San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday Morning News Roundup

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SJ: City Sues MLB to Allow Oakland A's Move to San Jose

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said Tuesday that the city filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Major League Baseball after giving up on MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's effort to study a proposed move by the Oakland A's to San Jose.

Reed said the city felt it was time to file suit against MLB as a committee Selig set up in March 2009 had yet to come to a decision to let the A's transfer to San Jose, about a five-year process.

"After waiting for four and a half years for Major League Baseball for an answer, it is clear we are not going to get an answer," Reed said at a news conference at City Hall flanked by City Council members and local business leaders.

"I just decided it was time," Reed said. "I just know what they did was not right and we're going to fix that."

Had MLB approved a plan by the A's back in 2007 to invest about $500 million into a privately-funded ballpark in downtown San Jose, it would be operating by now and generating millions in tax revenues for the city and local governments, Reed said.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday morning against MLB and Selig in U.S. District Court in San Jose, claims the league violated federal and state antitrust laws by stalling the A's proposed move.

Under a 1922 Supreme Court decision, MLB has been exempted from U.S. antitrust laws, but the city is challenging the exemption, claiming that MLB's method of operation is an "unlawful exercise of market power."

The suit asks that the court declare that MLB had violated antitrust laws and bar the league from blocking the relocation of the A's to San Jose.

San Jose wants to build a baseball stadium near its downtown Caltrain station and has earmarked a site for the project.

A's owner Lew Wolff has professed his interest in moving to San Jose, with strong support from Reed.

Reed, who said that he has never spoken directly with Selig, said he notified A's owner Wolff about the suit last week.

"I informed Lew of what we are doing, I didn't ask for his permission," Reed said. "We don't need his support. He's been working this issue long and hard without success and I decided it was time for us to stick up for our rights."

MLB, in trying to uphold the Giants' rights to San Jose's fan base, is "interfering" with an options contract Wolff signed with the city to buy land for the proposed stadium site, the city claimed.

The league's actions are restraining trade in violation of federal anti-trust laws and blocking the A's from making a prudent business move to San Jose from Oakland, the city argued.

The A's have had the fifth-worst fan attendance at games in MLB since the 1990s, the city claimed.

While the Giants' had an average attendance of 41,695 fans a game during the 2012 season - the fourth best in MLB -- the A's averaged only 20,728, or 27th out of 30 MLB teams, according to the suit.

Hayward: Hayward Station Reopens After Fatality on Tracks

The Hayward BART station reopened after a man died by jumping in front of a train there Tuesday afternoon causing major disruptions to service, BART and Hayward fire officials said a northbound train hit the victim at 4:18 p.m., BART police Lt. Tyrone Forte said.

Train service was immediately shut down, the station was closed and power to the station was cut.

The train remained on the northbound track after electricity was cut, which initially made it difficult for rescuers to get to the victim, who was believed to be either on the tracks or under the platform, Hayward fire Capt. Thor Poulsen said.

Power had to be shut down to protect rescuers and potentially the victim from electrocution, but that also meant that it took over an hour to move the train out of the way to get to the victim, Poulsen said.

Eventually the train was moved and the victim, a man between 40 and 50 years old, was found lying facedown between the two main tracks.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, Poulsen said.

The station reopened at 7:06 p.m., BART spokesman Jim Allison said.

Fairfield: Spread of Grass Fire Leads to Overnight Evacuation of Motel 6

A fast-moving grass fire that spread to a Fairfield motel Tuesday evening has forced the motel's evacuation, at least until today, a fire battalion chief said.

The fire was first reported at about 7 p.m. near the junction of Interstate Highway 80 and Suisun Valley Road, fire officials said.

A three-alarm response was called as the fire was moving quickly and threatening structures in the area.

However, firefighters were unable to prevent the fire from reaching a nearby Motel 6.

Firefighters contained the grass fire to between an acre and an acre-and-a-half, but the damage to the motel forced firefighters to call for its evacuation until today, when the damage can be better assessed, Battalion Chief Bob Stoffel said.

