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Air Mark: Sutro Tower

August 21, 2014

We’ve always known it’s a landmark… but look,  Sutro Tower is an airmark too!

Recently, I made a trip to Seattle. As the plane took off  over San Francisco,  a layer of fog covered the city, and I got these cool pictures through the window.

San Francisco dreaming beneath its fog

Thanks to Sutro Tower, I knew exactly where we were.

sutro tower above the fog

There’s Mount Sutro Forest under there,  functioning as a cloud forest and catching the moisture from the fog. And of course, Forest Knolls, enjoying a typical San Francisco summer.

 

 

Report on UCSF’s Aldea Meeting (Aug12, 2014)

August 13, 2014

About a month ago, I’d posted  about a UCSF meeting regarding its plans for the Aldea San Miguel student housing. (This is the UCSF area off Clarendon Avenue  just up the hill from Forest Knolls – see map at the bottom of this post.)

I attended the meeting, in the beautiful Spanish-revival UCSF Faculty Alumni Building. The gathering was relatively small. Damon Lew of UCSF said they had sent out 2,000 postcards notifying people. I guess it’s summer.

BACKGROUND

At present, Aldea is currently included in the overall “space ceiling” that restricts UCSF from expanding over 3.55 million square feet in the Parnassus area. (I wrote about those details in an earlier post, HERE.) Now UCSF wants to remove the 130,000 sq feet of Aldea housing from the 3.55 mn sq feet space ceiling. It argues that other university housing is not included in the space ceiling, and Aldea is an anomaly that could be rectified. (UCSF has actually exceeded the space ceiling for years, but seems to  use it as a sort of benchmark and target.)

UCSF Damon Lew presenting new plan for Aldea

From what I understood, UCSF wants:

  • Initially, to preserve 3 dorm buildings it was scheduled to demolish by 2024  in order to reduce square footage and bring it closer to the space ceiling. It represents 42 units of housing.
  • Later, it could replace them (and others of the 12 buildings at Aldea) with larger and more modern housing units – or, if it’s outside the space ceiling, maybe even with offices or other work areas.

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC

Here are some of the key comments:

  • Dennis Antenore, a UCSF Community Advisory Group member, said he didn’t support removing Aldea. However,  he thought if the community fought it, there was a  real threat that the UC Board of Regents could decide to abolish the Space Ceiling altogether.  If UCSF recommended that, the Regents would undoubtedly vote in favor.
  • Walter Caplan of the Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization pointed out that our neighborhood would be directly impacted by anything that was done at Aldea, and he opposed removing Aldea from the space ceiling. He considered removal essentially giving UCSF a blank check for expansion in that area.
    • UCSF’s Lori Yamauchi responded by pointing out that even with the space ceiling, it didn’t limit Aldea to its current size; they could demolish elsewhere and expand in Aldea.
    • UCSF’s Barbara Bagot-Lopez said that when UCSF built housing elsewhere, it did so in consultation with the neighbors. As a state institution, they are not bound by city regulations about height limits, but they did observe them anyway out of respect for the community. So if they did decide to expand in Aldea, they would do the same thing.
  • Craig Dawson (Sutro Stewards, and also a member of UCSF’s Community Advisory Group -CAG) opposed removing Aldea from the space ceiling for several reasons. First, it would affect UCSF’s credibility; Aldea was included in the space ceiling for a reason, even when other housing wasn’t. Moreover, the demolition of 2 Aldea buildings were specifically included as an offset to the new Stem Cell research building, which took in 0.5 acres of the Forest.  Finally, he said, it’s not a suitable place to expand housing, with no public transport or neighboring community. He also felt UCSF had not kept to the undertakings made in the previous Long Range Development Plan of 1996.
    • Lori Yamauchi disagreed vehemently; she said UCSF worked in good faith with the community, and though they may not have done everything they said (mainly demolition of some buildings), they were working to achieve the same goals.
  • Serena, a student of UCSF who lives at Aldea, emphasized how important housing was to students. She left a well-paid Federal job and came to San Francisco a full three months before her course started, only to ensure she got into housing. She pointed out that medical students make good neighbors, and add value to society. We should be supportive.
    • Several in the group agreed with her on both counts.
  • Bob (didn’t get his surname) asked what UCSF meant by “community.” Did it consider people like him, who were just residents of the area?
    • I thought that was an excellent question. UCSF calls the Community Advisory Group the “backbone” of its community engagement – but that’s a hand-picked group, many of whom have been on the CAG for years if not decades. It also refers to neighborhood organizations, but those often have the same structure. It’s important, in my opinion, to get the voices of the broader community – people who may not have the time to attend numerous meetings over many years, but nonetheless care about and are impacted by UCSF decisions.
  • Another person whose name I didn’t catch thought UCSF should keep its promises to neighbors, and consider the ripple effects of its actions on the neighborhoods – for instance, making parking impossible to get.
  • I am fine with delaying the demolition of the 3 dorms and preserving the 42 units beyond year 2024, but removing Aldea from the Space Ceiling is too open-ended of a change. From UCSF’s viewpoint, it probably is not worth the loss of credibility nor the potential conflict with the neighborhood. I also think it’s probably true that the Regents would agree to whatever UCSF proposes. But in my opinion, it’s for UCSF to avoid proposing something the community opposes. It shouldn’t be our responsibility to calculate whether the Regents would or wouldn’t support us.

