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December 31, 2008 > Letter to the Editor: Questions about proposed Ballpark Village

Letter to the Editor: Questions about proposed Ballpark Village

I have some financial questions about the planned Ballpark Village Development and want to make sure that these questions are raised and satisfactorily answered before Fremont approves the Ballpark Village project. All figures in this communication come from the economic analysis prepared for the A's by Economics Research Associates (referred to hereafter as the ERA study) or the City of Fremont's 2008/09 Proposed Operating Budget.

Will the Ballpark Village cause million dollar chronic deficits in Fremont's General Fund?

The Ballpark Village is advertised as bringing great economic benefits to Fremont. But a close examination of the ERA study shows that the Ballpark Village project is likely, in even the best of circumstances, to cause chronic deficits in Fremont's General Fund.

In 2008/09 Fremont will spend approximately $500 per Fremont resident on police, fire, and transportation services. The current levels of service have been described as unacceptable by many, including Mayor Wasserman. The Ballpark Village residential component would add about 9500 new residents to Fremont. In order to maintain Fremont's current unacceptable service levels this additional population will require additional General Fund revenues, in 2008/09 dollars, of $4,750,000.

Since the Ballpark Village's residential and retail components, under all scenarios, will be built in Fremont's Industrial Redevelopment Area, no property taxes from the residential or retail will go to Fremont's General Fund. The ERA study relies primarily on sales tax generated by the retail component and a $1,000,000 annual contribution from the Oakland A's to generate revenue for Fremont's General Fund. Using the 3% annual inflation rate from the ERA study, the additional revenue required in 2016, when the Ballpark Village housing is projected to be fully occupied, would be about $5,890,000. This does not include the cost of General Fund services required by the retail or the stadium.

According to the ERA study, the Ballpark Village project will generate approximately $4,800,000 in General Fund revenues in 2016 and thereafter. It will require at a minimum $5,890,000 in services. Thus the services required will be under-funded by $1,090,000. How will the City of Fremont make up the $1,090,000 annual deficit in the General Fund created by the project?

The ERA study projects that the retail component will be fully built and occupied by 2016 generating per square foot sales at a premium rate above that generated by Pacific Commons. What guarantees does the City of Fremont have that the Ballpark Village retail component will be fully occupied and generating premium sales tax revenue by the time the residential component is built, occupied, and requiring services?

How can the City of Fremont be assured that the Oakland Athletics will be able and willing to contribute $1 million annually to the City throughout the entire useful lifetime of the Ballpark Village residential housing?

An additional $1,090,000 annual deficit in Fremont's General Fund would require substantial reductions in already inadequate transportation and safety services. If the retail component of the Ballpark Village project is not fully occupied, or fails to generate sales tax at the projected rate, or the Oakland A's are unwilling or unable to continue their promised $1,000,000 annual contribution after they've built and sold 3,150 residential units, Fremont may be pushed to the brink of bankruptcy. I urge Fremont's planners and elected officials to make sure they have a sound and well-reviewed plan for funding the road and safety services required by the Ballpark Village before they proceed with this project.

Will the Ballpark Village create low-wage jobs requiring subsidized housing and additional social services?

The proposed project would contribute 207 new jobs to Alameda County. These jobs would pay an average wage of $26,000 per year. A family supported by a single wage earner making $26,000 per year would be eligible for very low-income housing in Fremont. How many of the holders of these new jobs will reside in Fremont? Is there enough very low-income housing available in Fremont for these new workers? Will these workers require additional social services, such as the services provided by Fremont's Family Resource Center, and does the Family Resource Center have additional capacity to provide these services?

It is difficult for me to see how a project that will create substantial annual deficits in the General Fund and bring low-wage jobs to Fremont can be of economic benefit to our city

Charlotte Allen

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