Here is the latest Local News from the San Francisco Chronicle.
East Bay conservation champion dead at 71
Ted Radke, the longest-serving board member of the East Bay Regional Park District, died Sunday at age 71, according to a park district statement. Radke, a longtime Martinez resident and community fixture, helped to double the park district’s land through aggressive advocacy in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Between 1978 and 1999, the park district’s acreage increased by 40,000 acres, fueled in part by Radke’s push to acquire land and funding. “He grew up learning to hike, camp, fish and hunt, while hearing stories about Theodore Roosevelt’s and John Muir’s adventures as early conservationists,” said Rep. George Miller in a 2014 proclamation honoring Radke. Miller worked closely with Radke during his time in Congress, helping to secure funding for projects in Ward 7 like the creation of Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline. “He spent his whole life teaching kids about political advocacy — he was an expert on the political process,” Doyle said.
Man smashed in head with bottle during mugging on SF Muni bus
The victim, whose name was not released, was seated and had his cell phone in his hand when he was approached by two men as the bus drove through the area of 30th and Mission streets, police said. The bus driver was unaware of the robbery and the victim exited the bus before he called authorities, said Officer Giselle Talkoff of the San Francisco Police Department. The victim suffered minor injuries, including a bloody nose, but refused medical attention, authorities said.
BART set to turn down the volume on screeching trains
Quieter BART trains are coming, BART engineers predicted on Wednesday, and the key is the simple trick of shaving about 2 millimeters of metal from the wheel of every car in the system. The new wheel design, which BART developed with computer models, could reduce noise by as much as 50 percent when the reconfigured trains begin rolling this fall, according to BART engineering manager Ben Holland. Holland is in charge of an ambitious project to regrind the wheels on all 669 cars in the transit agency’s fleet after models and tests revealed that doing so would lower noise by improving wheel-to-rail contact and by reducing the amount of track rippling, or corrugation, that BART cars cause when they roll down the track. The design has led to noticeably quieter operation on a prototype train that BART is running on a stretch of test track in Hayward, Holland said. Noise, Holland said, is major complaint from long-suffering BART patrons who were promised a “swift, virtually noiseless and vibration free” system in ballot language when BART originally won approval from voters in 1962. […] construction on the Antioch eBART extension is ahead of schedule, and that diesel-powered line from Pittsburg to Antioch could premiere months earlier than the 2018 opening previously announced.
SF sues landlord over state of housing for once-homeless vets
A San Francisco landlord illegally crammed dozens of formerly homeless veterans into overcrowded dwellings across the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, while collecting millions of dollars in federal subsidies aimed at helping vets and the poor, a lawsuit filed Wednesday by City Attorney Dennis Herrera claims. Judy Wu, along with husband Chuan Zhu, allegedly chopped up residences — mostly single-family homes — into multiple-unit apartment complexes and then rented the units to tenants possessing vouchers from Section 8 and the Veteran Administration’s Homes for Heroes program, which is designed to end homelessness among veterans. The lawsuit identifies 12 buildings with 15 legal units divided up and rented to 49 individual tenants, two-thirds of them veterans. In a letter sent to the property owners Monday, Herrera said tenants have been “fully informed of their rights and available services.” Sidewalks filled up with cars and backyards became littered with mattresses, discarded furniture, stray cats and mounds of old clothing. “It was a situation where overcrowding was making it impossible to provide trash service, which leads to illegal dumping,” Cohen said. Again and again, according to the city, Wu obtained permits for minor alterations — a new bathroom, bedrooms, storage or laundry room — and then undertook much more extensive renovations than was allowed, adding multiple units. At 1351 Revere Ave., a single-family home purchased for $260,000 in September 2010, the landlords sought a permit to add a laundry room, family room, three bathrooms and three bedrooms, according to documents from the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection. While she owns the business with her husband, tenants said they deal exclusively with Wu, who uses a real estate office in a Daly City strip mall as a business address. Visits to Wu’s properties and interviews with her tenants create a picture of a landlord who, while allegedly violating the city’s zoning codes, also cares about housing veterans with few other options. […] tenants complained of everything from broken stoves to lack of heat to Wu’s unwillingness to get rid of residents who are disruptive or engaging in illegal activities. Eric Clark, a Vietnam veteran who lives in one of Wu’s buildings on Fitzgerald Avenue, said he was referred to her through a nonprofit after a stint in a temporary unit on Treasure Island. San Francisco has been a national leader in housing vets through the Veterans Administration Supportive Housing program, or VASH, under which veterans receive rent vouchers through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Since October 2013, the program has housed 1,163 formerly homeless vets in San Francisco. Jason Elliot, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Ed Lee, said the goal is to bring Wu into compliance with the law while protecting her tenants.
Oakland man given 2nd chance for asylum to stay in US
Jose Mendez was 13 and living in El Salvador, the child of a pro-government family during a civil war more than a quarter century ago, when he got three threatening notes at school accusing him of feeding information to the army, in which his brothers were serving. Five years later, Mendez applied for political asylum, saying he faced persecution and possibly death if he was deported. “A reasonable fact-finder would have to conclude that Mendez was individually targeted, because he was individually threatened, individually chased, and individually shot by his persecutors,” the three-judge panel said in a brief, unanimous ruling. The court returned the case to the immigration board, where Justice Department lawyers could offer evidence that Mendez would not be harmed if deported. The ruling means Mendez, who lives with his wife and four children, born in the United States, has a good chance of winning asylum and the right to remain in the country, said his lawyer, Charles Nichol. The 12-year civil war between leftist guerrillas and El Salvador’s U.S.-backed military government ended with a peace agreement in 1992.
Man survives after vehicle falls 60 feet from I-280 in SF
A man walked away from a San Francisco crash early Wednesday after he lost control of a Mercedes SUV and it plummeted 60 feet off an elevated section of Interstate 280, according to the California Highway Patrol. The crash occurred around 12:30 a.m. near the freeway’s Cesar Chavez Street exit. The driver, whose name was not released, told CHP officers that he was driving 70 mph southbound on the interstate when his tires lost traction causing his vehicle to roll several times before going over the railing and falling onto the Caltrans tracks below, said Officer Vu Williams, a CHP spokesman.
Watch Paris Hilton make a snow angel in the dirt at Burning Man
The socialite doesn’t seem to mind the dirt.
2 kids hospitalized after car overturns, falls in Petaluma River
Witnesses saw the woman driving at a higher-than-usual rate of speed and possibly weaving through lanes as she drove on Petaluma Boulevard North near Gossage Avenue, said Officer Juan Leon of the California Highway Patrol. A person driving behind her and a bicyclist tried to help rescue the children, Leon said. Petaluma police closed all lanes of the northbound boulevard and warned drivers to avoid the area.
Los Altos driver dies when he crashes car into tree
A 57-year-old Los Altos man died in a fiery crash on a city road after he crashed a car into a tree, police said Tuesday. Firefighters, paramedics and officers arrived to treat the driver and put out the blaze. Officials were investigating the cause of the incident and asked anyone with more information to call police at (650) 947-2770.
Public health problems in Oakland linked to housing crisis
The associated stress can cause depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia, according to a new study by the Health Department and the Oakland research firm PolicyLink Center for Infrastructure Equity. To understand the depth and magnitude of the housing crisis, officials conducted interviews with 188 Health Department workers and 167 Behavioral Services staff and contractors. Ninety-four percent of respondents said the stress of inadequate or unstable housing was affecting their clients’ health, in many cases nullifying the services that county health programs provide for needy communities. More than 10 staff members who filled out the survey said that they, too, had been priced out of the metropolitan areas of Alameda County, where rents are steadily escalating — the median rent for a two-bedroom is now $2,850 a month, according to the real estate site Trulia. Children living in homes packed with 10 to 12 extra people were six times more likely to go to the emergency room for asthma than children living in homes that were not overcrowded. Health Department workers who participated in the study said families living in overcrowded homes are often afraid to ask their landlords to clean up mold, mildew or other pests that can trigger asthma, for fear of eviction. Housing pressures have tremendous impacts on individuals, some of whom cannot afford to buy healthy food or medicine because they have to save the bulk of their income for housing, Davis said. Oakland and the surrounding region are experiencing extraordinary economic growth,” she said, “but the accompanying housing crisis is tearing apart the social fabric of one of the most diverse cities in America.
Hayward police department caught off guard by chief’s leave
A secret personnel matter that culminated Monday in Hayward’s police chief being placed on leave came squarely from the city manager’s office, not the police department, surprising officers and high-ranking investigators. McAdoo, appointed to her position just last month, declined to answer questions, saying only that a pending personnel investigation was the impetus for her placing Stuart on leave, which became effective at the close of business Monday. In the midst of last year’s tournament, she had to return to Hayward after veteran police Sgt. Scott Lunger was fatally shot while pulling over an erratic driver during a traffic stop. Back home, Stuart found a grieving police force that’s been coping ever since, often showing up to hearings for the alleged shooter, Mark Estrada, who entered a not-guilty plea last week. The leader now stepping in to fill Stuart’s shoes is Capt. Mark Koller, who’s been with the department for more than three decades and most recently served as investigations commander before McAdoo named him acting police chief Monday night. The decision to put Stuart on administrative leave comes as two of the Bay Area’s largest police departments have launched searches for new chiefs. Last year, Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras served a one-month suspension after an investigation by then-City Manager Fran David found he had driven city vehicles while under the influence of alcohol, fought with a subordinate firefighter and failed to respond to a significant fire while on call.
