Firefighters continued to pour thousands of gallons of water early Wednesday on a smoldering pile of metal and other materials – the remains of a massive apartment complex construction project that was completely destroyed by a 5-alarm fire.
Deputy Fire Chief Mark Gonzales told reporters early Wednesday morning that a cause was yet to be determined.
Meanwhile, the firefighter injured in the blaze had been released from the hospital.
“He has first and second degree burns to his face, but mostly his hands,” Gonzales said.
The deputy chief was quick to admit that the fire could have been much worse. It could have spread to a neighboring high-rise also under construction and “we wouldn’t have been able to stop it.”
There also could have been many more injuries and possible deaths. The construction crew had left the site for the day and the first responders were quickly ordered out of the building as the fire grew from two alarms to five alarms.
The first units that arrived on the scene had attempted to enter the burning structure but were quickly told to retreat.
“Our rescue squad tried to get a line up there and that’s where one of our firefighters got burned,” he said. “We had to leave Truck 8 there (parked directly in front of the building) because of the collapse hazard. “
“The fire was on the corner of Fourth Street and China Basin on the top floor,” he continued. “They (the first responders) thought they could get to it (the fire) with the conditions they saw, but it was quickly evident they could not do that and our assistant chief made a great call, telling them to get out of there.”
Gonzales said the evacuation of 30 nearby apartments would remain in place until the burned structure was deemed safe from collapse. Fourth Street would also remain closed in the fire area.
Mayor Ed Lee said the heat from the fire shattered windows of many of those apartments.
Lee said a modern high pressure water system had been put in place in the Mission Bay neighborhood as it has been developed over the last decade.
“The structure we built – worked,” he said.
As dawn broke Wednesday morning, firefighters remained at the scene, dumping water on the still smoldering metal and materials.
“We are on fire watch,” Gonzales said. “We putting out hot spots – trying to keep it confined to the inner area”.
He said at its height of the blaze half of the city’s available firefighters were battling it.
The fire, which was reported at 4:56 p.m. at a building under construction on the west side of Fourth Street between China Basin and Mission Rock streets, prompted the evacuation of nearby buildings, including the Strata at Mission Bay apartments.
Firefighters aggressively attacked the flames, keeping the blaze from spreading to other buildings, though the fire burned for several hours, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said.
According to San Francisco police Sgt. Eric O'Neal, the entire east side of Fourth Street between Mission Rock and China Basin streets was evacuated.
Eli Brill, 31, said he came home to his apartment at the Strata after the fire had started and when he wasn't allowed into the building, he realized his dog was still inside.
A firefighter escorted Brill inside to retrieve the dog, who was safely reunited with its owner.
Another Strata resident, 25-year-old Hisham Bajwa, said he could see the fire start to burn outside his window shortly before 5 p.m.
"There were two main points of fire, one on the left and one on the right," Bajwa said. "It got pretty big pretty fast."
About 20 minutes after he first saw the flames, the fire alarm went off in his building and he evacuated, Bajwa said.
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 07:50:12 -0700
Target can't seem to catch a break.
The retail giant is now under fire for poorly altered photos of a model wearing a bikini on its website.
In the photos the model has been given a square thigh gap and her already thin arms have been "touched-up" to appear smaller.
The photos stirred up a strong reaction on the website Jezebel and also got twitter users talking.
The worst, most horrible part of this (aside from the horrible Photoshopping skills of whatever poor graphic design intern got assigned to do this) is that this product is for their junior's line. This is what is being marketed and pushed on young girls—this absurd image of a crotch that absolutely does not and cannot happen naturally. This what young girls have to look at and try to reconcile with their own, normally shaped bodies.
One Twitter user said, "Really Target? If you're going to photoshop your models to have 'thigh gaps' at least do it so no one can notice #fail."
By Tuesday, the images were gone from Target's website. But the controversy rages on. The 'thigh gap' as it is called, is something many teens aspire to, even though it is an unrealistic body image. Media reports say teens seek plastic surgery to thin their thighs, in order to more closely resemble the Photoshopped models.
A representative of Target provided the following statement on this issue, "This was an unfortunate error on our part and we apologize. We have removed the image from our website."
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 07:18:46 -0700
Jung Do does not speak English. But she didn't need to understand the words to realize the terror a young mother was experiencing in front of her barber shop in Washington.
On Feb. 28 just after 5 p.m., that young mom pulled up to the "We Buy Gold" store in Federal Way.
A disheveled woman in her 40s approached her truck and said something about needing a ride, but kept walking. She got to the store's door, and opened it for the mother, who had left her truck running with her 5- and 2-year-old daughters inside.
