San Francisco sells record million-dollar homes
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A research firm says a record number of million-dollar homes were sold in the San Francisco Bay Area during the second quarter, another sign that affording a place to live is a growing challenge for anyone who isn't tied to the technology economy.
CoreLogic DataQuick said Thursday that more than 5,700 homes sold for at least $1 million from April through June, the highest since the Irvine, California-based firm began collecting data in 1988. More than 1,100 homes sold for at least $2 million in the nine-county region, also a record.
Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and the city of San Francisco set records for million-dollar sales. Prices are highest in San Francisco, where the median sales price hit $1 million last month.
Candidate lives as homeless person for a week
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California's Republican candidate for governor says he spent a week living as a homeless person in search of a job to test Gov. Jerry Brown's claim that the state is making a comeback after the economic downturn.
In an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, Neel Kashkari says he took a bus from Los Angeles to Fresno earlier this month with $40 in his pocket. He says he turned to park benches and parking lots to sleep at night and got food at a homeless shelter.
The 41-year-old Kashkari says he was unable to find a job. He accuses the state's politicians of ignoring the poor.
A recent poll shows Kashkari, a former banker and U.S. Treasury official, trailing Brown by 19 points. The race has so far generated only sporadic public interest.
Fire eases as it approaches Yosemite sequoias
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) - Yosemite National Park officials say the section of a wildfire burning two miles from a grove of treasured giant sequoia groves has died down, though it is closer to the grove than initially estimated.
Park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said Thursday the fire is near Merced Grove, which has about 20 to 30 mature sequoias.
She says the grove is not under any imminent threat.
Earlier estimates put the distance at 10 miles. Still, Cobb said the fire did not get any closer to the grove overnight, and the section near the grove has become less active.
The fire has burned 6 1/4 square miles and is 34 percent contained. About 50 homes remain evacuated.
SAN FRANCISCO CHINATOWN CRIME
State senator pleads not guilty to racketeering
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A California state senator previously charged with bribery has pleaded not guilty to a new charge of racketeering.
State Sen. Leland Yee also pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of accepting and soliciting bribes in exchange for help in Sacramento. The counts were included in a new indictment issued last week.
It also alleges that the San Francisco Democrat offered to help pass legislation making it harder for professional football players to obtain workers compensation in California, in exchange for campaign contributions from an unidentified NFL owner.
The new racketeering charge accuses Yee of orchestrating a wide-range of criminal activity. The indictment also includes corruption charges previously denied by Yee.
The California Senate has suspended Yee but he continues to get paid. He could face 20 years in prison if convicted.
California ex-mayor sentenced in corruption case
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A former mayor of the scandal-ridden city of Bell has been sentenced to serve a year in Los Angeles County jail and five years of probation.
Oscar Hernandez was ordered Thursday to pay $241,000 in restitution to the city that was driven close to bankruptcy by a scheme to vastly inflate official salaries.
Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy also ordered Hernandez to perform 1,000 hours of community service, but she suspended a four-year prison term.
Kennedy said the former official never should have even run for office since he couldn't read English and wound up rubber-stamping documents for a corrupt city manager.
Hernandez is the latest in a series of former officials of the small, blue-collar city to be sentenced for corruption-related offenses involving misappropriation of funds.
CALIFORNIA DROUGHT-CENTER DONATION
$500K donation to assure water for center
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) - A home for developmentally disabled adults hit hard by California's drought will remain open thanks to a $500,000 donation designed to keep its water flowing.
Officials with the Annenberg Foundation said Wednesday that they decided to make the donation after reading about the water crisis at the Los Angeles Residential Community, known as LARC Ranch.
The Los Angeles Times reports the aquifer beneath the Santa Clarita-area facility is empty and its wells have run dry. LARC has resorted to trucking in water.
Annenberg's donation will ensure that LARC has sufficient access to water while a permanent solution is reached.
LARC Ranch, founded in 1959, serves 103 full-time residents on its 65-acre campus, as well as 80 day-program clients.
California company recalls food on botulism fears
An Orange County packaged-food company is voluntarily recalling several products over fears of possible botulism contamination.
The California Department of Public Health warned consumers Wednesday to avoid some products from San Clemente-based VR Green Farms.
Officials determined two botulism infection cases might be tied to the company's pine nut basil pesto.
VR Green Farms has recalled the pesto, as well as its pickled farm mix, Old World tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, Tuscan grilling sauce and pasta sauce.
The products, which are packaged in mason-style glass jars, are sold at VR Green Farm stands and on the Internet.
Health officials warn that botulism toxin is odorless and tasteless, and can lead to serious illness and death. Initial symptoms include blurred vision, drooping eyelids and a sore throat.
SPIRITUAL HEALER SENTENCED
'Spiritual healer' sentenced to prison for assault
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A San Bernardino County man who described himself as a spiritual healer has been sentenced to nine years in state prison for sexually assaulting a woman who visited his makeshift office.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office says Jose Romulo Felix was also ordered Wednesday to register as a sex offender. The 42-year-old Victorville resident pleaded no contest July 1 to rape and sexual battery by fraud.
Felix advertised himself in Spanish-language newspapers as a spiritual healer who could solve love issues for women.
Prosecutors say the victim tried to fight back but Felix forced himself on her.
Divided House moves toward vote on border crisis
WASHINGTON (AP) - A divided House of Representatives is moving forward on a bill to address the immigration crisis on the southern border after GOP leaders made concessions to win conservative support.
Republicans say they believe they will command the votes to prevail later Thursday on the legislation to send resources to the U.S.-Mexico border and speed the return of unaccompanied minors arriving here from Central America.
They also intend to advance a companion measure that would block President Barack Obama from expanding a program that offers relief from deportation to hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
That legislation was added at the last minute after conservative support for the border bill looked soft, partly because conservatives said it didn't go far enough to limit Obama.
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