Local News - San Mateo

Zipcar expands into downtown Palo Alto

Mercury New - Peninsula - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 23:47
Zipcar and Palo Alto have partnered to expand car sharing in the downtown area with the addition of 10 new vehicles at four lots owned by the city.

Thieves steal gold and diamond from Atherton home after distracting elderly resident

Mercury New - Peninsula - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 23:46
Thieves stole gold pieces and a large diamond after distracting an elderly resident who allowed them inside his Atherton home, police said.

Stanford's Gibbs marches on at U.S. Open

Mercury New - Peninsula - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 23:46
Nicole Gibbs left Stanford before graduating and, so far, that has proved to be a good career decision.

Reid column: Cardinal needs Montgomery to make Heisman run

Mercury New - Peninsula - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 23:45
Stanford's football schedule is challenging, to say the least. The No. 11 Cardinal has six games against teams ranked in AP's Top 25.

Peninsula readers' letters: August 29

Mercury New - Peninsula - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 23:18
Letters from Daily News readers.

Raider fans speak out on new NFL policy regarding domestic violence

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 22:53

The NFL now has a new harsher domestic violence policy after criticism of how Commissioner Roger Goodell handled the recent case of a player accused of the crime.

At the Oakland Coliseum Thursday night where the Raiders final preseason game was played, fans all agree that domestic violence should never be tolerated.

But they disagreed on whether a player should be banned from the NFL.

Players are known for their strength and football is a physical game that can be violent.

"It's not as violent as it used to be. We’re not seeing the same kind of hitting that we use to see," said Guy Adams, a raider fan from Clovis.

It is the violence off the field, domestic violence that the new policy addresses.

Marilyn Acasio, a Raider fan from Brentwood tells KTVU she is a domestic violence survivor.

She says having once been in a toxic relationship, she supports a policy that sends a strong message, "All people should be held accountable for their actions."

There is surveillance video which shows Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his fiancé out of an elevator at a casino after he allegedly knocked her unconscious during an argument in February.

The NFL commissioner suspended Rice or two games and met with harsh criticism.

"Putting his hands on a woman, he definitely need to sit down and think about that. There ain't nothing about that, that's right," said Robert Rodriguez.

In a letter to team owners released Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in part, "Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong. They are illegal. They have no place in the NFL and are unacceptable in any way, under any circumstances."

"I think the commissioner did the right thing," said Margol Kennison, a Raider fan from Sacramento.

Under the new policy, a first offense will be subject to a suspension of six weeks without pay and a second offense will result in banishment from the NFL.

"I got my grandson here looking up for role models. When we have players who do those kinds of things, it really sends the wrong message," said Robert Rodriguez Sr., a fan from Visalia.

Three generations of the Rodriguez family are attending the game Thursday night.

They say domestic violence shouldn't be tolerated but a lifetime ban is too harsh and that the circumstances of each case should be considered.

"It needs to be looked at under a microscope. Make sure they're doing the right thing," said Robert Rodriguez Jr. who attended the game with his father and 13-year-old son

Another Raider fan tells KTVU that having been in an abusive relationship herself, she says victims often don't press charges. She hopes a strong anti-domestic violence message will help change that.

The new NFL policy goes into effect immediately and it applies not only to players but all league employees.

Chief of 3 San Mateo County transit agencies says he'll retire

Mercury New - Peninsula - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 22:52
The general manager and CEO of the San Mateo County Transit District announced Thursday that he is retiring.

Yield signs to go up on north and south ends of Wallea Drive in Menlo Park

Mercury New - Peninsula - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 22:52
Yield signs -- not stop signs -- will be installed on the north and south ends of Wallea Drive, the Menlo Park City Council has decided on a 3-2 vote.

Congestion expected as Stanford football season gets under way

Mercury New - Peninsula - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 22:51
Heavy traffic is predicted in parts of Palo Alto on Saturday when Stanford University kicks off its college football season.