As soon as the mother stepped forward, the older woman ran over to the car, jumped in, and locked the doors.
Jung Do watched the mother clawing at the door handle, with no success. "She was crying, she was mad," told Seattle TV station KIRO 7 through an interpreter.
Surveillance video shows the scene that caught Do's attention. As the suspect threw the car into reverse and sped away, the young mother tried to run and catch it. She couldn't. She turned around, hysterical and yelling for help. That is all the video shows.
But recently released court documents describe what happened next. The suspect, 49 year old Natalie Merriam Hulme, allegedly drove about 10 miles away to Kent, Wash.
Something went wrong with the truck, and she brought it to a stop right by Riverbend Golf Course. She threw open the door and started walking around in rush hour traffic.
Alan Leeder was driving by and saw the truck with its door open and two little girls inside. He instinctively knew to slow down because he sensed something was wrong. Some golfers approached the truck, and the five year old inside told them a "mean woman" had stolen them from their mom.
The golfers started yelling to Leeder. "'Yeah, you need to stop her,'" he heard them shout, "'That woman abducted these kids.'
He got out of his car and started after her, as she weaved through stopped traffic. "She was like pulling on door handles, trying to get into several cars."
She finally found one with an unlocked door and climbed in. Inside, was a pregnant woman, and the suspect sat on her, then started hitting her in the stomach. Leeder grabbed the suspect and pulled her out of the car and onto the sidewalk. He said her mouth was foaming and she was "out of it."
Police were on the scene very quickly and arrested the suspect. The young mother identified her and was reunited with her children.
Leeder is a father himself and says he's happy he could be a hero. "It felt really good to see that the kids were safe," he said.
Natalie Merriam Hulme has a record, including hit and run, forgery, and theft. Now she faces kidnapping and motor vehicle theft charges; her bail was set at $200,000.
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 07:13:13 -0700
Cards on the table: I am cheap.
My latest adventure in cheapness involves lightbulbs, specifically the old school incandescent kind. The kind invented by Thomas Alva Edison. The kind that government put the kibosh on as of January 1, 2014 under the Energy Independence and Security Act.
There's been a lot of partisan anger about the new energy-efficient lightbulb mandates. Personally, I'm not an incandescent bulb hoarder.
Nor am I opposed to CFLs or LEDs. My home has roughly 75% LEDs, 25% CFLs, and 5% incandescents.
But as I said, I am cheap.
I know it's been said the true cost of a bulb is not the purchase price, but the cost of the energy it burns over time. While I do agree with that statement, sometimes it makes more financial sense to extend the life of a traditional bulb.
Here's my rationale: Let's say you bought that incandescent on sale for 50 cents a bulb. It eats a full 60 watts of electricity. Yet that might only be about $4 or $5 a year in energy expenses per bulb.
That LED, meanwhile, could cost around $10. It will only eat 11 watts to give you the same light as the 60-watt incandescent . But unless you get it on deep discount, you might not make your money back on that bulb for a year or two.
So you could call it delaying the inevitable, but when an incandescent burns out at my home, I'm not exactly leaping to buy a costly LED to replace it.
And therein is the crux of my argument: Did you know there's an alternative to throwing away incandescents that have burned out? It's pretty easy to fix those things and extend their life for anywhere from a few months to a year before they finally give up the ghost for good.
The fix involves reconnecting the two strands of filament inside the bulb. Chances are that filament melted and snapped, causing the light to go out. But if you can get the two dangling strands to touch again, your light will burn anew.
Not sure what I'm talking about? Just watch this video below from Kung Fu Maintenance or read this eHow primer.
This trick works great with my Great Value 25-watt clear globe light bulbs from Walmart. It's rare that I can't get a bulb to re-light by using sleight of hand to jiggle the filaments just so. What a feeling I get when there's that Let There Be Light moment!
And bonus, since I've started fixing our incandescent bulbs, my family has given me a new nickname: The "Frugal Filament Fixer." You can't beat that!
For further reading:
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 05:27:24 -0700
America, are you prepared for a cheese war?
U.S. and E.U. officials are meeting in Brussels to discuss the terms of the free trade agreement President Barack Obama proposed during his 2013 State of the Union Address.
