Tesla buys land for test track in Fremont

Story by colleague George Avalos:

FREMONT — Tesla Motors (TSLA) has gobbled up a 35-acre site in Fremont near its automotive factory, apparently to build a test track for its all-electric automobiles.

“The land is attached to the Tesla factory property,” said Shanna Hendriks, a spokeswoman for Tesla. “We will use it as we expand our use of the facilities.”

Although Tesla didn’t provide details about precisely how the land would be used, analysts say it would allow the company to expand an old test track that was built when General Motors and Toyota made cars and pickups there.

“It’s a really good idea for Tesla to take over the test track,” said Theodore O’Neill, an analyst with Litchfield Hills Research, an investment firm. “Having a big test track will improve the ability of engineers to work out the kinks in new vehicles.”

Tesla bought the land Wednesday, Alameda County property records show. The seller was Union Pacific Railroad. Terms weren’t disclosed.

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Mowry’s Landing School graduate, now 100, wants to save historic Newark building

NEWARK — NewPark Mall is surrounded by a parking lot, Interstate 880 and auto dealers, but Emiline Rose’s vision of the area is quite different.

What Rose, a 100-year-old Fremont resident, sees there is an avalanche of memories, going as far back as 1918. She was 5 then, and starting her lessons at Mowry’s Landing School, which stood next to the mall’s future location.

Nearly a century later, Rose is upset that Newark officials say prohibitive restoration costs might force them to demolish the one-room schoolhouse, despite its historical significance.

“It’s our history, and there’s no appreciation for it; that’s what drives you crazy,” Rose said, tears glistening behind her eyeglasses. “Why doesn’t Newark keep it, for at least a while?”

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Contrasting Newark camera ticket rulings leave legal clarity in the middle of the road

NEWARK — A traffic court on Wednesday ruled that the city of Newark properly notified motorists before installing red-light cameras seven years ago, contrasting a June decision on the same issue, leaving Tri-City motorists and camera opponents in a legal gray area.

Fremont traffic court Commissioner Sue Alexander upheld a ticket issued to a motorist by an automated red-light camera at the intersection of Cedar Boulevard and Mowry Avenue, rejecting the motorist’s argument that Newark officials had not properly notified the community about the camera’s 2006 installation. Newark officials are hopeful the decision puts the matter to rest, while disappointed anti-camera activists say they are turning to the legislature, hoping a proposed bill, AB 612, will become law and reduce the number of tickets issued.

“(The bill) calls for extending yellow-light times for another second,” said camera opponent Roger Jones, of Fremont. “It will put a dent in the income these red-light cameras generate.”

The conflict began last month, when Fremont traffic court Commissioner Karen Rodrigue tossed out a Newark red-light ticket involving motorist Keisha Dunleavy, saying the city did not properly notify the community of a red-light camera installed at Cedar and Mowry in 2006.

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Porn video of BART train sex tests agency’s new anti-indecency law

Well, this is one way to get back at BART for the recent strike. And, yes, the video indeed can be found on YouTube.

Story by colleague Mike Rosenberg:

An amateur pornography video shot on a moving BART train has quickly gone viral, placing a quick and high-profile test on the agency’s new law designed to root out unruly and indecent passengers.

Since being uploaded to the Web on Thursday, the one-minute cellphone video has been flying around social media and has already attracted more than 800,000 views — or four times the number of people who ride BART around the Bay Area each day.

The video shows a man and woman engaging in sexual intercourse in the back of a BART train while the train travels through a tunnel. A passenger across the aisle apparently used his cellphone to film the incident.

“Lewd activity is not only highly inappropriate on BART, it is illegal. It can and will get you banned from the entire system,” BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Friday. “Do yourself and the families who ride BART a favor and keep it in the bedroom.”

The video comes just two months after BART began enforcing a highly publicized new state law that gives the agency power to permanently or temporarily ban riders caught in a range of infractions, varying from assault to urinating on board.

Luna Salaver, a BART spokeswoman, said the rail line’s police force is reviewing the video.


Community meetings to be held about AC Transit service changes

An announcement from AC Transit this AM:

AC Transit is proposing changes to its service  in central and south Alameda County. In July, there will be three opportunities for the public to give comment on the changes,  including a public hearing on July 31.  At this public hearing, the Board will also receive comments on previously implemented changes in downtown Hayward, and on the environmental document associated with these changes.

Community Meeting
Tuesday, July 16, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Newark City Hall Council Chambers, 6th Fl.
37101 Newark Blvd., Newark

Community Meeting
Thursday, July 18, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Hayward City Hall, Room 2A
777 B Street, Hayward

Public Hearing
Wednesday, July 31, 5 p.m.
Hayward City Hall Council Chambers, 2nd Fl.
777 B Street, Hayward

Public comments on the Plan may be submitted by Monday, July 29 at 5:00 p.m. – by email, phone, fax, or mail. Attendees of either the July 16 or July 18 community meeting or July 31 public hearing may also submit comments at these events.


