Author Archives: Sonny Alvarado

Prop 10 Could Make Rent More Affordable

This November, Proposition 10 could make rents more affordable for Hayward, and other California residents by changing rent control limits.

In 2015, across California, almost half of all households had unaffordable housing costs. More than 1 in 5 households statewide have to pay more than half their income toward housing expenses. Renters in California pay 50-percent more than the national average, and only 20 percent of Californians live in cities with rent control, according to the California Budget and Policy Center.

The Spectator conducted an anonymous survey of Chabot students, on the topic of landlords, rent control and expectations of rent increases. One student said, “Housing is a human right, property ownership is not. Moreover, in no other industry is there an expectation of Return On Investment that compares to property owners’ expectation of ROI. We should be resetting the narrative for a more reasonable definition of ‘fair return on investment.’”

But does it reflect “fairness” in terms of setting the value for current residents to afford versus investing an amount most cannot afford; on the basis that someone else could afford it?

According to our poll, almost 20-percent of students pay 60-percent or more of their monthly income on housing.

Prop 10 will not change existing rent control laws, it would allow cities and counties to regulate rents without limit to what type of building it is, or when it was built. It also keeps the landlord’s right to a fair rate of return on their investment.

According to the California Budget and Policy Center, households paying more than 30-percent of their income toward housing are categorized as “cost-burdened.” Those with housing costs that exceed half their income then become “severely” cost-burdened.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan voter education group summarizes the effects of Prop 10, “If passed, it would repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Act, which was adopted in 1995, this allowed rent controls to be lifted from single-family homes and buildings of 1995 and later. Landlords could also raise the rent to market rates if a tenant left the rental property.”

When asked if Prop 10 will enforce rent control, Hayward City Councilwoman Sara Lamnin said, “It will depend on what the city decides to do, Prop 10 doesn’t enforce any changes, but it does give Hayward more freedom to set policy.”

Currently, if your home is covered by rent control in Hayward, your rent cannot exceed a five percent increase in a 12 month period. However, if your rent has not increased in several years, the landlord may “bank” those increases, and make the next increase greater than five percent.

So what are the effects? David Stark, Public Affairs Director Bay East Association of Realtors, explains “Expanding rent control to apply to single-family homes and condominiums could compel property owners to sell their rental units — effectively reducing the supply of rental housing and making rental housing even more expensive. Hayward is the only city in southern and eastern Alameda County with a rent control ordinance. Since there are no other communities with rent control it’s impossible to determine what impact it may or may not have.”

As of now, a fair return is defined in parameters of dollar amount reflecting money put into the building.

“The constitutional right to a fair return exists so that landlords are able to turn a profit on their rental properties,” states Sarah M. Winfield.

“It’s a Statewide problem, and someone needs to enforce the city ordinances. Supposedly we have rent control, but if no one makes landlords follow city policy, what good is it?” Marquez continued, “I won my case against the city, but I was the first person in the county to take it that far. It’s not an easy process, I think Prop 10 is going to be crucial for most people to afford to live in the bay area.” Gina Marquez, Chabot student, and San Leandro resident said. Marquez has been fighting the county on their practices related to rent and rent control.

“In Hayward, having rent control versus not, often means being able to stay in one’s community versus being displaced. This is especially true at this time because Hayward is developing, and gentrification is beginning to reach Hayward.” says, Sarah M. Winfield Staff Attorney, Tenants’ Rights Program, Centro Legal de la Raza.

Sarah continued “Improving rent control or expanding it would protect my clients, who are all low-income and mostly people of color, from displacement from their homes and the Bay Area.”

Marquez states, “In Castro Valley, many tenants have complained of astronomical rent increases of $400 and above. Majority of tenants are served improperly because they are unfamiliar with The Alameda County Renters Ordinance. Politicians are in denial that landlords are violating rules and laws, therefore, the massive rent increases result in displacement, homelessness and the vicious homeless shelter cycle.”

Marquez continued, “People, like my neighbor, on fixed incomes in their 80s shouldn’t have to face eviction and all that entails because landlords are greedy.”

At Solis Gardens of Hayward, Kathleen Souza, the 69-year-old tenant moved out after receiving a rent increase of 135 percent for her studio apartment, from $700 to $1,650 without utilities included, as mentioned in a previous issue of The Spectator.

