San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday Midday News Roundup

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Wet Bay Area Weather Expected To End By Tonight

A weak storm system is making its way through the Bay Area today, but once it passes, there will be dry weather for the next week or so, a National Weather Service forecaster said.

The system is "moving quite quickly," and as of 11 a.m. had traveled from the North Bay to the southern reaches of the Monterey Bay area, forecaster Diana Henderson said.

The rain is expected to end by the end of the day, and the region will stay dry for at least the next week, Henderson said.

"It be should be a nice, dry Hanukkah," she said.

The Jewish holiday begins Saturday night and continues for eight days.

The heaviest rain in the past 24 hours was recorded in the North Bay, with 1.5 inches in the North Bay hills, Henderson said.

The bulk of the system has moved south through the Santa Cruz Mountains and into Monterey, leaving behind about .5 inches of precipitation in those areas.

"There's not huge amounts of rain," she said.

Downtown San Francisco saw an inch of rainfall in the past day, she said.

Although the rain should soon be on hiatus, there could be some residual showers, Henderson said. Cloudy skies are expected over the next few days.

Head-On Golden Gate Bridge Crash Snarls Traffic

Northbound lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge were blocked for nearly an hour this morning because of a head-on crash on the span, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The crash was reported near the north tower on the Marin County side of the bridge at 8:11 a.m.

A Sig-alert was issued at 8:22 a.m., and was canceled at 9:05 a.m., according to the CHP.

Two southbound lanes were also blocked, but they have since reopened.

Only minor injuries were reported in the crash, according to the CHP.

36 Flight Cancellations At SFO This Morning

Rainy weather was causing flight cancellations and delays this morning.

At San Francisco International Airport, 36 flights -- 18 arrivals and as many departures -- had been canceled, while arriving flights were experiencing delays of between 30 and 76 minutes, airport duty manager John Ginty said.

Most of the flights affected by the weather were regional flights, Ginty said.

No delays were reported at Oakland International Airport. A spokeswoman for Mineta San Jose International Airport said there were no significant delays there, either.

Tree Falls Onto Russian Hill Home, No One Injured

A tree fell onto a home in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood this morning, a fire department spokeswoman said.

The incident was reported at 7:23 a.m. on Lurmont Terrace, a small street just south of the famed crooked part of Lombard Street, fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

The top of a tree about 3 feet in diameter fell onto the roof of the house, Talmadge said.

No one was injured, she said.

Firefighters left the scene by 9:14 a.m. but crews from PG&E and the city's Department of Building Inspection remained at the scene late this morning, Talmadge said.

Technical Problem Disables SF Fire Department's Phone Lines

A technical problem knocked out most of the San Francisco Fire Department's phone lines this morning, a department spokeswoman said.

The problem did not affect 911 calls, department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

The outage was reported earlier this morning on all numbers starting with 558, and was resolved by about 10:45 a.m., fire officials said.

Department employees were able to make outgoing calls, but those calling in were met with a busy signal. Employees were asked to call each other via cellphones during the outage, Talmadge said.

AT&T crews were working on the issue this morning, Talmadge said. 

The cause of the outage has not been determined, but Talmadge said a similar incident happened recently during rainy weather and was apparently caused by cables that got wet at the department's dispatch center at 1011 Turk St.

Berkeley Bicyclist Fatally Shot Tuesday Night

A woman on a bicycle was fatally shot in Berkeley late Tuesday night, police said this morning.

Officers responded to the 1500 block of Derby Street at 11:36 p.m. after receiving a report of what appeared to be bicycle crash, police said.

Police arrived and found the victim on the sidewalk, and paramedics were called to the scene.

The paramedics determined that the woman, who was in her late 40s or early 50s, had suffered an apparent gunshot wound, according to police. 

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The death marks Berkeley's fourth homicide this year, police said. 

Police are investigating the death, and are asking anyone with information on the case to call the department's homicide unit at (510) 981-5741, the non-emergency number at (510) 981-5900, or Bay Area Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477). Callers can remain anonymous, police said.

Car Crashes Into San Pablo Avenue Liquor Store

An Albany man was arrested after crashing a car into a Berkeley liquor store on Tuesday night, a Berkeley police spokeswoman said.

