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July 31, 2007 > Hayward Residents turn out at council meeting

Hayward Residents turn out at council meeting

By Charlotte Weston

The Hayward City Council Meeting started with the usual Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call. Then, the public speaking period began with many residents on hand to express their concerns about things happening in their community.

One such issue that has remained a big problem for many of the Hayward residents is the Hayward Patient Resource Center at 2250 Foothill Blvd. Council Members have approved so far, three 90-day extensions on the expired lease of the Cannabis Club with stipulations that they find a new place to operate their business because of the Redevelopment Project in Downtown Hayward.

HPRC has found a new location, however residents are complaining that the new building is in an area too close to where residents live and children attend school. Many of the residents remain convinced that these places are a magnet for crime and do not want the dispensaries anywhere in their community. The City Attorney reported that the council has given him approval to initiate litigation to cease operations of the marijuana dispensary at its current location.

Darlene James, a resident of Hayward addressed the issue of crime in Hayward. "This is my first time here and I am really concerned about the community in which I reside. I am literally afraid to come outside the confines of my community," said James.

Joann Gross a Hayward native said she is very upset about what is happening in Hayward. "I've watched in despair as downtown has deteriorated over the years to its current shabby condition", said Gross.

The Green Shutter Residential Hotel located on Main Street in Hayward, is being blamed for a lot of the crime. Many complained that residents of the Green Shutter are drug users and alcoholics that are giving their community a bad name. "I've been told by a recovering Meth addict that there is open drug use there," said Gross. She also said she has witnessed a lot of other disturbing incidents including urination in an alley, being asked for money, and having to step over vomit on the sidewalk.

"I'm a regular customer of several businesses downtown. I believe in shopping locally to support the economy, however I'm often made to feel uncomfortable because of the blatant antisocial behavior of some of the people who frequent the area", said Gross.

Erika Knolmayer and her husband are owners of the Wags and Whiskers Pet Boutique at 982 B Street. Knolmayer said she and her husband are very excited about the upcoming projects being constructed in downtown Hayward but they are concerned about the unsafe and uncomfortable environment that exists downtown.

"If you walk up and down B Street you'll see an element that invades the downtown and creates a very uncomfortable feeling for pedestrians", said Knolmayer.

Knolmayer said she has seen people use the streets like their own personal garbage can.
And she admits that having the Stein Lounge and B Street Bar close by doesn't help the situation. "We have received many complaints from customers about the element on B Street", said Knolmayer. She also agreed that the residents of the Green Shutter Residential Hotel have a lot to do with the problem. "Many of the faces I see daily hanging out on B Street are the faces of people who live at the Green Shutter", said Knolmayer.

"Places like the Green Shutter are in direct conflict with what the city is trying to do with redeveloping the downtown area and they have a negative impact on our business and many other businesses in the area", said Knolmayer.

Shanja Bache, the owner if the Green Shudder Hotel approached the podium and appeared to be infuriated by what he was hearing from the residents about his Hotel.

"I've listened to in the past few years all the complaints and everything associated with the Green Shutter, that all my residents are the problem. That's not the case. We have lots of different issues, there's a homeless problem, there's a crime problem. These all don't come from the Green Shutter Property", said Bache. "Everything being blamed on the Green Shutter is not the way this is gonna go. I'm not gonna sit here and listen to everything that the whole downtown problem is the Green Shutter Hotel", he added.

Mr. Bache told the council that they have bigger issues they just seem to want to push aside. He blamed the council for being used as the "fall guy" for problems in Hayward.

"I have to deal with your homeless. I have to deal with your crime. Everything happens in front of my doorstep. I'm the one being penalized for everything you guys are not looking at. And then my neighbors are blaming me for it."

When the public speaking period was over, Mayor Sweeney addressed Mr. Bache's comments and said he agrees with the residents that the Green Shutter is a big problem in the city of Hayward. "This issue with the Green Shutter and The Stein Room, all of us continually hear complaints about both of these institutions", said Mayor Sweeney as he turned to Mr. Bache.

"There's no way you're going to convince anybody in this room that The Green Shutter is not part of the problem. It's part of the problem and you are going to have to do your share to clean it up", said Mayor Sweeney.

The Mayor then requested that the City Manager look into ways of making changes or shutting down the Stein Room and The Green Shutter Residential Hotel.

All the other items on the agenda were discussed and approved. They included funds for the Emancipated Youth Program, and a Voice Over Internet Protocol Lease Purchase.

Hayward City Council will not meet in August. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday September 11, 2007.

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