San Leandro “more walkable” than Hayward, according to study

The walkability index is a guide that rates cities and neighborhoods based on proximity to nearby amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants, schools, parks, and public transit. 

Here is Hayward’s data and a pretty cool map in which green is good and red is bad in terms of legging it around town. Notice that while the overall number isn’t very impressive, some areas of town are indeed very walkable according to their methodology. In particular, North Hayward is up there at 77, which isn’t bad considering the 85 rank enjoyed by the country’s two most walkable cities of New York and San Francisco. San Lorenzo also got a 58 overall score, while San Leandro was somewhat higher at 65. Castro Valley faired poor for walkers, with a score of 45.

Fun feature: Enter an address and find a walk score particular for where you are. I’ll have you know that the Daily Review’s address is a “Walker’s Paradise” with a score of 98. The Castro Valley neighborhood where I grew up rated a dismal, “Car-Dependent” score of 28, but I could have told you that it wasn’t much fun getting around pre-car without the rating. 

 Here’s the press release from Walk Score.

According to the website, “The 372 largest cities in California have an average Walk Score of 50. The most walkable cities in California are West Hollywood, Albany and San Francisco.  The least walkable cities are Mead Valley, Prunedale and Adelanto.”


Trustees heading to Pittsburg on Thursday in supt. search

UPDATE 7/29: Here’s the story.

UPDATE 7/28: Board not going forward with Palacios. Brunner swings vote, says that while Palacios is very impressive, doing a great job in Pittsburg, he may not be right person for Hayward. Board will move on to third round of supt. search, will not have one for start of school year, which Brunner said she finds “very depressing.” Trustee McGee said he’s not worried because “we have people in place who will be able to keep district moving.” He said next step is “getting together with search firm and interim superintendent and discuss how we will go forward.” Both said Palacios didn’t meet the criteria on the brochure they created. Press release expected in the morning, will write a story tomorrow.


The board voted 3-2 to offer the job to Enrique Palacios, an associate superintendent at Pittsburg Unified, contingent on the site visit and interviews. Barring any problems, they would then enter contract negotiations. Here’s a story that quotes Palacios regarding the positive state of Pittsburg schools.

Board President Lisa Brunner and trustees Maribel Heredia and Jesus Armas voted to go with Palacios. Luis Reynoso and William McGee cast dissenting votes.

“We’re all looking for different things,” said Brunner. “He is much heavier on the business administration than the academic end.”

Brunner added that they did recently hire an associate superintendent of academic affairs. Here’s that story from a few weeks ago.

Brunner said only two candidates were brought forward to be interviewed by the board, and “the other was also excellent.”

Looking around for info, came across this although I’m pretty sure it is the wrong Enrique Palacios.


On scams and frauds and burglaries

seniorscamsHad a story about scams, in particular ones targeting seniors,  run over the  weekend. Information came from an interesting seminar at the Castro Valley Library, and there will be another free event in Hayward next month. You can get more information about Legal Assistance for Seniors, the group that holds seminars on fraud and other topics, by  calling 510-832-8040 or visit their website. There are other resources available online related to senior scams, here’s one website and here is information from the FBI and a story based on information from the Better Business Bureau.

While we’re on the subject of public safety, take a look at the Hayward Police Department’s video regarding burglaries. It’s got a reenactment of a typical knock-first, steal later crime in which the perpetrator is faithfully wearing a black hooded sweatshirt — easily the most frequently spotted article of clothing worn by ne’er-do-wells. Hayward, like many other Bay Area communities, has seen an uptick in the number of residential burglaries, and the police produced the video to let residents know what to watch out for and how to report suspicious activities.


Council: Let those in Bunker Hill-ville buy in

Blue lots are those the city recommends be offered to current residents.

Blue lots are those the city recommends be offered to current residents.

Residents of Bunker Hill, the area above Central Boulevard and below the CSUEB campus that was once slated to become a freeway, have been petitioning to be allowed to buy the houses they live in ever since the freeway plan derailed. The City Council on Tuesday agreed to support that sentiment, and will be sending such a recommendation along to Caltrans, which owns the property.

The homes would be offered at a market value to current residents only. If the person who lives there now is not interested, the home will not be offered up to others in the area. Based on interest shown by tenants, the city mapped out 17 properties they’d like to see offered up, some with additional assessments to pay for extra infrastructure such as sewer lines and roads to improve the area.

“(Residents) are tied to the neighborhood, and they’ve improved their homes when Caltrans did not,” said Steve Ronfeldt of the Public Interest Law Project. “These are responsible tenants.”

One of those tenants, Debbie Frederick, has been vocal throughout the Caltrans land disbursement process. She was at the meeting to thank the city for working with them, and to give the neighborhood a “human face.”