UCSF aldea presentation using pic from Forest Knolls website

I was surprised (and rather flattered) to find the photograph from our Forest Knolls site used on the opening page of UCSF’s presentation! For the record – I have no objection to their using this image.

 SENSE OF THE MEETING

This is my sense of the meeting as it ended:

  • In Aldea housingAlmost everyone was opposed to removing Aldea from the space ceiling; even Dennis Antenore, who said the community should not oppose it, was not in favor. He just thought it might be a compromise.
  • Everyone understood the need for housing, especially below market-rate housing,  for students and faculty near their place of work. Post-docs and doctoral students are paid between $32,000 and $45,000 annually – not enough in San Francisco’s rental market. It also reduces the need for commuting and thus reducing congestion and energy needs.
  • There was little opposition to retaining the 3 dorms scheduled for demolition.
  • There were concerns about UCSF and its undertakings to the community.
  • UCSF should not rely only on the CAG for its definition of “Community” but should broaden the viewpoints represented.

SEND COMMENTS AND OPINIONS

UCSF is in the process of making its Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), about which I posted HERE and HERE.  It covers all the physical changes they plan for the Parnassus area (including of course the Aldea segment). The EIR is due out this Friday, Aug 15th, 2014. The UCSF website with all the LRDP information is HERE.   They will be accepting comments on the LRDP and the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on it to October 14, 2014. 

You can email Damon Lew at dlew@CGR.UCSF.EDU and Lori Yamauchi at lyamauchi@planning.ucsf.edu

UCSF LRDP Feb 2014 -1

Forest Knolls would be impacted by changes at UCSF’s Aldea San Miguel housing

 

 

 

 

UCSF Meeting: New Plans for Aldea Housing – 12 Aug 2014

July 11, 2014

In Aldea housing

UCSF has announced a meeting to talk about its plans for the Aldea San Miguel campus housing. 

This is a cluster of wood-shingled buildings nestled at the foot of Sutro Forest, amid tall trees and landscaping. The house of the UCSF Chancellor is also in the same complex. It’s a charming place with almost a mountain-resort feel to it. It’s adjacent to our neighborhood, lying between Cole Valley and Forest Knolls and is approached from Clarendon Avenue and connects to Parnassus Avenue by Medical Center Way, a short winding route that resembles a country byway.

BACKGROUND

UCSF is in the midst of its Long Range Development Plan, which will be valid for 20 years. They expect to adopt it in November 2014.

In the 1970s, UCSF made an agreement not to expand in the Parnassus area. The Regents voted to impose ‘space ceiling’ that limited their space in the Parnassus areas to and also not to acquire any properties in the surrounding areas. (I attended a meeting in Feb 2014 and reported on that HERE.)

Here’s some background from one of my earlier posts.

“Back in 1976, UCSF had a strategy of stealth acquisition. It quietly acquired a bunch of houses (mainly in the 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue area in the Inner Sunset), used some eminent domain, and planned to knock them down and expand. It was trashing the neighborhood, and the neighbors revolted.  The battle was bitterly fought, and went all the way up to Sacramento. When the smoke had cleared away, UCSF agreed to limits to growth in the neighborhood.  The UC Regents passed a resolution. This had several important impacts on Forest Knolls.

  1. It agreed to maintain the 61 acres of Sutro Forest as an Open Space. They weren’t going to build on it.
  2. They imposed a limit – 3.55 million — on the total square footage in the Parnassus area. If they built something new, they would knock down something else.
  3. They defined an expansion restriction area in which they would not acquire properties (they cannot accept gifts of properties in this area either. This restriction area – the map in the photo above –  includes Forest Knolls (the line ends at Clarendon).
  4. Recognizing that the influx of people (with the transport requirements and other pressures they bring) was also impacting neighborhoods, they included a goal of limiting the population to 13,400.”

UCSF LRDP Feb 2014 -1

WHAT’S UP NOW?

In fact, UCSF soon exceeded the space ceiling. They’ve also exceeded the people limit. (Details HERE.) But they have kept to points 1 and 3, maintaining Sutro Forest as open space, and not acquiring properties in the restriction area.

