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December 6, 2011 > Letter to the editor: Kimber Woods, a jewel of open space

Letter to the editor: Kimber Woods, a jewel of open space

On December 6th, the Fremont City Council will be asked to approve the revised Fremont General Plan. This plan is the culmination of five years of intense effort by the city planning staff. It envisions a modern, urban city that seeks to preserve the historic character of its communities and its open spaces. The city planning staff should be congratulated. Rather than letting the city celebrate this good work, a development corporation from Los Gatos is now asking the City Council to modify the General Plan at the last minute.

Kimber Woods is a jewel of open space and the historic center of the Kimber Park community. Before Kimber Park was developed these 12 acres were turned into a park by John Kimber for his employees at Kimber Farms in the 1950's. When the Kimber Park development was built in the mid-70's, the developer preserved the woods as open space with a tennis and health club. The city zoned the parcel accordingly as private open space for recreational purposes. Several times over the last 30 years, speculators have attempted to purchase the property to build houses. Each time, the city with the support of the local community has defended the parcel's zoning and preserved it.

The previous general plan maps showed the Kimber Woods parcel as part of the larger, residential area. The new general plan corrects this inconsistency and shows the woods as private open space in the land use maps, in agreement with the existing zoning. The current owner, a speculator, working with an outside developer from Los Gatos, seeks to build houses on the woods. They have had five years to raise any objections but are now asking the City Council to remove the correction of Kimber Wood status from the revised General Plan. The community strongly supports the alignment of the General Plan to the existing zoning.

The General Plan espouses several principles epitomized by the preservation of Kimber Woods. It calls for maintaining existing open space and neighborhood character. The plan calls for resisting encroachment of development on community common spaces. All of these principles call for the preservation of Kimber Woods as open space and a recreational center.

Ultimately the fate of Kimber Woods depends on the decision of the City Council. That decision will say much about the future of our city. Is Fremont a city that truly honors the principles of the General Plan and reflects the desires of its citizens, or is it a city willing to sacrifice the well-being and quality of life of its citizens in response to the influence of speculators and developers.

Mark von Gnechten

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