The story of a city that decided, very slowly, to live better without a freeway.

By Sherman Lewis, 324 Pages, October 2021
Print Version: $20.86:Amazon
eBook Version: $12.00: Google Books

Longitudinal local history of cultural change told through narrative. Politics, policy making. Environment. Congress, State legislature, new laws, public interest lawyers, the courts. Initiatives, referendums, candidate elections, campaigns, voters. State, regional, local agencies. Citizen groups and advocacy.

Download the annotated table of contents.

I spent decades of my life fighting against the Bypass and dealing with its aftermath. I spent a few years writing this book. I asked the editor of California History to have the book reviewed and got this response: “We decline to review your book Rise and Fall. This is because I believe the book will be of limited interest to our readers. I know that you will disagree with me on this point.” –Mary Ann Irwin, Editor, California History, U of C Press, Nov. 29, 2021.

Hayward cannot match Berkeley for intellectual hauteur. It’s an industrial working-class suburb pretty far down on any list of prestigious cities. Nevertheless, we have a story to tell, and we think it’s pretty interesting.

It’s actually an amazing story, or, more accurately, many stories that unfold over a period of more than 60 years.

It’s about Hayward, of course, but it tells a universal story. My pretentious analogy is that people do not read Hamlet to learn about Denmark. It is a history of change over a period of many decades told through the actions of the individuals who embody conflicting cultures. Over time, the story involved a highway department trying to serve people with a big new freeway that no one quite wanted to pay for. It involved one of the first battles in the US for environmental justice, now almost forgotten. It involved new state and federal laws and public interest attorneys who went to bat for modest homeowners and renters.

The Federal District Court played a major role, holding up the project at many steps along the way. A state appellate court blew the whistle on a big lie being told by local pro-highway leaders. Two small but tenacious citizen groups were consistently ignored but never gave up.

The story involves all aspects of government and society as the conflict worked itself out month by month.

And the conflict was resolved. The death of the Bypass created the need for new policy—What to do with the excess right-of-way? How would it be sold and to whom? Where would the money go from the sales? What would the money be used for? What would become of the old state routes? What new highway projects would be built with reduced funding? And how much money would the winning attorneys be paid for their efforts? Excess right-of-way is now being reborn for housing, businesses, and open space. Rest assured, the attorneys were paid (so you don’t worry about them).