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RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION PROCESS

[This information has not been reviewed by the City of Fremont's Planning Department.]

This is generally a six to eight month process.

The City of Fremont's Development Activity web page has a map and a chart of active Development Applications. It lists both Residential and Commercial developments.


NOTICE

Prior to Application

Prior to submitting any formal plans to the City, developers sometimes hold Community Courtesy Meetings to get initial feedback from the residents near the development. The Planning Department does not attend those meetings. After learning about the development, residents should voice any concerns directly to the Planning Department.

Developers sometimes hire a firm to perform a Historical Resource Assessment, especially if the property contains potentially historic structures.

Developers sometimes hire a firm to perform a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, especially if the property had been used for agricultural, commercial, or industrial purposes in the past.

Preliminary Review Procedure

Developers may submit their development to the Planning Department for a Preliminary Review Procedure (PRP). The Planning Department reviews the plans from several different aspects. Within 30 days, the Planning Department will prepare a report of issues it finds with the preliminary plans. Developers use this information to decide whether to go forward with the process and to help them shape their Development Application.

Developers are encouraged to hold a Community Courtesy Meeting with affected residents at this stage even if they have held one before. The Planning Department does not attend those meetings. Again, residents should voice any concerns directly to the Planning Department or the City Staff Planner assigned to the PRP.

Initial Development Application

The Planning Department assigns a City Planner for the project and a team to review the plans. The team includes people from Planning, Engineering, Environmental, Landscape, Traffic, Fire, and Police.

At this point, residents can view the detailed development plans by arranging with the Planning Department to have the plans made available at the Planning Department offices.

Within 30 days, the Planning Department prepares a Completeness Letter. This lists issues the department finds with the plans. The department team meets with the Developer to go over the findings.

Planning Department Review

Planning Department instructs the Developer to post a Courtesy Notice sign on the street in front of the development. The sign may not be requested until later in the process. If residents see a new Courtesy Notice sign, they should point it out to their neighbors.

The Planning Department decides which studies, if any, will be required for the Initial Study.

Typically, there are about four one-month cycles of revised plan submittal and Planning Department review before the Planning Department decides the Development Application is complete. The plans must satisfy the department assessment except possibly for lesser concerns that could be handled with Conditions.

Before the Development Application is submitted for approval, the project's City Planner is directed to write up any required Initial Study report and prepare a Staff Report of the department's recommendations. A tentative date for a hearing is set.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Notification

If a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document is required, a CEQA notification will be mailed out to those residents within 300 feet of the property three weeks before the Planning Commission's Public Hearing. If State entities are involved, it will send out notices 30 days in advance.

The CEQA document is posted online at the City's COF Environmental Review page. This is often the first time anything about the development is posted online. Sign up for notification of CEQA postings at the City's COF Notify Me web page.

Approval Body

City Council: If the Development Application is for a Planned District, requests a General Plan Land Use Amendment, is part of a Master Plan, or requires a change to the zoning, it will go to the Planning Commission for a recommendation of approval and then to the City Council for approval.

Zoning Administrator: If the development includes only a small number of housing units, does not require a Vesting Tract Map and does not require City Council approval, the application may be sent to the COF Zoning Administrator for approval. The Zoning Administrator is a senior member of the Planning Department staff, and the hearings are open to the public for comment. If approved by the Zoning Administrator, the Development Application does not go to the Planning Commission or City Council. Only appeals would go to the City Council. Sign up for notification of Zoning Administrator hearings at the City's COF Notify Me web page.

Planning Commission: Larger developments that do not require City Council approval will go to the Planning Commission. Only appeals would go to the City Council.

Planning Commission's Public Hearing

At least one week before the Planning Commission's Public Hearing, the hearing notification will be mailed out to those residents within 300 feet of the property. A Public Hearing Notice is published in the Tri-City Voice.

The agenda for the Planning Commission meetings is often posted on the COF Planning Commission website late on the Friday before the next Thursday meeting. Sign up for notification of meeting agendas at the City's COF Notify Me web page.

During the Public Hearing part of the Commission meeting, usually the Planning Staff presents its findings and recommendations. Next the Developer presents its case. Then residents may speak. Following the residents, the Developer gets to rebut the residents, but the residents are not allowed to speak again. [See Meetings page.]

If the Development Application requires City Council approval, the Planning Commission will recommend approval or disapproval or make no recommendation. The Planning Commission may also place conditions on any recommendation to approve. In some cases they can ask the Developer to temporarily withdraw the application from consideration in order to voluntarily redesign certain parts of the development.

If the Development Application does not require City Council approval, the Planning Commission will make the final decision on approval instead of just a recommendation. Only appeals would go to the City Council. The Planning Commission can approve or deny the application. The Planning Commission can place conditions on any approval. The Planning Commission can instead ask the Developer to withdraw the application from consideration at this that time in order to redesign.

City Council's Public Hearing

The City Council's Public Hearing is typically 3 to 5 weeks following the Planning Commission's finalized recommendation.

One week before the City Council's Public Hearing, the hearing notification will be mailed out to those residents within 300 feet of the property. A Public Hearing Notice is published by The Argus.

The agenda for the City Council meetings is often posted on the COF City Council website late on the Wednesday before the next Tuesday meeting. Sign up for notification of meeting agendas at the City's COF Notify Me web page.

During the Scheduled Items part of the City Council meeting, usually the Planning Staff presents its findings and recommendations. Next the Developer presents its case. Then residents may speak. Following the residents, the Developer gets to rebut the residents but the residents are not allowed to speak again. [See Meetings page.]

The City Council can approve or deny the application. The City Council can place conditions on any approval. The City Council can instead ask the Developer to withdraw the application from consideration at this that time in order to redesign.

