<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Local News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Tue, 01 Dec 2015 17:59:57 -0800 Tue, 01 Dec 2015 17:59:57 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Peninsula Homicide Victim Remembered as Kind, Talented Artist]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 17:25:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Colleen+Straw.jpg

The man accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death is behind bars but the victim’s mother on Tuesday expressed solidarity with the suspect’s parents.

Anthony Kirincic, 22, was arrested Monday from his parents’ Redwood City home after an hours-long standoff with police. He allegedly killed 34-year-old Colleen Straw in her San Mateo home Saturday and then spent two days on the run.

Colleen Straw's mother Ann Straw has issued a statement saying: “While our hearts are broken at the loss of our beautiful daughter Colleen, we cannot help but feel sorrow for his parents. As we must suffer the loss of our daughter, they must suffer the loss of a son.”

Friends described Colleen Straw a kind person and talented artist who loved Rocky, her Chihuahua. She attended Saint Simon Parish School in Los Altos and Saint Francis High School in Mountain View.

Kirincic has been charged with murder and is being held on $5 million bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

But last week wasn’t the first time he was violent with Straw.

Police arrested Kirincic on Sept. 26 after he hit Straw in the face, threatened her and tried to smother her with a pillow. The suspect pleaded guilty to domestic violence — a felony assault charge was dropped — and was ordered to spend 120 days in jail and stay away from Straw.

Kirincic only spent 60 days in custody about which San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said: “California law says you only need to do half of your sentence so that’s what he did.”

While he was behind bars, though, Kirincic allegedly beat up an inmate.

Upon getting out of jail, Kirincic was once again arrested — this time on a battery charge involving the inmate. He was let go after posting $10,000 bail and was due back in court Monday but was being hunted as a murder suspect by then.

Meanwhile, Kathleen Krenek, the executive director of San Jose-based Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, said her office has seen an uptick in calls from victims since Straw’s murder. She hopes courts, prosecutors and police will examine the woman’s death and come up with ways to prevent another similar tragedy.

Photo Credit: Straw Family]]>
<![CDATA[New San Francisco Jail Plan Is Waste of Money, DA Says]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 17:28:21 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf-jail.jpg

The district attorney and the mayor are squaring off over the construction of a new jail in San Francisco and hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars are at stake.

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Wednesday on accepting $80 million in state funds to rebuild jail facilities. One might think the city's top law enforcement officer would be in favor, but he isn't.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon is calling it a waste of resources. The DA has his offices inside the old Hall of Justice building, beneath the jail, and he's been pushing for a new building for years, ever since he was chief of police back in 2009. But Tuesday he told reporters that spending $244 million on a new jail to replace the old and crumbling one is a waste.

The building has been deemed seismically deficient. But Tuesday the district attorney walked into a crowded conference room to declare that spending millions on a new jail is a bad idea.

"There is a push to build a jail very quickly that will cost around $240 million in a county where our jail population is down by about 50 percent," Gascon said.

Mayor Ed Lee, Gascon added, is trying to hurry up the vote before he loses a majority of support on the Board of Supervisors.

Gascon said, what's needed are mental health facilities, and he hopes City Hall gets the message.

"Before we rush into making a decision to embark on building a $244 million jail," he said, the city should "consider all the alternatives."

Listening to the district attorney on Tuesday was Chief Deputy Sheriff Matt Freeman, who told NBC Bay Area he disagrees with Gascon, saying the new jail is needed. "We need to accept this money and put it to good use," Freeman said.

Mayor Lee responded to the DA by saying it's not right to house prisoners in an unsafe building. "Therefore it's out of that concern that we need to build a new jail," Lee said.

Asked if he was rushing the vote, Mayor Lee said he's not playing politics. But it's pretty clear that his support on the Board will shift dramatically when the supervisor he appointed is replaced by incoming San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin. Peskin could take office before January, but it appears the exact timing is up to the mayor.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Report: 1 in 4 U.S. Bridges Deficient in Some Way]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 15:08:03 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/unit-bridges.jpg

Good, but not good enough. That's the assessment announced Tuesday by U.S. Government Accountability Office about the state of the country's bridges and highways.

NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit exposed hundreds of local bridges that are in desperate need of repair. The GAO's report found some improvement in the repair and conditions of local roads and bridges. It also shows a lot more work needs to be done.

The Bay Area's nearly 4,000 bridges carry millions of cars every day. The Unit's investigation back in April of this year discovered that 472 of them were rated by expert engineers as "structurally deficient," meaning some part of the bridge's core structure needs repair or complete replacement.

The GAO's report issued Tuesday says there has been some improvement nationwide. The number of deficient bridges has decreased and some problematic bridges have been fixed, but the report shows there is still a problem.

Of the 611,000 bridges in the system, 14 percent remain functionally obsolete, according to the report. Ten percent are structurally deficient. That's nearly a quarter of all bridges nationwide that are deficient in some way.

The Investigative Unit looked closer at the data and found, of California's 25,000 bridges, 17 percent are functionally obsolete and 10 percent are structurally deficient.

In the Bay Area, the number of structurally deficient bridges dropped from 472 to 405, but of the 4,000 bridges in the nine county area, 21 percent remain functionally obsolete and 10 percent remain structurally deficient.

So what's Congress doing about this? Tuesday, for the first time in nearly 10 years, Democratic and Republican leaders from both the Senate and the House of Representatives announced an agreement on a five-year fully paid for surface transportation reauthorization bill. That's $305 billion in guaranteed funding until 2020 to pay for upkeep and improvements of roads, bridges and passenger rail.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Sunnyvale Police Host 'Coffee With Cops']]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 16:18:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/officer+inside+starbucks.jpg Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety officers were on duty at Starbucks this morning for "Coffee With Cops," a department initiative to meet and chat with the community.

Photo Credit: Ryann Vargas/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Stolen Car Suspect Arrested at Toys 'R' Us]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 17:26:09 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/toysrus-shooting-chuck.jpg

San Jose police opened fire during the pursuit of a stolen car suspect who ran into a Toys 'R' Us store where he was arrested Tuesday afternoon, authorities said, but not before the suspect rammed parked cars and a police cruiser.

Police didn't immediately say if the suspect was wounded by gunfire. The entrance to the Toys 'R' Us, near the Westfield Oakridge mall, remained taped off at about 3 p.m. PT, hours after the incident began, with store employees sitting around outside waiting and a damaged Chevrolet Suburban parked outside the store entrance.

One witness said the vehicle, described as a black Chevy SUV, sped into the store parking lot doing "about 90" mph.

The incident started with a report of a stolen car, police said. The victim reported spotting his vehicle being driven near the corner of Thornwood Way and Winfield Boulevard at 12:53 p.m., authorities said, and police were dispatched to the area, which is near the mall, shortly before 1 p.m.

When police arrived, they spotted the apparently stolen vehicle being driven on Blossom Hill Road near Almaden Expressway.

