Bay Area News Roundup

Bay City News
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Chevron refinery modernization

The Richmond City Council on Tuesday approved a $1 billion modernization project at Chevron's Richmond refinery after the oil giant agreed to increase the investment it will make in the community.

The project passed 5-0, with two abstentions, after Chevron agreed to up its community investments to $90 million over the next several years and agreed to other concessions, including the replacement of aging steel pipes carrying high-sulfur oil and the installation of air monitors and sensors.

Chevron had previously agreed to pledge $60 million over a 10-year period for community programs aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions, creating green jobs, providing job training and sending local students to college.

Last month, the city's Planning Commission ruled the project should include the pipe replacements, an increase in the amount pledged for community programs and a steeper reduction of emissions.

The project will replace the refinery's 1960-era hydrogen plant with modern equipment and allow the refinery to produce more crude oil blends with high sulfur levels, according to Chevron officials.

Opponents to the project argued Chevron isn't going far enough to address the environmental impacts of the project.

The project has been a contentious topic for several years and hundreds of people, both proponents and opponents of the modernization, have spoken out on the topic and attended council meetings addressing the project.

Andres Soto with the advocacy group Communities for a Better Environment said he's disappointed the City Council didn't hold Chevron to all of the Planning Commission's recommendations, including a green jobs initiative and the adoption of on-shore power usage for ships in port.

"We want Chevron to operate the refinery in a cleaner and safer manner," Soto said. "These politicians are more afraid of Chevron than the people's safety."

Chevron spokeswoman Melissa Ritchie said the company is pleased with Tuesday's vote.

Ritchie said there was a lot of support in the community for the project, and the company's concessions, including upping the initial investment pledge from $30 million to $60 million and then $90 million, was a response to some concerns raised by residents.

"We listened to the community and the comments they made," she said. "This is a good example of us working together."

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Oakland's minimum wage

The Oakland City Council has rejected a proposal that would have raised the city's minimum wage more gradually than a competing proposal that will go before the city's voters on the November ballot.

The current minimum wage in Oakland and across the state is $9 an hour.

The Lift Up Oakland Coalition, an alliance of community, labor, small business and faith organizations, gathered more than 33,000 signatures to place a measure on the ballot that would raise the minimum wage to $12.25 an hour for all workers next March 1. It also includes cost-of-living hikes in following years.

The City Council voted two weeks ago to formally place the initiative on the ballot.

City Council president Pat Kernighan and City Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney said they're concerned that the measure's 36 percent increase in the minimum wage could hurt small businesses and nonprofit groups, so they proposed an ordinance that would have raised Oakland's minimum wage for most employers to $11 per hour next July 1 and to $13 an hour on July 1, 2017.

Their proposal also included a second tier phase-in period for small businesses and exemptions for training programs and youth jobs.

However, the council voted against the ordinance by a 5-3 margin Tuesday night.

Kernighan, Gibson McElhaney and Larry Reid voted for the proposal but Libby Schaaf, Desley Brooks, Rebecca Kaplan, Noel Gallo and Dan Kalb voted against it.

Schaaf said today that she supports the proposal by the Lift Up Oakland Coalition because she thinks all companies should pay the same minimum wage.

She said she thinks a large increase in the minimum wage is appropriate because the state hadn't raised the minimum wage for six years until it finally raised it from $8 an hour to $9 an hour on July 1.

Schaaf said another important component of the proposal on the November ballot is that it would require companies to provide at least five paid sick days per year for all employees. Some companies currently don't provide any paid sick days, she said.

Lawrence McQuillan, an economist at the Independent Institute, an Oakland-based non-profit, non-partisan research organization, said today that he opposes high minimum wage levels because most studies over the past 50 years show that they harm people who have little work experience, low education levels and few job skills.

McQuillan said that's because employers don't want to hire such people if they have to pay them high wages despite their lack of experience or skills.

High minimum wage levels especially hurt youths and minorities who lack experience and skills, he said.

"This is not a unique problem for Oakland because it's also true in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and New Jersey," McQuillan said.

If high minimum wage levels discourage employers from hiring low-skilled young people, youths "don't learn good work habits or develop job skills," McQuillan said.

