Our League in Action

March, 2016 - Miriam Keller Gives Sunshine Week Testimony to the Fremont City Council

Good evening, mayor, council members and staff.

I am Miriam Keller, speaking on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark, and Union City.

This week is Sunshine Week.  The purpose of Sunshine Week is to highlight the fact that government functions best when it operates in the open. We find that Fremont government usually does a pretty good job of operating in the open. But, we would like to point out an episode recently where informing the public did not meet our expectations.

At the February 25 Planning Commission Meeting there was to be a public hearing on the Old Warm Springs Boulevard South Master Plan.  At the last minute this item was put on the consent calendar.  Now we know that there is a notice on the Planning Commission Agenda that if no one is present to speak on the item, it may be put on the consent calendar.  We feel that this notice needs to be given some thought. It might not be in the best interest of the public’s right to know.  We also know that there were people in the chambers who could have talked about the item.
At a previous Planning Commission workshop that was not videotaped, the commissioners heard all about the the Old Warm Springs South Master Plan proposal and they were able to ask questions. This proposal is of significant size:

Valley Oak Partners is proposing to develop 785 residential units. (785 means 524 apartments and 261 townhomes and flats), 325,999 square feet of commercial space, including research and development/office space, a hotel and a restaurant on 28 acres.
And not a word was said to the public because the meeting wasn’t taped.  The Planning Commission knows all about it, but not the public.

We once had a city council member who would ask a question and say “I know the answer but I want you to tell it to the public.”

We need city council members and planning commission members doing a lot more of that.

Thank you.