Residents Sent City 1,000 Emails Protesting Wind Turbine On San Leandro Shoreline

ELECTION ‘12//SAN LEANDRO//ENVIRONMENT | Stephanie L’Archuleta, a member of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association board, went to Rio Vista last month to view one of the wind turbines proposed to be erected on the San Leandro shoreline within sight of the bayside community.

Unfortunately, the sleek, white monopole featuring an audible whirring was exactly what she expected. “It really didn’t change my perspective,” L’Archuleta said of the wind turbine she described located in a rural area of the town and near a temporary trailer park.

In July, Louis Rigaud, the owner of Halus Power Systems, located on five-acres of shoreline near the vast swath of homes at Heron Bay, applied for an height variance with the city of San Leandro to construct a single used wind turbine for his firm’s use. Rigaud, during a heavily-attended community meeting earlier this summer, fought back a host of furious homeowners, many of them upset at the city’s lack of outreach, persistent safety concerns and apprehension over the possibility of the windmill becoming an eyesore that ultimately threatens the value of their homes.

In the months since, after mere six homeowners located within a 300-foot radius of the proposed wind turbine received notice of the variance hearing, the views a vast majority of homeowners at Heron Bay appear entrenched in their opposition to the Halus wind turbine in their backyards.

“This is not green, this is filth,” said L’Archuleta. “It does not benefit the environment, it only benefits Halus.” Last week, Heron Bay residents sent the city over 1,000 emails protesting the windmill. Within hours of sending the correspondences, L’Archuleta said, the city abruptly cancelled the next Board of Zoning Adjustments hearing set for September and rescheduled it for Oct. 4. A previous hearing set for July was also cancelled.

The city’s spotlight on Halus, a 10-year-old green technology firm, specializing in refurbishing parts for older or discontinued wind turbines, came on the heels of trumpeting its own downtown fiber-optics network, which was funded by San Leandro’s OSIsoft. The city is now in the process of attempting to rebrand itself as a future hub for green tech. Halus’ intentions, however, to be anything more than a glorified foundry are unclear. During the June meeting with residents, Rigaud appeared more intent with using the wind turbine to greatly defray high energy costs and said his company had little previous experience in research and development.

Nonetheless, L’Archuleta is not sure Heron Bay residents will be able to thwart the lone wind turbine from one day spinning in the distance near wetlands purposely set aside for preservation. “I’m not confident,” said L’Archuleta. “I know Mayor Cassidy is pushing his weight around for it—for whatever reason.”

CROW’S BRIBE? Someone needs to take Chris Crow’s Facebook password away from him. The District 4 city council candidate in San Leandro, who earlier this month continued to show his lack of political acumen when he seemingly questioned the integrity of billions of Chinese with an ill-advised posting on Facebook, is back with another rookie error.

Forget the important fact that Crow purposely moved from District 2 to the neighborhood around Washington Manor and Heron Bay to avoid running against and incumbent and then proceeded to piss off its sizable Asian American population. But, now Crow is taking an opposing position against the wishes of his adopted district and not being very political about it.

Last weekend, Crow made the highly irregular move of publicly thanking Halus Power Systems owner Louis Rigaud for a contribution to his council campaign. The public announcement is uncommon for a candidate and typically uncomfortable for the donor who may not appreciate the unwanted publicity. Nevermind, that it gives off the whiff of a potential councilman appearing to take a bribe to change or form his opinion on a specific issue.

“Thank you to Louis Rigaud and Halus Energy systems for your contribution to my campaign,” wrote Crow. “I support Halus Energy and their endeavor to build wind turbine testing platform on their property that will produce clean energy, and allow them to expand their production base with new products.”

UPDATE: Crow announced Wednesday he is enlisting his Korean grandmother to help his campaign in District 4.

CANDIDATES TO REPLACE STAROSCIAK When the San Leandro City Council returns from its August recess on Sept. 3, it will reconvene for the first time in over seven years without former Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak, who resigned last month before the end of her term to relocate to Roseville.

Eight applicants have expressed interest in filling out the remainder of Starosciak’s term, including three of the four candidates on the November ballot, Benny Lee, Chris Crow and Darlene Daevu. Former San Leandro Mayor John Faria also showed interest in the short appointment, as did Dana Chohlis, Thomas Dlugosh, David Erlich and Charles Kane.

Since the nomination period for running in District 4 has passed and the November ballot is finalized there isn’t the worries typically associated with applicants pledging not to run for the seat, if appointed, and then breaking the promise as Faria did in 1993 when he was elevated to mayor following the death of Dave Karp. Faria lost his re-election bid and unwittingly ushered in the rise of Ellen Corbett in San Leandro and to the State Legislature.

However, if previous statements made by the council last July 16 are any indication, the chances Lee, Crow or Daevu are appointed is unlikely.

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