Sustainability Blog

By Gilee Corral, Hayward CivicSpark Fellow
Original story posted in June, 2016 at CivicSpark 

It’s 8:22 AM and the sky is cool and clear. I park my Prius across the street from the GRID Alternatives work site. I’d carefully selected my outfit the night before to maximize comfort and sun protection: jeans I’d be ok ruining, tennis shoes, light cotton long sleeved shirt, movie star-wide sunglasses. I also carefully selected my attitude. I have decided not to default to my Safe Zone approach: pick the job I know I can do best, with people I feel most familiar. Today, I am going to step boldly into solar unknown – whatever tool and job that’s offered to me, I’m going to take it, do my best, and learn.

Folks are unloading construction things from a small trailer with GRID Alternatives printed in friendly letters on the side, hitched to a pick-up truck. A woman with glasses is making conversation with one of the guys in a GRID tee shirt with the casual familiarity of someone who speaks construction.

“Who wants to get on the roof today?” Asks a guy in an orange shirt – he’s the volunteer Team Leader.
“Me!” I say quickly…step boldly, right?
“Ok, everyone on the roof, grab a safety harness.” He points us to a tub of straps and buckles, all jumbled together. I’m instantly transported to the moment I first picked up a baby wrap and feel a familiar stab of “stupid panic” – the fear of looking stupid trying to figure out what should be easy. Then I remember my attitude, that I selected this morning on purpose, and smile at the Orange Shirt man.
“How do you put one of these on?”

He starts to explain, then gets corrected by a blue shirt man. Well, maybe it’s not so easy after all. Blue Shirt, who’s a GRID staff member, walks me through the buckling and snapping, step by step.

At the top of the ladder, another blue shirt guy (Daniel) snaps a metal clamp to my back, connecting me to a “lifeline” strap. The asphalt shingle grinds under my tennis shoes. Daniel huddles the volunteers and unfolds the plans for the project, pointing out where the panels will go. Our crew is a mix of experience levels. I’m the only first-timer, but I don’t feel left out. Every step of the way, Daniel and the team leader explain what they’re doing, involving us in the measuring, calculations, and physical work. I get a power tool thrust in my hands and am told on the spot how to use it.

There are a lot of steps to remember in solar installation. I had this idea that you just slapped the rack up there and clicked in the panels…yeah, not so much. The process is an odd mix of calculation and gut feeling. Take finding rafters, for example: you can measure between rafters and estimate where the next one will be, but that’s often wrong. You drill a hole and feel if it hits something. If it’s a miss, you take this metal stick and feel around in the hole for the rafter. Daniel takes a hammer and kind of bangs around the roof tiles, listening for a solid noise that may or may not happen. Sometimes, Daniel just points, lines up the drill, and says, “It is here.” How does he know that? There’s no code for Rafter Location Clairvoyance on my skill list to check off, thank God.

By the end of the day, I feel so comfortable in the harness and hard hat, it feels weird to walk around without them. My knees are burning from kneeling on the now-hot tile, and the roof is starting to look like a solar project instead of a map of chalk lines. We’ve racked half the roof, leaving the other half for a team of Goldman Sacs volunteers to finish off tomorrow. Daniel hands me the impact driver and with a mechanized whir, I drive a bolt into a clamp and thus install my very first solar panel! I take a moment to admire it glinting in the sun, but just a moment, because another one is making its way up the roof.

Back home, scrubbing roof tar from my fingernails, I think about what it would be like to wear a hard hat all the time, to feel the drill under a confident palm and guide it through an invisible rafter with easy, graceful precision. To scan the roof of my 10th, or 100th solar installation and calculate parameters within the space without thinking.

In the mirror, a weary, sun-baked face looks back at me under a matted mess of helmet hair. Tomorrow I’ll go back to my Excel spreadsheets. But today, I was a solar installer. 


The Hayward Utilities & Environmental Services and Maintenance Services Departments teamed to host the City’s summer Compost Giveaway Event on Saturday, August 27. Nearly 400 residents visited the Corporation Yard at 16 Barnes Court and each household received four bags of organic-certified compost.  Maintenance Services staff worked efficiently and promptly to load cars, keeping the line moving quickly and pleasing residents. 

Compost Giveaway

Several residents posted positive remarks about the event on City social media sites. The free event is offered to Hayward residents twice a year as part of the City’s contract with Waste Management.  Residents show proof of residency and receive compost created in part from food scraps and yard trimmings collected from Hayward residents and businesses.  Providing compost back to residents closes the loop in the organics recycling process as Hayward households reap the rewards of separating food scraps and yard trimmings as opposed to sending them to landfill. The event was promoted via a bill insert in garbage bills. Copies of the insert were also placed at libraries and the event was posted on, Facebook and Twitter.  The City’s inaugural Giveaway event was held in September of 2015 and about 380 residents attended.

The next Giveaway will be held Saturday, October 29, 2016, from 9am-noon at 16 Barnes Court.    

The Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Wastewater Professional, published by the California Water Environment Association has honored Jeff Carson, Operations and Maintenance Manager at the City Water Pollution Control Facility, as one of a handful of “California’s Emerging Leaders in the Water Environment”. 

Jeff Carson

Here’s the link to the magazine where the entire article can be found beginning on page 17.

Jeff started his position with the City four years ago. He came to the City from the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin, where he was interim general manager. Jeff has a BA in biology and environmental studies from
Cal State University – East Bay. Congratulations Jeff!

