At 879 acres, the site of the Warm Springs Priority Development Area (PDA) is one of Fremont’s last large undeveloped areas. PDAs are areas targeted for high-density infill development alongside public transit. The Warm Springs PDA is being built from the ground up, providing a unique opportunity to create a model of sustainable development and transportation, if done right.
Three of the Sierra Club’s concerns with the Warm Springs PDA are its lack of truly sustainable housing and businesses, improper and inadequate BART parking, and lack of a networked citywide trail system for bikes and pedestrians.
City leaders need to make the Warm Springs PDA a model of sustainable development, like Malmo, Sweden. Malmo turned an industrial wasteland into a thriving eco-district, setting a world-class example for sustainable living. In Malmo, energy needs are met solely with renewable resources like wind and geothermal; paths for pedestrians and bicyclers have priority; buildings are constructed to be highly energy efficient; and food waste is converted to biogas, which in turn fuels local buses.Why not in Fremont?
At the center of the PDA is the new Warm Springs BART station, scheduled to open later this year. Adjacent to this transit hub will be more than 4,000 housing units. The first development up for approval would include 2,200+ homes on 111 acres including an urban TK-5 school on five acres with a joint-use four-acre urban park (download the master plan for this development). The proposal for this development does not include any alternative-energy infrastructure, just “solar ready” housing. Nor does it provide Class I trails linked to a city-wide system, which would encourage walking and biking and reduce car dependence.
The Warm Springs BART station’s 2,000 parking spaces are planned as a flat parking lot rather than a multi-level structure. Flat parking is counter to the basic concept of a PDA, which provides for increased density and upward development. Acres of potential parkland are being paved for parking. And will 2,000 spaces even be adequate to meet rider demand? The Fremont BART station’s 2,030 flat spaces are woefully inadequate, with cars overflowing into adjacent business districts and neighborhoods on a daily basis.
To achieve the goals of a successful PDA, Fremont must prioritize accessible, integrated public transit, affordable and sustainable housing for families, and benefits for the community like local jobs and job-training programs. We must urge all Bay Area leaders to demand development that promotes truly sustainable communities. Fremont’s Warm Springs PDA should follow Malmo’s example and be the model for other Bay Area PDAs.
Read more about the Warm Springs/South Fremont Community Plan here.
— Jannet Benz