<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Local News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:42:50 -0700 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:42:50 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[High Tech Meters Help Residents Track Water Usage]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:29:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0723-2014-PaloAlto-meter.jpg

Palo Alto Utilities is working to make it easier for customers to track their water usage thanks to a pilot program testing new, high tech meters.

The advanced meters, which costs $100  a piece and paid for by the utility, allows customers to log in online and shows how much water they have used in the past month, week or even in the last hour.

"By using this technology, somebody can address any sort of problems almost immediately as they occur," said Catherine Elvert, Palo Alto Utilities spokesperson. We think it's beneficial to the customers, it's beneficial to the utility, and we're really in a time period where we need to be providing more information to our customers."

David Walrod is one resident who volunteered to participate in the pilot program. The meter alerted him and the utility of an irrigation leak on his property when he was in London with his family.

"Fortunately we were able to get somebody to come over to the house and find the problem and fix it," Walrod said. "Otherwise we would have come back home and found ourselves with a lake instead of a house."

If the program proves successful, officials said the new meters could be expanded for everyone to use in Palo Alto.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[California Leaders to Crack Down on Hit-and-Runs]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:25:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Motorcycle+Crash.png

Los Angeles and California officials are teaming up to crack down on what some have called an "epidemic" of hit-and-run crashes.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and State Assemblyman Mike Gatto joined other leaders at LA City Hall Wednesday to announce support of two bills that aim to stem the tide of hit-and-run incidents in the state.

One piece of legislation, AB 47, would create a "Yellow Alert" system, similar to Amber Alerts, that would announce information about hit-and-run suspects to the public and law enforcement officials.

"If I'm going to lose a leg over something like this … I'm going to take the subject down," said Damian Kevitt, a victim of a hit and run.

The idea is similar to the Medina Alert system implemented earlier this year in Colorado. Named after Jose Medina, a 21-year-old Denver valet worker who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2011, the system broadcasts vehicle or driver information to the public using electronic signs.

"The public is almost always needed to catch those who leave fellow citizens dying on the side of the road, and AB 47 will allow us to do so promptly, before the perpetrator can get away and cover up the evidence," Gatto said in a statement.

The other bill, AB 1532, would increase misdemeanor penalties of a hit-and-run crash to include immediate suspension of the driver’s licence for six months, a $1000 fine, and six months in jail.

Both pieces of legislation are scheduled to be heard by the Senate Committee on Appropriations in August.

According to LA City Councilman Mitchell Englander, the city’s annual 20,000 hit-and-run crashes make up 48 percent of total accidents in the city, the highest proportion in the nation.

These statistics have led to moves locally to address the issue of hit-and-runs.

"This is one of the most cowardly types of crimes you can commit," Englander said. "It’s not an accident ... you made a conscious decision to flee and that’s a crime."

In May, the City Council approved Englander’s motion to ask the Los Angeles Police Department to explore the idea of creating a local alert system that might be implemented earlier than a state-wide program.

The LAPD has since been charged with looking at the feasibility of using already existing tools, like community notification service Nixle, to alert the public about hit-and-run drivers.
 

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<![CDATA[Hidden, Loaded Shotgun Found by Kids at Santa Rosa School]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:26:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0723-2014-LincolnElem.jpg

Police on Wednesday retrieved a shotgun hidden at a Santa Rosa elementary school.

Kids at a summer camp program at Lincoln Elementary School reported seeing the weapon on Tuesday. Police said the shotgun was loaded and could have easily hurt someone.

The kids were looking for marbles that apparently rolled under the building and saw what they thought was a gun, police said. Cops retrieved the weapon on Wednesday morning and suspect gang members in the area stashed it at the school.

"You often see these community guns, or hood guns as they're called, that are left in these areas," said John Cregan of the Santa Rosa Police Department  "Gang members can use them at a time when a rival gang member comes into their area."

This is not the first time stashed guns were uncovered in Santa Rosa. Police said earlier this year a duffle bag found at Rincon Valley Park had three loaded weapons inside.

Community guns are stashed in cities all over the Bay Area where gangs have a foothold, according to police.

A gang prevention task force is now working in the neighborhood. Police plan to hold events in August where the gun was found.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Reality Check: Risks Posed by West Nile Virus]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:15:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/shore-mosquito-062013.jpg

You may have heard of or seen “fogging” trucks late at night or early in the morning spraying pesticides to target mosquitoes possibly carrying the West Nile Virus. Or you may have seen reports that Santa Clara County has recovered the most dead birds that have tested positive for the virus.

With the above in mind, NBC Bay Area wanted to know what risks West Nile Virus posed to humans.

It turns out that the risk is relatively small due to the strong preventative measures Santa Clara County has taken.

Santa Clara County acknowledges that there's been outbreak among certain insects and animals -- this year alone, there have been more than 400 cases of infected birds, which is about four times more than the next closest county in the state. But at the same time, county health officials said this is what has pushed them to take all of the necessary precautions to protect humans.

To get more clarity on what's going on, NBC Bay Area reached out to Dr. Sara Cody, the Santa Clara County Health Officer, and Dr. Scott Smith, a parasitologist at Kaiser Permanente who also teaches at Stanford.