Fun for one and all was had at the annual Arbor Day Celebration, held on May 26 at Eldridge Elementary School.  The event was a successful example of how our Hayward local agencies come together to celebrate and recognize the community we live in - this time focusing on trees and our local Urban Forest. 

Class planting tree

Did you know that for the last 30 consecutive years, Hayward has been awarded the “Tree City USA” award by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effectively manage our urban forest? Hayward achieved this national recognition by meeting the programs four requirements: 1) having a tree department, 2) having a tree-care ordinance, 3) having an annual tree budget of at least $2 per capita, and 4) having an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. Learn more here.

Students receive prizes

Since 1985, an Arbor Day celebration has been held in Hayward, with the celebration being a partnership between the City of Hayward, Hayward Unified School District (HUSD), and the Hayward Area Recreation District (HARD).  This year’s event included presentations, mascots, information booths, a choir and tree plantings. 

The MC for the program was Mr. Enrique Pin, Eldridge Elementary School Principal.  The event was attended by Eldridge Elementary School students, along with local officials to include the Honorable Barbara Halliday, Mayor of the City of Hayward; Francisco Zermeno, City of Hayward Councilman; Sara Lamnin, City of Hayward Councilwoman; Rick Hatcher, HARD Director; Carol Pereira, Secretary - HARD Board of Directors; Lisa Brunner, HUSD President – Board of Trustees; Stan Dobbs, HUSD Superintendent/CEO and Timothy Williams, from the U.S. Forest Service.


The community celebration included information booths from Sulphur Creek Nature Center and the City of Hayward Fire and Police departments. An Arbor Day poster contest was held for Harder Elementary School students who submitted entries.  Twelve winners were chosen and received t-shirts and passes to Kennedy Park as their prize. Their art has been prominently displayed at City Hall. Eldridge students from Mrs. Martie Canterberry’s music class performed two beautiful songs – including the Star Spangled Banner. To get the children involved and interested in stewardship of our Urban Forest, the children participated with staff to plant ten Crepe Myrtle trees and four redwood trees.

Class Planting

Check out the winning posters, poems, and essays from the 2016 Earth Day Poster & Writing Contest. Students with winning entries were recognized during a special ceremony at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 17th.  The Earth Day Poster and Writing Contest provides Hayward students with an opportunity to describe through words and convey through pictures their ideas about water conservation, energy efficiency, recycling, composting, and related environmental topics.  Students are invited to submit their entries in March and April every year!

From left to right, images below show the first, second, and third place entries for each category.

Kindergarten to 2nd Grade Posters:

1st Place           Markuz Gabriel Pablo, Palma Ceia Elementary School

2nd Place          Fabian Quiñones, Burbank Elementary School

3rd Place           Joseph Aquino, St. Bede Catholic School

3rd to 5th Grade Posters:

1st Place          Isabella Panganiban, St. Bede Catholic School

2nd Place         Shareeza Dean, St. Bede Catholic School

3rd Place         Sienna Hernandez, Lorin Eden Elementary School

6th to 8th Grade Posters:

1st Place           Sai Obispo , Treeview Elementary School

2nd Place          Linda Ortega , Anthony W. Ochoa Middle School

3rd Place          Cynthia Gómez, César Chávez Middle School

9th to 12th Grade Posters:

1st Place           Jassimran Sra, Mt. Eden High School

2nd Place          Kody Nguyen, Mt. Eden High School

3rd Place          Monisah Mehtabuddin, Mt. Eden High School

Kindergarten to 2nd Grade Poems/Essays:

1st Place          Peni Lelea, Burbank Elementary School

2nd Place         Valeria Guillen, Burbank Elementary School

3rd Place         Katelyn Guelos, Southgate Elementary School

3rd to 5th Grade Poems/Essays:

1st Place           Heidi Chen, Lea's Christian School

2nd Place          Juan Carlos Yboa, Park Elementary School

3rd Place          Joshua Seiji, Lea's Christian School

6th to 8th Grade Poems/Essays:

1st Place           Emmanuel Delacruz, César Chávez Middle School

2nd Place          Camilla San Juan, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School

3rd Place          Maykel Romero, Burbank Elementary School

9th to 12th Grade Poems/Essays:

1st Place            Guadalupe Romero, Leadership Public Schools - Hayward

2nd Place           Bettina Marie Gerez, Leadership Public Schools - Hayward

3rd Place          Osawekhoe Ehiorobo, Mt. Eden High School


On Saturday, May 14, 2016, staff from Maintenance Services, City Manager’s Office, City Clerk’s Office, and Utilities & Environmental Services held the Annual Citywide Clean-Up Day event at Weekes Park.  A total of 134 people participated in the event by collecting litter and reporting abandoned debris in various neighborhoods.  

Check out our video of the event:

A total of 33 cubic yards of trash and 7 cubic yards of recycled materials were collected.  Volunteers enjoyed a City-sponsored BBQ lunch and thank you gift.  The Kiwanis Club participated by barbequing all of the hamburgers and hotdogs. 

Clean Up BBQ

This year, the City Clerk’s Office hosted a Community Engagement Fair during the lunchtime BBQ event to encourage residents to continue their civic engagement and community work.  The Mayor commenced the Fair with opening remarks, and music was provided by a local Chabot College DJ.  Thank you to the residents and staff who were able to attend!

Cleanup Participants