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Shoplifter pleads no contest to threatening security at San Carlos Home Depot

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Shoplifter pleads no contest after threatening security at San Carlos Home Depot

A Redwood City man who threatened San Carlos Home Depot employees with a pocket knife after being caught shoplifting — then dropped his U.S. passport, Oregon birth certificate and cellphone during his getaway — pleaded no contest Monday to felony  attempted criminal threats, prosecutors said.

The no contest plea came on the condition that Eric David Mills serves no more than 16 months of incarceration, prosecutors said.

The items that Mills dropped during his getaway on May 10 helped San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies track him down. A week later, an officers spotted Mills in a car on 5th Avenue in Redwood City, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. The car was stopped and Mills was arrested.

Prosecutors said the day of the crime, Mills had picked up $672.57 worth of tools and then walked out of the Home Depot at 1125 Old County Rd. Two loss prevention officers ordered him to stop and chased after him. Mills tried to run but eventually turned, dropped his tools and took a fighting stance before running off to his car parked in the store’s lot, prosecutors said. At the car, he pulled out a pocket knife and threatened the loss prevention officers.

Mills had faced a three strikes prosecution due to residential burglaries committed in 2002 and 2016.

But in an agreement with prosecutors, he pleaded no contest to felony attempted threats, admitted to the serious felony allegation and admitted the prior felony strike conviction.

His sentencing is expected to occur this morning.

Resolution sets standards for lactation rooms in new county buildings

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Resolution would require lactation rooms in new county buildings

Worksite lactation rooms will be required in all new San Mateo County-owned buildings in which employees will work as part of a resolution approved by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

Providing private, convenient space and time for nursing workers is already required under California labor codes, but the county resolution requires amenities that exceed state standards. 

The existing California labor codes require all employers to “make reasonable efforts to provide break time to nursing employees.. in a location that is private, not a toilet stall and is in close proximity to the employee’s work area,” the county says.

“In order to further promote the healthy practice of breastfeeding and to enable nursing county employees to do so, all county maintained buildings and future county maintained buildings should include lactation rooms with features and amenities such as access to electricity outlets, sinks, refrigeration, locks, a chair or sofa and a permanent sign outside the lactation room to indicate its location and whether it is currently in use by a nursing employee,” according to the proposed resolution.

Already, the County of San Mateo’s Human Resources Department has exceeded the state mandate for worksite lactation rooms. Through its Employee Wellness Program, 32 county worksites have a lactation room, with 19 designated solely for that purpose, the county said. Read more about the Worksite Lactation Program here.

The resolution points to the important health benefits of breastfeeding as cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Breastfeeding has benefits for both mother and child, decreasing “risks in obesity, childhood infections and breast and ovarian cancers,” it states.To view the agenda for Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, go here.

Officer-involved shooting in Redwood City

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Officer-involved shooting in Redwood City

A 33-year-old man attempting to commit suicide was fatally shot by Redwood City police at a home in the 400 block of Lincoln Avenue about 8:50 a.m. Monday, police said.

The incident occurred after police responded to a call about an attempted suicide in progress. A woman called 911 frantically requesting help and reporting that her husband was trying to cut his throat and wrists, police said.

Multiple officers armed with less-lethal weapons responded to 450 Lincoln Ave. They encountered a female in the front yard covered in blood. She directed officers to the back yard. Officers heading in that direction encountered the 33-year-old man, identified as Palo Alto teacher Kyle Hart, in the side yard armed with a butcher knife, police said.

The two initial arriving officers, both trained in Crisis Intervention Techniques, attempted to get Hart to drop the knife, but he refused and began running at the officers, police said.

One officer tried to use a TASER on him, but it wasn’t successful, police said.

“The other officer on scene, a 20 year veteran, was left with no choice but to utilize a firearm to stop the male from advancing,” police said.

‪Per protocol during officer-involved shootings, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office will conduct an investigation. Anyone with information on this incident are asked to call‬ (650)363 4636.‬

Redwood City firefighters battle blaze at tire shop

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The Redwood City Fire Department were battling a blaze at an tire shop early this morning.

The one-alarm fire was reported at Beltran Tire Service at 35 Hazel St. about 4:40 a.m.

The fire is being investigated as suspicious, officials said.

At about 5 a.m., Redwood City police advised residents to avoid El Camino Real south of Woodside due to the fire, recommending alternative routes to get where they need to go.

Further information wasn’t immediately available.

Redwood City firefighters battle small blaze in multi-unit building

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The Redwood City Fire Department battled a small fire in a data room on the fifth floor of a seven-story apartment building at 201 Marshall St. this morning, the city said.

Batteries burning in the data room prompted the fire response about 9:35 a.m., fire officials said. The blaze was quickly extinguished and officials remained on scene to check for any extension of the fire and to remove smoke for the building’s residents, the city said.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

Photo courtesy of the Redwood City Fire Department

Learn to make native California holiday wreaths at Redwood City Library

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Learn to make native California holiday wreaths at Redwood City Library

Why shop for a gorgeous holiday wreath when you can learn to make one from native plants?

