Big city lights near the bridge?


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?


Creekside lookout, paths now open

The latest improvements to San Lorenzo Creek near Centennial Hall have been completed, and it’s worth checking out. The work is along City Center Drive, just east of Foothill Boulevard.

Starting up above 2nd Street, there’s an overlook with interesting bilingual historical placards about early settlers in the area.

Crossing the bridge, there’s an access staircase that goes down to a platform beside the bridge for a look at the creek and a large street drain output, which had some impressive flow during the major rainstorm on Oct. 13.

The concrete path ends, but a dirt trail continues under the bridge. There’s evidence that homeless people are camping there, and a spray-paint scrawl on the opposite bridge support advises that “Art is OK, Tags no way.”

At Foothill, there’s another access point in De Anza Park. It leads to a short trail and some ground erosion control efforts. Unfortunately, people are still dumping trash there.

Overall, the work looks terrific and will be much enjoyed by those who would like to take a closer look at our main local waterway. Let’s hope dumpers don’t keep treating the creek like a landfill and ruin that. Thanks for the heads up that work is finished, Alex!


Checking in with San Lorenzo Creek

The National Weather Service issued an urban and small stream flood advisory for the Hayward area, meaning that nuisance flooding could occur. Not nearly as extreme as a flash flood watch. Regardless, we went down to take a look at San Lorenzo Creek in a number of spots and found it flowing rather rapidly.

Here it is near Foothill Boulevard and City Center Drive.

Here it is at the Grove Street Bridge.

Here it is behind the Meek Mansion.

Want to know how your surrounding area would fare in a 100-year-flood? Here’s a FEMA site where you can punch in your address and get an overview.

And here’s a Daily Review from the mid-1950s, before the San Lorenzo Creek was calmed by dams and culverts.

Let us know if you are aware of any particularly flood prone areas in the greater Hayward area that we should be keeping an eye on.


Help clean up Eden Landing

Save the Bay is still seeking volunteers for tomorrow’s Coastal Cleanup event at Eden Landing. They need 40 to 50 people to come out and collect the various trash — mostly plastic — that accumulates along the shoreline, which is in the process of being rehabilitated to its natural state.

Amy Alton Ricard of Save the Bay said our article about urine-filled bottles washing up on the San Leandro shore probably didn’t help the recruitment effort, though as the story states, volunteers are not expected to go near such nasties. Most of the trash consists of plastic bags, empty bottles, bottle caps and other refuse that isn’t biohazardous but is wrecking the Bay nonetheless. Save the Bay will have gloves and some extending trash-grabbers available.

Sign up here for the Eden Landing cleanup. It starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19.


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:


Loma Prieta quake: Where were you?

We know you weren’t surfing the web when the ’89 quake hit. But what were you doing?

Our online production team has created a Loma Prieta Earthquake page in conjunction with the 20th anniversary. Check out the cool interactive map at www.contracostatimes.com/loma-prieta-earthquake or www.insidebayarea.com/loma-prieta-earthquake. Add a marker to show where you were and what you were doing at the time the quake struck.

The map is the first element on this page. Much more to come. Have fun posting and reading. And please share this link with others.


Hayward names new commissioners

ADDENDUM — At its June 23 meeting, the City Council appointed the following new members to the Youth Commission: Dayana Morales, Sarahi Bautista, Alex Harmon, Dulce Andrade, Erika Ramos, Yessenia Sanchez and Claudia Canales. Reappointed were Jessica Bravo, James Dixon, Jeevit Gill, Lawrence McGee and Lauren Quan, with Rachel Rojas, Frances Naguit and Arlene Valencia on the alternate list.

The City Council filled most of the vacancies on various boards and commissions at its meeting last week. A total of 19 new commissioners and six reappointments filled the slots on six different boards.

Here are the appointments:

Downtown Business Improvement Area Advisory Board — Nicole Reams, Cynthia Chang, Meg Shaw (reappointment).

Citizens Advisory Commission — Donna Allen-Thomas, Nicholas Terry, Linda Moore, Cynthia Chiasson and Peggy Guernsey (reappointment).

Economic Development Committee — Jim Wieder, Christopher Lam and Terri Swartz.

Human Services Commission — Lucy Castillo, Todd Davis, Robert Lara. Reappointments: Ben Henderson, Julie LInd, Elizabeth Samayoa.

Library Commission — Stephanie Ayala and Judith Harrison (reappointment).

Keep Hayward Clean and Green Tast Force: Carolyn Grieco, Jennifer Ong, Kevin Thompson, Antonia Elizalde, William McGee, Kelly Doyle-Pasion.

The city received 36 applications and conducted 35 interviews. A vacancy remains on the Downtown Business Improvement Area Advisory Board.

The boards serve in an advisory capacity to the City Council. Congrats to everyone selected!


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.