The car took off after police attempted a car stop, ramming other vehicles, police said, including a patrol car. At that point, police fired shots in the direction of the suspect’s vehicle, authorities said. According to police, the suspect then got out of the stolen vehicle and ran into the toy store, where he was subsequently arrested.

Authorities said the San Jose Police Department’s Homicide Unit would take over the investigation.

NBC News' Andrew Blankstein and Bay City News contributed reporting.

Photo Credit: Chuck Coppola/NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Bay Area Revelations: The Heroes of 5B]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 17:06:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/212*120/2015-12-01-revelations-heroes-of-5b.jpg

December 1 is World AIDS Day. Did you know that San Francisco General served as home to the first AIDS ward in the nation? That was back in 1981. The doctors and nurses of Ward 5B helped shape the way AIDS patients would be treated by the medical community.

In this excerpt from NBC Bay Area's documentary series "Bay Area Revelations," Peter Coyote narrates the untold story of the Heroes of 5B.

<![CDATA[20 South Bay Charities to Give to On #GivingTuesday]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 14:05:03 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/homefirst-givingtuesday.jpg

People around the world are opening their wallets for Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to supporting philanthropic work in communities through volunteer hours and monetary donations.

Organizers of the Giving Tuesday social movement estimate there has been a 470 percent increase in online donations on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving since its inception in 2012.

Many local non-profit and community organizations are in need of financial support. Below is a list of organizations in and around the South Bay, along with their mission statements and a link to an online donation page.

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County serves and advocates for families and individuals in need, especially those living in poverty.
Click Here to Donate

Big Lift
The organization’s goal is to achieve a big lift in San Mateo County’s educational outcomes by going from 57 percent of our children reading proficiently in 3rd grade to 80 percent.
Click Here to Donate

Salvation Army Golden State Division
The Salvation Army Golden State Division provides services and hope to those in need on the San Francisco Peninusla, Central Coast, and in the Central Valley.
Click Here to Donate

Somos Mayfair
Somos Mayfair supports children, organizes families, and connects neighbors to uplift the dreams, power, and leadership of community and address systemic inequities.
Click Here to Donate

Sunnyvale Community Services
Sunnyvale Community Services works to prevent homelessness and hunger for low-income families and seniors facing temporary crises. SCS provides financial aid, food, and other support that prevents larger problems with more expensive solutions.
Click Here to Donate

Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley
Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley (BGCSV) offers innovative and effective after school and summer enrichment programs for low income, high risk Santa Clara County youth. BGCSV currently serves 3,000 regular members and more than 15,000 youth annually, ages 6-18 years old, at TEN (10) Clubhouse locations in Santa Clara County.
Click Here to Donate

Bill Wilson Center
Bill Wilson Center supports and strengthens the community by serving youth and families through
counseling, housing, education, and advocacy.
Click Here to Donate

HomeFirst confronts homelessness by cultivating people’s potential to get housed and stay housed.
Click Here to Donate

Loaves & Fishes
Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen fights hunger in the California Bay Area by providing food security to those who need it most. In 2015, Loaves & Fishes will serve over 233,000 meals in the community.
Click Here to Donate

Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties distributes more than one million pounds of nutritious food each week to low-income people in need in every zip code of our service area from Daly City to Gilroy, and from the ocean to the bay.
Click Here To Donate

A Circle of Warriors
The mission of A Circle Of Warriors is to provide facilitation, free of charge, to enhance the emotional, social, mental, and spiritual health of all Combat Veterans and their families, and to heal the wounds they might have, especially those that are not visible. A Circle Of Warriors provides transitioning veterans with the counseling, tools, and assistance they need to restore a sense of self-sufficiency.
Click Here to Donate

RotaCare Bay Area
RotaCare Bay Area is a volunteer alliance of medical professionals, organizations and community members dedicated to providing free primary, quality healthcare services to uninsured families and individuals with limited ability to pay for medical care. We are volunteer driven and supported solely through locally based philanthropy.
Click Here To Donate

Next Door Solutions To Domestic violence
Domestic violence crosses all socio-economic, ethnic and religious boundaries and affects every part of the lives damaged by it. We provide innovative prevention and intervention services to all families in Santa Clara County.
Click Here To Donate

Asian Law Alliance
The Asian Law Alliance has helped tens of thousands of people in obtaining decent housing, justice in the immigration process, and access to basic human and legal rights.
Click Here to Donate

Rebekah Children’s Services
Rebekah Children's Services offers children and their families an array of campus- and community-based mental health care, education, foster care and more.
Click Here to Donate

Downtown Streets Team
DST provides homeless and low-income men and women with the resources they need to rebuild their lives. Team members volunteer on beautification projects and In return, they receive a non-cash stipend help cover their basic needs, while taking advantage of case management and employment services to find housing and a job.
Click Here to Donate

Aim High
Aim High closes the opportunity gap for under-resourced middle school youth by providing them with a free summer learning program.
Click Here to Donate

Mountain View Educational Foundation
MVEF provides funding for enrichment programs and educational materials to enhance the solid academic curriculum and maintain the high quality of education in the Mountain View Whisman School District in Mountain View, CA.
Click Here to Donate

Los Gatos Education Foundation
Los Gatos Education Foundation (LGEF) is a volunteer-run, 501c3 non-profit organization (Tax ID 94-2874929) that raises private funds to ensure the k-8 students in Los Gatos Union School District receive a well-rounded education despite budget cuts.
Click Here to Donate

Live In Peace, Inc
Live In Peace is an East Palo Alto-based organization committed to advancing the cultural, educational, and economic empowerment of youth in communities of color. We fulfill this mission in the following three program areas: the L.I.P. Studio (arts & culture), the College Initiative (education) and StreetCode Academy (technology & economics).
Click Here To Donate

Photo Credit: HomeFirst]]>
<![CDATA[Wife Holds Vigil For Husband Missing 10 Years]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 08:12:58 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/233*120/2015-12-01_8-08-29.jpg

A poster board with Jerry Tang sat at a vigil at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Monday night.

His wife Joyce stands nearby, remembering the missed phone calls when he went missing 10 years ago.

"I started calling his cell phone. And since then...he's never picked up the phone...always went straight to voicemail," Joyce Tang said.

Jerry Tang disappeared from the couple’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood home on Nov. 29, 2005.

Joyce Tang said he suffered a stroke a year prior and medication led to stages of depression. She's searched for him ever since, along with those at the vigil.

"I remember putting up signs all over the place. Walking the streets looking for him," said family friend Adrian Ho.

But a law could bring closure to her husband's case. It's called Billy's Law.

It's being reintroduced to Congress for the fourth time. If passed, it would allow law enforcement and the FBI to share crime information with the National Missing Persons database.

The current database is void of thousands of cases that aren't reported, since law enforcement aren't required to report anyone missing under the age of 21.

"In general when adults go missing, you're allowed to walk out of your house and don't come back. The cops don't look into it as much," Joyce Tang said.

And as Joyce Tang pushes for the law, she can take a look at the crowd and take comfort that she's not alone.

The law was last introduced to Congress back in September and was referred to a committee. 