On Thursday, Dec. 13, the California Native Plant Society is hosting the event, “Making a California Native Holiday Wreath,” in the downtown community room at Redwood City Library, 1044 Middlefield Road.

The event, which runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., is sponsored in part by the Friends of the Redwood City Public Library.

Port of Redwood City awarded nearly $8M for dredging project

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Port of Redwood City awarded nearly $8M for dredging project

The Port of Redwood City has been awarded nearly $8 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to advance a dredging project at the port.

Dredging is the practice of excavating underwater to allow adequate room for cargo ships to transport goods to and from the Port of Redwood City, the only deep-water port in the South Bay. It is important to the Port and region’s economic vitality, Port officials said in a statement Thursday.

“The funding of the channel dredging and federal investment into our region is great news for the Port of Redwood City, providing certainty that the Port continues to secure and expand maritime activities in the future,” Lorianna Kastrop, Port Commission chair, said in the statement.

Dredging “also supports personal water recreation use in and around the Redwood Creek Channel,” Kastrop added.  

“We thank the United States Army Corps of Engineers and our Congressional delegation, including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and Congresswoman Jackie Speier, for their continued leadership and focus on the Port’s strategic long-term priorities to help further our position as a leading west-coast foreign trade agency,” she said.  

The Port said it recently recorded its best year in history, generating $8.6million in revenue and over 2.3 million metric tons of cargo moving across the Port docks.

Redwood City couple sued for illegally renting out affordable housing unit in San Francisco

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Redwood City couple sued for illegally renting out affordable housing unit in San Francisco

A Redwood City couple is accused of unlawfully renting out an affordable housing unit in San Francisco as they lived in a $2.8 million home in Redwood City’s Emerald Hills neighborhood, according to a lawsuit filed by the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.

Today, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced he’s filed the lawsuit against the investment advisors amid a broader series of investigations into affordable housing fraud in his city.

In 1999, according to the lawsuit, Caroline Novak lied on her initial application to obtain the below market unit at 300 Beale Street #316. She purchased the unit as part of the San Francisco Inclusionary Affordable Housing Program, which requires developers to set aside a certain number of units to be sold to low or middle-income households at below market rates. Such programs aim to provide housing options for residents of all incomes in an expensive city.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must qualify as low or moderate income, be a first-time homebuyer, and occupy the property as their primary residence, meaning they could not rent it out without the city’s approval.

The lawsuit said Novak falsely claimed on her application that she did not already own real property, when in fact she had a home in San Mateo.

After paying $178,500 for the unit, Novak, along with her husband Igor Lotsvin, allegedly rented out the studio, leveraging the unit as security for over $1.5 million in loans and lines of credit to build their own personal wealth, according to the City Attorney’s Office. Since 2015, the couple have kept the unit while living in their Emerald Hills home.

“It’s unconscionable that this couple would cheat an eligible San Franciscan out of an affordable home, just so they can keep an investment property and a pied-à-terre,” Herrera said in a statement. “Those days are over.”

Herrera is requesting a court order preventing the couple from owning the unit and requiring them to sell the property to a qualified owner. He is also seeking “civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation of the state’s unfair competition law and up to $1,000 per violation of the Planning Code, including every day they owned the unit, among other relief,” the City Attorney’s Office said.

It’s the 22nd case thus far linked to Herrera’s investigation into affordable housing fraud in San Francisco.

Photo of City Attorney Dennis Herrera courtesy of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.

SamTrans board approves express bus feasibility study

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SamTrans board approves express bus feasibility study

SamTrans became a step closer this week to re-installing express bus routes, which were discontinued in 2009 due to recession-era budget cuts.

The transit agency’s plan to reintroduce express buses to lighten freeway traffic in San Mateo County took a step forward Wednesday after the SamTrans Board of Directors approved a feasibility study.

The approved Express Bus Feasibility Study, which was funded by SamTrans, Caltrans District 4 and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, includes six recommended routes expected to be phased in over the next few years.

Two routes, set to launch as a pilot program in summer 2019 depending on funding and resources, would run between Foster City and downtown San Francisco along Highway 101 and between Palo Alto and the west side of San Francisco via Daly City on Highway 280 (see the map of routes below).

Another two routes, set to complement the 101 Managed Lanes Project, is planned for launch in 2022, while the final two routes are aimed for implementation in 2023 or sooner, the transit agency said.

SamTrans will use $15 million in state funds to launch the express bus pilot program. The annual cost of operating each route as designed in the study ranges from $2 to $4 million, the agency said.

“The six goals of the study were to provide additional mobility options for regional trips, increase the share of people using transit along the Highway 101 corridor, develop a cost-effective service, improve transportation equity, enhance access to jobs and population centers and support sustainable land use and transportation policies,” the transit agency said in its statement.

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