Supervisor Nate Miley is restarting a joint government-resident group that will work to improve the unincorporated areas of western Alameda County.

The Eden Area Livability Initiative was launched in 2004, but it has not been active for awhile.

"Supervisor Miley wants to find out what direction people want the community to go," said Bob Swanson, a liaison in Miley's office. Supervisor Wilma Chan's office also is taking part.

The earlier initiative resulted in the Ashland Youth Center being built, Cherryland Community Center plans moving forward and some governance issues being addressed, Swanson said. He estimated 800 to 1,000 residents took part.

"Citizens will be able to bring up any issues they have," Swanson said.

The initiative will cover Castro Valley, Ashland, San Lorenzo, Cherryland and Fairview.

"Economic development will be a big priority, especially now that Lewelling and Castro Valley boulevards are complete," Swanson predicted. "Some businesses have suffered from the economic downturn and the streetscape work. We need to bolster those businesses and bring in new businesses."

Phase II of the livability initiative is starting with a blue-ribbon steering committee consisting of people who have contributed to community efforts in the past, Swanson said. The group next meets from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Eden United Church of Christ's Oliver Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

More information is available at www.acgov.org/edenareavision.

Support for new tax district in San Leandro

Property owners in downtown San Leandro who responded to a survey are more supportive than not of a proposal to create a new taxed community benefit district in their area, survey results show.

The survey -- sent by city consultant New City America Inc. -- attempted to gauge the willingness of downtown property owners to be included in a new tax district that would fund improvements previously funded with redevelopment money.

City Council members voted in July to pay New City America Inc. $65,000 to help establish the proposed 541-parcel district. If approved, the district would provide downtown tenants enhanced security and sidewalk cleaning, beautification, landscaping, a marketing plan and a shuttle during lunch and after work for employees to travel between downtown and the BART station on the west side of the city.

About 25 percent of the parcel owners have responded to the September survey to date, according to New City America. Owners of 428,000 square feet of building space in the proposed district, or 27.5 percent, are "conceptually supportive," while 4.7 percent are opposed and 2 percent have no opinion. According to New City America, 30 percent indicates a significant base of support, and coupled with city properties, the support increases to 29 percent.

Building square footage is one way the district could be taxed, or by lot size or sidewalk frontage; properties will not be taxed based on assessed valuation. Approval for the district could be sought from downtown property owners as soon as June.

A steering committee for the proposed district is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Feb. 7 at the Englander Sports Pub and Restaurant. Interested parties are welcome to attend.

Hayward launches interactive website

A new website lets residents weigh in on what they want to see in the city's general plan.

"It has an online discussion forum; it's a pretty cool thing," said Erik Pearson, Hayward senior planner.

The general plan provides a blueprint for growth and development, sets citywide policy, and outlines programs and projects to achieve the community's vision.

The website is Hayward2040.org; 2040 was used because it's "the horizon year we're looking forward to," Pearson said. "It's been live for four days, and we've got about 50 people registered so far," he said.