San Francisco Bay Area Friday Morning News Roundup

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Man Stabbed To Death In San Jose, Third Homicide Of The Year

A man was stabbed in San Jose Thursday night, the city's third homicide of the year, according to the Police Department.

At about 8:25 p.m., the department's 911 communications center received a report of a stabbing in the area of Southside Drive and Hope Street. Arriving officers found a man who had been stabbed multiple times.

The victim was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 9:30 p.m.

Several male suspects attacked the victim, according to a preliminary investigation, police said.

The suspects fled and remain at-large. They have not been identified, and no motive has been reported.

The San Jose Police Department's Homicide Unit is taking over the case.

The victim's identification is being withheld until next of kin is notified.

SF City Officials, Police Prepare For Super Bowl, Hope To Prevent Violence

San Francisco city officials preparing for the 49ers' Super Bowl game against the Baltimore Ravens are hoping to avoid a repeat of the violence and vandalism that marred World Series celebrations last year.

A total of 36 people were arrested during post-game celebrations in October after the San Francisco Giants' World Series victory against the Detroit Tigers, 23 of them for felonies. Celebrants lit a number of bonfires in the middle of Mission Street, broke windows and, in one notorious incident, set a Muni 8X-Bayshore Express bus on fire at Market and Kearny streets.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said after the World Series that the destructive behavior of fans caught the department and other emergency responders by surprise. A previous World Series victory celebration in 2010 had been less volatile.

In response, police and city officials are making plans to ensure the Feb. 3 Super Bowl celebrations - assuming there is a celebration - go more smoothly.

"We want the city to be both celebratory and safe for everyone," Mayor Ed Lee said at a news conference.

"I'm really concerned about the small businesses that got hurt during the World Series," he added.

Lee said city officials plan to talk to small businesses in the Mission District and elsewhere that were most affected by the World Series violence starting next week. He also said bars need to be aware of how much alcohol they're serving.

Police are working with other city departments and will have additional officers on hand to target potential problem areas and protect public safety, including the Mission District, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

"We want to show the nation that our fans are high class and that we won't tear down the city," Esparza said.

Esparza said the city is also working with the San Francisco 49ers. Following the team's NFC Championship win Sunday, officials there tweeted to fans asking them to "celebrate responsibly and not tear up the city that they love," Esparza said.

Former Fire Captain Arrested After Allegedly Stealing From Contra Costa Fire District

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office is expected to review a case against a retired fire captain who allegedly stole a wide array of property from the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District while employed there.

Former Contra Costa fire Capt. John Wilmot, 51, was arrested Dec. 10 on suspicion of grand theft and second-degree burglary in connection with the alleged thefts from district fire stations, Contra Costa County sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said.

The Alamo man was released from jail the same day after posting $30,000 bail, Lee said.

According to search warrant documents, warrant operations conducted that day at Wilmot's homes in Alamo and Concord and at his mother's Orinda home turned up hundreds of items believed to belong to the fire district, including gear, supplies and uniforms.

The fire district launched an internal investigation into Wilmot in May after a co-worker reportedly spotted a chainsaw, an iron skillet and sports drinks believed to belong to the fire district in Wilmot's truck parked outside of the fire station on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Lafayette, according to an affidavit.

The co-worker recorded video footage of the property in Wilmot's truck and passed it along to superiors.

In the months that followed, fire personnel reported seeing other property believed to belong to the district in Wilmot's truck, including welding equipment, shears, an iron skillet, chainsaw fuel and a crescent wrench, according to the affidavit.

Last October, security cameras at the closed fire station on Los Arabis Drive in Lafayette captured Wilmot leaving with a transparent trash bag full of unidentified objects.

Fire personnel who reported various items missing from stations in Lafayette told investigators that there were no signs of forced entry but that doors were found unlocked, according to search warrant documents.

Fire district officials did not return calls for comment and Wilmot could not be reached.

67-Year-Old Woman With Alzheimer's Reported Missing In San Mateo County

A 67-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease was reported missing Thursday afternoon in unincorporated San Mateo County, according to sheriff's deputies.

Sheriff's deputies responded to a residence in the 1000 block of Idyllwild Avenue at about 4:30 p.m. on a report that a dependant woman had gone missing.

The missing woman, Margaret Woodman, left her residence at about 11:30 a.m. to go for a walk and has not return home, deputies said.

She was wearing a white leather jacket and black pants with a floral print when she was last seen.

According to deputies, Woodman has been known to frequent the Courthouse Square on Broadway in Redwood City on occasion.

Anyone who may have seen Woodman or has any additional information is asked to contact sheriff's deputies at (650) 363-4911.