"there’s a lot of prevention that’s been going on behind the scenes, for many, many, many months, in addition to, and prior to, the fogging,” Cody said.

Specifically, the county has been aggressive in killing larvae before they hatch as well as identifying and eliminating big areas of standing water that are ripe breeding spots for mosquitoes.

Smith explained that while West Nile is "not a tremendous risk at this time to humans," the county is concerned enough about it to take the action of fogging.

Fogging targets the adult mosquitoes, which pose the biggest risk to infecting humans. By actively spraying pesticides, as both Cody and Smith separately explained, the county is minimizing the risk posed to humans.

To date, there have only been 15 confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus in California. But county officials said that number doesn't tell the whole story because many people who contract the virus don't even know they have it because the symptoms mirror what it’s like when you get a fever.

Despite the county's efforts to protect the public, Cody emphasized the importance of being vigilant and taking the necessary precautions to prevent infections.

Specifically, she recommended steps as simple as getting rid of areas of standing water around your home -- like a pool of water in your backyard, a potted plant on your deck or a fountain on your property.

If the water is not circulating, get rid of it. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid going outside around dusk or dawn when mosquito activity is at its height. But if you do so, wear long sleeves or use bug repellent.

By taking these precautions, you’ll reduce the risk of getting the virus and there shouldn’t be any cause for getting swept up in the West Nile mania.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Longtime SF Art Store Faces Tough Search for New Home]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:23:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0723-2014-FlaxStorefront.jpg

You hear it all the time these days: artists getting displaced as landlords jack-up the rent or sell out to developers, taking advantage of San Francisco’s soaring economy.

Howard Flax hears the stories all the time, from his customers.

“San Francisco is changing,” he said, from the bustling floor of Flax Art and Design Store, the art supply store his grandfather Herman Flax founded in 1938.

His grandfather had a soft spot for the struggling artists.

“There was always a fair amount of bartering and credit,” Flax said, before dashing off to help a wayward customer.

But now, Flax finds his family-run art store in the same tight spot as some of his customers. When the store’s lease is up at the end of 2015, it’ll have to make way for another gleaming tower of condos.

Flax, who along with his brother and sister are the third generation to run the business, is now getting a taste of the grim reality other home shoppers in the city are discovering. After a recent trip to scout locations in the city, Flax was a bit shellshocked.

“We have a tremendous space here,” Flax said eyeing the cavernous building which boasts a light-filled room devoted to fine paper. “Finding 20,000 of retail space in San Francisco is going to be difficult.”

Inside the paper room, which holds among others, handmade sheets of paper from India, clerk Calvin Clark sympathized with the dilemma facing his employer.

“I teach art and all my students moved to the East Bay or away,” Clark said. “Which means now I don’t have any students.”

Author and poet Neeli Cherkovski hovered over a counter, eyeing the fine quill pens he uses to etch his poetry in a notebook tucked under his arm.

“This is all part of the gentrification of the city,” Cherkovski said. “Everything is getting shuffled and a lot of people are getting shuffled out.”

The store's location at the corner of Market and Valencia is the third for the company, which moved to Sutter Street after opening on Kearney.

Flax held no sour grapes for his landlord, who he says gave plenty of notice of the store’s pending ouster. He noted the store will remain where it is for another 16 months, supplying paper, paints and photo books to the public.

He also displayed a quiet confidence, rare among the newly displaced these days.

“We’re going to be here another 75 years,” Flax said. “If I have anything to do with it.”



Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[Cash Falls Out of Armored Vehicle in South Bay]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:33:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/212*120/0723-2014-ArmoredTruckSJ.jpg

Several people were able to gather money that somehow fell out of an armored vehicle on De La Cruz Boulevard, at the border of San Jose and Santa Clara.

Witnesses said the armored vehicle attracted attention when they saw money fluttering through the air and a guard trying to retrieve the cash.

"The guy's hands were too full and the wind was just blowing," San Jose-resident Ernie Mendez said. "I seen wads, stacks. It looked like millions of dollars, you know what I mean."

GardaWorld, which operates the armored vehicle, said it is conducting an investigation into the incident and could not disclose any additional details.

Police said GardaWorld did not report the incident or the lost cash.

While a man told NBC Bay Area he retrieved $40, police point out it is not free money if you know where it came from.

"whether it fell out of an armored truck or if you saw someone drop a wallet, then you are liable to return that money either to that person or the police department," San Jose Police Sgt. Heather Randol said. If not, then you are committing theft."



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[App Helps South Bay Residents Report Water Wasters]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:27:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP223500730484.jpg

Add a free app to the list of how the Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to enforce new regulations from the state and reach an overall conservation goal of 20 percent.

The district, which will also spend up to $500,000 to hire water cops, now offers an app for residents to report water wasters.

"We can't be everywhere, so this allows people to be the eyes and ears of the community," said Marty Grimes, Santa Clara Valley Water District spokesman. "If they see a problem they can let us know. And often the owner doesn't even know it's a problem -- for example a sprinkler head is broken."

The app, Access Valley Water, allows users to take a photo of water waste and give an address. Residents can also report water waste on the app anonymously.

The district's water cops are expected to start next month and will monitor the complaints. Water cops will not have the authority to issue fines, but can report egregious water wasters to their water provider or city, which can issue penalties.

