Thursday, 06 March 2014 16:03
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
Statistics released by the San Leandro police show that crime is up 20 percent over the past three years.
Statistics for serious crimes in 2013 were up 8 percent over 2012, and the 2012 totals were also up 8 percent over 2011, and 2011 was up 4 percent over 2010.
The serious crimes include murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, auto theft and arson. According to department statistics. there were a total of 4,750 serious crimes in the city in 2013.
There were three murders in San Leandro in 2013, 26 rapes, 251 robberies, and 912 cars stolen. Police says the crime trends in San Leandro are closely following what’s happening all over the East Bay.
Rapes were up 73 percent, auto thefts up 15 percent, and burglaries up 9 percent. On the other hand, robberies, which had been up 26 percent in 2012, were down by 8 percent.
“There were peaks and valleys like there always are,” said Lt. Randy Brandt of the San Leandro police. “We had been seeing a lot of gold chains and cell phones snatched right out of people’s hand in robberies, but now those have dried up a bit.”
Brandt said that the city is seeing a few more residential burglaries than in the past. The usual method is for someone to ring the door bell during the day, thinking that people are at work. When no one answers, they break in.
Brandt advises that people make noise or tell the person at the door to go away, as most of these burglars are non-violent and will run away to avoid confrontation.
Another trend spotted by San Leandro police was the discovery of guns during traffic stops. Police found over 100 illegal loaded weapons in 2013 when drivers were pulled over for speeding and other violations.
“That’s good to get off the streets,” Brandt said.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 16:01
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
For the second time in a few months, a fire broke out at the same residence on Altamont Road in the unincorporated area.
Alameda County firefighters extinguished a two-alarm blaze last Sunday morning just before 5 a.m. at a two story home at 2079 Altamont Road, said Alameda County Fire Department spokeswoman Aisha Knowles.
The home has been empty since November, when it was hit by the first fire. That blaze was apparently started by a legal medicinal marijuana growing operation, according to Sgt. J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.
The home had been boarded up since that November fire and was not habitable. No one had been officially living the home since the first fire, according to the fire department.
It is thought that some people were squatting illegally and they may have started the fire. Neighbors reported that strangers had been spotted in the home, but the cause of the fire is still undetermined, Knowles said.
While the firefighters put out the blaze, a floor inside collapsed and one firefighter fell to a lower level, Knowles said. But the man was not seriously injured and he was checked out at the scene and did not require treatment before returning to work.
Embers from the home jumped to the house next door and started a small secondary fire, which was extinguished immediately with little damage.
There were no other injuries.
Knowles also said that the fire department’s investigator has not been able to evaluate the inside of the home because the structure is unstable and not safe to enter, so a cause has not yet been determined.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 15:54
The San Leandro Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary is accepting applications for its annual health care scholarship program.
Every year, the Auxiliary awards scholarships to college students and graduating high school seniors pursuing medical careers.
To be eligible, these students must live in San Leandro or San Lorenzo and enroll in healthcare-related studies. Scholarships will be awarded in June for studies in the fall.
The Auxiliary awarded $27,000 in scholarships last year and since its inception in 1972, has donated over $444,150 to students. Past scholarship recipients have gone on to become physicians, nurses and allied health professionals.
Applications are available at San Leandro Hospital at the the gift shop or the information desk in the hospital lobby located at 13855 East 14th St.
Students can also request an application from a career counselor at Arroyo High, San Leandro High, San Lorenzo High or the Chinese Christian School.
The deadline to apply is April 4. For more information about the San Leandro Hospital Auxiliary scholarship program or if you are retired and interested in volunteering at the hospital, call 667-4590.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 15:53
The Alameda County district attorney’s office recently settled a class action lawsuit against Overstock.com for over $6 million in civil damages.
D.A. Nancy E. O’Malley announced recently that internet retailer Overstock.com, Inc., has been found liable for violating California’s false advertising and unlawful business practice laws.
The civil case was filed in the Alameda County Superior Court, the Honorable Wynne S. Carvill presiding.
