Friends of the San Lorenzo Creek

Friends of FSLC, Bruce King, FSLC, BruceKing8@gmail.com

Creek Protection, Access, and Trails: FSLC continues to advocate for protection and enhancement of, and access or trails within, sections of the San Lorenzo Creek watershed. Listed below are short news articles about some activities and projects with FSLC involvement and/or concern.

AC Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan Update: In 2018, Alameda County (AC) Public Works Agency (PWA) was presenting and getting public input on a draft AC Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan for unincorporated areas to replace the current 2012 plan. Figures in the draft plan primarily focus on bike-ped improvements related to roadways, while proposed bike-ped trails such as the San Lorenzo Creek Trail and Hayward Foothills Trail are not shown in draft figures. FSLC believes that inclusion of sufficient route maps and information for the San Lorenzo Creek Trail and Hayward Foothills Trail is necessary to ensure that planning and development for these trails can proceed over time.

Route 238 Properties, Creeks, and Trails: Sales, planning, and/or proposed development on Route 238 parcel groups between Grove Way in Castro Valley to Industrial Boulevard in Hayward is very active. These parcel groups include or border many named (San Lorenzo, Ward, and Zeile Creeks) and unnamed creeks, and include right-of-ways needed for the San Lorenzo Creek Trail and Hayward Foothill Trail. See the map attachment to this email that highlights some creek, trail, and development needs. The following bullets provide highlights of some parcel groups that FSLC has assessed to date:

Eden Housing Ruby Street Project on San Lorenzo Creek: Eden Housing is proposing a low-income housing project on Ruby Street and San Lorenzo Creek in Castro Valley (roughly between A Street and the Japanese Gardens/Morrison Theater). Alameda County (AC) is reportedly buying the land from Caltrans, and then Eden Housing plans on buying the land from AC. Eden Housing reports that their current design will allocate space for the San Lorenzo Creek Trail while keeping the Trail and their development outside the 2:1 +20-foot creek setback required by the Water Course Protection Ordinance (WPO). Caltrans and ACFCWCD (Flood Control) are also discussing transfer of the permanent conservation easement of the creek and its banks from Caltrans to Flood Control (or ACPWA?). A community meeting was held on January 15, and the community expressed some concerns.

 

Hayward Parcel Groups on San Lorenzo Creek

4th and B Street Residential Development approved with backyards in creek setback: In July 2018, the City of Hayward approved a development with 41 detached single-family residences. Ten of the residences are along San Lorenzo Creek. The backs of these ten houses are mostly set ~20 feet from the creek top-of-bank, but their private backyards extend into the setback. FSLC opposed this configuration and the planned wood fences because it would encourage homeowners to “use/develop their backyards” that are within the setback and needed riparian area. FSLC advocated for keeping the private backyards mostly out of the setback area and creation of a conservation easement in the setback area to be owned and/or overseen by the HOA, City, or County. The City Council and Dutra Enterprises resolved to remove fences from the setback and Dutra Enterprises to give $50K to the City for restoration of the creek banks by others. FSLC believes the City generally needs to seek conservation easements and adopt a required WPO that restricts development within the creek setback.

Rockaway Lane Parcel Group, no plans submitted: A developer has reportedly purchased this parcel group that includes an existing apartment complex. The developer has reportedly not submitted any plans to the City of Hayward. FSLC recommends that the City require 2:1 +20-foot setbacks and no development in the setback.

Route 238 Properties Master Development Plan: The City of Hayward has a purchase and sale agreement with Caltrans to assume responsibility for the sale of ten Route 238 parcel groups that lie between Grove Way in Castro Valley and Industrial Boulevard in the City of Hayward. Five of these parcel groups include or border creeks. Many of these ten parcel groups started a master development planning process in 2018. This process is being led by the City.

