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Conversations about conservation concerns

Any thoughts on Hayward’s Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance? Here’s our preview story on the special Sustainability Committee meeting tonight, and here’s the city’s report on the matter. At previous public meetings, members of the real estate community turned out to speak against it on the grounds that it can only damage a market that’s already hurting, particularly if the requirements are triggered upon sale of a property.

Staff is recommending three such triggers: Older homes have a deadline in 2023 or 2025 for upgrades, improvements costing more than $50,000 would require compliance for the property, and buyers would have two years after purchase to comply. Costs of various retrofits ranges from around $1,000 to $4,000, according to the report.

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Monday mixed bag

Back from a week’s vacation, getting caught up with goings-on. These appeared while I was gone:

An interesting story that popped up on my Google alerter. It has to do with a Ninth Circuit decision that holds it is illegal to hire inexperienced, uncredentialed  interns as “highly qualified” to teach subjects at the neediest schools. It stems from a lawsuit filed by folks in Richmond, Oakland and Hayward.

And here’s a story on homes approved for the area by the Costco on Hesperian. The city agreed to give the developer some wiggle room on what they have to build, and when.

Here — this one was weird and certainly had people talking. It’s not often  you have a dead bear turn up outside an Ashland market.

Anyone check out the City Council meeting last week? I still have to watch the replay, but I was interested in that smoking ordinance revision workshop.

And anyone seen/heard about the Waiting for Superman film that’s in limited release? It looks like you’d have to take a trip to San Francisco to see it right now, but I’ve heard it’s an eye-opener. If you know anyone who has seen it and wants to talk about it, a colleague of mine is working on a story about it for later this week.

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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

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New reporter at the Review!

Good news! We have some additional hands around here these days: Chris Metinko, who was covering Alameda County issues for the Oakland Tribune, joined us to take over the unincorporated areas beat.

That includes Castro Valley, San Lorenzo, Fairview, Ashland and Cherryland. Like the rest of us, he’ll tackle all aspects of the areas, including schools, crime and planning/land use/neighborhood issues. In addition, he’ll be taking on stories out of Cal State East Bay and Chabot College.

Chris is a very welcome addition. If you have stories out of our neck of unincorporated AlCo, let him know. He’s at 510-293-2479 or cmetinko@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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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.

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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

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Big city lights near the bridge?

billboards

CORRECTION: Whoops! I was given incorrect information regarding what happened at last night’s meeting. The item that was postponed was NOT the Clear Channel billboard — it dealt with a cell phone tower at the Stonebrae Country Club.

Planners APPROVED the billboard 5-to-1 with Rodney Loche dissenting. The decision may be appealed to City Council.

The Planning Commission approved postponed making a decision on a billboard that would brighten up the approach to the Hayward-San Mateo bridge.

Clear Channel wants to put in one of those LED billboards, the ones with the changing ads. Like the Xtronx ones you see at Southland Mall or in San Leandro near Marina Boulevard. Sizewise, the Southland billboard is 14-by-26 feet. The Marina one is 20-by-30. The new one would be more of an elongated rectangle, the same size as a billboard currently there: 14-by-48 feet.

The city report is pretty extensive, and goes into possible side effects on drivers (deemed not distracting enough to be a safety hazard) and wildlife (overall light output won’t be much more than current billboard, and trained away from marshes).

Two planners recused themselves from Thursday night’s vote, and it was decided that with the current deficit of two commissioners, they will wait until September to make a decision, after the new members are seated.

It would make entrance and egress more exciting, but a lot of people don’t like those adboards and say they belong in, say, Times Square. This one would have some added benefit to the city because 12 percent of the adspace would be dedicated to city and community events, at no cost.

Here’s an interesting article on cities that have digital billboard bans.

Any thoughts on such a billboard?

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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.

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Centennial Hall update, and Hayward’s letter to Arizona governor

There’s some significant items of interest on the agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting. It looks like the Mika group has lost interest in turning Centennial Hall and Tower into a office tower/convention center/hotel/ housing development. The city is poised to break out of the exclusive negotiating agreement and start the process to demolish the current convention center. The tower, well, that’s another story. It’s estimated that it would cost about $1,870,000 to tear it down, and it’s owned by Mika.

Another item on the consent calendar has created a buzz. It’s a resolution to send a letter to the Arizona governor regarding the recent immigration law passed by that state. Had some e-mails in the inbox this morning about it — here’s an excerpt from one addressed to the mayor and council: Continue Reading

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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.