The Alameda County DA’s Office was one of seven DA’s Offices from Northern California representing the People of California in the trial that resulted in the judgment against Overstock.
Overstock was found in violation of the laws protecting consumers from unfair business practices and the laws protecting consumers against false advertising
A major issue in the case was Overstock’s use of advertised reference prices, such as “List Price” or “Compare at.”
It frequently displayed such reference prices in close proximity to the sales price, often with a purported discount, which it labeled “You Save” or “Save,” according to the DA’s office.
An example of such advertisement is the following:
List Price: $999.00
Today’s Price: $449.99
You save: $549.01 (55%)
The complaint alleged that reference prices of this kind were inaccurate or inflated to show a bigger discount or better deal than Overstock’s customers were actually receiving.
The court found that Overstock had in fact engaged in false advertising and unfair business practices by displaying “List Prices” which had been created by the use of false formulas.
In its decision, the court imposed $6,828,000 in civil penalties against Overstock.
The Court also imposed injunctive terms that require Overstock to more accurately display reference prices and to make fuller disclosures to consumers.
Sonoma, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Shasta counties joined Alameda County in the civil suit.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 15:48
Dr. Brian and Keli (Gebhardt) Martinez are delighted to announce the birth of their first child, Colin Michael Martinez, on Feb. 13, weighing 8 pounds, 15 ounces.
Colin’s grandparents are Janet and Russ Gebhardt of San Leandro, Barbara and Dan Martinez of Santa Cruz, as well as his maternal great-grandmother Barbara Piper of San Leandro.
Keli is a San Leandro native who attended St. Leander School, Bishop O’Dowd High School and graduated from UC Davis.
CAPTION: Great-grandmother Barbara Piper is holding Colin, grandmother Janet Geghardt is on the left, and mom Keli Martinez is on the right – four generations.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 15:39
PHOTOS BY JIM KNOWLES
The lights have been left up since the holidays to add a little atmosphere to the downtown, but a snafu has caused these lights across from Pelton Center (below) and at Joaquin Plaza (above) to be on during the daytime, too. Repairs are underway so that the lights will be working properly by later this month.
By Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times
The downtown Christmas lights looked so nice they decide to leave them up.
The lights on trees and lamp posts in the evening make the downtown look a little more festive, but there’s just one thing that a San Leandro woman noticed – some of the little lights are staying on all day.
Lorraine Caison says she never worried about leaving lights on when she was younger, but now she doesn’t like to waste electricity.
“Isn’t this a waste?” Caison asks. “This is costing the taxpayers money.”
It turns out that the lights are supposed to be on at night, but Caison is right about the lights being on in the daytime and City Hall is trying to fix that.
“They’re on intentionally during the evening hours to make a nice ambience downtown,” said Eric Englebart, assistant to the city manager.
But the company that installed the lights on trees and lamp posts plugged in some of the lights to outlets that are on timers, and others are connected to lines without timers, so they aren’t turning off during the day.
Englebart said he’s working with the public works department to fix the problem, so all the lights will be off in the day. The necessary parts have been ordered, so the lights should be working properly by March 21.
The city planned to keep the lights on at night for a few months, but it might become permanent, depending on the cost.
“Our goal is to have a permanent light installation, but right now we’re researching costs to see if that’s a viable option,” Englebart said.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 15:38
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
The Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) is looking to place a sales tax on an upcoming ballot in an effort to bring in $8 billion to fund future projects.
The ACTC is looking to extend Measure B, the half-cent sales tax that was passed originally in 1986, then extended in the year 2000 to run until 2020. Each time, the tax has been extended before it sunsets and the SCTC is now trying to get an extension passed before the next sunset date.
In 2012, they put a measure on the ballot that would have extended the tax indefinitely, but voters shot it down.
The ACTC is going around to various cities in Alameda County asking city councils to endorse the plan before they bring it to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in June, who will decide whether to put it on a ballot.
On Monday night, the San Leandro City Council voted unanimously to support the proposed tax.
The new tax would sunset in 30 years if approved, according to Art Dao, the commission’s executive director.
“The new measure is almost identical to the 2012 measure, but this sunsets,” Dao said.