San Jose-resident Nilda Houseman said she is in favor of saving water, but is not a fan of the anonymous app approach.

"It's not appropriate if you report someone," Houseman said. "You should be willing to give your name and stand by it, and be willing to testify to it."

District officials admit the reporting system could be abused by feuding neighbors, which is why they encourage users to leave their name so water cops can reply on how the problem was resolved.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Not Everyone in Silicon Valley Happy to See Pres. Obama]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:23:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-23-2014-obama-protest-michlle-robertsr.jpg

Protesters angered by the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to put an end to net neutrality rallied near the Silicon Valley mansion where President Barack Obama was attending a fundraising event on Wednesday morning.

A handful of people who gathered along the road leading to fundraiser venue, a Los Altos Hills mansion, were upset with the United States’ support of Israeli bombing of Gaza, but the majority of the protesters were motivated by different progressive organizations brought together by MoveOn.org to protest the rule under consideration by the FCC that would allow Internet Service Providers to offer content providers a faster track to deliver content.

The protesters were hoping to pressure the president – and any Silicon Valley execs who may have been driving by on their morning commute – to leave access to the Internet open, unrestricted and equal, something President Obama campaigned on in both runs for the presidency.

“Not only did he make that promise, but he also won elections with the support of the Netroots, the grassroots, using the Internet to engage in politics and connect with people,” MoveOn.org’s Victoria Kaplan said. “And now President Obama has a responsibility to make sure the chairman of the FCC – that he appointed – does not kill the Internet, which is the course that he’s on right now."

Net neutrality advocates have been rallying against FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to create a two-tiered system that would allow service providers to offer faster connection speeds for fee-paying content providers and a second, slower speed for others.

The president arrived to the Bay Area Tuesday night and spent the night in San Francisco, where he attended a fundraising event at the Four Seasons, before heading south to the private residence of Judy and George Marcus in Los Altos Hills to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

George Marcus is the founder of the real estate brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap.

The president departed from San Francisco International Airport at about 1:47 p.m. on Air Force One. He will continue onto Los Angeles on an early Wednesday afternoon flight from SFO to end a three-day West Coast fundraising trip.

 

Michelle Roberts contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Michelle Roberts / NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[From "Neigh" to Yay: Los Altos OKs Horses at Weddings]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:54:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*123/horse22.JPG

It’s becoming a common sight in a lot of American cities.

The bridegroom rides in on a handsome white mare or elephant decked out in finery to greet the bride’s family. The wedding procession, or baraat, is a big part of most Indian weddings – some more ostentatious than others.

While most Indian cities don’t really blink twice at large animals walking down public streets, it’s a different story in the United States.

Local jurisdictions often have their own rules when it comes to allowing horses and elephants marching down city property, as one Bay Area couple found out the hard way last month.

Anupam Pathak and Theresa Bruketta wanted to use Dora, a white mare, in their wedding in Los Altos, but city law didn’t allow it, the Los Altos Town Crier reported. The couple had to go through a public hearing to get their request approved.

Until Tuesday, the city’s “horse ordinance” prohibited large animals on city property – including leading, riding or even their mere presence – primarily for health and safety issues, said Los Altos Assistant City Manager Jay Logan.

That changed when the Los Altos City Council voted to give the city manager the power to authorize horses at city venues, specifically for weddings, on a case-by-case basis, as long as the proper safeguards were in place.

"What we had earlier was outdated," Logan said. "We got inspired by these beautiful animals that are part of the culture and tradition of the ceremony. It's a way for us to acknowledge the diversity of our city."

The amended ordinance doesn't change anything for other large animals, however.

So if you want to ride an elephant or a camel in Los Altos, you'd still have to ask the city council to approve it first.

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<![CDATA["530 Fatties," Fat-Shaming Page, Removed from Facebook]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:04:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-23-2014-530.jpg

"530 Fatties" is gone, but the outrage over Internet fat-shaming remains.

The Facebook page, removed Monday, was apparently a venue for an unknown Northern California-based person to mock and shame fat people he or she had photographed, according to reports.

The area code for the Yuba City area is 530. The photos posted to the page were from nearby Yuba and Sutter counties, according to the UK Daily Mail.

The page was removed after complaints, but outrage over the anonymous fat-shamer has spread nationwide.

The page made the Today show on Wednesday. It's still not clear who created the page, which reappeared briefly after being taken down.

One woman whose image appeared on the page, Jessi Lynn Howell, 18, says she isn't afraid to go public and speak against bullying.

 



Photo Credit: Screen grab via Today.com]]>
<![CDATA[Truck Barrels Into East Bay Liquor Store]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:33:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-liquor-truck-crash-1.jpg

Workers at an East Bay liquor store received a late-night surprise when a pickup truck crashed through the wall.

Alameda County firefighters responding to the scene Tuesday night at House of Liquors, 1167 Manor Blvd., in San Leandro had to reinforce the building with boards before they could get the truck out.

The truck’s driver went to the hospital, but only as a precaution. The 40-year-old San Leandro woman was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, police said.

Police said the woman entered the store, purchased an item and returned to her pickup truck. She tried to drive away but ended up crashing into the
business.

