By Glen Ocal.I have been a Software/Mechanical Engineer for 35 years in Silicon Valley. For my retirement days I wanted to help the unfortunate people in my community and started operating a licensed care facility. My facility provided and served mentally ill citizens for over 40 years in Hayward.
This is my story with the City of Hayward.
We have pretty many care facilities in Hayward. During the pandemic, the needs of our vulnerable population was recognized by:
- The federal government. We received medical supplies, masks, and sanitizers. We received PPP loans to help cover our extra expenses.
- Alameda County helped us in every step. Brought us supplies, provided COVID hotels since we do not have extra rooms to quarantine COVID positive residents.
I made a naive assumption that Hayward City officials would care about our patients and workers.
They do not.
We work everyday providing housing, serving, feeding and caring for our residents, and we are totally expendable.
Back in August 2020, I spent my own money to add rooms to my facility to be able to quarantine clients. I applied to the Hayward planning department for permits, naively hoping that our city officials would recognize the dire situation and help us build additional rooms that we so desperately needed. 8 people (residents and caregivers) died in our fellow facilities.
Right away we were told that they could not be “lenient on any rules”. It seemed like it did not matter to them that 969,000 people died with COVID in the US and that facilities like ours are the most vulnerable group.
For starters, they wasted 3 months because they insisted that I had to keep within 40% of the lot, while my plan required 42%.
The planner Marcus Martinez told me that I could build a garage in the backyard, to be converted to a living space later.
After 2 months and $10,000 in architect fees, he called me to tell that he made a mistake. No garage could be built. I just wasted 2 months and $10,000 because of his mistake.
4 months later Sara Buizer gave me a permission to use up to 50% of the lot. I believed that I obtained the planning permit.
I spent another $10,000 revising the plans. I visited Junmar Salon at the building department counter to ask for clarification on the smoke barrier that he requested before that. He refused to clearify his request, he became dismissive and condescending, even rude. Junmar Salon proved his incompetence to do his job and total lack of communication skills. Of course his supervisors defended him - it is crony thing.
My architect advised me that it would be easier to build a separate structure, because the fire department would make me rebuild the existing structure even though it is already 1 hour fire rated.
We redesigned the project as a separate structure with yet another $10,000 in architect fees.
The project was already delayed for a whole year, the lumber and construction materials prices already tripled. At this point the cost went over $500,000. It would be cheaper to buy a building instead of constructing it.
HAYWARD CITY SIMPLY KILLED OUR PROJECT FOR THE UNDERSERVED COMMUNITY
I live in Hayward. The downtown is full of empty/boarded buildings (bad for the city management resume). I contacted their owners, agreed on the prices. Again, the City of Hayward refused any of these buildings to be used as a care facility. The empty buildings are sitting there for years, even decades. Looks like they would rather keep these buildings vacant instead of using half commercial, half housing for disabled people, or give it any other purpose.
Nobody wants to be near poor disabled people. The city of Hayward is a best example of this open, illegal discrimination as they flatly refused me to buy and use the old Ace Hardware store building right across from their city building. They never offered an alternative or helped me find one. Why would they? They are paid well, the job is security, they are healthy and able-bodied - why care for the disabled?
There is a condition that we can house only 6 persons per house, regardless of the size of the property. Senior planner Leigha Schmidt advised me to work with realtors and find multi-unit properties to avoid Conditional Use Permit (CUP), which is impossible to get (she knows her city).
Based on her advice, I started looking for multi-unit houses. I worked with tons of realtors, and we found one duplex. The seller and I agreed on the price. The building already has a permit process with the city. I thought this would be easy. Nevertheless, I sent an email to Leigha Schmidt I am about to buy this property, would it be ok to use it as a facility.
She immediately replied (adding her boss Sara Buizer to this simple email for no reason) saying she would get back to me after an investigation. 11 days later, I sent her another email - asking why she is not replying to an urgent question. I also left a phone message to Jeremy Lochirco, no reply.
Finally Leigha Schmidt called me. She said she had a family emergency for 11 days, her boss Sara Buizer who was on the same email and did not respond either. Leigha Schmidt confirmed that she asked Jeremy Lochirco not to answer me (again for no reason).
She told me that she was sorry, and that she made a mistake: that a 6 person limit is not per unit, but per lot. She did not provide any document to support this claim. She cost me another month of research trying to find multi-unit properties. It was a total waste of time, since this duplex could not be used as a facility either.
This is the second time Hayward city gave me wrong information and needlessly delayed this project. Within the last 18 months I wasted a lot of money and opportunities to provide housing for the most vulnerable population in Hayward.
Clearly the city of Hayward teamed up to block any progress that would help us provide housing for the disabled citizens. The city of Hayward is illegally discriminating against mentally ill citizens, sabotaging all of my efforts to provide them with much needed housing.
One can talk all day about the city of Hayward, extramarital affairs, and drinking on the job https://www.publicceo.com/2016/09/commentary-theres-nothing-new-about-hayward-hiding-its-dirty-secrets/ and how they outsource their plan-checking jobs to private companies with sweet deals while being open to the public half the week, half the day when they are in the office. This is a third world corrupted officials picture.
The city knows how to be lenient to big companies - allowing them to close 2 out of 3 lanes on Mission street at the busiest hours for over 8 months, letting them leave gaping potholes on the freshly repaired road.
When it comes to the vulnerable public, the rules are not the same. The city officials seem not to be able to see that the crime rate is so high in Hayward partly because these mentally ill people are not cared for and are left out in the streets. One can easily tell the incompetence of the people who run the city just by driving downtown.
Ignoring the job responsibilities, being rude and dismissive to citizens, discriminating against disabled and homeless population, blocking every effort of others to help the unfortunate is a very troubling pattern for the city employees. One cannot turn a blind eye to this.
I only want the city officials to do their job, like we do ours, nothing extra special.
These are not empty claims: I have all the documents to prove my statements.