City bids farewell to journalist Warren Hinckle
With his basset hound howling mournfully from the front door of the church, rapscallion journalist Warren Hinckle was remembered Tuesday as a “larger-than-life thorn in the side of self-serving big shots of all stripes.” Peter and Paul Church in North Beach — along with three officers astride San Francisco police horses — to bid an unconventional farewell to the editor, columnist and raconteur, who died Thursday in a San Francisco hospital at the age of 77. A slew of them were decked out in eye patches — a Hinckle trademark after having lost his left eye in a childhood accident — that an old pal had been handing out from a bag at the church door. Along with the city’s finest were scores of drinking companions, old schoolmates, colleagues and a retinue of newspaper editors whose deadlines the notoriously up-against-it writer had observed largely in theory. The clergymen granted Hinckle’s basset hound, Toby, special dispensation to accompany his master’s coffin down the center aisle, between the packed pews. Of her dad’s legendary habit of gleefully burning through a magazine publisher’s capital, Pia Hinckle smiled and said Hinckle “had a checkbook when what he really needed was a treasury.” Hinkle, a former editor of Ramparts and Scanlan’s magazines and a former columnist for The Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner, was as much a showman in person as a craftsman in print. Once, incensed by police raids on the Mitchell Brothers strip club, he arranged to post the private phone number of then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein on the theater marquee — “for a good time, call Dianne,” the marquee said — and Feinstein responded by dumping a drink on his head in public. The Green Street Mortuary brass band led the funeral cortege on a final rolling tour of Hinckle’s favorite North Beach taverns and cafes, while family members sat in an open-top convertible black hearse.
BART offering riders perks to ease overcrowding on trains
The transit agency launched a 6-month program on Tuesday offering the possibility of cash incentives to passengers who avoid boarding trains during the height of the morning commute, officials said. BART Perks program offers points passengers can exchange for cash, as long they’re over 18 years old, use a Clipper card and have a PayPal account. A thousand points convert to $1, two-thousand points equals $2, and so on, said Eric Young, a spokesman for San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Officials hope to relieve overcrowding by drawing East Bay BART riders who travel to Embarcadero or Montgomery stations in San Francisco away from the trains during the busiest hours. The $954,000 program was funded by BART operating funds, San Francisco’s half-cent sales tax for transportation and a federal grant, Trost said.
One man has filed almost 300 complaints about tech buses in San Francisco
Some retirees take up gardening. Others volunteer. And some, like San Francisco’s Edward Mason, log hundreds of complaints about tech shuttles.
SF tops Runner’s World list of ‘Best Running Cities’
Who would have thought a hilly city like San Francisco would be voted America’s best running city? Just the thought of running the challenging hills of the Presidio leave us baffled by this one.
Hurricane Madeline stirs up chance of dry lightning in Bay Area
A hurricane whirling in the Pacific Ocean could bring dry lightning to parts of the Bay Area on Tuesday, a day after it influenced Monday’s spectacular evening sunset seen all around the region, weather forecaster said. Madeline, one of two hurricanes brewing off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii, was stirring up an upper-level moisture system that was influencing Bay Area weather, said Roger Gass, a meteorologist for the National Weather service. On Monday evening, the high-cloud cover the hurricane blew in was mixing with smoke from the Soberanes Fire smoldering near Big Sur. Daytime temperatures will remain in the mid-60s for the rest of the week along the coastal areas of the Bay Area and reach 70s to 80s in the region’s inland areas, according to forecasters.
The worst-reviewed attractions in San Francisco
It’s pretty hard to find a place in San Francisco that tourists don’t love. We did.
Bay Area locals flood social media with photos of last night’s stunning sunset
The National Weather Service says the smoke from wildfires is the reason for the gorgeous colors filling the sky.
SF homeless czar touts streamlined approach, urges patience
SF homeless czar touts streamlined approach, urges patience San Francisco’s new homeless czar, Jeff Kositsky, spent an hour talking with The Chronicle’s editorial board Monday, and despite his street outreach team dismantling the biggest encampment in the city that morning, he wasn’t doing much crowing. The task of combining the efforts of at least five city departments into the new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing is going to take years, he warned. Clearing one camp — the first operation for his freshly created Encampment Resolution Team, is just one of many, many steps ahead. Kositsky wants to make sure the people of the city understand that the mere creation of the department, which he took charge of officially on Aug. 15, is not going to change the city’s most vexing problem overnight. “We’re not the department of everything wrong on the streets in San Francisco,” he said, noting that some problems, like drug dealing and prostitution — even if they at times involve homeless people — are at their core police matters rather than indigence problems. Key to all of these efforts will be creating an integrated tracking system that will show every service each homeless person has been connected to — jail, rehab, food agency, housing and more.
Oakland begins national search for police chief
After years of cycling through police chief after police chief, Oakland officials have begun a national search for a leader who will bring much-needed stability and imaginative reforms to the city’s battered department, Mayor Libby Schaaf said Monday. “We know there is a critical national conversation happening about policing, asking questions about safety and justice,” Schaaf said at a news conference inside Oakland City Hall, at which she stood flanked by City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, East Oakland Youth Development Center head Regina Jackson, and about a dozen teenagers from Oakland. The whole process, while exhaustive, appears designed to make all Oakland residents feel like they have a say in picking their new chief and reforming the troubled department. “It is my experience as Oakland’s mayor that Oaklanders are hungry to continue both our progress with reforms as well as becoming the safe city that we all know Oakland deserves to be,” Schaaf said at the news conference. […] the pressure is on Schaaf, who — like her San Francisco counterpart, Ed Lee — is facing a recall campaign from activists who say she helped prop up a corrupt police force. Leaders of the campaign demand that Oakland cut funding for its Police Department in half and give the money to community groups. Some law enforcement experts are skeptical that Oakland will find a permanent leader for its department, given the recent misconduct scandal, the scrutiny of a federal judge and court monitor, and the forthcoming November ballot measure to create a powerful citizen-led police commission — adding yet another layer of supervision for whoever becomes chief.
Shoeless rider lights up apparent crack pipe while on BART
Note to BART: Please require your crack-smoking riders to wear pants.
SF homeless uprooted from sprawling creekside encampment
After decades of drifting from place to place, getting bounced by police or avoiding sketchy people on the street, the 36-year-old finally found decent enough digs at one of the city’s most entrenched homeless encampments on the north bank of Islais Creek Channel. […] that all ended Monday when city crews made good on a promise to dismantle the sprawling urban tent city, where mountains of trash and human waste had accumulated along the promenade near Cesar Chavez Street, just south of the Dogpatch neighborhood. The latest San Francisco homeless sweep came as no surprise to the few dozen hard-core street people still set up on the promenade at the southern terminus of Indiana Street. For weeks, workers from the newly-created city Encampment Resolution Team have been working with the 50 or so campers, breaking the news that staying was no longer an option, while reserving beds for folks willing to go to shelters. The approach was the latest in an evolution of tactics used by the city to transition homeless people into permanent housing and clean out encampments that are often overrun with trash, feces, and littered remnants of intravenous drug use. Once the zero-hour hit on Monday morning, several folks had already moved on while the holdouts slowly packed up under the supervision of a handful of police and teams of public works crews. On Monday morning, Dodge watched over the scene while campers slowly wheeled away their belongings, which included piles of bike parts, generators, barbecues, camp stoves, tarps and large tents. “Neighbors more and more are concerned — concerned about the conditions that we can’t turn a blind eye to,” Dodge said as public works crews set about cleaning up the sea of trash – including a small boat — littering the walkway. “How do you get kicked out of being homeless?” 36-year-old camper Katherine McClain said as she fought back tears while pushing her clothes, purse and coat on a rolling desk chair. “If you go to one of the shelters they send you, it’s filled with crazy people,” said 47-year-old Elizabeth Soule, who receives Supplemental Security Income for medical problems and had been at the camp for two weeks.
Hunt on for killer of sea otters found shot near Santa Cruz
Park rangers are offering a $10,000 reward to get their hands on whoever shot and killed three endangered southern sea otters in the Santa Cruz area. Two of the slain animals washed up on beaches in Santa Cruz and a third in nearby Aptos about two weeks ago, according to Max Schad, a wildlife officers with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. A fourth dead otter washed up at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, but rangers were unable to determine, because of its deteriorated condition, whether it had been shot. Southern sea otters, also known as California sea otters, once were plentiful along the Pacific coast from Mexico to Washington.
Cyclists peeved after bike pedal blamed in Sierra wildfire
[…] the latest culprit — a bike — is largely unheard of as a source of ignition, and is being met with disbelief in some circles. U.S. Forest Service investigators say a bicycle pedal that scraped a rock and shot sparks on a mountain bike trail was responsible for a 122-acre blaze in the eastern Sierra this month, a finding that unleashed a firestorm of incredulity on the Internet. […] absurd to even make this official, wrote one of the more than 100 skeptics who commented on the Inyo National Forest’s Facebook page since the cause of the fire near Mammoth Lakes was reported last week. A mock image of a fire-starter kit, including a bicycle pedal, began circulating on social media in protest of Wednesday’s fire report. Fire Prevention Technician Kirstie Butler said a comprehensive investigation, which included locating a rock with a pedal scrap on it and speaking to several mountain bikers in the area at the time, revealed conclusively what caused the fire. The Lower Rock Creek Trial, where the fire occurred, is a popular single-track biking path off Highway 395, about 20 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, partly in the Inyo National Forest. Because of the blowback on social media, Butler said the Forest Service is thinking about providing more information to the public about the investigation.
