Newark: NewPark owners to revitalize mall with city boost

It’s a Newark kind of week, I guess. In this one, the city is trying to entice NewPark Mall’s owners to spend some money to revitalize it. Will it be worth it?

NEWARK — City leaders tired of seeing stores leave outdated NewPark Mall for shiny, new Pacific Commons in Fremont are fighting back to restore the shopping hub’s luster and regain lost tax revenue, in part by appealing to a taste for films and finer food.

Newark’s first salvo in the shopping center arms race lies in a deal it has struck with Rouse Properties, NewPark’s owner: In return for improvements, the city will for 18 years give Rouse 80 percent of the mall’s annual sales tax revenue above the existing base.

Rouse has agreed to spend at least $40 million on mall upgrades, building upscale restaurants and fancier shopping and entertainment options, and replacing the closed Cinedome theater with at least a 10-screen multiplex.

For more of the story, click here.


Newark burglaries drop as residents get involved

This ran yesterday in The Argus/Oakland Tribune/Daily Review:

NEWARK — Tri-City residents fed up with home burglaries have fought back by partnering with law enforcement agencies, employing a mix of Neighborhood Watch groups and teams of police volunteers, sometimes using upgraded technology to catch criminals.

It’s hard to argue with the results, as burglary rates are down throughout southern Alameda County this year, police agencies say.

Fremont burglaries decreased 20 percent between 2012 and last year, and Union City’s rate dipped by 3 percent. Newark enjoyed the steepest drop, 41 percent.

The city of around 42,500 people has succeeded in attacking the crime from several sides, said Tim Jones, a member of Newark police’s community engagement team. “It’s not one singular thing that has done it,” he said. “It’s been about people working more in unison with police.”

For more of the story, click here.


Some Newark News: NUSD teachers, admins get 5.5% raise

Story by colleague Doug Oakley, who has begun covering Alameda County schools:

Newark teachers and administrators will get a 5.5 percent raise under a new contract signed with the Newark Unified School District, officials said.

The teacher raise is retroactive to July 1 and is good through July 1, 2015, said Assistant Superintendent Tim Irwin. It is the first such raise the 300 teachers in the small school district have received in seven years, he said.

Irwin said management in the school district, including district administrators, school principals, coordinators and managers, also will get a 5.5 percent raise.

Newark teachers start at $57,368 a year and top out at $99,514 with 25 or more years experience, Irwin said.

For more of the story, click here.

Newark teachers, administrators get 5.5 percent raise


Mandatory water restrictions declared in Tri-City area

FREMONT — An emergency water shortage has been declared in the Tri-City area with mandatory limits on landscape irrigation.

The ordinance immediately took effect Thursday night when the Alameda County Water District board approved the action, agency spokesman Frank Jahn said.

It bans residents and businesses from irrigating lawns and other landscaped areas on consecutive days. Landscape watering will be permitted just one day a week from April 1 to May 31 and from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30; and two days a week from June 1 to Sept. 30. From Dec. 1 to March 31, irrigation is limited to one day per week and banned on rainy days.

Tri-City school districts and cities receive an extra day per week from June 1 to Nov. 30 to irrigate public parks, school grounds, playing fields and day care center landscaping.

Repeated violations of the new limits could result in serious punishment — termination of water service and a misdemeanor citation that could lead to a 30-day jail sentence and a $600 fine.

Formed in 1914, the Alameda County Water District supplies water to 336,000 people in Fremont, Newark and Union City.

For the story, click here.


Fremont schools: $157 million school bond spent properly, oversight panel says

FREMONT — The panel overseeing a $157 million bond measure says the school district spent the money properly to upgrade its aging 42 campuses, completing the promised work on time and under budget.

The health and safety bond that voters approved in 2002 paid for renovating Fremont’s schools over the past decade, including seismic retrofits, improved plumbing and heating systems, roofing repairs, and safety upgrades for playgrounds, electrical wiring, and automobile traffic, the oversight committee said at a school board meeting last week.

Recent refinancing, and interest earned on bond sales, gave the district more money for added renovations, pushing total expenses to $173 million, according to the committee’s report. The additional school projects included paving new parking areas, replacing a walkway cover, installing a library air conditioning system and renovating Valhalla Theater at Irvington High, the district’s only performing arts school.