New Bay Bridge marks anniversary with more work to be done

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 22:36

This Labor Day Weekend will mark one year since the $6.4 billion east span of the Bay Bridge opened.

And one year later, work continues on the project.

“We’re completing small bits and pieces of work and we’re ahead of schedule in terms of the main span,” said Caltrans spokeswoman Leah Robinson-Leach.

Much of the most visible work that continues is the demolition of the old eastern span.

Robinson-Leach says that work should be complete in about a year which will be followed by the completion of the bike path to Yerba Buena Island.

“In order to do that we have to have the old bridge removed to extend the bike path,” she said.

The new bridge has been plagued with design and engineering issues such as broken bolts and steel rods.  Caltrans says testing on the bolts have shown they are now in compliance.

Following Sundays 6.0 earthquake near Napa, Caltrans engineers inspected the new eastern span and found no damage.

The eastern span was originally projected to cost $1.4 billion dollars. 

Legislation is now pending in Sacramento to require greater oversight of Caltrans and so-called “mega projects”.

Residents cry foul over broken water valve

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 22:02

It’s a neighborhood water leak that just won't quit. Amid this drought, a water valve in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose has leaked for nearly a month. Neighbors said they've called the city but so far, it hasn’t been fixed.

"If we are really in an extended drought we need to do something about this,” said Nancy Floerke who lives in Willow Glen.

It pains Nancy Floerke to walk out her front door and see what she estimates to be four to five gallons of water an hour down the drain.

“I feel really frustrated because I feel as citizen I feel I’ve been doing my part,” said Floerke.

 Water is flowing because of a broken valve from a meter on the city's side. It's the San Jose Water Company's responsibility. The company told Floerke, the leak isn't considered a priority because it is not causing property damage.

"The city council came out just the other day you must have leaks within a household repaired in five days,” said Mary Sidlauskas who lives in Willow Glen. “Now we are here with a city leak that's been 28 days."

“We think we do a great job conserving,” said John Tang of the San Jose Water Company. “We think our customers do a great job conserving.”

The San Jose Water Company told KTVU it can't fix the leak right away because there's a process to notify other utilities. Tang also said seven percent of its water loss is due to leaks and the national average for a water utility is 15 percent.

“Water waste and water loss is part of the utility business,” said Tang. “There is no water utility that has zero percent loss.”

The water company told KTVU the leak will be fixed by week's end. Yet for Floerke she doesn't think there's any more time or water to waste when it comes to the drought.

"I think it's more than lip service,” said Floerke. “I think it's very annoying,"

The homeowner said she discovered mosquito larvae in the stagnant water prompting concerns about the West Nile virus. Neighbors believe those concerns could speed up repairing the leak as early as Friday.

Missing Mountain View man with Alzheimer's found Thursday evening

Mercury New - Peninsula - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 21:04
Police found a man with Alzheimer's disease who had been reported missing Thursday afternoon from the Mountain View Senior Center at 266 Escuela Ave.

Earthquake damages famed Napa music venue

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 21:02

The Napa earthquake hurt a lot of people and damaged many buildings and it also served a setback to the city's thriving music scene.

The Uptown Theatre, which is the biggest music venue in the city, is now amongst the red-tagged buildings. Above the marquee a big crack is visible, but the owner says it looks much worse than it is.

Engineers walked around the theater on Thursday afternoon assessing the damage. Although the co-owner said an inspection already determined there is no structural damage.

"We lucked out," said Tim Herman.

The theater has a storied past. It opened in 1937 with its art deco design, serving for decades as a movie theater, even hosting the stars of yesteryear such as Clark Gable.

"I saw Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory when I was 7-years-old here," said Stuart Atkinson, who works in Napa's live music industry.

In 2000 new ownership renovated the theater, tearing out the multiple movie screens and returning it to its original glory, but as a music venue.