House of Liquors was open at the time, but no one inside was hurt.

Police have not identified the driver, pending the results of toxicology tests.

 

Bay City News contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Allen Weddington]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Launches Reading Campaign for Oakland's Children]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:59:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/hillaryclinton2.jpg

President Barack Obama isn't the only one making news in the Bay Area.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also in town Wednesday to roll out a new community partnership aimed at bridging the reading gap in children.

Clinton helped launched the "Talking is Teaching, Talk Read Sing" campaign at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland which encourages parents and caregivers to tackle the achievement gap by talking, reading and singing to kids from low-income families.

The campaign -- created in partnership with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of San Francisco-based Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation -- focuses on the "word gap" -- a difference of about 30 million words between children from the wealthiest and poorest families.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynn are also supporting the campaign.

Ultimately, the campaign wants to help combat the achievement gap in schools, which is seen through preschool and kindergarten.

A March 2014 survey of low-income parents shows only 40 percent reported telling a story to their child.

Clinton underlined the importance of early learning in very young children, whose brains develop around 80 percent of their capacity by age 3. She said she remembered reading and singing to Chelsea.

"Playing electronic games does not substitute for daily interactions with kids in their first few years," Clinton said.

Local parents talked to Clinton about the importance of talking, reading and singing every day.

"Fifteen minutes a day makes a huge difference," Clinton said.

As part of the campaign, parents will leave the hospital with toolkits from Sesame Street, online resources and new clothes for babies from Oaklandish.

Clinton was in Silicon Valley Monday to promote her new memoir "Hard Choices," holding a virtual  Q&A session on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information on the program visit the "Too Small to Fail" Facebook page.



Photo Credit: Jodi Hernandez]]>
<![CDATA[Elizabeth Holmes Is Youngest Female Self-Made Billionaire]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:33:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-23-2014-elizabeth-holmes.jpg

Elizabeth Holmes never did finish college. But 11 years after leaving Stanford, she's the CEO of a startup and a "paper multibillionaire," according to reports -- and she may even be the "female Mark Zuckerberg," others say.

Holmes, 30, is CEO of Theranos, a Palo Alto-based company that, like many others, seeks to change the world, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

It may yet. But in the meantime, the company has made billions of dollars.

Her firm seeks to diagnose health conditions early, before they become life-threatening diseases, and eventually "put a lab within a mile of any city dweller" for access to quick, simple, and easy blood tests, the newspaper reported.

She has major support: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is an investor, and her board includes former Secretary of State and San Francisco society pages icon George Schultz. She's also partnering with Walgreens to put a Theranos station in 21 stores in Palo Alto and Phoenix, the newspaper reported.

This will "empower people" to investigate their own health, by allowing them to dictate when and how tests are conducted.

Theranos, now operating out of Facebook's old offices, has 500 employees and is worth $9 billion, the newspaper reported.

Because Holmes has a 50 percent stake, she is the "youngest woman to become a self-made billionaire," the newspaper reported.



Photo Credit: Theranos]]>
<![CDATA[SF Cab Company May Switch Business Models]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:15:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/taxi-cab-generic1.jpg

DeSoto Cab may soon enter the disruption business.

The taxi company, one of San Francisco's largest, may exploit the same "loopholes in the regulatory process" that allow Uber and Lyft to exist and thrive, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

Hansu Kim, president of DeSoto, says that his 204-vehicle fleet, part of the 2,000 or so regulated and permitted taxis in San Francisco, is "bleeding money" -- thanks to the "different" rules that apply to taxis and to Uber and Lyft.

For example: the transportation network companies -- the fancy name for what the so-called "ride-share" companies do -- don't have "taxicab medallions" from the city, a requirement that costs DeSoto $5.4 million a year, the newspaper reported.

If DeSoto switched to a "charter-party carrier" license, or TCP, they'd be able to do the same thing as Uber and Lyft -- and spend much less money in order to do it.

Kim is sanguine about his chances against the ride-share giants: "[G]iven the same rules, I'll beat them all day long," he told the newspaper.

That way, he could compete with the "ride-share" companies -- and still provide a regulated product.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Airbnb Renter Turns "Squatter" ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:00:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/airbnb-stock-image-airbnb-generic.jpg

Cory Tschogl used to be an Airbnb host. She's now a landlord -- sort of. Her "tenant" is an Airbnb "squatter," who rented her Palm Springs condo via the online hotelier and now refuses to leave.

And the law may be on the squatters' side.

Tschogl, a Bay Area professional, rented out the condo she bought as an investment to "Maksym," a verified Airbnb user from Texas who forked over $450 a week to live there for 44 days.

But, after 30 days, he stopped paying, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Tschogl tried to remove him, but was confronted with legal threats: Maksym said he is now a "legal occupant" and cannot be removed.

Tschogl says she's asked Airbnb for help "without getting much assistance," the newspaper reported. So she's hired a lawyer, and may need to pay thousands of dollars and spend as much as six months removing her problem "tenant."

An expert in landlord-tenant law said the apartment owner is in trouble.

“The person’s not a trespasser,” attorney Michael Hall said. “The person had permission to come in so, if you were to, say, call the police and ask the police to eject the person, the police would likely say, ‘Hey, it’s a civil matter.’”