"There are unseen costs in high minimum wage levels but they become apparent over time and they are real and they harm people," he said.

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Oakland house fire

A two-alarm fire destroyed one Oakland home and seriously damaged another, displacing the homes' 18 residents this morning, a fire battalion chief said.

The fire in the 4600 block of Melrose Avenue, between 46th and 47th avenues, was reported at about 3:40 a.m.

One home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and a neighboring home's side and attic were already burning, Oakland fire Battalion Chief Lisa Baker said.

The two-story homes there are very close together so it was easy for the fire to spread, Baker said.

It took firefighters more than an hour to get the flames under control. Firefighters were able to put the fire out by about 4:50 a.m., Baker said.

Of the 18 people displaced, eight are children who lived in one of the homes, Baker said. The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.

A structural engineer was called to inspect the first home, which was left with a sagging roof and holes in the floor, raising questions about its structural integrity, Baker said. The home was deemed uninhabitable.

The second home is more stable and residents were able to go in and recover some of their belongings that weren't destroyed in the fire.

There was an estimated $250,000 in damage to the first building and $200,000 in damage to the second, Baker said.

No one was injured by the fire. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

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Hayward bomb scare

A police SWAT team and bomb squad searched a Hayward home where sheriff's deputies tried to evict the residents Monday morning but found no bombs or residents, police and sheriff's officials said.

Alameda County sheriff's deputies found threatening notes indicating there was a bomb inside a residence in the 2700 block of Gainesville Avenue when they tried to serve an eviction notice just before 10 a.m. Monday, authorities said.

The SWAT team and bomb squad were called to the scene and remained there through the afternoon, eventually sending a robot inside to look for the bombs.

The Hayward police SWAT team went in as well and was unable to find any bombs or people, sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson said.

Nelson said they left the area at about 5:30 p.m.

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Berryessa Peak rescue

A California Highway Patrol helicopter rescued two lost hikers near Berryessa Peak in rural northern Napa County on Tuesday afternoon.

The male hikers were about 7 miles from their vehicle, had been hiking for nine hours and the temperature was in the 90s, CHP Officer James Andrews said.

The hikers, who used their cellphones to call for help, were exhausted and without water, Andrews said.

The Napa County Sheriff's Office notified the CHP, which then sent a H-30 helicopter from Napa County Airport with pilot Scott Ellison, paramedic Ben Schmidt and flight officer Allen Romero aboard, Andrews said.

The hikers were located around 3 p.m. in the rural mountainous terrain on a trail below a steep and rugged ridgeline west of Berryessa Peak, Andrews said.

Schmidt was lowered on a hoist to conduct a medical evaluation of the hikers, who were then secured in the hoist and flown to a landing zone near their vehicle. Both were then transferred to the care of awaiting emergency personnel, Andrews said.

It would have taken several hours for emergency personnel to hike in, locate and retrieve the hikers rather than the 20 minutes it took the helicopter crew, according to the CHP.

The 14.5-mile hike to Berryessa Peak and back begins on Knoxville Road and the elevation rises to 3,500 feet. The trek is recommended only to those in excellent physical condition and hikers are advised to bring plenty of water, food and emergency medical supplies, according to Tuleyome, a Northern California wildland advocacy group.

The Air Operations Unit of the CHP's Golden Gate Division operates two planes and two helicopters based at Napa County Airport. The aircraft patrol nearly 7,000 square miles containing a population of 7 million people, Andrews said.

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Missing woman found safe

A 27-year-old Wisconsin woman missing from Mountain View since Sunday has been found safe, police said today.

Blair Foley was found overnight by BART police at the Lake Merritt station in Oakland. She was taken to Highland Hospital for observation but did not appear to be harmed nor the victim of a crime, according to Mountain View police.

Foley was last seen leaving a Lucky Supermarket at 715 E. El Camino Real in Mountain View at about 2 a.m. Sunday. She was in the Bay Area for work and scheduled to return to Wisconsin this Friday, police said.

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Vallejo burglar arrest

A Vallejo man was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of burglary, felony criminal trespassing and obstructing law enforcement officers, according to Fairfield police.

