HAPA News March 15, 2024

HAPA News March 15, 2024

Vol. XLVI No. 1                The HAPA News               March 15, 2024

The first news came out in June 1979. We are now going into our 45th year of publication.

The Walpert Ridge Fund

The Walpert Ridge Fund was established decades ago as a result of litigation by HAPA and the Center for Biological Diversity which was settled by the developer giving funds to East Bay Parks for acquisitions on Walpert Ridge. Early on, the fund was used and when not spent, accumulated interest. In recent years the money has not been used and I think it should be. At the end of last year, it had $445,000. Sabrina Pinell, acting Chief of Land Acquisitions, does not answer email. There was, a few years ago, a need to buy some properties on the southwest corner of the ridge in Union City to create a trail from the Ukrainia Trail to the Chouinard Winery (now closed, owned by East Bay Parks).

The Cross-Ridges Trail

The Cross-Ridges Trail starts in Hayward at Stonebrae school and crosses Walpert, Sunol, and Pleasanton Ridges. It would be an eastward extension from the end of the Ukrainia Trail in Garin Park, going east around the south end of the Stonebrae golf course and the going about two miles down to the old Winery on Palomares Road. The land is owned by East Bay Parks. There is parking at the winery. A few years ago, I walked most of it with a friend and without permission. It was mostly easy going after crawling under a fence.

If I were to work on this, perhaps the first step would be to persuade the General Manager and the Board to use the Walpert Ridge Fund to build the trail. However, I have been completely discouraged from doing anything because park staff and the Board almost never answer email except for public records requests, and when they do answer, all I get is negativity–reasons nothing can be done, they are too busy, it is not a priority, there is no parking, there is no money. The district also owns the land from the winery across Sunol, Main, and Pleasanton Ridges. If I were younger…

For years, the East Bay Parks worked to get this trail. It got an easement with the Chouinards to cross their property. When the owner died, the district negotiated a friendly purchase with the family. Then nothing. For many years now it has sit in land bank. Not only that, I could find no cross-ridges trail plan on the District’s website.

The underlying political reason for East Bay opposition to new trails may be a lack of trail users who advocate for new trails. We need people out there advocating, like all the people who saved 26 square miles of open space between Hayward and Pleasanton, honored in my history, Ridgelands! The Closing of a Frontier. As far as I can tell, the priorities are decided only by staff, and I don’t know what they are doing.

The Wrecks in the Woods

I made getting these three old wrecks out of Garin Woods at the south end of the campus a priority to achieve before I die. The administrators did not see it as a problem. We have very different values. I am an environmentalist. For years I could not figure out a good way to do it; the towing companies said they could not haul them out. Evidently the distance and steepness for towing were too much.

Recently, a friend mentioned I could try the Hayward Fire Department, which I did. I was directed to the Chief, Garrett Contreras. I emailed him on Jan. 30 at 11:05am. I got a reply from the Chief at 11:21 pm that, yes, they have the equipment and he would take a look asap. I sent details at 12:10 pm. At 12:22 he replied he would like to take a walk with me. “This is absurd. I am going to go take a look right now to analyze the access points. This is a safety and environmental hazard and needs to be mitigated immediately. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I’m on it. Sorry you and the residents have been dealing with this so long. We also will be engaging our biologist we have on contract so that when we are done the space it is back to its natural habitat, and no wildlife is negatively affected. Once we have a plan, we will engage the CSU folks to share and partner.” Wow. I’ve been leaning on that door for decades and it opened so fast I fell on my face.

So, I called him up to arrange a walk and discovered he was already on site! So, I drove to the top of the dirt road asap and didn’t see him. Suddenly there was a big pickup in my rear view. We had a great walk in and out. It turns out Garrett was a protégé of Hayward’s nationally famous Chief, Matt Jimenez, a perennial member of City Council who somehow always got his signs on the best corners. Matt and I had similar propensities to argue our opposing opinions. I enjoyed our repartee at a few Council meetings. Now I learn, decades later, that Matt did also, and told Garrett he should listen to me as I always had something to say worth listening to.

The Chief recently informed me things were on track with a plan and looking for a budget. Amen!

The Trail that is but isn’t

There is a public trail from Garin Park through Garin Woods and up the dirt road up to the campus at Harder Road. Anybody can walk it at any time. The agreements between Cal State and East Bay Parks show most of it. In younger days I jogged along this path on a big circle route across the campus and Highlands neighborhood. I thought it would be nice for the District to put this path on their maps. The trails manager had many reasons why what was real could not be admitted in public and I gave up. However, I can let students know about it. I have a nice flyer to post in the RAW (Recreation and Wellness) Building. I sent it to RAW staff but did not get an answer.

