Ranch development in Fremont threatens open spaces,
Fremont residents must watch city's actions carefully
San Jose Mercury News, April 12, 2007
The death march toward developing the lands in front of
Coyote Hills Regional Park, a Bay Area jewel in Fremont,
proposal is to build 800 houses, complete with an
artificial lake and mega-McMansions. Fremont has just
hired a firm to prepare the development's environmental
impact report. It's now beginning to sound a lot like
"take paradise and put up a parking lot."
In Fremont - where the typical city council seat
campaign costs $35,000 to $40,000 - agri-business giant
Cargill and the scattered heirs of the Patterson Ranch
family ponied up $1 million (including $200,000 to a
former Fremont mayor to run their successful political
campaign) to ensure they can build on this property. Now
it's time for them to get a return on that investment.
Last year, a survey of Fremont voters conducted by David
Binder Research revealed that over 70 percent wanted no
development directly in front of Coyote Hills Regional
Park. So, what can residents and park lovers do? In
order for this development to proceed, the property will
need to clear many hurdles, such as rezoning to allow
higher development density. School and environmental
issues need to be addressed. So now is the time to make
your concerns known to city staff and elected officials.
We must stay watchful of the process and vigilant on
protecting our open space, our park and our community.
We should make sure the environmental impact report
isn't a rubber stamp for development in front of our
The Friends of Coyote Hills oppose any development west
of Ardenwood Boulevard on the lands directly in front of
Coyote Hills Regional Park. This street has been a
barrier between nature and the park against the dangers
of urbanization. We are also extremely concerned about
the proposed levels of development east of Ardenwood.
The Friends of Coyote Hills is an environmentally
focused group of volunteers serving the Tri-Cities area
(Fremont, Newark and Union City). It is dedicated to the
conservation and preservation of open space and the
plant and wildlife habitats it supports. Here's why we
oppose development of these lands: The park is
identified by National Geographic as one of the premier
bird-watching locations in the Bay Area and typically
supports more than 100 bird species at the annual
Audubon Christmas Bird Count. The park contains more
than 400 hundred species of plants, animals, birds,
reptiles, amphibians and insects.
The land in front of Coyote Hills acts as a buffer zone
to protect these species from domestic animal predation,
pollutants, lights, noise, traffic and other byproducts
of urban sprawl.
The proposed development will add more than 10,000 daily
car trips to roads that are already heavily congested.
The development will add enough students to justify an
additional elementary, junior and senior high school,
but the developer is providing only an elementary
school. Will older students be expected to join already
over-crowded existing junior and senior high schools?
And while the developer will have to pay for the
construction of an elementary school, the school
district Web site says 80 percent of the school's costs
are salaries and benefits that the developer will not
The development includes an artificial lake that is
supposed to capture runoff from the houses. Will the
city inherit the costs associated with maintenance such
as dredging or mosquito abatement?
The development adds houses at the fringe of the city,
where police, fire and emergency services are the most
expensive to provide.
The development is far from public transit corridors and
primary shopping centers, thus forcing people into their
There are many development options for this property,
such as limiting development to the lands east of
Ardenwood Boulevard, that will allow the landowners to
turn a tidy profit* and give them a return on their
election investment. But let's not let them line their
pockets with gold while destroying our park, or leaving
Fremont residents sitting in traffic jams, or the city
holding the bag to cover expensive overcrowding problems
in schools and rising city services costs once the
developers cash out and run to the bank.
*The authors have since learned from the
Alameda County Assessor’s Office that the Pattersons
$63 million selling the
15.5-acre Tupelo lot for development.