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A judge under fire for releasing a man who allegedly attacked a woman outside her Embarcadero condo ruled Friday that the suspect must wear an ankle monitor.
The hearing Friday came after Mayor London Breed, Supervisor Matt Haney and others slammed San Francisco Superior Court Judge Christine Van Aken for releasing -year-old Austin James Vincent. He is suspected of attacking -year-old Paneez Kosarian as she entered her Beale Street condominium building Sunday.
The outrage from officials and the public came in the wake of a widely shared building surveillance video showing the attack. But Van Aken said Friday that the video hadn’t been submitted in court and she had not seen it when she ruled in the case. She saw it Wednesday on a TV in a restaurant.
“When I saw the video, I was frankly alarmed at the level of violence,” she said at Friday’s hearing. “It altered my assessment of the public-safety risk of this case. I take public safety very seriously.”
Videos are not typically played at arraignments, said Max Szabo, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, adding that the algorithm used to assess whether a person might re-offend recommended Vincent stay in custody.
On Monday, Vincent pleaded not guilty to charges of false imprisonment, two counts of battery and attempted robbery. Van Aken ordered him into a pretrial diversion program that provides mental health services rather than keeping him in jail while awaiting his next court appearance.
Deputy District Attorney Edward Chang said his office didn’t provide the video as evidence at Vincent’s arraignment because they relied on the police report, which they felt was sufficient. Van Aken ordered the district attorney’s office to submit the video into evidence no later than Monday at noon.
While the video may have prompted Van Aken to re-evaluate Vincent’s case, she stressed that incarceration is not a tenable solution for treating the mentally ill. She added that she was “really glad” to hear that Vincent was responding well to treatment.
The ruling to release Vincent was over the wishes of the district attorney and Kosarian, who said that before the attack Vincent had talked about killing robots that wanted to take over the world.
Politicians were also upset about the decision to release Vincent.
“I think the court’s decision to release him while he awaits trial was clearly wrong,” Breed said in a statement Thursday. “This man needs to be receiving mental health services under observation, not back out on the street.”
Van Aken ordered Vincent to wear an ankle monitor at Friday’s hearing. She scheduled another hearing for Monday with the attorneys to make sure the monitor is added, and excused Vincent from appearing in court on Friday and Monday.
Vincent’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Saleem Belbahri, objected to Van Aken’s decision to add the ankle monitor as a condition of his release, saying Vincent was “in a mental health crisis” at the time of the incident and that the judge shouldn’t be swayed by the “public pressure” the case has drawn.
The controversy over the attack and Van Aken’s original decision was seized on by opponents of the city’s under-construction homeless shelter on the Embarcadero. They have used the attack as fuel to continue to argue the Navigation Center should be stopped. The group, Safe Embarcadero for All, sued to halt the shelter and is awaiting the lawsuit’s resolution.
“Our streets are not safe, our homes are not safe,” said Wallace Lee, a member of the group, in a statement Friday. “The City wants more shelters when it cannot deal with the ones it has currently. Judges allow dangerous, most likely mentally ill and drug addicted homeless attackers back on to San Francisco’s streets.”
The district attorney’s office clarified Friday that Vincent was never released directly back on the streets, as many initially believed. It’s not clear if Vincent is homeless, but police said he has no known local address.
Szabo said Vincent had stayed one night at the Salvation Army and is now at the NoVA housing program, where he can come and go as he pleases. He has to check in three times a week in person with his case manager, Van Aken said. The program Vincent is participating in requires regular check-ins with a caseworker tasked with ensuring that he does not present a threat to public safety and that he makes his court dates.
“The pretrial diversion program has been watching him like a hawk,” said Szabo.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera criticized the district attorney’s decision to not present the video as evidence during Vincent’s arraignment.
“We now know from today’s court proceeding that the district attorney’s office … did not provide that key piece of evidence to the judge. That is information that should’ve been before the judge so she could weigh all of the facts in this case.”
Herrera also denounced what he called the public’s “rush to judgment” in condemning Van Aken’s decision to release Vincent.
Prior to becoming a judge last year, Van Aken was a prominent and accomplished litigator in Herrera’s office.
Van Aken also defended her original decision Friday. She said that because Vincent had only one conviction for petty theft in , she didn’t previously deem him a public-safety threat.
“Because of what I saw in the video, I do have some public-safety concerns now,” she added.
Dominic Fracassa is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Emily Fancher is an assistant metro editor. dfracassasfchroniclem, emily.fanchersfchroniclem
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OREM — With construction underway on a student-housing development adjacent to Utah Valley University, developers are facing higher costs after a referendum vote last year on whether the project could proceed left the facility s future in question.
Taylor Woodbury, chief operating officer of Woodbury Corp., said costs went up “dramatically” as a result of the delay.
“The referendum did do a lot of damage,” he said, adding that the delay made the project cost -% more. “It s made the project more difficult.”
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Nicholas Sarabria and other construction workers build a student housing complex next to Utah Valley University in Orem on Wednesday, July , .