Watch life on the playa with Burning Man live stream
Take a look and through the dusty haze you can see little bicycles rolling along past hard-to-make-out sculptures growing from the desert floor.
Shoeless crackhead lights up while on BART
Note to BART: Please require your crack-smoking riders to wear pants.
Fire damages historic building in SF’s SoMa neighborhood
Fire damages historic building in SF’s SoMa neighborhood Firefighters battled a fast-moving blaze that tore through a four-story vacant brick building early Monday morning next to The San Francisco Chronicle’s headquarters in the city’s South of Market neighborhood. The fire in Minna alley, between Fifth and Sixth streets, started around 4:45 a.m. on the top floors of the old Dempster Printing Building and quickly spread through the nearly-100-year-old structure, said Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesman for the San Francisco Fire Department.
San Francisco under construction for the past 100 years
Does it seem like construction in the city is never ending? Well, it is. This may be due to urban growth, changes in style, repair from age, or acts of Mother Nature, including earthquakes, fires and floods. San Francisco is no stranger to any of those. It springs back stronger than ever. In 1906, after the great earthquake and fire that decimated several square miles of this compact city, undaunted, the people started all over again.
Life hacks for living cheaper in the Bay Area
We pay for the privilege of living here, that’s for sure. And after decades of life in the Bay, many of us here at SFGATE have come up with little and big ways to save money.
Livermore market closed after major fire
A small market in a Livermore strip mall sustained $300,000 in damages early Saturday after a fire tore through the store, officials said. The blaze, reported just after 4 a.m. at the Ramirez Market, took about an hour to get under control, according to a statement from the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. Firefighters had to clear a large amount of storage before gaining access to extinguish the fire, which had extended into the building’s attic space and was threatening the business next door when fire crews arrived at the shopping center on Maple Street near First Street.
Santa Rosa police arrest 3 suspected gang members
Police arrested three alleged gang members for suspected links to an assault and concealing weapons after their vehicle was stopped for speeding in Santa Rosa early Saturday, authorities said. At about 3:35 a.m., a Santa Rosa police officer noticed that a car driving too fast through a construction zone at Sebastopol Road and Stony Point Road matched the description of a vehicle involved in a gang-related assault a week earlier, according to the Santa Rosa Police Department. The officer, who was joined by others from the department, found a loaded .25 caliber semiautomatic handgun, crowbar and wooden baseball bat in the vehicle. A 16-year-old Santa Rosa male, who was not identified because of his age, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a stun gun linked to the earlier incident, as well as for other suspected crimes including possessing a concealed firearm and violating terms of his juvenile probation.
Motorcyclist killed on Golden Gate Bridge was Larkspur man
Aamir Ahmad Khan was riding north on Highway 1 over the bridge shortly before 6 p.m. when he apparently lost control near the north tower and slammed into the railing, according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. Khan had been weaving in and out of traffic at “an extremely high rate of speed,” California Highway Patrol spokesman Andrew Barclay said. The bridge’s three northbound lanes were closed for more than an hour after the crash, causing major traffic backups in the area.
Police release sketch of Pacific Heights assailant
Police release sketch of Pacific Heights assailant Police have released a sketch of a man who they say attacked a woman in Pacific Heights last weekend in hope of tracking down the assailant. The man, described as being in his 40s or 50s, apparently came up from behind the victim about 7:45 p.m. on Aug. 20 near Lafayette Park and began punching her in the face until she was rendered motionless, according to the San Francisco Police Department. “It kind of happened really quickly,” police spokeswoman Officer Giselle Talkoff said after the incident.
Weed advocates hold 4.20-mile race in San Francisco — sort of
Marijuana enthusiasts arrived in droves at the park’s bandshell to reject the stoner stigma and run what originally was supposed to be a 4.2-mile course, an homage to the celebratory date and time of cannabis use. For backers of Proposition 64, a November ballot measure that would make recreational marijuana use legal for people 21 and older, the race was a chance to disprove what they view as misconceptions about the medicinal plant — like the notion that cannabis users are unmotivated to move beyond their couches. The event, billed as family-friendly and bookended by yoga sessions, prohibited smoking, but that didn’t stop many runners from lighting up before and after, either at home or in other discreet locations. The women’s first-place runner, 28-year-old Kate Modzelewski of Fairfield, also wasn’t exactly sure when she got to the finish line, but thought it was around the 12-minute mark. Aaron Flynn, who served as a Marine sergeant before founding a cannabis cultivation company, said a gummy with 5 milligrams of weed before the race was the perfect amount to relax his muscles and prerace jitters. Baker said getting a medical marijuana card was life-changing, and he hopes that Prop. 64 passes so that people like his grandmother would be willing to try cannabis without as intense a stigma surrounding it. McAlpine, who’s opening the world’s first cannabis gym and health center later this year in the Mission District with former NFL player Ricky Williams, said Saturday’s race was about changing the minds of “nonbelievers.” “Whether I’m lifting weights, swimming, mountain biking, skiing, (marijuana) gives me an extra degree of focus,” he said.
UC Berkeley reopens Bowles Hall as residential college
Bowles Hall is a residence hall unlike any other at UC Berkeley — a gorgeous Tudor mansion nestled just next to the football stadium in the hills above campus. Despite the building’s castle-like facade, for many years it settled into genteel disrepair, an all-male dorm that was out of favor with students and unaffordable for campus upkeep. The dorm is now an alums-funded residential college, where students can live, eat and study for the entirety of their collegiate experiences. Hundreds gathered Saturday to celebrate the reopening, with alumni spanning the building’s history returning to campus to witness the return of the residential college’s legacy. On a campus where students typically move off campus after one year in the dorms, the new Bowles Hall offers the antithesis of the typical Berkeley experience: a four-year, all-inclusive academic environment where students learn, eat and grow in a single residence hall their entire collegiate life. Bowles residents from the 1960s remember the dorm for its tight-knit community and lively spirit, fostered by the residence hall’s all-inclusive nature. Fred Strauss, class of ’70, recalled an annual luau in the building’s front yard, with students converting the lawn into a makeshift pool and building an elaborate waterfall from the building’s seventh-floor balcony. Warren Nordgren, class of ’62, remembered dropping water balloons on students returning home from final exams, and stringing a phone line between Bowles and an all-female dorm, Stern Hall. The dorm risked full-on closure when the Haas School of Business attempted to acquire the property and use it as a home for the school’s school’s executive education center, a nondegree program that offers training for companies. Bowles was closed for the 2015-2016 school year, while it underwent complete renovation, including returning a dining hall to the building and completely remaking the student housing.
Man stabbed to death in San Jose
Officers were called to Bascom Avenue and Leon Drive on a disturbance report and found the victim in the area. No arrests have been made, and the motive and circumstances surrounding the stabbing are under investigation. The man’s name will be released upon confirmation of his identity by the coroner’s office and notification of his family.
Lake County’s Clayton Fire 100 percent contained
A nearly 4,000-acre Lake County wildfire that blackened much of the town of Lower Lake was 100 percent contained as of Friday evening, fire officials said. The Clayton Fire destroyed at least 300 homes and businesses since it started August 13 and quickly burned through the community, forcing thousands to evacuate. Authorities said the fire was caused by arson, and arrested a former inmate firefighter on suspicion of starting the blaze.
Gov. Brown delivers huge blow to Oakland coal plan
A developer’s plan to ship coal from Oakland’s docks took a huge blow Friday when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to block state funds for any coal-shipping terminals in California and vowed to keep up a fight against the fossil fuel. On June 27, the Oakland City Council voted to disallow the plan, days after the city’s hired environmental consultant, ESA, released a report saying that coal dust can damage organs, stunt children’s growth and cause cancer. A spokesman for Tagami’s company, California Capital & Investment Group, said Friday that the developer and his shipping operator, Terminal Logistics Solutions, are still “evaluating their options.” Brown, who served as mayor of Oakland from 1999 to 2007 and appointed Tagami to serve as a port commissioner in 2000, had for months kept mum on the Oakland coal shipping plan even as it drew stern denunciations from Hancock, Schaaf, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, and 11 East Bay mayors in cities surrounding Oakland. Tagami and his allies have argued that a prohibition on coal could hinder the larger 130-acre development that California Capital & Investment Group is building at the long-defunct Army base in West Oakland, which requires millions of dollars in state funding and will add rail lines, warehouses and maritime support services to what has long been a vast industrial hinterland. “Including coal jeopardized funding sources, and certainly for this project it required so many entities to spend time, money and energy on protecting the community from this dangerous commodity, when we could have been moving toward something that everyone would welcome,” Schaaf said. Hancock argued, further, that if the Army base project can succeed only by putting “the largest coal export depot on the Pacific Coast right near the Bay Bridge,” then it was a flawed business proposition from the get-go.
