<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Local News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usFri, 28 Apr 2017 05:31:12 -0700Fri, 28 Apr 2017 05:31:12 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[ Berkeley Architect Fights Religious Oppression With Education: Teaches At Illegal, Underground University]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 23:00:27 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bahai+institute+4.jpg

It is late on a Wednesday evening and in Niknaz Aftahi's second-floor Richmond apartment an underground class is just about to start.

"Has anyone new joined?" asked Aftahi, looking at the video conferencing site where her students are gathering.

Aftahi is preparing to teach English for Architecture to a handful of students logged in from her native Iran. It is, for Aftahi, a chance to give something back to people who had given her so much.

"I want to give back to this Institute that gave me the privilege of becoming educated," Aftahi said.

Aftahi is referring to the Baha'i Institute For Higher Education or BIHE. Formed 30 years ago, the BIHE is an underground university in Iran educating members of the Baha'i faith. The Baha'i, Aftahi says, are being systematically oppressed by the religious government of Iran. One way in which that happens is making it difficult, if not impossible, for young Baha'i to pursue higher education.

Which is where BIHE comes in.

The BIHE has no campus or buildings. Professors meet their students in the kitchens, living rooms, and basements of sympathetic homeowners. It is not without risk, though. The government has, at times, raided homes and jailed professors.

Aftahi graduated from BIHE in 2010.

"Teaching at BIHE in Iran means any day you can go to prison, so they put their lives (one the) line," Aftahi said. "I always see that as a big sacrifice and the did that for me."

After graduating BIHE, Aftahi moved to the United States and was accepted to study for a Master's Degree in Architecture from U.C. Berkeley.

Now established as a working architect for a firm in Berkeley, Aftahi dedicates her early mornings and late evenings to her students in Iran. It is risky for them even to take her class.

Aftahzi also realizes that, until government attitude toward the Baha'i changes, she will not feel safe traveling back to Iran to see her family. A nephew of hers died last year but she didn't return for the funeral.

"That was hard," Aftahi said. "Very difficult but it was my choice. And I made that choice."

Aftahi hopes that by shedding light on a school that operates in the shadows pressure will build on the government of Iran to change its position.

Until then, she will keep teaching long distance, hoping for big change.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Teacher Accused of Taking Lewd Photos of Young Girls]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:02:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/satriano.jpg

San Mateo police last week arrested an elementary school teacher suspected of taking and possessing photos of children in lewd poses.

On April 21, officers arrested 33-year-old Anthony Satriano at his home in San Francisco after a roughly two-week investigation into his alleged behavior involving multiple victims, according to San Mateo police officials.

School offiicials called a meeting with parents Thursday night they dubbed a "healing session."

"Student safety is our top priority. When we learned a teacher may have engaged in inappropriate conduct, we proactively notified the San Mateo Police Department and removed the teacher from school," school officials said in a written statement earlier Thursday. "Charges of child pornography have been filed against the former teacher. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement."

St. Mathew's Episcopal Day School placed Satriano on administrative leave as soon as they learned of the allegations against him, and a school official said Thursday that he is no longer employed there.

The school requires extensive background checks of all its employees, and Satriano's check revealed no prior record, school officials said.

The investigation started on April 6, when Satriano's employer, St. Mathew's, contacted police about his alleged inappropriate interaction with one of his students, said San Mateo police Lt. Ryan Monaghan.

The student told police that Satriano made inappropriate comments to her and asked her to wear a pair of tights.

Investigators contacted Satriano and found photos of young girls on his phone that Satriano allegedly said he used for "sexual purposes," according to police.

None of the children in the photos was naked, but the nature of the poses "constituted criminal violations," according to police.

"Things like this we ... take very seriously, and when we were alerted to this, we immediately started investigating" and found additional victims, Monaghan said.

"The investigation is active and ongoing," Monaghan said. "We have not received any information or discovered any evidence to indicate there was any inappropriate physical contact."

During his three years at the school, Satriano worked with children from ages 5 to 8 in the before- and after-school programs, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

He was booked into the San Francisco County Jail on suspicion of child annoyance and possession of inappropriate photos of juveniles.

Satriano appeared in court Thursday for an arraignment, which was postponed until May 3. His bail was set at $2 million and he remains in custody, according to prosecutors.

NBC Bay Area's Rick Boone and Michelle Roberts contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: San Mateo PD]]>
<![CDATA[Man Suspected of Having Sex With Teen Boy in Novato: Police]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 22:51:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Jail-Generic-Photo.jpg

Novato police arrested a 52-year-old San Rafael man Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of having sex with a minor.

A police officer saw a vehicle parked in a secluded area behind a building in the area of State Access Road near Hamilton Parkway in Novato around 4:15 p.m.

Theodore Bahora, 52, of San Rafael, was in the back seat with a 16-year-old male, police said. Police learned Bahora and the teen met using an online application and arranged to meet for sex, police said.

Bahora was booked in the Marin County Jail for sexual intercourse with a minor, sodomy and oral copulation with a person under age 18, indecent exposure and arranging to meet a minor for sex, police said.

]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Take Ohio St. CB Gareon Conley in 1st Round of Draft]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 22:50:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/usa-gareon-conley.jpg

ALAMEDA – Ohio State cornerback was widely considered a top-15 talent entering this year’s NFL Draft. His stock took a free-fall this week, after being accused of rape.

Conley called the accusation “completely false,” in a statement issued Wednesday by his agent.

Conley has not been charged or arrested over the allegation, which stems from an interaction on April 9 at a Cleveland hotel.

The Raiders wouldn’t have made this first-round selection without doing extensive research on Conley’s legal status. They must feel confident Conley will be absolved of wrongdoing.

Conley is a quality football player and an excellent cover man. He has the size Raiders covet in cornerbacks, and allowed just 37 percent of his passes to be completed. Conley allowed just 14 catches for 159 yards last season, and an NFL passer rating of 14.0, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus. That was the best in college football last season.

Analysts say he’s good at making plays on the football, whether it’s batting down passes or intercepting passes. Conley excels in press-man coverage, but can work well in a zone as well. He diagnoses plays well, which allows him to make plays on the ball.

The Raiders need depth and competition at cornerback after Sean Smith and David Amerson weren’t as solid as expected in 2016.

Conley could be upgrade the secondary in 2017 and beyond if he lives up to his on-field potential.



Photo Credit: CSNPhilly.com]]>
<![CDATA[Police in Standoff with Walnut Creek Homicide Suspect]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:01:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0427-2017-standoff.jpg

Officers who have been searching for a suspect who allegedly fatally shot a woman in Walnut CreeK were involved in an hours-long standoff with the suspect in Martinez late Thursday.

Police were seen near Howe and Old Orchard roads, surrounding a silver sedan with a man in the driver's seat. They believe he is the suspect in the fatal shooting, officials said.

Police were shining a light at the car, and the man appeared to be holding a gun to his head with one hand while showing police his other hand as he talked with negotiators.