<![CDATA[2-Alarm El Sobrante Fire Displaces 20]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 07:37:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/EL+SOBTANTE+FIRE+CELL+VIDEO+-+00000000.jpg

A two-alarm stove top fire in El Sobrante displaced about 15 people early Tuesday morning, and a fast-thinking neighbor helped save a woman and two kids.

Contra Costa County Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said the fire broke out about 3:30 a.m. in the 300 block of Joan Vista Street. Four of five apartments were destroyed.

About half an hour later, a red Chrysler drove into a nearby fire hydrant on Rincon Road at Burgess Way, which was unrelated but cause some headaches for the crews trying to put out the fire.

Marshall said the fire was pinpointed to the kitchen area after the stove was accidentally left on.

No injuries were reported except for a woman who suffered some smoke inhalation.

Evan Francis saw flames everywhere and grabbed a neighbor’s cell phone to dial 911.

"I rushed out there barefoot," he said. "“I was just glad to be there."


Photo Credit: Adriana Valdez
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<![CDATA[Suspect Shoots at Clerk In Antioch 7-Eleven]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 07:39:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N5A+ANTIOCH+SHOOTING+VO+-+00001222.jpg

Shots were fired inside an Antioch 7-Eleven about midnight on Tuesday and the manager said a clerk was shot at.

Police did not immediately return phone calls, but the manager at the Lone Tree Way store said the robber shot at the clerk before taking off. The clerk’s condition was unknown.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Dies After Collision With Fuel Tanker]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 07:46:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/STRINGER+DEADLY+WRONG+WAY+CRASH+-+WE+DID+BUY+-+00004005.jpg

The driver of a Honda died late Monday night after driving the wrong way on the highway and crashing into a fuel tanker, according to the California Highway Patrol.

CHP Officer Andrew Barclay said said the driver of the 2000 Honda Civic was driving north in the southbound direction of US Highway 101 in San Rafael about 11:20 p.m. near the Central San Rafael exit when it slammed into a semi-truck towing two empty gas trailers. The 58-year-old driver of the trailer was not injured, but the CHP said the adult male Honda driver was pronounced dead on scene.

Barclay said the driver of the semi tried to veer out of the Honda's way, but couldn't because he was boxed in by another vehicle.

Investigators are hoping to find and speak  with the driver of the unknown vehicle which was traveling next to the truck at the time of the collision to see if that person knows anything about the fatal crash.

Any witnesses should call the Marin Area Office of the California Highway Patrol at (415) 924-1100.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Mystery Surrounds Disappearance of Producer]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 07:30:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/11.30.15_Eric-Kohler-Missing.jpg

By all accounts, 27-year-old Eric Kohler loves what he does, producing visual effects for blockbusters like “The Avengers,” “San Andreas,” and “X-Men.”

But last Tuesday, the Oakley, Northern California man walked out of work in Gardena without his wallet, his laptop or his bag — and never came back.

Now his family is doing everything they can to find out what happened.

Night after night, Kohler’s desperate mother and father are posting fliers, hoping for any help in finding their missing son.

Kohler is an up-and-coming movie producer and his family said he is a workaholic and a responsible man who would never just disappear.

"I know my son would never do this," Sheryi Kohler said.

He was last seen leaving work, in the 1700 block of El Segundo Boulevard, last Tuesday in his new Range Rover. Phone records and surveillance video show he went to a Food 4 Less parking lot, but then soon after his phone appeared to have been turned off.

"And he literally disappeared,” said his father, Tony Kohler. “It's heartbreaking. It's damn heartbreaking."

Kohler relocated from Costra Costa County to Los Angeles after graduating from Freedom High School. Kohler moved to Los Angeles to work in the movie industry. Kohler responded to an ad for a receptionist job and worked his way to become a visual effects producer at HYDRAULX.

Since his disappearance, friends and family said they have been in agony. The Thanksgiving holiday came and went without any sign. So did a huge project deadline at work.
The kind Eric's parents say he would never miss.

"He had big ambition to work hard and that's what he's been doing and something bad happened," said his mother.

Tony Kohler said they are praying Eric just needed to get away but said there are too many red flags. Eric left his wallet, bags and computer behind. There has also been no activity in his accounts for days.

Kohler was last seen wearing a light blue short-sleeved shirt, blue skinny jeans, brown suede shoes and a brown leather, chrome-plated watch.

Anyone with information on Kohler’s disappearance is asked to call the LAPD Missing Person Unit at 213-996-1800. After hours, please call LAPD’s RACR Division at 213-484-6700.

See LAPD's missing person flier here.

Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy LAPD]]>
<![CDATA[Body Found in Concord Park, Motive Unclear: Police]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 07:38:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/STRINGER+CONCORD+PARK+HOMICIDE+-+WE+DID+BUY+-+00033028.jpg

Homicide investigators blanketed a popular Concord park early Tuesday morning trying to figure out who killed a man whose body was found there.

The death marks the city’s fourth homicide this year, compared to three homicides in 2014.

"It's pretty uncommon," Cprl. Christopher Blakeley said. "This is a relatively safe park."

Lt. David Hughes said someone who was walking through Hillcrest Park called in the body at 12:05 a.m. The caller remained at the scene until police arrived. The body was found in the southeast corner of the park. Hughes said the man appeared to have sustained at least one gunshot wound.

The park is near a  playground for children with disabilities called Mateo's Dream.

Detectives are looking into all potential motives for the homicide, as well as the possibility that it may be gang-related or connected to other recent homicides in the city. At this time, Hughes said it is unclear what happened before the shooting."Once we ID him, we will attempt to determine why he was in the park, where he was coming from and going to," Hughes said.

Anyone with information about this case should call Detective Adam Hart at (925) 671-3040. Anyone who wants to remain anonymous can call the Concord Police Department Tip-line at (925) 603-5836.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Family Offers $1,000 Reward for Stolen Violin]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 09:54:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N5P+SF+STOLEN+VIOLIN+SOTVO+-+00003310.jpg

A Sunnyvale, California, family is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who helps return a $23,000 violin that was stolen earlier this month.

Police say the antique instrument was stolen when thieves broke into a parked car at a San Francisco Safeway on Webster Street near Japantown.

The violin’s owner, Erica Buonanno, says a friend borrowed it for a college audition on the day it was stolen. She said she’s desperate to get it back, not for the money, but its sentimental value.

"I named it Elizabeth," Buonanno said. "It has a name. It’s really a member of this family."

The nearly 200-year-old violin was kept in a bright red case. The case alone is worth $3,000, Buonanno said.

"They might have thrown it out, because they couldn’t open the case," Buonanno said. "And that devastates me because it doesn’t give me an opportunity to get it back."

Buonanno says she’s hoping the thief will return the violin in exchange for the reward. And, if that happens, she plans to teach her own children how to play the violin one day.

Anyone who has seen the violin or its case is asked to contact San Francisco police.

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<![CDATA[Preliminary Report: Oil Leak Poses No Threat to Drinking Water]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 00:05:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Oil+Leak+Site.jpg

Preliminary ground water testing found that a hazardous chemical leak at a Livermore oil field "does not pose a threat to water supply wells or groundwater resources in the area," according to a newly released county report obtained by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.