Sen. Boxer’s ‘farewell tour’ a thank-you to California
The triumphs include the effort by California politicians in 1995 to prevent portions of the green enclave at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge from being sold to developers. On Friday, she also pledged to see whether there’s a way in her final months in Washington to find federal money to help pay for a cloak of new parkland that would hide automobile tunnels near Crissy Field. “I would hope so — we have a great case to make on so many levels,” Boxer said at the conclusion of her brief visit to the 1,491-acre former Army post, now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The thank-yous were directed at the officials on hand from the National Park Service and the Presidio Trust. Since the military handed off control of the Presidio in 1994, it has blossomed with new trails and scenic overlooks, while hundreds of buildings were restored and dump sites were replaced by native landscapes. The Presidio also is the only piece of the Park Service that is required to be financially self-sustaining — a condition imposed in 1996 after Republicans in Washington balked at putting $25 million or more annually into parkland within the borders of notoriously liberal San Francisco. […] the cost estimate now approaches $100 million, almost twice the original estimate for a project that relies on private fundraising being conducted by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Boxer, who moved several years ago from her longtime home in Marin to Rancho Mirage (Riverside County), made only one reference to the national political scene.
Fatal motorcycle crash closes northbound Golden Gate Bridge
A motorcyclist was killed Friday when he lost control and tumbled off his bike on Highway 101 at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, forcing the California Highway Patrol to close all of the northbound lanes during the evening commute. Witnesses told investigators that the motorcycle was northbound on the bridge at 5:55 p.m. when it hit the side of the bridge and crashed, said Andrew Barclay, spokesman for the CHP. Barclay said emergency personnel arrived shortly after the crash, but the motorcycle driver was declared dead at the scene. All three northbound lanes were closed for more than an hour, creating an enormous backup on Presidio Parkway, 19th Avenue, Lombard Street and Van Ness Avenue.
Golden Gate Bridge turns to texts to reach those in crisis
Gamboa, 49, said he doesn’t want to remember the anger he felt that day and the nightmare surrounding the death of his son, Kyle, a well-liked basketball player at Sacramento Waldorf High School. Gamboa later learned that sailors found his son lifeless in the water and that Kyle had done an Internet search for “suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge” just a few hours before taking his life. […] in another attempt to reach those in crisis, and young people in particular, the Golden Gate Bridge’s board of directors announced Friday a partnership with a texting hotline. Sign posts on the bridge will list a number that people can text with the keyword “GGB” that will connect them to a counselor who can provide resources and consolation. Once they get a location, Crisis Text Line will inform dispatchers, who send police officers to intervene and try talking people out of their plans. Some, though, cautioned that the texting service was unlikely to change suicide rates and want a proposed steel net to be built as soon as possible. The project was delayed after construction bids came in this summer twice as high as the expected price tag, but bridge officials hope to have it completed in the next four years. Paul Muller, president of the Bridge Rail Foundation, a Sausalito nonprofit that advocates installing the net, said it was improbable that someone who goes through the psychological barriers and physically travels to the bridge will text a counselor for help.
The prices on Craigslist rental listings are lowest on this day
Why do prices of rentals increase on Sunday?
Corrections, Aug. 27
Museum at the Palace plan denied, Aug. 20, Bay Area, C4 A story that began on C1 misstated the status of the Innovation Hangar at the Palace of Fine Arts. The educational-programming nonprofit continues to operate out of the space.
UC Berkeley suspends plans to build Global Campus in Richmond
Dirks, who announced his resignation last week amid widespread criticism, blamed ongoing budget challenges for the collapse of the UC Berkeley Global Campus project despite more than two years of debate, community meetings, planning and fundraising already invested in the effort. Yet Dirks’s resignation — amid concerns over his handling of a $150 million budget crisis and sexual harassment complaints — means the Richmond project will lose its biggest champion when he departs in 11 months. University spokesman Roqua Montez said that with the project on hold, “the University will… continue to explore options for the site that reflect new priorities for the campus around enrollment growth and housing in the near future.” The university described the 134-acre project as a development similar to UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay site, forming a “research and action hub,” with undergraduate and graduate-level programs focused on “global governance, ethics, political economy, cultural and international relations and practical engagement.” “Chancellor Dirks decided that the firm’s services were needed based on his assessment that the university would benefit if he were to have expanded access to and engagement with philanthropists around the world in order to increase philanthropic support for Berkeley,” according to a university statement. […] the project had its own share of controversy prior to the abrupt discontinuation Thursday. Last year, Dirks named former UC Berkeley vice chancellor Graham Fleming to help lead the effort — after the administrators had resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. Fleming, who was on sabbatical, was paid a $20,000 stipend and international travel expenses to be the “Global Campus ambassador” — compensation in addition to his annual $276,500 salary. In Richmond, the project was also controversial, with community groups and students demanding the university agree to conditions regarding job opportunities, housing and other benefits to residents and local businesses. “While we are deeply disappointed about the announced suspension of the UC Berkeley Global Campus in Richmond, we will continue to work with the city, the UC system, our national labs, and the state to pursue every opportunity to develop this valuable site for the benefit of our residents and the community,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.
The most San Francisco summer — just one day above 70 in August
It’s not your imagination — this August really has been San Francisco’s worst. Or one of them, anyway. The city has seen only one 70-degree day in August, according to meteorologists and collectors of weather records. The last time the city had a month that wouldn’t budge above 70 at all was 1942, and there have been only two other Augusts on record — in 1917 and 1882 — with that distinct dishonor. “We had the one day when we reached 70 degrees. That was on the eighth of August. And every other day has been in the 60s,” said Jan Null, a meteorologist for Golden Gate Weather Services who’s been tracking August records. It hasn’t been a brutally cold month, he noted. Just a persistent one.
Judge who sparked outcry in rape case transferring to civil court
A Santa Clara County judge who provoked national outrage after giving what was perceived as a slap on the wrist to an ex-Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman will be reassigned from the criminal to the civil division, the court announced Thursday. Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Brock Turner in June to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a 23-year-old drunken woman after a fraternity party, asked for the change, according to Risë Jones Pichon, the presiding judge of Santa Clara Superior Court. Judge Persky believes the change will aid the public and the court by reducing the distractions that threaten to interfere with his ability to effectively discharge the duties of his current criminal assignment. Turner, a talented swimmer from Dayton, Ohio, was arrested after two graduate students came across him lying on top of a partially clothed, unconscious woman in a field near a trash bin.
San Jose police officers found to be staying in RV’s outside HQ
With a police shortage in San Jose, coupled with mandatory overtime that adds up to 17-hour workdays, it turns out that at least a dozen officers are living in RV’s outside of the San Jose Police Department.
Judith Liteky, SF organizer for Latino war refugees, dies at 74
Judith Liteky, who spent decades organizing support for Central American war refugees and protests against a U.S. training center for Latin American military leaders, died Saturday of multiple myeloma at her home in San Francisco. Ms. Liteky left an order of Catholic nuns in 1973 to become a college teacher in San Francisco, where she developed a program for young Latina women and later became involved in the sanctuary movement for refugees. In 1984, she married Charles Liteky, who as an Army chaplain in Vietnam had won the Medal of Honor for carrying more than 20 wounded soldiers through gunfire to safety in 1967. The government-run School of the Americas, at Fort Benning, Ga., trains Central and South American military leaders in combat and counterinsurgency techniques. Another attendee was the late Roberto d’Aubuisson, a rightist Salvador politician accused by his opponents of promoting death squads in his nation’s civil war. Ms. Liteky was a plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to require the U.S. government to release the names of the Latin American military personnel who have attended the school. President Bill Clinton’s administration had begun making the information public, starting in 1994, and the list contained more than 60,000 names dating to the school’s founding in 1946, but the disclosures were halted in 2004 under President George W. Bush’s administration, an action the Obama administration has continued. Ms. Liteky and other plaintiffs said they had evidence that the school admitted military personnel who had previously been accused of human rights violations.
Curran Theatre maintains liquor license under new law
[…] whenever it happens, a new state law will keep the alcohol flowing. Legislation by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown, fills a gap in the law that could have left the theater without a liquor license. […] differences between the new solo owner, Carole Shorenstein Hays, and the former owner, SHN, which she helped to found, have left the Curran without the license it used to sell beer, wine and spirits at its bar. Judson True, Chiu’s chief of staff, described the measure as “a narrow, technical fix” to a 2013 law that set standards for liquor licenses at the city’s historic theaters.
SF pleads its case with Washington on preferential housing policy
The federal government is “wrong as a matter of law and public policy” to reject San Francisco’s plan to reserve 40 percent of subsidized units for neighborhood residents, City Attorney Dennis Herrera told federal housing officials Thursday. The city’s neighborhood preference policy is an attempt to stem the exodus of African Americans and members of other minority groups from neighborhoods that are rapidly gentrifying. The Board of Supervisors approved it in December after months of debate on how to ensure that new affordable housing units would be available to people who live in the neighborhoods where the developments are being built. Supporters of the plan hoped it would help African Americans improve their odds in selection lotteries for below-market units in market-rate developments and fully subsidized projects. The federal decision would mean that neighborhood residents wouldn’t get preferential selection for the Willie B. Kennedy development at Turk and Webster streets in the Western Addition, a 98-unit senior housing development set to open this fall. A group of city officials, including Olson Lee, who heads the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to try to persuade HUD officials to change their position on neighborhood preference.