According to California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, almost $26 million has been contributed to advertising in support of this proposition (voting yes) and about $75 million has been contributed to advertising in opposition of this proposition (voting no). That’s a difference of almost $50 million in support of voting No. Draw your own conclusions about advertising.

In Hayward, a few families argued that rent control is what allowed their family to inhabit their apartment during an unlawful eviction. Due to litigation in process, they chose to remain anonymous.

If you currently have problems with your rent policies, your landlord, or other items related to the city, there is help. For city and community resources, or dialing 211 could be your refuge. This is a free and confidential service designed to help people find local resources. Most importantly, if this issue affects you or someone you know, vote!

Hayward Mayoral Race: Mark Salinas

Mark Salinas is running for Mayor of Hayward against current Mayor Barbara Halliday. Salinas has been on the Hayward Council since 2010 and is a professor at Chabot. He teaches Ethnic Studies, History, and Sociology at Chabot College and on occasion, lecturers in the Ethnic Studies Department at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB).

“He works daily to make the Hayward community a better place to live and provide dignity to the everyday resident of Hayward.” Says Frank Garcia, recently retired Executive Director of the Puente Project.

You may have seen his signs across town. I went to those houses and establishments that support Mr. Salinas to ask, “How do you know Mark Salinas and why do you support him?”

At a local gas station where one of his signs rests, the operator said, “I don’t know him directly, but he and my manager go way back, back when they went to college together.” I am unsure if he was referencing Chabot College or San Francisco State. Salina’s proudly declares his educational background as it is primarily from Hayward; “I was born at St. Rose Hospital and I grew up in South Hayward in the Schafer Park Neighborhood. I attended Eldridge Elementary School, St. Bede Catholic School, 3 R’s School, and I graduated from Hayward High School. I transferred from Chabot College to San Francisco State University where I earned a bachelor’s degree in La Raza Studies and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and Public Policy Studies.”

At a house on Gading Road I knocked on the door and asked why they endorse Salinas, “I don’t really know him, but he does a lot for students, especially helping with lunches and breakfast.” They were referring to the breakfast program in which Mark Salinas serves as the executive director.. According to the website, “The Kids’ Breakfast Club is a nutrition and education program, with the mission to improve the quality of life for kids and families in Hayward and the Hayward Area. For 26 years, The Kids’ Breakfast Club has delivered high-quality nutrition and education activities to kids and their families when school isn’t in session.” As a 100 percent program, The Kids’ Breakfast Club has been selected as the 2018 California Nonprofit of the Year by California State Assembly member Bill Quirk.

Upon accepting a time and location to interview Mr. Salinas, I was invited to attend The Kids’ Breakfast Club.

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Juztino Panella a Profile

Juztino (Juice-Tee-Kno) Panella, Counselor/Instructor at Chabot College, does much more than his title would suggest. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, he also serves as a member of the Mental Health Force and provides Mental Health Counseling and crisis intervention as needed.  In addition, Juztino is involved with the coordination and leadership development of our Peer Advisors, serves as the Counseling Lead to the First Year Experience program, and is a member of the Student Equity Workgroup.

Andrea Salazar, a student who has worked with Juztino, commented, “I have taken a class with him which allowed me to be comfortable in expressing and communicating with peers, it also helped with reflecting my own life. He is also the main trainer for Peer Advisors, so I am constantly learning new ways to be a better advisor especially in empathetic skills.”

Before starting at Chabot, Juztino spent his early adult life teaching the Italian language, music, and cooking to High School students, as well as organizing travel immersions to his ancestral country of Italy.

“My great-grandfather was a traveling Vigianese musician from the South of Italy, who came to the U.S. with his harp to see if he could make a living.  Music, traveling, and sharing love through the food we prepare has always been central to my family. This is why you may see me playing drums with students at an event or carrying a toaster oven into a class to make some traditional bruschetta for students. Gotta keep true to my roots!” Says Juztino.

As a young man, in addition to making a living as the Italian Pied Piper (as his friends jokingly called him – given his primary instrument is the flute), Juztino would volunteer as a meditation and yoga instructor in different jails, and also facilitated groups to formerly incarcerated individuals as part of their recovery process.  In fact, it was his work in the jail that inspired Juztino to earn his masters in Counseling and Psychology, which he received in 2009 with the intention to have more skills to deal with the trauma that group members would bring forth.

