San Leandro Zoning Commission Approves 100-Foot Commercial Wind Turbine Near Heron Bay

SAN LEANDRO | Despite calls by nearby homeowners for a costly environmental impact report on the effects of a 100-foot wind turbine on the San Leandro shoreline, the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustments unanimously approved a height variance sought by local green tech company, Halus Power Systems.

Members of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association say they will appeal the board’s decision to the City Council before the 15-day deadline.

The seven-member board, of which three were absent Thursday night, said they were not persuaded by over a dozen residents from the nearby Heron Bay housing development, who contend the city and Halus did not take into account the health and well-being of the wind turbine remanufacturer’s neighbors. Numerous residents also feared diminished home prices due to the 100-foot monopole, at least, for the estimated 25 homes that abut the Halus property near the San Lorenzo Creek.

John Dalisay, a member of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association and realtor, told the board potential buyers looking for a home at the development will have little information about the impacts of the proposed wind turbine in the distance. “We’re kind of clueless about the effects,” he said. Commissioner Rene Mendieta, also a realtor, said he understands some landmarks, like wind turbines, can be a negative to prospective home buyers. However, he said the potential health-related concerns such as migraines and noted illnesses believed to come from shadow flickering of turbine blades, are not persuasive in this case.

San Leandro Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Faught, however, said such issues, also including lowered housing values, are not under the purview of the application to satisfy requirements in the California Environmental Quality Act.

Fred Simon, a 15-year resident of Heron Bay, disagreed with the contents of the city’s staff report asserting the monopole will not disrupt the area frequented by two species of endangered birds. “I walk that trail everyday and you’re going to tell me it doesn’t impact the environment?” Simon later added more affluent East Bay city’s do not have wind turbines. “Why should we in San Leandro be the guinea pigs?”

Alan Berger, Heron Bay’s attorney, had serious concerns about the objectivity of the city’s staff report. “I have rarely seen a staff report that is quite as adversarial as this one,” he said, while claiming it contained little independent research. Berger said information in the reports “was feed to the staff and the staff fed it to this board.” A quick read of the staff report prepared for Thursday’s hearing, in fact, contains numerous passages stating effusive support for the Halus wind turbine project and curious uses of grammatical modifiers to bolster efficacy of the plan.

Tom Liao, the acting director of community development, denied Berger’s accusation. “These are documents prepared by staff and vetted by staff—not Halus documentation,” Liao said. A list of responses to resident’s letters prepared by city staff was also dismissive of nearly every complaint. “Lots of comments were not based on facts,” Richard Pio Roda, assistant city attorney, said Thursday. “Some statements were absolutely false.”

At least, two commissioners, voiced wariness for the project setting precedent leading to more wind turbines in the future. Following a question by Commissioner Philip Daly about whether Halus could build more structures, City Senior Planner Elmer Penaranda said yes, but denied it would set precedent on the grounds Halus would need to apply for each in the same fashion as the request on Thursday’s agenda.

“Do you only want one?” Daly asked Louis Rigaud, the owner of Halus, “Oh, yeah, this application allows only one on the property and that’s all we want.” Rigaud says he wants the 100-foot wind turbine for research and development to augment his 10-year-old company at 2539 Grant Avenue, which primarily refurbishes older model turbine parts.

Although saying wind turbines are safe, he specifically chose the center of his five-acre property for the site of the structure for safety reasons. “These are extremely safe, but, if something happens, that’s why I want it in the center of the property.” Daly later said of the wind turbine, “One is acceptable. More than one is not. Any more of these would be an eyesore.”

Rigaud, however, has not been clear about what type of research will facilitate the need for the wind turbine. Critics say it’s merely for saving on energy costs and a vehicle for advertising not rooted in any specific plan for expanding his business through innovation. “This has nothing to do with being green,” said Berger. “This is a 100-foot billboard you’re allowing and not a research and development project.”

Categories: Alan Berger, green tech, Halus, Louis Rigaud, Rene Mendieta, renewables, S.L. City Council, san leandro, wind turbines, zoning

78 replies

  1. Houston is state union representive, She confuses with BZA meeting vs. labor union meeting.
    She definately represent 1 business owner with his 10 labor employees live outside of SL.


  2. Halus owner Louis Rigaud changed his reason for application at least 3 times.

    In June, he said the Turbine is to save his PG&E bills.

    During BZA meeting Rigaud said Turbine is for TESTING purposes.

    After a comment pointed out testing turbines next to thousand of homes is dangerous, he again changed his reason to just a demo convenience for his customers.

    The BZA believed all this crap.


  3. One stone two birds for Halus, benefiting his electrical bills and convenient to show his COMMERCIAL demo Turbine to his cusomters – just step outside. Selfish businessman!


  4. BZA board

    Catherine Houston, Chairwoman refused to hear thousand of voices decided to listen 1 bussinessman.

    Rene Mendietta, BZA Vice Chair applied his own preferrence as an environmentalist not taking any considerations from thousands of residents' concern.

    Lee Thomas, BZA member should just stayed home, he sat back and press the green button that was pretty much it.

    Phil Daly, BZA member was in LA LA LAND.

    The other three BZA absentee members are either cowards or don't give a Sh*T.


  5. I just finished reading comments by BZA member Janet Palma in the San Leandro Patch.
    They appear after the article Benny Lee Wins District4; Reed & Mac Rose In Nail Biter, Slim Hope for Measure L. It was posted at 9:47pm. Nov. 7,2012.
    It reads: “Damn Chris, (Chris Crow) I really though you would make it. We need some real change in this city not someone who is going to back one “gated” community that should never and would never now have been built. Next time!”
    No wonder Janet Palma was absent from the BZA meeting, she appears to have been in favor of the turbine before Benny Lee was elected. Was it “smart” for her to have posted these remarks? NO! Time for her to be replaced NOW!


