Hayward landslide on “long list of alarming trends,” reader says

A letter from resident J.C. Juanis about the Garin Vista landslide (links inserted by The HayWord):

I read with interest your story regarding the landslide that occurred during the construction of the massive new home development on the site of La Vista Quarry (“Landslide puts housing project in jeopardy,” Oct. 8). [Matt’s note: Actually, it happened at a development project right next to the La Vista Quarry, which is also being developed.] As anyone who has lived in the area knows, this site is located just a few feet from the Hayward Fault. And as longtime residents can attest, there has always been a runoff problem caused by seasonal rains, as well as underground springs that are located throughout the hills surrounding Garin Regional Park.

Just how this kind of mass development could have been approved or even been conceived defies logic, especially in the minds of longtime homeowners in the area who had been told over and over that the ridge above them would never be developed because of the unsettling conditions in the area. So it is no surprise that we hear of this landslide nearly five months after it occurred.

What is surprising, however, is that something like this could have remained out of the public view for so long. Several years ago, just adjacent to this new development, builders rebuilt the hills that used to be cow pastures in order to build new homes that offered sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay. Now, just a few years later, you can see these homes precariously perched on new soil, just waiting for the landslides that will occur during the next earthquake. Some of these homes have already seen some of the soil close to their foundations run off with the winter rains. Some have tried to stem the tide by building retaining walls, while others just wait it out.

You would think that something would have been learned from this. But it appears that the greed of satisfying new developers, one of whom is the ex-mayor of Hayward, will take precedence over the safety of our citizens. This is just another in a long list of alarming trends that are happening in our city. Has anyone else noticed that our downtown buildings are becoming more and more vacant? Mission, Foothill and B Street host rows of empty storefronts as vacancies are beginning to outnumber retail shops. It appears that our elected officials are banking the future of Hayward on a downtown movie complex and developments like this one in the South Hayward hills. So it’s really no wonder that existing commercial spaces and new home developments are sliding away in Hayward — much like the earth in the hills.

J.C. Juanis is a Hayward resident.