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Bay Area Briefs

Wednesday December 26, 2001

Century-old sycamores sick in Livermore 



LIVERMORE — Trees at Sycamore Grove Park are sick. 

Consultants say the 90 to 100 year-old sycamores in the state’s third-largest sycamore grove are suffering from anthracnose, a debilitating fungal disease caused by excessive soil moisture. 

The tree population, which covers about 185 acres of the 750-acre park, has been declining for nearly 15 years. 

The Livermore Area Recreation and Park District is spending $30,000 to study the cause of the moisture that prevents the sycamore trees from having a normal dry cycle in the summer. Experts believe the moisture may be due to water releases from Del Valle dam above the park. 


Man arrested for robbing taxis 


SAN FRANCISCO — Police shot and arrested a man after he allegedly robbed and stabbed a taxicab driver in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood early Sunday morning. 

Carleris Menendez, 22, of San Francisco, has allegedly robbed 10 cab drivers, all in the Bernal Heights district, police said. 

“Today he robbed his unlucky 11th,” Lt. Bruce Marovich said. 

Robbery detectives were staking out certain areas of the city Sunday, waiting for the robber to strike again. 

At 3:45 a.m., police say a cab driver they were following yelled for help and shouted that he had been stabbed. An officer shot a fleeing man in the leg. 

Menendez is suspected of stealing $3,000 from cab drivers, police said. “We call him the Bernal Heights bandit,” Marovich said. “But at least he didn’t kill anybody.” 

Injuries to Menendez and the cab driver were not life-threatening. 


Baseball losing out to soccer on  



PALO ALTO — The city is so short of soccer fields that one parks and recreation commissioner has proposed to convert baseball fields into soccer fields. 

The suggestion is to transform the Baylands Athletic Center, a city-owned baseball diamond built in 1969, into two, possibly three, soccer fields for the American Youth Soccer Organization. 

Rick Beckwith, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission, aired his proposal at a commission meeting last month. The proposal not only creates a clash with coaches competing for fields, but a Babe Ruth Baseball official believes it could threaten his league’s viability. 

About 150 children, ages 13 to 15, play in the local Babe Ruth league. The league practices, plays and hosts tournaments at Baylands, which boasts a lighted baseball diamond with a 500-seat grandstand. 

Beckwith said 2,500 children participate in AYSO, which doesn’t have enough soccer fields to go around. 

“There’s enough field space between Paly and Gunn for them to play all their games on those two fields,” Beckwith said, referring to Palo Alto’s high schools.