E&B Natural Resources owns the oil field, which produces about 11,500 barrels of oil per day at its more than 25 oil and gas fields in California, Louisiana, Kansas and Wyoming, according to the company's website.

Last week, the Investigative Unit uncovered inspection reports that revealed county and state regulators documented concerns – months ago – about possible drinking water contamination.

Residents and farmers in the area were never notified of the potential risk as the county waited on test results from soil and groundwater samples to learn more about the extent of the leak.

Alameda County’s Department of Environmental Health is the agency overseeing the cleanup in Livermore. The department’s acting director, Ronald Browder, e-mailed the Investigative Unit a copy of the county’s preliminary investigation into the spill. In his email, however, Browder did not address the Investigative Unit’s repeated requests for an interview.

In the report, the county noted that when crews dug 15 feet below the leak, they found no signs of the most dangerous chemicals that initially seeped out of the 250 barrel tank that was previously used to store crude oil.

"Petroleum hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, and semi-volatile compounds were not detected at concentrations above the reporting limit in soil samples collected below a depth of 15 feet below ground surface," the county report stated.

While "no volatile organic compounds were detected at concentrations above the reporting limit in the groundwater sample," the report does note that traces of "three semi-volatile compounds" were detected in the ground water sample.

Since 2010, state records show E&B Natural Resources has reported 13 oil spills to state regulators in four different California counties. In the past three months, oil companies across California have reported 18 oil spills to the Governor's Office of Emergency Services – two of those spills occurred at E&B oil fields.

As a result of the Livermore leak, inspectors with Alameda County’s Department of Environmental Health cited the oil company for over a dozen violations, including for failing to immediately notify state and local regulators about the leak, which the company was legally obligated to report.

In response to the Investigative Unit’s initial story last week, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who represents Livermore, requested that the county’s public health director, Dr. Muntu Davis, consider declaring a health emergency for parts of Livermore.

"We did know about it, but not to this severity," said Shawn Wilson, Haggerty’s Chief of Staff. "We are very disappointed in the way it was handled."

Wilson says the county's Environmental Health Department did not adequately inform county leaders about the extent of the oil leak.

"Not informing us of the severity of the issue is quite appalling," Wilson said.

Davis has not responded to repeated requests for comment, but a spokesperson for the county health department said Davis believes "there is no public health emergency."

According to state records, E&B Natural Resources reported that it discovered the leak 8 months ago.

The oil company declined NBC Bay Area's interview request, but in a written statement said it believes the hazardous waste seeped out of an unused oil tank years ago, before the company ever purchased the oil field.

"In late March 2015, when E&B Natural Resources removed an unused storage tank, we discovered oil-stained soil underneath the unused tank. E&B has never used the tank," the statement said. "Any leak occurred prior to E&B's acquisition of the facility in 2006. The company takes full responsibility for cleaning-up the affected soil in a voluntary remediation agreement with the County."

While the county’s preliminary investigation casts doubt on whether the oil leak may have contaminated water supplies, the report noted that more research is needed before making a definitive assessment.

"Further investigation will be conducted to provide additional data regarding the extent of any groundwater contamination," the report stated.

Those results are due to the county by Dec. 21.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Youth Mentor Accused of Sexually Assaulting Teen Boy]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 22:15:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Patrick+Dauphin.jpg

A nonprofit that serves at-risk and foster youth in Northern California has been thrust into the limelight after police arrested one of its longtime mentors for allegedly committing sexual battery on a minor.

The suspect, identified as Patrick Dauphin, was taken into custody on Nov. 20 from the 100 block of Thyme Avenue in Morgan Hill after police received reports of a 17-year-old boy being sexually assaulted.

Prior to his termination four days later, the 45-year-old was a facilitator for Unity Care Group, which is associated with Santa Clara County Probation Department, Department of Family Children Services and County behavioral Health, according to police.

"It was being alleged by the minor that Patrick touched him in an inappropriate way during a mentoring session," said Sgt. Carson Thomas with the Morgan Hill Police Department.

The teen said the incident occurred at a home in Morgan Hill that police say is associated with Dauphin. It is unclear whether the suspect owned, rented or lived in the residence.

In a statement issued Monday, Unity Care officials said Dauphin was fired on Nov. 24 for breaching the organization's professional boundaries policy, as it is called. 

"The alleged isolated incident of misconduct did not occur at any Unity Care facility," the statement continued. "This is the first time in the nonprofit organization’s 22‐year history that a Unity Care employee or volunteer has been arrested for an allegation of misconduct involving youth."

According to police, Dauphin has worked with Unity Care, which annually works with about 6,000 troubled youth throughout Northern California, for about 10 years. Police estimated that he was currently working with 10 minors in trouble with the law.

"We know Patrick has worked in Santa Clara County and Sacramento," Thomas said. "We’re asking anyone who has come in contact with him to call the Morgan Hill police."

Police are asking other victims or people who may know victims to call Detective Sheena Pevehouse of the Morgan Hill Police Department at (408) 779-2101 or use the anonymous tip line at (408) 947- 7867.

Photo Credit: Morgan Hill Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Cal Fire Academy Investigating Cheating Allegations]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 11:21:14 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N5P-CAL-FIRE-ACADEMY-CHEATING-PKG---00005327.jpg

Cal Fire is taking measures to clean up its reputation after a state investigation indicated that some academy cadets may have been cheating.

Cal Fire is in the midst of getting ready for the winter, and El Niño, and officials definitely want to put the scandals behind them. But they also say they believe some of the allegations about firefighting training are misleading. The agency wants to dispel any public doubts that some firefighters were not properly trained.

Cal Fire officials said the wildfire agency has taken steps to alleviate any possible public concerns some firefighters might not be qualified.

A statewide California Highway patrol investigation indicated some academy cadets said instructors helped students, including manipulating tests, in order to graduate as many cadets as possible. The investigation also revealed there were reported incidents of Instructors drinking alcohol on the job and sexual harassment.

Cal Fire said it has fired or demoted around 15 employees since the beginning of the year, including the supervising instructor.

"We quickly took measures not only to tighten security but also to limit access to the test questions as well as test answers," said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. "As well as taking disciplinary action against those instructors that were part of this issue."

A Bay Area Cal Fire Division Chief declined to comment on the academy scandal directly, but Jim Crawford points out many so-called “cadets” actually are experienced seasonal or full-time firefighters who work every year for Cal Fire units. He points out those that become cadets are usually trying to move up into higher classified jobs such as engineers.

Crawford also said all Cal Fire units actually have a battalion that specializes in training firefighters, even before they reach the academy. He also emphasized problems firefighters face are addressed directly.

"The (battalions) set up an 'improvement program' for that employee to ensure that they're meeting the level of competence they need to be able to do the job,” said Crawford. "There are apprentice programs for entry-level employees and all kinds of 'continuing' education. Hundreds of hours that are spent training and drilling our employees on a regular basis all of the time.”

