New Road in Hayward Set to Displace 6 Businesses

Hayward deliberated over the legality of its right to claim the property of six businesses in the industrial district on Tuesday, and ignited passions as the six business owners argued the city was not being fair in their negotiations.

The project will see the expansion of Whitesell Street, located off of I-880 and Route 92 as it comes into Hayward into a four lane road. The project will also extend Whitesell Street past Enterprise Avenue up to Depot Road in Hayward’s Industrial District, cutting through the six businesses. The proposal is designed to lessen traffic coming off the freeway into the industrial area.

The project’s cost is $26.5 million, which will be funded almost entirely through Measure B funding. It was initially approved by city hall on March 22, 2011, and on Tuesday night city council approved the right of the city to acquire of the property through negotiation or eminent domain procedures.

“We believe the city is destroying our business,” said co-owner of an auto dismantler business, Masood Feroz. “They claimed that they were going to help us relocate; we haven’t received any actual relocation sites and they’ve just taken everything away from us now, and we believe it’s unfair.”

Multiple business owners felt they haven’t been given an appropriate alternative by the city. Howard Dorris of Dorris Auto Wreckers claims that he was offered two acres of land for his eight acre site. The construction of the road cutting through the businesses “totally destroying them,” he added.

Steve Chess felt that the city was not offering the business owners a fair amount in their negotiations. The city’s appraisal of the value of their property is based on 2011 estimates.

Tensions were raised after Chess interjected multiple times during the public hearing, claiming that the city’s statements weren’t “fact.”

Attorney Kevin Lally, representing four of the businesses, alleged the city failed to provide the businesses with adequate information about the value of their property, and failed to create a road that would have the least impact on local businesses. He said the city is causing “irreparable damage” to the six businesses.

Lally indicated that he will take legal action against the city for approving the building of the roadway without offering the businesses a fair alternative site to relocate. “It’s not a threat, it’s just what I have to do,” said Lally.

Business owners are encouraged to acquire their own independent appraisals and receive reimbursement from the city, Public Works Director Morad Fakhrai said, however only one business owner has done so.
City Manager Fran David explained the reluctance to disclose a more up to date appraisal of the property’s value is due to the possibility that the information could be “detrimental” to the city’s side of the bargaining. Business owners have been encouraged to get their own appraisal, she said, and that encouragement is part of the process.
“This is a negotiation. And you don’t always share all the information you have,” David said.
The council voted unanimously in favor of the item, and will continue to move forward with negotiations with business owners to purchase the property.