Such a civil matter could take months to resolve.

“If it’s uncontested, it could take six to eight weeks,” Hall said. “And, if it becomes contested, at least another month. So, easily three months.”

Meanwhile, the tenant seems to be taking every luxury: He appears to be running the air-conditioning full blast while leaving the condo's sliding doors wide open. Power usage is at about four times its normal level, the newspaper reported.

Hall said renters that put their property up on Airbnb often don’t understand the risks. “I see a lot of naivety,” he said.

Airbnb says it will offer unspecified legal assistance to the San Francisco owner of the Palm Springs apartment and in a statement told NBC Bay Area that “the company is reviewing its procedures and making changes to its platform to give hosts more information about long-term reservations.”

Airbnb is advising property owners to check up on potential renters online to see if they’ve been reviewed by other renters.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[South Bay Water District to Hire Water Cops]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 05:42:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/tap1.jpg

It's official, the so-called "water cops" are coming to the South Bay. The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board unanimously voted to spend up to $500,000 to hire five to 10 new water cops Tuesday night.

The water cops will respond to complaints of water waste and work to increase the district's overall water conservation goal of 20 percent.

"It's a reminder that it's not a business as usual year. This is an exceptional drought, we have to take exceptional action," said Deputy Administrative Officer Teresa Alvarado.

Their official term will be decided in the future. For now, the district is calling them "water educators" because they won't actually write tickets or enforce anything.

Instead, they'll investigate claims, teach conservation, and report chronic water wasters to that person's water company.

"(The companies) are the ones that enforce any ordinances the city or private retailer has in that area," Alvarado said.

Water Use Efficiency Manager Jerry De La Piedra says they did research to determine if the water educators were a good idea.

"I would say there's studies that have shown education does lead to water savings and so we will continue to do that," he said.

Arborist Mark Barton disagrees, and thinks the $500,000 should be spent on broader education. He suggested PSAs and signs on buses.

"I think we've got two million people in the South Bay that need to be educated, and from what I can see most people don't know how to water a tree," Barton said.

He believes showing people proper watering methods can save them hundreds of gallons of water.

"If you take the combination of mulch and drip irrigation, you can cut your water use 30-70 percent."

The new "water educators" are expected to start in late-August. The district will start hiring people soon. Alvarado says the money for the positions comes from reserve funds, and won't immediately affect rates.



Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Skin Cancer on Rise in Marin: Report]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:52:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Sun+Generic.jpg

The deadliest form of skin cancer is on the rise in Marin County, which already has the highest rates of the disease in all of California.

The Marin Independent Journal notes that "sun worshipers" in the North Bay county may want to reconsider habits after learning that the cancer is the second-most-common cancer after prostate cancer for men, and has "increased significantly over the past decade."

Incidence of the disease has increased 200 percent since 2003, the newspaper reported.

Medical professionals say that "improved screening" may be behind the increase.

But Marin's demographics may also be at play: the county is mostly white, and white people are most at risk, the newspaper reported.

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<![CDATA[Huge Geico Insurance Banner Falls on Fremont Home]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:46:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/072314-banner-house.jpg

One Bay Area couple can now say for certain their house is covered by insurance.

A 4,000-square-foot Geico insurance banner being towed by a plane came loose and fell directly on their house Friday in Fremont.

"I heard a thump," says Sarah Clark, who was inside when banner landed on her home. "When I looked out the front gate I thought it was pouring rain because it kind of made it look that way. And it sounded like a windstorm, or maybe rain, but I knew it wasn't raining."

When Clark looked out her back door that's when she saw the massive sign.

"I saw a gigantic piece of fabric over the gazebo and I was thinking it's a parachute or hot air balloon," Clark says. 

Ameer Hassan was driving on Interstate 880 just a few miles away when he saw the sign fall.

"I saw the banner flying sideways and I've never seen anything like that before," Hassan says. "I didn't know if it was heavy enough to destroy anything."

The pilot of the plane says he was trying out a new rope that failed to hold the sign. The FAA is investigating the incident.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Device Helps Women Use Restroom -- Standing Up]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 05:52:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0722-2014-StandUp.jpg

A Stanford graduate has created a device to make it easier for women to use the restroom outdoors.

Sara Grossman has launched a startup company for her invention, the "Stand Up," a package that allows women to use the restroom -- standing up.

Women interviewed Tuesday have mixed opinions on the device, with some saying they would never use it and others in favor of using it, especially during camping trips.

The Stand Up is available online.



Photo Credit: Cheryl Hurd]]>
<![CDATA[SF Soda Tax Placed on November Ballot]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:20:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/0823-sodaban.jpg

Less than two years ago, Richmond voters slapped city lawmakers with a dose of reality, shooting down a proposed ‘soda tax’ measure that would have been the first of its kind in the country.

Now, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is even more ambitious.

The Board approved a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages Tuesday afternoon, sending the measure on to the voters this fall.

Should two-thirds of the electorate approve it, the SF tax would charge consumers an extra two cents per ounce of any sugary drink more than 25 calories (with a few exceptions), doubling the Richmond measure’s one cent per ounce tax.