Howe Road between Vista Way and Pine Street was closed to traffic while police investigated. Residents in the area were also told to avoid the area.

Police searched for the suspect all afternoon after he allegedly shot and killed a woman near the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek earlier in the day. The fatal shooting occurred at about 1:30 p.m. in the 1900 block of First Avenue, police said.

At the location, officers found the victim suffering from at least one gunshot wound and began providing "life saving measures," but she died at the scene, according to police.

Earlier in the day, police had asked residents near Buena Vista Avenue between San Luis and Geary roads in Walnut Creek to shelter in place.

Police believe the suspect left his vehicle on Lynvale and fled to a house on San Luis. He was then picked up there or took another vehicle and fled to Martinez, where he was spotted by a Walnut Creek officer, police said.

Investigators searched the house on San Luis for any evidence of the crime, but nothing significant was found, police said.

Police did not provide the identities of the woman killed or the suspect, and they were not certain about their relationship.

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Women Report Hidden Camera in Ladies Room at Fremont Company]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 23:54:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Restroom+Cam1.png

Imagine being secretly recorded during a private moment by someone you work with. It’s a sickening thought that lingers in Vien Hoang’s mind after someone placed a hidden camera in the ladies room at Fremont-based Elma Electronics. Now, more than two years after she and a colleague reported the incident to police, they’ve learned the officer closed the investigation the same day of their report, after failing to interview a single person other than the two women recorded that day and the human resources director.

“It’s very stressful when I come to work because I’m so scared,” Hoang said. The quality inspector has worked at Elma for 13 years, and said she used the restroom often to change clothes after workouts. “I feel violated.”


Hoang said a colleague discovered the camera, disguised as a small hook, mounted on a paper towel dispenser. When the women viewed what was on the memory card, they saw embarrassing video showing them using the restroom. Hoang said she recalled seeing the hook in the bathroom months before, but never realized it was a camera.

“I have no idea how many times I was recorded,” Hoang said.

The women immediately called their human resources director, who reported the incident to Fremont Police.

According to the report, responding officer Paul Richards “packaged, sealed and submitted the camera and memory card to Fremont PD Property Unit as evidence.”

Fremont police said the evidence was never finger-printed because the device had already been removed and handled by employees.

But why didn’t Officer Richards conduct any interviews that might have helped him identify a suspect?

Fremont sergeant and public information officer Ricardo Cortes, speaking on behalf of the department, said it was because the human resources director told the responding officer about 100 people had “access” to that bathroom.

“We have to make sure we don’t make this into some kind of witch hunt,” Cortes said.


But Hoang says only 15 people work on her floor who would use that restroom. Anyone else using it during business hours would be unusual.

Cortes said he doesn’t know why the responding officer didn’t speak to any other employees. He defended the officer’s actions, “I think he did satisfy the basic requirements of this investigation,” but added he would review the incident with the department to discuss best practices and investigative techniques, “We always learn, and we always try to do better.”

“The message the victim gets is ‘I was violated and nobody cares,’” said Karen Guidotti, chief deputy district attorney for San Mateo county.

She has a different take on the value of interviewing people at the scene of a crime.

“It’s amazing what people know if they’re asked the right questions. A lot of people may not know they have information until they’re questioned by a trained questioner,” Guidotti said.

She said prosecutors depend on police to do a thorough investigation so they can bring charges. Last year her office filed 11 cases involving peeping toms, up from just one in 2015. They involved cameras hidden in trash cans in restaurant bathrooms, clothing baskets in a store dressing room, even people recording housemates in a shared bathroom.


“The legislature has made these misdemeanors unfortunately. They’re typically punishable by only 6 months in jail but if a person has priors they can serve up to a year in jail,” Guidotti said.

Across the Bay Area, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties prosecuted a total of 29 peeping Tom cases in 2016.


In an email, Elma Electronics human resources director Valerie Bennett said the company was unable to determine who placed the camera. Bennett said the company “advised employees” and continues to “closely monitor all restrooms for any suspicious activity.”

But Hoang says, as far as she knows, no memos ever went out and no meetings were held to inform employees what happened.

“I’m feeling nobody help me at all, even police, even my company. I want to speak out and let everybody know to be careful,” Hoang said.

One piece of advice from investigators: always be aware of your surroundings and if you see a camera recording you, don’t touch it, or you’ll taint the evidence. Instead, call police. And don’t hesitate to ask about their investigation.

If you have a tip for the Investigative Unit email Vicky Nguyen at vicky@nbcbayarea.com or you can email theunit@nbcbayarea.com or call 888-996-TIPS.

Follow Vicky Nguyen on Twitter @vickydnguyen and Facebookwww.facebook.com/VickyNguyenTV

]]>
<![CDATA[Construction of New BART Milpitas Station Ahead of Schedule]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 19:02:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bart+milpitas-0427-2017.jpg

Construction workers with Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority are on pace to open the first BART stations in the county six months ahead of schedule.

Despite the Bay Area’s historically wet winter, more than five years of drought before that gave construction crews more dry days to build, and they took advantage of the extra sunshine.

The Milpitas BART station at Montague Expressway and Capitol Avenue and another station farther south at Berryessa Avenue near King Road in San Jose will carry BART passengers 10 miles deeper into the South Bay’s growing population centers.

Steve Tran, who works as a restaurant chef, can’t wait.

"Is it faster than driving? Yes, it’s better," Tran said.

The VTA, which oversaw construction, said the drought helped construction crews work ahead of schedule.

"We had several years of dry weather in which we worked straight through," agency spokeswoman Stacey Hendler Ross said.

The Milpitas station will have 1,200 parking spaces and potentially 120 charging stations for electric vehicles. There will be room for 10 food trucks and retail space.

But the VTA cautions it is still possible that the scheduled late December opening could be delayed. The tracks and computers that run the trains still have to be tested.

"If there’s one tiny detail that isn’t right, we have to stop and fix it until everything is in sync," Hendler Ross said.

Approval of environmental reports to extend BART to Santa Clara could happen by the end of the year.

The VTA estimates BART will take as many as 20,000 commuters off roadways between the new Warm Springs station in Fremont and the Milpitas station and another 20,000 between the Milpitas and Berryessa stations.

]]>
<![CDATA[49ers Pick Stanford DE Solomon Thomas in the First Round]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 22:50:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-674176394.jpg

SANTA CLARA – After some late intrigue surrounding the No. 1 overall pick, the Cleveland Browns went with the player universally considered the top NFL prospect.

Myles Garrett went with the first selection, then the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears, who chose North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

The 49ers still got the player they would have chosen with the No. 2 overall pick: Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas with the second pick.


General manager John Lynch engineered a trade that enabled the 49ers to pick up third and fourth-round draft picks this year, as well as the Bears’ third-round pick next year to move back one spot.

With the selection of Thomas, the 49ers have now chosen defensive linemen with their first picks in each of the past three drafts.