“Fully accredited academies and schooling are great," he said, "but the unit training is separate from any academy."

Cal Fire units Monday submitted its winter staffing and strategy plans to agency administrators. The agency is accepting firefighter applications until January.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SF Supe Pushes for Tree Tax on 2016 Ballot]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 16:32:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/GoldenGateParktrail.jpg

San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener plans to propose a parcel tax on property owners to create an Urban Forest Fund to help maintain and plant trees.

In an article posted to Medium, Wiener wrote, "San Francisco — the self-proclaimed green capital of the universe — has massively dropped the ball when it comes to having a verdant, expansive, and healthy urban forest. Indeed, if you were to put a group of people in a room and ask them to design the worst possible urban forest policy, they would come up with San Francisco’s approach to trees."

For five years, Wiener has been working with a coalition led by Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) to try to reverse San Francisco's tree policy, which he says often forces property owners to care for nearby street trees they didn't plant.

He plans to propose a measure on the 2016 ballot that would establish a parcel tax of $20 for condo owners, $30 for single family homes and more for commercial properties. The funds generated could allow for 50,000 new trees to be planted and maintained along with the approximately 105,000 existing trees he estimates in San Francisco.

"A dedicated parcel tax can accomplish what we have failed to accomplish for nearly forty years: the city taking back and caring for street trees and providing sustainable, long-term funding to ensure success," he wrote.

Photo Credit: Daniel Ramirez/Flickr
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<![CDATA[Historic Gilroy Church Requests Donations]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 15:30:01 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Gilroy+Church++update.jpg

The Salvation Army of Gilroy is in need of financial donations after repair costs for its historic church more than doubled.

Repairs to the cracked steeple, leaky roof and damaged windows were expected to cost $85,000, but contractors updated the total cost to $200,000.

“We have no money for that. We have to do something quickly,” said Salvation Army Gilroy Captain Demetrio Villarreal.

Repairs at the Salvation Army-owned church at 200 W. 5th Street in Gilroy were expected to be completed by the end of October. But the Salvation Army says the leaks haven't been fixed, and they worry the church will take a major hit once a big storm hits comes.

The unexpected $115,000 dollar cost puts community programs provided by the organization at additional risk of being cut. The Salvation Army provides community programs including food pantry, housing assistance, weekly church service and holiday meals that would be in danger of cancellation if the building is damaged.

“I have to work hard to find the money in this community,” said Captain Villarreal. “No matter what I have to do, I will do it.”

A spokesperson with Salvation Army Regional headquarters in San Francisco says while donations will be a big help, the increased cost can be covered by reserved funds.

The Salvation Army adds it is "making progress" on submitting repair permits to the city. The church is deemed a "historic" building, so the organization must receive approval from the Gilroy Historic Heritage Committee before it can submit plans. 

The organization says no hard deadline has been set. The repairs could happen in a few days or a few months.

The Salvation Army purchased the center of worship 28 years ago, yet the church has been a neighborhood staple for more than a century. It was built in 1869 as the Gilroy Presbyterian Church, the second oldest Presbyterian church in California.

Donations can be made directly to the church by calling (408) 848-5373.

Photo Credit: Ryann Vargas/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Imperfect Produce Shines at Emeryville Startup]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 12:07:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/229*120/IMPERFECTFRUIT.jpg

Don't judge a fruit by its cover.

Emeryville's Imperfect Produce is fighting waste by delivering fruits and vegetables that taste good but might be considered to look ugly at prices that are way below grocery store markups. A 10-15 pound box of fruits and vegetables, for example, costs $12.

"We find that it is really easy to convince people when they realize they can pay a fraction of the price to get the same kind of taste and health," chief supply officer Ron Clark told New York Times.

Reducing waste has been a concern for the founders since they were in college. Chief executive Ben Simon and chief operating officer Ben Chesler also operate the Food Recovery Network, which facilitates donations of food from over 100 colleges to soup kitchens.

They admitted that efforts to work with national grocery retailers have been tough so far; the publication cited a pilot program with Raley's to sell Imperfect Produce fruits and vegetables that was discontinued after a few months.

Imperfect Produce delivers to Emeryville, Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, Alameda and San Francisco and offers public pickup locations in San Francisco, Lafayette and Concord. Potential customers in other Bay Area cities can contact them to express interest in having Imperfect Produce expand to other places.

Photo Credit: mperfectfoods.deliverybizpro.com
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<![CDATA[Child Porn Statute Conflicts Leave Authorities Breaking Law]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 23:43:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/unit-child-porn.jpg

Every time law enforcement makes a copy of child pornography to give to defense attorneys in preparation of a criminal case in California they’re breaking federal law. 

That’s because of a conflict in a U.S. regulation called the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which strictly forbids the copying of child porn for any reason, even if it’s for defense counsel preparing for a trial. But California law allows for court-ordered reproduction of child porn evidence given to defense teams. 

The tension between federal and state rules has created ethical and legal problems for law enforcement trying to stamp out child porn in the Bay Area. 

And in San Francisco, this conflict recently came to a head when the District Attorney’s Office opposed a public defender’s motion to receive copies of child porn evidence in advance of a criminal trial.  

When state courts order district attorneys to provide copies of child pornography to defense counsels they must obtain copies from Regional Computer Forensic Labs—federally funded centers that provide computer forensic support for state cases. 

According to federal and local law enforcement officials who work in the Silicon Valley forensic computer lab in Menlo Park, the conflict in the two regulations means they must break federal law to comply with state court orders. They say this conflict also leaves law enforcement officers participating in what they consider to be the continued exploitation of young victims. 

"Every time that we release a hard drive with these horrific images you’re victimizing each of those children," said special agent Brenda Atkinson, chief division counsel in the FBI’s San Francisco Division. 

Atkinson and many of her colleagues at the Silicon Valley lab fear losing control of evidence when they turn over hard drives full of disturbing photos and graphic images. 

"It’s just like in drug cases," Atkinson said. "We don’t say to a man who has been charged with possessing a kilo of cocaine ‘Here’s half of the key. Go ahead and do what you like with it.’ Right?" 

Heather Young, an FBI supervisory agent, calls the evidence contraband. 

"It puts the district attorneys’ offices in a position of having to provide a duplicate and thereby create child pornography, which is contraband," Young said. 

Other states and some other counties in California get around this by allowing defense teams and their experts to view the material in a private room inside the forensics labs without interference from prosecutors or law enforcement. Atkinson says local defense attorneys and their forensic experts can review child pornography evidence in a room inside the Silicon Valley lab. 

That option is not acceptable to some defense attorneys in the Bay Area.  

"We are trusted officers of the court to handle that evidence," said Sandy Feinland, a deputy public defender in San Francisco. "There is absolutely no reason not to trust that I would be careful with this evidence and not distribute it to anyone beyond the limits of the protective order." 

Feinland says state law clearly provides for full disclosure of evidence being used against the accused on trial.  