Fremont Police Blotter — Wednesday, July 10

#007 Non-Injury Collision

Country and Paseo Padre, investigated by Ofc Kennedy.

#021 Injury Accident

Mission and Niles, investigated by Ofc Spear.

#024 Non-Injury Collision

Adobe and Nicolet. Investigated by Ofc Candler.

#034 Injury Collision

Grimmer and Broadmoor. vehicle vs. pedestrian. Investigated by Ofc Huiskens.

#016 Possession of Dangerous Drugs

Ofc. Sanders responded to an address on Glenwood St. and arrested a 41 year old adult male, Fremont resident, for possession of dangerous drugs.

#002 Resisting Arrest

At approximately 8:10 a.m. officers responded to a disturbance between two females at an address on Pickering Ave.  Contact was made with the two females.  One of the females, a 59 year old adult female did not want to let police in to check on the welfare of the second female who had called for help.  She told officers to go away and refused to open the door until officers said they would have to kick it in.  She complied, but put her hands up still refusing to allow them to make entry.  The second female was in the background telling officers she had called and needed help.  Officers detained the 59 year old adult female and she became combative with officers.  She was ultimately arrested for resisting arrest.  Officers sustained scratches and bruises during the altercation.

#029 Warrant Arrest

During a warrant service at 4400 Central Ave, a 34 year old adult female was arrested for her outstanding warrant.

#031 Meth Pipe Possession and Suspended License Arrest

During a traffic stop at Decoto/Cabrillo, a 33 year old adult male was arrested and booked.

#032 Public Intoxication

At approximately 8:40 p.m., Ofc. S. Hunt found a 46 year old adult male drunk and disorderly near the Bally’s fitness at the Brookvale Center.  He was arrested and booked at Santa Rita Jail.

#037 Possession of Burglary Tools and Marijuana Arrest

Ofcr Austin was dispatched to a suspicious person call in the area of Boone and Wheeler.  The reporting party stated that the unknown male was looking through the windows of a black SUV.  Officers make a pedestrian stop and arrest a 53 year old adult male, Fremont resident, for possession of burglary tools (spring assisted switch blade knife, bolt cutters, screw driver, etc.), over a pound of marijuana and multiple outstanding warrants.


Newark: Boy, 5, and mother on bikes injured in collision with SUV

From colleague Rick Hurd:

NEWARK — A 5-year-old boy suffered serious injuries and his mother also was hurt when a sport utility vehicle knocked them off their bikes Wednesday night, police said.

An SUV traveling north on Newark Boulevard collided with the boy and the woman in the crosswalk at Ruschin Drive, at about 8: 07 p.m., Newark police Sgt. Manuel DeSerpa said. The boy was under the SUV after the collision, but a bystander pulled him out and gave him first aid, DeSerpa said.

The boy and his mother were taken to a hospital trauma center, DeSerpa said, and remained hospitalized Thursday morning. It was not known if the boy’s injuries were considered life- threatening. The mother’s injuries were moderate, DeSerpa said.

The boy’s father also was on the ride but was not injured, DeSerpa said.

The driver of the SUV, a 72-year-old woman, cooperated with police, and DeSerpa said alcohol and drugs are not considered to be a factor.


Four men robbed at gunpoint in two same-day Union City attacks

From colleague Natalie Alund:

UNION CITY — Four men were robbed at gunpoint in two separate attacks on Monday night as the walked along city streets, police said.

No one was injured in either incident.

Officers responded to the first armed robbery at 10:44 p.m. after the victim dialed 911 to report he’d been robbed while walking on Flagstone Drive, said Cmdr. Ben Horner.

The victim told police he was approached by a suspect who pointed a handgun at him and demanded his personal property. The victim handed over his backpack and cell phone and the suspect ran off, Horner said.

Police described that suspect as a black man, ages 20-25, about 5-foot-11, with a thin build and carrying a handgun.

About one hour later, at 11:40, three men got out of a vehicle near 4190 Gemini Drive and were approached by two suspects as they walked away from the vehicle, Horner said.

The suspects demanded money and threatened to shoot one of the victims, ages 25-29, when he did not respond to their demands, Horner said.

The suspects ran away after taking cell phones and cash, Horner said.

Police said those suspects were described as men about 20 years old, between 5-foot-7 and 6 feet tall, each with thin builds. One of the suspects held a black semi-automatic firearm during the robbery.

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WXYZ Lounge spells out new hip, glamorous vibe for Newark

NEWARK — If you are a mysterious tech firm spy or having a steamy illicit affair — or both — then the WXYZ Lounge should be your next meeting place.

Relax, I’m not saying I’ve seen either nefarious activity at the hip but comfortable bar, which recently reopened on the ground floor of the Aloft Silicon Valley hotel. But scenes from a glossy Hollywood film about such a tangled, steamy web would fit perfectly in this roomy, inviting watering hole on the western edge of Newark.

It looks like a big-budget movie set, for one, and what other Tri-City-area hot spot can say that?

