Hayward officials voice strong support for affordable housing; state concern over rising rents

HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL
A week after Hayward elected officials roundly turned away a developer’s bid to build a slew of market-rate housing units on Mission Boulevard, councilmembers continued to voice a newfound pledge for more affordable housing in a city currently being racked by displacement and rising rents.

Every member of the City Council signaled to developers that new housing projects that exclude an affordable housing element will face difficulty in the approval process. Councilmembers Al Mendall and Elisa Marquez were unequivocal in their stance, with each saying they will not vote for any project that does not include affordable housing. Councilmember Francisco Zermeno agreed, in addition, to advocating for the city to study a proposal for a tiny homes village.

In recent months, Hayward renters have consistently raised alarms over large rent increases and evictions. Earlier this month, Zermeno raised the idea of reviewing the city’s rent board rules. “There are no sacred cows,” Councilmember Mark Salinas said, in reference to his belief the city should examine all types of remedies to combat displacement. “Rent control–it’s on the table,” Salinas declared, although, he later expressed doubt he could support such a measure.

Meanwhile, Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday said Tuesday night that voices in the community concerned with displacement are being heard by the council, along with anecdotal evidence that housing speculators are gobbling up properties and merely raising rents.

“You have to wonder about the intentions of those buying up houses and apartments and raising the rents,” said Halliday, while adding, without any signs of improvements being made to the properties.

The breadth of the Hayward City Council’s rejection last week of the development at the current Haymont Shopping Center on Mission Boulevard and across the street from the sprawling Holy Sepulchre Cemetery was certainly not typical, especially in an era when new housing of all types is greatly valued in the Bay Area.

The project proposed 35 market-rate town homes, roughly priced between $600,000 and $650,000, along with 39 market-rate apartments, priced as high as $2,200 for a one-bedroom unit. In addition, to the absence of affordable housing, the council also cited concerns over parking and open space in its denial of the project.

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