Spanish-language films for cheap!

FRANCISCO ZERMENO VIDEO STORECity Councilman Francisco Zermeno’s loss could be your gain. His Z Video rental store is about to close at the end of the month, and he’s selling off all his inventory. He specialized in Spanish-language films, and was proud to have a pretty extensive collection of movies from what he called “Mexiwood” era of the ’40s ’50s and ’60s.

There aren’t many mom-and-pop video stores around anymore. About a year ago when Hayward Video was robbed, the lady there told me they get by on account of the porn. In fact, she said the previous time they were robbed, the man demanded a bag full of porn.

Since Hayward Video is right by the Daily Review, I got a membership — not for porn, there’s nothing but RedBoxes near my home and I like to browse. But when I rented a movie one night — I think it was District 9 or Cloverfield or something involving aliens — it came in a DVD box with a label that boasted a XXX type of title, crossed out. Found it sort of disconcerting that they were mixing porn cases with mainstream titles, only on account of what porn aficionados are up to before putting the CD back in the case.

Zermeno said he had a “very limited” porn collection, and lasted longer than other video stores because of the Spanish language niche. I didn’t ask if he has any Spanish-language porn. Anyway, find his email after the jump. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Continue Reading


Calpine says Russell City Energy Center is a go


UPDATE: Here is the story.

The EPA rejected all appeals regarding the federal air permit issued in February by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Calpine representatives say that was the final hurdle for the 600-megawatt facility near the Hayward shoreline; spoke briefly with opponents, who said there may be other ways to block it.

Working on a story for tomorrow, but find the Calpine release after the jump. Curious quote from Kim Huggett, the new president and CEO of Hayward’s Chamber of Commerce about how the power plant will “be a magnet for bringing new business to Hayward.” Continue Reading


Foam fight tonight in Hayward?

Tonight’s City Council agenda includes a public hearing on a Styrofoam ban. You can read the entire item here.

Hayward wouldn’t be the first city to pass such a ban, and it wouldn’t be the first city to have said ban opposed by the Chamber of Commerce. According to an e-mail from Councilman Bill Quirk, that opposition is expected at tonight’s meeting.

Save the Bay also checked in and will be there to speak to the importance of such a ban.

Also on the agenda: A work session on regulating hand-cart vendors, which are currently banned from operating but do anyway.


Burglary update and homes allowed near Costco — a Hayward council roundup

Here’s the gist of things that came out of Tuesday night’s meeting, I’m working on a couple of stories for later this week:

BURGLARY UPDATE: Council heard a report about this summer’s uptick in residential burglaries from Lt. Sheryl Boykins and Lt. Reid Lindblom, who are the community resource officers for the southside and northside, respectively. They had some figures, here are the highlights:

June saw the largest increase, from 78 to 118, a 51 percent increase, while May saw a 28 percent increase and July 13 percent. If you look at the totals for the first seven months of the year, there’s only been a 5 percent spike during that period compared with 2009, so it’s pretty clear the rise began with summer. And it’s not a Hayward thing, there have been increases in surrounding communities and most of those arrested have been from out of town. They’ve arrested 44 burglary suspects in the past three months, what Boykins said is “more than we usually arrest in a year.”

The lieutenants said the most affected neighborhoods are Darwin, Leeward, Bell Harbor, Palma Ceia, Fairway Park, and Silver Maple in S. Hayward, while in N. Hayward it’s Prominence, Bailey Ranch, area around Atherton and the area around Pinewood and Farm Hill.

They said they’ve increased presence in those areas but more importantly have worked with the community to let them know what’s going on and what they can do to prevent it, most notably helping watch over the neighborhood.

“We make way more arrests by networking with the community than we do by being in the right place at the right time,” said Lindblom. Continue Reading


Zorba’s deli closing on Friday

Heads up, in case you want to get one of your favorite sandwiches or Greek cuisine over at the popular Zorba’s Mediterranean Deli: You have until 2 p.m. Friday to do so.

zorbasZorba’s hasn’t been doing very well. There’s the economy, of course, and then construction on the interstate near the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge prevents people from coming over from the Peninsula.

“Oh yeah, I’d get customers from all over,” said cofounder Berc Maner. “We’re not just a Hayward place. I’d have people coming over the (San Mateo-Hayward) Bridge every day for lunch.”

Maner wanted to work with the property manager to get a break on their rent, but nothing doing.

We’ll have a story, but I wanted to let anyone know, who might be a fan. While I was down there earlier today, I talked to a couple people who were almost in tears over the impending closure. And if you are not a fan, or haven’t been there — I had my first Zorba’s sandwich today, a pastrami reuben, and boy was it tasty — maybe you can suggest an alternative sandwich shop or Greek deli.

There still will be a Zorba’s in Fremont, and the San Ramon location will be open for another year, Maner said.


Enough about that, what about …

me-restaurant1001002… Me? As in the Me Restaurant and Lounge. We had a story about it earlier this week, and how the owners are seeing it become a popular spot with out-of-towners, but no so much with Haywardians.

They also told me that there was a nasty anti-Me campaign being waged on Yelp, the online review site, although it appears some of the comments have been removed. According to Traci Thompkins, negative feedback was posted before the Me was even opened.

