COUNCIL FINDS FORECAST OF 28% JOB GROWTH BY 2035 UNREALISTIC; OVER PAST 30 YEARS INCREASED JUST 2.8%
By Steven Tavares
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission thinks job growth in Hayward over the next quarter century will greatly outstrip the city’s ability to build additional housing. With more resources flowing towards Sacramento to alleviate the state’s budget situation, the city is feeling the pinch from both sides.
In a effort to create a regional Sustainable Communities Strategy mandated by legislation three years ago, that would, among other things, reduce the per capita creation of greenhouse gases 15 percent by 2035 and promote affordable housing in tandem with walkable cities, an initial report forecasts job growth in Hayward to increase over 28 percent over the next 25 years and housing creation topping an additional 32 percent.
Many at the joint meeting of the Hayward City Council and planning commission said the projection, believed to have been put forward by the Association of Bay Area Governments, would be impossible to attain.
Hayward’s job growth figures since 1980, according to Development Services Director David Rizk, increased by just 2.8 percent. Rizk said he believes ABAG is expecting robust job creation from burgeoning high tech and green tech companies in the region. “It’s universal that nobody believes these numbers are realistic,” said Mayor Michael Sweeney.
The Tuesday work session allowed the City Council to voice concerns over the preliminary proposal. A resolution will be brought back the council May 3 to send to ABAG and the MTC. A preferred plan hammered out over the next year will likely be presented early next year, according to Rizk.
The issue of state control and growth at the local level has developed a deepening tenor of angst in Hayward towards Sacramento’s seemingly conflicting strategies towards local government and gained another forum Tuesday night.
To help balance the state’s own budget woes, Sweeney said, lawmakers have annually taken about $5 million in property taxes and proposed taking a hatchet to the local redevelopment agencies. “At the same time they tell us they want more development in these redevelopment areas,” he said. “That a neat trick, isn’t it?”
A few found the report counterproductive to Hayward’s current push to accomplish some of the same goals as the regional proposal pertaining to creating a more environmentally sustainable, walkable urban city. “This is premised on having jobs and adequate housing,” said Councilman Marvin Peixoto. “I don’t want to see more housing here without the job because that’s counter intuitive to the whole [Transit-Oriented Development].” Peixoto said he believes Hayward is increasingly becoming a city where residents merely live, but not a place they also work.
A main problem for the city, according to Public Works Director Bob Bauman, is traditionally job growth has been relegated to Hayward’s large industrial areas where there is scant opportunity for transit options. “These areas are transit-deficient,” added Rizk, who said using such a term was describing the situation too nicely. Getting workers to those far-flung industrial areas in the future, according to Rizk, and without redevelopment, could become a costly venture. The report expects significant growth centered around the Carlos Bee Quarry area, South Hayward BART station, Mission Boulevard Corridor and downtown.
In the recent past Hayward had excelled in creating walkable, downtown-oriented destinations. Its remaking of the area surrounding City Hall and, including the current seat of government, according to Councilwoman Barbara Halliday, is an example of what the city can accomplish within a sustainable urban setting, but she says it is not something they create in other places such as the South Hayward BART station.
“We’re not able to repeat that,” she said, “at least, not now.” Just last month, the developer for the South Hayward BART development told the City Council it would need to scale back the number of housing units in the plan while reporting Safeway had declined to open a store at the location making severely diminishing the TOD component of the proposal.