Police and firefighters responded to a report of a vehicle into a store at 3045 San Pablo Ave. around 9:30 p.m., Berkeley police Officer Jennifer Coats said.

A four-door Chevrolet Cavalier had driven into the store, damaging the front-door area and striking a female patron, Coats said.

The victim suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, Coats said.

Meanwhile, police arrested the car's driver, 36-year-old Keith Kelly, on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, Coats said.

Store employees had to detain Kelly, who allegedly tried to run away after the crash, Coats said.

Once police arrived, he was arrested and booked into jail, where he remained in custody this morning, Coats said.

A front-seat passenger in the Chevy fled the scene after the crash and has not been found, Coats said.

It does not appear drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident, according to Coats.

The store, Easy Liquor, was partially open this morning, according to a man answering the phone there.

He said employees were escorting customers through the damaged entryway.

He said the store has been operating for 52 years.

Blogger Accused Of Photographing Supervisor Scott Wiener In City Hall Bathroom Pleads Not Guilty

A blogger accused of taking a picture of San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener in a City Hall bathroom in October pleaded not guilty today to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges.

Michael Petrelis, a gay rights activist who writes "The Petrelis Files" blog, allegedly snapped the photo of Wiener on Oct. 26 in a second-floor bathroom of City Hall and posted it on the blog the next day.

Petrelis wrote that he tried to take a photo of Wiener as he stood at a urinal, but the time it took for his camera to focus allowed the supervisor "enough time for him to put away his wiener and zip up."

He wrote, "The only photo I caught was of him grabbing his toothbrush from the wash basin. He sighed heavily and with exasperation having to not only have to interact with me, but in a restroom and with a camera going off."

Petrelis, who surrendered to sheriff's deputies on Nov. 29 after a warrant was issued for his arrest, made his initial appearance in San Francisco Superior Court today and was ordered by Judge Donna Alyson Little to stay at least 150 feet away from the supervisor.

Petrelis' attorney, Derek St. Pierre, argued against the stay-away order, saying there was "no threat of violence" and "no pattern of harassment" against Wiener but the judge disagreed.

Wiener has declined to comment about the case but provided a written statement to sheriff's deputies describing the incident and mentioning that Petrelis "has a history of inappropriate and harassing behavior" and "has yelled at me in public before as a result of our political disagreements."

Petrelis remains out of custody and will return to court on Jan. 7 for a pre-trial conference.

St. Pierre said outside of court that the case is "fundamentally about a photograph of a gentleman at a sink."

Petrelis declined to speak to reporters, and St. Pierre said, "Just as you see his mouth shut, that's effectively what the stay-away order will do."

He said, "It makes it very difficult for Mr. Petrelis to continue on as a journalist."

District Attorney George Gascon said Tuesday that Petrelis' alleged behavior was "very, very inappropriate" and "completely trespasses the social boundary of decency and good sense."

Gascon said, "It is OK for robust political engagement, it's OK to disagree ... it is not OK to invade people's privacy in a way that occurred in this particular case."

Man Fatally Shot In Hayes Valley Identified

A man who was fatally shot in San Francisco's Hayes Valley neighborhood on Tuesday has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 24-year-old Byron Beasley.

The shooting was reported at about 7:50 p.m. in the 700 block of Grove Street.

Officers arrived to find a man, later identified as Beasley, suffering from gunshot wounds to his torso and leg. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he later died, police said.

No arrests have been made in the case, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is encouraged to call the Police Department's homicide detail at (415) 553-1045, the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.

Free Muni Rides Offered On Dec. 28 For Centennial Celebration

To celebrate 100 years of San Francisco Municipal Railway service, rides will be free on Dec. 28.

On that date in 1912, Muni started its operations at an opening day ceremony at Geary and Kearny streets.

To commemorate the centennial, riders on the system's buses, Muni Metro lines, above-ground streetcars and cable cars will be treated to a free ride.

Muni is celebrating its 100th birthday in various ways, including by having historic streetcars traverse the city throughout November. A cable car built in 1890 was restored for the centennial.

This month, a program about Muni's 100 years since its inauguration by then-Mayor James Rolph Jr. in 1912 will be shown on SFGovTV.

Muni officials considered charging a five-cent fare on the anniversary because that is what riders paid a century ago, but instead are showing passenger appreciation by letting residents ride free.