Muckraking SF journalist Warren Hinckle dies at 77
Warren Hinckle, a happily hard-drinking swashbuckler of San Francisco journalism who mixed leftist leanings with an everlasting contempt for the powerful, died early Thursday. Mr. Hinckle had been in declining health and died of complications from pneumonia at a hospital near his home in San Francisco, relatives said. From his groundbreaking days of editing the iconic liberal magazines Ramparts and Scanlan’s Monthly in the 1960s and ’70s to his reliably irreverent columns for newspapers, including The Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner, Mr. Hinckle delighted in tweaking anyone in charge of anything and muckraking for what he fiercely saw as the common good. With his ever-present Basset hound Bentley in tow, Mr. Hinckle held forth at watering holes and events throughout the city, tossing off one-liners in a low growl like a late-night comic. Along the way, the one-eyed rapscallion — he’d lost his left eye in a childhood car accident and wore a patch — drew the wrath of mayors, police and anyone who got in his way, and he reveled in it. The resultant rollicking article, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,” not only launched the over-the-top, personalized journalism that came to be known as gonzo, it began a lifelong friendship between Mr. Hinckle and Thompson. “It was kind of like the portrait of Dorian Gray,” said longtime friend Ron Turner, founder of the book’s publisher, Last Gasp Books. While executive editor of Ramparts from 1964 to 1969, Mr. Hinckle pioneered “radical slick” — publishing early denunciations of the Vietnam War and diaries by such leftist figures as Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara and Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver in a mass-marketed magazine. The magazine began in 1962 in Menlo Park as a stodgy, intellectual Catholic publication, but when Mr. Hinckle signed on he moved the headquarters to San Francisco and tacked its direction hard left. Mr. Hinckle then embarked on a career as a newspaper columnist for The Chronicle, Examiner and San Francisco Independent, earning a reputation for filing notes from a barstool or ambling into the newsroom just before — or after — deadline to bang out his prose. Chronicle reporter Steve Rubenstein, who worked alongside him as a columnist in the 1980s, recalled Mr. Hinckle dictating his copy “an hour from deadline from any of a number of watering holes in San Francisco, where his beverage of choice was not the same as Bentley’s.” The scruffy Dovre Club Irish saloon in the Mission District was one of Mr. Hinckle’s favorites, and when it was forced to move a few blocks away in 1997 to make room for a building housing service agencies for women, he was so angry he tried to barricade the doors with his pals on its last day. Incensed by police raids on the Mitchell Brothers strip club — where he often convened with Thompson to rail against restrictions of sexual expression — he once helped post the mayor’s unlisted phone number on the marquee with, “For a good time, call Dianne.” “Warren was always the smartest guy in the room, and at college he was smarter than the teachers,” said Chronicle reporter Carl Nolte, who was then working in media relations for the university and later worked alongside Mr. Hinckle. After graduating, he joined The Chronicle as a reporter covering mostly crime news, but soon moved on to his magazine work at Ramparts. In 1974 he wrote an autobiography, “If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade,” and it served as a sort of manifesto for the puncher’s attitude he carried throughout his life. Mr. Hinckle is survived by his longtime partner, Linda Corso; daughters Pia Hinckle of San Francisco and Hilary Hinckle of New York; a son, Warren J. Hinckle IV of Boston; a sister, Marianne Hinckle of San Francisco; a brother, Robert Hinckle of Reno; and five grandchildren.
Signs to ease traffic on I-80 in East Bay set to come to life
New electronic signs will blink on Thursday in an attempt by traffic engineers to help motorists on one of the most congested sections of highway in the Bay Area avoid even more traffic misery. More than 110 advisory signs will be activated on the 20-mile stretch of westbound Interstate 80 between the Carquinez Bridge and the Bay Bridge and on surrounding roads, said Shannon Brinias, spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation. The electronic messages, mounted on 11 overhead structures, will display green arrows to indicate the lane is clear, a yellow X to alert motorists that there is some kind of issue ahead and a red X, meaning the lane is blocked up ahead, Brinias said. The idea is to alert motorists about trouble ahead so they can change lanes, which will hopefully ease commute gridlock and clear the way for emergency vehicles, said a Caltrans advisory.
Sen. Steve Glazer to vote ‘no’ on BART measure
State Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, who has relentlessly railed against BART, its labor contracts and financial mismanagement, told The Chronicle Wednesday that he will vote against Measure RR, the $3.5 billion property tax proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot to upgrade the regional rail transit system. Glazer’s opposition is bad news for the Yes on RR campaign, since the senator’s district covers most of central and eastern Contra Costa County and the Tri-Valley in Alameda County — areas where support for the bond measure is not considered particularly strong. Nick Josefowitz, a BART director from San Francisco, speaking for the pro-bond campaign, declined to discuss the significance of Glazer’s opposition other than to say the campaign’s efforts were focused on voters rather than politicians. Glazer has made clear his dissatisfaction with BART management, especially over what he sees as lavish labor contracts. In February, as BART directors contemplated a bond measure, he organized a group of elected local and state officials who threatened to oppose any proposal asking voters for funds unless BART negotiated a “financially responsible contract” with its labor unions before going to the ballot. BART officials quietly bargained a four-year contract extension with its unions, announced in April, that ensured no labor strike would take place in 2017 when negotiations for new deals were scheduled. Recent stories of excessive overtime, on-train security cameras that don’t work, salary bonuses for workers and big raises for BART managers, he said, persuaded him to oppose Measure RR. Josefowitz said BART directors and other bond supporters have been getting a supportive response from people around the district as they spread the message of BART’s need to upgrade the 44-year-old system troubled by aging infrastructure and overwhelmed by record ridership.
Nextdoor social network adds features to combat racial profiling
Nextdoor social network adds features to combat racial profiling Beset by accusations that his neighborly social network had become a breeding ground for race-based fear-mongering, the head of Nextdoor rolled out new features Wednesday that he said will combat the problem. “We know it’s not the last bit of work we have to do, but it’s a pretty significant milestone,” Chief Executive Officer Nirav Tolia told a roomful of reporters at the company’s headquarters on Market Street in San Francisco, hours after the changes were implemented in 110,000 neighborhoods across the country. Tolia said that Nextdoor is the first social media company to deal with racism head-on by changing aspects of its product, at the risk of alienating some users. Nextdoor, a get-to-know-your-neighbors network meant to be the kind of place where people can advertise garage sales or find babysitters, came under fire last year after Oakland residents and civic leaders said it was being used to spread bias. Stunned by the onslaught of warnings about African American men in hoodies or “dark-skinned” people driving by in cars, residents in the city’s Dimond and Glenview neighborhoods formed a social media watchdog group, Neighbors for Racial Justice, which began pressing city officials and Nextdoor to address the problem. The group found an audience in City Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington, who met with executives from Nextdoor several times and encouraged them to make reforms. Nextdoor says it will discourage both types of profiling with new pop-up screens that appear whenever someone posts in its “crime and safety” forums, prompting users to give at least two details besides the race or ethnicity of the person they are describing — such as what type of hair the person has, or what type of shoes he or she is wearing. The company has also begun “empathy trainings” for Nextdoor “leads” — the volunteers who start individual Nextdoor networks in their neighborhoods and who are empowered to delete abusive posts. The point of the trainings, which started with three face-to-face sessions in Oakland but will be offered online in other cities, is to help define racial profiling so that moderators know what to look out for, Tolia said. In test-runs of thousands of posts, Tolia said that while the company saw a 75 percent reduction in posts that it characterized as racially biased, it also saw a 50 percent “abandonment rate” — meaning half of the participants ditched their posts midway through writing them, because they didn’t have enough information to fill all the check boxes in the pop-up windows. Audrey Esquivel, a resident of Oakland’s Glenview neighborhood and member of Neighbors for Racial Justice, said that she, too, was encouraged by the social network’s reforms, and that she hopes the new features will teach people to be more conscientious, in general, about their own implicit biases.
Oakland fire smoke seen around the city – tweets and reaction
A fire near 14th and Myrtle streets in Oakland was causing smoke plumes seen around the city on Wednesday.
Federal review: No bias against Lucas in Presidio museum proposal
The Presidio Trust’s board was not misled by its employees when it decided to reject George Lucas’ bid to build a waterfront museum within the unusual national park, federal investigators say. A Department of the Interior review of the controversial 2014 decision “did not substantiate the allegations” of Lucas supporters that the filmmaker was treated unfairly by staff members, according to a report released this week by the department’s inspector general. In sorting through 37,000 emails — generated by a Freedom of Information Act request from Lucas backers — investigators also found no evidence of any actions that violated Trust policies. […] “everything found by investigators pointed to no prejudgment” by the appointed board or its staff, said Nancy DiPaolo, a spokeswoman for the inspector general’s office. According to DiPaolo, it took “six or seven months” and involved “multiple investigators,” though not on a full-time basis.
California test scores rise in second year of new standards
Public-school students’ standardized test scores in math and English were up across the board this year in California, with students in every grade and from every ethnic group showing improvement, according to results released Wednesday. Overall, 49 percent of the 3.2 million students who took the exams met or exceeded standards for their grade level in English, up from 44 percent the year before. “These positive results are based on a new college and career readiness assessment that is online, and expects students to demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving skills unlike the old, multiple-choice tests they replace,” said state Board of Education President Mike Kirst. There was little to no improvement, for example, in narrowing the achievement gap, with African American, Latino and low-income students continuing to lag far behind their peers. Twenty-nine percent of African American students met or exceeded standards in English, and 18 percent hit that mark in math. San Francisco’s overall scores reflect the district’s large Asian American enrollment, a subgroup with significantly more students reaching or exceeding standards. District officials acknowledged a big achievement gap, with African American students significantly behind their peers. While SFUSD students demonstrate greater proficiency than many of their peers in urban schools across the state,” said district Superintendent Richard Carranza, “these results also reinforce how critical it is to focus on closing the achievement gap for our African American and Latino students.
