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Development plans should change with times
By Dan Ondrasek - Letter to the Editor
Fremont Argus, June 23, 2007

TWENTY YEARS ago, Newark's mayor had a plan: Create a golf course and "executive homes" on the outermost regions of his city.

This 1987 plan would require paving over land that formerly were vibrant wetlands teeming with life.

Twenty years ago, this seemed like a good idea. But a lot has changed in the last 20 years.

Twenty years ago, many Bay Area cities were sprawling outward and we were only beginning to see the downside of sprawl.

Twenty years ago, many still thought that wetlands were just wastelands that needed to be filled to be "valuable."

Twenty years ago, we did not have the traffic we have today; the term "telecommuting" did not exist; and few of us knew the term "global warming."

Twenty years ago, gasoline cost $1.40 a gallon.

Much has changed in 20 years and the impact of that change has been enormous. Twenty years ago, many cities built golf courses.

Today, these cities have realized that golf courses are not financially viable. Cities subsidized golf courses and when the money ran out, the lands would be paved over.

Today, many visit the refuge and Coyote Hills — they enjoy the beauty of these lands with their families and are rewarded with experiences that rapidly are becoming a thing of the past.

Today, not a citizen in this area, the nation or the world has not heard of global warming. Today the issue of rising sea levels is a major concern — especially to those who could have settled their families in low-lying areas.

Today we see wetlands as a buffer to rising sea levels. We also see firsthand the negative impact poor planning can have.

Now many of us want to be more fuel-efficient but find it difficult because of the way our communities have been planned.

Mayors, like Newark Mayor Dave Smith, have recognized this problem and pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions. But the plan for these lands, called Areas 3 and 4, does not reduce emissions nor improve traffic efficiency.

It does the exact opposite.

We are talking about taking lands that were formerly beautiful, vibrant wetlands and building more sprawl, complete with golf course and "executive housing."

We are talking about adding 1,200 houses, including luxury homes, on the farthest fringes of Newark and adding tens of thousands of car trips a day to Newark and nearby Fremont.

Combine this folly with Fremont's plan to add 800 houses on the Patterson Ranch and the 276 houses on the Tupelo property (under construction) on the outermost regions of northern Fremont.

Then add the 2,900 houses to be built as part of the A's Ballpark Village, and we are talking about more than 5,000 houses on the fringes of our cities, farthest away from any mass transit.

This would add nearly 60,000 car trips a day from these homes alone to our already congested roads and freeways.

This is 1987 planning. We, as citizens of this city and this environment, ask our elected officials to break from the past — to not back plans that were defined 20 years ago. Rather, look 20 years ahead into the future and plan for this.

There is no other choice.

Dan Ondrasek was first introduced to the Coyote Hills as a Fremont resident in 1989 and joined the Friends of Coyote Hills in 1999. He has lived in the Tri-City area more than 17 years and currently lives in Newark with his wife and son.
 

 

 

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