Southgate Community Addresses Complaints

Mayor Michael Sweeney talks to Southgate residents
about growing concerns.

Residents of the Southgate community voiced concerns of crime and poor neighborhood upkeep to members of Hayward’s City Council last Monday at the Christ’s Community Church.

It was the second of two community forums held in the neighborhood where residents expressed frustration with a myriad of issues, from the loitering homeless at the Eden Area, ROP Center, to the lack of grocery stores in the community.

There has also been crime, which has driven resident Eddie Perez to take matters into his own hands.

“After about two hours [of waiting for the police], I said never mind, I’ll take care of it myself, I’ll go outside and beat him to death with a damn baseball bat,” said Perez. “And then all of a sudden, boom, four cop cars are in front of my house.”

Don Bergquist, a resident of the community, backed up Perez’s testimony. Crime has been getting worse over the past few years, and many houses have installed home security systems, he said.

A resident who asked not to be named complained that there is too much foot traffic on her road. This has led her to fear for her safety, she said. Three weeks ago her house was broken into and she panicked.

“To be honest with you I didn’t know what to do, I turned the light back on and there were three kids on the porch. So I barked, like a dog would. And they laughed. But they left, and that was nice, but there’s too much traffic on the street, and my barking is not that good,” she laughed.

Members of Hayward’s City Council spoke with
Southgate residents.

Scott Frischer complained of a group home on Contessa Street that uses up city resources, from police cars to fire trucks to ambulances. He stated the group home has been part of the neighborhood for five years now and it has consistently been a problem.

“They’re the ones that call [the police]. So if they’re running away, if they attempted to commit suicide, whatever the various things they do, they’re there. And there can be sometimes four or five days in a row,” Frischer said.

Frischer added that the teens from the group home hang out where the burglaries tend to happen on Contessa Street, suggesting there may be a correlation between the two.

Another house on Contessa is operating a recycling center out of their home, former councilmember and resident Doris Rodriguez said. She argued that it is illegal and is causing noise disturbances in the neighborhood.

Mayor Michael Sweeney stated that the city would work to solve the issues on Contessa.

“Certain houses can tend to be the rotten apple of the neighborhood, and getting the rotten apple out can solve things,” said the mayor.

Concerns regarding the lack of maintenance of the Calaroga overpass will be addressed primarily by the city, said City Engineer Morad Fakhrai.

The “infamous” overpass was built by Caltrans and was handed over to the city this year, he said.

A number of lights are out on the bridge, despite being LED lights that Fakhrai stated are supposed to last for years. The city is working with the manufacturer to solve the problem, Fakhrai stated.

The surrounding area will be fully landscaped by Caltrans next year.

A six-foot fiberglass extension to the existing barrier on Highway 92 will be installed to address concerns of glare. Caltrans does not plan on installing a sound barrier to reduce noise as the community has requested, though it does expect the extension and the planting of trees along the highway to mitigate noise production.

Lt. Dave Lundgren of the Hayward Police Department asked residents to report crimes being committed on their neighbors’ property so that the police can track crime trends and allocate more resources to hard hit areas.

“We have 197 officers in Hayward. So we can’t be everywhere all 24 hours. You guys live in the neighborhood, so you can be our eyes and ears. When you see suspicious activity, then you call it in… you’ve got to call on that, because you’ll draw an army of officers to that scene,” Lundgren said.

Many residents came away from the meeting feeling better about their situation. Pastor Sue Kuipers, associate pastor of the church said that she thought the evening had gone well.

“We did these two years ago, and it was a series of four meetings and each meeting we saw more and more people, and we started seeing it build and it’s great to see the neighborhood show up,” she said.

Others were not as satisfied. Perez was frustrated that the situation with the police was not resolved, and resents the lack of a sound barrier on the freeway.

“They knew in the first place they were not going to do nothing about it,” said Perez. “But my neighbors, some of them didn’t even come because they knew this was already settled.”