HAYWARD — The City Council on Tuesday put restrictions on free outdoor feedings downtown, limiting them to once a month at city parks.
The rules cover Portuguese Park and other city-owned properties. Portuguese Park has been the site of two or more food handouts daily to 50 to 100 people, which neighbors say has resulted in thefts, vandalism and trash in the area, plus people relieving themselves in the park and the area.
At the Daily Review office on Foothill a few blocks away, we’ve seen some of the problems neighbors describe, though to a lesser extent. We have had people defecating near a dumpster behind our office. We’ve come to work in the morning walking past people sleeping in corners. We’ve had to call the police because of mentally unstable people going off and trying to smash things as they stagger along Foothill, where traffic zips by at 40 to 50 mph. We’ve been accosted and intimidated in the municipal parking lot behind our office.
The problems in downtown Hayward are real. These are problems the city has been grappling with for years, yet they only seems to intensify.
City staff members and council members are quick to point out that the new restrictions aren’t intended to address homelessness, or hunger, but to make downtown safer and to regulate what occurs on city property.
What do you suggest be done? Everyone seems to be sympathetic and compassionate, but long-term solutions remain elusive. I’d love to hear what others think.