Sebastopol man, 38, dies in solo pickup truck crash
Sebastopol man, 38, dies in solo pickup truck crash A 38-year-old Sebastopol man died after crashing a pickup truck into a pole in that city Tuesday morning, the California Highway Patrol said. CHP officers responded to reports of a collision on Occidental Road near Jonive Road at about 8:20 a.m. There, officials determined a Chevrolet Silverado had sped into a utility pole, breaking it in half. The CHP said damp road conditions and the driver’s speed were being investigated as factors in the crash.
Kevin “KC” Jones, who helped electrify Muni trolley, dies
Mr. Jones died of head injuries on July 21, three weeks after a suffering a bicycle accident near Glen Park. A native of Cambridge, Mass., and a 1979 graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Mr. Jones came to San Francisco in 1981 and worked for three decades as a software engineer for such companies as Autodesk, Microsoft, Leapfrog and Skype. Acutely aware as he aged that he was working in a young person’s field, Mr. Jones remained open to the near-constant evolution of his profession. For years, Mr. Jones was active in public school issues in San Francisco, volunteering in classrooms and at fundraisers. “I always valued when KC weighed in, in a forum that was often contentious and heated,” recalled Lorraine Woodruff-Long, former executive director of Parents for Public Schools in San Francisco. A tall, funny, thoughtful and gregarious man, Mr. Jones was at home in the kitchen, where he enjoyed crafting his famed lemon pie or his specialty orzo-feta salad.
SF history group raising funds for plaque to mark ’06 quake
There’s not a single brass plaque to tell the story, city historians say, brass plaques being a big deal in the history business. “We’ve even got a brass plaque in San Francisco marking the place where the first slot machine was invented,” said historian Joseph Amster. The spot is also just a few steps from equally historic Lotta’s Fountain, the elegant edifice and earthquake shrine on a traffic island with three large waterspouts designed for watering horses, should that mode of transport make a comeback. Amster, a board member of the history association, is heading the online fundraising campaign and also trying to figure out how to condense the history of the disaster into 200 words and still squeeze in a plug for the de Young Building. Fortunately, nearly eight months remain before the plaque is to be unveiled at next April’s quake anniversary celebration, Armster said, so there’s plenty of time to delete either Philadelphia or Baltimore before the 6-by-4-foot chunk of bronze goes to the foundry. Just above the wall where the plaque will go hangs a surveillance camera linked to the Ritz-Carlton Residence Hotel, which occupies the de Young building these days. The lovely new plaque should be safe enough there, Amster said, as an outfit like the Ritz-Carlton has deep pockets and probably does not install dummy surveillance cameras like the ones on BART trains that kicked up all the fuss. When he’s not shaking down do-gooders for plaque donations, Amster spends his days dressing up as Emperor Norton and conducting $20-a-head walking tours of San Francisco. San Francisco does have the gold-painted fire hydrant at Church and 20th streets and the Portals of the Past monument in Golden Gate Park, and each has a small marker, but neither tells the full story of the quake. Among the people who could stand a bit of educating about the 1906 quake were newlyweds Dan and Sarah Garbutt, a couple from Leeds, England, who said Tuesday that they did not even know an earthquake had occurred in San Francisco. The Garbutts had just arrived that morning on a flight from London to celebrate their marriage, which had occurred 48 hours earlier, and as they walked down Geary Street past Lotta’s Fountain and toward their hotel, their minds appeared to be on other subjects besides history.
Ruling expected to favor low-income residents of Oakland hotel
[…] Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker is fighting to keep 34 immigrant households there months after, she says, the hotel owners began destroying the communal bathrooms and kitchen, ruining the building’s interior as a ploy to boot out longtime tenants and jack up rents — all in the name of gentrification. The property owners also seized Lunar New Year decorations from tenants’ doors and neglected necessary repairs throughout the building, leaving water leaks, gashes in the windows and missing floor tiles, and allowing sheet rock to spill into the showers, according to a lawsuit filed June 17 by the city attorney, the housing rights law firm Sundeen Salinas & Pyle, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco legal group Asian Americans Advancing Justice. The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, charges the hotel owners and manager with negligence, fair housing violations and elder abuse. In a tentative ruling last week favoring the tenants, Judge Brad Seligman rejected the defendants’ assertions that they did not intend to displace the residents, noting that the building owners had repeatedly offered to pay tenants to move out. “We’re one step closer to asserting our rights,” said plaintiff Wing Fu Mah, who moved into the hotel in February 2015 — before the current owners James Kilpatrick, NAI Northern California/Highway Property Management and Green Group LP purchased it in September. Later that month, building managers began trashing the curtains and Chinese scrolls that tenants hung on their doors, as well as the tangerines they displayed on door ledges as New Year’s blessings, the lawsuit said. In court declarations, representatives of Green Group LP blamed some of the demolition work on the company’s hired contractor, Everlast Construction, saying it had mistakenly torn down walls in the second-floor bathrooms when it was supposed to demolish only some bathrooms on the first floor. Everlast was fired on June 30 and a new contractor, Reed Construction, began work on July 18, according to Thomas Kerbleski, a senior acquisitions analyst with Lakeside Investment Co., which is a partner of Green Group LP.
BART major delays over police activity – tweets and reaction
BART was reporting major delays due to police activity at the West Oakland station on Tuesday.
Two die when truck plummets into Russian River
At least two people were killed and Highway 1 was closed Tuesday morning in Jenner when a truck crashed and plunged into the Russian River, officials said. The crash was reported about 8:30 a.m., but by the time California Highway Patrol officers arrived at the scene of the Sonoma County town, the two in the truck were dead, with one floating in the water and another still in the cab of the vehicle, according to the CHP. By 9:30 a.m., officers were waiting for a tow truck to excavate the submerged vehicle and divers to recover the bodies.
Cult favorites Bay Area residents swear by
We’ve gathered some of the Bay Area’s cult favorites. On the list you’ll find our favorite gear, places to get coffee, and of course, tech products.
$1 million to rent a tent: Insane Gold Rush prices that make modern-day SF seem cheap
A look back into San Francisco’s history may make you feel better about how much you’re paying to rent here today.
Donations sought for woman hit by 100-pound tree limb in SF park
Donations sought for woman hit by 100-pound tree limb in SF park An online donation fund has been created to help a San Francisco woman with medical costs after a tree crushed her at a North Beach park and left her paralyzed, family members said. Cui Ying Zhou, 36, was inside Washington Square watching her daughters play on August 12 when a large tree branch fell and hit her on the head, fire officials and relatives said. Crews estimate the tree limb weighed approximately 100 pounds and fell from a distance of about 50 feet, said Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a San Francisco Fire Department spokesman. The tree that dropped the limb, identified as a Canary Island pine, was listed in good condition then. San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Kurtis Alexander contributed to this report.
Stanford limits undergrads’ consumption of hard alcohol on campus
In a move to put an end to a burgeoning culture of boozing, Stanford University announced Monday that it is banning consumption of hard alcohol by undergraduates at campus parties. High volume liquor containers of 750 milliliters or larger, popularly known as “a fifth,” would also be forbidden in all undergraduate housing, according to a Stanford news release announcing the policy change. Liquor would, however, be allowed at parties hosted by student organizations and residences where graduate students live. The decision comes after several recent incidents on campus, including the notorious case of Brock Turner, who was sentenced in June to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a drunken and unconscious woman after a fraternity party when he was 20. In his plea for leniency, Turner, a champion swimmer from Dayton, Ohio, told the judge that he planned to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.” Around 1 a.m., two graduate students came across Turner lying on top of the partially clothed, unconscious woman in a field next to garbage bins near the fraternity. The case highlighted for many women’s advocates how sex assault cases are often trivialized as a result of the college drinking culture. “We must create a campus community that allows for alcohol to be a part of the social lives of some of our students, but not to define the social and communal lives of all of our students,” Greg Boardman, vice provost for student affairs, wrote to all incoming students.
A new voice for the East Bay in The Chronicle
Over the years, they’ve broken news, been a voice for the less fortunate, made us cry, driven us to anger, and put into words ideas we were thinking but hadn’t yet articulated. Herb Caen, Art Hoppe, Stanton Delaplane, Charles McCabe, Terrence O’Flaherty and Lucius Beebe are just some of the writers who have defined Northern California in the pages of The Chronicle. More than 20 columnists now appear regularly in the newspaper and on SFChronicle.com, continuing the Chronicle tradition of reflecting the Bay Area experience through a variety of opinions and perspectives. Like so many of us, Otis didn’t grow up in the Bay Area, and because of that he still has a bit of an outsider’s view of what makes the East Bay so special.
Spectacular photos of Yosemite National Park from space
During a recent mission, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams took photos of California’s Yosemite National Park, Monterey Peninsula, and Central Valley.
Trader Joe’s opening in downtown SF Oct. 14, accepting job applications today
Soon, you’ll be able to step out of the Powell Street BART station and pick up a bottle of Charles Shaw.
Light rain falls in parts of Bay Area
Light rain falls in parts of Bay Area Brian Mejia, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said Point Reyes was still getting a few showers Monday morning, and that the area recorded a hundredth of an inch of precipitation. The Bay Area showers, thunderstorms and few lightning strikes were being generated by the outer bands of a storm swirling over British Columbia, Canada, Mejia said. San Francisco and the coast are expected to see partly cloudy skies the rest of Monday, with temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s.