The 2012 measure lost by less than one percent of the vote. Dao said that polls for the new measure are encouraging. The tax will need to get approval from two-thirds of voters to pass.
“I’m very excited,” said Councilwoman Ursula Reed. “I was very disappointed when it didn’t pass, especially as it was so close.”
Dao told the council that San Leandro would benefit from over $200 million in projects and infrastructure improvements over the life of the tax and that over $100 million of that would be directly controlled by the City Council.
The tax money could be used for freeways, BART, busses and road repairs.
The condition of roads in San Leandro is poor, so much so that the city itself is also considering putting a tax on the ballot to pay for repairs, according to Mayor Stephen Cassidy.
Cassidy also said that the council is considering putting an extension of the Measure Z sales tax on an upcoming ballot. San Leandro has one of the highest sales tax rates in the Bay Area.
Cassidy told the ACTC he was concerned the two measures might compete with each other, splitting voters, which Dao agreed could be a potential problem.
“We should synchronize our messages,” Dao said.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 15:33
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
A young San Leandro woman has been named to the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame after being accepted to an Ivy League college despite missing two years of high school due to illness.
SiLin Huang arrived in America from China in 2002, at age 8. Her family settled into what she calls a “low-income existence” in San Leandro, where she attended public school and did well.
But during her junior year, Huang suffered a mysterious illness. She had severe headaches and stomach problems and was so fatigued that she missed many days of school. She underwent MRIs and other procedures, but doctors never discovered the root of the problem.
Thankfully her health improved despite never getting a diagnosis.
But by the time she had recovered, Huang had missed most of her junior and senior years of high school. She was also 19 and had aged out of conventional high school programming. Instead, she enrolled in Castro Valley Adult School.
Huang completed two years worth of classes in under a year and received her diploma. She said that she felt it was a long-shot, but she applied to and was accepted at Columbia University.
“It was always my dream to go to a four-year university,” said Huang. “Most people from the GED or adult school program go to a community college, but I always wanted to go to a four year school, especially because I’m an only child and the first in my family to go to college.”
Huang is the youth honoree in this years Women’s Hall of Fame. There are twelve inductees this year in categories including science, sports, justice, and culture. The awards ceremony is March 29 at the Greek Orthodox Church in Oakland. Tickets are available on the county’s website www.acgov.org.
In addition to her academic accomplishment, Huang has also started two clubs promoting Hepatitis B awareness at San Leandro and Castro Valley High Schools. She says her two uncles suffer from the the disease, which is prevalent Asian communities.
“Everyone wants to cure cancer, and that is great and important,” said Huang. “But there are these diseases that no one thinks about.”
Huang also volunteers at Stanford Hospital in the transplant and general surgery department.
Huang starts at Columbia in the fall. She says she ultimately wants to get into medicine and will likely major in biology.
She says she also hopes to come back to San Leandro after completing her education.
“I think if you come from a place with fewer opportunities, and you are given a chance, the best thing to do is come back and spread the benefits of the opportunities you’ve had,” said Huang. “I’ve always loved to learn.”
CAPTION: SiLin Huang of San Leandro has been accepted at Columbia University despite missing two years of high school due to an illness.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 15:32
Grading and construction is set to begin next Wednesday at the parking lot at the former Lucky supermarket site, 1550 East 14th St. in downtown San Leandro, the City of San Leandro announced this week.
The parking lot will no longer be available as the property is prepared for the new shopping center, called “The Village,” featuring a CVS pharmacy, Peet’s Coffee, The Habit Burger, AT&T and another tenant yet to be named, scheduled to open in the fall.
The Village is a privately-financed, $10 million development built by Innisfree Ventures II that city leaders say will “energize the core of downtown San Leandro.”
The project also will include a plaza offering outdoor dining and free public WiFi, a fountain, art display panels, granite seat benches, decorative lighting with hanging flower baskets, art-inspired bike racks, decorative paving, and new sidewalks. Trees planted along East 14th Street and decorative grates along street frontages also will add to the attractiveness of the Village.
For more information about this project, contact David Irmer at (415) 332-6250 or