Student housing was explicitly excluded from the Space Ceiling, with the exception of Aldea Student Housing. Now, UCSF is considering excluding that, too.

  • What does that mean? I don’t know for sure. I’ve heard people say it could mean knocking down the old dorm buildings, and replacing them with something more modern. Probably not prettier, if the Hall they built a few years ago is any indication. Could it also be bigger? I don’t know. It depends on how they interpret their earlier undertakings – or how they choose to reinterpret them.
  • Will it impact the forest? It’s possible. In the last “fire safety” action, UCSF removed around 1,000 trees and all the understory on areas around the Aldea campus. This has made the forest in these areas much drier and less healthy, especially after drought conditions.
  • Will it impact Forest Knolls?  Now that the forest between Forest Knolls and Aldea has been thinned to the point that Aldea is easily visible from Forest Knolls, whatever  they do in Aldea will have more visual (and audible) impact on our neighborhood. What further impacts it may have I’m not sure.

Here’s the meeting announcement from UCSF. If you have concerns, it may be worth attending.

UCSF’s last Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), created in 1996, was designed to guide the university’s physical development through 2012. UCSF has embarked on its next LRDP, which has an expected planning horizon of 20 years. Community involvement is a key facet of this planning process.
This meeting will focus on the UCSF Aldea San Miguel housing complex. Information regarding past agreements with the community and current proposals within the draft LRDP will be discussed.

Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Time: 6:30pm
Location: Faculty Alumni House, 745 Parnassus Avenue @ 5th Avenue, San Francisco, CA

UCSF strives to ensure maximum public involvement in this important planning process. With an open and interactive process — identifying the best ideas and ensuring that all points of view are considered.

The UCSF Faculty Alumni House can be accessed by several MUNI Lines: #6, #43 and N-Judah. Parking is available in the Kirkham Avenue parking lot near the corner of Kirkham and 5th Avenue.

UCSF fully ascribes to the Americans with Disabilities Act. If at any time you feel you have a need for accommodation, please contact UCSF Community & Government Relations at 415-476-3206 or community@cgr.ucsf.edu with your suggested accommodation.

Artistic New Mosaic Stairway for San Francisco – Tony Holiday

July 7, 2014

I’ve written here about the Hidden Garden tiled staircase that was completed some months ago. Before that, there was the first of its kind in San Francisco, the magnificent 16th Avenue Tiled steps, which was completed in 2005. Recently I learned, (on Facebook!) that San Francisco has a third mosaic stairway. Unlike the other two, which are quite close to our neighborhood, this is over at Innes Street, in the Bayview at Innes and Northridge.

Tony Holiday, who hikes around San Francisco and blogs at Stairways Are Heaven,  attended the opening ceremony. This account below is a summary from his blog post, New Tiled Stairway. (Go there for more – and higher-resolution – pictures of this and other walks. His account of Forest Knolls stairways is HERE.)

NEW TILED STAIRWAY by Tony Holiday

There’s a new tiled stairway in San Francisco’s Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhood called “Flights of Fancy.” Learned about it from the Hidden Garden Steps Website (16th Ave. tiled stairway in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood, Inner Sunset) where there are some photos. There’s some interesting info about this latest stairway art project on SF Department of Public Work’s page.

San Francisco’s third tiled stairway is named for Dr. Arelious Walker, a pastor and author who’s known for many good deeds in the Bayview community. I quote from an Internet article:

One of the most distinguished honors a city can pay tribute to its greatest contributors is naming a street in their honor. Usually when that happens the person is deceased but in this case an exception was made and the great city of San Francisco named in his honor the street “Arelious Walker Drive” in the BayView Hunters Point and New BayView Districts. Dr. Walker is a Community Champion. His ultimate dream is to build TRUE HOPE SQUARE, a housing development with a senior citizens home, child daycare center, and a special home for those men and women that do not have any place to go when they get saved. Dr. Walker is constantly fighting to clean up the neighborhoods, keep affordable housing in every neighborhood, and to keep his dream alive so that it may come to fruition.”

987170_orig - 2  a bay view

During a Bayview “Sunday Streets” a few years ago I had a great time exploring some of the neighborhood’s stairways and Hilltop Park (with the big sundial) but had not gone quite as far east as is the new stairway. I’d heard of Innes St. in the Bayview as it runs off Third St. and is on the T-Third Metro line, so I looked up Innes on Google Maps to see if it runs through to Arelious Walker where the stairway is; it does not. At Innes near Hudson, this seemed a rather long walk from the T-Third. I was, however, able to attend the opening celebration with a friend who has a car. There’s a very nice city-and-bay-view from the top of the stairs  and plenty of other stairways in the neighborhood that snake up to and around the residences. This area is near India Basin Shoreline Park.