The man sponsoring the measure, Supervisor Scott Wiener, told NBC Bay Area recently, "Two cents per ounce is a tax that people have, but getting diabetes and having those health problems is a much bigger tax that these communities are having to pay."

This is often the argument made in support of a tax on sugary drinks- By discouraging people from buying and drinking these high-calorie, high- sugar beverages, we will cut down on negative health outcomes like diabetes.

But if that’s the logic at play, you might find the structure of the San Francisco soda tax curious.

The city wants to tax the drink by fluid ounces, rather than by calories.

A recent study financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a long-time supporter of sugary drink taxation to combat childhood obesity, concluded that taxing drinks by calories is a far more effective way at discouraging people from buying high-sugar beverages.

That’s because the consumer will inevitably opt for the cheaper, healthier option, the study concludes.

Consider the following:

A Monster Energy drink, an Arizona Iced Tea, a Coke and a Vitamin Water would all be taxed under this measure at a similar level, between 40 and 48 cents, depending on the amount of fluid ounces in the drink.

But if you started taxing those drinks based on calories, you would get a much more significant spread. Let’s say, for example, that you tax those drinks at .002 cents per calorie instead.

The Monster Energy drink, the option with the highest calories (300), would command around a 60 cent tax. The Vitamin Water, on the other hand, would be around 25 cents.

Is this more equitable, and effective?

The lead author of the study, Dr. Chen Zhen, told the New York Times this structure provides more incentive for the consumer to choose the healthier, lower-cost option.

“One of the concerns about taxing ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages is that consumers are paying the same tax whether they buy 12 ounces of a drink with 150 calories or 12 ounces of a drink with 50 calories,” Zhen said.

Berkeley also has a soda tax measure on the ballot this fall, that will target a 1 cent per ounce tax.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Arrested in Knifepoint Robbery of 11-Year-Old's Bicycle]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:40:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-teen-robbery.jpg

A South Bay teenager accused of robbing an 11-year-old boy of his bicycle at knifepoint on a school playground in Santa Clara was booked into juvenile hall last week.

Prior to his arrest, Santa Clara police released surveillance video showing the 15-year-old suspect and his friends before the robbery. That led to several tips and the teenager's arrest.

The 11-year-old boy told police that at about 5:30 p.m. on July 7, he was playing at Washington Elementary School at 270 Washington St. when the male suspect approached him, Santa Clara police Lt. Kurt Clarke said.

The suspect then robbed the boy of his bicycle at knifepoint, according to police.

Officers later obtained surveillance video from a nearby 7-Eleven store that contained images of the suspect, released the video to the public Thursday and asked for help in finding him, Clarke said. The community played a key role in the arrest of the juvenile suspect, Clarke said.

Detectives soon received many leads about the suspect's identity and the tips led to the arrest of a 15-year-old boy from San Jose.

The minor was booked into the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of robbery on Friday, according to Clarke.

The information from the public also assisted police in naming associates of the suspect who were also in the video, police said.

The stolen bike was recovered and returned to the victim.



Photo Credit: Santa Clara Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Hires Community Service Officers]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:28:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0722-2014-SJ-community-officers.jpg NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro breaks down the role the newly hired community service officers will have in San Jose.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[73-Year-Old Woman Shot Inside SF Home]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:05:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-sf-shooting.jpg

A 73-year-old woman was shot inside a home Tuesday in San Francisco's Bayview District Tuesday afternoon, police said.

San Francisco police said the woman was shot through a window. Officials said a bullet grazed her head. The woman was transported to a hospital, where she stay overnight for observation. Police said her injuries appeared to be non-life threatening.

The shooting was reported at 4:13 p.m. in the area of Third Street and McKinnon Avenue.

Officials said medical crews were arriving to the scene as of 4:25 p.m. and that details about injuries were not immediately available.

An employee at the Bayview branch public library, located at that intersection, said it appeared there was a carjacking that led to the shooting.

Several streets in the vicinity were closed as police searched for suspects.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford Law Professor Nominated to CA Supreme Court]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:40:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP211862987168.jpg

Another Supreme Court vacancy, another Bay Area-based law professor to fill it.

Gov. Jerry Brown has nominated Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar to serve on the California Supreme Court. Cuéllar would replace retiring Marvin Baxter, according to the Sacramento Bee.

A native of Mexico who grew up in border territory -- crossing the then-imaginary line, in pre-fence days, in order to attend school in the United States -- and in California's Imperial Valley, Cuéllar served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, where he advised the president on immigration issues, the newspaper reported.

Before Cuéllar, Brown named then-UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the state's high court. If Cuéllar is confirmed, he and Liu would be the only Democrats on a court stocked with "Republican appointees," the newspaper reported.

Cuéllar would also be the court's sole Latino, after Carlos Moreno's retirement in 2011.

He's taught at Stanford since 2001, and has degrees from Harvard and Yale. He's also married to a federal judge, the newspaper reported.

Voters could approve his appointment at the Nov. 4 ballot.

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sand Tunnel Collapses, Kills Man at Half Moon Bay Beach]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:47:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-half-moon-bay-credited.jpg

A man was killed at a Bay Area beach on Monday after a giant hole he was digging in the sand collapsed and buried him, according to fire officials.

