Fremont: Nightly road closure this week on S. Grimmer Blvd

FREMONT — Part of South Grimmer Boulevard will close on four consecutive nights this week for construction on the BART Warm Springs Extension Project.

From 10 p.m.-5 a.m., Tuesday-Friday, crews will build guard rails on the BART track overpass on the roadway, between Osgood Road and Fremont Boulevard.

The construction will take place near the Warm Springs/South Fremont BART station, which is scheduled to open at the end of next year.

For more information, call 510-413-2060 or email bartwarmspringsextension@bart.gov.


Fremont city manager, council receive pay raises

Fremont city officials receive salary raises City Manager Fred Diaz and Fremont’s five council members have received salary raises.

The City Council earlier this week approved a 2 percent cost-of-living hike for Diaz, a Fremont employee since 2004. The raise matches the cost-of-living increases that took effect for most Fremont employees this month.

The $5,000 bump will push Diaz’s annual salary to $265,345. The city manager’s five-year contract runs until July 2018. The City Council also gave itself a raise. A 4-1 vote — with Councilman Raj Salwan dissenting — boosted council members’ annual salary by 40 percent.

Mayor Bill Harrison’s monthly salary rose to $3,095. The other four council members’ monthly pay now is $1,970. The council’s July 8 decision takes effect in December. It was the City Council’s first salary increase since 2002.

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Water District board to vote on drought surcharge

ACWD Meeting Thursday Night

If you go
What: Alameda County Water District public hearing on surcharge to offset drought-related budget gaps
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: District office, 43885 S. Grimmer Blvd., Fremont
Information: 510-668-4200 or www.acwd.org

FREMONT — After 12 consecutive years of rate increases, water district directors will meet Thursday to consider another hike for customers, including extra penalties for heavy water users.

The agency has proposed a surcharge on bills customers pay every other month to fill a $15 million budget gap that Alameda County Water District leaders blame on the drought.

The shortfall stems from revenue streams that began to dry up after district leaders asked its 336,000 customers in Fremont, Union City and Newark to reduce water use by 20 percent.

They were trying to stretch water supplies that dwindled as the state last year recorded its driest year on record.

In March, the board also declared an emergency water shortage and put mandatory limits on landscape irrigation.

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Union City puts sales tax measure on November ballot

UNION CITY — Residents this fall will be asked to renew a four-year-old sales tax that pays for city services.

The half-cent sales tax, which Union City voters passed in 2010, will expire April 1 next year unless voters pass the extension, City Manager Larry Cheeves said.

The tax generates nearly $4.5 million each year and helps pay for police, firefighters, street maintenance and other essential services.

The five-member City Council last Tuesday put the measure on the November ballot.

It would need the support of 50 percent plus one of those voting to pass. At least 62 percent of Union City voters likely would approve the extension, according to a telephone survey three months ago. Voter support rose to 70 percent when those surveyed were informed that the money would be spent on public safety and other essential city services, consultants said.

Union City’s current total sales tax is 9.5 percent, city leaders said.


Fremont moves to create new downtown’s ‘Main Street’

FREMONT — As a contractor prepares work on lengthening the downtown’s key roadway to a vibrant downtown, city leaders have announced plans to celebrate its groundbreaking.

The city will pay Goodfellow Top Grade Construction nearly $6 million to extend Capitol Avenue, which Fremont leaders envision as the new downtown’s “Main Street.”

Meantime, Fremont is finalizing details on using eminent domain to acquire a commercial building that must be torn down to make way for the project, city leaders said.

“The case is still chugging along, and we expect to have possession of the building later this month,” said City Attorney Harvey Levine.

The street extension will begin in August and is expected to be done next spring, said Fremont City Engineer Norm Hughes.

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Newark Unified accepts superintendent’s resignation as community step up criticism of school board

NEWARK — A hot summer of deep divisions between school board members and some Newark residents might grow hotter now that long-shot hopes of keeping Superintendent Dave Marken on the job have been officially dashed.

Ever since Marken announced in late May that he would leave his post in the fall, board meetings have been dominated by angry, jeering parents and district employees lashing out at a school board whose critics say willfully forced out a popular and effective superintendent.

The furor began when Marken apparently became unwilling to put up with board interference in his administration of the district. Nearly two months later, the controversy has not gone away.