"It's a huge theater. And they book some great acts, and it's been great that shows of this type have come back to Napa," added Atkinson.

Now, it hosts major national acts.

Owner Tim Herman says it won't be closed for long, "We're hoping no more than a month."

Herman and the other owners are hopeful the current red-tag will be lifted to a yellow tag by Friday, so they can start fixing everything to get the theater back up and running as the entire city recovers.

"We're still in business. We're ready to keep going. There are places that are opening that may have been shut down, and it was only temporary, and we'll keep moving on."

As the Uptown waits, city and county officials gave government officials from around the region a tour of the damage.

"To show them lessons learned, how we operated after the event, the damages to the buildings," said Napa Fire Division Chief John Callanan.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia says this quake will help the entire Bay Area prepare for the next big one.

"We know that there will be a major earthquake one day that will affect a much wider area than what we're seeing here in Napa. It's a scary thing, and that's what we're trying to prepare for."

Gioia added there is a region-wide conference on earthquake preparedness in October for the 25th anniversary of Loma Prieta.

Mountain View police search for missing man with Alzheimer's

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 18:56

Police are searching for a man with Alzheimer's disease who has been missing since he walked away from the Mountain View Senior Center Thursday afternoon.

Ramon Advincula, 67, is described as a bald Asian male wearing a green t-shirt, khaki shorts and khaki-colored shoes. He is around 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs around 160 pounds, police said.

Police believe he has his wallet and identification with him.

Anyone who sees Advincula or has information on his whereabouts is asked to call (650) 903-6395.

Students get first MLB experience at Giants game

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 17:51

Until Thursday most of the 135 elementary school students at San Francisco City Academy had never been to a major league baseball game.

But that all changed as the group headed to AT&T Park to see the Giants for the first time Thursday.

"I always wanted to go to a baseball game, since I was a little kid," said 9-year-old Xion Davis.

To get to the game the students had to walk from their school on Jones Street through the heart of the Tenderloin and some of the meanest, hard luck streets in the city.

"It is trash on the ground a lot,” said one fourth grader.

Another fourth grader was imagining what the ballpark would be like.

"It's a big round stadium. And hundreds of people come. And it has grass on the outside," said Tidotae Mills.

AT&T Park may only be a few miles walk, but for many of these kids it seemed light years away.

"I see a big crowd and the Coca-Cola sign is awesome," said one student.

“They live in the city but a lot of times they don't make it very far from their one-mile block they live in," said school principal Joni Rummell. "So this is an awesome opportunity for them to step out and see a little more of the world that's around them."

The outing was sponsored by Lefty O'Doul's Kids Foundation, which got the tickets, provided bag lunches and hopefully a day to remember.

"Our job is to bring them to a game and experience one the best things a kid can have, a trip to the ballgame," said Nick Bovis, director of the foundation.

Then the game started. The students were in their seats in the upper deck. They were finally, taken out to the ballgame, taken out to the crowd.

"Don't have to do homework. We get to go home late," said a fifth grader.

They sat with their friends and among their heroes.

"It's my first time to see (Buster) Posey,” said one boy

Then a last cheer, before its back to the Tenderloin.

Clean-up crew worker killed by garbage truck identified

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 17:18

A 52-year-old man helping to clean up a San Francisco neighborhood was killed Thursday morning by a garbage truck driven by one of his fellow crew members.

The accident happened just after 9 a.m. along a stretch of Quint Street notorious for illegal dumping in the city's Bayview District. As crews picked up trash, a Department of Public Works garbage truck rolled over Alvin Andrews killing him at the scene. Two Public Utilities Commission workers from a nearby construction project tried to save Andrews but were unsuccessful. Grief counselors were sent to the site.

"This is an extremely tragic accident," said DPW spokeswoman Rachel Gordon. "And people are pretty shaken up in the department. It's something we never want to have happen in the city, you go to work, we want people to come home healthy."