But a report from the Associated Press says E.U. representatives are expected to put cheese on the negotiating table. Figuratively. (Via Wikimedia Commons / JJ Harrison, Dominik Hundhammer, Jon Sullivan)
"The E.U. wants to ban the use of names like parmesan, feta and Gruyere on cheeses that are made in America." (Via NECN)
"They argue that only cheese from Parma should be called parmesan. ... the E.U. claims American-made cheeses are mere imitations and they take market share away from the real McCoys." (Via Al Jazeera)
The E.U. wants the U.S. to honor its geographical indications. Those are kind of like trademarks for products that are named after a location.
In the E.U., feta cheese made outside Greece can't be marketed as feta. Other places can still make it and they can still sell it. They just have to call it something else.
A trade deal last year between the E.U. and Canada imposed the same restrictions. Any new feta product made in Canada has to be marketed as feta-style or feta-like, and can't use Greek columns or lettering on the package.
U.S. companies aren't happy about the restrictions, saying they'll confuse consumers. The head of theNational Milk Producers Federation said "The consequences ... would be higher costs, fewer choices and greater confusion. ... It is American food companies that have helped popularize many cheeses with old world origins, leading to increased sales for all."
The outrage goes all the way to Capitol Hill. A group of 55 U.S. senators sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging him to "push back" against the new restrictions. (Via U.S. Senate)
It's not clear yet how strongly European negotiators will push for the restrictions. A representative simply said that the issue is an important one for the E.U.
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 03:35:41 -0700
Volcanoes, known for violent explosions and toxic fumes, may have been responsible for saving some species during the ice ages. (Via U.S. Geological Survey)
A new study says volcanoes provided warm areas for things like mosses, lichens and bugs to thrive while the rest of the world was covered in glaciers. (Via National Geographic)
The study specifically looked at volcanoes in Antarctica. One researcher says: "The closer you get to volcanoes, the more species you find. This pattern supports our hypothesis that species have been expanding their ranges and gradually moving out from volcanic areas since the last ice age." (Via Nature World News)
The last ice age was 20,000 years ago, and since that time Antarctica has had at least 16 active volcanoes. (Via YouTube / Jiri VonDrak)
So how exactly did volcanoes make the world a more livable place? The study’s lead author explains.
"Volcanic steam can melt large ice caves under the glaciers, and it can be tens of degrees warmer in there than outside. Caves and warm steam fields would have been great places for species to hang out during Ice Ages." (Via Sci-News.com)
So I guess you can now also think of volcanoes as an prehistoric radiator. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 03:24:30 -0700
“In Dreams”, an art show tribute to the films of David Lynch, is now being showcased at the Spoke Art Galley in San Francisco until March 29th, 2014.
The show is the first ever David Lynch- inspired art exhibition which features a dynamic range of artwork influenced by the prolific and innovative films of director David Lynch.
Comprised of over 50 artists from around the globe, each of the exhibited works evoke the emotional complexities and stylistic ventures of Lynch’s work through a variety of mediums, such as painting, sculptures and limited edition fine art prints.
The films of David Lynch feature all-too-familiar worlds that, beneath their vibrant exteriors, guard unthinkable secrets. From the desolate and disturbing darkness of Eraserhead (1977) to the unspoken evils of a small town in the cult classic TV series Twin Peaks (1990), In Dreams presents a closer look into the unsettling, yet hypnotizing realm of Lynch’s cinematic repertoire.
Spoke Art Gallery is located at 816 Sutter Street in San Francisco.
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:14:39 -0700
What's better than a free cruise, a free $500 check and free gas money? How about $5,000 a month for the rest of your life?
A group of 33 passengers is suing Carnival Cruise Lines after they were stuck in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico last year. They were stranded with no engine power, air conditioning or working toilets, and food and water were scarce. (Via NBC)
Carnival Cruise's ship Triumph was returning from Mexico last February when a fire knocked out the ship's electricity, engine power and plumbing. CNN famously dubbed the ordeal the "Poop Cruise." (Via ABC)
Now, some of the passengers say they continue to experience medical problems and emotional distress, like PTSD and anxiety, and want $60,000 per year to cover their medical bills. (Via KTRK)
The media reported many of the cruise passengers' stories last year, and it's hard not to sympathize. But the media has also been pretty unified in declaring the $5,000-per-month demand just way off the mark.
"Can I do like you guys do and put my hands on my hips and say 'this is outrageous?' It's outrageous."
"I cannot believe they're asking for $5,000 a month for life ... These are opportunistic plaintiffs looking for a big payday." (Via KTTV)
And Fox News's Andrew Napolitano agrees, saying if he had been assigned a case like this when he was a judge, he'd have thrown it out.
"The test is what Carnival knew before the boat left. Not the harm that happened to these passengers. ... But they'll never get $5,000 a week or a month or anything like that for life. They courts just don't do that."