No one was injured.

Benicia: Grass Fire Fully Contained at 124 Acres

A grass fire in Benicia grew to 124 acres before it was fully contained Tuesday night, fire officials said.

Crews responded to reports of a fire near an industrial park in the 4500 block of California Court around 2:20 p.m., according to a Benicia fire dispatcher.

The fire, which burned near Lake Herman Road about a mile west of Interstate Highway 680, spread quickly, fueled by 20 mph winds and dry conditions, Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

Crews contained had the blaze 100 percent contained as of about 10:30 p.m., according to Cal Fire.

A shed was burned but the fire threatened no other buildings and no injuries were reported, Benicia fire Division Chief K.C. Smith said.

Smith said firefighters planned to remain in the area overnight mopping up.

Firefighters from Solano, Contra Costa and Marin counties also assisted in fighting the fire.

Berkeley: Suspect Arrested in Fatal Shooting in February

Police have arrested a suspect in the fatal shooting of a man in broad daylight on a Berkeley street in February.

The suspect, identified as 21-year-old Jevon Calland, was arrested on an unrelated warrant by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in Hayward, Berkeley police said.

Berkeley police had already procured a warrant for Calland's arrest as a suspect in the murder of 34-year-old Zontee Jones on Feb. 4 and after being alerted of his arrest, he was booked into Berkeley City Jail.

Jones was found shot on Delaware Street between 10th Street and San Pablo Avenue at about 11 a.m. that day and was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later, police said.

Investigators then found evidence implicating Calland in the shooting and obtained a warrant for his arrest.

After he was in custody, Berkeley police executed a search warrant in Antioch related to the shooting.

Police have not disclosed the evidence linking Calland to Jones' killing.

Man Pleads not Guilty After Being Filmed Naked, Harassing BART Customers

A man accused of stripping naked and harassing people while doing acrobatic moves at a BART station in San Francisco last month pleaded not guilty Tuesday to seven felony and misdemeanor charges.

Yeiner Perez Garizabalo, 24, faces two felony counts of false imprisonment, four misdemeanor counts of battery on public transportation and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery for the May 10 incident at the 16th Street Mission BART station.

Garizabalo allegedly ran naked through the station, grabbing several passengers and kicking a BART employee while also doing a backflip and other acrobatic moves.

The incident was captured in a video posted on YouTube that has gone viral via social media.

He was arrested after visiting with immigration authorities in the city on Monday, District Attorney George Gascon said.

The Colombia native did not speak during his arraignment in San Francisco Superior Court Tuesday afternoon while his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Paul Myslin, entered the not guilty pleas on his behalf.

Myslin asked for the felony counts to be downgraded to misdemeanors, saying that Garizabalo has no criminal record and his actions "appear to be of a psychiatric nature."

However, Judge Brendan Conroy denied the request and ordered Garizabalo to remain in custody in lieu of $100,000 bail.

He is also being held on a detainer by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and could face deportation.

Garizabalo was a member of the Berkeley-based circus troupe ClownSnotBombs and some of his former colleagues came to Tuesday's hearing to show support for him.

Ben Goldstein, 64, who performs music for the troupe, said he has talked on the phone to Garizabalo since the May 10 incident.

"He didn't realize at first what happened. His memory of what happened was that he was in a play," Goldstein said. "He didn't realize how serious and horrible this was until he saw the videos of himself."

Goldstein said Garizabalo's behavior had gotten erratic recently and that he was at the Stage Werx Theater on Valencia Street hours before the incident in the BART station, but developed a blank stare and then walked out of the theater without talking to anybody.

Goldstein said he thinks Garizabalo may have suffered "some kind of stroke or some type of medical condition" that caused him to act so strangely.

Fable Kievman, 31, a clown in the troupe, said Garizabalo acted out violently days before the May 10 incident, although no one was hurt.

He "is a person who needs help," Kievman said. "He needs to get a psychiatric evaluation."

The district attorney said Garizabalo was placed on a psychiatric hold following the incident but was released shortly afterward.