Andrews was recently assigned to help clean streets by the City's Human Services Agency. DPW Director Mohammed Nuru said initial reports indicate Andrews may have slipped and fallen in front of the truck. "Most of these individuals are people who have had practice around this type of work," said Nuru. "Unfortunately what we're hearing is this individual is one of the newer guys."

The truck's driver was not identified though KTVU was told he has been with the Department of Public Works since July 2nd as a temporary employee. He's been suspended without pay and will be tested for drugs and alcohol. The DPW says garbage truck drivers doing this job must drive at a slow rate and operate an audible alarm.

"We have safety practices in place so we're gonna review those and see if there's things we need to do better," said Nuru.

Before kicking of a disaster prepared conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Ed Lee called for a moment of silence to acknowledge Andrews' death.

Human Services Agency Director Trent Rhorer told KTVU, "We're going to look at what sort of assistance we can provide to the family, whether that's funeral arrangements or any sort of workers' compensation."

Traffic moving again as firefighters battle 80-acre brush fire

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 17:15

Traffic is moving again on state Highway 152 east of Gilroy as firefighters battle an 80-acre brush fire in the area, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The fire appears to have started after a vehicle collision on westbound state highway 152 that was reported around 3 p.m. near Casa de Fruta, a roadside attraction, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Around 30 acres of vegetation are burning on the north side of the highway and around 50 acres on the south side, according to Pam Temmermand, a fire prevention specialist with Cal Fire.

The flames came close enough to the roadway to stop traffic on the highway, but lanes have now reopened, according to the CHP.

The fire is not contained but firefighters have bulldozer lines around both fires and have dropped fire retardant, Temmermand said.

While there were reports of structures threatened early on, Temmermand said none have been lost or damaged.

No injuries have been reported.

Man suspected of killing woman in Bernal Heights has bail set at $1M

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 16:28

A San Francisco Superior Court judge set bail at $1 million Thursday for a 48-year-old man arrested Tuesday on suspicion of killing a 42-year-old woman who lived with him in the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood, according to the district attorney's office.

San Francisco police arrested Jules Sibilio on suspicion of murder for the death of 42-year-old Mary Atchison, San Francisco police Officer Albie Esparza said.

Emergency crews responded to a medical call at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the 500 block of Peralta Avenue and found an unresponsive body there, police said.

Esparza said the victim had suffered trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Fire officials notified the Police Department that the death was possibly suspicious and homicide investigators took over the case, police said.

Sibilio's arraignment Thursday was rescheduled for Tuesday, according to the district attorney's office.

The death remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to call police at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 with "SFPD" at the beginning of the message.

District disciplines teacher who allegedly wrote threatening tweets about students

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 15:59

Menacing sounding tweets sent from a high school teacher's Twitter account are raising eyebrows on the campus of Newark Memorial High School.

The tweets were sent to, and published in Thursday's San Jose Mercury News.

"The problem with teaching summer school is I'm gonna get all the (expletive) who failed my class, 2 of whom I wish would get hit by a car," read one tweet from the now defunct Twitter account @kree49, according to the Mercury News.

The school district confirms that tweet and others were sent by history teacher, Krista Hodges, who got married over the summer. Last year’s yearbook identifies her as Ms. Arata. Another Tweet from June 23rd read, "So happy to be done with school for 10 days, but especially to be away from the ones who truly try my patience & make my trigger finger itchy."

"When I saw those I thought oh, maybe she's having a bad day," said senior, Carmen Torres. Most students were shocked. "Little scared, but I have times like that where I'm just frustrated," said senior Darrin Ko. "She might just be really frustrated, or something is going on behind that nobody knows."

The Newark Unified School District released a statement Thursday, saying it took "appropriate disciplinary steps", and confirmed that Hodges is still teaching. She told the Mercury News she meant none of her tweets seriously.