Parcel Group 8 In Castro Valley and Hayward being planned: This parcel (approximately between Grove Way and Carlos Bee Park) is of special concern because a majority portion of the parcel group is in Castro Valley, contains the proposed route for the Hayward Foothills Trail, and has some open space zoning. FSLC is concerned that Alameda County (and Hayward and HARD) does not seem to have an overall vision and plan for development, parks, and trails that has been expressed publicly for the Route 238 parcels and lands between Grove Way and A Street. Any discussions and planning seems to be compartmentalized to date and does not present a vision to the public for what this entire area can become.

SoHay Development approved without creek enhancements: In May 2018, the Hayward City Council approved a mixed-use project consisting of 472 multi-family residential units, 20K ft2 of commercial space, and 2.4 acres of parkland and trails. The development and new HARD park surrounds open, earthen, engineered channels that are tributaries of Old Alameda Creek. The channel that is in the middle of the HARD park is ~700 feet long. FSLC is disappointed that Lyon Homes, the City, HARD, and/or Flood Control did not work to include in this project stream-bed or bank enhancements that improve the ecological or aesthetic values of the on-site creeks.

 

Trail Planning

HARD Trail Plan: The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD) is headed towards finishing their overall master plan and then starting development of a trails master plan in 2019.

San Lorenzo Creek Multi-Use Trail & Grant Application: In July 2018, HARD and Alameda County Public Works Agency (ACPWA) jointly applied for an Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant for preliminary engineering phases of a new, multi-use trail along San Lorenzo Creek. FSLC also participated in application development. This 8.72-mile trail will connect the communities of San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Cherryland, Ashland, Hayward, Fairview, and Castro Valley… largely using existing right-of-ways. The San Lorenzo Creek Trail will also connect to the SF Bay Trail and Bay Area Ridge Trail, and cross two planned, multi-use trails: East Bay Greenway and Hayward Foothills Trail. In February 2019, The San Lorenzo Creek Trail received a regional score of 89 (eighth highest score out of 72 applications), and was put on the “contingency list,” should any of the recommended projects either not go forward or show savings. It looks like the multi-use trail missed the cut off by two points (scores of 91+ were recommended). The East Bay Greenway (San Leandro to South Hayward) also made it to the contingency list just ahead of the San Lorenzo Creek Trail. See attached trail general location maps.

San Lorenzo Creek Trail Planning within Developments: The San Lorenzo Creek Trail is currently in construction and/or plans for proposed developments. The Lincoln Landing Development in Hayward (the old Mervyn’s headquarters site) is a 475 apartment-unit, mixed-use development that is being built now. This development includes a ~0.25-mile “creek walk…” which is a pedestrian-bike trail and public gathering area at the edge of the main San Lorenzo Creek channel that utilizes the existing Flood Control maintenance access road. The San Lorenzo Creek Trail is also being incorporated into proposed plans for Cherryland Place and Eden Housing, as described in other news in this email.

Hayward Foothills Trail: The City of Hayward is planning the Hayward Foothills Trail via a specific trail ordinance and as part of City’s effort to manage the sale and development of Route 238 (Caltrans) parcel groups. The Hayward Foothills Trail also crosses multiple creeks, including: San Lorenzo Creek, Ward Creek, Zeile Creek, and other unnamed tributaries of Old Alameda Creek.

Draft Hayward Downtown Specific Plan does not include trails: The January 2019 Draft Hayward Downtown Specific Plan does not include needed routes for the San Lorenzo Creek Trail and Hayward Foothills Trail.

Caltrans San Lorenzo Creek Restoration-Enhancement 2016 Project: At the end of 2016, Caltrans substantially completed an environmental mitigation project on Caltrans parcels to enhance/restore a section of San Lorenzo Creek between A Street and the HARD Douglas Morrison Theater. This project removed non-natives/invasives, planted natives, and reportedly will result in a long-term, conservation easement in the creek and bank areas. Caltrans is now conducting the required monitoring and maintenance of the restored areas and plants for several years.