"I think that a vigorous defense, which everyone’s got the constitutional right to, requires that defense council in any type of case have control of the evidence and can review it confidentially and meaningfully with their experts and with their clients," he said. 

California’s Fourth District Court of Appeals apparently agreed. In its 2002 ruling, "Westerfield v Superior Court of San Diego" the court ruled that prosecutors must turn over all evidence including copies of child pornography to the defense team. 

San Francisco police officers who investigate Internet crimes against children note the growing proliferation of child pornography. They say the conflict between federal and state law will become stickier as law enforcement make more arrests and district attorneys bring more cases against suspected child pornographers. 

"We are put in a position to create and duplicate child porn evidence that we don’t want to do," said San Francisco Police Sergeant Brian Rodriguez. 

That leaves law enforcement with a difficult choice. They either have to turn over hard drives full of illicit material or refuse to do so, which could jeopardize a solid case. 

"We can’t win," Atkinson said. 

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit found the quandary has played out in court in San Francisco, most recently in a case against a man named Adric "David" Petrucelli, who is awaiting trial on one count of distribution of child pornography. 

Petrucelli’s public defender cited the Westerfield decision and asked for copies of the video evidence against his client. Judge Brendan Conroy followed state law and ordered the discovery of the evidence. 

According to court records, San Francisco assistant district attorney Alexis Feigen Fasteau balked at making copies. She cited the federal Adam Walsh Act, which forbids the copying of material that constitutes child porn, and argued that the defense team and its experts would have access to the private viewing room at the forensics crime lab.  

"The defense may argue that possessing a copy is more practical for their expert," Fasteau wrote in court papers. "However, the compelling need to protect the actual children depicted in these photos from being re-victimized, as they are with every duplication, should be balanced against mere convenience." 

Ultimately, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and federal authorities backed down and made copies of the child pornography. None of the parties involved in the case would comment for this story. 

Atkinson says this scenario is happening more frequently. 

"If we continue to withhold the hard drives with the actual images," Atkinson said, "we risk the assistant district attorneys being held in criminal contempt or civil contempt and we risk the state court judge during our case dismissing the indictment." 

Some legal experts say the conflict has been overstated. Franklin Zimring, a UC Berkeley law professor who specializes in state and federal law, says the hype is nothing more than an academic exercise because there is no way a prosecutor would ever be held in contempt. 

"This is one of the clever legal arguments that is a hypothetical problem but not a real one," Zimring said. 

He also says he doesn’t buy the argument that law enforcement and prosecutors lose control over contraband by handing it over to defense teams.

"That’s an argument I really don’t understand unless federal law enforcement is telling you that they don’t trust local judges in local criminal courts," Zimring said. "There is no sense in which any materials which are delivered under the orders we are talking about go out of control of judicial officers. They are under the control of the same criminal courts that are administering the rest of the local prosecution." 

San Mateo County deputy district attorney Sean Gallagher sees few problems in his county. He says state law, and specifically the Westerfield decision, sets the legal precedence state prosecutors must follow. Gallagher says any change in approach would require action from lawmakers in Sacramento to overturn the current reading of the law.   

"I think all prosecutors and law enforcement would like to see a legislative fix," Gallagher said. 

Several lawmakers contacted by NBC Bay Area seemed lukewarm to the idea of legislative action. The State Attorney General’s office says there is already a clear process to navigate the conflict between state and federal law. 

But for those trying to eliminate child porn and prosecute the people who commit heinous acts against young victims, the status quo is intolerable. 

"We’re weighing two really horrible outcomes," Atkinson said. "Re-victimizing children or potentially letting a child pornographer or sex offender walk out of the courtroom." 

If you have a tip for the Investigate Unit email theunit@nbcbayarea.com or call 888-996-TIPS.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Closes Beats Music Service]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 13:30:03 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/179*120/beatsmusic1.PNG

Apple has closed Beats Music as of Monday.

The company announced in May 2014 that it acquired the streaming service and related headphone and audio software maker Beats Electronics for $3 billion and brought on Beats co-founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine as executives.

But the beat goes on with music at Apple. Beats Music subscribers have been prompted to switch their accounts to the six-month-old Apple Music streaming service and the homepage now includes a three-month free trial offer for Apple Music. Playlists and preferences from old Beats accounts will be imported into Apple Music.

The news follows the Nov. 16 bankruptcy filing from San Francisco based streaming service Rdio. Oakland's Pandora has announced that it will acquire Rdio's assets for $75 million.

Photo Credit: beatsmusic.com]]>
<![CDATA[Super Bowl 50: Coldplay Mentioned as Possible Halftime Act]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 13:16:12 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/217*120/coldplay-generic.jpg

A British tabloid is speculating that Coldplay is in the running to be named a halftime headliner at Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara.

The Sun reported that the band is in talks to lead the musical portion of the festivities at Levi's Stadium on Feb. 7, 2016.

E! Online mused in October that Maroon 5 was a frontrunner to play, followed by Coldplay and 2014 halftime performer Bruno Mars.

An announcement on NFL.com has confirmed that one headlining act will be revealed on Thursday Night Football during the game between Green Bay and Detroit.

A separate blog post on the site from writer Dan Hanzus, who claims not to know any of the official details, speculated that more headliners will emerge later.

"We can expect multiple performers — and I doubt they mean it in a Katy-Perry-with-cameos-from-Lenny-Kravitz-and-Missy-Elliott kind of way," he wrote. "Our guess is there will be multiple standalone A-list acts, covering different generations to honor the Super Bowl's golden anniversary."

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Opening of Sunnyvale Shelter Delayed]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 11:37:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1127-2015-Shelter.jpg

South Bay shelters are accepting more occupants this week following the delay of a Sunnyvale shelter opening amid freezing temperatures.

The North County Shelter at 1100 Innovation Way in Sunnyvale was expected to open Nov. 30 but has been delayed to Dec. 6.

"Utility hookups and piping caused delays,” said Claire Wagner, Director of Communications for HomeFirst.

In response, Santa Clara county has increased shelter capacity from 250 to 350 in San Jose, and up to 130 in Gilroy.

Transportation can be arranged for people who need help escaping the cold by contacting HomeFirst Services of Santa Clara County. Some shelters are also open during the day instead of exclusively in the evening.

A list of open shelters nearby can be found below:

Gilroy Shelter Outreach Center
National Guard Armory
8940 Wren Avenue
Gilroy, CA 95020
(408) 848-8023
The Gilroy Shelter will serve adults and families, with beds for up to 130 people. The shelter will provide a warm bed, two nutritious meals, and a hot shower. A variety of supportive services will also be offered, including counseling to help set short-term goals, employment resources, medical care, and referrals to other services. Volunteers often provide haircuts, and donated toiletries and clothing are often available to those who need them.

Boccardo Reception Center
2011 Little Orchard
San Jose, CA 95125
(408) 510-7502
The shelter serves adults only. All beds that are not in use by regular programs will be made available up to the shelter’s capacity. Meals are served daily.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area/file]]>
<![CDATA[Yacht Named 'Gotcha' Stuck on Estuary Breakwall]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 17:37:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CHOPPER+YACHT+RUN+AGROUND+-+19503114.jpg

Passengers aboard a yacht named "Gotcha" got stuck on Sunday when their vessel got stuck on a breakwall within the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

A Coast Guard spokesperson said a man, his wife and their three children were on board the vessel when it got stuck.

