HAYWARD -- Concerns about gangs were at the forefront of a meeting on city priorities for the coming fiscal year, with residents and City Council members alike weighing in.
Of particular interest was the subject of gang injunctions, which would target known gang members and prohibit them from being in certain places or associating with one another. Hayward began looking into using injunctions in 2009, and Councilman Marvin Peixoto said at Tuesday's meeting that he has a feeling "the will is not there" among city staff to move forward.
"I don't believe staff wanted it all along," he said. "It's kicking the can down the road, and no one wants to take a stand."
City Manager Fran David said her staff is continuing to look into injunctions "in a realistic, appropriate manner" but is not yet ready to take the next step, which would involve filing the injunctions in court.
"Based on the experiences of other jurisdictions here and in Southern California, there are various conditions that when in place, make injunctions more defensible in court and the legal defense not so high," David said.
Injunctions have been controversial elsewhere. In Oakland, injunctions brought up civil rights issues and challenges that cost the city more than $1 million in legal fees to defend them.
Police Chief Diane Urban called injunctions "a potentially viable tool down the road" but said her department has been focused on a "suppression strategy" for gangs, combining investigative and patrol units as well as school officers and youth and family services.
"Let's say some sort of assault and battery happens that's gang-related," she said. "Special duty officers will review the crime with the gang unit and put together a plan. That might mean contact with neighbors, additional investigation, probation or search warrants or pedestrian stops in the area. It's focused enforcement, intelligence-related policing."
Police Capt. Darryl McAllister said police have seen results -- 60 gang-related arrests, 40 for felonies, more than 50 search warrants served -- in the first month of the strategy.
Urban said they didn't just glance at gang injunctions; staff spent hundreds of hours on the subject.
"There is agreement among city staff that the strategy we've deployed is best for Hayward," she said. "Quite frankly, although we looked at our big brother to the north, we did our own evaluation, and we're not Oakland. The way crimes occur is not similar."
Urban compared a gang injunction to Cinderella's slipper.
"It's not one size fits all, and I'm not sure it's the best fit for Hayward," she said.
Peixoto said Wednesday that the staff may be overstepping their bounds.
"My feeling is that staff doesn't dictate policy -- that comes from the council," he said.
The main priorities put forth at Tuesday's meeting remained the same from last year: Public safety, cleaning up blight and litter conditions and continuing green efforts.
The city manager said the staff will return to the City Council with a list of priorities for approval within the next two to four weeks.
The process eventually will be used to dictate where city resources will be used. David estimates a $14 million shortfall in the next fiscal year.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.