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Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 27, 2012

News Digest

Cyclist robbed at gunpoint near Town & Country

Palo Alto police said they are investigating an armed robbery that took place Tuesday around 10:30 p.m. on the bicycle path between Town & Country Village and the Caltrain tracks.

As the victim bicycled home from work, he was confronted by a suspect holding a black handgun who demanded the contents of his pockets, police said in a statement issued late Wednesday, July 25.

Fearing for his safety, the bicyclist complied, handing over a cell phone and a small amount of cash.

After taking the items the suspect fled on foot, leaving the bike path and heading on Encina Way toward El Camino Real, police said.

Police described the suspect as an African-American male "of average height," in his 20s wearing jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt.

The victim was not injured.

Police said they are actively investigating the crime and plan to issue a sketch of the suspect.

Officers are urging anyone with information to call a 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text or voicemail to 650-383-8984.

No settlement in high-speed-rail lawsuit

Efforts to settle a lawsuit filed against the California High-Speed Rail Authority failed nine days after they started because the agency insisted on a four-track system, according to the attorney representing three local cities in the suit.

"Suffice it to say the mediation was unsuccessful, and we're back on the litigation track," Stuart Flashman said Wednesday, July 25. He estimated the case will take at least a year now to resolve "one way or the other."

Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto sued the authority over aspects of the Environmental Impact Report for the high-speed rail project, including projected ridership and the impact of various design scenarios on their cities.

Flashman said that one key obstacle to a settlement was the authority's insistence on a four-track system as recommended in the environmental analysis.

Even though the lawsuit is wending its way slowly through the courts, the actual project got a jump start on July 6 when state lawmakers approved funding for the first phase of the $68 billion project.

According to Flashman, the key funding vote for the Peninsula portion of the project is five to 10 years away.

"As most insiders know, the legislature's limitation on the use of funds in the initial appropriation is nothing but a smokescreen," he said. "Those funds won't be used on the Peninsula except for Caltrain electrification in any case."

He said the funding legislation does not permanently prohibit using high-speed rail funds for a four-track system along the Peninsula, despite statements to the contrary from legislators who voted for the bill.

Woman allegedly steals jewelry while man sleeps

A man who befriended a woman at Palo Alto's nonprofit Opportunity Center was robbed of $20,000 to $25,000 worth of jewelry as he slept, Palo Alto police said.

"It was basically a boy meets girl; boy invites girl into his room; boy falls asleep and girl takes jewelry" story, Sgt. Con Maloney said.

The resident told police he met the woman on Friday, July 20, at about 1:30 a.m. as he was returning to the center at 33 Encina Ave. The Opportunity Center provides comprehensive services to homeless and at-risk persons, including some residential housing.

The woman told the resident she was there to visit friends but could not get into the building. The man let her into the building, but when her friends did not answer their door, the man befriended her.

The victim allowed the woman to stay in his room and cooked dinner for her. He fell asleep at about 4 a.m., he told police. The man awoke around noon to find the woman was gone and so was the jewelry, which included gold chains, pendants, earrings and a collector's edition Rolex watch.

The woman is described as a 30- to 35-year-old African American with straight black hair, brown eyes and a slender build. She is 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall and between 115 to 125 pounds. She wore a long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans and carried a small white handbag.

— Sue Dremann

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