The 49ers picked Arik Armstead with the No. 17 pick in 2015. Last year, in Trent Baalke’s final draft as general manager, the 49ers chose DeForest Buckner with the No. 7 pick.

Thomas becomes the highest-drafted defensive player from Stanford in school history. The Minnesota Vikings selected Stanford linebacker Jeff Siemon No. 10 overall in 1972.

The 49ers finished with a 2-14 record last season in Chip Kelly’s only season to land in the No. 2 draft slot. CEO Jed York fired Kelly and Baalke at the conclusion of the season.

Lynch had been shopping the No. 2 overall pick in trade scenarios in recent weeks. The 49ers accomplished their goal, trading back one spot and getting a bounty of picks to help in the rebuilding project.

The 49ers chose Thomas over such players as running back Leonard Fournette, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and safety Jamal Adams.

Thomas, who spent five years in Australia as a youngster, came to Stanford as a top 25 national recruit. In his final college season, Thomas led the Cardinal with 62 tackles, 15 for loss, and eight quarterback sacks. He was an All-American and chosen as the winner of the Morris Trophy, awarded to the Pac-12 defensive lineman of the year.

Thomas appears to be a fit at multiple positions along the line in new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. While he might be best-suited for an interior position, new coach Kyle Shanahan said recently at Stanford’s pro day that he believes Thomas can play the team’s pass-rush position.

The 49ers have struggled to generate much of a pass rush since the departure of Aldon Smith, whom the club released prior to the 2015 season after multiple off-field incidents.

Ahmad Brooks and Buckner tied for the team-lead last season with six sacks. Brooks and Aaron Lynch led the 49ers in 2015 with 6.5 sacks apiece. Brooks and Lynch both recorded six sacks in ’14 to lead the team.

The 49ers have nine draft picks remaining. Their next scheduled pick comes Friday with the second selection of the second round, No. 34 overall.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Draft: 49ers and Raiders Top Picks in 2017]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 20:37:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-674185154_594_screen.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[49ers' Lynch Plays it Smart, Gets Thomas and Extra Picks]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 17:56:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Soltommm.jpg

Niners general manager John Lynch is brand new to the job. Before he was hired recently, he’d never worked in an NFL front office. He's a rookie.

Yet the former All-Pro safety showed Thursday night he knows what he’s doing.

After the Browns took defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 pick, Lynch traded down from No. 2 to No. 3 and selected Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas – a player many predicted they would have taken at No. 2.

In return for moving down one spot – because the Bears were so eager to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky at No. 2 – Lynch and the 49ers collected the No. 3 pick, a third- and fourth-round pick in this draft and a third-rounder in 2018.

“The 49ers’ massive return on moving down one spot in the NFL draft suggests there was a huge bidding war for that pick,” wrote Kevin Seifert of ESPN’s NFL Nation. “The only way the Bears give up that much is if multiple teams – probably including the Browns – were also bidding.”

Bill Williamson, a senior NFL writer for the website All22.com, tweeted this, after Lynch’s trade with the Bears was announced: “John Lynch is the early star of the #NFLDraft.”

Tweeted ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “Did John Lynch have a gun and a mask?”

Lynch, in fact, had claimed the 49ers were “open for business” with the No. 2 overall section, eager to listen to offers. And, no doubt, they played their hand perfectly, with recent leaks that they might take a quarterback with the second pick. That put pressure on the Bears (and others) to try to move up if they wanted Trubisky, from North Carolina.

Thomas gives the 49ers a dynamic edge rusher and the third straight defensive lineman taken by the team with its first pick, following DeForest Buckner last year and Arik Armstead the year before.

Thomas, 6-foot-3 and 273 pounds, could play on the outside or inside of the defensive front, which will transform to more of a 4-3 base scheme in 2017 after years as a 3-4 base unit. This past season, Thomas, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, had 62 tackles including 15 for loss and had eight sacks.

The 49ers’ next pick will be the No. 2 choice in Round 2 Friday, the 34th overall.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds in SF Protest Federal, City Affordable Housing Cuts]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 16:03:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf+housing+rally-0427-2017.jpg

More than 200 people from tenant and neighborhood groups rallied in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco Thursday to protest potential federal and city cuts in affordable housing.

"Housing is a basic human right. It's so important that we stand up for a basic human right," said Rene Cyprien, a San Francisco tenant whose apartment is subsidized with vouchers under the federal Section 8 program.

Cyprien said that after being evicted by what he called a predatory lender, he was homeless for a year before obtaining affordable housing under the voucher program.

"Thank goodness for public housing," he told the crowd.

"(President Donald) Trump talks about making America great again. You want to make America great again, take care of our homeless people and housing for our seniors and our veterans," he said.

The rally was aimed at protesting both Trump's proposed $6 billion cut to programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a San Francisco Planning Commission hearing Thursday on proposed legislation on affordable housing requirements for developers.

Sarah Sherburn-Zimmer of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco said, "The Trump budget makes massive cuts."

It has been estimated that the cuts will cause the loss of more than 200,000 housing vouchers nationwide, she said.

Organizers said more than 30 tenant, faith, labor and neighborhood organizations were represented at the rally. The speakers included tenants and union representatives and their comments were translated into Cantonese.

Groups carrying large banners included the San Francisco Community Tenants Association, Senior and Disability Action, Tenderloin Chinese Rights Association, Tenderloin Filipino-American Community Association and Council of Community Housing Organizations.

After a 40-minute rally, the participants marched to City Hall, where the Planning Commission was conducting a hearing on whether to recommend legislation to the Board of Supervisors to change the formula for the amounts of low-income and moderate-income affordable housing developers are required to build.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Mass Robbery Prompts BART Crackdown on Crime]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 08:03:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BART+thefts-0424-2017.jpg

BART officials on Thursday are cracking down on crime.

The board of directors is meeting to come up with a plan to stop fare evaders as well as how to respond to a flash mob-style robbery over the weekend.

For the first time in two years, BART leaders will gather at their Oakland headquarters in the evening. Usually meetings are held in the mornings, but this one — planned in December — is being held at 5 p.m. so as to accommodate more input from the public, officials say.

But Thursday's meeting is now even more relevent after a mob of 40 to 60 young people who streamed onto a train at the Coliseum station in Oakland on Saturday night to rob passengers.

BART board president Rebecca Saltzman said fare cheating has long been a concern.

"There are solutions, including capital investments, making the barriers higher so people can't jump over them, doing some things with the fare gate to make it harder" to evade paying fares, she said. "And then some solutions [involve] enforcement to have more officers out there."

Officials said on Wednesday that they have identified multiple suspects from the weekend's melee.

Suspects jumped the fare gates at the station around 9:30 p.m. and then boarded a Dublin/Pleasanton-bound train and committed at least seven robberies while injuring at least two people, according to BART police.

BART said Wednesday on Twitter shortly after noon that "arrest warrants are being drafted as we speak" for suspects in the robbery.