Two years after his graduation and well into his work interning as a psychotherapist, Juztino heard about an opportunity to play the flute at the Loss & Grief Ceremony that was happening at Chabot College.  At the event, he met the Coordinator of Mental Health who happened to be looking for a Mental Health Intern.

Juztino was working on completing the 3000 clinical hours that are needed for licensure and jumped at the opportunity.  In 2012 he was hired as an Intern. Shortly after he became a part-time Counselor, and by late 2014, he was hired in his full-time role of Counselor/Instructor.

When interviewed Juztino commented the projects most dear to his heart are the work he does co-facilitating the Rootz2Rise Men’s Group and the Justice Arts Collective with Tommy Reed, Chabot’s UMOJA Director.  

“It is such an honor to be able to work with a colleague like Tommy, who shows up with so much heart and love for students. Together we create safe spaces where they can be real with one another, support each other emotionally, and support one another with things like basic needs and access to resources. Then as a by-product of these relationships and their feeling of connection to Chabot, the students naturally do better.  They can envision how school will empower them with the tools necessary for their success!” Said Juztino.

Julian Garcia, a Rootz2Rise member, commented, “I learned about myself and life since I joined Rootz2Rise. Juztino has been like a guide who shows you the way but at the same time lets you explore your own walk of life. There was this whole side to humanity I didn’t notice until I started looking and Juztino really brings it out in the way he talks to people, confronts conflicts and has helped me in the men’s group and outside of it.”

Rootz2Rise is a men’s support group founded in 2012 and co-facilitated by Juztino and Tommy. At the meetings, students are encouraged to “check – in” or talk about exactly what and how they are feeling.

As men, we grow up with the idea of bottling up emotions because it is not manly to be in tune with your emotions. Tearing down the barrier of masculinity, Rootz2Rise enables students to effectively communicate in all aspects of life. Each meeting is confidential, so students can share whatever they like. Each session ends with everyone putting a hand in the center and saying a word or phrase that captures the session for them.

“R2R has provided a safe space for me to reflect on myself as well as other issues without feeling judged about being vulnerable.” Joan Cortes, student.

This support group is an open group that invites self-identified males to come any Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in room 552.  In addition to weekly meetings, students can also participate in occasional outings and retreats such as the Mendocino Multi-Cultural Mentoring Retreat.  

Aside from the real talk, the men at Mendocino engage in activities such as poetry writing, drumming, dance, and storytelling. It was through a rap cypher at Mendocino in 2015 that the award-winning Justice Arts Collective was born. Juztino, Tommy and the Chabot students that year created beats that turned into an hour-long freestyle rap in which dozens of youth were able to express their pain, joy, and resilience in freestyles that received love and recognition from the whole camp.

The music was so healthy for everyone that they decided to bring it back to Chabot to recreate this sort of possibility.  In addition, women joined into the process, and together with the R2R men, they began making beats, raps, and songs and within a year had formed the JAC.

Then in Spring of 2017, they recorded a music video of their first song,  “From Mt. Tamalpais to Fruitvale Station.” It won first place at My Hero Film Festival in Los Angeles last Spring, was a finalist in the Oakland International Film Festival and is currently being shown in Whales, England at the Cardiff Film Festival.

As written in the credits of their video, “The JAC creates and performs music to express pain and resilience, reveal and challenge systems of oppression, and build a community to protect and celebrate life.”

Taufa Setefano, President of Nessian’s Unite and JAC member, commented, “JAC has influenced me to be not only conscious of what’s going on in the world but also makes me question my involvement in this fight for peace, equality, and justice.”

Another JAC member Joan Cortes, expressed, “The best lesson that the JAC taught me was to think beyond myself.”

With a non-hierarchical structure, decisions are made within a circle with all members input. All members outreach and propose opportunities. You may have seen the JAC perform or lead a workshop at the Stop Violence rallies, Oscar Grant Memorial, Ethnic Studies Summit, UMOJA Conference, Chabot Transfer Day Celebration, JAC Open Mic Night, Sanctuary Celebration, UMOJA Family Day, College Day for Faculty and Staff or at the My Hero Film Festival. Their last performance was on Saturday, May 19, at UC Davis’ Black Family Day.

