Dues Still Due
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Report on Prospect Hill Neighborhood
What Can Be Done About the Maple Main and Lincoln Landing Projects?
I've been working on details of a site plan in response to resolutions by the Prospect Hill HOA in support of sustainable mobility and reducing the impact on the neighborhood. For those of you who don't remember, the Maple Main project is a proposed big box parking structure. The Lincoln Landing is a proposal to redevelop the old Mervyn's site. Find more information on the Lincoln Landing proposal here.
Three Problems Have Come Up:
- How the City defines a development proposal
- How the City defines a market reality
- How the process sidelines citizens.
What is a Development Proposal?
From a common sense point of view, a proposal is a clear, conceptual land use plan, spreadsheet on uses and units, and similar descriptive materials, let's say not costing over $5,000. However, from the developer's and city's point of view, a proposal is a complete application, which for Maple Main and Lincoln Landing already cost well north of $1 million. Citizens can't play that game.
What is Market Reality?
Our City Manager has said, and we agree, "It makes no sense to put forth alternatives that are not based in market reality. If someone has a project that they believe has more sustainable elements and they can demonstrate how it can be converted to a market reality, it would only make sense to review and consider the possibilities."
So far, fair enough. But what is market reality? How can citizens demonstrate market reality? Are we expected to do the market research to prove an absorption rate? Are we expected to line up loans for the developer?
The Maple Main developer claims that only five story Big Box Parking will work. The Lincoln Landing developer believes the market requires six stories and excessive parking. At the same time, however, there is a Boston Bank loan for a different project in downtown Hayward with no parking at all. As far as the City is concerned, is it the developers who define "market reality"?
We believe the City can do more to implement General Plan policies for walkability against the car-based projects proposed by developers. Did the City consult with Prequin (consulting firm that specializes in private equity)? Did the City ask Dutra Cerro Graden (a real estate advising firm) to query major lenders and real estate multi-family development equity funds? Did the City try to influence the terms of Deutsche Bank loan for Maple Main pertaining to such issues as recordation for condos, unbundling parking, convertibility of parking to living space, and the various risk reduction strategies HAPA has proposed?
I realize that the above actions are far more than cities with limited staffing typically would do. However, the City could indicate to the developer a desire for a more walking-oriented development with less parking, and one that would consider a number of ideas that would make the project more sustainable and to manage the risk that such a project might have. The City could have applied for state funds to help finance sustainable projects. I believe the City has not tried, and makes unsubstantiated claims about market reality.
Furthermore, the City itself has plans for parking management downtown and for extensive shuttle services which did not have funding when first proposed, and most of which still do not have funding. The City has a double standard, refusing to study citizen proposals while pursuing its own.
I don't pretend there are easy answers here. What should happen? We could work with the city and developers before heavy spending to see what can be done. We could get some financial advice about three story projects with less parking and more sustainable mobility.
How Does the Process Sideline Citizens?
Remember the common sense proposal—the basic ideas, low cost? That is, in fact, what developers start with. They work for months behind the scenes, lining up support with staff and in private meetings with Councilmembers. They get informal concept approval without public knowledge, before spending big bucks on detailed applications costing millions of dollars. Notice who was left out? Us. Then they claim they are open to our input. Well, we can make some input, but not really touch the big picture where it needs to be repainted.
The City should have involved the public early on in a low cost, conceptual, public policy decision, before full application. Over the years HAPA has advised the city to reform, and about our proposal for Walking Oriented Development, to no avail.
HAPA and Prospect can make good proposals, but as a result of an application we can't afford, an arbitrary definition of market reality, and a deeply flawed process, we are frozen out on the major issues. It's pay to play and we don't have the ante. It now seems inevitable that the Council and staff will override our concerns, and we may be powerless to do anything about it.
We-HAPA and the Prospect neighborhood-are not obligated to go along. The City should not expect us to back off of our concerns.
A PowerPoint presentation on Maple Main prepared by HAPA is attached as a pdf. Please take time to look through it, let me know what you think. HAPA has never sent you a PowerPoint before, but, having done a lot of work on it, it seems like a good way to get some ideas across.
Historic Green Shutter Hotel Comes Back to Life
This Thursday, March 24, at 7:00 p.m. the Hayward City Planning Commission will consider a plan to revitalize the Green Shutter Hotel. The exterior will be fully restored to its historical appearance. The ground floor interior will remain much the same except, on the back side, 6 residential studios will be built. The second floor, now in single-room occupancy, will be remodeled to market-rate studios and one bedrooms.
The Staff background report reads: "The subject property was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 2004. According to the National Registry, the original section of the Green Shutter Hotel, located on the southeast corner of Main and B Streets, was constructed in 1920 and included ground floor retail and second floor offices. The addition of the hotel to the south, along Main Street, was constructed in 1926, at which time the existing offices were converted to residential apartments. Following World War II, the hotel slowly morphed into a single-room occupancy hotel (SRO), however, the ground floor retail remained intact, which is how it remains today. According to City records and the National Registry, there were 85 SRO "units" on the second floor of the building as late as 2004. However, due to unpermitted modifications made to the interior of the building over the years following its listing, it is unclear how many such units currently exist.
In the early 1990's, mandatory seismic upgrades were completed on the building, with additional seismic retrofitting occurring in 2000. A comprehensive facade renovation was completed in 2002. Since that time, the residential component of the building has suffered from years of neglect and unpermitted= modifications. In addition to numerous Code Enforcement violations, the Hayward Police Department has had to respond to many calls in Downtown related to the SRO facility and its occupants."
You can find more information on the City's website under the March 24 Planning Commission agenda item #3, staff report.
The image to the left is the only known photograph of the windows lighting a hallway from an air well or courtyard on the second floor. These windows could be restored at little expense using modern technology and would be a great amenity for the building residents. It is not clear from the project details on the web whether or not these windows will be restored. This image was taken by Frank Goulart
The picture below shows the courtyard on the second floor, with a skylight in the back that provides light to a store on the first floor. It is not clear from the project details on the web whether or not this courtyard will be restored. Photo courtesy of the Hayward Area Historical Society.
Let the Planning Commission know if you'd like these features restored.
Sherman Lewis, President
Hayward Area Planning Association
2787 Hillcrest Ave. Hayward CA 94542