The Great San Lorenzo Pumpkin … heist

 Ann Romick, who used to contribute feature stories to the Daily Review, checked in with a Halloween tale of bad deeds, good deeds, a little boy and his giant pumpkin:



By Ann Romick


“It was a dark and stormy night………” Isn’t that the way mysterious Halloween stories begin?  Well, actually, the storm has come and gone and the heist took place during the daylight hours — about 10 a.m. in the morning of October 27, but it’s a special Halloween story which needs to be shared.


We, who become a little jaded by the bad things touching our lives, could do with a reminder that while there are thoughtless people in the world, there are also those who are good and kind, and willing to take a moment to heal the broken heart of a little boy. (Story continues after jump.)

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Creekside lookout, paths now open

The latest improvements to San Lorenzo Creek near Centennial Hall have been completed, and it’s worth checking out. The work is along City Center Drive, just east of Foothill Boulevard.

Starting up above 2nd Street, there’s an overlook with interesting bilingual historical placards about early settlers in the area.

Crossing the bridge, there’s an access staircase that goes down to a platform beside the bridge for a look at the creek and a large street drain output, which had some impressive flow during the major rainstorm on Oct. 13.

The concrete path ends, but a dirt trail continues under the bridge. There’s evidence that homeless people are camping there, and a spray-paint scrawl on the opposite bridge support advises that “Art is OK, Tags no way.”

At Foothill, there’s another access point in De Anza Park. It leads to a short trail and some ground erosion control efforts. Unfortunately, people are still dumping trash there.

Overall, the work looks terrific and will be much enjoyed by those who would like to take a closer look at our main local waterway. Let’s hope dumpers don’t keep treating the creek like a landfill and ruin that. Thanks for the heads up that work is finished, Alex!


Post bridge-break traffic

Morning radio reports sounded dire — Hayward city streets in gridlock due to a deluge of commuters trying to get to the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. Jackson Street backed up, solid, to Foothill.

However, Hayward Police traffic division Sgt. Jeff Lutzinger said it wasn’t so bad.

“We had some minor congestion, but we get that every day,” Lutzinger said. “For the spontaneousness of the (Bay Bridge) closure, I was surprised we didn’t have bigger problems.”

Lutzinger said he was very worried coming in to work about what the morning traffic would look like.

“I didn’t know what I would get stuck in,” he said. “But if the bridge does not open tomorrow, I only hope things can go as smoothly as they did today.”

Officer Christina Tagle of the California Highway Patrol said that all things considered, Hayward-area freeways “went pretty smoothly. Traffic cleared out and by 9:30 or 10 it was back to normal, and nothing major happened.”

However, Tagle said that doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot more cars on the road. She estimated that it took commuters about twice as long to get through the area. “Plan on giving yourself an extra hour,” she advised. “People just need to be patient.”

Online traffic reports indicated things were getting sticky around 3 p.m., and we will soon see what the afternoon commute brings. There’s also a CHP incident report page that’s useful for finding potential freeway troubles.

Anyone have an eyewitness report, either from a.m. or p.m.? Or suggested alternatives to the main arteries that you’d care to share?


Sukhi’s Gourmet samosas No. 1!

The East Bay Express pointed out that Hayward-based Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods took top honors in the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s annual sofi awards. Sukhi’s samosas with chutney got first place in the “outstanding frozen savory” category, and also got a second place honor “outstanding diet and lifestyle product” for the Lean Fare Chicken Tikka Masala.

For those not in the know, sofi stands for “specialty outstanding food innovation.” The awards go to products you’ll find on shelves, fridges or freezers at retail stores rather than restaurants.

Now, where to get some of those fine Hayward delectables? Unfortunately, Sukhi’s store finder doesn’t find a samosa source closer than Oakland, and neither product is in their online catalog.

But congratulations to Sukhi, regardless! A very impressive national showing.


Pick Your Part octopus cuts off Hayward tentacle

There’s one less auto recycler around after Pick Your Part closed its NorCal scrap yards, including the one at the end of W. Winton Road. Sure, there are plenty of other such recyclers in the industrial areas near the shoreline, but I have fond memories of the octopus yard as the site of great bounty: Cheap parts for a 1966 Volvo 1800S  back in the mid ’90s.

Even then, good specimens were a rare find in a scrap yard, and after an exhaustive search, PYP proved to be a veritable treasure chest of old Swedish iron.

Not sure why they closed — the guy at the PYP number confirmed that both Hayward and Milpitas branches are gone, but had no idea why. Seems like an auto recycler would do well during a recession. Will look into it.


Hayward P.O.’s still on chopping block

The latest list of potential post office closures, released earlier this month, still includes the historic downtown Hayward Bradford branch as well as the little Mt. Eden facility. When they first announced the possible closures in the summer, it included nearly 700 branches nationwide. That was whittled down to 413 in August, now 371. Also still on the list are the Niles and Mission San Jose branches in Fremont, as well as branches in Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and San Pablo.

With about 70 branches on the list, California has nearly one-fifth of the possible closings. A final list is expected in December, and closings would begin at the earliest in January. The closures will save the Post Office between $20 million and $100 million annually.


Checking in with San Lorenzo Creek

The National Weather Service issued an urban and small stream flood advisory for the Hayward area, meaning that nuisance flooding could occur. Not nearly as extreme as a flash flood watch. Regardless, we went down to take a look at San Lorenzo Creek in a number of spots and found it flowing rather rapidly.

Here it is near Foothill Boulevard and City Center Drive.

Here it is at the Grove Street Bridge.

Here it is behind the Meek Mansion.

Want to know how your surrounding area would fare in a 100-year-flood? Here’s a FEMA site where you can punch in your address and get an overview.

And here’s a Daily Review from the mid-1950s, before the San Lorenzo Creek was calmed by dams and culverts.

Let us know if you are aware of any particularly flood prone areas in the greater Hayward area that we should be keeping an eye on.


Carlos Bee slippery when wet

Carlos Bee Boulevard is Hayward’s asphalt equivalent of a Slip ‘N Slide, so it shouldn’t come as a major surprise to anyone that the road was closed down this morning around 7:30 after several vehicles had mishaps on that particular avenue into the hills. According to Hayward police, cars going up the hill couldn’t get enough traction to make headway, and those coming down the hill were slipping out of control. As of 12:15 p.m., the road remained closed to Hayward Boulevard, and students and others were using alternate routes such as Harder Road.

A fix is in the works for Carlos Bee, but drivers will have to make it through this rainy season without it. So drive careful in them thar hills!

In other windy, wet news, no one was injured when two trees fell into a Goodwin Street home, and a pole-fire on Main Street closed the road near downtown for about an hour. We’re keeping an ear on the scanner and will have a roundup in tomorrow’s paper.


Castro Valley artist’s work in time-lapse

Speaking of Phil Long, the Castro Valley artist who made the Oakland police tribute in this year’s Day of the Dead exhibit, here’s a really neat video of him making his first such work out of leather. It honors his father, who was murdered off the coast of Mexico while trying to sail to Ireland. Long said it took more than 500 hours of cutting, gluing and stitching to make the piece.