The identification of some of the suspects in the case came from video surveillance footage from inside the train car where the robberies occurred, BART officials noted.

BART committed to use working cameras on all train cars after it was revealed in the aftermath of a January 2016 fatal shooting that some cameras in train cars were decoys.

BART police have also stepped up their presence in and around the area where the robberies occurred, agency officials said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Bold 49ers Move Up to Select LInebacker]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 21:07:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/Fosterruebn.jpg

After trading down at the top of Round 1 Thursday night, the 49ers later traded up to get into the bottom of the round and selected Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster, considered one of the top players at his position in this draft.

The 49ers traded their No. 2 pick in Round 2, the 34th overall, and a fourth-round pick, the 111th overall, to the Seahawks for the right to select Foster.

It was the second of two bold moves by GM John Lynch Thursday night. The rookie GM of the 49ers maneuvered to get defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and three extra picks early, then nabbed Foster, who could play inside or outside in the team’s new 4-3 alignment.

Foster had slid from the top of the first round to the bottom because of questions about a shoulder injury. If Foster is healthy, the 49ers land a quality player higher than his value at No. 31 overall.

In 15 games last season for the Crimson Tide, Foster, at 6-foot-1 and 236 pounds, was a tackling machine. He was in on 115 stops, with 15 tackles for loss and five sacks. The 49ers have had trouble stopping the run the past few seasons, and Foster could be a key addition to making the defense better.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock had high praise for Foster after the selection.

“He reminds me of (All-Pro) Luke Kuechly when I watch tape,” wrote Mayock. “He’s an immediate impact player. Sideline to sideline, he will light you up. I’m amazed that he’s fallen to this point. … San Francisco better be right on him with that shoulder.”




Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Two Workers Lucky to Be Alive After Accident at Facebook HQ]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 11:24:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/FB+building.jpg

Two iron workers were injured Wednesday evening after a catastrophic equipment failure caused part of a Facebook building under construction to collapse, according to the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

At 5:21 p.m., firefighters responded to Facebook’s new Building 21 on reports that two workers had fallen and were injured, officials said. Both men, one in his late 20s and the other in his early 30s, were complaining of significant lower extremity pain and puncture wounds and were transported to a hospital, fire officials said. 

According to other workers at the site, the victims had been working at an estimated height of 40 feet assembling the structure's steel framing when the steel beam they were standing on dropped nearly 20 feet, catching on a lower floor assembly and propelling them toward the ground, fire officials said.

The pair's safety harnesses broke their fall, likely saving their lives. Chief Harold Schapelhouman said that it's a miracle the workers survived.

As of Thursday morning, work had paused on the site until Cal-OSHA gets to the bottom of the accident. 

Sunnyvale-based Level 10 Construction is the contractor for the site, but it remains unclear whether the two injured workers were employed by the company. 

Local 377, the union that represents the workers at the job site, declined to comment Thursday.



Photo Credit: Menlo Park FD]]>
<![CDATA[SJ Flood Victims to Face off Against Politicians at Meeting]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:18:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/flood+damage+2.png

San Jose City Councilman Raul Peralez is hurling harsh criticism against his counterparts at the Santa Clara County Water District for failing to adequately manage millions of taxpayer dollars earmarked for flood protection projects.

“The first thing you have to do right is admit where you may have went wrong," Peralez said. “We’ve not seen that yet from the water district.”

Communities that stood to benefit from such projects were devastated two months ago when flood waters inundated 582 homes and left behind more than $75 million in damage.

Peralez credits a recent NBC Bay Area investigation for revealing a lack of flood protection projects along Coyote Creek, despite taxpayers paying more than $36 million over roughly the past two decades to construct improvements in the area.

Following devastating floods in 1997, voters in Santa Clara County approved a new parcel tax to earmark funds for flood protection projects. According to documents obtained from the water district, $10.8 million of those funds have since been spent on plans and designs. Not a single fix, however, has been implemented.

“That was brand-new news to me,” Peralez said. “What’s becoming more apparent is the fault the water district had in potentially being able to handle this over the last 20 years.”

Peralez plans to raise his concerns on Friday during a joint public meeting between the San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which is responsible for planning, designing and implementing flood protection projects across the county.

'Somebody made a decision not to act'

“It's just mind boggling,” said Garry Johnson, whose San Jose home was deemed uninhabitable after the recent flood. “Somebody made a decision not to act and … that inaction created a lot of problems for the rest of us.”

Johnson and his husband have lived in their home near William Street Park since 2008. Coyote Creek is a mere two blocks from their house.

Johnson, a nursing professor, said on the evening of Feb. 21, he returned home from teaching to find water rushing into his home. He waded through waist-high water to rescue his three dogs and retrieve a few important documents and belongings. He now blames the water district for much of the damage caused by the flood.

“We have in good faith given you money to do something, and you didn't do it,” he said, referring to the Santa Clara Valley Water District. “You're either really dumb or you're a criminal. There's not much more in between.”

'We could only protect a limited amount of people'

The water district has provided some protection along the creek — from the San Francisco Bay to Montague Expressway, but that did not include neighborhoods that have now suffered drastic flooding twice over the past 20 years.

“We could only protect a limited amount of people,” said Melanie Richardson, interim chief operating officer at the Santa Clara Valley Water District. "Unfortunately, we didn’t have adequate money to do something about the problem at the most vulnerable locations.”

Richardson sat down for an interview with the Investigative Unit last month.

Protecting the most flood-prone neighborhoods, according to Richardson, could cost between half a billion to a billion dollars.

While the water district has already spent millions of tax dollars on designs, Richardson acknowledged the planning process has been put on hold in order to research alternative flood protection projects.

Flood Protection Likely Years Away

One option, according to Richardson, is to construct projects further upstream at Anderson Dam in order to reduce the amount of water that would flow into neighborhoods downstream in the event of another major rainfall.

“We felt like waiting and pausing and looking for a solution – that could perhaps solve a greater problem and protect more parcels – was a better use of our money,” Richardson said.

Pursuing alternative plans means some of the district’s multimillion-dollar designs will need to be redone. The new planning process isn’t scheduled to produce any results until 2025.

Richardson admits it’s “not acceptable” for residents along the creek to have to wait an additional eight years for better flood protection.

“That’s very difficult, and I feel so bad for those people,” Richardson said.

Meanwhile, Johnson said construction on his flooded home could last at least four more months, forcing him to continue to live with friends. While the renovation process occupies much of his time these days, he is also concerned about what he describes as a lack of accountability at the water district.

“There is no oversight,” he said. “We gave you money so that this wouldn't happen, and then it still happened. So the question is why, and who is responsible?”



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[High School Fight in East Bay Leaves One Girl Seriously Hurt]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 23:41:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/granada+hs+fight-0426-2017.jpg

An East Bay teen suffered serious injuries Monday during a fight on a high school campus, and the school district is turning it into a teachable moment.

