History of College Heights

The Fight for Affordable Walkable Neighborhood Systems: Hayward & the Former Quarry

In the decades spent fighting for housing development at the former quarry site, we’ve found that the City of Hayward has generally supported a development that fits the bill for a walkable neighborhood system. However, developers have been risk-averse in adopting new ideas such as unbundled parking, reduced parking, higher density, and project support for its own shuttle service.

The former quarry story has played out in three recent phases: the 2009 City of Hayward Master Plan, the Quarry Master Plan, and the 2021 Integral Communities Plan.

How did we get here? The Story of (The Many Iterations of) College Heights

2009 City Master Plan: An Important Foundation

In 2009, after the ill-fated Foothill Freeway was cancelled, the City of Hayward created the Sustainable Mixed Use (SMU) land use designation and SMU zoning and applied it to the former quarry site. The City also adopted the Program EIR, which means that any project conforming to the program EIR does not need a project EIR. College Heights conforms to the program EIR, but the City is likely to want a traffic study anyway. The traffic study should reveal far less traffic from the project than would occur from the usual zoning and even from the reduced parking allowed by the SMU zoning.

From 2009 onward, Caltrans began selling off all of the right-of-way and, for the most part, it was not controversial. The City, however, under City Manager Fran David, wanted more control over development of the larger parcels. A larger parcel had been sold to developer, and the City found that it had to approve any proposal conforming to City requirements, which was not enough. In October 2016, the City bought the ten remaining larger parcels from Caltrans on a contingency basis. The former quarry site is parcel 6.

2021 Quarry Master Plan: One Step Forward

In September 2019, the City held community meetings and wrote a Master Development Plan for parcel 6 as a basis for issuing a Request For Proposals. In May 2020, the City rejected the results as unsatisfactory. The City then issued a Request for Qualifications.

The City’s Quarry Master Plan of 2019 had elements that the City did not, in fact, require from the developer: a central park, the Foothill Trail, and connection via Palisade and Overlook. HAPA made many requests to improve the Quarry Master Plan: the trail, unbundling, transit, sustainable modes, key markets, etc.; however they were all been ignored.

2021 Integral plan: Disappointing Status Quo

  • Sept 2020: Integral Communities signed Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the City
  • Jan 2022 – Integral withdrew from negotiations with no explanation

In September 2020, Integral Communities signed an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the City. HAPA had many severe criticisms of their proposal. Integral Communities had remove the trail, local street access, and Central Park. In August 2021, Sherman asked that Hayward city staff and the council consider modifications to Rose Hills. HAPA asked that the City Council hold a work session to decide if the City will consider HAPA’s Modified Rose Hills, another early College Heights design.

If the City approved Rose Hills as proposed by Integral, the developer had a legal right to buy the quarry site and build Rose Hills. That would have been the end of Modified Rose Hills (what HAPA championed) and any hope for a sustainable and affordable housing project. However in January 2022, Integral withdrew from negotiations with no explanation. The City’s purchase agreement with Caltrans has been extended once and expires in 2024.

2023 and beyond

With greater public focus on sustainability, openness towards building low-car developments, unit diversity, and growth in the remote worker market in the United States, we at HAPA are optimistic that we will find the right investment and development partners in building College Heights. The Council has been supportive. Our task is to research as much detail as we can, build in risk reduction policies, seek advice from the Doerr School at Stanford, and find an entrepreneurial developer.

Hayward needs this project for affordability, sustainability, mobility, health and safety, good design, and community.

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