Gascon said BART police never filed an arrest report for the incident, so prosecutors were never notified about it until after the YouTube video began going viral.

BART police were not immediately available to comment on the case.

Union City: Neighbors React to Fatal Mauling of 6-Year Old Boy by Pit Bull

Residents who live near the house where a 6-year-old boy was fatally mauled by his relatives' pit bull Monday reacted to the horrific accident Tuesday afternoon.

The boy, identified as Nephi Selu, had been playing with the dog in the backyard of a home on Elizabeth Way around 11:30 a.m. when the dog attacked him, biting him on the top of his head, police said.

Nephi was taken to Stanford Hospital and was pronounced dead around 4 p.m., police said.

The dog was taken to the Tri-City Animal Shelter in Fremont and will be held for a 10-day quarantine, police said.

Police said the boy was playing with the dog and may have tried to climb onto the animal's back.

A neighbor who declined to give her name said her 5-year-old cousin had been in a kindergarten graduation ceremony at a Union City school with Nephi last week.

She said she saw him at the ceremony and that he was a "sweet little kid" who "was always smiling and happy."

The woman, who lives two houses away, said she had seen the family's two pit bulls often but had never heard about any issues with the pets.

Another woman who said she's lived on the block for 40 years said the family "seemed lovely" and always had grandchildren playing in the backyard.

She said she often saw family members with the two dogs.

Another resident who has lived on Elizabeth Way for 26 years said there were many grandchildren that lived at the home and that the family "were nice people."

She said it was "just devastating that this happened" and she called it a "freak accident."

According to police, the dog owner was distraught over the incident but is cooperating with the investigation.

The owner told police that the dog has never bitten anyone before.

The dog had been given anti-rabies shots and was properly licensed, according to police.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Union City police at (510) 471-1365.

Oakland: Woman Gets 6 Years for Fatally Stabbing Ex-Boyfriend

An Oakland woman was sentenced Tuesday to six years in state prison for fatally stabbing her ex-boyfriend during a drunken fight at her apartment last year.

Everley Avery, 48, had been charged with murder for the death of 51-year-old Ernest Williams and could have faced up to 25 years to life if she had been convicted but on May 21 she pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter in a deal with prosecutors.

Oakland police said Avery stabbed Williams to death at their apartment in the 3200 block of East 27th Street in East Oakland at about 10:12 p.m. on Feb., 13, 2012, less than two hours before the start of Valentine's Day.

According to evidence in Avery's preliminary hearing, she and Williams had been girlfriend and boyfriend for some time but their relationship had ended.

However, she allowed him to stay at her apartment because he was sick and his family members didn't want him to stay with them.

Evidence in the case indicated that Avery and Williams had had a turbulent relationship that included alcohol and violence and that she might have acted in self-defense when she stabbed him.

The lone witness in the case testified that on the night of the stabbing Avery warned Williams not to touch her and if he did she would stab him.

At her sentencing hearing Tuesday Avery tried to withdraw her no contest plea and enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity but Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta denied her request.

Avery's lawyer, Philip Caruthers, said Avery has a history of mental health and medical problems and he has asked that she get appropriate housing and treatment while she's in state prison.

Prosecutor Tim Wagstaffe said he believes a voluntary manslaughter result and a six-year prison term are an appropriate outcome for Avery given the evidence in the case.

SF Mayor Raises LGBT Flag at City Hall to Celebrate Pride Month

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee raised the LGBT rainbow flag at City Hall late Tuesday morning, ushering in Pride Month and optimism about an upcoming decision on marriage equality from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Standing on the mayor's balcony at 11 a.m., Lee unfurled the multi-colored flag, about two weeks before the annual Pride parade and accompanying festivities on June 29 and 30.

Following the raising, Lee said he likes this year's theme of "Embrace, Encourage, Empower" that the pride committee selected.

The mayor said those ideals fit well with the imminent decision by the Supreme Court concerning Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage that was voted into law in 2008.

By the end of the month the high court is expected to rule either to uphold the initiative or invalidate it.

