Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 4, 2011

News Digest

Coroner: Man killed by train was from Palo Alto

The Santa Clara County Coroner's Office Wednesday identified the man who died Monday evening (Feb. 28) after being struck by a train at the University Avenue station in Palo Alto as Riyan Mynuddin, 27, of Palo Alto.

A "preliminary investigation indicates that the person acted intentionally," a Caltrain press release stated.

The coroner's office said it could release no further information about Mynuddin.

The incident happened about 7:30 p.m. and involved southbound Caltrain 284, Caltrain officials said.

The train was not scheduled to stop at the Palo Alto station. Caltrain is authorized to operate at a maximum speed of 79 miles an hour.

Mynuddin listed himself as a network technician by profession and the founder and chief network architect at advantEDGE computing on his Linkedin.com profile. It also indicated he had attended Santa Clara University.

This is the fourth Caltrain fatality this year on the right of way, which stretches from San Francisco to Gilroy. Last year there were 11 fatalities on the right of way; of those nine were determined by the coroner to be suicides and two are pending final investigation, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn stated.

Last year, Caltrain installed 250 suicide prevention signs along a 10-mile stretch of the right of way between Menlo Park and Mountain View. The signs, which have a hotline number to a local crisis intervention agency, are part of national study to test the effectiveness of signs in preventing suicides on railroads. The calls are tracked to determine whether the signs are effective in preventing suicides.

Palo Alto teens to hold first all-city dance Friday

Palo Alto's youth are hosting the first all-high-school social of its kind, Ignite, Friday (March 4) from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Lucie Stern Community Center.

Organizers say they hope conversation and joviality will help to triumph over interscholastic competition at the event.

"This is an event where teenagers get to get together as teenagers, instead of as teenagers from competing schools," said Gunn High School junior Elsa Chu, a member of the city's Teen Advisory Board.

The event — planned by both the board and the city's Youth Council for Palo Alto high school students — will offer a game room, a lounge, live music and dancing to a DJ's music. Food will be provided.

SATs and college-admission decisions make March an especially stressful month for Palo Alto students from Gunn, Palo Alto High and other local schools, Chu said, and Ignite may be a well-earned respite.

"It's a hard month for a lot of teenagers," she said.

Organizers have planned and promoted Ignite via school announcements and social-networking sites. It is designed to appeal to a wide variety of students.

The event is the result of 2010 Youth Forum recommendations that more student activities be made available. It is sponsored by the city's Youth Collaborative, a coalition of nonprofits, city staff, business leaders, public safety officers and youth. It was planned with the input of 400 surveys distributed by the two Palo Alto youth-leadership organizations.

"It's really an effort by the community to respond to Palo Alto's youth," said Jessica Lewis, a recreation coordinator for the city.

Tickets are $5 in advance, and $10 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at Lucie Stern, 1305 Middlefield Road, and Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road. ID is required to purchase a ticket, organizers said.

Palo Alto committee backs higher water rates

A proposal by Palo Alto's Utilities Department to raise the city's water rates by an average of 12.5 percent in July earned the endorsement of a City Council committee Tuesday night.

After a lengthy debate, the council's Finance Committee voted 3-1, with Nancy Shepherd dissenting, to increase the water rates this summer. The four committee members agreed that the rates have to be raised to keep up with the spiking costs of wholesale water. The wholesale price of water is scheduled to double by 2016 because of a $4.6 billion effort by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), the city's water supplier, to repair the aged water structure.

The increased rates would bring the Utility Department an estimated $3.1 million in extra revenue, which will be used to help offset a projected deficit of $6.2 million in the Water Fund. The balance of the deficit would be covered by the city's reserves.

The full council is scheduled to discuss the rate increases in June. The new rates would take effect July 1.

— Gennady Sheyner

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