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July 24, 2007 > Tension Flares at Hayward City Council Meeting

Tension Flares at Hayward City Council Meeting

By Charlotte Weston

It was another busy night for Hayward City Council members on Tuesday, July 17 as residents filed into the Special Joint Session meeting to voice opinions and concerns about the ongoing dispute between Waste Management and its employees.

Mayor Sweeney sympathized with Hayward residents and commended the Public Works Department for their efforts to better the garbage situation.

"I know a lot of people are having a rough time with this garbage lockout. When folks feel Waste Management isn't keeping up their end of the bargain, which is probably just about everybody in Hayward, the Public Works folks are the best people to call," said Mayor Sweeney.

Michael Mosley, a resident of Hayward for 11 years, stood before council members to represent his neighbors and ask for the city's support asking that all residents who have not received proper garbage pick up service, be reimbursed from Waste Management.

Mayor Sweeney informed Mr. Mosley that the city has notified Waste Management that they are in default with the city and the citizens of Hayward.

The main items for discussion started with Director of Community and Economic Development, Susan Daluddung who made a recommendation before the council to adopt a resolution denying an appeal, and support the planning commission's approval of a Mixed-Use Project.

"Even though this is a site plan review and appeals this is a very critical project because this is the first mixed-use higher density project which would implement the South Hayward and Mission Boulevard BART Plan. And it implements the ideas of the smart growth and transit oriented development that were embodied in this plan", said Daluddung.

The Project Planner, Richard Patenaude presented detailed design plans for 92 residential condominiums. There would be 48 units per acre within 4 four-story towers on a podium atop retail spaces and parking garages.

Anthony Varni, representing the Felson Family who have been residents of Hayward for 35 years and are developers of several quality housing projects around the proposed project appealed the Planning Commission's approval citing discrepancies in the plans.

In an initial letter to the Planning Commission, Mr. Varni indicated that the reason for the appeal was that the approval allows a six-story structure where the South Hayward BART/Mission Boulevard Concept Design Plan limits structures to five stories.

He appeared before council members at Tuesday night's meeting to reiterate his beliefs that the project is "too massive."

Mr. Felson stood before council and gave three main reasons for his disapproval of the project.

"The project is too massive for the neighborhood from the back or the front. The project blocks the views of our apartment development whether we are entitled to a view easement or not. The third issue was, the parking for this development with respect to the street, with respect to the use of residential parking spaces conceivably to service the retail, with respect to what appears to be an under parked situation in a mixed-use environment", said Felson.

He added that although they made great modifications to the building plans, he still did not agree with the project.

" It's the right project on the wrong spot, or it's the wrong project on the right spot, either way it's a project that just is not appropriate in this particular configuration, this particular parcel", said Felson.

Mohammad Shaiq is the applicant for the project and has lived in the Bay Area with his family for the past 25 years. He has also developed a few projects in Hayward including several town homes across the BART and 14 town homes and 4 single-family homes on E Street. He said he sees the project as an asset to Hayward.

"We believe that this will be an important project for the City of Hayward especially when neighboring cities are working on similar projects", said Shaiq.

Michael Stanton, the Architect for 28000 Mission Boulevard and the location for the project, approached the Mayor and Council Members to respond to many of the comments and concerns about the height of the buildings and the retail portion of the property.

"I think it's an attractive project. I don't think it's too massive. I think it's in the right place. It's a project that my office has been working on since 2005. The client voluntarily put it on hold while you adopted your South Hayward BART Plan last year. And so, after your action on the seventeenth of July 2006, we redesigned to make sure we were consistent with the spirit in the letter of that plan. Subsequent to that we've worked since January with staff and the planning commission and we've made a number of improvements. I know it's consistent with your zoning. I think it's consistent with the spirit of the South Hayward BART plan. And I think it's a very good project. I would hope that the action of this council would be to affirm the action of your planning commission in approving it to affirm your staff's interpretation and support for it and to validate both, the year and a half of work my client has put in on it and the years of work you put in on the South Hayward BART plan", said Stanton.

By the end of a long discussion all the city council members agreed that the work put into the project was done with precise efforts to comply with the city's zones and ordinances. They also agreed that Stanton worked hard and did an outstanding job on the plans; however council members Quirk and Ward were the only two that voted in favor of the Mixed Use Project. Therefore the motion failed with 2 "aye" votes and 5 "no" votes.

Other items on the agenda that were given approval included a red light photo enforcement contract and the consideration of ordinance to adopt a program regarding the redevelopment agency use of eminent domain Pursuant to Senate Bill 53.

In Legislative Business, council voted in favor of refinancing certain debts including 1996 Civic Center Project, 1997 Capital Projects, 1996 Sewer System Refunding and Improvement Project, and 1998 Sewer Improvement Project Certificates of Participation.

The meeting was closed in honor of former City Manager Lou Garcia who recently passed away. Mr. Garcia served as the Hayward City Manager from 1989 to 1992 and worked hard to help the city make the transition from being a suburban community to a more urban community. The Downtown Focal Point Plan was also initiated during his tenure.

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