“Twenty-two years ago this September when I moved in, I was making $6 an hour as bookstore clerk,” she said. “Having the stability of the home environment I created there, and the nourishment of the neighborhood, I was able to move on with my life, and get a nursing degree… I now work at a local hospital, and go to a local church.”

She said she’s had “countless Christmas and Easter dinners” at her home, and added she’s not alone in her love for the neighborhood.

“The tenants have persisted in this … and we are motivated to make it the neighborhood our city envisions,” she said.

In 2009, Caltrans announced that most of the properties it purchased decades ago would be made available to current residents. The Bunker Hill and Maitland Drive lots were left in limbo, and in spring, Caltrans announced that it would be most viable to sell the land in bulk to one developer, which could better facilitate making the needed improvements in the area.

Under the recommendation made Tuesday, the remainder of the land, which as shown in the map above constitutes the majority of the area, would be made available for purchase to a master developer.

Find more information on the city’s Route 238 page.


Gov’s pick for EPA head has Hayward roots

Matt Rodriquez was selected by Gov. Jerry Brown to run the California Environmental Protection Agency, and his mom called the Review to point out that he’s a son of Hayward.

You might know his mom, too, from her years of service on the City Council.

“I just wanted to drum the fact that Hayward is a really nice town,” said Doris Rodriquez, who was on the council from 1991 to 2004, and also served as an appointed member from 2006 to 2008. She still can often be heard speaking at city meetings.

“It’s been a while since Matt went to Hayward schools, but he did,” she said. Matt went to Southgate, Calaroga (now MLK) and Mt. Eden.

 “Chabot College, too,” she said. “It was what I could afford, and he spent two years there before going to UC Berkeley and Hastings. It says something about Chabot.”

She said her other two children also started out at Chabot. One is now the head of the Hayward Education Association, and the other is also an attorney.

“It can make for sort of dull dinner conversation sometimes, but other than that it’s a good deal,” Rodriquez said.


Your furry friend at Southland Mall

Southland security agent Benny strikes a pose.

All usage of the comfy couch must be approved by Benny.

Have you met Benny? He works security at Southland Mall, always on the patrol for suspicious activites while serving as a goodwill ambassador to shoppers. He’s not from around here — Benny is Dutch, with German heritage, so if Benny were to don traditional garb he’d be in wooden clogs and lederhosen. But Benny doesn’t go for such costuming, probably because he’s a dog. Press release:


(Hayward, CA) – Everyone loves Benny the Dog, Southland Mall’s official security K-9.  He is no ordinary dog.  The four-year-old purebred German Shepherd has the important job of enhancing security at Southland Mall and providing an additional level of comfort for customers who visit the center. Continue Reading

Water rates, Burbank homes, Bunker Hill on tap tomorrow


Who wouldn't want to drink this water?

UPDATE: Here’s the story on the approval of the rate hike.

City officials love Hayward’s water. It’s from the scenic Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park, the same water that is piped to San Francisco. Some businesses have even located themselves in Hayward to take advantage of the superior water, officials say, and Hayward has been buying the precious commodity from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission since the 1960s.

Unfortunately, upkeep of the pipeline has been lax, and there are seismic improvements that need to be done. All told, it’s going to cost more than $4 billion, and those who buy water from the utility need to pay their share. Hayward’s share is estimated at $200 million. So SFPUC has increased the water rate to the city, and the city in turn will discuss raising rates for water users at tomorrow’s meeting.

We had a story earlier this year on the damned-if-you-do fact that saving water results in higher prices, but Hayward officials said that effect is minimal compared with the cost of the upgrades and retrofit to the pipeline.

This could cost water-intensive businesses a lot of money.  Maybe we’ll see some concerned parties at the meeting.

Also on the agenda: The proposed 57-home development at the former site of Burbank Elementary School. It went before the council at a meeting last month, and while everyone liked the green features and were generally supportive, they want to talk more about undergrounding utilities along B Street, and who is going to pay for it.

And staff is recommending a resolution supporting Bunker Hill residents who want to buy the homes they’ve been renting from Caltrans, part of the aborted Route 238 bypass project.

Find the agenda and reports here.


Meet your new police chief, w/2 ‘dos!

'Do up!

'Do up!

So it looks like the Daily Review story about the hiring of Diane Urban, the city’s new police chief, didn’t land on the website but you can find it after the jump. It’s very similar to the Merc version, but with more Hayward info added and a bunch of stuff chopped out because of limited space in the paper. Read both for maximum effect, and add to that the  in-depth Merc profile on Urban from November when she was a candidate for San Jose’s top cop post.

Highlights: In addition to her 25-year career with the San Jose Police Department — which included being the first female member of its SWAT team and serving in a host of different capacities up to her last post as assistant chief — Urban has been a horsewoman for life, went to Cal State

'Do down!

'Do down!

Hayward and can throw the discus better than you.

And since they sent me two photos of Urban, in uniform and civilian duds, I figured I’d share those as well. Here’s the Review story:








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