Alameda County Transitional Center Lawsuit

On Thursday, June 22, 2023, the City of Hayward filed a lawsuit asking a judge to intervene to protect children at an Alameda County transitional center where foster children frequently go missing and are knowingly being exposed to and/or coerced into drug use, assaults and other forms of violence, sex trafficking and prostitution.

The suit was filed after multiple attempts by city officials to convince Alameda County and its Social Service Agency to take steps to restore a measure of control at its Assessment Center in Hayward, which receives children pending placement in the foster care system after being removed from their homes for a variety of reasons.

The City’s lawsuit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court.  It names as defendants the County of Alameda, property owner Wolf Investment Company, LLC, and WestCoast Children’s Clinic and asserts violations of the County’s legal responsibility to protect minors in its care and the flouting of a variety of state and local nuisance and anti-prostitution laws and statutes.

Specifically, the suit asks the Court to order the County to cease operations of the Center until procedures and policies can be put in place to protect and ensure to the extent practically possible the health and safety of the children and youth in the County’s care.

Yet, to date, the only official action taken since by the County has been a perplexing vote of the Board of Supervisors on June 6 to renew, without competitive bidding, the contract of a consulting group currently managing the facility, WestCoast Children’s Clinic.


Conditions at the Assessment Center spiraled following the inexplicable withdrawal on Feb. 15, 2023 of Alameda County Sheriff’s Office deputies who had provided security for the Center.

Since the deputies’ departure, calls to Hayward police and firefighter-paramedics related to the Center skyrocketed—including:

  • AWOL children as young as 10 years of age
  • Drug overdoses
  • Assaults on staff
  • Sex trafficking of children by older youth in the Center

These calls have resulted in more than 750 police-officer-hours spent responding to, following up on and investigating Center-related calls and incidents.

Since mid-February, Hayward police and city administrative and elected leaders have made multiple contacts and pleas for Sheriff’s deputy staffing to be restored and for the County to implement other changes—including offers to partner with the County to find a new location and operating model for the Center elsewhere in Hayward.

These contacts and pleas included a May 26 letter from Hayward Mayor Mark Salinas to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and County Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez that recounted harrowing details shared with Hayward police by overwhelmed and alarmed personnel for a private security company eventually brought in to work at the Center after Sheriff’s deputies were removed.

In a June 14 letter putting the County on notice of the pending lawsuit, Hayward City Attorney Michael Lawson reminded the County of the death of Sophia Mason, the eight-year-old child whose homicide last year highlighted the mishandling of at-risk children social service administrators.

City of Hayward v. County of Alameda Lawsuit:

June 22, 2023
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief: Public Nuisance, Public Nuisance Per Se, Red Light Abatement; Petition for Writ of Mandate, Failure to Perform Mandatory Duties

Correspondence from the City of Hayward:

June​ 14, 2023
Letter from Hayward City Attorney Michael Lawson to Alameda County
May 26, 2023
Letter from Hayward Mayor Mark Salinas to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and County Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez

Other Assessment Center Documents:


Agreement to Provide Law Enforcement and Security Services to the Alameda County Social Services Agency

News Items:

June 23, 2023 - KQED
KQED reporter Tara Siler interviews Mayor Mark Salinas about the lawsuit filed by the City of Hayward on June 22, 2023
June 22, 2023 - The Mercury News
Hayward accuses Alameda County of ‘deliberate indifference’ to child prostitution, drug use at foster center
Hayward sues Alameda County over failure to protect foster children at transitional center