If you are interested in becoming involved as Juztino says, “Benvenuti, all are welcome.” Just stop by the Student Initiative Center any Thursday between 5 and 8 to come jam and hang out, or get on the mic!

Project Eats

Food desserts can suck the life out of a community, but one organization is at the front of the war with a secret weapon: children. Educating children about the self-hazard of eating unhealthy is essential, and by providing the space and knowledge, Project EATs is putting the plan into action. Project EATs stands for Eat. Act. Thrive.

The nearest Project EATs collaboration is at Tennyson High School located on Whitman Ave. At the Tennyson High School farm, Project EATs teaches the community how to grow and cook fresh, healthy food. Students who are involved with the farm learning how to grow and cook healthy food and teach others how to live a healthy life.

Growing a variety of organics; fruits, vegetables, beans, are given back to the community. One method of distribution is using the crops during the culinary courses offered to students.

“We will always find a home for the food, given to students and staff.” The extra produce is donated to the Meals of Love soup kitchen. Teachers often bring their students to the farm to learn in the Outdoor Classroom. The Project also provides opportunities for students by supplying work on the farm as a Fresh Crew Farm Intern, SUPER Fresh Crew Farm Intern, or a ProFRESHional Farm Intern. Students can also volunteer on the farm and earn community service credit any Monday or Thursday after school.

Local families can also take part in the healthy initiative; with enough room to supply soil, land, and irrigation for up to 30 families to house their crops. They only ask that you tend to your crops and due to safety reasons you must provide your tools. With a current trend of 10-12 families utilizing the service, you are encouraged to swing by and check it out during regular hours on Saturdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


A New Biology Building

Tuesday, May 15, was an eventful day for Chabot College and its future. First, a Ground Breaking Ceremony for a new biology building was held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Later, the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Board of Trustees Meeting began at 6:30 p.m.

Several Board of Trustees members attended the Groundbreaking Ceremony such as Dr. Jannett Jackson, Chancellor,  and Dr. Marshall Mitzman, Board President. Chabot College President Dr. Susan Sperling, lead with opening announcements, “When I met with professors, it wasn’t an ask for support it was a tell. You’re going to do this because this facility drastically needs to be brought up to a twenty-first-century standard that includes students first and foremost and their learning.”

The new biology building phase 1 marks the last major project of the funding from Measure B which was passed back in 2014. “With this project here at Chabot Measure B is now 99 percent and committed. This project is essentially the end of Measure B and long live Measure A because we have a lot more to do.” Chancellor Jackson.

With red ribbons on golden shovels, Board of Trustees members and Chabot Instructors began digging, completing the ceremonial groundbreaking.

Board of Trustees Update

Chabot-Las Positas Community College District held their scheduled Board of Trustees meeting May 15, 6:30 p.m. at Chabot in building 200. Vice President Ron Gerhard was appointed our new District Vice Chancellor of Finance. The Board had also met Chabot’s new head basketball coach, Keenan K. McMiller.

Student Senators and President Zaheer Ebtikar gave an enlightening presentation about their Washington D.C. trip back in March of this year. Visiting museums, monuments, and American Student Association of Community Colleges (ASACC) conference with students from 32 other states, the Student Senate came back inspired.

The Board was engaged by the advocacy done by the students at the national level. Former State Senator Ellen Corbett, former Student Senate President Ben Nash, and Student Life Director Arnold Paguio supported the students on the trip.

The DECA club also reported on a trip to New York with Officer Lowry, Dr. Pinkas, and a few students. Afterward, Faculty Senate President Laurie Dockter presented an award on behalf of the Faculty Senate to President Dr. Charlotte Lofft. She expressed the gratitude of all for Charlotte’s fantastic leadership. Both will be retiring after years of outstanding service.

On Wednesday, May 16, in an email sent to the district from Chancellor Jackson reads, “At last night’s Board of Trustees’ meeting, a majority (5-2) of the Board chose not to renew my contract.  I respect their right to do that. I look forward to another year of working with you and serving the students of CLPCCD. I also look forward to seeing you at commencement!”

How Hayward Stacks Up

Centered between all the bay area cities, Hayward is known as the heart of the bay. With open hearts, we create a unique environment inviting and welcoming all cultures. Hayward sometimes gets overlooked, but we can’t ignore that Hayward is ranked number 3 in most ethno-racially and linguistically diverse city in America and number one in California!