Carnival's lawyers say the passengers suing the company have not proved their problems were caused by the cruise and that they're not entitled to damages.
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 01:52:11 -0700
Are you a slowpoke? Then get out of the fast lane – especially if you're in Georgia.
Left-lane lurkers on the state's highways and interstates are a pen-stroke away from trouble under legislation given final passage Tuesday by the Georgia Senate.
House Bill 459 would allow authorities to ticket those who lollygag in left lanes. The bill makes it a misdemeanor for any driver on a divided highway who does not move to the right when a car going faster approaches from behind.
With the state House already signing off on the measure, all it needs is Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature to become law.
Senators said they were not trying to encourage speeding. However, as Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, said, “often times drivers travel through (the left lane) as if they’re in tourist mode.”
The Senate approved HB 459, by Rep. Bill Hitchens, R-Rincon, on a 42-5 vote.
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 00:32:28 -0700
George Zimmerman is making headlines again after he signed autographs and met fans at a Florida gun show.
According to the New York Daily News, about 20 people showed up to meet Zimmerman, who was acquitted of second-degree murder last summer in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, at the New Orlando Gun Show on Sunday.
“It was pretty weird to meet him in person — and wow, he has gained a lot of weight!” fan Melissa, who did not provide a last name, told the Daily News.
Zimmerman's appearance also forced the gun show to change venues. The original, larger venue, the Majestic, backed out because of "community pressure" and backlash, the Daily News reported. The Arms Room gun store hosted the event instead.
Martin's fatal shooting sparked a nationwide debate about race and self-defense. Zimmerman was accused of racially profiling Martin and said he shot the teen to protect himself.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Published: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 00:08:03 -0700
Oakland Police are working to develop a sketch of the attacker who reportedly committed a sexual assault on an elementary school student Friday. The reported attack prompted a lockdown of the World Academy and Achieve Academy building at 1700 28th Avenue.
KTVU has learned that detectives are investigating a possible link to another assault in January at a different elementary school just a few blocks away.
Police tell KTVU that both incidents occurred at about 4 p.m. in the afternoon and involved young girls at after-school programs. The description of the attacker in both cases was almost identical.
On Friday, two girls told school staff that they had encountered a strange man on campus. The 7-year-old reported that he inappropriately touched her. Police searched the school grounds and surrounding neighborhood.
Officers also went to the Think College Now Elementary School just a few blocks away on International Boulevard. That is where a man of a similar description reportedly assaulted a 6-year-old girl in January when she entered a gym bathroom with another first grader.
Sue Piper, a spokeswoman for the Oakland Unified School District, told KTVU Tuesday that it is not clear how the man got into the bathroom.
"He walked on, he identified himself to the students as someone who tutored," Piper said, "He asked one of the girls to sit on his lap. She did, felt uncomfortable and ran off."
On Tuesday afternoon, parents picking up their children at the World Academy said the school is taking more precautions after last week's reported attack.
"Making sure you're on their list, so you're not able to go in if your name is not on the list," said Elvia Espinoza, an Oakland parent.
Parents in the after school program showed us a letter announcing a meeting Tuesday afternoon.
"This school is taking steps to do what they need to do," said Tiffany Soliman, another Oakland parent.
Some parents and students say they're concerned there isn't more security. Rocio Munoz of Hayward has two daughters at the Think College Now Elementary School. She says the school did alert them to Friday's assault. The school has also taken extra precautions such as restricting access to bathrooms and training parents, staff and students to be more aware of who enters school grounds.
School district officials say it is also important for parents to talk with their child or children about what is appropriate and not appropriate behavior by strangers. Officials say it is also important to teach children the importance of telling an adult if an incident does occur.
In both cases the attacker is described as a white man, about 6 feet tall, 180-200 pounds, with black hair and a mustache.
Oakland police say they hope to create a sketch in the next few days.
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 23:06:25 -0700
More than four days after a Malaysian jetliner went missing en route to Beijing, authorities acknowledged Wednesday they didn't know which direction the plane carrying 239 passengers was heading when it disappeared, vastly complicating efforts to find it.
Amid intensifying confusion and occasionally contradictory statements, the country's civil aviation authorities and the military both said the plane may have turned back from its last known position between Malaysian and Vietnam, possibly as far as the Strait of Malacca, a busy shipping lane on the western side of Malaysia.
How it might have done this without being clearly detected remains a mystery, raising questions over whether its electrical systems, including transponders allowing it to be spotted by radar, were either knocked out or turned off. If it did manage to fly on, it would challenge earlier theories that the plane may have suffered a catastrophic incident, initially thought reasonable because it didn't send out any distress signals.