Authorities said it's possible the boat was too close to the breakwall when the tide changed.

Two of the passengers decided to wait for the boat towing company to show up. That happened Monday morning as the Coast Guard helped manage the boat's removal from the breakwall.

The boat owner's name is Raffy Lopez from San Carlos. He said he and his family were out for a Sunday cruise heading for lunch at Scott's Seafood in Oakland when they hit the breakwall.

"Of course your first thought is, Is the boat going to sink?" he said. They called for help and Coast Guard was there immediately.

Lopez said he will get the Gotcha repaired and keep boating. "I'm not coming back to the Oakland Estuary, not for a long time," he said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area chopper
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<![CDATA[Banner Urgers 49ers, York to Part Ways]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:39:44 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/n8p+banner+vo++-+00000515.jpg

SANTA CLARA – The protests of some 49ers fans directed at CEO Jed York were seen high above the team’s home stadium on Sunday.

A plane circled Levi’s Stadium on Sunday before the 49ers’ game against the Arizona Cardinals that towed a banner that read: "Jed & 49ers Should Mutually Part Ways.”

The banner was the idea of self-described long-time 49ers fan Conor McGuire, according to NinerFans.com. McGuire opened a Go Fund Me campaign that raised $1,059 for the demonstration. The cost for six to eight laps around the stadium was $549, according to the page.

Just moments after the 49ers’ final game of last season — a victory over the Cardinals — the 49ers announced that the team and then-coach Jim Harbaugh had agreed to mutually part ways following an 8-8 season. Harbaugh’s team advanced to the NFC Championship game, with one Super Bowl appearance, in his three previous seasons.

For more, go to CSNBayArea.com

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Family IDs Peninsula Stabbing Victim; Suspect Still at Large]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 11:56:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Colleen+Straw.jpg

Family members have identified the woman who was fatally stabbed by her still-at-large boyfriend Saturday afternoon in San Mateo. 

The victim — 34-year-old Colleen Straw — was brutally attacked by Anthony Kirincic, 22, according to police who have yet to confirm the woman's identity. 

Officers initially responded to a call for a domestic disturbance around 12 p.m. Saturday on the 1500 block of B Street.

Straw was found critically injured with visible stab wounds, police said, adding that she later died at the scene.

Kirincic, who has been identified as the suspect, fled the scene prior to officers arriving, police said.

The search for Kirincic Saturday afternoon extended into San Carlos after his vehicle was found in a parking garage near Holly Street and Industrial Avenue. Police closed off nearby streets during the search and investigation.

San Mateo police and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office are actively working to locate the suspect. As of Sunday evening, no arrest had been made.

Police also notified law enforcement authorities at San Francisco International Airport and BART stations in Daly City and Colma to be on the lookout for the suspect.

Kirincic is considered to be armed and dangerous. Anyone with information Kirincic's whereabouts is asked to get in touch with San Mateo police Sgt. Teixeira at (650) 522-7700.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Straw Family
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<![CDATA[SF Home Sold Well Below Market Value, on Purpose]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 05:08:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Mission+House+Zillow.jpg

A San Francisco woman fed up with the Mission District’s rapid gentrification sold her home for hundreds of thousands of dollars under market value – but with a caveat.

Prospective buyers went through an application process designed to weed out people who didn’t respect the neighborhood or its diverse culture.

Catherine Lee sold her two-bedroom, Edwardian condo with garage parking and a marble fireplace on 23rd and Alabama streets for a non-negotiable $650,000. That's a steal when you consider that a veritable shack sold for $408,000 in the Mission District just a month ago.

Comparable houses in the same area have sold for more than $1 million, according to real estate website Zillow. 

Lee, who is a filmmaking teacher living on a modest income, told San Francisco Magazine that she was flooded with potential buyers. None of them, however, seemed to understand that she was serious about the culture-centric application.

"I had a couple of real estate agents come by — you know, long, clicky nails and stiletto heels – who told me they had clients who would go way over asking price," she told the magazine. "I said, ‘OK, so what’s their cultural contribution?’ I never heard back."

That contribution, referred to as a "10-year cultural promissory note," asked prospective buyers to write about their ties to the city and enter a binding, decade-long commitment to provide something of cultural value to the community or to Lee herself.

The new owners also had to promise that they would abstain from griping about the the Mission District's Dia de los Muertos festival, the "Day of the Dead" holiday with roots in Mexico that celebrates the lives of friends and family members who have died. Out-of-area transplants had recently criticized the longstanding neighborhood event, much to Lee's dismay.

"The people showing up were maybe more professional," Lee told the magazine about her preference for the future owners. "I was really thinking, like, the doorman at Slim’s (music club)."

Still, solid offers poured in.

Applicants promised to create a local choir, donate to various foundations and give free legal help to immigrants.

One prospective buyer even met the cultural demands and offered an additional $100,000 on top of the asking price.

But no application seemed to beat that of writer Malena Watrous and her husband, composer Matt Shumaker, who eventually won the moneyless bidding war.

The couple offered free writing conferences, tickets to cultural events for Lee, and a generous donation to the Mission-based nonprofit La Cocina, among other culturally-sound gifts. It also didn’t hurt that the couple had strong ties to the neighborhood – both have lived in the city for a long time, and their son went to a nearby daycare.

"I knew then that they were a family who really lived in the Mission," Lee told the magazine.

Though her story has a happy ending, Lee admits that not everyone can afford to sell their house under market value. She told the magazine that the opportunity she had was one that ultimately worked well for her, and the unique goals she had for her former home.

As for the Shumaker-Wastrous clan, it appears the deal worked for them, too.

"That fear that we would be pushed out of the city was getting to us, even if we didn’t admit it," Wastrous told to the magazine. "Now we can’t wait to get home — and stay home."

Photo Credit: Zillow]]>
<![CDATA[Off-Duty 'Hot Cop of Castro' Arrested for Felony Hit-and-Run]]> Tue, 01 Dec 2015 17:49:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/steven+weller.jpg

Update: The San Francisco’s district attorney has filed two felony hit-and-run charges against Officer Christopher Kohrs, the office announced Tuesday afternoon. He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.

The San Francisco police officer who social media dubbed the "Hot Cop of Castro" last summer was arrested Sunday for a hit-and-run that seriously injured two men whom a family friend said had just left a musical performance.

According to a San Francisco Police Department news release, officer Christopher Kohrs, 38, rammed his Dodge Charger into two men who were crossing near Broadway and Montgomery streets in the city's North Beach neighborhood. Kohrs was off duty at the time on medical leave, police said.