Students and parents at Granada High School in Livermore were still talking about a campus fight around lunchtime.

One student said the two involved clashed in the past, and this time it escalated.

"She had a thing against the other girl, and it got pretty bad really fast," Valeria Gutierrez said.

One of the girls allegedly started punching the other girl, then the victim hit her head on the ground and started convulsing. She was sent to the hospital with serious injuries.

The district said a large crowd formed around the fight, and many people were filming it. Gutierrez, who wasn't there, heard the announcement the next day.

"We were told how serious this was and were told not to post anything on social media," she said.

In a letter to parents, students and staff, the principal wrote in part: "While the circumstances of the incident were heinous, what is equally disturbing is the reaction some people have had about it. Far too many students were crowding around, filming the incident and discussing it on social media afterwards."

Parents were equally appalled.

"Kids should not videotape things like this," Mariana Villavicencio said. "They should be more responsible with social media."

And the district said parents should talk to their kids about that very subject.

The victim was at home recovering Wednesday. The suspect was arrested, suspended and could be expelled, school officials said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Caltrain's Rail Grinding Project to Reduce Noise]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:20:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/223*120/caltrain.jpg

Caltrain’s ultimate goal is to reduce noise levels near stations like the one in San Carlos.

But it could be a noisy process – at least in the short term.

Starting Wednesday night, Caltrain will begin a rail-grinding project, using a rail-mounted industrial-sized grinder, to smooth out any defects along the rail. Officials hope this will cut down on noise in the area and offer passengers a smoother ride.

The grinder will look like a rail car, but it will sound a lot louder. People living along the tracks are in for some long nights.

Some said they get accustomed to the noise.

"I'm getting used to it, but it's still a bother," San Francisco resident Zain Hussain said. "Not to me so much as the dog."

Smoothing out the tracks has to be done overnight, official said. It will start at midnight and go until about 4:30 a.m. so as not to interrupt service for commuters.

"In order to get work done, it takes hours of uninterrupted effort," said Dan Lieberman of the San Mateo County Transit District. "It has to be done when train service is not running. We do apologize to residents nearby. They are going to have some noise."

The work starts at the San Francisco Caltrain station and crews will make their way down the Peninsula, ending up in the South Bay.

This project is expected to take up to three weeks, wrapping up on May 19.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File image]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Whose Wedding Ring Was Stolen in SF Just Wants It Back]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:18:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf+ring+suspects.jpg

A South Bay woman whose wedding ring was stolen in a car-break-in in San Francisco is offering a reward to get it back.

Carrie Perez's cherished ring was stolen April 8 on Golden Gate Avenue while she and a friend participated in the Rock 'N' Roll Half-Marathon. The Morgan Hill woman has photographs of the ring and the people she believes stole it.

She said when she returned to her car that day, she knew right away what happened. Sure enough, when she checked the trunk, everything in it was gone.

"Duffle bags and my purse, and that was the worst thing because my engagement ring and wedding band, which I can't run with, were in my purse," Perez said. "I got really upset and tried not to tear up. The bags are just things, but we only got married seven months ago. Obviously, the ring is super sentimental; it means a lot."

The thieves quickly racked up hundreds of dollars on Perez's stolen credit cards. Surveillance video shows a man using one of the cards in San Francisco, a female companion with him. Perez is hoping someone recognizes them and calls police.

Her offer is simple.

"No questions asked. If you could just get my ring back to me, I would not say anything," Perez said. "I would even reward anyone who can give me information as to how I can get those rings back."

Anyone who may recognize the man or woman in the video footage is asked to call police; leave your name if you want the reward. As for the suspected thieves, Perez is hoping they'll anonymously mail the rings to police.



Photo Credit: SFPD/Courtesy of Carrie Perez]]>
<![CDATA[Campbell Voters Uphold Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:59:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/91997111-marijuana-generic.jpg

Campbell residents voted Tuesday to continue a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and to impose a tax on marijuana-related businesses at an initial rate of 7 percent, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

Voters rejected a third measure, a citizen's initiative that would have allowed up to three medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

About 90 percent of ballots have been counted in the election as of this evening. Of the city's 22,537 registered voters, 6,560 cast votes in the special election, yielding a voter turnout of over 29 percent.

Measure A, which levies a business tax of up to 15 percent on any future marijuana businesses, passed with almost 85 percent of the vote.

Though marijuana businesses remain illegal in Campbell, medical marijuana dispensaries have been legally able to deliver to patients in the city since Feb. 16.

City officials estimate that Measure A funds will raise between $130,000 and $260,000 for general city services, including police, fire and code enforcement.

Almost 64 percent of voters rejected Measure B, the citizen's initiative that sought to allow a small number of dispensaries in the city.

Measure C, which passed with over 63 percent of the vote, was placed on the ballot to compete with Measure B and institutes a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city until April 1, 2019, at the earliest, and to allow City Council control over the city's marijuana policies afterward.

The measure requires any dispensaries that may be allowed in the city in the future to be at least 100 feet from homes and 600 feet from day cares, schools, parks, community centers and other dispensaries.

Measures B and C do not affect medical marijuana use in the city for qualified patients, who may continue to use it there.

Measure C was supported by former Campbell mayors Michael Kotowski, Elizabeth Gibbons and Dan Furtado. Kotowski and Furtado also voiced their support for Measure A.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Police in Hayward Looking For Missing 11-Year-Old Girls]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:23:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/makayla-samiyah-.jpg

Police are asking for the public's help to find two missing 11-year-old girls who vanished Wednesday afternoon in Hayward.

The two girls, identified as Makayla Hayes and Samiyah White, were last seen at about 1:30 p.m. at Park Elementary School, located at 411 Larchmont Street, according to police.

The girls are considered at risk because of their age.

Police believe the girls ran away because they have already run away together in the past. In that incident, the girls were later located in Fremont, police said.

Makayla is described as a black juvenile, 4 feet, 8 inches

tall, weighing 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a multi colored beanie, a bulky jacket and dark jeans.

Samiyah is described as a black juvenile, 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 120 pounds, with brown shoulder length hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing multicolored pants and purple sweatshirt, according to police.



Photo Credit: Hayward PD]]>
<![CDATA[Sunnyvale Files Injunction Day After Workers Vote to Strike]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:43:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sunnyvale-strike-0426-2017.jpg

A day after its employees voted in favor of a strike, the city of Sunnyvale filed an injunction to prevent the disruption of city services related to public health and safety, city officials said.

Union employees for the city voted Tuesday to go on strike after the city asked union leaders to return to the bargaining table, which they left last year, city officials said.

Employees represented by the Sunnyvale Employees Association have been working without an agreement since the last Memorandum of Understanding expired in 2015.

In June, the Sunnyvale Employees Association rejected the city's "last, best and final offer," including a 10 percent wage hike over the next 15 months and the continuation of a 30 percent employee pension contribution.

