Santa Clara County passed the tax in November---would not have been built near term if SCC residents didn't approve to bring Bart through downtown SJ and into Santa Clara.

Mass transit is shaping up to be a key driver as numerous concerns about freeway traffic emerge---I would bet that building it anywhere but where mass transit options exist (or will exist) will be a non-starter.

gojohn10 said...

Anon 11:40 said
"Neighbors are already not thrilled about the future WS BART station as it is -who wants crime intenders who can easily ride BART right into their back yards , steal something in the middle of the day and quickly escape"

When I lived in Pleasanton there was a lot of opposition to the BART station there for the same exact reasons. Yet that worked out pretty good for the city.

Dan said...

goJohn,
The difference is though, and correct me if I'm wrong, the Pleasanton BART station isn't abutting a residential neighborhood. And is certainly doesn't have anyone asking to build a stadium next to it either.

Anonymous said...

"They have every right to do so, but that doesn't make them good planners." - and if our City leaders had ANY ability to point at any substantive development as evidence of THEIR "good planning" skills - I might feel much more confident in their abilities to develope this park.

Folks - we're two years into this thing and we've just now started to think about the impact to Lowes, Costco, etc. ?????? Where's the PLANNING in that ????


Anu claims to support this thing because people want more entertainment options ???? Wow, with that kind of rationale, Anu would plow the entirity of Fremont under and plant wheat in an attempt to "go green".

Cheers !

Marine Layer said...

FC - That wasn't the question. The question is why did Selig allow Schott to talk to Santa Clara? When discussing t-rights, start with that question, then everything (IMHO) opens up.

Anonymous said...

Lets look at the facts:
Does not want
1. Catellus (Property owner of Pacific Commons)
2. Nummi (property owners around Warms Springs BART).
3. Residents of Warm Springs (FYI NIBY = Not In My Back Yard)

Does Want:
1. BART
2. A's
3. There are some residents and business folks who want this.

Please note that no details have been published on:
1. Current traffic conditions and the impact of ballpark.
2. How much money Fremont will make and who in Fremont will make?
3. In the long term, compare the ballpark development to a housing/retail/office development?
4. Who is making the decision here?
5. Given the size of the project, why is there not a vote in which the citizens of Fremont can decide if this is the right decision for Fremont?
6. What are the detailed decision making criteria of the decision making body if not done by vote?
7. What are the studies of other ballpark built in suburbs next to schools and family neighborhoods? Remember, this is not a downtown area.


There are many cities who have to pay throught their nose to keep the professional sports club from moving - aka Oakland. There are no gaurantees that some years down the road, for what ever reason the A's will look to the city of Fremont to bail them out. Sport is very cyclic - look at Raider, Giants, 49ers. They all have ups and downs.

For those of us who live in Fremont, we choose it because of its characterics today. This is a suburban neighborhood with schools and families. If we wanted to live next to ball parks (or other large venues that will serve alcohol), we would have bought homes in the cities that have ballpark.

gojohn10 said...

Dan,

There is a large neighborhood nearby the Dublin/Pleasanton station (it is just north of the Hacienda shopping center on the Dublin side). I will concede, however, that the neighborhoods construction coincided with the construction of the BART. So at least those homeowners purchased their houses fully aware about the BART station.

My point is that that the BART station itself is very safe and has been a boon for the residents of Pleasanton/Dublin, both nearby and throughout the city.

The stadium is an entirely different issue. You are right about that. But making direct parallels between the current state of East Oakland and the future of Warm Springs, should a ballpark be placed there, is ridiculous. Those comparisons were pretty common at the meeting last night.

Dan said...

gojohn,
They may seem ridiculous, and on some level they are, but BART will bring an increase in crime and traffic around the station. Anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves. I live right near the current Fremont station and while it has it's benefits, it does also attract an unsavory element that wouldn't otherwise be in that area. So concerns about it moving further down the line are valid. However compared to the stadium the concerns about BART are probably nothing in the eyes of the NIMBYs.

Marine Layer said...