The project was originally slated to break ground in , but after Let Orem Vote, a group of Orem residents who opposed the development, collected enough signatures to challenge the project s city-approved zoning change by putting it to a public vote on last year’s ballot, construction was delayed by a year.
Last November, Orem residents voted in favor of the development by a margin of , votes, according to a Utah County General Election summary report.
Woodbury said he’s dealt with neighborhood opposition on projects before, but not at this level.
“I think the biggest challenge we faced was really trying to combat the misinformation that was out in the community about the project,” he said.
He said it might take completing the project and getting students moved in to overcome lingering negative feelings.
“It s a great project. It s going to be really a positive thing, once we get it done,” he said. “I hope that we can win over a lot of people once they can see what it is they were scared about and see that it really isn t going to be that.”
Woodbury Corp. joins PEG Development as the project s developers, and the contractor is R&O Construction.
As construction is well underway on The Green on Campus Drive, construction crews have closed a road on Campus Drive — between UVU and the incoming student-housing development — to build an underground pedestrian tunnel.
PEG Development project manager Kyle Jardine said construction began in April, and the block s road closure is due to the construction of an underground pedestrian tunnel that will connect the complex and the campus.
The project, originally referred to as Palos Verdes, will include four five-story buildings to house students in , beds, and a parking structure.
The underground tunnel will eliminate the crosswalk that s been on the street and create a safer and more accessible pathway to and from campus, he said. The road will open again when school resumes in the fall.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Construction workers build a student housing complex next to Utah Valley University in Orem on Wednesday, July , .
The pedestrian tunnel is in the beginning phases of being dug out and ready to get formed and poured, he said.
He said construction has run smoothly since the project s groundbreaking in April. Crews are currently working on the foundations and footings of two buildings that will house students, as well as the parking structure that will provide more than , parking stalls.
Jardine said the first two buildings will open to students by fall . The other two buildings are anticipated to be completed by .
Having private developers build a student housing complex instead of the university allows universities to focus on education and not the management of the building, according to Woodbury, adding it could be risky for universities that might want to build a student housing development on their own.
“There are a lot of reasons why universities who aren t in the housing game currently shouldn t try to get into it and shouldn t assume that they re going to be expert managers of it,” he said.
Orem resident Mark Tippets, who led Let Orem Vote’s efforts to oppose the project, said he’s still concerned the development will increase traffic in the neighborhood.
He’s also concerned with UVU’s growing student population, which has topped , — the largest student population in the state — but has accepted that Orem residents have voted in favor of the development.
“It went to a vote of the people. They voted for it,” he said. “There s nothing else we can do, it s part of our landscape now.”
He said his group will continue to oppose high-density housing developments in Orem.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Construction workers build a student housing complex next to Utah Valley University in Orem on Wednesday, July , .
Cameron Martin, vice president of University Relations at UVU, called the student housing development a game changer for the university.
You go to some other college campuses and there are nooks of gathering place where students live, learn, work, play and that is what this development creates — a sense of community, he said.
Martin said research has shown that the more accessible services are to students, the better the retention and completion rates become — a big focus for UVU administrators.
He said opponents of the project have a wait and see attitude toward the project.
We continue to meet with the neighbors, and we will always meet with them when they have issues pertaining to our cohabitation … in the same neighborhood, he said. That commitment has never waned, nor will it.
Having worked as a former resident adviser at a nearby student-contracted housing complex, Wolverine Crossing, Taylor Bell, UVU’s student body president, said students have told him they are excited about the development, which he expects will attract freshmen.
“People are excited to have that proximity to campus,” he said.
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The closeness, he said, will ensure students will “get the full university experience” and could increase student attendance at after-school activities, lectures and sporting events.
Woodbury mirrored Bell s vision and said, currently, the average UVU student s commute to and from school takes half an hour, which could prevent students from going back to campus for an event.
It will be very transformative in getting people more involved in student life and activities around campus, Woodbury said.
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Basalt tiling in the tasting room comes from a river bed on the ranch, the remaining evidence of a river that flowed through the area , years ago. Thornley also repurposed excavated raw materials from the wine cave construction into a pair of -foot walls, made out of what looks like soil-turned-solid, that span the back of the Estate House. In the cave, a dome-shaped section was left unfinished, unveiling the stunning, red-orange rock into which it was dug.
“Our winemaking philosophy is to create terroir-inspired wines that tell the story of the vineyard they came from and the vintage year that they are grown,” says Hamel. “It made sense to us to make sure that flowed through the design of our Estate House, winery, and wine caves as well.”
Wine tastings at Three Sticks, located right off the Historic Sonoma Plaza, take place inside a Vallejo-Castanada adobe, the longest-occupied residence in Sonoma during California’s Mexican Period. In , years after the adobe’s initial construction by the brother of Sonoma’s founder, General Mariano Vallejo, Three Sticks proprietors Bill and Eva Price acquired the property and began the painstaking restoration process for their winery.
