21 October 2008

EIR Process - A Preview

The baseball village is not the only development happening in Fremont. Almost 5 miles south on 880, at the county line, is a planned big box/retail center called Creekside Landing. While the merits of having yet another set of big box stores on this stretch of freeway is debatable, Fremont is certainly interested in the sales tax revenue.

Should the shopping center have its EIR approved, grand opening would occur in Fall 2010. The concession the developer is expected to give is an extension of Fremont Boulevard, from where it dead-ends at a flood control channel just north of the property, to Dixon Landing Road. The road there already runs south from Dixon Landing through Milpitas' McCarthy Ranch development and into San Jose, right by a series of Sandisk and Cisco buildings. When completed, it's likely that the completed western approach would be part of an alternate route to Pacific Commons and the baseball village.

In keeping with the rollout plans, a draft EIR is on file for Creekside Landing at the City of Fremont's Environmental Documents website. As is often the case, this large EIR has been split into some 25 documents. The first several PDFs cover the background on the development. That's followed by sections on air quality, aesthetics, geology, water quality, transportation, and land use, just to name a few. The executive summary covers all of the various environmental impacts in brief.

An EIR is meant to look both forward and backward, but it does this in a fairly narrow manner. For instance, the transportation study focuses mostly on traffic effects at 31 intersections within approximately 5 miles of the project site. Within the 82 pages of the transportation section, only one page covers public transportation, and it only describes existing service in the vicinity, not future planned service. No assumptions are made on future service availability. That will not be the case with the baseball village EIR, since the A's are making the claim that a similar percentage of fans (15-20%) will not drive to Cisco Field as they are traveling to the Coliseum. Still, the uncertainty of future transit planning makes it difficult to gauge impact, so it's likely that a worst-case scenario will be discussed at length. Interestingly, the Creekside Landing EIR does not factor in other developments' impacts, such as the baseball village. The village's EIR, coming right on the heels of this EIR, probably will have the same treatment. This is despite the likelihood that both developments operating simultaneously will have measurable impacts on the area, on each other, or they will compound each other's effects. Keep this in mind as the election season ends and we enter the EIR phase.