Firefighters douse smoke on roof of Ferry Building
Smoke that was billowing from the roof of San Francisco’s Ferry Building on Monday morning apparently came from a cooking fire in one of the building’s restaurants, fire officials said. The one-alarm fire at the iconic building on the Embarcadero was first reported at 7:14 a.m. Firefighters used ladder trucks to attack the smoke emanating from a ventilation shaft on the roof. Ferry service to the and from the Ferry Building was not affected, but commuters were told to expect delays along the Embarcadero while firefighters remained on scene.
Things all San Franciscans have said
There are so many ways to experience San Francisco, but there are also experiences many of us share. So check out our gallery for some of our favorite one-liners you’ve probably said or overheard in SF. And whatever you do, don’t miss the video above, where we talked to some locals for their thoughts.
Man dies in Oakland car crash
A man died early Sunday morning in a car crash in Oakland, police said. The crash occurred around 3:45 a.m. on the 5400 block of International Boulevard, Oakland police Officer James Henry said. Henry could not say whether anyone else was involved in the crash. Additional details about the victim or the crash were not available. Benjamin Din is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected]
SF celebrates pingpong with Chinatown tournament
Ranging from one-day Olympic hopefuls to the ultra-novices, scores of competitors grabbed their paddles and headed to San Francisco’s Chinatown on Sunday, where they faced off among a clatter of whizzing balls in the neighborhood’s ever-popular annual pingpong tournament. The crowded contest, held at four locations around Chinatown, is a testament to the sport’s growing popularity among nearly every demographic in the United States and its continued dominance in China, a country that swept all four of the sport’s gold medals at the Rio Olympic Games. Other matches were held at tournament sites at Jean Parker and Gordon J. Lau elementary schools, where players on some 52 teams packed in shoulder-to-shoulder and rivals swung wildly, some diving, at the speeding, nearly invisible, inch-and-a-half-wide balls. After a brief round of speeches, Lee grabbed a paddle himself and took several challengers to school in heads-up rallies, including interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin and Central Station Captain David Lazar. The table tennis phenom rode up from San Jose where she trains nearly every day and is used to shocking opponents with her prodigious pingpong prowess. China has won 28 of 32 gold medals since table tennis was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1988. Yelena Karshtedt, who at the Games in Brazil working as a table tennis umpire, was back in the Bay Area to help out with Sunday’s event. […] while many of the people packed into gyms and rec centers in Chinatown on Sunday may never go on to compete seriously, they represent the ground swell that could go on to produce the first American medalist.
Health warning for shellfish from Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay
State public health officials have issued a that consumers should avoid eating rock crabs caught in Half Moon Bay and bivalve shellfish and rock crabs caught in Monterey Bay. Crabs and bivalve shellfish caught in waters south of Pigeon Point and north of Cypress Point in Monterey County were found to have “dangerous levels” of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. Officials say there have been no reported illnesses associated with this current warning, but severe cases can result in trouble breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short term memory coma or death. The warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters from approved sources, as certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for toxins.
Corrections, Aug. 21
As goes Trump statue, so goes city’s humor, Aug. 20, Bay Area, C1 A C.W. Nevius column about Donald Trump statues misidentified the cities where they appeared. They were in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle and Cleveland.
Big Sur fire not expected to be contained until end of September
A stubborn fire in the Big Sur region grew more than 2,000 acres to almost 84,000 acres after starting nearly a month ago, officials said Saturday. The fire is not expected to be fully contained until the end of September, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. A bulldozer operator working with a private contractor died after rolling the heavy equipment in an area of the fire in July.
Evacuation order rescinded for Lower Lake
All evacuation orders for Lower Lake have been lifted as firefighters work to put out a blaze in Lake County that has burned nearly 4,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, officials said Friday. With 75 percent of the Clayton Fire contained, officials said the thousands of Lower Lake residents who were forced to flee can now return to their homes — if they’re still there. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection rescinded a mandatory evacuation order for the community of Lower Lake at 4 p.m. Friday and opened several area roads. A 40-year-old man officials describe as a serial arsonist was arrested on on arson charges in connection to the Clayton Fire after authorities say they traced him to the origin. Pashilk was an inmate firefighter for four months in 2007 while serving a 5-year prison sentence on various drug possession and firearm violations, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
SF takes Tony Bennett to heart by unveiling statue
Classic crooner Tony Bennett, accompanied by S.F. Protocol Chief Charlotte Shultz, celebrates the unveiling of an 8-foot-tall bronze statue in his honor Friday in front of the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill.
Good Samaritans in Tiburon come to the rescue of a crow
A young crow is slowly recuperating after getting entangled in kite string for hours in a Tiburon eucalyptus tree before an arborist came to the rescue, officials said Friday. Tiburon resident Curt Wozniak said he spotted the bird silently fluttering its trapped wings Tuesday night across the street from his home off Tiburon Boulevard. Sometime after 10:30 p.m, arborist and tree climber Jim Cairnes learned of the crow’s plight and assembled a harness, helmet and headlamp to scale the 40-foot tree. An hour later, Cairnes cut the kite string, tied it to the end of a rope, and slowly lowered the bird to a Marin Humane Society officer on the ground, officials said.
Rescued egrets, herons take wing at Oakland marsh
[…] in a busy downtown area, what would normally just be an embarrassing tumble becomes a potential death sentence. With development picking up in Oakland and more buildings brushing against the birds’ natural shoreline habitat, many of them are migrating downtown and finding “the kind of trees they like,” said Ilana DeBare, the society’s spokeswoman. Some of those birds survive and return to the wild, but many face grave harm: concussions from falls on the street, broken wings, malnutrition because they can’t get back up to their nests to eat. Two years ago, tree trimmers lopped off dozens of tree branches near the Oakland Civic Center Post Office, sending nestlings careening to the ground with bruises and fractures. Zoo staff then shipped the injured fowl off to the bird rescue facility in Fairfield for rehabilitation. Most likely they will stay in the Bay Area, Bergeron said; wildlife experts have found the birds nesting on the shoreline seven years after their release. Long term, the best solution is to create more sites where the birds can nest away from traffic, DeBare said. […] that happens, she said, Golden Gate Audubon will continue its rescue effort.
Cops: bicyclist reached into moving car to swipe cell phone
A thief on a bicycle was injured and arrested after he rode alongside a car on a San Francisco street, reached through an open window and snatched a passenger’s cell phone before crashing, police said. The 30-year-old victim was sitting in the front passenger seat of the moving vehicle talking on his cell phone when the bicyclist’s reached in and grabbed the device, said Officer Carlos Manfredi, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department. When police officers arrived, they initially thought they were responding to a collision between a bicyclist and a vehicle.
Naked Trump statue removed from Castro
The naked Donald Trump statue that both awed and grossed out people in San Francisco’s Castro District was taken into custody by the city Department of Public Works early Friday. Before dawn, workers uprooted the larger-than-life-size sculpture of the Republican presidential candidate that was glued to the pavement at Jane Warner Plaza at Castro and Market streets. Lefty O’Doul’s, the famed Geary Street restaurant and pub, wants to display the statue — once it is “released from DPW custody,” the business announced in a statement. Weiner, who is expected to attend the press conference at Lefy O’Doul’s, tried to get DWP to leave the statue in place in the Castro, but officials said it was presenting a traffic hazard by attracting crowds that spilled into the streets. The statue suddenly appeared about 8 a.m. Thursday morning and quickly became a star attraction, with people clamoring to take photos of it.
Shooting marks Berkeley’s first homicide of 2016
Police discovered the wounded man just before midnight after responding to numerous reports of gunfire in the area of Mabel and Burnett streets in the southwest part of the city. “We don’t believe that there is an immediate threat to the community as the shooting does not appear to have been random,” Berkeley Police officials said in a statement. No one has been arrested in the slaying and detectives are asking for the public’s help in solving the case.
Joani Blank, feminist activist who founded Good Vibrations, dies
When Joani Blank, founder of San Francisco’s sex shop Good Vibrations, learned that she was dying of pancreatic cancer in June, she decided to approach death the way she had approached sex: no-nonsense and full steam ahead. Ms. Blank died Aug. 6 surrounded by family in her Oakland home, opting to take advantage of California’s recently enacted aid-in-dying law to orchestrate the timing of her death. Up until her final moments, the pioneer of female sexuality served as a guiding light for others. Ms. Blank decided she did not want a funeral and instead organized a celebration of life at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland so she could say goodbye to friends, family and admirers. Hundreds arrived to celebrate Ms. Blank’s lengthy career as an activist, entrepreneur and champion of feminist ideals. Ms. Blank learned through interviews that many everyday women weren’t comfortable purchasing vibrators because of the environment they were typically sold in. […] Ms. Blank lived all over the country before landing in San Francisco in 1971. Always full of energy and new ideas, Ms. Blank dedicated herself to the First Unitarian Church choir and the Cohousing Association of the United States — a group that encourages communal living as a sustainable and equitable housing method. “Her life was based on advancing social justice issues, and the bigger picture always took precedence over her personal struggles,” her daughter, Amika Sergejev, wrote on Facebook.
Crash involving school bus on Petaluma street
Crash involving school bus on Petaluma street A special needs school bus and another car crashed on a Petaluma street Thursday afternoon, California Highway Patrol said. The crash was not on a highway, but CHP responds to all school bus crashes, Sloat said.