When responding Cal Fire crews showed up at Francis State Beach in Half Moon Bay about 5:30 p.m., they found a man in his 20s “completely covered by sand,” authorities said.

Officials say the man was standing in a 10-foot deep "tunnel" when the sand started caving in around him.

“It is one of those situations that can go from having a good time on the beach with friends and family to extremely dangerous and critical within seconds,” Cal Fire’s Jonathan Cox said.

The man was identified by the San Mateo County Coroner's Office as 26-year-old Adam Pye, of San Lorenzo. A memorial page remembering Pye was setup on Facebook.

More than 30 firefighters from around San Mateo County responded to the scene and – along with bystanders – managed to extricate the man from the hole in about half an hour, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Firefighters are using the man’s death as an opportunity to remind the public about the “hidden dangers associated with the beach.”

“Remember to stay away from cliffs, use caution when swimming in big surf and refrain from digging too deeply in the sand," Cal Fire said in a press release.



Photo Credit: Dean Coppola / Half Moon Bay Review]]>
<![CDATA[Camp Program Honors Slain Paramedic, Helps Teens]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:32:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0722-2014-QuinnBoyer.jpg

Friends and family of a slain Dublin paramedic have launched a scholarship program aimed at giving inner city teens a unique summer experience.

The Quinn Boyer Memorial Campership Fund helps kids attend Camp CYO, a youth camp nestled in the redwoods of Sonoma County. Quinn Boyer was shot and killed during an attempted carjacking in Oakland last year.

His wife, Liz Boyer, said her husband was once a troubled Oakland teen until he attended Camp CYO.

"It was a place he was able to finally find his center," Liz Boyer said. "It's so simple -- come to the woods, get out of your environment, see something different and learn something new. That is a powerful thing."

Quinn Boyer spent two years at the camp -- first while in high school and later as a camp counselor.

"You're thrust into a positive direction in your life," Liz Boyer said. "It really has that potential to be transformational and it definitely was for Quinn."

Liz Boyer said when her husband left the camp and his life took off by heading straight to college, the fire academy, EMT school and then paramedic school.

San Lorenzo-resident Charlie Davis is now attending the camp thanks to the Quinn's Kids scholarship. The 15-year-old said the camp has given him a new sense of freedom.

"Here you can be yourself, completely yourself," he said. "No judgment. Nobody's angry or nothing like that. No criticism."

The experience is special for Davis because the day after Quinn Boyer was killed, the high school student nearly lost his life when he was robbed and shot. The suspects are allegedly the same group of teens who prosecutors believe killed Quinn Boyer.

"We want to see him thrive and be happy because that's another opportunity to see something good come out of something that was completely horrible," Liz Boyer said of Davis.

Davis said he is grateful that Camp CYO is part of his life and now plans on becoming a counselor, just like Quinn Boyer.

"If he can hear me I want to let him know I love him for this," Davis said.

Click here for more information on The Quinn Boyer Memorial Campership Fund.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Broadcaster Mike Krukow Has Muscle Disease]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:23:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Mike_Krukow_7th_Inning_Stretch_Giants_Cubs.jpg

When Mike Krukow is down, he's not out.

The Giants broadcaster is fighting a musclular-degenerative disease that causes him to fall down, the former pitcher revealed Tuesday.

He's got inclusion-body myositis. The condition has no cure, has no "solid theory for what causes it," and causes "progressive weakness" in the hands, feet, and legs, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Krukow's had the disease for eight years, the newspaper reported, and may eventually be forced to get around in a motorized scooter.

He decided to go public this year after a fall on the team bus, and after the once-robust, muscular athlete was seen getting about with a cane.

A slight nudge can send him "sprawling," according to the newspaper; as a result, he often exits ballparks via a golf cart.

Krukow has no plans to stop calling Giants games on television and on the radio.

In the meantime, his broadcaster buddy Duane Kuiper is helping him get around: carrying luggage and otherwise doing what Krukow needs as he works through his condition.

Attababe.



Photo Credit: YouTube.com]]>
<![CDATA[Instacart to Deliver Bi-Rite Groceries in SF]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:12:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/Bi-Rite+Creamery-32.JPG

Too lazy to trek down to Divisadero, or can't stand braving the crowds in the Mission?

Thank goodness for startups!

Your Bi-Rite problem has been solved, now that Instacart, a San Francisco-based grocery delivery service, is offering delivery, according to reports.

The San Francisco Chronicle is the bearer of the groundbreaking news for grocery aficionados, announcing that delivery of Bi-Rite foods is available today.

Even better is the gratification: as the name suggests, it's nearly immediate. Instacart says it's the only grocery delivery service that delivers within an hour.

Delivery for one-hour service is $5.99 on a $35 order, but either way it's music to the ears of customers, who have been "pleading" for such convenience, the newspaper reported.

Rainbow Grocery is also on Instacart, as are offerings like Safeway, the newspaper reported.



Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Red Cross Issues Urgent Call for Blood Donations]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:30:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-blood-shortage.jpg

Facing a looming blood shortage, the American Red Cross is asking for people to roll up their sleeves and donate blood.