Alvin Delosreyes, 43, used a glass-cutting device to break into a residence in the 5000 block of Golden Prairie Court in Fairfield and continued to break glass once inside the home. Upon hearing the shattering glass, a female resident called police around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Police arrived to see Delosreyes exiting the front door wearing a mask and carrying two knives. He was initially compliant with officers, but then became combative and had to be subdued with the help of a police dog.

One officer suffered minor injuries during the altercation and was treated at a hospital and then released, police said.

Delosreyes had a prior association with the residents of the home, but he did not have permission to enter the home on Tuesday, police said.

Delosreyes' previous offenses include driving under the influence, obstructing law enforcement, vandalism, criminal threats and assault on emergency personnel.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Fairfield police at (707) 428-7600.

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Salinas attempted homicide

Monterey County health officials have issued an advisory warning people to avoid swimming at a state beach in Pacific Grove because of high levels of bacteria found there.

The advisory for Asilomar State Beach was issued Tuesday by the Monterey County Health Department, which found high levels of indicator bacteria in samples taken a day earlier.

Indicator bacteria are used to estimate the amount of fecal or other contamination in the water. Sources can include marine animals or other animal wildlife, human activity, or recent rainfall runoff.

County health officials recommend that people do not swim or have contact with water at beaches with higher levels of bacteria, which are associated with increased risks of illness.

More information on the status of Monterey Peninsula beaches can be found by calling (800) 347-6363 or visiting www.mtyhd.org/beach.

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Man struck, killed on I-680

A 74-year-old man was killed late Friday when a car struck him as he walked in a traffic lane of Interstate Highway 680 near Capitol Expressway in San Jose, California Highway Patrol reported Saturday.

The CHP received a report at 11:05 p.m. Friday of a vehicle that had crashed into a pedestrian on northbound I-680 near the expressway and upon arrival, found the victim lying in the number four lane of the highway, Officer Ross Lee said.

The driver of a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu who was traveling in the lane was not able to avoid hitting the pedestrian, Lee said.

An emergency medical team administered CPR and basic life support but could not revive the man and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Malibu immediately pulled over to the right shoulder, remained until the CHP got there and cooperated fully with officers, Lee said.

From a preliminary investigation, the CHP determined that the pedestrian had walked onto I-680 northbound from Capitol, continued traversing south on the off-ramp against traffic and then ended up inside the number four lane where the car struck him.

The CHP issued a Sig-alert at 11:36 p.m. Friday for northbound I-680 and then opened all lanes shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday.

No arrest was made and the accident still being investigated.

The Santa Clara County medical examiner's office arrived at the scene to transport the man's body. His name was not released.

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Parolee arrested for Vallejo stabbings

A 43-year-old parolee was booked on suspicion of murdering a woman in a violent attack Saturday morning in Vallejo that also seriously injured the victim's 5-year-old boy, a police spokesman said.

At 1:52 a.m. Saturday, the Vallejo Police Department received a call about an assault inside a residence in the 2000 block of Marin Street west of Sonoma Boulevard, according to police Capt. James O'Connell.

When officers arrived, they found a 5-year-old boy and his 40-year-old mother injured from an apparent violent attack.

The boy was taken to the trauma center of a Bay Area hospital where he is expected to survive, O'Connell said.

His mother was transported from the scene for emergency treatment but she died on the way to a hospital, he said.

Police officers and detectives obtained information about a suspect in the assault and broadcast the information to officers in the field.

At 8:41 a.m., a Vallejo police officer saw the suspect on a street in East Vallejo and took him into custody.

Daryl Wakefield, of Vallejo, was arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, O'Connell said.

Officers confirmed that Wakefield knew the female victim.

Wakefield is on parole for a burglary conviction and has a violent criminal history, according to O'Connell said.

The identify of the woman is being withheld until family members are notified.

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Teens rescued from cliff

Two male teens were rescued Friday evening from a 75-foot cliff in the Golden Gate Recreation Area in Marin County by a cinch collar line lowered from a helicopter operated by the California Highway Patrol, a CHP officer said.

At about 6:30 p.m. Friday, the Southern Marin Fire Department contacted the CHP to send a helicopter from the Napa County Airport to help rescue two juveniles trapped on the side of a cliff over Rodeo Beach in the recreation area, Officer Al Romero said.