Cherryland Place Project at Mission-and-Hampton: In October 2018, a site development review for this project was distributed for comment. The new proposed plans gladly include trail connections for the San Lorenzo Creek Trail. FSLC commented that: a) Input regarding the trail was needed from bikewalk groups, HARD, and Flood Control; b) The proposed trail-to-intersection connection that uses vehicle driveways is not straight forward or safe; c) The more-natural soil embankment should not be replaced by a retaining wall; and d) Additional development such as driveways, parking, and retaining walls should not be constructed in the creek channel’s easements. Such developments preclude near-creek vegetation enhancements and future restoration.

Hayward Airport and Sulphur Creek: In 2015, to make the runways safer, the City of Hayward completed an environmental assessment of the impacts of under-grounding a section of Sulphur Creek that flows under the airport runways and some side channels along the runways. FSLC commented on the 2015 assessment. In late December 2018, the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) issued two letters (see below) to the City indicating what must be resolved. FSLC is advocating for a resolution. The next meeting of the Hayward Airport Committee is Thursday April 25, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, in the Airport Administration Building Meeting Room.

 

Letter #1: Incomplete application for certification of the proposed project to box-culvert 450 feet of the creek that flows under the runways, including for example: a) Need documentation of wildlife hazard incidents at the airport and reasoning, given the close proximity of remaining open-creek channels to the runways; b) Need an alternatives analysis that demonstrates it is not possible to achieve the project purpose without box-culverting the creek; c) Need to provide an in-kind, day-lighting mitigation project including a project design and maintenance & monitoring plan, purchasing mitigation bank credit is not accepted; and d) Need to complete a CEQA review.

Letter #2: Incomplete compliance on the current Sulphur Creek Enhancement Project that was started in ~2008 and is just upstream of the runways, including: a) The creek banks were not consistently laid back as described in the certified design. A survey report is needed; b) The standard for percent coverage by native grasses was not achieved (3% current versus the required 25%). Assess probability of achieving the criterion, or propose an alternative; c) Riparian willow trees have been annually cut to the ground and not allowed to grow, reportedly to mitigate hazards to aircraft. Report how the project will be brought into compliance with mature riparian vegetation that shades the creek, or propose an alternative riparian mitigation project [at another location]; and d) Submit the project’s 9-year monitoring report which was due Nov 2018.

 

Other Reviews that Involve Unpermitted Developments: FSLC continues to review proposed new developments and site reviews in the watershed. Other developments and site reviews completed in the last year are listed below. These developments and reviews all involved proposed or actual unpermitted “developments” within the creek setbacks as defined by the Water Course Protection Ordinance, and in many cases past or current damage to the creek banks and/or top-of-bank riparian areas. In many cases, unpermitted “developments” are not being specifically noted in the County’s review of these proposals.

 

MA Center Religious Facility: Expansion and conditional-use permit application at 10200 Crow Canyon Road on Crow Creek and an unnamed tributary (May 2018).

Horse Boarding Facility: Periodic Site Development Review for facility at 8018 Crow Canyon Road on Crow Creek (Feb 2019).

Five Canyons Area New Home: Application to build a new residence on a private road, just west of Recreation Center Road cul-de-sac in Five Canyons, on an unnamed tributary of San Lorenzo Creek (Dec 2018).

Eden Canyon New Home: Application to build a new residence at 22148 Eden Canyon Road on Eden Creek (Sept 2018).

Cull Canyon Caretakers Dwelling: Application to allow a caretakers dwelling at 17015 Cull Canyon Road on Cull Creek (Nov 2018)

Crow Canyon Subdivision with Three New Homes: Application for a General Plan amendment and lot subdivision at 4800 Crow Canyon Road to later include three potential new homes shown in the plans. Two homes on Crow Creek (Oct 2018).

 

 

Note: The above items are typically complex events or issues that FSLC has attempted to summarize for simplicity. Credit is often due to many people and agencies