Why did the chicken stand in the middle of the road?

UPDATE: The HARD board voted to oppose construction of the power plant at its Monday night meeting. They essentially said that it’s their job to act in the interest of the parks, and the plant would have a negative impact, at least visually, for people using the Hayward Regional Shoreline. “It’s our job to make sure that our assets are protected,” said boardmember Minane Jameson. “Tens of thousands of people use the shoreline and the interpretive center, and (the power plant) will hurt our business.” Jameson made the motion to oppose and was joined by Paul Hodges and Dennis Waespi. Carol Pereira and Lou Andrade were absent. We’ll have a story about the upcoming Sept. 2 meeting on the power plant later this week.

To protest the proposed Calpine Russell City Energy Center, of course.

At Thursday night’s downtown Hayward street party, a small group of demonstrators gathered in front of the Calpine booth. One was dressed as a chicken and carried a sign urging people to honk, but the road was closed to vehicle traffic so few could comply.

Calpine opponents plan on attending Monday’s HARD meeting, urging the park and rec district to oppose the power plant. And the next big deal is set for Sept. 2 at City Hall in Hayward, when the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will hold a public hearing regarding issuing a permit for the plant.

The BAAQMD issued a draft permit earlier this summer.

Back to the street party. Thursday was the third of four such things, and there seemed to be more people than at the last one. It went off pretty smooth, police said, although there was a skirmish in the parking lot behind Buffalo Bill’s (also behind the Daily Review) after the party ended. There were reports it was a 15-on-1 fight, and at least one hysterical woman called police, but when they arrived the involved parties had scattered.

Here’s a few more pics from the festival:


Calpine-PG&E energy agreement for Russell City approved

Calpine announced Thursday that an amended power-purchase agreement with PG&E was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission for the proposed Russell City Energy Center, a 600-megawatt power plant that would be placed near the Hayward shoreline.

That doesn’t mean the plant itself is approved. It has some of the required permits, but the main hurdle remaining is approval from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, acting as a delegate of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The air district previously gave it the go ahead, meaning it didn’t find evidence that the plant would add significant amounts of pollution to the air, but that permit was revoked after a lawsuit on the grounds that BAAQMD did not follow federal guidelines for publicly noticing the permitting process.

The air district is currently reviewing and responding to public comments submitted regarding the permit. No time frame has been given in which a decision will be made.

We will have a larger story on this posted online Friday, running in Saturday’s paper.


For those dreaming of a green Christmas

Hayward power plant foe and recent City Council candidate “Redwood” Rob Simpson has a 1,000-strong forest of 2-foot-tall redwood trees on his Grandview Avenue lot that he’s willing to give away to anyone who wants to plant one.

Simpson’s been doing this for years, he said, and started because he felt “environmentally responsible” for driving a large car. He didn’t want to downsize his transportation — Simpson is a pretty tall guy — so he started giving away the trees as a mitigation measure. This batch will bring his grand total up to 31,000.

“I’m just spreading my seed,” Simpson said.

Anyone who wants a tree should contact Simpson at www.redwoodrob.com or 510-909-1800.


Cities ready to boogie, if feds download funds

San Leandro and Hayward are early birds in the hunt for federal economic stimulus funds.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors went to Capitol Hill on Monday with 11,391 “ready to go” projects from 427 cities, including ones from the Cherry City (San Leandro) and the Zucchini City (Hayward). The projects total $73 billion, and would jumpstart 847,641 construction and project support jobs nationally in 2009 and 2010.

San Leandro’s $20.5 million proposal would create 155 jobs. The projects, their cost and the numbers of jobs include: citywide handicapped ramp improvements, $600,000, 10; senior center construction, $10 million, 60; water pollution control plan co-generation project construction, $4.6 million, 32; streets reconstruction, $2.5 million, 30; and improvements to the city’s sewer system, $2.8 million, 23.

Hayward, a bigger city, isn’t hesitating to ask for more money. Its $135 million list of projects would create 1,730 jobs. Projects, their cost, and number of jobs are: Hayward Executive Airport hangar construction, $6.5 million, 120; airport underpass roadway, $22 million, 250; pedestrian bridge over Union Pacific Railroad to link homes and Centennial Park in the Burbank cannery area, $2.5 million, 80; new main library, $30 million, 300; replacement of 150 traffic controllers, $1.5 million, 40; street light replacement program, $8 million, 150; improvements to waste-water treatment plant, $8 million, 200; new dispatch and records management system for police and fire departments, $3.5 million, 40; new Fire Station 7, $10 million, 100; street and drainage system improvements, $10 milllion, 100; and citywide road pavement replacement, including reconstruction of some streets, $33 million, 350.


Eastshore Energy Center denied in final Sacto vote

The California Energy Commission, which has the final say in the construction of new power plants in the state, voted against allowing the Eastshore Energy Center to set up shop with a 115-megawatt facility near the Hayward shoreline.

While a main reason for the denial was its proximity to the Hayward Executive Airport (energy plants release hot plumes that stir up the air for low-flying planes), the decision also took into account that the plant does not fit into Hayward’s general plan for the area.

Local activists hail this as a huge victory, and the presiding commissioner Jeffrey Byron thanked everyone at the end for mounting a very informational, civil campaign. There were a lot of speakers at the Sacramento meeting this morning, and we’ll have more comprehensive coverage in tomorrow’s paper.


Look, ma! No tailpipe

xebra-sedan-blue_0.jpgI was driving down Sybil Avenue in San Leandro this morning and saw the weirdest thing. Actually, it’s the newest addition to East 14th Street — the ZAP electric car dealership.

I saw the itsy bitsy three-wheeled sedans and trucks in the showroom as I was making a turn, and I couldn’t help but pull over and check them out.

Turns out ZAP (it stands for Zero Air Pollution), which is based in Santa Rosa, has been open in San Leandro for only a few months now. Right now, the dealership is featuring its XEBRA sedan (pictured above) and truck, as well as its Zapino electric scooter and Zappy — which only can be described as a motorized tricycle-thingy for adults.

A salesman told me to call the general manager for a test drive. But being a reporter, I’ll probably decline for the time being so as not to cause a conflict of interest. And just peeking at the little sedan, it looked like my tall frame probably wouldn’t even fit in the front seat anyway. But if one of you pays ZAP a visit, make sure to let me know how your experience was.


Last-minute jitters: Part II

The FAA today joined the Hayward City Council in some last-minute introspection on the Russell City project. But in the FAA’s case, the jitters were enough to postpone the California Energy Commission’s hearing in Sacramento.

Here’s the letter that the FAA sent to the CEC in July, downplaying the same concerns that it raised again today.

And here’s a story on the council’s 2005 vote to facilitate Calpine’s plant project.


Last-minute jitters

With a crowd of power plant opponents before them, the Hayward City Council last night considered an unprecedented “emergency” move to revert its 2005 land-use approval of the Russell City Energy Center. After discussion, it backed off on the idea because of clear lack of consensus and concern it might violate open meeting law.

Now the decision goes to these five people at a 10:30 a.m. hearing in Sacramento:


The California Energy Commission is governed by a board of five appointed commissioners. By law, each member is supposed to represent a specific area: engineering or physics; environmental protection; economics; law; and Continue Reading