Preservation of the structure was their top priority, so they enlisted the help of many professionals architects, historians, archaeologists, etc. to ensure that the adobe’s historical integrity remained intact. A refuse site was discovered during this process and throughout several digs at this spot, they discovered artifacts that date back to the s—including bottles, porcelain plates, vessels, tools, and dolls—many of which are now on display at the winery. In the end, the adobe’s original walls, doors, knobs, roof, siding, and some historical plantings in the garden courtyard were preserved.
Three Sticks hired renowned San Francisco-based designer Ken Fulk to transform the interior. The adobe’s living room is now a lounge, a former bedroom is the reception area, and the dining room is a tasting room. “We wanted an homage to the past, but not a false historical feeling,” says chief operating officer Prema Behan. “Ken’s ability to celebrate the past through materials and design, while still making the space feel utterly au courant and luxurious, made him an obvious choice for this project.” Fulk achieved this by using a blend of materials that were indicative of the s—like wood, stone, metal, leather, cowhide, and authentic adobe bricks—with both contemporary and antique furnishings. In the lounge, for instance, cast-resin desert tortoise shells hang on the walls, the floors have been replaced with handmade Mexican tiles, and a pair of midcentury modern orange chairs sit atop an antique Khotan rug.
“We did not want the home to feel like a house museum,” says Behan. “The adobe needed to be alive, relevant, and energetic so that guests could feel the living history of the building and celebrate the unique Sonoman, Californian, and Mexican heritage of our region.”
Artist Rafael Arana hand-painted a thistle pattern in the entry room and Three Sticks’ iconic black-and-white mural on the back wall of the enclosed patio, which depicts the site’s rich history leading up to the present. The garden bathroom also can’t be missed: It’s achieved fame all on its own thanks to its wall-to-wall plant and floral wallpaper.
In , the venerable Silver Oak in Napa Valley opened up a second property in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. Set on a historic piece of land that was deeded to the wine region’s namesake, Cyrus Alexander, in , the winery unites the past and present with a modern, glass-walled interpretation of the classic barn, built with natural and recycled materials.
Designed by Daniel Piechota of Piechota Architecture, the glass creates the illusion of being outdoors, engulfed by the estate’s acres of cabernet sauvignon vines and the rolling hills of the Alexander Valley. “It was important to us culturally that we stay in touch with the agricultural side of winemaking,” says Silver Oak CEO David Duncan. “Fruit quality is the most important variable in fine wine, so we wanted our team and our customers to be immersed in the farming process and be able to see a grapevine from any point on the property.”
From the vineyard to the winery design, the driving force at Silver Oak is sustainability. Its Oakville winery was the first LEED Platinum-certified winery in the world, and now the Alexander Valley property is the second. But this time, it’s taken its mission even further. The net zero energy, net zero water winery—, rooftop solar panels emit percent of their energy needs—is currently under review for the Living Building Challenge, the most advanced measurement of sustainability in buildings.
Silver Oak’s team vetted a list of more than , construction and industrial materials for their environmental impacts before building. They used reclaimed redwood from old fermentation tanks used by a Cherokee winery in the s for siding as well as wood from naturally felled valley oak trees—which required removal for safety reasons—for flooring, wall, and ceiling panels. As for the insulation? The material was made with ground-up blue jeans.
Louis M. Martini Winery
In an effort to evolve with the ever-changing wine industry, many of Napa Valley’s most historic properties—including Clos Du Val, ZD Wines, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars—have undergone major restorations in recent years. But none of these undertakings have been as epic as the overhaul of Louis M. Martini, which opened its brand-new visitor center in the spring of .
“The original winery building, constructed in , is one of the first five wineries built in Napa Valley following the end of Prohibition,” says Jonathan Wendorf, Louis M. Martini’s estate manager. “We’ve been crafting cabernet here for generations. Everything connects with the working winery and the building’s historic legacy.”
Original terra-cotta wall tiles—which Martini brought up to Napa from a winery he had in Kingsburg in the ’s—cover the exterior and some of the interior walls. These historic squares juxtapose the emphatically modern interior that ushers the winery into the st century. Wine country’s most sought-after architect, Howard Backen of Backen & Gillam Architects, utilized industrial and reclaimed materials, like metal and oak, and built the roof out of materials recovered from a dog track in Santa Ana, California. Large glass doors on three sides create a seamless integration between the outside and interior, a signature feature of Backen’s designs.
The structure has myriad spaces scattered throughout its large, open floorplan, each dedicated to a different tasting experience. Tasting flights are offered at the dramatic Crown Bar in the center, which peers into the barrel room. To the left, the light-filled Heritage Lounge hosts seated wine and food pairings, while the private, study-like Founders Room pours tastes of library wines and barrel samples. To the right, a small lecture hall called the Wine Study is used for wine education. The glass doors of the Heritage Lounge open up to Martini Park, where guests relax in serene outdoor nooks. Groups can book shaded cabanas and indulge in wine and wood-fired pizzas as if they’re in Tuscan wine country.
And yet, the most extraordinary part of the restoration is hidden beneath the ground. Lined on both sides with old redwood casks, the Underground Cellar includes a wine library for older vintages housed inside an old bank vault that Martini purchased from a bank that was going out of business.
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