November 29, 2011 > Letter to the editor: Save Kimber Park
Letter to the editor: Save Kimber Park
The Save Kimber Park effort has worked very hard over the last eight months to understand the facts that relate to the 12.7-acre parcel in the middle of the Kimber Park neighborhood. Hundreds of pages of city council and planning commission meeting minutes have been read. Numerous meetings and discussions with city staff in the planning department as well as the city attorney's office have been held. We have tried to educate ourselves and the community, based on historical documents and actual discussions, so that we would know the truth for ourselves and not be easily taken in by those with strong financial incentives to distort the facts. Here is what we know:
1) There is a General Plan for the city that is just that, general and broad. Then there is zoning for each parcel, which is more specific and more detailed. Zoning for a parcel is what governs its land use since it is more specific. The General Plan designation DOES NOT give a landowner any development rights. On the 1991 General Plan Consolidated Land Use Diagram, it clearly states that, "Allowable land uses for specific parcels of land cannot be determined solely by reference to this diagram. Contact the Community Development Department - Planning Division for the most up-to-date and relevant information. USERS SHOULD VERIFY DESIGNATIONS, REGULATIONS, AND RESTRICTIONS BEFORE MAKING PROJECT COMMITMENTS."
2) According to city staff, zoning for the Mission Hills Tennis and Swim Club, in the center of the Planned Development named Kimber Park, is private open space with recreational purposes. In a March 10, 2011 letter from city staff to the architect, it clearly states that, "staff remains clear in our determination that the private open space parcel in question was planned for that purpose in conjunction with the overall development plan for the area, and that the record reflects that fact. We remain concerned with this proposal, and do not support the proposed project." We encourage anyone who is interested to contact the city planning department to find out what the zoning is for the parcel.
3) City staff is recommending that the land use in the Updated General Plan be changed so that it aligns with the currently approved zoning and long-standing (35-year) use of the property. The recommended designation in the General Plan to private open space from low-density residential does not deprive the landowner of any pre-existing development rights. They currently have no development rights (as the General Plan does not give these rights) so changing this designation cannot take any rights away. They have a right to try to get the property re-zoned and this process will not be impacted by the General Plan designation. If the owner suggests that changing the General Plan designation is the same as changing the zoning that is simply not true. The owner has to go through a Planned District Amendment process to get the zoning changed and the General Plan designation will not impact that process in any way.
4) The property owner may say that an HOA was supposed to be formed to purchase and maintain the 12.7-acre property and since that wasn't done that no open space exists. In early discussions on the development there was mention of an HOA being created but there were also other options discussed like having it be purchased by the city as a public park. The HOA option was merely that. One discussed possibility. In later discussions (see Planning Commission Report dated August 23, 1973) the staff report says "Determined that lake-park area be retained in private ownership with limited public access;" It does not say what form the private ownership should take. Years later, on February 11, 1976, the developer did sell it to a private owner, Kimber Park Associates, and made the Grant Deed subject to a Purchase Agreement. It states that, "Buyer is aware of Kimber Park homeowners desires and expectations that most of Lot 342 remain "natural" and serve as an open space, private park facility. In this respect Buyer covenants and agrees, for the benefit of Seller and all owners of lots in tract 3524, that Buyer shall not construct or locate nor permit any other party to construct or locate any commercial or residential structure of facility upon the real property described as the "upper two-thirds (2/3) of the Lot." It goes on to say that "Buyer and Seller hereby agree that said covenants are appurtenant to and shall run with the land."
The Save Kimber Park effort remains staunchly opposed to any development on the Mission Hills Tennis and Swim Club property and we feel there are compelling legal, environmental and community reasons to preserve the space as it was originally intended. Changing the General Plan to match the existing 35 year-old zoning makes sense and is overdue. It takes nothing from the current property owner who is required to submit a Planned District Amendment to try to get the zoning changed, regardless of the General Plan designation.
Kimber Park, Fremont