“We showed the citizens of Fremont that the board and the district can be fiscally responsible,” said Peggy Herndon, an oversight committee member and a former school board trustee. “And we’re looking at having the same success with the next bond.”

For more, click here.


Fremont police volunteers, American Red Cross to co-host blood drive

FREMONT — The American Red Cross will co-host a blood drive next Thursday at the Fremont Police Department.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the police station, at 2000 Stevenson Blvd., on the north end of Central Park, police said.

Fremont police’s Volunteers in Patrol Services is co-hosting the drive.

To schedule an appointment, go online at www.redcrossblood.org, or call 800-733-2767 and use the following sponsor code: POLICE.

For more, click here.



Fremont residents leading Alameda County’s electric vehicle parade

FREMONT — The East Bay city most closely tied to Silicon Valley has the most electric vehicles in Alameda County, sending a positive charge through city leaders who say their commitment to high-tech businesses has followed residents onto the road.

Fremont, where 14 percent of the county lives, has nearly 30 percent of its electric vehicle owners, according to the California Center for Sustainable Energy, a nonprofit agency that tracks buyers and gives them rebates worth up to $2,500.

Fremont electric car owners have received 1,039 rebates since the program started in 2010, outpacing those in Oakland, Berkeley and even San Francisco. San Jose, the Bay Area’s largest city, has the most, at 3,158.

For more, click here.


Fremont school board places $650 million bond measure on June ballot

It would be Fremont Unified’s largest bond measure. Do you plan to vote for it?

FREMONT — The school district’s aging facilities are in such need of major repair that board members have placed Fremont Unified’s largest bond, a $650 million campus-improvement measure, on the June ballot.

The five-member board’s unanimous decision came last week in response to a report that found the district’s renovation wish list could cost as much as $1.6 billion, Superintendent James Morris said.

The bond money would be spent to remove asbestos, renovate deteriorating classrooms and science labs, update technology infrastructure and repair faulty electrical wiring in a district with 33,000 students using facilities nearly a half-century old, he said.

“All 42 of our (campuses) are aging, out-of-date and need significant repairs,” board President Lara Calvert-York said in a news release. “Upgrading our schools and classrooms will protect the quality of academic instruction in core subjects.”

For more, click here.



Union City: Hazardous waste shipments lead to arrests of two former execs

From last week:

UNION CITY — Two former executives of a Union City waste disposal company have been arrested on suspicion of grand theft and conspiracy for illegally disposing of hazardous waste.

Kirk Hayward and Charles Seaton are accused of using Clearwater Environmental Management to dispose of hazardous waste after the company lost its transport license in 2007 following a state investigation, the Department of Toxic Substances Control said Tuesday in a news release.

That case culminated in the felony conviction of Hayward, who was sentenced to 60 days in jail and a $70,000 fine.

In July 2011, investigators found evidence of new wrongdoing when they served a search warrant at Clearwater’s facility, in the 33200 block of Western Avenue, the state agency said. There, they discovered that Hayward and Seaton illegally transported hazardous waste, used another transporter’s name on official industry records, and defrauded some of their customers.

For more, please click here.


Fremont, Hayward restrict e-cigarette sales, temporarily ban new vapor lounges

Coming up for air today after an especially busy few weeks. Getting back into the swing of things, here’s what will be in tomorrow’s Argus (and Oakland Tribune and Daily Review) …

FREMONT — The opportunity for e-cigarette entrepreneurs to open new vapor bars and hookah lounges in Fremont and Hayward has gone up in smoke — for now, anyway.

Both East Bay cities temporarily banned new such businesses earlier this month, while allowing existing retailers to stay open pending further study of the trendy smoking products’ health effects.

Fremont’s City Council added e-cigarettes to its list of prohibited smoking products on Feb. 11, Community Development Director Jeff Schwob said. It also placed a 45-day moratorium on new retailers and vapor bars, where customers use the smokeless devices.

The battery powered devices heat a small amount of nicotine — sometimes flavored — to create a vapor that users inhale. The method avoids cigarette byproducts such as tar and chemicals.

“People might think they’re not harmful because they’re not regulated,” Schwob said, noting that the city will err on the side of caution. “Basically, we’re treating e-cigarettes the same as we treat regular cigarettes.” But are they the same? The Food and Drug Administration is expected to rule soon on that question, and some states and cities have held off enacting regulations until then.

For more, click here.