Member of Olympic fencing team loses new home in Clayton Fire
Member of Olympic fencing team loses new home in Clayton Fire […] for Matthew Porter, 59, who as armorer of the U.S. Olympics fencing team helped deliver four American medals, this was the news from his wife from their Northern California community of Lower Lake. The couple’s home, Porter learned, was in the path of Lake County’s devastating Clayton Fire. The couple had just finished moving their personal belongings as well as their online fencing business from Pacifica. Making matters worse, the Porters hadn’t yet bought fire insurance, they said. The Clayton Fire has destroyed an estimated 268 structures since it began Saturday, the last day the U.S. fencing team was competing in the Olympic Games. Porter’s job as armorer was to take care of the weaponry for the 17 American athletes participating in the sport. Among them was a bronze for the women’s saber team, which included Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American woman to wear the hijab at the Games.
Donald Trump Statue, ‘The Emperor Has No Balls,’ Appears In The Castro [NSFW]
An unflattering (and NSFW) statue appeared in the Castro this morning of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Richmond’s Salute restaurant’s eviction notice withdrawn
Salute E Vita, which is known both for its cuisine and for the philanthropy of its owner, Menbere Aklilu, was handed a 30-day eviction notice on August 5, in what some activists and city leaders claim was an act of political retaliation by a landowner who for years has jousted with the city. Jacqueline Poe, whose firm Penterra Company owns the building, withdrew the notice on Thursday, saying she would give Salute “one more chance” to fix what she said were severe plumbing leaks that threatened the health and safety of customers. “Penterra’s decision to give the restaurant one more chance stems from the corrective actions that is believed to have taken place since the August 5 termination notice,” Poe said in a statement released Thursday. Officials from Contra Costa Health Services inspected the building in August, and dismissed Poe’s claims of a sewage leak. “The mayor, rather than appropriately dealing with the serious health issue at hand and directing city code cnforcement to investigate, chose instead to mislead the public and the press by stating the failure of ballot Measure N as the reason for the landlord-tenant dispute,” Richard Poe said in his own statement, also issued Thursday.
San Francisco delighted by naked Trump statue
The figure is actually a full-size, nude statue of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Placed at the corner of the Jane Warner Plaza, the figure is both realistic and grotesque. Perfect, say members of INDECLINE, a nonprofit American Activist group that installed five Trump statues in five major American cities: A spokesman for the group said it took months of planning to install the statues. Each was placed in a prominent spot in each city on Thursday morning at 8 a.m. sharp, then glued to the pavement with industrial epoxy for maximum staying power. The crowds began to gather as soon as the paunchy, raunchy figure went up. Six hours later people were still crowding around, taking selfies and making the obligatory jokes. […] as of Thursday afternoon, it seemed likely that the naked Trump rump would continue to be on display for some time. “We have not received any complaints,” said Department of Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon. Monroe was recruited by the group because he works with people who create haunted houses, creating scary characters. Monroe worked on the statues for nearly five months, using 300 pounds of “Monster Makers Oil Clay” and 400 pounds of concrete and rebar. The statue is meant to be a takeoff on the familiar fairy tale line, “The emperor has no clothes.” “Trump was on our radar months back,” the INDECLINE spokesman said, but unfortunately it became more and more of a reality. People are apparently mentally malleable enough to fall for his s—-. “People have asked if I was upset that the statues are being destroyed,” he said. […] he says, he still has the mold and says he’s hoping “someone will want one of these for their collection.”
SF motorcycle cop hurt in Mission District crash
A San Francisco motorcycle officer was injured Wednesday when he was struck from behind by a car while stopped at a traffic light in the Mission District, officials said. The officer, whose name was not released, suffered non-life threatening injuries in the 3:15 p.m. crash on 16th Street at Sanchez Street, officials said. The officer was treated at the scene by paramedics and released. The driver who hit him remained at the scene and was cooperating with investigators.
Coit Tower – tales of murder, drag, suicide, and a small round apartment
Lillie Hitchcock Coit was a San Francisco eccentric, dubbed the “mascot” fire-fighter with the Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 5. She wore a no. 5 pendant for years after she stopped chasing fires. Per Coit Tower Tours, Lillie smoked cigars, gambled in the men only storefronts in the North Beach section of the city and wore men’s clothing as a way to gain entrance.
Pregnant woman hurt in San Jose crash dies; baby born at hospital
A pregnant 18-year-old woman died from injuries she received in a Highway 101 crash Wednesday morning in San Jose, but her baby was born. Dulce Araceli Capetillo Hernandez of San Jose died at Santa Clara Valley Regional Medical Center after initially complaining only of a leg injury, said Officer Ross Lee, a CHP San Jose spokesman. Hernandez was a passenger in a silver Honda Civic that swerved off of the road and hit a black BMW 745 that was parked on the right shoulder of southbound Highway 101 near Tully Road, Lee said. The Honda driver, a 20-year-old man who was not the father of the baby, hit the BMW about 1:50 a.m. All three crash victims were taken to the hospital. The driver of the Honda Civic was taken to a different hospital — Regional Medical Center — with moderate injuries.
SF public invited to help shape future of city subways
A San Francisco effort to change the way the city plans for transportation, dubbed Connect SF, rolls to a start with an invitation to the public to go to a website and draw on a map where future subway lines and stations should be situated. Subway Vision is the result of legislation proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, and passed by the Board of Supervisors last fall, that calls for creation of a subway master plan, based on Wiener’s idea that the city should have a list of subway projects lined up so that as soon as one is completed, the next is ready to break ground. San Francisco has grown by 200,000 people and the Bay Area has grown by nearly 2 million people and we’re suffering consequences of letting our subway and rail construction to grind to a halt. A subway beneath Geary Boulevard has long been a dream of many commuters and transit advocates, and in recent years, a push has started to extend the under-construction Central Subway to Fisherman’s Wharf and to put a portion of the M-Ocean View line under 19th Avenue. The subway plan is just the start of SF Connect, a joint effort by the Municipal Transportation Agency, Planning Department, County Transportation Authority and the mayor’s office to coordinate transportation planning and take a long view — 50 years. Past planning has taken into account land-use and transportation, said John Rahaim, city planning director, but hasn’t focused enough on a long-term vision with an eye to how transportation and growth affect each other. After the subway vision effort, the agencies plan to revise a collection of city transportation plans that govern spending and projects as well as take a longer-term look at how and where the city should grow and how transportation can service or even control that growth.
Yes, that is a Boeing 747 ‘taxiing’ down the playa
A Boeing 747 — or at least part of what used to be a jumbo jet — “landed” Wednesday in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert ahead of the upcoming Burning Man arts festival.
Woman in critical condition after being rescued at Ocean Beach
A woman lying face down and motionless in the Pacific Ocean off Ocean Beach was rescued and resuscitated on Wednesday morning by firefighters and National Parks Service rangers, authorities said. The woman, believed to be in her 40s, was spotted about 20 yards offshore near the Lincoln Boulevard steps, according Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesman for the San Francisco Fire Department. The surfer, identified by the city medical examiner’s office as Jason Zumbo, 29, of San Francisco, was pulled from the water near Rivera Street and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
PG&E seeks to have its criminal convictions overturned
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. wants a federal judge to throw out its convictions for safety violations uncovered during an investigation that followed the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion, arguing that there was no evidence the company or any of its employees knowingly broke any laws. Prosecutors in the 51/2-week trial failed to show that “anyone at PG&E had any evil intent or subjective belief that they were violating a clear legal duty,” as required for criminal convictions under the safety laws, the company’s lawyers contended in papers filed late Tuesday. A U.S. District Court jury in San Francisco found California’s largest utility company guilty Aug. 9 of six felony charges: five for failing to gather information on past pipeline leaks, assess ongoing dangers and give priority to hazardous pipe segments, and a sixth count of obstructing the federal investigation of the September 2010 San Bruno explosion, which killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. Prosecutors had sought fines of up to $562 million, based on PG&E’s alleged profits from illegal conduct, but dropped that request during jury deliberation, apparently because of rulings by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson limiting the evidence they could use to link cost-savings to specific acts of lawbreaking. […] he will hold a hearing Oct. 11 on PG&E’s request to overturn the convictions and dismiss the charges, based on its claim that the case was so flimsy that it never should have gone to the jury. During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the company, looking to save money, inspected pipelines externally for signs of corrosion, using methods that were far less expensive than internal technology probes or high-pressure water testing but were incapable of detecting welding defects like the one that caused the San Bruno explosion.
How to help Clayton Fire victims
Several funds have been created to help the hundreds of people devastated by the Clayton Fire, the sprawling wildland blaze in Lake County that destroyed at least 175 homes and businesses. North Coast Opportunities, a nonprofit group serving Lake and Mendocino counties, reopened a fund it started last year for victims of the Valley Fire that swept through Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties. The group raised about $1.2 million last year after the Valley Fire destroyed more than 1,300 homes and killed four people. Archer said checks can be made out to NCO/Wildfire Relief with “Clayton Fire” in the memo and mailed to 413 N. State St., Ukiah, CA, 95482.
Blue Cut fire destroys Route 66 landmark that catered to the stars
A Route 66 diner that served Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, Pierce Brosnan and other celebrities at the top of Cajon Pass was reduced to charred rubble Tuesday, a victim of the fast-moving Blue Cut Fire.