“Despite your public claims, it is obvious that you are not acting in the best interests of the school district and the students whom you claim to care about,” said Richard Nikssarian, co-president of the Newark Teachers Association. “You continue to play games with people, and the community will not continue to stand for it.”

Marken has sat stone-faced through the stormy meetings, during which trustees were at first apologetic but since have begun to fight back.

His only overt reaction was — at the request of parents — to ask that trustees extend his departure date by three months. The board instead on Thursday accepted his resignation, effective Sept. 30.

The trustees also will pay a consultant about $21,500 to search for a new district leader.

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Union City planning commissioners fined for laundering council race contributions

UNION CITY — Two Union City planning commissioners have been fined for laundering campaign contributions during the 2010 City Council race.

Gurnam “Gary” Singh and Jo Ann Lew violated state law when they contributed money to Singh’s election committee in the name of other people, the Fair Political Practices Commission has ruled.

Singh and Lew, treasurer of the Gary Singh for City Council 2010 committee, waived their rights to a hearing and agreed to pay a $15,000 fine, the agency said in a ruling posted online Monday.

“These violations denied the public of information regarding the true source of Gary Singh’s financial support, during the time when he was running for … City Council,” the agency stated in its ruling.

Singh, a Union City planning commissioner for the past eight years, lost his 2010 bid for City Council, finishing fourth with about 14.5 percent of the vote.

He declined to comment on the fine Tuesday, saying he was too busy at work to discuss it.

Lew, the Planning Commission’s current chair, could not be reached for comment

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Union City considers extending sales tax

‘Tis the season for new taxes, it seems.

UNION CITY — The city may ask residents to renew a 4-year-old sales tax that has generated millions of dollars for the city.

Without the extension, a half-cent sales tax Union City voters passed in 2010 will expire April 1 next year, city leaders said. The tax pays for police, firefighters, libraries, street maintenance and other essential services, city leaders said.

Union City expects to spend 80 percent of this year’s $45.4 million general fund budget on public safety and public works, according to a city budget report.

“The idea is that the tax makes us nearly $4.5 million per year, and we need that money to maintain current services,” City Manager Larry Cheeves said.

As voters are asked again to help fill financial gaps, city leaders pledge that they are doing all they can to improve Union City’s budget.

The City Council on Tuesday will discuss the tax, which city staffers recommend putting on the ballot. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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Newark considering closing “crime-plagued” motel

The motel’s co-owner says reports of crime are overblown, but Newark leaders and police say it’s been a chronic problem. The Planning Commission will consider the issue Wednesday night. 

NEWARK — As a crime-plagued motel continues straining limited police resources, city leaders are taking steps to shut it down.

While the motel’s co-owner says reports of crime at the E-Z 8 Motel have been overblown, city staffers describe it as a haven for gangsters and other criminals. The Newark Planning Commission has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday to consider putting it out of business.

“The operation of this motel is injurious and detrimental to the public health,” City Attorney David Benoun said Friday. “It’s in the interest of our citizens that this issue be addressed.”

Motel co-owner Jerry Cannon says the city’s accusations are untrue and that crime at the Newark motel has dropped significantly since 2010.

“We think it’s a safe place to stay,” Cannon said in a phone interview. “We have been communicating with the city as recently as Friday afternoon, and we’re confident we can reach an agreement before the commission’s meeting.

City staffers paint a different picture of the 141-room motel at 5555 Cedar Court, next to Interstate 880 and Cedar Boulevard.

The motel has seen serious crimes, including murder, sexual assault, gang violence, arson, prostitution and vandalism, police said. It also has been a hotbed of illegal street drug use and sales, police said.

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Walnut Avenue to close from 10pm Friday-6am Saturday

FREMONT — A stretch of Walnut Avenue will close between late Friday night and early Saturday morning as crews continue to build a bridge across the road, as part of BART’s Warm Springs extension project.

From 10 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday, crews will close Walnut Avenue between Civic Center Drive and BART Way. Motorists are asked to detour toward Mowry Avenue.

A bridge is being built across Walnut Avenue to link the existing BART line with a newly constructed subway, according to BART.

For more information, call BART at 510-413-2060 or email bartwarmspringsextension@bart.gov.