FREMONT

Firefighters battle suspicious fire

Firefighters battled a suspicious fire in the Niles neighborhood of the city early Wednesday that caused $100,000 in damage to an abandoned building, an Alameda County fire official said.

No injuries were reported but the blaze destroyed the two-story, multiunit building at 37231 Mission Blvd.

Crews responded at 4:25 a.m. to the building for a report of a fire, and when they arrived, they found the structure engulfed in flames, said Battalion Chief Rich Dickinson.

Three abandoned vehicles next to the building were also on fire, Dickinson said.

No one was in the building at the time, and no one had been living there.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to get the blaze under control, the chief said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but investigators remained on the scene as of about 8 a.m. as the fire appeared to be suspicious in nature, Dickinson said.

Anyone with information about the cause of the fire is asked to call 510-453-3816.

-- Natalie Neysa Alund, Staff

OAKLAND

Santana turned down for Phoenix job

For the second time in two months, the Oakland city administrator has lost out on a major job opportunity.

Deanna Santana was one of four finalists to become city manager of Phoenix, but on Wednesday, after candidate interviews, the Phoenix City Council voted to give the job to the city's interim manager, Ed Zuercher.

Just over four weeks ago, Santana was one of three finalists for the Dallas city manager job that also went to an in-house candidate.

-- Matthew Artz, Staff

OAKLAND

Man shot near Police Department

A 28-year-old man was injured early Wednesday in a drive-by shooting near police headquarters, authorities said.

He was in critical but stable condition at a hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.

The shooting happened about 1:36 a.m. in the 500 block of Broadway, about a block from the police administration building, not far from Jack London Square.

Police said the man, an Oakland resident, was driving a Toyota Camry in the southbound lanes of Broadway and was about to turn onto an onramp for Interstate 880.

Lt. Brandon Wehrly said another car pulled alongside the man's car and someone began shooting at him, hitting him multiple times.

The suspects then drove onto the freeway and are being sought.

Police said the man was able to get out of his car onto the sidewalk and was being given first aid by passers-by when officers arrived.

Police don't have a motive for the shooting.

Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $5,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the shooter. Anyone with information may call police at 510-2383426 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.

-- Harry Harris, Staff

BERKELEY

Student arrested for apparent hate attack

A 19-year-old student was arrested Tuesday morning after he made homophobic remarks and then punched, kicked and choked his roommate while the two were walking to a UC Berkeley library, police said.

Joseph Michael Donner, 19, was arrested on suspicion of robbery and aggravated assault after he demanded his 19-year-old roommate's cellphone and then accused him of being a homosexual as they two walked to Moffitt Library at 11:50 a.m. Tuesday, police said.

The victim handed over the phone, but when they reached Campbell Hall, Donner ordered his roommate to go into a construction area. When the man refused, Donner started beating him, police said.

Donner then repeatedly punched, kicked and choked the victim, whose name was not released. Police arrested Donner on Tuesday afternoon at his residence. An email sent to Donner for comment was not answered Wednesday.

UC Berkeley police Capt. Stephen Roderick said even though there are isolated incidents of hate speech or vandalism on campus, student-on-student assaults are rare. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the UC Berkeley Police Department at 510-642-6760.

-- Kristin J. Bender, Staff

OAKLAND

Council members seek Prop. 13 reform

A ballot drive to reform Proposition 13's cap on annual property tax increases is still two years away, but the Oakland City Council might join the effort as early as next month.

Four council members are asking the city to endorse a statewide ballot measure in 2016 that would end restrictions on property tax increases for commercial property. Residential property owners would still be covered by the landmark 1978 initiative.

The revision could generate an additional $5 billion in tax proceeds, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.

"We have an incredible opportunity to improve the economic vitality of our communities, our cities and our entire state," Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said. "This kind of tax fairness can help cities like ours improve public safety and create new jobs."

Joining Kaplan in support of the measure are council members Dan Kalb, Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Libby Schaaf.

-- Matthew Artz, Staff

oakland

SPCA will do free spay, neuter surgeries

The East Bay SPCA will perform up to 70 free spay and neuter surgeries Tuesday to commemorate World Spay Day, the annual one-day marathon that promotes these procedures as an effective means of saving animals' lives.

The free spay and neuter surgeries for pit bulls and pit bull mixes, Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes, and cats are available to residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

All spay and neuter surgeries will include free vaccinations and pain medication. Identification microchips can implanted for $10.

The East Bay SPCA is at 410 Hegenberger Road. Qualified residents can register online at https://www.eastbayspca.org/spayday. For more information please call 510-569-0702.

-- Cathie Gatison, Staff

OAKLAND

Investigators probing suspicious fires

Arson investigators are probing a series of suspicious fires that occurred within a four-hour period Tuesday night in East Oakland, including five vehicles that were damaged.

The parked vehicles caught fire between 9:15 p.m. and 11:14 p.m. in the 2400 block of Havenscourt Boulevard; at 65th Avenue and Arthur Street; the 2400 block of 66th Avenue; the 5300 block of Fairfax Avenue; and the 5300 block of Ygnacio Avenue.

All the fires were quickly extinguished, but damage figures were not available. There were no reported injuries.

Two other fires in another part of East Oakland were also deemed suspicious.

One fire was set in a dumpster in the 4200 block of Foothill Boulevard about 7:40 p.m. In the other blaze, which happened at 7:02 p.m., vegetation in the 3800 block of Foothill caught fire, and the flames spreading to a fence. Both fires were quickly extinguished, and no damage figures were available.

Authorities believe the vehicle fires might be related but are not sure if there is any connection between those and the Foothill Boulevard fires.

-- Harry Harris, Staff

hayward

Vouchers for spaying, neutering offered

Animal shelter volunteers are giving away 30 vouchers to cover the cost of spaying and neutering cats Saturday.

The vouchers are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and are only for Hayward residents. They cover the cost of surgery only; veterinarians may charge additional fees.

The giveaway, which starts at 1 p.m., is in honor of World Spay Day. The shelter is at 16 Barnes Court.

-- Rebecca Parr, Staff