Authorities say Kohrs ditched the car and fled from the scene after the crash, which was reported at 2:20 a.m. Police, however, were able to identify Kohrs as the driver and later arranged for the officer to turn himself in. He was arrested on two counts of felony hit-and-run. On Monday, he had been released from San Francisco County Jail. Efforts to immediately reach him were unsuccessful. NBC Bay Area left a voicemail at the San Francisco Police Officers Association seeking a comment early Monday morning.

Trey Bellomy saw some of the aftermath: "I looked out my window and there was a black and orange Dodge Charger right there. It looked like someone had pulled up and parked it. I didn't see anybody get out."

Surveillance video obtained by NBC Bay Area on Monday shows one person running away from the scene of the accident shortly after it happened and. The identity of that person isn’t clear.

The two victims -- both men in their 40s -- were taken to the hospital and are expected to survive, according to police. On Monday, one of the victims was upgraded to "fair condition," according to the hospital.

Kevin Cochran, who works at a nearby club, saw the men hurt in the street and called 911.

"I heard the impact," he said. "From what I understand, they were crossing the crosswalk, and they ended up 20 yards away."

Americo Diaz, who said he is friends with one of the victims, said one of the men has a broken leg and jaw, and is suffering from severe bruising to his body and head.

"We all ask everyone to keep him in their prayers," he said.

The pair of men had just seen a musical performance, Diaz added.

Kohrs has been a popular officer whose "appreciation page" on Facebook had 52,371 likes as of Monday morning. His superiors said he has never even worked in the Castro, a traditionally gay neighborhood, but has always been assigned to the park district.

He became a local celebrity after amateur photographer Mark Abrabson snapped photos of him in the Castro neighborhood in July 2014, which later got posted them on social media, usually with the hashtag #HotCopofCastro.

Kohrs has since modeled in calendars and also performed the Ice Bucket Challenge shirtless for an Officer Down Memorial Fund.

NBC Bay Area's Stephanie Chuang and Nanette Miranda contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Steven Kyle Weller via Facebook
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<![CDATA[Fire Damages South Bay Home]]> Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:08:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kent+fire.jpg

A fire destroyed a substantial part of a Mountain View home Sunday and sent plumes of acrid smoke into the air.

The blaze, which was reported to authorities at around 12 p.m, completely engulfed the garage of a residence at 3362 Villa Robleda Drive.

Fire officials said the blaze started in the garage and then spread to the rest of the home, where it sparked a gas line.

Mountain View firefighters were able to knock down the fire around 1:30 p.m., but more than half the house had already been completely scorched.

Firefighters were able to salvage laptops and backpacks that belonged to children who lived in the home, officials said.

Black and gray smoke could be seen for miles away, while surrounding streets were closed to traffic as firefighters swarmed the area.

Fire crews will be on scene for several hours, officials said Sunday afternoon.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[2 Men Caught Red-Handed With Bundle of Stolen Mail]]> Sun, 29 Nov 2015 15:30:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Fairfield+arrests.jpg

Two Fairfield men were arrested Sunday morning after being caught with a bundle of mail that appeared to be stolen from numerous homes.

A witness called police around 1 a.m. to report the two men acting suspiciously in a still-unidentified Fairfield neighborhood. 

When police caught up with the two suspects, they found the mail and arrested Korey Smith, 30, for possession of stolen property, criminal conspiracy and violation of probation. The second suspect, Michael Anderson, 34, was also arrested for criminal conspiracy. 

The Fairfield Police Department is urging people to be diligent when collecting their mail around the holidays, as gifts and other valuable items might show up in mailboxes and on doorsteps.

Consistent mail collecting is also important during the rest of the year, as thieves commonly use stolen mail to procure personal information about their next target, according to police. Reporting suspicious activity could help prevent a future identity theft and solve existing cases.

To report suspicious activity or mail theft, call Sergeant Matt Bloesch at (707) 428-7300.

Photo Credit: Fairfield Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Remains at Large After Stabbing, Killing Ex]]> Sun, 29 Nov 2015 09:08:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1128-2015-SanCarlos.jpg

Police are searching for a 22-year-old man wanted on suspicion of fatally stabbing his girlfriend.

Officers initially responded to a call for a domestic disturbance at noon Saturday in the 1500 block of B Street in San Mateo.

The victim, a 34-year-old woman, was found critically injured in her home with visible stab wounds, police said. The woman later died at the scene, according to police.

The woman's boyfriend, Anthony Kirincic, has been identified as the suspect, police said. He left the scene prior to officers arriving.

The search for Kirincic Saturday afternoon extended into San Carlos after his vehicle was found in a parking garage near Holly Street and Industrial Avenue. Police closed off nearby streets during the search and investigation.

San Mateo police and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office are actively working to locate the suspect. As of Sunday morning, no arrest had been made.

Police also notified law enforcement authorities at San Francisco International Airport and BART stations in Daly City and Colma to be on the lookout for the suspect.

Kirincic is conisdered to br armed and dangerous. Anyone with information Kirincic's whereabouts is being asked to get in touch with San Mateo police Sgt. Teixeira at (650) 522-7700.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Man Wins $5 Million Lottery With Ticket Bought at SF Safeway]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:06:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/208*120/Screen+Shot+2015-11-29+at+8.53.26+AM.png

A California Lottery ticket purchased at a Safeway in San Francisco made a man a multi-millionaire, lottery officials said.
The ticket, sold at the 730 Taraval St. location, led to a $5 million win for Sergey Osipyan.

Osipyan won the top prize of the "Max-A-Million Scratchers," according to lottery officials.
The grocery store's owners will receive a retailer bonus of $25,000 for selling the winning ticket, lottery officials added.

Photo Credit: Google Maps]]>
<![CDATA[Stranded Juvenile Dolphin Rescued in Monterey County]]> Sat, 28 Nov 2015 14:04:32 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1128-2015-DolphinRescued.jpg

A stranded young dolphin was rescued Saturday morning in unincorporated Monterey County by a Wildlife Emergency Services team.

The dolphin was first spotted Friday morning in the waters of the Elkhorn Slough Preserve, Wildlife Emergency Services spokeswoman Rebecca Dmytryk said.

Dmytryk said the dolphin became beached Friday afternoon and in the slough the next morning when it was rescued. The juvenile dolphin is still dependent on its mother for support to live, according to Dmytryk.

Crews are searching the area to see if they can find the mother looking for her young dolphin.

The dolphin has been transported to a Marine Mammal Center holding facility.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Wildlife Emergency Services]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Destroys 3,000-Square-Foot Home in Danville]]> Sat, 28 Nov 2015 16:48:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/197*120/1128-2015-DanvilleFire2.jpg

A 3,000-square foot home in rural unincorporated Danville was destroyed during a two-alarm fire Saturday afternoon, San Ramon Valley Fire Department Chief Jim Selover said.

At 12:27 p.m., firefighters were sent to a report of a structure fire at the 5600 block of Johnston Road, off Camino Tassajara.

Firefighters arriving on scene found the home engulfed in flames. While battling the blaze, fire crews had to use water tankers to truck water onto the site.

The blaze was extinguished at about 2 p.m.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photo Credit: Arie Quick]]>