The Thompkins, who own and are running the venue, come across as a smart, well spoken family who genuinely want to have a quality establishment that benefits the city. They have invested a lot of money into the venue and stayed the course when licensing costs went way above the estimate they’d been given. They’ve impressed city staff with their vision and police haven’t had any problems with their events.

However, it’s the out-of-town aspect that some residents find worrisome. When an event is promoted on the radio — such as the Me’s Champagne Life event with a KMEL DJ — it can bring people in from everywhere, and the fear is that there could be friction between groups.

There are worries that it could become another Kumbala, the Foothill Boulevard nightspot that drew more than its share of attention from police before being shuttered.

“There are a lot of reasons Kumbala was the way it was,” said Joe Thompkins. “We are no Kumbala.”

Has anyone checked out the Me? I’ve only been in there off-hours, although I may try to catch the Taco n’ Tequila Thursday after work one of these days.

Just throwing it out there in case, you know, someone wants to talk about something other than the school board.


Update on former Mervyn’s HQ

mervynsThis story will be in tomorrow’s business section. The real estate company that bought the mortgage for the huge building and parking garage on Foothill is still considering what to do with it.

“It could be a mixed-use property,” said Marco Chavez , principal executive with Burlingame-based Chavez Management Group. “There could be some other uses. We haven’t decided. We only own the note so far.”

It’s an important piece in revitalizing the Foothill strip. Even as office space, it brings a lot of potential customers to the area.

And in case you missed it, we ran this roundup on recent downtown developments over the weekend. Also, had a recent piece specific to the new Mexican supermarket and taqueria downtown.


Hayward board and commission interviews this week

UPDATE #2: The official appointment and swearing-in ceremony for selected members will take place at the Sept. 14 City Council meeting.

UPDATE: Selections for the Planning Commission are Mariellen Faria, Sara Lamnin, Diane McDermott. For Personnel/Aff Action it’s Satinder Pal Singh and Gurjit Kaur. For Library, Kari McAllister. Keep Hayward Clean and Green, Monica Ruiz, Frances Sagapolu, Seleacia Taylor, Carol Baks Pecil and Werner Heisserer. Human Services, Diana Fagalde. Council Economic Development Committee, Terry Swartz, Chris Lam, Waseem Khan, Kanti Patel. DT Biz Improvement Area Advisory Board, Katherine Kelley, Beneba Thomas, Elie Goldstein, Benjamin Schweng. Citizen’s Advisory Committee: Rowena Gilmore, Ray Bonilla Jr., Flo Samuels, Allison McManus, Robert Leppert, Jim Todd and Julius Willis, Jr.

Hayward-City-Hall-2Hayward has a total of 44 applicants for posts on various boards and commissions. There are three vacancies on the Planning Commission, seven on the Citizen’s Advisory Commission, three on the Economic Development Committee, four on the Downtown Business Improvement Area Advisory Board, seven on the Keep Hayward Clean and Green Task Force and one each on the Human Services Commission, Library Commission and Personnel And Affirmative Action Commission. Applicants for the Planning Commission: Continue Reading


Plans for, and notes about, Big Mike

bigmikeOk, so the main reason for this post is to show off our HayWord host Big Mike’s profile shot. But we did have a story about how consultants and city officials hope to use the privately-owned fiberglass statue as the centerpiece for a future park on Mission Boulevard, as part of the Mission Boulevard Specific Plan that is in the works.

But there’s a host of information about Big Mike and his Muffler Man brethren at this website. Take a look at the various incarnations seen around the country — it’s a hoot. I like Spaceman Mike and creepy raised-eyebrow Big Ben.


Redevelopment take means $5.3 million loss for Hayward

Earlier this week, a judge upheld the state’s takeaway of local redevelopment dollars. As reported in today’s regional story, that means $5.3 million for Hayward. Here’s more information that didn’t make it into the story because of space constraints:

In Hayward, where the two-year grab will total about $5.3 million, Redevelopment Director Maret Bartlett said projects will be slowed down but not derailed.

That means less money for key projects such as the South Hayward BART redevelopment area, City Center and downtown retail attraction program. For example, the city is in the process of buying land along Mission Boulevard that will be then redeveloped.

“We were hoping to assemble the block on the west side of Mission between Pinedale and Sycamore,” she said. “We’ve acquired half the block but not as much as we’d like, and we can’t do it now.”

The blow was lessened because the redevelopment agency borrowed much of the lost money from its affordable housing fund, which must be paid back in five years.

Bartlett said that’s about how long she expects it to take to recuperate from the loss.

She added that it is frustrating that the money is being taken for use in schools because the city was already partnering with the school district on projects, and used redevelopment money for the creation of the new Burbank Elementary School.

“I think Hayward has been trying to do the right thing by the school district here,” she said. “We contributed a lot of redevelopment money to build a new school, and (the school district) has been a great partner. I just think it’s sad.”

Barlett added that it’s especially tough because with property values dropping, the tax increment going into the redevelopment fund is lower than it has been in prior years. About 17 percent lower.

“That’s huge,” she said. “And it’s expected to be down again this year.”

As a side note, the property acquisition for the downtown loop project will not be affected because those are not gained through redevelopment funds but rather through Measure B transportation funds.