U.S. Judge To Hear Oyster Farm Request For Preliminary Injunction In Oakland

The dispute over the fate of the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. at Point Reyes National Seashore will resurface at a hearing in federal court in Oakland today.

On Nov. 29, U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar announced he was allowing the decades-old oyster farm's permit to expire, so that the area could be returned to wilderness.

But four days later, the company and its owner, Kevin Lunny, sued the department to challenge that decision.

They are now asking U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers at today's 2 p.m. hearing to grant a preliminary injunction allowing the company to continue operating until a trial is held on the lawsuit.

Gonzalez Rogers could either rule from the bench or take the request under consideration and issue a written decision later.

The farm's lawyers have argued in court papers that "without an injunction, this case will be over before it begins" because the business would be destroyed if it is required to remove its equipment.

The materials include oyster racks covering 1,000 submerged acres in Drakes Estero and processing and packaging facilities on 1.5 acres of shoreline.

Salazar's decision "will take away a local landmark and a model for sustainable agriculture working in harmony with the environment that draws approximately 50,000 visitors every year," the attorneys wrote.

The lawsuit claims Salazar violated the federal Administrative Procedures Act by misinterpreting two laws when he made his decision. It also alleges the department prepared a flawed environmental impact statement on the farm's request for a 10-year permit extension.

Interior Department lawyers maintain those claims don't apply to the case because Salazar's decision was not an agency action, but rather an inaction allowing the existing permit to expire.

"Plaintiffs have been aware for a number of years that (their permits) would not necessarily be extended beyond their Nov. 30, 2012, expiration," the federal lawyers wrote in a Jan. 9 filing.

The U.S. lawyers also contend that Drakes Estero is a "unique marine wilderness area" and that restoring it to full wilderness would serve the public interest.

Four environmental groups led by the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin have weighed in on the side of the Interior Department, arguing that a commercial oyster operation conflicts with the goals of the national park system.

Teen Gets 12 Years For His Role In Robbery And Shooting Of Fruitvale Gardener

An 18-year-old boy has been sentenced to 12 years in state prison for his voluntary manslaughter conviction for his role in the brazen daytime robbery and fatal shooting of a gardener in Oakland's Fruitvale District in May 2011.

James Lee Allen, who faced a murder charge before he entered his plea to voluntary manslaughter Nov. 15, was one of four teenagers who were arrested in connection with the robbery and death of 42-year-old Antonio Torres while Torres was working in the front yard of a client's home in the 1600 block of 34th Avenue at about 1 p.m. on May 20, 2011.

Prosecutor Angela Backers said, "These were four individuals who wanted to rob a particularly vulnerable and completely innocent man who had his back turned while he was working."

Backers said the robbery and fatal shooting of Torres was "heinous and sickening" and alleged that the suspects were "hunting Mexicans because they are the most vulnerable people to rob" since they often are reluctant report crimes to the police.

She said the teens targeted Torres because they wanted to steal his gold necklace and his iPod.

Backers said Allen robbed Torres but prosecutors have charged another teen, Jonathan Laverne Johnson, who was 17 at the time of the incident but is now 19, with being the person who killed Torres by shooting him in the back.

At the end of a preliminary hearing last week a judge ordered Johnson to stand trial on a murder charge and a special circumstance allegation that he committed a murder during the course of a robbery.

Backers said although it's alleged that Johnson was the person who killed Torres, Johnson and the other suspects all knew that he was armed with a loaded black revolver and was prepared to use it when they robbed someone.

Backers said one of the other suspects has pleaded no contest to first-degree murder and armed robbery and another has pleaded no contest to being an accessory after the fact.

She said, "A completely innocent man was killed and his family has been destroyed. It's heartbreaking."

Pelosi Rooting For 49ers Despite Baltimore Ties

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is rooting for the San Francisco 49ers when they face the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

That would not be newsworthy except that Pelosi, D-San Francisco, was born and raised in Baltimore and her father Thomas D'Alesandro Jr. and brother Thomas D'Alesandro III both served as mayor of that city.

"It's pretty exciting for me to have two of my favorite teams going into the Super Bowl," Pelosi told reporters in San Francisco.

She said despite her Baltimore ties, she is pulling for the 49ers. 

"I've been a Baltimore sports fan growing up, but now raising my children in San Francisco, I'm a San Francisco sports fan," Pelosi said.

"That's my constituency and that's who I support."

However, she said she is not making any friendly bets on the game out of respect for her past.

"I'm not rooting against Baltimore, I'm rooting for San Francisco," she said.

Pelosi joked that her competing interests are not nearly as bad as the parents of the 49ers and Ravens head coaches, brothers Jim and John Harbaugh.

"I don't know anyone who's in a harder place than the Harbaugh parents," she said. "Isn't that something quite remarkable?