SF Police Launch 'The Line-Up,' Ask The Public For Help In Catching Criminals

San Francisco police have launched a crime prevention tool called "The Line-Up," which encourages public involvement in helping solve the city's crimes.

Each week, the Police Department will release one video of a suspect involved in criminal activity. Police urge the public to watch the videos and, if they recognize the suspect or have information about the crime, to contact investigators.

A police detective's contact number will accompany each video.

Tipsters can choose to remain anonymous.

The videos can be seen by visiting www.sanfranciscopolice.org and clicking on "The Line-Up" at the bottom of the screen.

Alameda County Supervisors Appoint Probation Chief, Public Defender, Interim Registrar Of Voters

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has appointed LaDonna Harris as the county's permanent chief probation officer and Brendon Woods as public defender.

The board also named Tim Dupuis as the county's interim director of information technology and registrar of voters.

Harris has been interim chief probation officer since March 19, when she succeeded David Muhammad, who was placed on leave in February after an employee accused him of harassing and sexually assaulting her. Muhammad had headed the department for only a year.

Muhammad resigned in June, even though the county's internal investigation found no evidence to support the employee's allegation.

Harris worked for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office for nearly 30 years before retiring as a division commander last year.

In 2003, she served as an assistant to acting probation chief Wayne Tucker for several months during a prior change in the leadership of the Probation Department.

Woods has been with the Alameda County Public Defender's Office since 1996 and held a number of positions there, most recently senior assistant public defender. He is replacing Diane Bellas, who served as public defender for 12 years.

Dupuis, who will take on his new post on Dec. 17, is succeeding Dave Macdonald, who is retiring. Macdonald has been the county's director of information technology since 1985, and assumed the joint role of Registrar of Voters in 2006.

Dupuis has been the county's chief technology officer since 2000 and in that role he has worked closely with Macdonald while being responsible for the daily operations of the Information Technology Department.

Investigation Into Fatal Hit-And-Run Closes Peabody Road In Fairfield

The California Highway Patrol and Fairfield police were at the scene of a fatal hit-and-run collision that closed Peabody Road in Fairfield this morning.

The incident was reported near Peabody Road and Joseph Gerevas Drive at 8:50 a.m., according to the CHP.

Initial reports to the CHP indicated that a body was found in the roadway.

The Solano County coroner's office was summoned at 9:07 a.m.

J-Mack Ferry Service Suspended, Emergency Repairs Under Way

J-Mack Ferry service has been suspended to make way for emergency repairs to an underground cable that guides the ferry between Ryer Island in Solano County and Grand Island in Sacramento County, Caltrans officials said this morning.

The cable snapped during a recent strong current that included storm debris, Caltrans spokesman Vince Jacala said.

The ferry, also known as the Steamboat Slough Ferry, closed Tuesday night. Crews are working to fix the cable, and the ferry will be returned to service as soon as possible, Jacala said.

The ferry provides round-the-clock service, carrying people and cars across Steamboat Slough in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

During the closure, motorists are advised to use the Real McCoy II ferry along state Highway 84, Jacala said.

Service on the Real McCoy II ferry, also known as the Cache Slough Ferry, was scheduled to be suspended from 10 p.m. today until 4 a.m. Thursday for regular maintenance, Jacala said.

The Real McCoy II normally has scheduled crossings every 20 minutes starting on the hour between Ryer Island and the city of Rio Vista.

The latest information on the closures is available at (510) 622-0120.

Bennett Valley Road In Sonoma County Blocked By Downed Tree

A tree that was knocked down during a vehicle accident was blocking Bennett Valley Road near Sonoma Mountain Road southeast of Santa Rosa this morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The road was closed from Sonoma Mountain Road to one mile east of Sonoma Mountain Road, CHP officials said. The closure was expected to be in effect until at least 1 p.m.

The tree was blocking the entire roadway, and motorists were being advised to use state Highway 12 as an alternate route.

Valley Ford Road In Sonoma County Flooeded, Motorists Advised To Avoid Area

The California Highway Patrol was warning motorists to steer clear of Valley Ford Road in western Sonoma County this morning because of flooding.

The roadway was flooded between state Highway 1 and Bloomfield, CHP officials said.

The CHP warned drivers of small vehicles not to attempt to cross through the flooded areas.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137