The bar space was smaller and darker when it was part of the W Hotel. But late last year, Triyar Hospitality purchased the hotel and bar and gave them a face-lift. The bar was given a new name and a multimillion-dollar renovation before reopening in March.

The space, which was always pleasant and welcoming, received a face-lift that kept the alluring vibe but added more than a dash of glamour. Lounge seating was added, as were several dining tables and chairs. Now, three flat-screen TVs face patrons at the long bar, which has 17 seats — more than double the previous figure. Soft techno music and obscure R&B tunes played softly on the speakers, slicing up hipness and practically serving it on a tray.

“We’ve opened the space up a little bit and given it a more modern look and feel,” said Ben Malmquist, the hotel’s general manager.

The hotel, which offers 172 spacious loft-like rooms, is in an out-of-the-way — almost rural — location. But that only adds to its intrigue. It’s on the western edge of town, tucked between the hiking trails of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge and the Pacific Research Center, a 1.4 million-square-foot office park that houses Logitech and other Silicon Valley companies.

I stopped by the bar one recent evening, as a dozen tech employees rolled in for either a nightcap or just a dinner-and-drinks break amid a very long workday. The eye-catching hotel lobby has a multicolored stock ticker for business travelers — the hotel’s bread and butter — to eyeball as they head to their next meeting.

A huge TV screen divided into four panels hung on the lobby wall, showing a beachside sunset with occasional stop-motion video. It was the kind of thing a pre-rehab Dennis Hopper might have spent hours staring at. I was instantly impressed with the upscale bar’s new decor, featuring long dinner tables, armless chairs, circular ottomans, and cushioned booths built into the back wall, most of which were covered with brightly colored pillows. (To be fair, the idea of a poorly dressed, ink-stained, middle-aged slob like myself judging anyone’s decorating choices is a joke in search of a punch line.)

Its clientele was predominantly men, most of whom were clad in golf shirts and jeans or khakis. There also were a few women, giving us a glimpse, perhaps, of the next Marissa Mayer or Meg Whitman. As noted techie Frank Sinatra once said: “I like intelligent women. When you go out, it shouldn’t be a staring contest.”

One 30-something man sat alone with his laptop at the bar, listening to music through ear buds, bobbing his head while staring at spreadsheets. Leave the office for a good time? At the WXYZ Lounge, they’re bringing the office to the fun.

Aloft Silicon Valley is just a few minutes from the Dumbarton Bridge, which connects Fremont/Newark with Menlo Park, the home of Facebook. That means any Aloft guest can drive to the famous tech campus, give a presentation, and be back at the hotel bar within an hour, sipping appletinis and bragging to the boss via Skype of how he wowed Zuck in the conference room.

“This being Silicon Valley, there are a lot of people connected to work here, but they can also entertain and enjoy a meal,” Malmquist said. “We’re kind of a blend of all those things: You can be productive but enjoy yourself while doing it, and not feel you’re in the rat race, so to speak.”

Bartender Miguel Garcia, of Union City, delivered an old-school, unpretentious East Bay vibe, greeting each guest warmly and making a point to remember their names. On one end of the bar, Garcia patiently answered one guest’s many questions about the cocktail menu. On the other end, he offered a list of wine and beer to a young couple.

“A vodka list would be great,” a customer said, chuckling.

Next to the bar is Plus, a restaurant featuring a menu of healthy choices and local ingredients, ranging from salads and edamame to dish

es with long-winded names like “Grilled Sustainable Scottish Salmon” and “Snake River Farms Kobe Beef Sliders.”

The menu isn’t inexpensive. But by mid-July, WXYZ Lounge will offer a happy hour with a wider range of prices, Malmquist said. Happy hour will be from 4 to 6 p.m. nightly, featuring beer, wine and signature cocktails for $5, as well as $5 food dishes.

As I got ready to go, I nursed the last bit of a Stella Artois and thought, “Good for Newark.”

This proud town of 42,500 good folks could use a splash of glamour, a touch of tony swagger. And Aloft Silicon Valley, along with its restaurant and bar, deliver that and then some.

Out & About is a monthly column that highlights the wildly underrated entertainment scene in the Tri-City and greater Hayward areas.


New Haven Unified sells former school site in Union City for $14 million

UNION CITY — New Haven Unified has sold a former school property for more than $14 million, bolstering the district’s coffers and illustrating further that the region’s once-dormant real estate market is rebounding.

The five-member board of education approved the deal June 18, after it was brokered by Dutra-Cerro-Graden, a Hayward real estate firm.

Pulte Homes agreed to purchase the eight-acre property that once housed Cabello Elementary School, paying a price well above initial estimates of $10 million. The Michigan-based developer plans to build 46 single-family residences on the parcel at 4500 Cabello St., near Regents Boulevard, officials said.

The site’s size originally was nine acres, but the school district donated about an acre to Union City, said Dominic Dutra, CEO of Dutra-Cerro-Graden. That extra acre will create a buffer between the planned housing and Veterans Park, an adjacent recreation area offering picnic benches, tennis courts and sports fields.