SF City Officials Announce Chinatown Sidewalk Merchandise Display Program 

Chinatown merchants can offer a special sidewalk display in the days leading up to the Lunar New Year next month, San Francisco city officials have announced.

Between this Saturday and Feb. 9, the day before the new year, merchants on Stockton Street between Broadway and Sacramento Street will be able to apply for a special permit to set up displays in the parking spaces in front of their businesses.

The permits, which will cost between $100 and $200 depending on the size of the space, will allow businesses to cash in on the busy pre-holiday period while also improving pedestrian safety in the neighborhood, city officials said.

"We have to make sure that ... all of our merchants are doing well and thriving, and this is exactly the type of idea that will ensure that," said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who represents the Chinatown neighborhood.

"This is a great opportunity for the local businesses and their customers in the heart of Chinatown," Mayor Ed Lee said.

While the special permits are in effect, curbside parking will be prohibited in the area between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and delivery trucks will not be able to park or stop during those hours. Health inspectors will also ensure that the displays follow city laws.

This is the second year of the pilot program and merchants "have been well-instructed on how to comply with all the sidewalk rules," said Pius Lee, chair of the Chinatown Neighborhood Association.

He said it is customary for Chinese businesses to close for the first week of the new year, so the program will allow people to "buy enough Chinese food to prepare" for the celebrations.

"Sidewalk shopping is a long Chinese tradition to welcome the New Year," he said. "This initiative is a win for the community."

State Officials Push For New Mountain Lion Policy After Cubs Were Killed In December

Less than two months after state game wardens fatally shot two mountain lion cubs in Half Moon Bay, environmentalists, politicians and the public are pushing for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop new standards for handling cougars that come into contact with humans.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, plans to introduce legislation that will change California's laws to allow the department to partner with wildlife nonprofits to rescue injured or orphaned mountain lions that wander too far into human territory.

"The safety of Californians is priority number one, but the law needs to be changed to give wardens more non-lethal options when dealing with the increasing number of mountain lion encounters in our neighborhoods," Hill said.

It is currently illegal to rehabilitate mountain lions in California.

In two separate high-profile encounters in San Mateo County since 2011, three mountain lions found themselves cornered in backyards and were shot and killed by game wardens out of fear for public safety.

Both incidents raised questions about whether the animals could have been tranquilized, trapped or somehow spared being destroyed. 

"The people of California want alternatives to lethal action," Wildlife Emergency Services CEO Rebecca Dmytryck said.

Dmytryck, whose Monterey-based animal rescue group recovers and rehabilitates distressed birds and animals around the Bay Area, has formed a Mountain Lion Rehabilitation Committee, a group of wildlife experts that aims to develop a set of standards for rescuing mountain lions from situations where they can be safely removed and rehabilitated in privately-funded sanctuaries.

"This group emerged from the aftermath of the cougar incident in Half Moon Bay," Dmytryck said.

On Dec. 1, Department of Fish and Wildlife game wardens shot two malnourished 4-month-old mountain lions that had been spotted seeking shelter in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Half Moon Bay.

The cats were initially thought to be larger than they actually were, and were believed to be posing a threat to residents and their pets, state fish and game officials said.

However, a necropsy concluded that the orphaned animals were hungry, each weighing less than 15 pounds.

Killing the animals caused a "tremendous outcry," Dmytryck said, and many believe the cubs could have been safely removed and rehabilitated if sanctuaries had been available.

Successful mountain lion rehabilitation programs have been established in Washington and Florida, where nearly a dozen panthers have been rescued and released, Dmytryck said.

Man Believed To be Transient Found Dead Near NB I-680 On-Ramp In San Jose

A man who was found dead Thursday afternoon near an on-ramp to northbound Interstate Highway 680 in San Jose appears to have been a transient who died of natural causes, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

The CHP received a report of a man lying near a chain-link fence along the Alum Rock Avenue on-ramp at 2:22 p.m.

The man, who appears to be in his 40s, did not have any signs of trauma, CHP Officer D.J. Sarabia said.

It does not appear any vehicles were involved in his death. Authorities said the man had been dead for some time.

 

He was found with his handheld radio still playing, Sarabia said. 

The ramp was not shut down.

Pelosi, Other Dignitaries Break Ground On St. Anthony Dining Room

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other dignitaries broke ground Thursday on a building in the city's Tenderloin neighborhood that will house both a beloved dining room for low-income and homeless people and a senior housing complex.

The 10-story building being constructed at the corner of Golden Gate Avenue and Jones Street will be home to both the St. Anthony Dining Room and 90 units of housing for seniors from Mercy Housing.

The original dining room, which closed last February to make room for construction on the new building, served an estimated 38 million meals to residents since opening in 1950.

