State of the City 2019: Embracing Balanced Growth and Building a Community for All
2018 was a year of historic significance for the City of Fremont and its residents: we converted our Council elections from at-large voting to a district-based system last November and welcomed some talented, fresh faces to the City management team, including our new City Manager Mark Danaj and Community Development Director Dan Schoenholz, who are ready to continue Fremont’s long legacy of great leadership.
With a new Council and City Manager on board, we agreed upon a shared vision of three key focus areas for Fremont this year: housing, traffic congestion, and neighborhood commercial districts and businesses. These priorities, which are in line with results from our community survey conducted last June, will translate to tangible actions, including the creation of new development guidelines, the implementation of innovative transportation solutions, and increased support for our businesses.
As the number of jobs has risen in the past few years, Fremont has been striving to maintain the healthy balance between housing and jobs. In fact, Fremont has accomplished a record-breaking year in terms of increasing the availability of affordable housing, for example:
- We built more units than ever before at project sites such as Stevenson Terrace, Innovia, and Central Commons.
- Additional funding has been approved for the construction of City Center Apartments which will provide supportive housing for low-income households, including a number of units set aside for veterans and people with mental disabilities.
Along with housing needs, traffic and safety are key issues for our City. The Council and staff are working on delivering infrastructure projects and securing additional funding to address those concerns. Part of our strategic approach includes:
- The Fremont Mobility Action Plan, which includes an accompanying checklist of focused areas and projects, has been adopted with a goal to improve our local and regional transportation systems.
- We’ve budgeted and are on track to modernize 40% of our traffic signals with new hardware and software which will allow more efficient traffic flow, faster response times for emergency vehicles, better detection for bicyclists, and a battery backup system to ensure uninterrupted power. We’ll be looking for funding sources to complete the City’s network.
As we work to implement creative solutions to housing and traffic, we’ll also be focusing on neighborhoods of character and look forward to working with our historic commercial districts, small businesses, and community partners. Here are a few highlights:
- A workshop was held to provide an overview of the City’s General Plan and how it applies to the Irvington District.
- We will help facilitate a new elementary school at Centerville Community Park, as well as build two new City parks within the next four years.
- This year, the Alameda County Small Business Development Center Headquarters will move from Oakland to Ohlone College. Resources for the small business community in Fremont will continue to become more accessible with this move and through our efforts working with the Fremont Chamber of Commerce and historic districts.
Meanwhile, innovation is in our DNA, and Fremont’s long-standing leadership in advanced manufacturing is at the foundation. Fremont’s largest growth sector continues to be biotechnology, with the majority of Fremont’s biomedical companies manufacturing here. To name just a couple:
- U.K.-based Orchard Therapeutics is building a gene therapy manufacturing operation in Warm Springs.
- We welcomed dozens of new biomedical startups last year, including PrinterPrezz which is revolutionizing medifacturing through advanced 3D printing.
As Fremont continues to act to reduce the effects of climate change, I’m very proud of our continued bold climate leadership. Here are some of our new initiatives:
- Fremont is one of the first cities in the region to adopt a new goal to align local policies with the state’s ambitious target of carbon neutrality by 2045.
- The City welcomed a new, sustainable electricity provider, East Bay Community Energy, and passed the Solar Preservation Ordinance.
We recognize the importance and impact that each of the people and organizations we serve has on our great city. Everyone counts and belongs in our community, and our City has been working hard to preserve this view with actions like the following:
- We made strides in providing homelessness resources and services in our city by participating in the second biennial Alameda County homeless count, expanding our warming center to a winter relief shelter, and launching a new mobile hygiene unit called “Fresh Start.”
- The groundbreaking of the new Senior Center in Warm Springs is anticipated this summer as a space that will offer services for older adults to continue making Fremont an age-friendly city.
- The Fire Department has been focusing on recruiting talent from under-represented and economically-disadvantaged groups. To spark young women’s interest in fire service, the Department opened its training center to NorCal Women in the Fire Service for its inaugural NorCal First Alarm Girls Fire Camp last fall.
Additionally, I’d like to congratulate the Fremont Police Department for its well-deserved honor of the Annual Chairman’s Award by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce. I agree whole-heartedly with Chamber Chair Ken Ariathurai’s remarks, “At the heart of a successful and thriving community is the sense of security and safety for both citizens and business alike.” We are fortunate to have an engaged police force which fosters a unifying and respectful presence in the Fremont community.
Last but not the least, I want to thank our gracious host, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, for another successful State of the City Address.