Anon 12:48 - You're perfectly welcome to run for office if you think you can do a better job. Perhaps you already have?

As for believing that the planners just now started to think about impact to the big box stores, think again. The Catellus spokesman admitted that the A's and Catellus/ProLogis have been working on the plan even before it was presented to City, in his words "trying to tighten it up." They hit an impasse. I brought up the possibility of big box resistance shortly after the plan was unveiled. If a lowly blogger such as myself can identify these issues early on you can bet your arse that those directly connected to the project have as well. That is their livelihood, after all.

Jeffrey said...

HOT DAMN!!! It appears the dormant period for Cisco Field has officially ended.

I am excited that there is a bunch of news! Personally, I don't think Warm Springs BART site is all that good, I'd prefer the retail and stadium were together... so I can eat at a restaurant before or after games rather than eat at the game for example.

In the end, if the A's are still in the Bay Area I don't really care where the stadium is built.

gojohn10 said...

Dan,

I also live near Fremont BART, off Mission, 1.7 miles away according to google maps. I take BART everyday. I really don't see the wave of undesirables you describe at Fremont BART, so perhaps it is a matter of perspective. I will say this though, it is a bad sign that we are debating whether the BART station should be built in Warm Springs. The ballpark is going to be a much bigger fight than I imagined.

Jesse said...

I agree Jeffrey I dont care where they build iy, just get it done in the Bay. San Jose would require a vote I think.

Anonymous said...

San Jose only requires a vote if public dollars are used. As Mayor Reed said the other night when asked about SJ he said we have land available at fair market value and we have a completed and certified EIR---and what he didn't gon on to say--is we now have approval to build Bart with a station located between the Tank and the proposed ballpark---not to mention that the bullet train station would be in the same area bringing all those central valley fans to the game-a quick 45 minute ride---

Fremont is shaping up to be a mess--hard to figure out what has gone on for the past 2 years---

Dan said...

Jesse, San Jose only requires a vote if public funds are going into building the stadium. But even if that were the case, I can see a baseball stadium passing in the South Bay these days. San Jose would love to have the A's overall I think.

GoJohn,
As for the BART station in Fremont, you live 1.7 miles from it, I live a quarter mile from it on Stevenson so I guess it's a matter of perspective, but I can say for sure that there is an element that station attracts that I can't see those upper crust NIMBYs wanting near their houses, and the stadium would increase that issue 10 fold. And I agree, Fremont will be a fight if they try putting it at Warm Springs. I can see PC being a fight too, but less so. You're dealing with one disgruntled corporation that can likely be paid off in the end. At Warm Springs you're dealing with NUMMI who may not be able to be placated, a school and dozens up to thousands of disgruntled home owners who likely will never be placated. Warm Springs will happen when hell freezes over I suspect. Leaving PC or SJ as the likely bay area homes of the A's.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dan, I am one of those NIMBYs. The only thing seprating my backyard from the WS proposed stadium is the 680. Our family is all for A's but not if it's going to be in my BACKYARD. We have small children attending Elementary school. All those of you who say "we don't care where", answer my one question, are you willing to bring up your children in the kind of envrinoment a ballpark would create? we moved here because the neighborhood was well established, safe, quite and had some of the best schools. This proposed plan will change all of that. How do you expect our families (ESPECIALLY KIDS, who have after school activities and homework)to function with all the noise, lights, pollution & traffic? Will our children be able to play & bike safely on our streets? How will the city prevent the fans from parking in our driveway? If you think we are being selfish & not looking the bigger picture, think again, we think you are blinded by the A's. Try to understand we are trying to keep our families safe. I am all for A's, BUT IF I HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A'S and THE SAFETY OF MY FAMILY, I CHOOSE MY FAMILY. We hope you will understand the difference and support us in our struggle. BTW, our high school is Irvington, not MSJH.

Anonymous said...

Marine Layer -

Anon 12:48 states that s/he has never run for public office.

And the suggestion that perhaps I should try to do better is off topic. I dont think I possess the skills to do so. Those who ARE in a position of responsiblity for managing this city have repeatedly shot much smaller developments in the foot - witness the Centerville development.

