In February of this year I had written about a pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks that were breeding on the Kimber Park property with this Valentine’s Day post.
They had established themselves on the eastern half of the property, with their nest located in one of the nearby redwood trees. They constantly hunted for prey on the Kimber Park Open Space – one of the pair is shown here after just pouncing on a hapless rodent at the base of the hunting tree they preferred on this land.
They had been observed copulating in the trees on the property, which would normally lead in short order to eggs being laid and young being raised.
Sadly, their courtship was cut short by ill-timed landscaping on the property.
Below you can see one of the hawks defending their tree by standing its ground and not flying off, faced first with landscapers and then with the destruction of its hunting tree.
The bravery and dedication of the raptor was a bit humbling.
Was this destruction purposeful? I was quite upset that it took place shortly after that St. Valentine’s Day post. Had I put them in danger by writing about them? To top things off, I clearly saw the property owner drive by in her black Mercedes coupe while the landscapers were destroying the tree.
There is no disputing that they were fully aware of the destruction taking place at their bidding. Once again. Here’s what they did to the wildflower meadow.
I am left hoping that the owners are just clueless rather than thinking all this destruction was intentional. Heavy, sad sigh.
Hello, do not do such large-scale habitat destruction during the wildlife breeding season.
When contacted the local game warden was extremely interested but was busy with a more urgent matter. By the time he was free the damage had already been done.
Over the next few days it was clear that the hawks were greatly disturbed. One left, with the other now having moved westward, to the center portion of the property. I was very bummed and felt culpable. Did the publicity lead to the destruction?
The Red-Shouldered Hawk is known to be very resilient and adaptable. Indeed, in spite of pressure from the bigger nearby Red-Tailed Hawks and the radical habitat destruction, they re-established themselves on their breeding site.
They moved their nest slightly, into one of the nearby Eucalyptus trees. The site was above a public space frequented by the locals as they enjoyed the urban forest during their walks and meanderings. However, it was so well hidden and the hawks so secretive that I think I was the only one that knew its location.
In short order a young fledgling was being raised. Here is a picture of the youngster.
So cool! I named him Artie, in honor of Art Kimber.
It was my privilege to watch Artie mature and successfully leave the nest. After fledging, Artie also hunted on the Kimber Park Open Space and grew into a beautiful young adult.
Through an amazing coincidence, Artie was also shown on the local TV station.
On the day that the Fremont City Council adopted the Protect Fremont Open Space Initiative, Christina was interviewed at the Kimber Park Open Space urban forest. At the very end of the broadcast they showed Artie, calling from one of the Kimber pines. Here’s my copy of the broadcast (sorry about the poor audio). Artie shows up around 2:00 in the video.
Beautiful, boisterous, noisy and standing his ground. Just like his Mom and Dad.
Now, through a sad turn of events, the turmoil surrounding this land continues. The owners have submitted new plans, calling for a 40,000 plus square foot mini strip mall, directly on the site of the Redwood forest!
While this in itself may not be that surprising, given the history of the owners and their actions, what is surprising is the actions of the Fremont Planning Department. Now under new management, they are supporting the owner’s plans. They have, in fact, quietly reworked the definition of Private Open Space. and have proposed to the Planning Commission the rezoning of our Open Space into a separate Planned District.
Yes, that’s right, the behemoth development, including lodging, a day spa, business center and huge, 100-seat restaurant would be zoned as “General Open Space” if the Planning Department has its way. I don’t suppose that anyone would be surprised to learn that this is absolutely forbidden in the Grant Deed and Purchase Agreement signed by Shapell Homes.
Take a look at this before and after view of the impact to the land. BTW, it is drawn to scale.
The camera lens belies the size of the mall building. By looking at the many tennis courts, walkways, swimming pool, etc., all of which would be replaced with the multi-story structure, you can get an idea of its scale. The commercial center would tower over the neighborhood and compete in height with the 60-year old Redwoods. This is what the “new” Fremont Planning Department calls open space. Shocking.
They say the plans are great, even though they would put this ginormous multi-businessed minimall into a quiet neighborhood. There is no question that it’s construction would destroy many of the old Redwoods on the property, along with the character of the neighborhood. It would also cut right through the forest canopy on the south side of the property. The figure below shows where the entrance would go. Yet, the developer has stated that all trees will be saved. Apparently they will float over the asphalt. How wide would this entrance be to permit fire trucks to safely enter? I see no way that those Redwoods survive.
The fiasco continues. The developer’s materials show that the new plans are over 100 parking spaces short of what is needed, even after they destroy the existing beautiful interior lawn and convert it to a parking lot.The figure shown below includes my estimate at what else would need to be destroyed to fit in all of the needed parking spaces (planned parking in red, guesstimated additional space shown in green).
The figure also points out other misrepresentations. It is as if no opportunity to take from the community and disfigure and destroy it was not taken. A mislocated and unwanted aquatics center replaces more tennis courts. The garden (shown in blue), although described by the developer as a community garden, would be used to grow veggies for the restaurant. Gosh, I sure hope we don’t have any trouble keeping the turkeys and deer out of the restaurant’s garden on the private open space. I suppose that the owner’s solution will be to impose a parcel tax on the neighborhood, should we fall behind.
As crazy and insane as these plans seem, it is all true. We are faced with a newly and uniquely kleptocratic Planning Department. One so uncaring, arrogant and bold that they are openly trying to undo the effect of the Protect Fremont Open Space Initiative. It is so very sad to see Fremont become the poster child of all that is wrong in local governance. Apparently a very small group of city bureaucrats believe that they need to generate business for themselves and simultaneously show up the entirety of the citizens of Fremont and the City Council. I am so happy that my taxes are paying for their salaries and pensions (not).
If you can, please attend the October 25th Fremont Planning Department special continuation meeting, at 7pm at the City Council Chambers, Building A, 3300 Capitol Ave, Fremont and help us stand up against these abuses.
The Planning Commission will vote on the latest plans. We need to show the continued resolve and unity of the Save Kimber Park movement.
Ultimately the City Council will have their say, but we cannot let up. While I was gathering signatures for the Initiative, on Earth Day no less, a young Asian father signed our petition. He told me that he had just told his two young boys that the beautiful Fremont hills are not scarred with development because of the continued hard work of dedicated Fremont residents. He was doing his part and educating his kids about what is needed to keep Fremont beautiful, with open hills and urban forests. I would not be surprised to see him at tonight’s meeting. I hope you can make it as well.