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News briefs from California's Central Coast
- By The Associated Press
Friday, September 30, 2005

(09-30) 07:01 PDT Salinas, Calif. (AP) --

A woman fought off a would-be kidnapper and, after spotting him later in the day, chased his vehicle in her car, police said.

The 21-year-old was walking to her car around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday when a man grabbed her from behind, police said. She pushed the man away and screamed when he tried to grab her again.

Her assailant jumped into a burgundy minivan and sped off, police said. Several hours later, she saw what she thought was the same minivan nearby and followed the vehicle to get its license number.

The driver sped away and later abandoned the van in a parking lot. A check of the car determined it had been reported stolen in Oxnard, police said.

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PISMO BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The city may be asked to pay local transportation officials $735,000 for a defunct $18 million project that would have siphoned some traffic off Highway 101.

The Price Street extension project would have connected the city's two commercial areas, reducing traffic on a sometimes-clogged stretch of the highway.

City officials asked planners to start working on the project more than a decade ago and agreed to pay part of the cost. Transportation officials spent $3 million developing it.

But the City Council rejected the project on Sept. 6 because of noise, traffic and safety concerns — a move that frustrated and surprised transportation officials.

The request for Pismo Beach to repay some of that money is not meant to punish the city, said Ron DeCarli, executive director of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments, which distributes money for local transportation projects.

"It has nothing to do with anger," DeCarli said. "This is a policy question before our board. The question is that the city committed a certain amount of money toward the project. What happens to the money?"

The governments council cannot force the city to pay, DeCarli said. But the council does control the purse strings for future transportation projects, he noted.

"And we don't have to give them future funding options unless that money is paid," DeCarli said.

But one Pismo city official said it would be unfair to request repayment of the money.

"We've got needs for that money," said Pismo Councilman Bill Rabenaldt. "If they did want it I believe it would be punitive."

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CAMBRIA, Calif. (AP) — Vacation renters here and in Cayucos were maligned during summer hearings as rowdy partiers with no concern for the community.

In response to the complaints, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors asked planning staff to reinterpret the vacation rental ordinance to ban rentals within 200 feet of each other on the same street.

But renters got support this week from the business community and property owners who rent to them.

Toni LeGras, who owns Beachside Rentals in Cayucos, said 95 percent of her renters are courteous. Real estate agent Claudia Vanicky submitted petitions signed by 150 people asking that the county not change the ordinance.

"We rely on vacation renters for income," Cambria businessman Jerry Shea told the county Board of Supervisors. "During the week, the amount of money anyone makes in Cambria is not enough. Tourism is a big thing."

Some year-round residents complained that renters are noisy, block streets with their cars, have barking dogs and generally don't care about the community.

Carol Thomas, a Park Hill mother of three, said "as a mother, I am concerned for my children, having transient neighbors."

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — A University of California Santa Barbara researcher who's studying human motivation, relationships and conflict has won a prestigious science award.

Leda Cosmides, a professor of psychology and a founder and co-director of the university's Center for Evolutionary Psychology, received the National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award on Thursday.

The award, worth up to $500,000 a year for five years, supports scientists who take innovative and risky approaches to biomedical research. Cosmides is one of 13 recipients.

Cosmides and her husband and collaborator, anthropology professor John Tooby, are considered pioneers in evolutionary psychology. The new and sometimes controversial field examines human behavior and thought from the perspective of evolutionary history.

"John and I are thrilled," Cosmides said. "This is going to mean the world for our research ... We've been doing this on a shoestring."

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SALINAS, Calif. (AP) — The campaign for a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for city services raised the most money of three high-profile measures on the Nov. 8 ballot, campaign finance reports show.

The Measure V campaign has raised $41,404, far more than Rancho San Juan and Monterey Peninsula Water Management District measures.

Major Measure V contributors included farm companies, labor groups and supporters of Salinas' beleaguered library system. The largest contributor, Mann Packing, a Salinas produce company, kicked in $25,000.

Citizens for Public Water — the group backing Monterey's Measure W — had raised $2,098. The measure would allow the water district to spend up to $550,000 to study a public takeover of California American Water's system on the Monterey Peninsula.

The Rancho San Juan Opposition Coalition had raised $10,070 in support of Measure C, which would overturn county approvals of a 4,000-home subdivision proposed just north of Salinas.


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©2005 Associated Press