But SEA has demanded a 14 percent wage hike, including retroactive wage increases that the city budgeted for but is now refusing to pay, according to third-party fact-finder Barry Winograd, who was chosen by the city and the union to mediate the dispute.

"Our members have gone over five years without a net wage increase," SEA president John Simontacchi said in a statement. "At the same time, the cost to rent or own a home in Silicon Valley has exploded, forcing our members, in some cases, to drive over three hours a day just to be able to support their family."

Those wage hikes are slightly less than the city's cost of living, Winograd noted, recommending that the city pay for the retroactive increase.

Union members currently average more than $124,000 in wages and benefits, which places them at or above average compared with similar workers in the area.

The union represents about 485 of the city's more than 900 employees in both blue-collar and white-collar positions, including planners, engineers, maintenance workers for parks and public works, water pollution control operators, mechanics, clerks, accountants and other technicians.

With the injunction, the city asked the court to require water pollution control plant operators, environmental chemists responsible for maintaining water quality, water and sewer plant crew leaders, landfill technicians, public safety records specialists and fire department fleet mechanics to remain on the job.

"It's regretful that SEA has put the city in the position of having to go to court to make certain that essential employees don't walk off the job and put public health and safety in jeopardy," Sunnyvale Mayor Glenn Hendricks said in a statement.

"The city has a fair and reasonable offer on the table that balances fiscal responsibility and competitive wages, in the face of just absorbing $300 million in new CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System) costs," Hendricks said.



Photo Credit: Robert Handa/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[BART IDs Multiple Suspects in Mob That Robbed Passengers]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:44:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BART+thefts-0424-2017.jpg

BART officials said Wednesday they have identified multiple suspects among a mob of 40 to 60 young people who streamed onto a train at the Coliseum station in Oakland on Saturday night to rob passengers.

Suspects jumped the fare gates at the station around 9:30 p.m. and then boarded a Dublin/Pleasanton-bound train and committed at least seven robberies while injuring at least two people, according to BART police.

BART said Wednesday on Twitter shortly after noon that "arrest warrants are being drafted as we speak" for suspects in the robbery.

The identification of some of the suspects in the case came from video surveillance footage from inside the train car where the robberies occurred, BART officials noted.

BART committed to use working cameras on all train cars after it was revealed in the aftermath of a January 2016 fatal shooting that some cameras in train cars were decoys.

BART officials said they are still working to get more information from victims in Saturday's robberies and are collaborating with other local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to identify more suspects.

BART police have also stepped up their presence in and around the area where the robberies occurred, agency officials said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Judge Drops Most Charges Against Suspect Shot by SF Officers]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:02:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf-ois1.jpg

A judge dismissed all but two charges on Tuesday against a man shot by San Francisco police during a confrontation in January, and Public Defender Jeff Adachi is now calling for prosecutors to drop the remaining charges as his case prepares to go to trial.

Judge Jeffrey Ross dismissed eight of 10 charges filed against Sean Moore in the Jan. 6 shooting, leaving him scheduled to go to trial Friday on just one count of misdemeanor violating a stay away order and felony battery causing serious injury.

The decision is the second time a judge has reduced the case filed by prosecutors against Moore, a 43-year-old mentally ill man who was shot around 4 a.m. at his home in the 500 block of Capitol Avenue after Officers Kenneth Cha and Colin Patino responded to a noise complaint made by a neighbor.

Moore's mother said the shooting never should have happened.

"He could have been dead," Cleo Moore said. "He's got a mental condition, but the officers continued to egg him on."

Sean Moore, who repeatedly told the officers to leave his property, was unarmed but is accused of kicking and hitting officers during the confrontation that led to his shooting. The remaining battery charge relates to an allegation that he punched Patino.

The officers used batons and pepper spray on him before Cha opened fire.

In March, Judge Ethan Schulman also dismissed two counts of criminal threats against Moore following a three-day preliminary hearing.

Ross's decision came after Deputy Public Defender Brian Pearlman argued in court that officers had no legal grounds to remain on Moore's property after he told them to leave, and that when they approached him they were essentially trespassing.

"They're trying to punish a victim of a crime, a crime committed by the officers, for defending himself in his own home," Pearlman said Wednesday.

Adachi was critical of the investigation by police and the District Attorney's Office that led to charges being filed against Moore. He said that the officers, who were inexperienced and lacked training in dealing with mentally ill subjects, acted illegally but were allowed to collude and file essentially identical statements about the incident after conferring with the same attorney and reviewing body-camera footage.

"If this is what reform looks like in the SFPD, we're in big trouble," Adachi said.

Moore has been through multiple surgeries since the shooting. He remains in custody, although Pearlman said he planned to argue for his release at a hearing on Friday.

Cleo Moore said she felt the officers had egged on her son and wanted to know if the police department would improve officer training to avoid shootings involving the mentally ill.

"They need to be trained," she said. "Perhaps out of some of this, for all the young men that have been shot and killed in this city, something good will come of this."

The DA's office released a statement, saying it is reviewing the case: "The judge who heard all the evidence at the preliminary hearing found there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial on almost every charge. Yesterday, another judge that reviewed the transcripts from that hearing came to a very different conclusion. As such, we are weighing our options."

NBC Bay Area's Thom Jensen contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: SFPD]]>
<![CDATA[Artists Collective Evicted From Converted Warehouse in SF]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:44:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sf+warehouse-0426-2017.jpg

A San Francisco artist collective may be the latest victim of fallout from last year's deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland.

On Wednesday, San Francisco sheriff’s deputies arrived to formally evict the resident artists from the converted warehouse in the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood. It’s one of the first evictions being linked to crackdowns on such conversions since the Oakland fire that killed 36 people in December.

The residents received eviction notices about four months ago, just 10 days after the Ghost Ship fire, and they appealed to the rent board. They said Wednesday despite the advance warning, the eviction comes as a shock.

"It's been a really supportive place and atmosphere that honestly seemed like, for me, a safe place to call home," said Nathan Cottom, who along with his roommates chipped in to make the nearly $4,000-a-month rent.

Shortly after getting the eviction notices in December, the artist group gave NBC Bay Area a tour, trying to make a case to stay and noting the cost of housing was pushing artists out of the Bay Area.

"It was a creative outlet for a lot of folks who lived here for various different types of art," writer Tony Burgess said.

Now, most of the people who lived there are looking for their next place to stay. They've been given 15 days to clear everything out. Some had places lined up, at least temporarily. Others didn't.

"No. No clue," one resident said.

The sheriff's office confirmed the eviction ordered but had no further comment.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Hit With Bottle in Altercation Near SJ Jack in the Box]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:12:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4-26-17-woman-attacked-san-jose.jpg

A woman was injured and bloodied after being struck with a bottle during an altercation with a group of women outside a Jack in the Box near San Jose State University, police said.

Police said the clash occurred around 1:20 a.m. Wednesday on the 100 block of East San Carlos Street, a block away from San Jose State University.