Witness the (seeming)inabilty to forecast tax revenue for the current year.

If we can't achieve these simple basics - how do you propose constituency have faith to negotiate an MLB stadium ?????

Sorry - this isn't NIMBY'ism despite the repeated and rhetorical use of this anecdote by pro-A's faction.

Our skepticism has to do with city leadership - or lack or same. Complex negotations will decide whether or not this project is ultimately beneficial to the taxpayers of Fremont.

Who in this city possesses the ability and knowledge to manage and negotiate such a project and plan ?

Oh - and while we're at it, our emergency services cant afford to respond to residents today - how will we afford to support the added burden generated by 10's of thousands of post-game fans ?

Marine Layer said...

Here's the thing - During the initial ballpark sessions, Bob Wieckowski basically said regarding planning, "If they (the voters) don't like the job we're doing, they can vote us out." He was re-elected last month.

So it actually is incumbent upon residents to seek out and vote in better leaders. There were numerous candidates for both Council seats and Mayor and no one won with anything close to a majority. It's not as if Fremont is such a large city that grass roots efforts can't yield results.

Now, there is a question of timing. The Warm Springs alternative didn't become public until after the election. Had it occurred prior to the election candidates would've been called on to comment on it and election results may have changed.

As for gameday services - the A's have pledged from the beginning to pay for all of them. The Economic Impact Report details this.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:25 - are you trying to be funny? If so, excellent post! Baseball coming to Fremont? Good god, think of the children!!!! And do you really expect anyone to believe that your house is quiet and tranquil when you say yourself that your backyard has a freeway running through it? Finally, I loved the comment about people parking in your driveway. Oh no! Maybe they'll park in your garage! And raid your refrigerator! And sleep in your bed! Who knows what these horrible baseball fans will do once we let them into our city!!!

Anonymous said...

Marine Layer -

I absolutely agree with your reasoning re the public reelection of the BW twins. This was a big disappointment with some interesting "divide and conquer" aspects to it. . . . but, that's really another issue.

I stand by my assessment of past attempts by Fremont to develope much smaller projects with abysmal result.

I want to be clear on this point, ML - I think this ball park could be of benefit to the city of Fremont. However, I have very little confidence that our city managmenet team is able to plan and negotiate this to our benefit. I make this assessment based on specific instances previously mentioned in this BLOG.

ML - here's a question - why is BW seemingly JUST NOW getting the attendant factions together to discuss potential mitigation of the obvious parking problems PacCom ? As you say - this issue has been floating around for quite some time now - wouldn't you thunk we woulda' been chattin' this one up a few months ago ?

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to google maps showing the proximity of the proposed WS stadium to the residential neighborhood.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=bart+fremont,+ca&sll=37.699493,-121.899705&sspn=0.005637,0.009656&ie=UTF8&ll=37.503896,-121.934348&spn=0.005856,0.009656&t=h&z=17

Where do you think people will be looking to park?

Look at the roads -- at best 4 lane roads (2 for each direction) -- and imagine what it would be like trying to get into the stadium.

Scroll the map to the right and see the elementary school less than 1/2 mile straight up Grimmer. Grimmer is two lanes (1 lane each direction) east of Warm Springs Blvd and will be one major road to the stadium, so what will the traffic mean to the school and children?

This spot is simply a poor choice. The only reason it is being considered is that it is close to a BART station. THAT one fact is not sufficient to cause the severe disruption to the IMMEDIATELY ADJACENT residential neighborhood.

Guess where I stand on the issue.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Fremont Nimby's---the location is horrible---ok Bud---can we now build it in San Jose??

Seriously, I remember when the Tank was proposed and everybody said the same things about devaluing the neighborhood, parking, etc etc---neighborhood has only improved (look at China Basin as a second data point) and the parking/traffic issues have all been effectively managed--same as it could in Fremont.

But I am good with it failing in Fremont--Downtown San Jose is a much better location than a suburban ballpark in Fremont.