The Red Cross says it urgently needs donors to help prevent an emergency shortage of blood following the Fourth of July holiday.

“Platelet donors and blood donors of all types, especially those with type O negative, B negative and A negative, are encouraged to give now,” Red Cross spokesperson Sara O'Brien said in a statement. “Summer can be among the most challenging times of the year to collect enough blood and platelet donations – yet the need for blood doesn’t take a summer break.”

Blood Donation Opportunities for July 22, 2014
Donor Center Hours Tues. 11:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Oakland Donor Center
6230 Claremont Ave,
Oakland, CA 94618

San Jose Donor Center
2731 N First St.
San Jose, CA 95134

Pleasanton Donor Center
5556-B Springdale Ave.
Pleasanton, CA 94588

Newark Donor Center
39227 Cedar Blvd.
Newark, CA 94560

Pleasant Hill Donor Center
140 Gregory Ln., Suite120
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

 

How to Donate Blood: Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Sleeping Man Dumped Into Recycling Truck]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:38:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-22-2014-recycling-rescue-2.jpg

A man who fell asleep in a dumpster woke up in the back of a garbage truck.

San Francisco firefighters had to rescue the man who became stuck inside a Recology cardboard recycling truck early Tuesday morning.

The truck driver said he was doing his normal routine at about 6:30 a.m. – lifting trash into his truck – when he heard yelling from the back of the truck. He drove straight to the nearby fire station at 16th and Irving streets to get the man out.

Veteran firefighters who helped free the man are calling the bizarre rescue “a first.”

The man was partially crushed by the truck’s hydraulic system, which is used to compact the cardboard to make more room. He suffered shoulder injuries but is expected to be OK.

Recology spokesman Robert Reed said 20-year veteran driver Mike Jones immediately shut the hydraulic system off when he realized what was happening.

“He heard this gentleman pounding in the back of the truck,” Reed said. “He actually talked to the gentleman from the cab of the truck and said ‘I’m going to drive you to the fire station.’”

The man was awake enough to mumble responses back to the firefighters and paramedics as they wheeled him to a waiting ambulance.

Authorities said it appears the older man was sleeping in the dumpster when it was picked up and tossed into the back of the Recology truck.

The driver’s quick actions earned Jones a nice title from Battalion Chief Smith.

“If he hadn’t heard him, he would have been trapped in that all day long and may have died,” Smith said. “So he is a hero. He saved his life.”

Had the man remained in the truck, he would have ended across town at Recology’s Recycle Central at Pier 96, dumped onto a tipping floor larger than basketball court with recyclables piled up 20 feet high.

Jones went through a debriefing with the company safety team and then went back to finish his route.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[South Bay Water District to Hire Water Cops]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:00:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0721-2014-Drought.jpg

The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board is looking to spend  half a million dollars on hiring water police to help new conservation regulations approved by the state.

District trustees are looking to bring in around up to 10 water cops who would respond to calls from the public reporting water waste. The water cops will not be able to issue fines when responding to calls, officials said.

"What they can do is refer an issue or property to the water provider or city who does have the ability to issue a fine," said Marty Grimes, spokesman for the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

San Jose-resident Jesus Santoyo said he welcomes the district hiring water cops.

"I think it's a good idea to hold them accountable," Santoyo said of water wasters. "It's not right that some people are wasting water when the rest of us are doing our part to save."

New numbers from February to May show water users in the district conserved 12 percent, which is below the 20 percent goal issued by the district earlier this year.

The severe drought's impact on the South Bay is evident with groundwater recharge pond off Almaden Expressway in San Jose all dried up -- the first time in 30 years it has been empty.

In addition, the Guadalupe groundwater recharge pond at the intersection of Highway 85 and Highway 87 is empty, along with several others in the area.

"The main reason the ponds are empty is that we don't have imported water and our reservoirs are almost empty," Grimes said. "And they were both sources for these ponds."

The district is also working to make conservation easy by offering free buckets to catch shower water while you wait for it to warm up.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Water Restored at Pleasanton Apartment Complex]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:43:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/07-21-2014-springhouse-water.jpg

Residents of an East Bay apartment complex are rejoicing after five consecutive days without running water came: Water service was restored Tuesday afternoon.

Frustrated residents who had been without running water since Friday took to collecting swimming pool water to flush their toilets Monday morning.

People who live at Springhouse Apartments complex in Pleasanton told NBC Bay Area on Monday they had been without water for four days in a row. They reported a water line busted about 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Management said they Monday they were doing as much as humanly possible to restore water to the apartment complex's 354 units, but they’re having a hard time finding a plumber to handle the job.

Residents said management distributed bottled water to help them get by. But, to conserve that drinking water, some were seen scooping water out of the complex’s swimming pool in order to fill toilet tanks. Management brought in a truckload of porta-potties Monday morning.

Springhouse resident Sheri Freeman said she didn't want to go to work on Monday because she hasn't been able to take a shower since last week.

"I've been bathing with the water in the sink," Freeman said.

The City of Pleasanton sent a representative to check out the situation on Monday.

The property manager said Monday he hoped repairs would be complete by Tuesday evening.

He said tenants would be given a credit to go toward hotel cost or their monthly rent for each day without water.



Photo Credit: Bob Redell]]>