Authorities have not ruled out any possible cause, including mechanical failure, pilot error, sabotage or terrorism in the disappearance of the plane. Both the Boeing 777 and Malaysia Airlines have excellent safety records. Until wreckage or debris is found and examined, it will be very hard say with any level of certainty what happened.
The search for the missing aircraft was begun from the spot it was last reported to be over the ocean between Malaysia and Vietnam. But they have also said search operations were ongoing in the Strait of Malacca. Scores of planes and aircraft have been scouring waters in both locations.
The country's air force chief, Gen. Rodzali Daud, released a statement denying remarks attributed to him in a local media report saying that military radar had managed to track the aircraft turning back from its original course, crossing the country and making it to the Malacca strait to the west of Malaysia. The Associated Press contacted a high-level military official, who confirmed the remarks.
Rodzali referred to a statement he said he made March 9 in which he said the air force has "not ruled out the possibility of an air turn back" and said search and rescue efforts had been expanded to the waters around Penang Island, in the northern section of the strait.
It is possible that the radar readings are not definitive or subject to interpretation, especially if a plane is malfunctioning.
"There is a possibility of an air turn back. We are still investigating and looking at the radar readings," the country's civilian aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said Wednesday.
The Strait of Malacca that separates Malaysia from Indonesia's Sumatra Island is some 400 kilometers (250 miles) from where the plane was last known to have made contact with ground control officials over the Gulf of Thailand at a height of 35,000 feet (almost 11,000 meters) early Saturday.
Adding to the confusion, Indonesia air force Col. Umar Fathur said the country had received official information from Malaysian authorities that the plane was above the South China Sea, about 10 nautical miles from Kota Bharu, Malaysia, when it turned back toward the strait and then disappeared. That would place its last confirmed position closer to Malaysia than has previously been publicly disclosed.
Fathur said Malaysian authorities have determined four blocks to be searched in the strait, which Indonesia was assisting in.
Vietnam continued to search for the plane on land and sea. In its area of responsibility, some 22 aircraft and 31 ships from several countries were involved, according to Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of Vietnamese People's Army.
Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar, who has been ordered to look at possible criminal aspects in the disappearance of the plane, said hijacking, sabotage and issues related to the pilots' psychological health were being considered.
An Australian TV station reported that the first officer on the missing plane, Fariq Abdul Hamid, had invited two women into the cockpit during a flight two years ago. One of the women, Jonti Roos, described the encounter on Australia's "A Current Affair."
Roos said she and a friend were allowed to stay in the cockpit during the entire one-hour flight on Dec. 14, 2011, from Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur. She said the arrangement did not seem unusual to the plane's crew.
"Throughout the entire flight, they were talking to us and they were actually smoking throughout the flight," said Roos, who didn't immediately reply to a message sent to her via Facebook. The second pilot on the 2011 flight was not identified
Malaysia Airlines said they took the allegations seriously
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 22:38:26 -0700
The Internal Revenue Service is warning the public of a widespread phone scam in which phony IRS agents get victims to pay money based on false tax bills.
In several recent cases in South San Francisco, fake agents contacted residents and said they owed large amounts of money in back taxes, according to police.
The scammers threatened arrest if the victims did not make a payment using an untraceable, pre-loaded debit card with an access number, police said.
The latest reported victim lost $2,000 in the scam, police said.
According to the IRS, the phone scam has become "pervasive" during tax season.
"This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country," IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement.
"If somebody unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don't pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn't the IRS calling," Werfel said.
IRS agents do not ask taxpayers for confidential PINs, passwords or access information to credit card, bank or other financial accounts, officials said.
Anyone who owes taxes or has a payment issue should call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.
Anyone who thinks they have been victimized by an IRS scam should contact local police or the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov.
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 22:11:57 -0700
Bay Area residents have put off so much of our major infrastructure needs that the potential bill is becoming overwhelming.
For the most part, infrastructure is either invisible, taken for granted or both, and now it is way past time to pay the piper.
Early Tuesday morning, an all too common scene: a broken water main in San Francisco that was not scheduled for replacement for another few years.
“This particular lines was 130 years old, and when it reaches that age the increase of likelihood of failure obviously increases,” said Tyrone Jue of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
Of the 1,200 miles of pipeline in San Francisco -- one in every five miles -- is more than 100 years old and in need of replacement.
“This year we're replacing nine miles of water lines per year. In two years, we'll be up to 15 miles per year,” said Jue.
