HAYWARD -- A ban on Internet "sweepstakes" cafes, which city staff members contend promote illegal gambling, went into effect Wednesday after the City Council unanimously passed a 45-day moratorium on the operations.
During its meeting Tuesday night, the council also approved a plan to allow on-street parking for South Hayward BART Station patrons. The BART board also must agree to the plan, which would be the first time that designated BART parking has been allotted on city streets.
At the cafes, patrons purchase time on computers, which they use for sweepstakes and Las Vegas-style gambling, said David Rizk, city director of development services. One of the cafes is no longer in business, and the city is working to shut down the other two, which are not allowed under current zoning rules, he said.
Ron Doyle, owner of Net Connection on B Street, said his business does not break the law, and he resents being lumped in with others. "We don't use gambling-theme games as outlined by the attorney general," he told the council. "Not all sweepstakes are illegal in California."
Councilwoman Barbara Halliday said the city has received complaints about the cafes. "With all due respect, this is not the kind of business we want," she said.
Doyle said that his customers are buying Internet time, and they are given a free sweepstakes game as an incentive to buy Internet time. "We have a library within two blocks of this business where you can use the Internet for free," Halliday replied.
The moratorium will give city staff members time to review whether Hayward needs to revise its zoning regulations or municipal code to address the cafes. Alameda County is also taking steps to close sweepstakes cafes in the unincorporated areas, including another one run by Doyle in San Lorenzo.
The on-street parking proposal at South Hayward BART station is making the best of a less-than-ideal situation, City Manager Fran David told the council.
A combination of affordable and market-rate apartments is planned near the South Hayward BART station. As originally envisioned, the apartments would be built on an existing BART overflow parking lot, and those cars would move to a new parking garage. But the parking garage has been scrapped, at least for now, because of loss of redevelopment money.
"This is a creative and positive solution," David said.
BART riders would be allowed to park along stretches of Tennyson Road and Mission Boulevard and the west side of Dixon Road near the station. The parking fee would be $1 a day.
Residents near the station would be issued free parking permits, said Kelly McAdoo, assistant city manager.
If the BART board approves the plan, it will go into effect April 15. The project would be reviewed in six months.
Hayward resident Andy Wilson noted that cars already park on some lawns along Dixon.
"So when are you going to schedule street sweeping?" he asked. His question was followed by silence; then McAdoo said that the trial period would be used to review and revise the plan as needed.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.