Cultural diversity allows people to express themselves, feel respected and become more engaged knowing that they and their differences are valued. Our cultures provide a variety of perspectives and experience which can help contribute sustainable and efficient results when looking for solutions on any scale. From a series of studies documented by Scientific American, diversity inspires creativity and enhances innovation.

Our cultural diversity is only one measure of success. How else do we measure the success of Hayward? Crime statistics, average median income, and affordable housing play a role in determining a successful city.

According to the City of Hayward´s website, ¨Hayward saw a 10 percent reduction over 2016 in violent crimes, such as homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, while burglary, larceny, vehicle theft, arson and other property-related offenses increased 9 percent.¨ With roughly 300 members in Hayward´s police department and 158,937 population equals a ratio of  1 to 529. In comparison to San Jose with a ratio of 1 to 597 and San Francisco with a ratio of 1 to 311. Safety is always a concern, feeling safe in your own home is a necessity.

According to a study conducted by the office of Kelly McAdoo, City Manager, “57.3 percent Hayward renters experience a housing cost burden, spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.”

Compared to other bay area cities, Hayward has the most legislation protecting tenants; Mobile Home Rent Stabilization, Control Mediation, Rent Review and Rent Stabilization. Alameda, Berkeley, and Oakland only have Rent Stabilization Control. Fremont and Union City only have Mobile Home Rent Stabilization and Control Mediation. Dublin, Newark, and Livermore do not have protections for tenants.

When it comes to the amount of rent-controlled units, Hayward is lacking with only 1,000 units compared to Alameda with 11,870, Berkeley with 27,000, Oakland with 79,000 and San Francisco with 170,000.

Rent controlled units are built before a particular year and provide protection for rent increases to exceed no higher than a certain amount or percentage. In Hayward, the properties must be built before 1988, and annual rent increases cannot exceed 5 percent each year, except up to 10 percent if the rent was not increased the year prior.

Hayward’s plan of action is, “Improving the city’s role in providing resources, information, and establishing mandatory mediation and rent review.” According to a presentation by Christina Morales, Housing Manager, at March 30 city council meeting, “the city is pushing for an affordable housing requirement equaling 30 percent of total units.”

Median household income for 2016 in Hayward is $68,138, and in Alameda County, it is $79,831 according to City Manager Kelly McAdoo. Average rent in Hayward for a one bedroom apartment is $1,946.

How is the city representing all of its diverse citizens? What is the depth of their connection to the city? Do they live in our city? Speak our languages?

“Several city staff members live in Hayward. However, the majority of the employees live in other cities which could create a disconnect between the city itself and the workers who run the city. Sometimes workers who don’t live in the city don’t understand the community and the challenges they face,” said Chabot Professor Eric Heltzel.

In search of this statistical data, I was not able to locate city employee demographics on the city of Hayward’s official website. It does list 793 total municipal employees. However, during my visit to city hall to request the city staff information, I spoke to five personnel, two at security, city clerk, Human Resources Assistant and Human Resources technician. Visually, each employee´s ethnicity was completely different from the last.

With 793 city employees and a population of 158,937 (United States Census Bureau 2016) roughly equaling a ratio of nearly 200 people per 1 city employee, is there enough assistance to go around? Is there enough information and statistics available for citizens to make a complete and honest judgment of its civil servants?

Before we become too critical of our city employees, we are always welcome to voice our opinions, solutions, and concerns at City Council meetings held every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Organizations Within Tennyson

Community organizations can help bridge the gap between the city and its citizens by providing resources, services, and information. Throughout South Hayward, many organizations and people had reported similar necessities to improve their part of the city. These results are based on reports and interviews conducted by Chabot College students in Professors Sean MacFarland and Eric Heltzel’s courses.

The students went out and interviewed people, faith-based churches, schools, and non-profit organizations. “Many people and organizations reported concerns with; crime, disappearing business, entertainment, and public spaces,” said Professor Heltzel. Holiday Bowl, Valle Vista Skating Rink, and Operation Paintball to name a few attractions of the past.

When community organizations were asked how many use their resources and services, most replies were similar. “People don’t know about us and our services.”

Project EATS, at Tennyson High School teaches the community how to grow and cook fresh, healthy food. Along with supplying the local culinary courses, the program provides space for up to 30 families to farm their organic food. They usually serve up to 12.

