San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler, September-October
Fremont's Patterson Ranch
area, directly adjacent to Coyote Hills Regional Park,
remains threatened with a major development. This area
contains a combination of marshland, riparian, and
upland habitat that is becoming quite scarce due to all
of the development next to the Bay. The wildlife
includes migrating and resident waterfowl, hawks, owls,
shorebirds, songbirds, and mammals such as gray fox,
skunk, deer, and muskrat. Patterson is a truly beautiful
and serene place amidst the bustling development nearby.
Fremont's current General
Plan zones these 400 acres for 0.25 to 1.00 dwelling
units per acre. An easement calls for 140 acres to be
untouched. This would allow for a development of 65 to
260 homes. Common sense would dictate light development,
The landowners, however,
propose to build 800 homes, over three times what the
General Plan allows. In addition, they would develop a
four-field sports park, a school, a church, and a
strip mall. This massive development would be directly
adjacent to the park.
The heirs to the original
Patterson family have developed over 5,000 homes in the
Ardenwood area of Fremont. Originally, Patterson Ranch
was to be a buffer between the Ardenwood development and
the park. The current proposal would end the buffer and
take one last bite at the apple, to develop the family's
last remaining piece of open space and make hundreds of
millions in profits.
The existing Ardenwood
development is isolated on the northwest edge of Fremont
far from the rest of the city. The area lacks mass
transit and contains almost no businesses or other
destinations for local residents. The proposed
development would continue this auto-dependent sprawl.
Since the '80s, planners have been aware that `smart
planning' consists of transit-friendly development that
can reduce car usage and decrease carbon emissions. This
development would be the opposite.
In the past decade two
attempts to develop Patterson, with up to 1,800
dwellings, were stopped, largely through the efforts of
a group of concerned residents called the Friends of
Coyote Hills. In 2005 the Patterson heirs began yet
another push to develop the land. The public
resoundingly rejected any development of the land - but
the proposal continued forward. Tired of being on the
defensive, fighting off proposal after proposal, FCH,
with help from the Sierra Club, drafted an initiative to
limit the development of Patterson. With a heroic
effort, collecting over 13,000 signatures in only eight
weeks, they placed Measure K on the ballot.
Funding of the opposition
to Measure K came primarily from the two affected
landowners, Cargill Corporation and the Patterson heirs.
The proponents were many individuals and several
environmental groups. Measure K was outspent 13 - 1
($1,000,000 - $75,000) and was defeated.
Measure K was also opposed
by all of the members of the current City Council. They
called the initiative "hijacking the process." The
Council didn't appear to like the residents of Fremont
acting on their own. $200,000 of the Patterson family's
anti-K money went to former Fremont mayor Gus Morrison,
currently vice-chair of the Tri-City Ecology Center.
While the Council appears
resolved to give the Pattersons the massive development
they are seeking, there is still much that can be done
to protect the site.
Two City Council seats and
the mayoralty are up in the 2008 elections. We must work
to make Patterson Ranch development a significant issue
and to elect leaders who will not allow the type of
development now being proposed there.
Vin Bacon, Southern
Alameda County Group Executive Committee