"We are on the precipice," Lee said. Lee said San Francisco has been a longstanding supporter of the gay community. "We've been doing right by our LGBT community," he said. "We are always looking out to help each other."

In 2004 thousands of weddings occurred when then-mayor Gavin Newsom allowed same-sex marriages, and Lee is expecting a similar flood of nuptials depending on the court's ruling.

"In San Francisco, there's a sense of freedom that we've always had," Lee said. Lee said it harkens back to the 1960s, but that the freedom to marry should extend beyond the "island" of acceptance found in San Francisco. "We're waiting in anticipation for the U.S. Supreme Court to make a decision," he said.

The clerk's office is bracing for hundreds of same-sex weddings in the days following a potential overturning of Proposition 8, and has plans for extra employees and volunteers to handle the load.

The decision is slated to come before the end of June.

The mayor then joined dozens of elected officials, agency heads and other guests at a City Hall pride reception, complete with rainbow-colored napkins.

Man Killed in Car Crash After Alleged Beer Theft Identified

A man killed in a car crash near state Highway 87 in San Jose early Monday has been identified as Henry Olmedo, 40, of Morgan Hill, according to the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office.

Olmedo was a passenger in a gray-colored Toyota Avalon that crashed at around 2 a.m. after he and the driver allegedly stole beer from a 7-Eleven store, San Jose police said.

The driver, whose name has not been released, was speeding south on Pearl Avenue and lost control after trying to turn onto Hillsdale Avenue about a mile from the store, police said.

The driver smashed into a parked car, causing a chain reaction that involved four other parked cars, police said.

Olmedo, the only passenger in the Toyota, was found pinned inside the vehicle and pronounced dead after personnel from the San Jose Fire Department had extracted him, police said.

The driver was taken to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, police said.

Investigators concluded that alcohol use was a factor in the crash and had planned to arrest the driver on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI, felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, police said.

The driver and passenger earlier had allegedly picked up some beer at a 7-Eleven store at Branham Lane and Pearl Avenue and fled without paying for it, police said.

Supervisor Campos Working to Find Solution for 'Tamale Lady'

A week after a San Francisco bar said it would no longer be able to allow the "Tamale Lady" to serve her famous food at its establishment, a city supervisor said Tuesday he is working on a solution.

The popular Valencia Street establishment Zeitgeist announced on Facebook last week that city codes were preventing Virginia Ramos from serving her famous tamales there.

Supervisor David Campos said at Tuesday's board meeting that since the news came out, his office has received "hundreds of calls and emails from people wanting to know how they can help the Tamale Lady."

Campos said he met with Ramos on Friday and is looking at a few different solutions that would allow her to continue serving the tamales at Zeitgeist and other restaurants while complying with laws from the city's Department of Public Health.

SFDPH spokeswoman Eileen Shields said the issue comes down to liability because "health code says if a restaurant is selling food from an unlicensed vendor and someone gets ill, it's on the restaurant."

Shields said the department "has been trying for a number of years to work with her to become permitted and will continue to try to do that."

Ramos is a "much-loved community resource," Shields said. "Many of us at the health department like her tamales as well, so there's a lot of support for her to get permitted and become legit."

Campos said that Ramos began selling the tamales after realizing that her day job as a domestic worker cleaning houses was not bringing in enough money to support her family, which includes seven children.

"She has become an icon here in the city," he said. "She seems to miraculously appear when nightlife patrons need something to eat."

Ramos has more than 5,500 followers on Twitter and has been the subject of several features in local publications.

Campos said his office is "doing everything we can to make sure the Tamale Lady stays in business" and said an announcement about a plan of action could come in the next few days.

In the meantime, a 60th birthday party is being held for Ramos this Friday at 7 p.m. at the SF Eagle, a bar located at 398 12th St.

Campos encouraged the Tamale Lady's supporters to attend the event and "donate a little money to ensure she continues to have a business in San Francisco."