Others like the South Hayward Parish Church, are regularly impacted with helping individuals plagued with food shortage, and lack of shelter/bedding. Requiring them to turn down some because the demand exceeds the supply.

“Some of our services include; food for families in need, showers for the homeless and resources for rehab, work, and housing,” said Director Ralph Morales. Serving the community since 1964, South Hayward Parish wants to extend their aid but will require more funding from the city to do so.

Downtown Streets helps homeless acquire communication and resume skills as well as housing and social security resources. This Bay Area organization has seen success in Oakland, Santa Cruz, San Jose, and San Francisco. Their biggest priority is getting its volunteers jobs; most are 40 years or older.

According to their website, “In exchange for beautifying your community, you receive gift cards to help with your basic needs and access to employment and case management services that support you in achieving your goals.” Currently, there is a waitlist, to inquire visit their “Weekly Success Meeting” at Hayward Area Historical Society 22380 Foothill Blvd, Hayward Every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. sharp.

The Hayward Promise Neighborhood promotes higher education through collaboration within schools. According to their website, “HPN is designed to specifically support its children from conception until they graduate from high school and transition to college or post-secondary training – cradle to career.”

They offer over 35 programs and services like Parent Promise Academy teaching families with children birth age to eight, focusing on understanding your child’s behavior, positive discipline and communication, and keeping your family healthy. With more people utilizing their services, HPN is requesting more funding to meet the demand.

At Eldridge Elementary, students are turning down lunches provided by the district. President of the Parent Teacher Organization at Eldridge and Volunteer Supervisor Guy Andrade said, “the campus doesn’t cook its lunches, they get it delivered by the district. The kids are disgusted by the “poor” quality and lack of choice. They more than often throw the lunch away.” Andrade then suggested, “Parents should be allowed to cook at the school and teach/learn about other cultures.”

It is also difficult to get parent volunteers, Guy Andrade reaches out by asking parents waiting in their cars before school is out. Andrade said, “Their typical answers include; tired from work, working two jobs, don’t have the time or have other kids in the car.”

At Chabot College, students are provided free groceries twice a month; a service administered through the Student Initiative Center.  The Student Initiative Center is always battling for a designated space to store food available to students at least five days a week.

Resulting from the data gathered, the amount of affordable healthy food is a constant issue. Student Rayquan (last name) research project revealed 16 liquor stores on or near Tennyson Blvd. before any affordable and healthy grocery store.

The rising demand for employment and housing services, as well as lack of parent-volunteer involvement, are also common obstacles. Every result is progress, with further research and advocacy we can identify solutions that address the needs of the community.

Hayward Housing Crisis

People speaking out for fear of losing their homes. Stone cold faces staring back at them from the city council as they assess the situation. I have never been in a room full of so much uncertainty. Not a smile in the whole room. This was the scene on February 13 at City Hall Meeting in Hayward California. Since then, each City Hall meeting regarding housing has been a sequel to the scene described above.

“I believe a significant part of the problem is the explosive high-income job growth primarily centered in the south bay area commonly known as Silicon Valley and in the City of San Francisco, where the affordability problem is much greater than it is here in Hayward,” said Mayor Barbara Halliday.

Gentrification has hit Hayward, with minimum legislation prepared to protect the afflicted; people are on the brink of leaving their homes. “We are in the midst of a new form of colonization, people forcing people out of their homes.” One gentleman said during his public comments. Followed by a woman who said, “I yield the rest of time, that man before me summed up how I feel.”

More affluent people are ready to pay a higher price for their homes. Management companies are doing what they can to get a piece of that pie, even if their actions aren’t legal. More commonly, exploitation of ignorance of our rights is the best tactic for them to use and not necessarily illegal. This has been the case for the tenants of Solis Gardens apartments and Aloha Gardens.

“When managing properties and or facilities you are an agent of the landlord and must always manage in the best interest of the landlord while abiding by real estate laws. When managing any type of facility safety should also always be a top priority.” Myrna Santos, Assistant Real Estate Manager, Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE).

Some companies like FPI management, owners of Solis Gardens and Aloha Gardens apartments think otherwise.