But, even at that increased rate, it would take another 17 years just to replace just the ancient ones.
“And at the same time, it's not just the water system, it's the sewer system we're dealing with,” said Jue.
According to the Bay Area Council's Economic Institute, our inability and unwillingness to upgrade infrastructure, water, transportation, utilities and others has caught up with us big time.
“We know that in the state of California there's at least a ten year deficit of more than $750 billion of all kinds of infrastructure,” says Sean Rudolph, CEO of the Economic Institute.
Rudolph added that many traditional funding sources have sharply dwindled.
“In the past, the Federal government, the state government played a much bigger role. That Federal and state money is not there the way it once was,” said Rudolph.
“You get more water main breaks, you get more sinkholes, and you get more disaster after a major seismic event,” added Jue.
What hangs in the balance? The very way of life in the Bay Area stands to be altered when aging and decay overwhelm our infrastructures.
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 19:31:02 -0700
The Oakland city council will have to face the contentious issue of rent control after a city council committee avoided making any recommendations during a spirited debate on the subject Tuesday afternoon.
Tenants and landlords say they want to come to terms acceptable to both sides, but there appeared to be little room for agreement as more than 30 speakers lined up to testify before Oakland's Community and Economic Development Committee.
James Vann was one of the Oakland residents who expressed frustration over landlords who he claimed were taking advantage of low income tenants.
"For 33 years they have ruled the roost on the rent la," said Vann. "It's time we made some changes."
Tenants complained that landlords are using a loophole in the law to raise rents by making improvements to residences and then passing on huge rent increases to recover those costs, which some renters say they can't afford.
Arlinda Befort told the committee she's a former military nurse, and disabled veterans are among those having trouble affording Oakland's rising rents.
"Who are your low income tenants?,” asked Befort. “It's your disabled. It is your working class poor. Many single mothers who are trying to work two jobs while caring for their family."
But property owners say rehabbing older buildings to meet current codes is expensive... and without improvements the building's fall into disrepair.
Elaina Lieberman, a property manager in Oakland, said that can lead to blight and crime.
"Once you have this issue it just doesn't stop. It's like having cockroaches in a building. Once you have one you just can't get rid of them," said Lieberman.
Linda Lonay told the committee that Oakland has many small-time landlords who are struggling to make property improvements to compete against larger, better financed rental properties.
“There's a lot of corporate investment in housing in Oakland in the last two or three years. Nobody's objecting to that," said Lonay.
Jeff Levine of East Bay Housing Association got when he wanted when the committee decided to hold off on making any rent control decisions, and pass the issue on to the full city council.
"Let us freeze things the way they are until you resolve it as you often do with other issues rather than leaving it open for more and more rent increases and more displacement while we talk endlessly about it," said Levine.
The Oakland city council is expected to take up the issue Tuesday, March 18.
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 18:30:27 -0700
A special joint task force of FBI agents and several San Mateo County law enforcement agencies met Tuesday to sift through leads in the hopes of solving a string of murders that occurred 38 years ago.
KTVU has learned that since news stories began re-appearing this month about the deaths of five bay area women in 1976, the FBI has received dozens of calls.
After meeting for more than an hour investigators plan to look into the pasts of the five Bay Area women killed between January and April of 1976, in what the FBI calls the Gypsy Hill murders.
"We're going to hit the neighborhoods where the young girls grew up. See if there are still some neighbors who were there at the time. Areas where the bodies were found," said South San Francisco Police Chief Mike Massoni.
Investigators have re-opened the 38-year-old killings because of this woman, Cathy Woods, convicted of murdering a college student in Reno, Nevada in 1976.
Woods proclaims she didn't kill the student.
Recently authorities discovered DNA from an unknown male that was found on the Reno victim matches DNA found on five other women killed around the same time.
One of the women, Denise Lampe, was found near Kaiser Hospital on El Camino in South San Francisco. The bodies of others were discovered in Daly City, Millbrae and two in Pacifica.
"People have come forward saying i think i saw something at that time and date. But again we are still looking for the perpetrator," said FBI spokesman Peter Lee.
Investigators from the task force plan to contact people who knew the victims, hoping it might lead them to the killers.
"Talking to friends of the young ladies who are victims, just to see if there is anything someone may not have brought up 40 years ago that is sticking in their mind," said Massoni.
Law enforcement is asking people if they remember anything about the cases to please call the FBI office in San Francisco.
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 18:09:21 -0700
A massive fire quickly swallowed a high-rise under construction in San Francisco’s Mission District prompting area evacuations and plumes of smoke to fill the sky.
