Public invited to comment on La Vista Quarry’s impact

Public invited to comment on La Vista Quarry’s impact Report on environment open until Oct. 19 (HAYWARD, California) — For those interested in the potential effects of the La Vista Quarry operating for two additional decades, now is the time to dig in. The public has until Oct. 19 to review and offer comments on the environmental impact report for the quarry’s application to extend its mining operation through 2028. Neighboring Fairway Park residents — some of whom were looking forward to the quarry permit expiring in 2008 — have already voiced opposition to the operation continuing. They are primarily concerned about the estimated 950 daily truck trips expected to go to and from the quarry via their neighborhood. “That’s the biggest bone of contention because it’s going to wreck our quality of life,” said Holly Rogers, who heads up the Fairway Park Neighborhood Association. “We had a great expectation that it wasn’t going to be open any more.” La Vista Quarry has been operating since 1962 on unincorporated Alameda County land in the hills east of Mission Boulevard and west of Garin Regional Park. Its current operator, Dublin-based Dumbarton Quarry Associates, mines rock, produces aggregate and asphalt concrete, and recycles construction materials from the site. In addition to asking for an extension of the existing permit, quarry operators also are asking the county to allow it to modernize its asphalt plant and to allow expanded hours and nighttime operations. The added hours are needed, according to the report, because of the increasing number of resurfacing jobs scheduled for non-commuter hours. The draft environmental impact report for the permit extension shows just one “significant” impact that can’t be mitigated: Expanded hours mean more noise for residents. But Rogers and others also are worried about air pollution, landslides and traffic safety. She recalled with dread the period a couple of years ago when drivers were constantly moving truckloads of materials from the quarry to the Eden Shores development south of Highway 92. Al Mendall, who up until August was the president of the Twin Bridges Home Association, said he also is concerned about potential asthma-causing pollutants. He cited a county study showing that South Hayward already has an asthma hospitalization rate that is higher than its target. Teresa Silva, who lives near the quarry on Overhill Drive, wrote the county last June with her “most sincere worries” about potential groundwater well contamination, pollution, dust and noise, property values, privacy concerns and even stress-related illnesses from prolonged noise. “I dearly want to live my retirement years in this house, as many of my neighbors at or approaching their senior years want to do in theirs, but we don’t want our lives shortened by preventable conditions,” Silva wrote. The 157-acre quarry is the largest portion of an area the city is trying to annex from the county. The decision on the annexation, however, is now in the hands of the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission and likely will not be reached until next year. The City Council last week passed an ordinance that will allow the city to become the lead agency overseeing the quarry if the land is annexed. The annexation application was preceded by a long and controversial debate concerning how densely the 244-acre Mission-Garin annexation area should be developed if it is annexed. The zoning plan that ultimately evolved from that debate was a blow to the quarry, whose property owners had long planned to develop their land into a 320-townhome community once the quarry ceased operation in 2008. Under the approved zoning plan, they are limited to 16 dwellings — not enough to justify the necessary infrastructure investment, they said. That decision led the Warren and Garin families, who own the quarry land, to double-check the assertion that the quarry was nearing depletion, said their attorney, Jack Smith. Subsequent testing showed more rock, and the property owners decided it made better business sense to continue the mining operation than to develop the property, Smith said. The property owners get paid royalties from the quarry based on how much rock is mined, and there is a strong demand in the area for the quarry’s concrete asphalt for road building, Smith added. Smith’s clients deliberately filed for the extension before the land is annexed under a belief that the county has more experience with quarries, he said. City Councilman Kevin Dowling on Tuesday night asked whether it made sense to request a delay in the quarry application until the annexation decision is made. But City Manager Jesus Armas said that would go against procedure. He assured Dowling and the council that the city will work closely with the county on conditions for approving the permit. To review a copy of the environmental impact report, or for more information on the project, call the county planning department at 670-5400. By Michelle Meyers, STAFF WRITER

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