"For years, this corner has been where those who have a little something extra come to share with those who have very little," said Barry Stenger, interim executive director of St. Anthony Foundation.

Tyrone Hopper, a former drug user, is one such person who received help from St. Anthony, which also offers drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, among other services.

"Just four years, nine months and six days ago, I was smoking crack," Hopper said. "I was a drug addict, but almost five years later, here I am. Miracles do happen."

Hopper now works in the dietary department at San Francisco General Hospital and is about to graduate with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

Stories like Hopper's are why Pelosi said she doesn't mind when people make fun of San Francisco and its occasionally wacky ways.

"When they talk about 'San Francisco values,' I take it as a compliment," she said.

The new dining room will provide 43 percent more seating and storage space, while Mercy Housing is providing the 90 affordable apartments for low-income and formerly homeless seniors.

San Jose Bridal Store Donates 200 New Gowns For Prom-Bound Teens

Organizers of Operation Prom Dress have received a donation of about 200 new dresses from a Campbell retailer meant for girls who can't afford gowns for their high school proms this year, a spokeswoman said.

The fifth annual prom dress donation campaign kicked off Thursday at the Comerica Bank on Santa Clara Street with San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, said Susan Siravo, spokeswoman for Comerica Bank, one of the program's supporters.

Last year, the drive collected about 2,000 dresses for anxious prom-bound teens who waited in line at a community center in San Jose, Siravo said.

"The line goes halfway around the building for the dresses," Siravo said.

Noelle Vergara, a spokeswoman for Vice Mayor Nguyen, said the drive so far has collected 500 dresses toward its goal of 1,000 this year.

The target number shrank because "a lot of residents have donated already" in previous years and so the program's focus is now on donations from dress stores, Vergara said.

This year's donations include 200 gowns presented by Trudy's Brides, a business in Campbell, and an earlier bequest of 100 from Elegant Lace Bridal in San Jose.

"It helps people out who normally would not be able to look beautiful for their proms," said Steven Blechman, owner of Trudy's. "It makes us feel good to give back to the community like that."

The dresses the store donated are either slightly damaged or discontinued to make room in the store for this year's models, Blechman said.

Some of the garments Blechman donated are from top designers of young women's prom gowns such as Jovani, Sherri Hill and Tony Bouls, he said.

The gowns range in sizes from 6 to 18 and many are in jewel-tone colors including navy, green and orange, he said.

The vice mayor introduced the dress drive five years ago based on the Princess Project, another gown giveaway program, and a similar campaign in Santa Cruz started by former Santa Cruz Councilman Tony Madrigal, Vergara said.

New Light Rail Line Gives Sharks Fans In South San Jose Direct Line To Stadium

The Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority has added a two-car train from South San Jose to give fans of the San Jose Sharks, which starts its home season tonight, direct service to the games, a VTA spokeswoman said.

Beginning at 6:37 p.m. tonight, VTA riders can catch a new line for Sharks games at the Santa Teresa Station that runs straight to the San Jose Diridon Station next to the team's hockey rink at the HP Pavilion downtown, VTA spokeswoman Brandi Childress said.

The train, meant to leave almost an hour before the Sharks' usual 7:30 p.m. game time, will bypass the San Jose McEnery Convention Center downtown and go right to Diridon on game days throughout the Sharks' season, Childress said.

The VTA made the new service available so people in South San Jose can catch a train that goes directly to and from Diridon, instead of having to stop, get off and transfer to a second train at the convention center, Childress said.

"We get a lot of feedback from those who have to make that transfer," Childress said. "We think it's going to be well used."

The new train line will have two cars that together seat about 130 people, Childress said.

Whale Spotted Near Pier 39 This Afternoon

A whale was spotted near San Francisco's Pier 39 Thursday afternoon, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials.

The whale was traveling east in the San Francisco Bay when it was seen around 3:30 p.m.

Coast Guard officials said a whale sighting in the bay is fairly common in January.

Marin County-based Marine Mammal Center spokesman Jim Oswald said this time of year marks the gray whale migration. The whales are heading down to Baja.

For onlookers, Oswald advised using caution.

"It's wonderful to see them," he said. "Enjoy them from a distance."

A whale in the area becomes more of a concern when the animals head toward the San Joaquin Delta, where chances of getting stuck are higher, Coast Guard officials said.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Report

Mostly cloudy skies and a chance of showers are likely in the Bay Area this morning. Highs are likely to be in the upper 50s, with northeast winds up to 10 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies and a chance of showers are likely this evening. Lows are expected to be in the upper 40s, with western winds up to 10 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies and a chance of showers are likely Saturday.

Highs are expected to be in the mid 50s, with winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

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