Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 18, 2010

News Digest

Palo Alto animal hoarder could face fines, jail

Ana Maria Ramos, a Palo Alto woman who was arrested for having 25 dogs and 17 cats in her single-wide trailer, has been charged with five misdemeanors and four infractions, according to Assistant City Attorney Donald Larkin.

She was arraigned June 11 in Santa Clara County Superior Court in Palo Alto.

If convicted, Ramos could face more than $1,000 in fines and a total of 3.5 years incarcerated.

Ramos was arrested May 28 after police and animal-control officers found the dogs and cats crammed into her trailer at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, 3980 El Camino Real.

Jose Rubio, 61, who also lives in the trailer, was arrested June 10 for seven counts relating to animal abuse.

An animal-control officer found only one box of food and a single water bowl in the trailer, according to police.

The animal-rescue operation was the city's largest involving cats and dogs that Superintendent Sandi Stadler of Palo Alto Animal Services could recall.

Ramos was charged with two counts of failing to care for animals; one count of mistreatment of confined animals; and two counts of resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer. If convicted on all counts, she could face a 3.5-year sentence, Larkin said.

She is also charged with four municipal-code violations: one each for having too many dogs and cats, unspayed female dogs and unspayed female cats.

Each infraction is punishable by a $250 fine.

Firefighters' petition heads for November ballot

A proposal by Palo Alto's firefighters union to freeze the staffing levels at the Fire Department is bound for the November ballot after the union received more than enough signatures to qualify it for the election.

Palo Alto Professional Firefighters, Local 1319, submitted more than 6,100 signatures to the City Clerk's office June 15, City Clerk Donna Grider said.

The union needed 5,446 signatures from Palo Alto's registered voters to qualify its initiative for the ballot. The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters is scheduled to verify the signatures over the next month.

The union's measure would change the City Charter to require the city to hold a referendum any time it wants to reduce firefighter staffing levels or close fire stations. Any such proposal would require two public hearings in front of the City Council and an election.

The firefighters union submitted its petition the day after the City Council Finance Committee recommended keeping staffing in the department largely intact in fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1. Though the department stands to lose an administrative assistant and a hazardous-materials specialist, its expenses are slated to increase by $754,399 in the next fiscal year because of increases in firefighters' salaries and benefits.

The committee considered more drastic cost-cutting measures, including eliminating three fire inspector positions and one deputy chief position, but ultimately decided not to adopt those proposals. The city still hopes to achieve savings through negotiations with the firefighters union, which kicked off last month. The union's current contract is set to expire June 30.

Palo Alto police nab two burglars in two days

Palo Alto police arrested a Daly City man Monday afternoon after they caught him carrying stolen property from a Mariposa Avenue home — the second burglary the police had averted in two days.

Police were notified about a possible burglary by a resident of the 1600 block of Mariposa who saw the stranger walk into a neighbor's back yard at about 2 p.m. The witness knew the neighbors weren't home and called the police immediately to report suspicious behavior. The neighborhood is located next to Palo Alto High School.

Police arrived and found the intruder leaving the house through the back yard. He was carrying tools, clothes and other items from the home, according to Agent Max Nielepko.

Police arrested Daymon Cooper, 44, and charged him with burglary. He was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail.

The Mariposa incident was the second burglary Palo Alto police stopped in progress in two days. On Saturday night, police arrested another man who climbed into an Alma Street apartment through an unlocked balcony door. Police caught Hector Zavala, 35, of Sunnyvale, after neighbors called to report a tattooed male climbing a tree to the roof to the building.

Zavala was arrested for burglary and was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail.

— Gennady Sheyner

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