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Hayward open house to share vision for city’s future

HAYWARD — People’s eyes often glaze over when hearing the words “general plan,” but if you ask them what they want their city to look like in 25 years, most have suggestions.

Over the past 18 months, Hayward has been asking its residents the vision thing, and on Saturday, March 8, the staff will host an open house from 9 a.m. to noon to share the results.

The general plan often has been called a blueprint for future growth and development, though some question how people now can anticipate what the future may bring. Still, the overall direction helps the city make day-to-day decisions.

To get to the draft 2040 General Plan (named for the year it will expire?), city staffers held public workshops and Planning Commission and City Council study sessions. The liveliest discussion has been at the online community forum, www.Hayward2040.org, though it appears city planners may have tried to make the site dull while at the same time not checking their spelling. From the site: “What are your comments related to the enviornmental analysis for the draft General Plan?”

Now, you may be asking why you should get up early on Saturday and make yourself presentable. Seriously, this is something that affects all Hayward residents. At the open house, you’ll find a series of stations for the topics covered in the plan and that oh-so-popular EIR (that’s government-speak for environmental impact report, which is a boring way of saying that if a project could harm the environment, you’d better spell out what you’re going to do to make sure that doesn’t happen).

City staff members and consultants who worked on the general plan will be at the open house to answer questions. Overview presentations are planned every 45 minutes. It’s a drop-in event, so feel free to wander over from the Saturday farmers market any time during the three-hour event.

For those who don’t know, Hayward City Hall is at 777 B St.

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Hayward council to take up Stonebrae development

Update: The development was approved by the council last week. No public comments. bit.ly/S0Qhru

The Hayward City Council will hear a request tonight to extend the Stonebrae development agreement another five years.

Stonebrae sits above Cal State East Bay in the Hayward hills. As part of the project, it built an elementary school and added a golf course.

The council approved a 10-year agreement with what was then Hayward 1900 for the project in 1999, and the first subdivision map was approved in 2005. The project stalled because of the recession, and the developer was given a five-year extension in 2008. That extension expires in February.

So far, there are 250 occupied houses in the development. According to a staff report, developers are planning about 180 more, which would be built over the next five years. Developers also want to construct a permanent clubhouse at the golf course.

When the project was proposed, it was fought by environmentalists and others concerned about the additional traffic on Fairview Avenue, Hayward Boulevard and Oakes Drive. And now it would add more traffic onto Five Canyons Parkway into Castro Valley.

No one spoke against the project when it went before the Planning Commission in December.

The meeting starts at 7:30 in Council Chambers, Hayward City Hall, 777 B St.

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What’s up at the San Leandro Marina?

Had a story updating what’s going on at the San Leandro Marina, with a focus on the “liveaboards” who call it home. Story was long, never got around to certain aspects such as the crime that accompanies blight. Clipped this part:

Reverse racism! Also, beware the satanic thug and his evil can of hot pink paint.

“There is crime,” said boat owner Oliver Campbell. “Prostitution, and drugs. You run around out there and you got to be careful or you’ll get a needle stuck in your foot.”

Up around the bend in the jetty, past the fenced off former Boat Works site that is now a haven for feral cats, hot-pink and black tags marred the outside wall of a public restroom.

“I’ve been coming here for years, but this is the first time I’ve seen this,” said James Mason, pointing at a pair of hateful little symbols. “It must have been kids – they didn’t even do the swastikas right, they’re going the wrong way. But the intent is still there.”

It should be noted that while I was going through archives I came across a lot of stories related to crime at the marina back in better days. It was once quite a party hangout for teenagers, and there were also some interesting tales of out-of-control incidents at the Blue Dolphin.

“It’s like that with any public park that’s open at night,” said harbor master Delmarie Snodgrass. “You’re going to get people out there, some of them looking at the water, others just to party.”

Snodgrass added that when it comes to big  displays of illegal behavior – think sideshows – “police have been on top of that.”

She said if necessary, cops have a handy way of isolating and catching troublemakers.

“They will close Marina Boulevard and Fairway Drive,” she said. “They’ll box them in if they start doing that stuff again.”

