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Homes of San Mateo County jurors visited by defendant during trial, prosecutors say

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The homes of two San Mateo County residents who served as jurors in an armed robbery trial last week were allegedly visited by the defendant, leading to a mistrial in the case and additional charges, according to prosecutors.

On Tuesday last week, Rommel Mobo Narvaez, a 24-year-old San Francisco resident, allegedly visited the homes of jurors in Redwood City and Burlingame during his trial, which was related to charges from back in 2013, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe and the Bay City News service.

In one case, a juror’s teenage daughter found Narvaez peeking in the window of the home after she got out of the shower, prosecutors said. In another case, he left a written note at the home “seeking to meet and talk about what she thought of the case,” Wagstaffe told a writer for Bay City News.

“After four days of jury trial, the defendant violated court order by contacting two jurors (an alternate juror and a juror who had been excused,” Wagstaffe said, later telling a BCN writer that jury tampering cases are rare in the county.

A mistrial was declared in the robbery case and new charges were filed of jury tampering, violating a court order and prowling. On Wednesday, he is set to enter a plea on the new charges. The following day, he has a court date to set a new trial date in the robbery case. He remains in custody on no-bail status.

Narvaez gained media attention at the time of his 2013 arrest, when he was shot by police in San Francisco’s Marina district after allegedly pointing a firearm at them. The officer-involved shooting followed an altercation between Narvaez and a man he allegedly tried to rob in the area. Narvaez allegedly met the man through a Craigslist ad to buy an iPhone, then pistol-whipped him and fired his gun — which happened to be loaded with blanks — during the attempted robbery. He is also accused of similar incidents in Daly City in which he lured victims through Craigslist.

SamTrans adjusting several routes, adding service starting June 24

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SamTrans adjusting several routes, adding service starting June 24

Starting Sunday, June 24, SamTrans will adjust several routes and add service. The changes are part of a service review that the transit agency conducts three times a year to respond to traffic impacts, customer travel patterns and other variables like the summer break for schools.

Some changes will impact Redwood City commuters. They include the ECR Rapid line, a complement to the ECR service that will “speed up travel time along El Camino Real by up to 40 minute,” according to the transit agency.

The “Rapid” version will serve 11 stops from the Redwood City Transit Center to Daly City BART, with stops at major intersections and transfer points. The service will be offered weekday mornings and afternoons from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, the frequency of regular ECR service will reduce from every 15 minutes to every 20 minutes during the weekdays, and from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes during weekends. ECR service will be added late-night to between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on weekdays and weekends.

Due to the summer break for schools, school-day only trips will not occur on these routes between June 25 and Aug. 3: 14, 19, 24, 25, 28, 29, 35, 37, 39, 46, 49, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 67, 68, 72, 73, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 88, 95, 110, 112, 120, 130, 140, 141, 250, 251 and 256. School service will start again on Aug. 6.

Between June 19 and July 27, routes 16, 18 and 286 will have summer school-day only service.

New timetables soon will be available on SamTrans buses and at city halls, libraries and at www.samtrans.com. Or you can call 1-800-660-4287 (TTY 650-508-6448).

The next system schedule change will occur Aug. 5, partly to account for the start of the new school year.

Proposal seeks to install information kiosk at Union Cemetery

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Proposal seeks to build information kiosk at Union Cemetery

Visitors to the historic Union Cemetery at El Camino Real And Woodside Road in Redwood City may soon benefit from a bit more guidance, as there are plans to construct an information kiosk at its entrance.

The plan to build the kiosk measuring 10-feet, 2-inches in height and 7-feet, 7 inches in width is set to be discussed at the the city’s Historic Resources Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for this Thursday, 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers at 1017 Middlefield Road.

Any alteration or improvement to an historic resource — including something as minor as an information kiosk — must be reviewed by the HRAC, which will then make a recommendation to the city’s Planning Commission.

Union Cemetery was designated a California State Landmark in 1967, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, and designated a Redwood City Landmark in 1989, according to city documents.

The kiosk would be constructed out of wood and the design would include “ornate architectural detailing underneath the gables” in order to blend in with other cemetery structures.

Caltrain’s Bikes Board First program expanding Monday

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Starting Monday, Caltrain will expand the Bikes Board First program to three additional stations: Sunnyvale and Hillsdale on the northbound platform, and 22nd Street on the southbound platform.

From 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., bicyclists will be able to board first at those locations and are encouraged to board the bike cars at the southern end of the platform, according to the transit agency.

The pilot program began in April at the Redwood City, Mountain View and Palo Alto stations and aims to prevent bicyclists from having to navigate through a crowd of riders blocking an entrance, delaying the boarding process. Since the pilot began, boarding times have reduced, “with some trains shaving more than a minute from their boarding times,” according to Caltrain.

As the pilot program continues, boardings will be timed and compared to the standard boarding process to determine the strategy’s effectiveness.

“Caltrain carries more bikes than any other rail system in the country, so it’s our hope that this will make the riding experience more efficient and get everyone to where they’re going faster,” said Caltrain spokesman Dan Lieberman.”

Peninsula College Fund announces new executive director

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Peninsula College Fund announced this week that Christina Mireles has joined the Fund as its new Executive Director.

Mireles grew up in San Jose, and has been working in education in the Bay Area for the past 15 years, including stints at Escuela Popular, in East San Jose, and as a VP at EdTec.  She also sits on the board at Oxford Day Academy, in East Palo Alto.