HAPA and Stanford talk past each other

Elizabeth Zapata and I spent many hours studying the Doerr School of Sustainability at Stanford University. It is doing good work, but it turns out it has a limited view of the problem. Senior Fellow Blas Perez Henriquez was sufficiently interested to come to Hayward and tour the quarry and talk to City Manager Kelly McAdoo and Community Development Director Sara Buizer. After that, we could not figure out what more we could do to help him, and we have not heard from him since January.

Meanwhile, a Dean at the School refused to forward our College Heights Report and cover letter to John Doerr. I think that showed a lack of professionalism by the Dean, staying inside an academic silo in the face of the Crisis of the Anthropocene that demands more teenagers like Greta Thunberg. The energy institute at the School has ten programs relevant to College Heights but no interest in implementing them in our project. The School has no capacity nor interest in sprawl, auto-dependency, transportation pricing reforms, or economic analysis including external costs and the real GDP. So we are moving on.

The Better Bills Campaign and Onward

We developed a list of about 40 billionaires, “the Bills,” who are on record on the web as supporting housing and sustainability. Our hope was to inform them about College Heights, one letter at a time for 31 topics. That was a lot of letters and Elizabeth did all the work. After one round we cut down the list to about 30, “the Better Bills,” and were partway through another round when we gave up.

We sent a registered letter with post card return to John Doerr and got the card back with a scribbled signature.

Now we’re looking at California Forever, a huge project proposed for Solano County backed by billionaires including John Doerr. As far as we can tell, it is all smoke and mirrors, all promise with no content. Content means specifying plans for the topics on our six-page list for College Heights. We will be informing all and sundry, joining many other critics.

American culture has a limited understanding of neighborhood systems, and billionaires work within that culture as does everyone else. Networking and connections count for more than substance.

No one is telling us what we should do, so we keep guessing.

The City, the Campus, and College Heights

We don’t have a good strategy for building what is, as we can tell, the most progressive neighborhood proposed in American history. There are many things we can do to educate about it, but it all takes time, and we don’t know how to get in the room with an investor to make our pitch. All you need to know about the project is on the website, www.Collegehts.org. It has a huge amount of information but is well-laid out and readable.

We are seeking a resolution from the City that updates and improves upon the old one. We would then involve Cal State in discussions to see if we can get support from faculty, staff, students, and administrators. That would lead to endorsements from many parties up the line to the Governor. Hopefully, at some point, an investor will listen.

The Loop

Continuing from the last HAPA News, the City has funds for a consultant. I was interested in the ability of a traffic circle at Mission Foothill Jackson to handle the traffic, and how it might be designed to fit the space, and how parking on Foothill with two-way traffic could accommodate more parking and two lanes each way.

I got excellent traffic data from a competent staffer at the Alameda County Transportation Commission. I had quite a time playing with it to make all the flow counts to balance out mathematically for each route (right turn, straight through, left turn). We know the capacity of each lane for trips per hour, and I found that the circle idea would work.

This diagram shows the traffic volumes and how they would flow through the circle. Some of the cells are not fully shown. I can send you the spreadsheet.

My next question was, how could a circle overlay onto the existing intersection?

Finally, I wanted to see how much parking could increase using back in diagonal parking, with results similar to the usual head-in. Back-in is safer but not found in the US.

I estimated for two blocks from C St. to A St. with parking on both sides, parallel parking would allow 76 spaces and 45-degree parking would allow 128 spaces.

Mission building boom

We’ve been curious about big housing projects going up in recent years along South Mission Blvd. below Harder Road in Hayward. It looked like it was four or five big projects. So, we decided to investigate. Our criterion was three or more stories, but we did include the apartment complex at Tennyson and Mission by the South Hayward BART station, which is the oldest project, in fact the only big project that was built for many years until the recent boom.

As we looked, we found more and more buildings. After many hours of work we found thirteen projects totaling 1,258 units. That is very impressive.

There were large rental apartment buildings, three-story attached townhouses, and condominiums. Most were on Mission Blvd, but some were on new streets built for the projects. Some were private, so we were unable to see what the buildings looked like using Google Maps Street View. Our spreadsheet, available on request, has a list of the projects and their characteristics. A tab for each project has a property map, facades, and a satellite view. It has details about the project and copies of building permits. Most of the builders were nationally known corporations.

Sherman Lewis, President

Hayward Area Planning Association

Professor Emeritus California State University East Bay

2787 Hillcrest Avenue, Hayward CA 94542