News Briefs from Around California

AP Wire Service

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (AP) – The thriving Vietnamese shopping district known as Little Saigon is finally getting some recognition in the form of an official gateway.

But the twin concrete markers won’t be in its hometown of Westminster. They’ll be in next-door Garden Grove.

The decision to install the concrete monuments has set off a turf war between the cities, each of which claims bragging rights to Little Saigon, home to the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam.

The district has outgrown the two-block strip in Westminster where it was born.

“Little Saigon is expanding, and the Vietnamese population is expanding,” Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater said. “It’s not patented. We’re not trying to steal anything from Westminster. We’re just trying to become a part of it.”

Westminster Mayor Margie L. Rice said Garden Grove “can’t take Little Saigon.”

“Little Saigon is in Westminster,” Rice said. “They can’t annex the city. They can put up the sign if they want. It doesn’t mean they own it.”


LOS ANGELES (AP) – With the onslaught of wet weather, homeless shelters began opening over the weekend, with many expecting to be at full occupancy again this winter.

“I’m sure we’re going to fill up immediately,” said Denise Burton, director of the First Step Shelter in South Los Angeles, which offers 80 beds.

Homeless advocates said they expect an equal or greater demand as the poor job market compounds the homeless problem.

Los Angeles County has one of the largest homeless populations in the country, with at least 25,000 people, according to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty.


OCEANSIDE, Calif. (AP) – Earthquake fears prompted school officials to abruptly close two elementary schools, furloughing nearly 900 students until classroom space can be found.

Concrete panels covering two schools are cracked, and district officials fear the 30-year-old buildings could not withstand a major earthquake. Recent studies suggest Southern California may be overdue for such a temblor.

“Nothing has happened yet, and the schools have been standing 30 years,” Oceanside Unified School District Superintendent Ken Noonan said. “But I’m just really concerned that the architect and engineer couldn’t give me full confidence that they’d perform in an earthquake.”

Classes will resume Dec. 9, with students using temporary classrooms at one of Oceanside’s other campuses.

A $125 million bond passed by voters two years ago will pay for renovations at the two schools. Work was not supposed to begin for at least 18 months, but the schedule will likely be moved up.


PASADENA, Calif. (AP) – The city’s infrastructure, including the famed Rose Bowl, needs more than $200 million in renovations, officials said.

Problems also include the city power plant and water system.

Time has taken its toll on the venerable structures, city manager Cynthia Kurtz said.

Pasadena’s domed city hall – designed by the same architects as San Francisco’s city hall – must either be fixed or abandoned because it is not seismically safe, she said.

The city will pay some of the costs upfront and look to bonds – if approved by voters – to cover the rest.

The city does not want to use public funds for the Rose Bowl. Officials hope to lure an NFL franchise to the stadium, which could generate an estimated $400 million to modernize it.


DELANO, Calif. (AP) – Sheriff’s deputies arrested two people after finding 26 pounds of cocaine stashed in a crashed car.

Sonia Gonzalez, 28, sideswiped a big rig and tore off the passenger side of her 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix _ revealing drugs hidden in the side panels, authorities said.

The discovery Wednesday led officers to search her Delano home, where they found an additional 33 pounds of cocaine, officials said Friday.

Tulare County deputies arrested Gonzalez and her husband Martin Sepulveda on suspicion of possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine for sale and child endangerment.

The couple’s 2-year-old son was a passenger in the car but was not properly secured in his seat, California Highway Patrol officers said. The boy sustained serious head injuries and was taken to Children’s Hospital in Madera.

Witnesses told authorities that Gonzalez, who was not injured, did not call police or ask for help after the crash. Instead, she allegedly hid packages from the car in a nearby vineyard and called friends. Authorities arrived 15 minutes after the crash.

Sheriff’s officials estimated the drugs were worth more than $500,000.


WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (AP) – There are big plans to expand the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, but some question whether the commuter train tunnel under San Francisco Bay has enough power to handle it.

An extension to San Francisco airport is about to open, and there are plans for more tracks to Silicon Valley and east Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

However, Dietmar Plichta, an engineer who devised the electrified third rail now used by BART, told the Contra Costa Times that tracks in the tunnel that were developed in the 1960s don’t have enough juice to accommodate all the new extensions.

“It’s unconscionable of BART to promise the public a transportation system they cannot deliver,” Plichta said.

BART engineers said a lack of power won’t become an issue until at least 2015 – and by then they expect to have a solution.

“This is not a crisis,” said Robert Miller, BART’s chief transit system development engineer. “It’s not that we’re going to come to some point in time and fall off the end of the cliff.”

Plichta said voltage sagging occurs in the 3.5-mile tube because the electrical substations are so far apart. He said he has designed a new third rail that will increase power in the tube. But he has yet to sell that plan to BART.


EMERYVILLE, Calif. (AP) _ A day after Thanksgiving, about a dozen people picketed a shopping center built atop a former American Indian burial ground.

The 2,700-year-old site was once among the largest known American Indian shell mounds in the San Francisco Bay area.

“It’s still a burial site, it’s still sacred ground,” said Corrina Gould, an Ohlone Indian from Oakland.

Members of the Huchiun band of Ohlone Indians lived at the mound and were buried there.

Picketers on Friday passed out fliers explaining that American Indians are buried under the area. The protest was the second since the Bay Street shopping center opened earlier this month.

The Emeryville City Council approved the 325,000-square-foot project despite such concerns. Developer Madison Marquette was ordered to commission a mural and build a memorial to recognize the history of the site.


POINT REYES STATION, Calif. (AP) – Environmentalists have identified 53 spots in the Lagunitas Creek watershed that may hinder threatened salmon on their way to spawn.

The creek and its tributaries provide breeding grounds for coho salmon and also host steelhead trout.

Fish advocates surveyed 13 creeks in the San Geronimo Valley and found many of the trouble spots were culverts and small dams that could be removed or refitted to let fish pass.

“If we can muster the resources and political support to repair or replace all these migration barriers, we can open up more than 4.5 miles of habitat that have been completely or partially lost to the fish,” said Todd Steiner, director of the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network.


SACRAMENTO (AP) – Two brothers were shot and killed as they walked to a pizza parlor, police said.

Gregory Augustus, 18, and Hudson Augustus, 20, both of Sacramento, were shot around 2:30 p.m. Friday and pronounced dead shortly after arriving at University of California, Davis Medical Center, authorities said.

Police Lt. Daniel Hahn said the shooting occurred on a corner that is usually busy.

“There was a crowd of 20 to 30 people when we arrived here, but nobody saw what happened,” Hahn said.

Detectives from the homicide and gang units were investigating, but police had no motive or suspects, Hahn said.