Lafayette

Acalanes district eyes 42% property tax hike

The Acalanes school district on Tuesday will consider reneging on a 6-year-old promise made to voters that their tax rates would not rise when they approved $93 million in construction bonds under Measure E.

Trustees could disregard their own ballot language from that 2008 measure by issuing $25 million remaining from the bond measure and increasing the tax rate by 42 percent -- from $35.58 per $100,000 in assessed valuation to $52.

Property taxes on a home assessed at $500,000 would jump from about $178 a year to $260 annually, an increase of $82.

To determine the legality of this decision, the board may also vote to pursue a "validation action" in Contra Costa Superior Court.

If no one contests the action, the district can sell the bonds and increase the tax rate.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the district office community room at 1212 Pleasant Hill Road.

More information is available by calling 925-280-3902 or by visiting www.acalanes.k12.ca.us. Click on "Governing Board," under District, then select the June 24 agenda.

-- Theresa Harrington, Staff

DUBLIN

Officials urge care as fireworks sales begin

City officials warned buyers of "safe and sane" fireworks to be extra careful this dry year not to start wildfires.

Dublin allows community groups to sell fireworks at 16 fundraising booths from noon Saturday through July 4, in contrast to most Bay Area cities that ban the sale and use of fireworks.

Dublin police and firefighters say they will have extra patrols this year to crack down on illegal fireworks or improper use of safe and sane ones, which do not explode or fly through the air.

Dublin allows the legal fireworks to be set off between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on July 4 at four city parks. They are Alamo Creek Park on Dougherty Road, Dublin Sports Grounds on Dublin Boulevard, Emerald Glen Park on Tassajara Road and Shannon Park on San Ramon Valley Road.

Homeowners can set off the fireworks on their own private property, however, they should only be lit in safe areas away from buildings, dry vegetation and other combustibles. A water source such as fire extinguisher or water hose should be kept nearby.

-- Denis Cuff, Staff

Walnut Creek

Driver crashes after fleeing DUI checkpoint

A vehicle that drove through a sobriety checkpoint over the weekend later crashed on a freeway, but the driver was not caught, police said.

After driving through the checkpoint on Lawrence Way, the car fled onto northbound Interstate 680. Walnut Creek police contacted the California Highway Patrol, which located the vehicle after it had crashed on the freeway near Pleasant Hill, police said.

The driver fled and was not found, police said.

Walnut Creek police arrested five people on suspicion of driving under the influence during the DUI checkpoint between 9 p.m. Friday and 2 a.m. Saturday.

Five other adults were cited for being unlicensed, and a sixth was cited for driving with a suspended license, police said.

In all, 1,002 vehicles stopped at the checkpoint, police said.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff

Orinda

Three escape when hillside home burns

Three people escaped a blaze Monday morning that partially collapsed a two-story house in the Orinda hills, fire officials said.

The one-alarm blaze at the house on Tarry Lane began just after 6:40 a.m., Moraga-Orinda Fire District spokesman Dennis Rein said.

A resident sleeping downstairs awoke to the smell of smoke and saw flames coming through the outside deck.

The resident rushed upstairs and woke the other two occupants, and all three escaped before part of the house collapsed, Rein said. A father, his adult daughter and another adult male lived in the home.

Crews were unable to get inside the house because of the thick brush in the area and because of the danger of further collapse, Rein said.

Crews knocked down the blaze within an hour.

Fire investigators have not determined what caused the fire but said the blaze began outside the home near the deck.

The residents had been doing maintenance on the property in preparation to sell it, but it was not known if that work was linked to the fire, Rein said.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff

SAN LEANDRO

Auto theft suspect held after chase, crash

A Richmond man who tried to elude police after they found him driving a stolen car was arrested after crashing into a railroad crossing arm, police said Monday.

The chase and subsequent arrest began at 5:15 p.m. Sunday when a San Leandro patrol car passed a Honda Accord on Alvarado Street near Williams Street that had been reported stolen in Newark.

The driver, a 31-year-old Richmond man whose name was not released, pulled over near the San Leandro BART station, but he sped off as soon as the officer left his car, striking the rail crossing arms and shearing them off.

Police caught up to the driver and he was taken to Santa Rita Jail.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff

Oakland

Two convicted for fatally shooting boy, 3

Two reputed gang members were convicted Monday of first-degree murder and other charges for a shooting in East Oakland three years ago that claimed the life of a 3-year-old boy.

Jurors deliberated one day before reaching their verdicts against Lawrence Denard, 29, and Willie Torrence, 25, for the shooting that killed 3-year-old Carlos Nava in the 6400 block of International Boulevard about 1:10 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2011.

The verdicts were reached on Friday but were not announced until Monday, when 11 bailiffs were present to guard the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner.

Deputy District Attorney Ben Beltramo told jurors during the six-week-long trial that Denard, the gunman, and Torrence, the driver, carried out the shooting in order to promote their gang and were targeting two members of a rival gang, Robert Hudson and Jerome Williams.

Hudson and Williams were wounded in the shooting but survived. However, one of the stray bullets struck and killed Carlos, who was with his mother and older brother as they shopped in the neighborhood.

In addition to first-degree murder, Denard and Torrence were convicted of two counts of premeditated and deliberate attempted murder, two counts of discharging a gun from a vehicle, being ex-felons in possession of a gun and multiple clauses of acting to benefit a criminal street gang.

Denard and Torrence both face life in prison when they are sentenced by Horner on July 22.

-- Staff and wire reports

Contra Costa

Sheriff: Impostor runs telephone scam

Authorities are warning the public about a man pretending to be from the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office who has been calling residents and trying to scam them out of money.

Several residents on Monday reported receiving phone calls from the suspect, a sheriff's spokesman said.

The caller, who claims to be with the sheriff's office, tells residents they have an outstanding traffic violation or warrant for their arrest, have failed to appear to jury duty or for a court case, and if they do not pay fines and fees they will be arrested.

The caller then instructs residents to pay over the phone with a reloadable prepaid card and gives out phone numbers belonging to the sheriff's office, authorities said.

The sheriff's office does not collect fines or fees through reloadable prepaid cards.

Anyone who receives such a call should hang up and contact the local law enforcement agency to report the incident, the sheriff's office said.

-- David DeBolt, Staff

San Leandro

Man collapses, dies after Las Vegas rave

A 24-year-old San Leandro man died after collapsing at a Las Vegas rave last weekend, authorities said.

Montgomery Tsang collapsed at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway about 5:25 a.m. Saturday during the Electric Daisy Carnival, said Clark County Deputy Fire Chief John Steinbeck.

Fellow ravers were performing CPR on Tsang when firefighters arrived, Steinbeck said.

He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:12 a.m., according to the coroner's office. His cause of death has not been determined.

The three-day music festival featured DJs from around the world, with performances from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

-- David DeBolt, Staff