“During a fire last year in February, which one unit was severely damaged with smaller damages in up to 4 other units, ALL units received eviction notices, even units on the unaffected side of the building. Most of my neighbors left out of fear and ignorance,” said Javier Delgado, a resident of Solis gardens.

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The Billy Club

Behold, four thick, perfect triangular prisms. Creating a new standard in sandwichery, providing four attempts to master the flavors. The scent of savory bacon forms a hand with an inviting motion like classic cartoons when the character finally gets a meal. Succulent turkey atop lettuce and juicy tomato. Three pieces of toasted bread, soft to the touch but strong enough to endure all of the toppings. I present to you The Billy Club, served in our own cafeteria, the ultimate solution for starving students.

My first bite was indescribable. All of the ingredients holding hands together and dancing on my tongue not even worried about their impending doom awaiting in the bottomless pit of my stomach. However, my stomach was no longer bottomless, the love that was put into the sandwich created a foundation solid enough to fill my hunger.

I cannot take full credit for the discovery. One fateful, hungry day I ran into my friend Anthony, a very tall and portly fellow, I asked him, “I have no idea what to eat, what do you usually get?” Without hesitation, before I could finish the word “get?” He interrupts “The Billy Club Sandwich, it’s smack.” I took his advice to heart; after all, judging by our size you can tell we don’t take hunger lightly.

I placed my order with miss Carlina working the deli that day. Little did she know that she was participating in a what would be a revelation for me. Quickly, she began assembling the vessel of truth, with deft precision and care. I marveled at each ingredient just like you would do when your home team’s players as they were introduced at the championship game. She handed me the plate with a smile.

           It’s like an edible canvas, with a medley of colors and I was going to be the one who would get to enjoy the destruction of this piece of art and magic. Golden bread, smoked ham, roasted turkey, sizzling bacon, Swiss cheese, American cheese, ruby red tomatoes, crisp lettuce, soft mayonnaise and mustard with pickles and carrots on the side. Poetry for the hungry. I know it comes in four pieces, but it is still painful to share.

Hungry student, Rolando Recoder, described his initial bite with such honesty, “I’m not a huge fan of mustard, but in contrast with the other meats, the flavors were symphonic.”

“I like that the sandwich is classic. They have the whole bacon, lettuce, and mayo thing going on. Oh, I love that! The fact that is like a double sandwich is dope too!” says student Jazmine Carter, after her first Billy Club.

So many questions popped into my head, and I knew the right people to ask. Pacific Dining is the company that manages the cafeteria and kitchen. One day I shared an elevator ride with Octavio Amezcua, Pacific Dining’s General Manager at Chabot College. I had tons of questions, and I didn’t want to take away from his task at hand so I told I would have a gang of questions for him in the near future. When the time came, he was able to answer all of them!

    “The ingredients come from a local vendor in San Jose, Chef Choice,” Octavio clarified. “How many are made daily?” I asked. “About 20, we offer them in wheat, white, sourdough or a wrap. The Billy Club and AvoTurkey are my favorite sandwiches on our menu.” Octavio stated. My final question, “Who decided to put Billy Clubs on the menu?” “The owner of Pacific Dining, Rick McMahon, put the Billy Club on our menu many years ago. Since then, it’s been a staple of our operation.”

Luckily, I was able to get in contact with Mr. McMahon. I wanted to know about the meats and bread. “All our products are sourced from food service certified suppliers. We have strict specifications on the turkey breast, smoked ham, and bacon used in the Billy Club. All of these items are exclusive to Pacific Dining.  Galasso’s Bakery bakes the bread. They specialize in high-end bread for retail and restaurants.” Well damn, no wonder why when I make them at home they don’t taste the same.

“How popular is it?” I asked. “Hmm, Billy Club is very popular, but our number one item is our Angus Beef Burger.” But popular doesn’t always mean better

The term “Billy Club” originates from a slang term referring to a police officer’s knight stick or baton which can be used to knock someone out.  The origin somewhat holds up considering you might need a nap after devouring this double-decker. There is a strong underground following of the Billy Club sandwich with a “fight club” movie type of bond and meetings. Oops, I already said too much.

Check out the Billy Club for yourself and don’t forget to customize it (I usually add avocado and sprouts). And for some reason, if you genuinely dislike the Billy Club, and can look me in the eye and tell me that you don’t like it, I will gladly pay you for the remainder.