Officers said the victim, who has been hospitalized, is possibly in her 20s. The suspects were roughly a half dozen women, also in their mid-20s, according to police.

A source close to the investigation told NBC Bay Area that the woman sustained a head injury, but is expected to survive.

Jack in the Box employees said they didn't see what happened.

The incident was captured on surveillance video from the nearby La Victoria Taqueria. Owner Nicandro Barrito installed the cameras a few months ago as an extra precaution following a shooting in the area.

Video shows the victim, which appears to be a woman wearing dark clothing, with several other woman throwing punches. About a minute into the attack, someone throws the woman to the ground behind a wall and several others start kicking her.

The victim was able to get up and walk into the Jack in the Box. Police showed up soon after, but the suspects had already taken off.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Student Tackles Digital Divide with Refurbished Computers]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 14:00:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/PHOTO2_Refurbished.jpg

Growing up in the shadows of Google, Facebook and other technology giants, 16-year-old Terence Lee, has spent his life surrounded by the latest gadgets the industry has to offer.

However, the junior at Los Altos High School knows that even in Silicon Valley, a digital divide persists for less privileged students.

"Because much of the work is done outside of the classroom, it puts people without a computer at a disadvantage," Lee said.

Between an increasingly integrated curriculum, group projects and coding classes beginning as early as elementary school, Lee said he wanted to find a way to get low-income students their own laptops to take home. 

An avid recycler, he also wanted to work with what was already available and would be financially sustainable.

"In the heart of Silicon Valley, there’s a lot of technology," Lee said.

Individuals, school districts, companies all update their computers as often as every few years, Lee explained, "because of the constant need to have the latest [technology] so that they can continue to work."

With the help of his parents, classmates and the community, he launched Los Altos-nonprofit EqOpTech, which not only refurbishes laptops, but teaches STEM classes.

The organization was inspired by a refurbishing drive Lee had held two years ago for his Eagle Scout Service Project, which even earned a nod from former President Barack Obama.

Before his term ended, Obama designated Lee and other Bay Area students who helped him, a President's Volunteer Service Award for their earlier work benefiting disadvantaged students — and they hope EpOpTech will help even more students in need.

For the last six months at Egan Junior High School, Los Altos High School freshman, Daniel Lim, Lee and their former computer science teacher, Peter Swenson, have been leading a Computer-in-a-Box program to mentor younger students on computer software.

Together, the group works on refurbishing the donated machines. And after Los Altos School District donated roughly 200 laptops to the group — they've been pretty busy. 

"Instead of scrapping them, [the school district] donated [the laptops] to us and we found a new life for them," Lee said.

Fueled by pizza, juice boxes and dedication to their cause, the group gets about eight to 10 laptops upgraded every Monday after school. However, they found refurbishing hundreds of circa 2006 laptops would require not only tech-savvy skills —  but patience.

"Students are learning the difficulty of working with older technology. It's a little slower than they're used to," Swenson said. "It's interesting watching them work with the older machine, teaching them a bit of patience."

But after each has been restored, those laptops find their next home.

"It's always in our best interest to get everything fully functioning [and] fully capable for each kid," Lee said. 

That's because they go directly to families that need the machines. Nearby school teachers give Lee the number of students that don't have easy access to computer at home, and he disperses them directly to the school for the students to take back home.

The effort comes as a particular relief to school districts with high percentages of low-income students, which has now been acknowledged at the state level as well.

Sen. Jerry Hill presented the students with a Congressional Award Gold Medal for volunteerism in April and commended the group on their achievement in the Inspire Mountain View challenge so far, which would grant his nonprofit $25,000 to continue their refurbishing work. The group is currently a finalist in the competition. 

"Technology is always something I've been really passionate about," Lee said. "And I give them a new life because I’m able to install the necessary software."


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Scientists Saving Abalone From the Future]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:23:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0426-2017-sarahabalone.jpg

Let’s face it, a red abalone isn’t likely to win many awards for prettiest creature in the sea. Sure it’s empty, rainbow-colored shell is nice to throw your spare change in, but when occupied, that snail-looking foot thing is pretty gnarly.

Yet this prized seafood delicacy commands high prices on restaurant tables and fish markets. And with increasingly acidic oceans threatening their population — the study going on at U.C. Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory has important bearings on the seafood industry.

“There is reason to be concerned,” said BML researcher Daniel Swezey. “In addition to kind of mortality, we’re seeing they’re smaller, they’re developing more slowly.”

Scientists predict the world’s oceans will become vastly more acidic in the next 40 years due to pollution — with the impact already affecting oysters, sea urchins and coral. Researchers have seen red abalone that have suffered in areas where acid levels are already elevated.

“We’re simulating conditions,” Swezey said, “in terms of the acidity of the future ocean in the laboratory to look at red abalone development.”

Ground zero for the lab’s experiments is a dimly lit concrete room where the din of water spouts filling dozens of specimen-filled vessels can drown out a regular human voice. A tray is filled with small glass containers — each containing 300 specks which are the baby abalone.

“They’re like little bread crumbs at this stage of life,” Swezey said lifting one of the containers.

One set of the containers represents current conditions in oceans. Another represents what scientists think the ocean’s acidity level will be in about 40 years. The study has focused on abalone during the first three months of life because that’s when they appear to be most susceptible to atmospheric conditions.

“They’re just not as healthy,” said researcher Sara Boles, peering at a sample of a future ocean abalone through a microscope. “They don’t look like a traditional abalone.”

Swezey said the curious thing is there are some areas in the wild where abalone exposed to higher acidity conditions have fared fine — leading to the theory that some red abalone are genetically wired with the ability to resist more extreme conditions. Swezy said that raises the possibility of increasing populations by figuring out which ones posses that DNA code and breed them in abalone farms.

“We’re also finding that there is some rays of hope,” Swezey said, “and some genetic diversity out there where some families do better than others.”

Red abalone have increasingly struggled over the years. This year California wildlife managers shortened the popular recreational abalone diving season by two months because of a dwindling abalone population. The pastime is a popular annual tradition along the Sonoma and Mendocino coastlines.

“Most recent we’ve had some pretty large declines in their wild population,” Boles said. “So it’s of interest to preserve the populations that are still doing well.”

The scientists said Northern California could be hit even harder by rising acidification because of its unique sea floor topography and currents.

“In Northern California we naturally see more acidic conditions normally,” Swezey said. “A lot of the scientific models show that things are going to change very quickly in Northern California.”

In a large tank, Boles pushed aside strands of seafood to reveal a cluster of large abalone clinging to the side. She pried one off the side of the tank and held it up, its large foot-like body morphing slowly like some kind of space alien.

“Some of them they do have personalities,” Boles said, “if you could say so much about an abalone.”

Of course personality and looks can only get one so far in life. The abalone have another secret weapon that has boosted interest in saving their dwindling numbers.

