A key aspect of the General Plan is how it minimizes the impact of daily activities on the natural environment in order to preserve and improve quality of life today and in the future. Hayward is surrounded by a diverse and unique mix of natural resources ranging from beautiful hills to salt marshes and meandering creeks. These resources are fundamental in defining the character and future growth patterns of Hayward. In addition, the city has many recreational and historical resources. The General Plan provides for the restoration of impacted environmental resources, protection and improvement of air quality, and preservation of the City’s open space as well as biological and water resources.
Sustainability is a global issue of increasing urgency. The public’s awareness of human impact on the environment has dramatically increased the effort to create sustainable communities. The General Plan focuses attention on creating a community that is environmentally responsible by reducing the ecological footprint of residents and businesses through resource conservation, pollution prevention, and waste reduction. The General Plan also doubles as the City’s Climate Action Plan. It includes goals, policies, and implementation programs that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and respond to climate change-related impacts.
Like much of the Bay Area, portions of the Planning Area have experienced problems with both water supply and quality. The Natural Resources Element’s Hydrology, Water Quality, and Conservation goal (NR-6) and supporting policies aim to reduce Hayward’s water consumption. For example, policy NR-6.9 states, “The City shall require water customers to actively conserve water year-round, and especially during drought years.”
The Energy Resources and Efficiency goal (NR-4) and supporting policies in the Natural Resources Element describe the ways residents, the private sector, and local government can conserve energy. Policies in this section also encourage the development of renewable energy facilities and promote energy-efficient building retrofits.
The General Plan addresses the issue of personal and environmental health in several ways. First, the General Plan also serves as the City’s Community Risk Reduction Plan (CRRP), a comprehensive strategy to minimize community health risks associated with toxic air contaminants and fine particulate matter. Policies and implementation programs in the CRRP are spread throughout the Plan. The Natural Resources Element of the General Plan includes many goals and policies designed to improve the health of the environment and Hayward residents, including Goal NR-1: Biological Resources, Goal NR-2: Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Reduction, and Goal NR-6: Hydrology, Water Quality, and Conservation. The Community Health and Quality of Life Element also includes goals and policies that encourage healthy residents and ecosystems.
Historic preservation ensures a community’s built heritage is passed on from one generation to the next. Historic preservation efforts can also produce local jobs, promote heritage tourism, and increase local property values. The Land Use Element’s Historic Districts and Resources goal (LU-8) and supporting policies ensures that Hayward’s historic resources are protected and enhanced. The policies also support the establishment of historic districts to preserve the character of Downtown Hayward, the Upper B Street District, the B Street Historic Streetcar District, and the Prospect Hill Historic Neighborhood.
The Hayward General Plan includes an integrated Climate Action Plan. This means the General Plan contains policies and implementation programs that serve as actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These policies and programs are identified with a globe icon throughout the Plan. The overall objectives of these policies and implementation programs are to reduce Hayward’s greenhouse gas emissions by:
- 20 percent below 2005 baseline levels by 2020;
- 62.7 percent below 2005 baseline levels by 2040; and
- 82.5 percent below 2005 baseline levels by 2050.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the City of Hayward began integrating “smart growth” principles into its land use planning and urban design plans and policies. The preservation of open space, infill development and revitalization, compact and mixed use neighborhoods, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets, and transit-oriented developments are key principles of smart growth that the City of Hayward embraced. This General Plan continues to adhere to smart growth principles with the goal of reducing sprawl and creating a community with an unparalleled quality of life.