04 December 2008

All you need to know about Warm Springs, Part II

We'll start off with a pleasant image, courtesy Google Earth/Panoramio user Typeaux.

That's the view east towards the Fremont Hills from what could be considered the northeast corner of the planned Warm Springs BART station. Next, a map (also from Google Earth):

Pros compared to Pacific Commons:
  1. BART. Regardless of which parcel is chosen for a ballpark, it will be within a few hundred feet of the Warm Springs BART station, which is expected to start construction next year and open in June 2014. That's two years from the planned opening of Cisco Field, but it's better than not having BART.
  2. Site relative to freeways. Sandwiched between 880 and 680, 4 different exits are available to service the area. From Oakland/Hayward, 880 South to Auto Mall Pkwy. From Tri-Valley, 680 South to Auto Mall/Durham. From Santa Clara County, either 880 North to Fremont Blvd. or 680 North to Mission Blvd.
Cons compared to Pacific Commons:
  1. Insufficient area road system. 4 different freeway exits are nice until they all funnel into two narrow roads, Warm Springs Blvd. and Grimmer Blvd. Currently, Warm Springs is only a two-lane road near the BART station, which will be widened to 4 lanes in conjunction with the station's construction. If they plan to put the parking on the Westwood parcel, it will be gridlock hell.
  2. Proximity to NUMMI. That gridlock, which will probably be spelled out in the EIR, won't make NUMMI happy. Grimmer Blvd. in particular is an important surface road that contains an entry into the plant. A NUMMI spokesman talks of a "win-win" for the plant and the team, but it's hard to see that happening unless either major concessions are made to NUMMI or the plant itself closes down. Neither option sounds palatable or cheap.
  3. Proximity to a local neighborhood. There is a reasonably well-heeled residential neighborhood just east of 680. It's accessible from Grimmer Blvd., a potential source of gridlock. Granted, residents already have to deal with the freeway so noise shouldn't be that big an issue. The ballpark is only going to make it worse. Light pollution from the ballpark could also be a nuisance.
  4. Proximity to the Hayward Fault. The BART station is only 0.5 miles from a known active trace of the Hayward Fault. The stadium may be even closer.
  5. Land cost. The Merc has a new editorial that paints the Warm Springs site as a nearly perfect place that will allow A's fans to suddenly ditch cars. Only 15-20% currently take BART to A's games. That means 80% or more drive. They'll continue to drive. It's nice to be able to take some cars off the roads, but let's be realistic. It translates to a reduction of roughly 2,000 cars per game. An improvement, yes, but not paradigm-shifting in the least. For that 80% of fans, around 10,000 spaces will be needed. If they don't build a single garage and rely entirely on surface parking, 78 acres will need to be acquired to accommodate the parking need. That won't be cheap.
I must sound like a nattering nabob. It's not intentional. I point these issues out because when you solve one problem (BART), you open up the possibility of other problems. That's exactly what the Warm Springs site does, given the current situation.