The devastating blaze started just before 5 p.m. Tuesday and destroyed a multi-million dollar apartment building under construction just south of AT&T Park.
As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters were still battling the wall of flames in the area and are expected to be on the scene throughout the night.
More than 150 firefighters and six ladder trucks responded to the fire, blasting water into the collapsing building. Crews lugged gear up six flights of stairs, using balconies to spray water back across the street.
While crews were geared up, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White says no firefighters went inside.
One firefighter was taken to the hospital after suffering a minor burn but no other injuries were reported.
The big concern for firefighters Tuesday was preventing the blaze from spreading to other buildings.
“The radiant heat and the intensity of the flames was threatening the buildings literally across the street,” Hayes-White said.
An ember did spark another, much smaller, fire one block away on a terraced rooftop at UCSF’s Smith Cardiovascular Research Building at Mission Bay and 4th Street. Crews were able to quickly contain that blaze before it could spread.
As the building started to collapse inward and out onto the street, firefighters had to keep their distance.
The building was full of lumber and had no fire alarm or sprinklers yet installed, which all helped the blaze build and spread.
“We're told the workers got off around 3:30 so whatever was burning had about an hour and a half to smolder and get going,” Hayes-White said.
Several neighboring buildings were evacuated Tuesday night and while the danger to those buildings has largely passed, residents are not allowed to go home yet.
“Our windows face the fire directly so I saw the smoke starting in the corner and all of a sudden it just… flames engulfed the whole buildings,” evacuee Julia Young told KTVU. “As soon as the fire alarms when off I knew, time to get out of here.”
“We just kind of got wind that we're not going to be able to go back home, so at this point find a hotel and just make the best of it,” said Young’s husband, Aaron.
The $227 million project was called MB 360 project, which stood for Mega Blocks 360, which represented the number of units the complex would have.
The construction had been two weeks again of schedule and was set to open in late May or early June.
MB 360 was set to start pre-leasing in less than a month and was one of several new apartment buildings in the neighborhood.
Arson investigators were on the scene Tuesday and will return Wednesday morning. There has been no information released on what may have caused the blaze.
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:15:11 -0700
The Balboa Park BART station in San Francisco has reopened this evening after a fatality was reported on the tracks, prompting major delays throughout the Bay Area.
The incident was reported at 4:35 p.m. when a person was reportedly under a train, BART spokesman Jim Allison said. That person was pronounced dead and the San Francisco medical examiner responded to the scene.
Trains were not stopping at the Balboa Park BART station for nearly two hours following the incident.
The Balboa Park BART station was reopened at about 6:20 p.m., Allison said, and trains are resuming normal service.
Riders can expect residual delays, according to Allison, but those delays should resolve themselves by about 7 p.m.
The person's death remains an ongoing BART police investigation, Allison said.
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:56:37 -0700
Zach Galifianakis brought the ferns, and President Barack Obama opened a new avenue of presidential communication.
The president urged young people to sign up for the new health care plan through an appearance posted Tuesday on the comic website Funny or Die, bypassing the news media and even previous favorites like TV talk show titans Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman. Instead, he chose to be a guest on Galifianakis' "Between Two Ferns," the digital short with a laser focus on reaching people ages 18 to 34.
The video reached 1 million views within three and a half hours of posting and was adding more at a pace of 1 million per hour in the middle of the day, according to Funny or Die. The website was briefly the number one source of referrals to Healthcare.gov, the Obama administration said, with some 19,000 people navigating directly from the video to the health care website in the first few hours.
"Gone are the days when your broadcasts — or yours or yours — can reach everybody that we need to reach," Obama press secretary Jay Carney said to broadcast journalists at the White House press briefing Tuesday.
With 4 million viewers, Obama exceeded in six hours the typical audience he would get by appearing on television shows hosted by Letterman, Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. That doesn't count the ancillary views — clips of the interview aired repeatedly on CNN. And it was a topic on Howard Stern's radio show.
As hip as Fallon and Kimmel may be in some circles, their audiences skew older — a median age of 52.7 for Fallon and 56.2 for Kimmel during the last week of February, the Nielsen company said.
For Web entertainment, it's a moment that rivals Emmy or Golden Globe nominations for Netflix's "House of Cards." And in presidential annals, it breaks form much like Richard Nixon did with his awkward jokes on television's "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In."
In the clip, Galifianakis peppered Obama with awkward questions, including whether he'd locate his presidential library in Hawaii or Kenya.
"What's it like to be the last black president?" he asked.