Sonoma Co.: Supes Deny Appeal by State Parks to Charge Fees at Coastal Beaches

Sonoma County's Board of Supervisors unanimously rebuffed a State Parks plan to charge fees at 14 state beach parking lots on the Sonoma Coast.

The Sonoma County Board of Zoning Adjustment in January denied the California Department of Parks and Recreation's request for a coastal permit to install signs and self-pay boxes known as "iron rangers" at the beaches.

The proposed day use fee was to be $7 or $8.

State Parks appealed that decision Tuesday afternoon to the Board of Supervisors.

The State Parks Department can further appeal the board's denial before the California Coastal Commission.

Deputy Director of Park Operations Matthew Fuzie said the decision to appeal further rests with State Parks Director Major General Anthony L. Jackson.

"They did exactly what they needed to do," Fuzie said after the Board of Supervisors denied the appeal.

The county's Permit and Resource Management Department recommended the supervisors deny the appeal.

The 20 people who spoke Tuesday afternoon against the fees at the state park beaches echoed the comments of the two-dozen people who spoke at the zoning board's hearing in January.

Speakers and the supervisors cited Coastal Act Access Policy 30210 that requires maximum public access to the coastal beaches.

Speakers said charging to park at the beaches would prevent lower income families, seniors and youths from access to the beaches.

Speakers said beachgoers would park, as they already have at some beaches, in nearby neighborhoods and risk injury or death by crossing state Highway 1.

They also said damage would occur to environmentally sensitive habitat areas when people cut new trails to avoid paying the day use beach fees.

Some speakers and board members also noted the public outcry when $50 million was discovered in two different State Parks' accounts at the time State Parks was planning on closing dozens of parks in the state.

The Board of Supervisors in August approved a resolution opposing new beach parking fees until the Department of Parks and Recreation accounts for all funding streams and determines no other viable funding alternatives exist to ensure free and open access to parks.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation cited budget shortfalls and a legislative mandate to increase revenue as the reasons for collecting the fees at beach parking lots in Sonoma Coast State Park and Salt Point State Park.

Fuzie said the State Parks' budget for the Russian River District that includes the coastal state parks is $4.7 million a year, and the district generates only about $900,000 annually to State Parks.

State Parks staff said one option would allow use of multiple parks in a single day with a payment of the fee at the first stop.

State Parks has also proposed an hourly fee at some locations in Southern California.

Fire at SF General Construction Site not Expected to Hinder 2015 Opening

A fire Tuesday morning at a construction site of a new building at San Francisco General Hospital is not expected to affect its 2015 opening.

The one-alarm blaze was reported at 9:32 a.m. in an elevator shaft of the under-construction building at 23rd Street and Potrero Avenue, hospital spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said.

The fire was controlled at 10:18 a.m. About 350 workers were evacuated from the construction site because of the fire.

Seven workers were assessed for smoke inhalation, and two of them were treated at the nearby emergency room and released in good condition, Kagan said.

One firefighter suffered a minor shoulder injury responding to the blaze, Kagan said.

Webcor Builders, the project's construction contractor, is working with the city's Department of Public Works and Department of Public Health to investigate the incident.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

A fire spokeswoman said crews were welding in the elevator shaft before the fire broke out on a temporary platform.

California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is also looking into the fire, spokesman Peter Melton said.

He said safety engineers were sent to the site and the agency will be reviewing the project's safety program.

The blaze did not affect hospital operations Tuesday, Kagan said.

The construction project is part of a new $887.4 million acute care hospital that will include private rooms and a larger emergency room.

Construction broke ground in October 2009 and the building is scheduled to open in 2015.

Weather Forecast for SF Bay Area

Partly cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely in the Bay Area this morning, becoming sunny later in the day.

Highs are expected to be in the mid 50s to upper 60s, with westerly winds up to 30 mph in the afternoon.

Mostly clear skies are likely this evening. Lows are likely to be near 50, with westerly winds up to 30 mph.

Sunny skies are expected Thursday morning.

Highs are expected to be in the mid 50s to lower 70s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

 

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