When it comes to social media, some people seem to have no filter. "It's never right," offered a substitute teacher during lunch period. "If there's the off chance that a student may read it, I’m going to make sure not to post anything that may come across negatively in any way," he said.

When asked what would happen if a student posted similar tweets on his or her Twitter account, school principal Philip Morales told KTVU the incident would "probably be investigated."

KTVU tried to reach Hodges for comment. She did not return our calls.

Suspected drug smugglers arrested in Pescadero now facing federal charges

KTVU's Top Stories - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 14:36

Nine people accused of hauling more than 5,000 pounds of marijuana off of a boat from Mexico that landed at a San Mateo County beach earlier this month are now facing federal drug smuggling charges, according to court records.

Charges by the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office were dismissed Wednesday after a federal criminal complaint filed in San Francisco on Tuesday charged them with possession of and conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

Five of the defendants had already pleaded no contest to the state charges and were sentenced to one year in jail, but the federal charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

If convicted of the federal charges, whether their jail sentence for the state charges would be served concurrently with the federal sentence will be up to the federal sentencing judge, San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Al Serrato said Thursday.

The defendants were arrested Aug. 1 after an investigation by federal authorities indicated that a boat smuggling marijuana from Mexico would be landing on the San Mateo County coast to unload.

The 40-foot panga boat was one of three tracked by the U.S. Coast Guard since July 28, according to a federal affidavit by Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Patrick Jones.

The Coast Guard stopped two of them the next day and seized fuel from one and 12,000 pounds of pot from the other. They continued tracking the third, suspecting it might land in Ano Nuevo State Park in Pescadero.

Homeland Security agents kept the area around the beach under surveillance and on the night of Aug. 1, they saw a crew arrive in a U-Haul and light off three bottle rockets near the shoreline, apparently signaling the boat at sea.

They then drove the U-Haul back to the beach at about 10:15 p.m. but when they returned, they found the way out blocked by an unmarked law enforcement vehicle, according to Jones.

The driver crashed the U-Haul through a fence to get out and sped away with numerous law enforcement vehicles pursuing him. He accelerated the U-Haul to 100 mph trying to get away, but was stopped by a blockade in the Scott Creek area of Santa Cruz County.

Luis Espinoza Mendoza, 28, was identified as the driver of the van and was arrested. Authorities found the van loaded with bales of marijuana.

The agents searched the beach area and arrested Luis Farid Gonzalez, 20, Mario Gonzalez, 36, Estaban Flores Salazar, 39, Joan Sicairos, 19, and Mark Richard Teixeira, 38.

Mendoza told investigators that he had agreed to help smuggle drugs in exchange for help emigrating illegally to the U.S. from Mexico, Jones said. Salazar said that he worked for the smugglers as a deckhand on the boat in exchange for assistance moving to the U.S.

Teixeira is a San Jose resident who told investigators that he took the job of unloading the boat in exchange for $3,000, according to Jones.

The next morning, a park ranger spotted three men walking on an isolated stretch of state Highway 1. The ranger stopped them and determined that two of them, Juan Valdez Lopez, 50, and Juan Hernandez, 39, were from Mexico and had no valid U.S. identification, according to Jones.

Lopez had been arrested last December for possession for sale of marijuana in San Luis Obispo and investigators believe that Lopez and Hernandez piloted the panga boat from Mexico, Jones said.

They were arrested along with the third man walking along the road, identified as Phin Yo Vorn, 33, who is believed to be one of the men hired to unload the boat.

The Coast Guard discovered the panga boat abandoned about 7 miles off the coast later that day. The speedy open boats are often used by drug smugglers and abandoned or sunk after a delivery has been made, according to Jones.

All nine defendants were charged in state court days later. Gonzalez, Mendoza, Salazar, Sicairos and Teixeira pleaded no contest to the charges on Aug. 13. The remaining defendants pleaded not guilty and their charges were dismissed Wednesday.

If convicted of the federal charges, they each face a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.