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Share your ideas for downtown Hayward at meeting tomorrow

The public’s input is being sought at a meeting tomorrow as the city aims to update its plan for downtown Hayward. Here’s today’s story, here’s the flier for the event and here’s the staff report from the Oct. 25 meeting when the idea was brought up to council.

One point that was omitted from the story because of space constraints is the downtown’s absentee landlords. Both the mayor and Councilman Marvin Peixoto said the city needs to do something to address the owners of buildings who seem to be uninterested in finding tenants.

“The worst gateway is the west side of Foothill, from Hazel on up,” Peixoto said. “Those people need to be contacted. They live outside the city and are not looking to put capital improvements into their projects.”

Mayor Mike Sweeney said some property owners “seem clueless about their business.”

“I don’t understand the strategy of why keeping buildings vacant for years on end, asking unreasonable rates from tenants, how that’s good for business,” he said. “Maybe we need to do mental health clinics for the owners there to bring them into the real financial world.”

Sweeney also cautioned that the loop of one way streets currently under construction in the area could prove to be a pitfall for some downtown ideas.

“If part of the vision for downtown is to make it walkable, I don’t see how it will help,” he said. “Especially Mission Boulevard, how is having five lanes of traffic going to help make downtown more walkable?”

Sweeney,  Olden Henson and then-councilwoman Anna May opposed the loop the last time it came up, in early 2009, when they wanted to revisit the idea. They were outvoted by the rest of the council.

The man and his magical musical machine

Final note: While lauding Buffalo Bill’s, Peixoto talked about how such family-friendly venues make great tenants and pointed at the late great Ye Olde Pizza Joynt (which technically sat on county property) as another example of such a venue. Brought back fond memories — I loved that place when I was a kid, especially when organist Don Thompson would bring the house down with the theme from Star Wars. Good pizza, too.  Place closed years ago after a fire, but there appears to be something in the works there these days and a source who inquired a crew there told me they’re putting in some kind of chicken restaurant.

Anyway, if you have some thoughts on downtown, would love to read them in the comments.

 

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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.

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Water rates, Burbank homes, Bunker Hill on tap tomorrow

hetchhetchyview

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.

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Chabot College faculty group supports power plant appeal

chabotlogoHad a story over the weekend about Chabot-Las Positas Community College District being the sole party still fighting the approved 600-megawatt Calpine powerplant at the Hayward shoreline, about a mile and a half away from the campus.

I just received a letter of support from the Chabot-Las Positas Faculty Association, which was sent to the district’s trustees. Find the full text after the jump, and here’s the district’s web page dedicated to the subject. Continue Reading

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Business owner shares concerns about Winton Avenue widening project

The owner of the Valero gas station at the corner of Winton and Hesperian Boulevard checked in to say he doesn’t think the roadway widening project is a good idea. The I-880/SR 92 Reliever Route Project “will provide for better access in and out of the industrial area located north of SR92 and west of I-880,” according to the staff report. Staff is recommending the City Council approve the project at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Owner of the gas station wrote a letter to the mayor, and included a graphic, laying out his concerns:

valeroDear Mayor Sweeney,

We are the owners, employees and customers of the Valero gas station, and residents living around the corner of West Winton Avenue and Hesperian Boulevard collectively organizing ourselves as the ‘People Power’ vs. Winton Mouth Widening. The City intends to appropriate a portion of the Valero lot to accommodate an additional lane to widen the mouth of West Winton Avenue by 400 ft. on the north side. Continue Reading

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Changes to Hesperian/Jackson interchange

 If you use Jackson Street to get to and from Hesperian Boulevard, for example if you’re a Chabot College student, take heed: Motorists on Hesperian Boulevard will not be able to access Jackson Street for travel toward the downtown area beginning Saturday, as a split will divide traffic for Jackson and Interstate 880 before it crosses Hesperian.

The split will remain in place for the time being, according to Caltrans, but the configuration will allow for access to Jackson sometime before the project is completed in late summer or fall.

Motorists are advised to take Hesperian to either Winton Avenue or Tennyson Road to travel east into Hayward.

Illuminated message signs will advise drivers of the changes.

For more information about the project, go to www.i880corridor.com and click on the SR-92/I-880 link. There’s a map of what’s going on to help clarify things.