CITY STAFF CALLS FOR URGENT MORATORIUM, BACKS OFF BECAUSE OF ‘UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES’
By Steven Tavares
@eastbaycitizen on twitter
Hayward’s City Council backed off from a growing controversy over an attempt to push through an urgent moratorium on grocery store over 20,000 sq. ft. in size, that a owner says was intended only for his property.
After Hayward City Manager Fran David asked for approval April 26 to place the moratorium on large grocery stores, the developer of the former Circuit City property on Whipple Avenue protested the moratorium as unlawful and indiscriminately targeted his location. The address is the only property mentioned in a city staff report.
Community Development Director David Rizk said last month, the developers recent negotiation with an unnamed grocer to move into the location, forced the city to re-evaluate the location as a full-service store along with various traffic concerns and questions for other areas in the chronically-underserved city.
During discussion of the proposal April 26 some residents exhibited a peculiar schizophrenic approach to the moratorium. Numerous speakers who spoke in favor f the moratorium also gave strong support for more full-service grocers in the city. There was also concern the Whipple Avenue location being so close to Union City would actually be a boon for the neighboring city more than Hayward.
Tuesday, though, David had a change of opinion, saying upon further research there is no urgency on the matter and the application process could continue under the regular rules. What happened?
A flood of emails in opposition to the moratorium headed the city’s way, but the “unintended consequence” David spoke of was the possibility of thwarting another grocer from returning to the vacant Lucky building at Southland Mall. The operator of the mall also says it is in negotiations with an unnamed grocery retailer and the moratorium could adversely affect her negotiations for a location many in the city and community desperately desire as a full-service grocery store.
The other more pressing concern may have been the rising, gentle tenor of correspondence citing the illegality of the proposed moratorium from lawyers of Hayward 880 LLC, the family partnership that owns the property at Whipple.
Daniel Temkin, a managing partner for Hayward 880 told the council without the possibility of the new grocery tenant, the group’s $8 million mortgage risks foreclosure amid declining property values.
The council Tuesday night was quite amendable to holding off from approving a moratorium, but the vastly different tones from two weeks ago to the next illustrated a city pulling back from a fight with its tail between its legs and possibly without a coherent city-wide plan to knit together a cohesive plan for a more modern and walkable urban city.