“They’re pretty tasty as well,” Boles said.



Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr./NBC Bay Area
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[One Arrest in San Jose's Eastridge Mall Shooting: Source]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 07:23:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/4252017-sj-shooting.jpg

One suspect is in custody after a man was shot Tuesday in front of a Chili's restaurant at the Eastridge mall in San Jose, a source close to the investigation said. 

Police said the shooting occurred around 3:30 p.m. and left the man with non-life threatening wounds.

"The victim right now is expected to survive," San Jose police spokesperson Elle Washburn said.

Police don't know who the suspects are, how many shots were fired or what led up to the shooting. They were hoping late Tuesday to find something of substance on surveillance video.

According to witnesses, four suspects were seen fleeing the scene. They also described hearing seven shots ring out. Diners were being forced to wait inside the Chili's.

One witness said there were between six and eight shots, "but the first two were like 'Pop! Pop!' then there was a pause, then you heard 'Pop! Pop! Pop!' like somebody was unloading."

Several bullets tore into the door of a nearby Toyota Prius. Another shot shattered a window at a Citibank branch.

The witness, who did not want to be identified, said he saw four young black men running from the scene, three in black hoodies, one in a red hoodie.

"One had a revolver pistol, long barrel and skinny, and they ran towards Fresco," the witness said. "They were in single file kind a looking back. One of them lost a shoe; he was running without a shoe."

Witnesses said the shooting occurred after a Craigslist sale reportedly went bad. Police have yet to confirm this.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Two Iron Workers Injured at Facebook Construction Site]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 07:22:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/FB+building.jpg

Two iron workers were injured Wednesday evening after part of a Facebook building under construction collapsed, according to the Menlo Park Fire District.

At 5:21 p.m., Menlo Park firefighters responded to Facebook’s new Building 21 on reports of two workers had fallen and were injured, fire officials said.

Both men, one in his late 20s and the other in his early 30s, were complaining of significant lower extremity pain and puncture wounds and were transported to a hospital, fire officials said.

Fire crews said their safety harnesses likely saved their lives.

According to other workers at the site, the victims had been working at an estimated height of 40 feet assembling the structure's steel framing when a catastrophic failure occurred, and the steel beam they were standing on dropped an estimated 20 feet, catching on a lower floor assembly and catapulting them toward the ground, fire officials said.

The cause of the accident was under investigation.



Photo Credit: Menlo Park FD]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Festivals: Summer '17 Scene]]> Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:59:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bottlerock2015onsale.jpg From music to family fun, the region is all about getting outdoors and savoring sunshine, art, and tunes in the coming months.

Photo Credit: BottleRock Napa Valley]]>
<![CDATA['Shark Tank' Judge and Tech Investor Calls It Quits]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:41:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/techinvestorfeuerherd.jpg

Chris Sacca, a judge on the television show “Shark Tank” and early investor in tech companies like Twitter and Uber, announced Wednesday that he will be retiring from venture capital and the television show, CNBC reported. 

Sacca wrote Wednesday that he is "hanging up my spurs" after he rediscovered a notebook with entries he had written back in his 20s. In it, the younger Sacca had said he planned to retire at age 40. "In a matter of days, I'm going to be 42 years old," Sacca said. "Two years late." 

"I succeeded at venture capital because, for years, I rarely thought about or spent time on anything else. Anything less than that unmitigated full commitment leaves me feeling frustrated and ineffective," Sacca said. "As you've heard me say on the show, if I'm not all in, I'm out." 

Sacca said he's leaving ABC's "Shark Tank" this season, since he can't do the show while also keeping to his promise to stop investing in new companies, CNBC reported.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for SXSW]]>
<![CDATA[Rally Lights at the Ballpark a Big Hit ... For Now]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:00:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/rally+lights-0425-2017.jpg

While the San Francisco Giants are off to a rough start this season, fans at AT&T Park are starting a new trend there: rally lights.

Fans in the stands simultaneously hold up the flashlights on their smartphones, adding some extra illumination to the field. While at first the move seemed like a cool idea, it's now catching the attention of Major League Baseball for the wrong reasons.

"I've only seen this at a rock concert before," Giants play-by-play broadcaster Jon Miller said.

It has been said the so-called rally lights are intended to rally the home team and perhaps psych out opponents. Most Giants fans seemed to warm to the idea.

"It's awesome, i think it's super tight," Nick Cosmides, of Monterey, said. "It's creative."

Even Giants manager Bruce Bochy noticed fans seemed to enjoy their shining contribution.

"It is simliar to being at a rock concert," he said. "The players are having fun with it."

But the lights also caught the eye of umpires Monday night, pointing out a fan who may have had a real flashlight. They're saying it's a distraction.

"There's going to be a lot of distracting things, so figure out a way to deal with it," Giants fan Kelsey Henning said.

Dodgers fans disagreed.

"Very obnoxious and annoying, for the players," LA fan Josh Munoz said. "I bet it's outrageous to look at while they're playing."

Some reports say Major League Baseball told the Giants to make sure lights are not used by fans on the first level between the bases. The team, however, said it hasn’t received such a directive. Bochy said he doesn't want it to compromise safety.

"Sometimes the ball comes close to where these lights are shining in the background there, so obviously I have a little concern there," he said.

Tuesday night was the third time fans have illuminated the ballpark to show their support.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Tiburon Officials, Residents Debate Removal of 42 Trees]]> Tue, 25 Apr 2017 23:52:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tiburon+trees-0425-2017.jpg

Officials and residents of Tiburon, an upscale town in Marin County, were divided Tuesday night over the future of 42 trees.

A proposal to cut down the cluster of trees that can be seen on the drive into the town had heading to town hall to weigh in.

Arborist Duffy Hurwin said she and a group of neighbors want to spend $70,000 to cut down the trees on Tiburon's south knoll. Her arborist report says the pines and eucalyptus are dangerous.

"If they fall, I'm worried someone is going to get injured or about my neighborhood catching fire," Hurwin said.

Some agree that eucalyptus trees are a fire hazard and called widowmakers for a reason.

"The widowmakers come about because we lost loved ones because they were walking or standing under the tree," said Cris Jones of Greenbrae.

Town staff recalled a large limb falling on the bike path at the knoll in 2006. No one was hurt, but the threat was readily apparent.

Not everyone agreed with the proposal or assessment Tuesday and instead thought it was more important to keep nature intact.

"Preserve as many trees as possible," resident Terry Hennessy said. "Nature and trees are more important than views."

Neighbors on both sides were digging in Tuesday night.

"We should find some solution or resolution before it divides us," Hazel Caldwell said.

The Parks, Open Space and Trails Commission decided to study the proposal further, hoping to find a compromise.

Hurwin said she hopes the decision will change the landscape.

"If they are given the chance, we'll have a hillside full of oak trees," Hurwin said.

The commission subcommittee is expected to report back in a month.



Photo Credit: Jean Elle/NBC Bay Area]]>