Peninsula College Fund (PCF), based here in Redwood City, was created to help local, low-income, first generation college students – succeed in school, graduate and find good work after graduation.

PCF offers its students scholarships (for all four years a student is in school), one-to-one adult mentoring, summer internships (working with employers to offer positions, and students to find a position right for them), and ongoing workshops (to help students with the demands of college-level academics and to deal with everyday college life).

Since opening its doors in 2005,  PCF has provided help to hundreds of students from the high schools it partners with, in Redwood City, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, Belmont and Menlo Park.  Almost 95 percent of the students who participate in the program, have either graduated already, or are on track to get their degree from a four-year college.

You can help support the work of the Peninsula College Fund, and meet Christina Mireles, along with the newest group of PCF scholars (who will be off to college in the fall) at this year’s Annual Awards Day Celebration – Thursday, June 21st.

You can also find out more about the Fund’s work, and how you can get involved (as a mentor or a young scholar) – plus get details about the Celebration on the 21st— at PCF online:  https://www.peninsulacollegefund.org.

Port of Redwood City launches art contest for residents ages 7-8

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The Port of Redwood City announced Wednesday it has launched its inaugural Calendar Art Contest, which calls on city residents ages 7-8 to describe their favorite waterfront memories in art form.

The art contest comes as the approaching summer invites waterfront activities such as sailing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, kite flying, and picnicking, or simply enjoying scenic Peninsula views.

Twelve winning artworks from the “Summertime on the Waterfront” contest — one for each month —  will don a calendar by the Port that will be distributed at PortFest, an annual celebration held the first Saturday of October. Winners will also receive two tickets to Marine Science Institute’s boat harbor tour, art supplies and the calendar, the port said.

The deadline to submit artworks is Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Some rules: Submissions must be made by Redwood City residents ages 7-8; only one entry per person is allowed; an entry form must be completed including parental/guardian consent; artwork must be on a horizontal plain sheet of white 8.5-inch by 11-inch paper; and any coloring medium can be used except digital.

For more information and contest guidelines call the Port of Redwood City at (650) 306-4150 or visit its website at http://www.redwoodcityport.com.

Superintendent of Schools race still too close to call after latest Election update

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Superintendent of Schools race still too close to call after latest Election update

The San Mateo County Elections Office released updated results from the June 5 primary late Thursday afternoon, and some races continue to remain close with potentially 60,000 or more ballots left to be counted, said Jim Irizarry, Assistant Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder & Chief Elections Officer.

The race for San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools is still too close to call between Gary Waddell and Nancy Magee, with Magee trailing by 501 votes.

Also, several local school measures remain close: a Belmont-Redwood Shores School District $118 parcel tax needs two-thirds to pass and it’s at 64.9 percent; a Cabrillo Unified School District bond measure needs 55 percent to pass and it’s at 54; a Jefferson Union High School District bond measure needs 55 percent and it’s at 53.7 percent.

To view all of the updated numbers, visit here.

Ballots are still being counted as many were mailed on Election Day.

“We are picking up ballots from the Postal Service several times a day,” Irizarry said.

The Elections Office will release its next update on results on Tuesday.

For more analysis on the June 5 election, read columnist Mark Simon’s piece from yesterday here.

Person wounded in North Fair Oaks shooting

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Person wounded in North Fair Oaks shooting

A person was injured Wednesday in a shooting in the 2700 block of Westmoreland Ave. in the North Fair Oaks area, according to the San Mateo County

The incident occurred about 9:20 p.m. and the victim suffered non-life-threatening wounds.

The incident is under investigation.

“We do not have any suspect leads or information at this time,” the sheriff’s office said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Det. Boragno at (650) 363-4064 or to call the anonymous tip line at 1 (800) 547-2700.

Police warn about ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam in Redwood City area

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Redwood City police deploying pedestrian safety campaign in September

Police are warning about a new scam targeting the Redwood City area called “Virtual Kidnapping” — when strangers call to say they have kidnapped your loved one for ransom.

The Redwood City Police Department published a blog post Thursday providing tips to educate residents about this scam. Residents receiving such calls should question why the calls aren’t coming from the supposed victim’s phone, for example, and be wary of demands to send money via wire transfer to foreign countries.

“In most cases, the best course of action is to hang up the phone,” according to police. “If you do engage the caller, don’t call out your loved one’s name. Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to your family member directly. Ask, ‘How do I know my loved one is okay?’ Ask questions only the alleged kidnap victim would know, such as the name of a pet. Avoid sharing information about yourself or your family.”

Check out more tips in the blog post.

5K race for education to kick off Redwood City 4th of July parade

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Community members are encouraged to race for education by participating in the RC.ParadeRun 5K, which kicks off Redwood City’s 4th of July Parade and runs along the parade route.

Proceeds from the 5K run benefit the Redwood City Education Foundation, which raises funds for students in the Redwood City School District.

The run is $45 for adults and $35 for youth under age 17 through July 3, and then $50 for adults and $40 for youth on race day.

The family-friendly 5K race is open to runners, walkers, and strollers of all ages and abilities. No dogs allowed and kids under age 10 must run with a registered adult.

To sign up, go here.

Photo from the parade route from the RC.ParadeRun site.

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