  6. it appears Janet Palma may have been appointed by Mayor Cassidy.


  7. Earth to Janet Palma, the houses were built there! Are all BZA members really this STUPID? Cassidy picked her? He must not be very bright either.
    Hidding won't help. Come out, come out wherever you are Janet!!


  8. Cassidy uses his supporters and his at-large appointees to break up the councils, city staffs and communities.
    He's the only Mayor in the history contributed campaign funds to the opponents running against re-elect councilmembers!
    Remember voters, Cassidy supports Halus against 1000+ homeowners do not want Turbine project. He already lost thousands of votes!


  9. Assistant city attorney stated on BZA meeting “Lots of comments were not based on facts” and “Some statements were absolutely false.”

    Richard Pio Roda assistant city attorney knows all the facts, he and the city will accept all consequences.


  10. 5:26 Go further down the postings. Janet Palma said 'Heron Bay are not good neighbors”. That's as prejudgemental as you can get. We should ask her who else are not good neighbors? And what makes her the high and mighty to make that judgement on people. Isn't she people or does she think she is above people?


  11. Thanks again Tavares for writing the facts so well!


  12. Senile wannabe power house Howard Kerr is one of the board members of ORO LOMA SANITARY DISTRICT located at 2600 GRANT AVE SAN LORENZO is right next to Halus – What's up with that? greasing each other? inside trading?


  13. An article wrote by The Oakland Tribune on 2/9/2013 stated Halus moved from Hayward to San Leandro couple years ago.

    While back Heard SL Chamber Member Gordon Galvin owns some Turbine business in Hayward.

    Now Halus Wind turbine applicant is represented by members of San Leandro Chamber of Commerce leadership!! The dots are start connecting!

    Article link below:


  14. Wivies of SL chamber memeber Gordon Galvin and SL mayor Cassidy are cousins.


  15. SL School Trustee Mike Katz openly brown nosing these groups behind Halus hoping they grease up his wannabe council campaign. Sicko!


  16. It is not uncommon for wind turbines to have fossil fuel generators. Wind is an intermittent power source which often requires backup. Think and fact check before you speak.


  17. 10:05PM 'not uncommon' double negative meaningless crap. Hybrid turbines are not common so think before you want to pick apart words, dickwad.


  18. It's easy to be vicious when you're anonymous.

    I apologize for the poor word choice. I only meant to point out that there are in fact wind turbines powered by fossil fuels.

    And, since that is the case, asking about the presence of a fuel tank falls in the realm of responsibility rather than that of stupidity.

    That is all.


  19. We dont want any wind turbine in San Leandro or near the shoreline. That is all.


  20. If Gordon Galvan(related thru marriage to Cassidy, wives ARE cousins) owns or did own turbine business in Hayward and if Halus has moved from Hayward to San Lorenzo, there should be a way to get this information. Might be worth asking for information as to who owners are and if Gordon Galvan or his wife are or ever have been involved with Halus in anyway? Keep following the corrupt trail.
    Galvan moved to Castro Valley, but owns the Links shuttle here in San Leandro. I believe Links gets funding from the city. Has Cassidy ever stated he and Galvan are related?
    Cassidy promised “to end the isolation of city hall from the community” when he was running for mayor. What happened Steve???
    Might be time to vote senile Howard Kerr off Oroloma board when he comes up for re-election. NO dirty politics and NO TURBINES IN SAN LEANDRO!!!


  21. Tavares, Is there anyway you can help find out if Galvan is or every has been involved with Halus?


  22. Just learned Gordon Galvan may be part owner of Boulevard Burger in Castro Vally, if he is I won't be eating there. Not fattening his wallet.
    Wow, this guy is into everything! Corruption now moving into Castro Valley?


  23. 3 of the 4 commissioners who voted for the Haulus windmill live in San Leandro west of 880 and were appointed by Benny Lee, Diana Souza and Jim Prola. Most people in San Leandro support the project.


  24. So instead of doing a “costly” environmental report, you would rather spend the money on a lawsuit which makes you wonder why they don't want to do the environmental report. Is it because there is more risk than they are saying that they are afraid would show up as a result of that detailed report? Dismissing over 1000 San Leandro homeowners as if they are just pests is proof that you are not here for the people of San Leandro.

    We need to revitalize the city to be attractive to both homeowners and other businesses, not put in another eyesore in one of the remaining gems of the city, the shoreline. Every time a new business comes in, it's a Goodwill Store or another Walmart, while businesses that originally intended to come to San Leandro like L&L and Five Guys end up going to Hayward instead. Why can't we attract businesses like even a Trader Joe's? It's because the city is not made to look attractive to these businesses. Maybe they should work on our image vs. doing something to make San Leandro even more of a second rate city. I can bet that something like this would never even be proposed in the cities on the Peninsula or Marin.


  25. 9:30, Dollar stores are all over too. I was told by more than one business owner that moved out of San leandro, the city has not always been business friendly. So they moved to other cities. Maybe this is why the city is trying to push Haulas off on us.
    It's a no brainer the city must learn to work with homeowners and businesses. No turbines in San Leando.


  26. Just re-read EB Citizen story from June 22, 2012. Was not suprised to read “city staff appeared to be rushing through plans for purposed turbine and without noticing homeowners.”
    Don't live in Heron Bay, but city did same exact thing to us on something they were allowing to be built in our end of town. No meetings held, no cards sent to residents living within 300 feet or less from site. City got caught and admitted they should have handeled this better. I would think the city of San Leandro would have learned when we caught them pulling this should have change they ways!
    Next time city wants voters to approve a tax for them, this could work against them.


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