The teenaged boys had apparently climbed the face of the cliff and then "felt if they moved anymore, they were going to fall," Romero said.

The CHP'S Napa office sent an H-30 helicopter to the area, north of the Point Bonita Lighthouse, and the crew found the boys about 75 feet above the beach, clinging to the face of the cliff, the CHP said.

The boys, wearing only beachwear and no shoes, were unable to get off the cliff and were at a location that was too steep and not close to a roadway for a high-angle rope rescue, the CHP reported.

With directions provided by the Fire Department, the crew of the helicopter dangled a line with a cinch rescue collar down to the boys and lowered each of them to the beach.

"They just put up their arms around it and it cinched to them," said Romero, who was a member of the flight crew. "We lowered them one at a time."

A deputy of the Marin County Sheriff's Office was on the beach to greet the boys and take their statements, Romero said.

Both of the teens were also reunited with their families. Neither was injured.

As helicopter rescues using a harness go, this operation "wasn't one of the tense ones," compared to having to lower the rescue collar through trees, Romero said. "It was a pretty open area."

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Novato woman found dead ID'd

Novato police have identified the woman who was found dead in a March Field Court condo in Novato early Wednesday morning as 48-year-old Jeannemarie Ross.

One of the Novato woman's roommates found Ross unresponsive and called police around 12:55 a.m., Lt. Oliver Collins said. Police did not disclose how Ross died, but said it is not considered a natural death, Collins said.

Several roommates of the deceased woman have been cooperative with the investigation and have provided statements to detectives, Collins said.

There is no threat to the public and there are no outstanding persons of interest involved in the death investigation, Collins said.

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Murder convict denied parole

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced Friday that the California Board of Prison Terms denied a murder convict parole for the ninth time.

William Ray Baxman, 63, has been in prison since 1984 after being convicted of the murder of Mark Timmer, Ravitch said.

Timmer was last seen hitchhiking up the northbound U.S. Highway 101 in Marin County on April 29, 1981 before his body was found the next day at the foot of McNear Hill in Petaluma.

Timmer's arms and legs were tightly bound with two leather belts and pathologists determined that he died from blunt force trauma to his entire body caused by a claw hammer or crowbar-type weapon, according to Ravitch.

The case went unsolved until 1984, when Baxman's father called police and told them that his son confessed to killing Timmer. He was subsequently arrested and convicted for second-degree murder.

"This was a senseless and gruesome murder," Ravitch said. "The Board properly denied Baxman's release as he shows no insight into the crime and his conduct."

Baxman is currently incarcerated at the California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville.

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Weather

Tonight will be partly cloudy and mild, with overnight lows mainly in the upper 50s to low 60s. Tomorrow will be mainly sunny and warm--hot in some inland areas. Highs will range from mid 60s at the coast to mid and upper 90s inland.

Concord 95
Oakland 78
Redwood City 88
San Francisco 71
San Jose 90
Santa Rosa 88

Coast
Tonight: Partly Cloudy & Mild
Lows: Upper 50s
Tomorrow: Mostly Sunny & Mild
Highs: Mid to Upper 60s

East Bay
Tonight: Partly Cloudy & Mild
Lows: Upper 50s to Around 60
Tomorrow: Sunny & Warm
Highs: Upper 70s to Mid 80s

East Bay Valleys
Tonight: Partly Cloudy & Mild
Lows: Low 60s
Tomorrow: Sunny & Hot
Highs: Mid to Upper 90s

North Bay Valleys
Tonight: Partly Cloudy
Lows: Mid 50s
Tomorrow: Sunny & Warm
Highs: Upper 80s to Low 90s

Peninsula
Tonight: Partly Cloudy & Mild
Lows: Around 60
Tomorrow: Sunny & Warm
Highs: Mid to Upper 80s

South Bay
Tonight: Partly Cloudy & Mild
Lows: Low 60s
Tomorrow: Sunny & Warm to Hot
Highs: Upper 80s to Mid 90s

Friday:
Mostly Sunny/Warm to Hot
Highs: Mid 60s Coast to Upper 90s Inland
weekend.
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