This time, however, the City Council appears to have had enough.
City leaders have been looking somewhat skeptically at a plan by Foster City-based Legacy Partners to transform 57 undeveloped acres into a combination of stores, offices and homes south of Route 92.
In 1998, residents voted in favor of a ballot measure that allowed growth on a huge tract of open shoreline land west of Hesperian Boulevard. The measure promised new homes, parks and a job-generating business park.
"The thinking of the time was to create a campus environment with the employment on the east side (of the railroad tracks) and the housing on the west side," City Manager Jesus Armas said.
But the economic downturn a few years later put at least a temporary halt to the business park part of the plan. After filling up the environmentally sensitive west side with 534 homes, developers turned around and asked to build
261 more on the east side of the tracks.
In 2005, the Hayward City Council voted 5-2 to amend the plan to allow more homes to be constructed. But the latest developer to propose more homes another 174 at Eden Shores is having a tougher time making a case to build them. A new mayor, Mike Sweeney, is now in charge, and the land is one of the city's last undeveloped parcels.
"Many have said housing is unacceptable," Armas said.
Council members and planning commissioners have deliberated over what to do about the remaining 57 acres and could make a final decision this month.
There are three "alternatives" the city is looking at:
-Alternative 1, which is the plan that has been on the books for several years, would consist of 53 acres devoted to business offices and research and development facilities, amounting to 1.4 million square feet of building space. There would be no residential development and just 3 acres, or 33,000 square feet, of retail.
-Alternative 2, which is favored by the property owner, would include 20 acres and 500,000 square feet devoted to businesses, 22 acres and 227,000 square feet devoted to retail, and 15 residential acres devoted to about 174 new homes. Originally, the developer had proposed only 312,000 square feet of office space but upped that to 500,000 following city pressure.
-Alternative 3 would consist of 35 business acres amounting to 907,000 square feet of building space and 21 retail acres amounting to 227,000 square feet of stores. That could include a grocery store, city officials said. Like the first plan, it would have no residential space.
City Councilman Bill Ward said that even though today's economic climate makes it difficult to attract the kind of business park Hayward has always wanted on that site, city leaders have to take a long-term view of the property's potential.
"I think that the important thing to always remember is that planning is a long-term process," Ward said.