"Seriously?" Obama said. "What's it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?"
Galifianakis feigned annoyance when Obama, about halfway through the 6-minute clip, began urging young people to sign up for health care, sighing heavily before muttering, "Here we go."
"I think it's fair to say I wouldn't be here today if I didn't have something to plug," Obama said. As he went on, the "Hangover" star asked: "Is this what they mean by drones?"
Funny or Die was launched by Will Ferrell and partners in 2007 and has gone beyond being a niche location. There have been about 20 "Between Two Ferns" episodes, drawing an average of 6 million viewers each, and the Obama appearance is expected to go well beyond that number. Funny or Die gets 19 million unique visitors a month and has 7.8 million followers on Twitter and 5.5 million likes on Facebook.
Television talk show appearances have since become an accepted part of the political circuit. The Obama administration hasn't ignored this: First lady Michelle Obama appeared on a skit last month in Fallon's first week at "Tonight." Vice President Joe Biden was on Meyers' first show. The president played along with Fallon's "slow jam the news" skit in talking about student loans in 2012, when he was running for re-election.
He's done interactive Web appearances with Linked In, Google and Twitter, said presidential spokesman Joshua Earnest. But it wasn't quite like Galifianakis questioning him about whether there's another presidential pardon for a turkey in order or showing him a rash on his arm.
"The video enabled the president to deliver his message very clearly but in a way that's fresh and appealing to a young audience," said Susan Etlinger, an Internet analyst for the Altimeter Group. "It's almost cynical but in a sincere way."
The White House began talking with Funny or Die last summer about ways to promote the health care plan, and the site has posted several comic videos about the topic, said Mike Farah, production president of the site and executive producer of "Between Two Ferns." The interview was taped two weeks ago.
"What I really love about the video is that it's a funny 'Between Two Ferns' first," Farah said. At the end, the interview's black backdrop collapses and it's revealed the White House is where the appearance was taped — the joke being that's where Galifianakis does all his shows.
In the first few hours, 96 percent of the site's visitors judged the video funny, meaning it had reached immortal status on the site, he said.
As 2016 approaches, no doubt other politicians will be watching its impact.
Not everyone was amused, though. On Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends," host Brian Kilmeade said the video was inappropriate and "pretty tragic."
Carney was asked whether some presidential dignity was compromised.
"We obviously assess opportunities that we have and, you know, look at whether they're going to be successful and wise," he said. "And I think we made the right call here."
Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler at the White House contributed to this report.
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:45:05 -0700
Bay Area residents were marking the third anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident Tuesday with events including a protest outside the Japanese consulate in San Francisco -- one of many planned at consulates across the United States.
Because the disaster occurred on March 11, 2011, the group No Nukes Action Committee, which includes a number of Japanese citizens living in the Bay Area, has been holding regular monthly rallies outside the consulate on the 11th day of the month, according to organizer Chizu Hamada.
During the monthly rally, the group typically submits a letter calling for an end to the use of nuclear power in Japan.
That day at 3 p.m., to mark the third anniversary of the deadly earthquake and tsunami that killed tens of thousands of people, washed away whole communities and critically damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant, the group will be joined by a coalition of anti-nuclear groups.
However, the consul has already informed the group that the letter will not be accepted in person this time, as it has been in the past, Hamada said.
"They said the order came to all consuls in the nation here not to receive the letter, to ask us to send it by mail," said Hamada, a Berkeley resident for the past 40 years.
Hamada said she is concerned that the Japanese government supports nuclear power despite the accident, which triggered nuclear meltdowns and explosions and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people.
"They want people to forget about Fukushima," said Hamada. "Actually, people are forgetting about Fukushima, but the accident is not contained."
Hamada said she had not been active in anti-nuclear protests before Fukushima spurred her into action.
"So many people are still living in temporary housing and so many children are still living in dangerous places," said Hamada.
She said the subject is a difficult one to even discuss during her annual visits with relatives in Tokyo, who benefit from the power generated at Fukushima.
Hamada said she hopes that continuing action from outside of Japan will help raise awareness and keep the incident fresh in people's minds.
Other events planned to mark the anniversary include an Ikebana ceremony at Lydia's Sunflower Center in Petaluma at 2 p.m., followed by a release ceremony at the Salmon Creek north of Bodega Bay at 8:30 p.m.
A breakfast forum is scheduled at the San Francisco Unitarian Church on Sunday at 9:15 a.m. featuring Cecile Pineda, author of "Devil's Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step."
A Golden Gate Bridge walk was held on Saturday at noon.
Published: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:28:15 -0700