At a second City Council meeting, there is a Second Reading and Adoption of the ordinances and conditions pertaining to the application. This item is usually on the Consent Calendar which means there is no further discussion unless someone at the meeting requests the item be moved to the main agenda. All Consent Calendar items are voted on with one motion.

Appeals

Any interested party may appeal the decision of the Zoning Administrator, Planning Manager, Community Development Director, Historical Architectural Review Board, Art Review Board, Planning Commission, and any other official, board, or commission, except the City Council. This applies to an approval, a disapproval, or any conditions applied to the decision. An "interested party" may be the developer, a private individual, the representative of a group of individuals, or even the City Manager.

Appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Administrator, Planning Manager, Community Development Director, and any other official are appealed to the Planning Commission. Contact the COF Planning Division.

Appeals of decisions made by the Art Review Board and Planning Commission are appealed to the City Council. Contact the COF City Clerk. Appeals of the Historical Architectural Review Board may be heard by the City Council, except in certain cases.

Appeals may be filed by any interested party within ten (10) calendar days following the date of decision. If the deadline falls on a day when the city is not open for business, the deadline will be extended to the next business day. Appeals must be in writing on the form for that purpose, and must state the decision appealed, the facts and basis for the appeal, and the relief or action sought. A fee must be paid at the time of submission. Some appeals require a deposit against costs.   COF Master Fee Schedule   COF Appeals Form

Once an appeal has been filed, all action on the item is placed on hold until a final decision is made. A public hearing will be held, and the public may express any comments or concerns. The reviewing body is not bound by the previous decision or the issues raised at that time. The reviewing body may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision appealed.

-- Derived from the COF Fremont Municipal Zoning Code: Chapter 18.300 - APPEALS TO CITY COUNCIL AND PLANNING COMMISSION


Fremont Unified School District Attendance Area Assignments

Each June, the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) reviews all the school Attendance Area assignments for one year and six years into the future. Because many schools are currently overcrowded, FUSD has stated that students in new developments will be assigned to any school in the district where there is capacity, but not necessarily to the closest school. An assignment for a new development can be "Unassigned". This situation will be reviewed periodically by FUSD.

This is not part of the City of Fremont's Residential Development Application process. The Planning Commission and the City Council are not involved in the Attendance Area assignments.

Any issues residents might have with School Attendance Area assignments should be addressed to FUSD.

See the Issues section on Development Impact on School Facilities with information on Senate Bill 50's restrictions.


Reporting Concerns Once Construction Starts:

The contractor is responsible for meeting the City of Fremont's requirements to minimize disruption and potential damage during construction. For example, trucks hauling dirt must prevent spillage on the street. Fences and landscaping on surrounding properties must be protected. Construction hours, including equipment warm-up time, are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, with no construction allowed on Sunday.

There should be one or more signs on the project site with the name and telephone number of the contractor's community coordinator for the project. This person should be called first for all concerns and complaints about work on the site. Emergency situations, such as fires, should be reported by calling 911.

If the contractor does not resolve a problem, or if a problem happens repeatedly, the City of Fremont's Community Preservation department should be contacted at (510) 494-4430 or code_enf@fremont.gov.


Studies & Assessments

Historical Resource Assessment: Required if the property contains potentially historic structures.

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment: Required if the property had been used for agricultural, commercial, or industrial purposes in the past.

Water Supply Assessment (WSA): Cities are required to request a WSA by their local water district whenever the development includes 500 or more residential units. In the WSA, the water district might report that it may have to seek new sources of water to meet the project's needs or it might require certain changes to the project to reduce the water needs. The City of Fremont is serviced by the Alameda County Water District (ACWD).

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Review Process: Depending on the scope of the project and its anticipated impacts, one or more of the following documents may have to be prepared:

Initial Study - A preliminary analysis prepared to determine whether a Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration, or Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should be prepared. Possible study categories:

Biological Resources
Hazards and Hazardous Materials
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Population/Housing
Transportation - Traffic
Agricultural and Forest Resources
Cultural Resources
Hydrology/Water Quality
Mineral Resources
Public Services
Utilities/Service Systems
Air Quality
Geology/Soils
Land Use/Planning
Noise
Mandatory Findings of Significance

Negative Declaration - A statement briefly describing the reasons that a proposed project will not have a significant effect on the environment.

Mitigated Negative Declaration - A statement similar to a Negative Declaration that includes measures to reduce or mitigate potential impacts to a point where no significant effect on the environment will occur.

Environmental Impact Report (EIR) - Detailed report that identifies potentially significant impacts which may include significant and unavoidable impacts of the project.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) also provides classes or categories of projects pre-determined to be "exempt" from environmental review because they would not have a significant effect on the environment. Exemptions from CEQA are commonly referred to as Statutory or Categorical Exemptions (CEQA Guidelines Sections 15260 and 15300). The City may file a "Notice of Exemption" (NOE) following approval of a project with the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder's Office, but preparation of an NOE is not required under CEQA.

One such Categorical Exemption is "Class 32: In-fill Development Projects" as defined in CEQA Categorical Exemptions.


Published Zoning Code Documents on the City of Fremont Website

COF Fremont Municipal Zoning Code:
Planned District
Residential Districts
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Overlay
[Note: It takes several months for updates to the Zoning Ordinance
(once adopted) to be codified and reflected in the on-line version.]

COF Design Guidelines:
PDF Small-Lot Single-Family Guidelines (1.5 MB)
PDF Multi-Family Guidelines (3 MB)

COF City of Fremont General Plan
PDF Land Use and Open Space Elements (4 MB)
PDF Community Character Element (6 MB)

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