HAYWARD approves ‘Sohay’ large market-rate development with just 48 affordable housing units

A 25-acre, 472-unit housing transit-oriented development in South Hayward was approved by the Hayward City Council Tuesday night. But despite evidence the city is in the grips of an affordable housing crisis, the project includes just 48 units of affordable housing–20 set aside for low-income rentals and 28 units for sale to buyers with moderate incomes.

The Sohay project, a syllabic abbreviation of South Hayward, is made up of 21 non-contiguous parcels around on Mission Boulevard, Valle Vista Avenue, and Industrial Parkway. In addition to the 472 mixed-income, multi-family rental and town homes proposed by the developer William Lyon Homes, the project includes 20,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail space and 2.4 acres of open space.

Three years in the making, several Hayward councilmembers were joyful for the project’s impending approval. Councilmember Al Mendall said he got “misty-eyed” during a presentation of the Sohay project’s future. “I’m so stoked on this project,” said Councilmember Marvin Peixoto. “We’re finally paying attention to South Hayward.”

Mendall praised the developer for providing an affordable housing component to the project despite the specific property being exempt from Hayward’s affordable housing requirements. “They are doing much more than minimum, which I applaud.” said Mendall

Councilmember Sara Lamnin also lauded the project Tuesday night. “Getting to where we want to go as a community is really a relay race and this was a huge step in where we want to go and, I think, lays a great foundation for work yet to come.” The project gives affordability for young couples without children and recent college graduates hoping to purchase a home, said Lamnin

Amid the exuberance expressed by Hayward elected officials, Councilmember Elisa Marquez voiced distinct displeasure for the project, which she had also voiced skepticism toward previously. (Marquez was the lone no vote Tuesday.) In her comments Marquez said the project’s retail component and housing density is insufficient. “This is a prime location to get higher density than what is being proposed,” said Marquez. Earlier, a representative from William Lyon Homes told the council the oddly-shaped parcels made maximizing density difficult to achieve.

She added that Milpitas approved 11,000 units near its BART station. The Sohay development is similarly near the South Hayward BART station. While not advocating for such an inventory of new housing, Marquez said, “For this area, 500 [units] is barely scratching the surface.” In addition, she said, a community benefits package is absent from the project and the amount of park space is less than desired.

“This is a huge missed opportunity. Land is sacred and we just gave up a huge opportunity to do better not just for a handful of stakeholders, but for a lot more people who are struggling to live in our community,” said Marquez.

The addition of 472 more units into Hayward’s pipeline of new housing follows a frenetic pace of approvals by the City Council for new developments across the city. The influx, however, is not likely to alleviate in the near-term a growing concern over the ability of Hayward residents, particularly renters, from being priced-out of the local housing market and eventually displaced. The council is scheduled to revisit discussions for a rent stabilization ordinance, originally slated for last Tuesday night, at its May 29 meeting.

 

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