Fremont approves 20-year lease for Mission Peak

The city of Fremont once again has a long-term lease in place with the regional park district for the maintenance of Mission Peak.

The Fremont City Council on Dec. 6 decided, 6-1, to approve a 20-year lease agreement with the East Bay Regional Park District to continue managing 900 acres of the 3,023-acre Mission Peak Regional Preserve, as it has been doing for about half a century. Councilmember Jenny Kassan was opposed.

Fremont has been leasing the land to the park district since 1978, and its most recent 27-year lease agreement expired July 7, 2020, after which it became month-to-month. City staff brought forward a new long-term lease twice, most recently Nov. 15, but the council tabled the approval of the agreement and intended to have a work session to delve into their concerns about the lease.

City Manager Karena Shackelford said the park district notified her it was “not willing to negotiate any further” after the November meeting, so she decided to bring the lease back to the council.

Kassan said changing their decision based on the park district’s unwillingness to negotiate wasn’t a good look and reason enough to vote no again.

“That sends a really bad message to any party that we ever negotiate with in the future,” Kassan said. “I think we need a much better reason to change our position than the other party simply saying, ‘Sorry, we refuse to continue negotiating. Take it or leave it.'”

Beyond that, Kassan said the lease agreement didn’t have nearly enough detail.

Councilmember Yang Shao said it would be reasonable to be cautious entering into a 20-year lease with a partner with whom the city is unfamiliar.

“We are, on the other hand, talking about a partner that has been working with us for decades,” Shao said, “not only for Mission Peak, but other properties — regional parks — within Fremont.”

The city has been working with the park district for close to 50 years without issue and has been negotiating the lease agreement for more than two years, Councilmember Rick Jones said.

“We don’t have the resources,” Jones said, “we don’t have the staffing, we don’t have the financial capability of maintaining this park.”

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