While here, however, I noticed that the extremely familiar #19 Polk bus (that also crawls over Potrero Hill) stops right at the foot of the stairs. So I could’ve taken this bus without long waits for a “neighborhood bus” (as in the #36 Teresita and #37 Corbett, for example).

7983072_orig - 5 foot of the stairway

Here’s some detail from the foot of the stairs.

3263449_orig - 6 foot of the stairs

5273362_orig - 7 climbing upClimbing up…

5899206_orig - 8 - 87 stepsAnd further up…

9134398_orig - 9 midstepsMiddle steps…

5057015_orig - 10 it turns hereIt turns here.

7434113_orig - 12 go see this in person

Go see this in person!

9795413_orig -13 nearing the topNearing the top here…

408210_orig - 14 San Franciscos 3rd tiled stairwayA closer look at the designs…

5984512_orig - 19 stairway from across the streetHere’s what it looks like from the foot of the staircase.

I was able to get a shot of the gorgeous (and delicious) cake before it was cut.

630030_orig 3 cake

Before the ribbon was cut, attendees were treated to some bongo playing and several short intros to — and speeches by — people who helped make this artwork possible. The plaque is at the foot of the stairs, attributing “Flights of Fancy” to artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher. (SFAC = San Francisco Arts Commission.)

274436_orig - 4 artists

“The artists were inspired by decorative patterns drawn from various cultures: Adinkra cloth from Ghana, Native American painted potter; Central American textiles; Japanese and Indonesian fabrics; Middle Eastern tile patterns and paisley designs from India.”

The Moon in June

June 14, 2014

Full moon, clear night! How often does that happen in San Francisco?

And I have a new camera, a Nikon Coolpix. It’s a pocket camera (literally, it often travels in my pocket). But it is a whole lot better in low light than the old Canon.

nightfall in san franciscoOne of the joys of our neighborhood is that Twin Peaks is so near by. I got there just after sunset, as the city lights started to twinkle.

full moon over San Francisco

Others were there, too, taking photos with everything from smartphones to impressive cameras with tripods. It’s a neat thing that the full moon always rises around the same time as the sun sets.

tourists at sunset - twin peaks - san francisco

And to my delight, my camera actually could take a picture of the full moon. This is my best ever shot with a pocket camera. It’s so much better than the one I took through binoculars last month!

full moon june 2014

 

 

 

Stow Lake Walk (with Birds)

June 9, 2014

A few days ago, we went for a walk to Stow Lake. Golden Gate Park is so near Forest Knolls that the outing needs no planning – jump in the car and in ten minutes you’re there.  On this warm Friday afternoon, it was crowded in a pleasant way with both with people and with birds. I have a new camera (I’m back to a Nikon Coolpix – wasn’t that happy with my Canon)and wanted to see what a pocket camera could do for bird pictures. It felt like the birds were less shy than usual, or maybe the crowd just provided a distraction so any one person didn’t bother them.

night heron holds a pose 1

Night heron holds a pose

This night heron was hanging out near the water. This is the same species as the baby birds in the trees that were trimmed in Berkeley.  (Those have, happily,  been saved. Some day, they’ll be handsome adults like this one.)

redwinged blackbird foraging

Redwinged blackbird foraging

I also saw more red-winged blackbirds than usual, and this one was so busy eating seeds near the path that it waited to the last minute to fly away – and came back the minute we’d passed by.

seven half-grown ducklings still hang out with mom

Seven half-grown ducklings still hang out with mom

These half-grown ducklings had outgrown the brown fuzzy stage, but still attracted attention of adults and kids alike.

baby geese sleep while adults stand guard

Baby geese sleep while adults stand guard

The Canada geese had young ones, too. I love how they always have a couple of geese on guard while the flock feeds, or in this case, sleeps.

blurry pic of male wood duck

Male wood duck, Stow Lake, June 2014

There was a dramatic and handsome male Wood Duck. I looked at my bird book when I got back, and realized I’d seen him (or maybe another like him) almost exactly a year ago.  The picture I got was blurry, but I’m posting it here anyway. At least it’s recognizably a wood duck!  I didn’t see a female. Some years ago, I did see a female wood duck at Stow Lake, but she was hanging out with a duck of a different species.

hunting robin

American Robin listening for food

This American robin was apparently hunting.

muscovy bedtime

Muscovy bedtime

By the time we finished our walk, the Muscovy ducks had decided to call it a day. They were sleeping under a bush But the night herons were alert.  As we prepared to leave, this guy stood like a statue on the boathouse .

Night heron posing 2

Night heron, Stow Lake June 2014

Learn to Deal with Emergencies! NERT Training in June/ July 2014

June 6, 2014
tags:

seismic house from NERT flyerSFFD NERT and SFSAFE want you to have skills to be prepared for emergencies big or small, and get to know your neighbors on your block to maximize resiliency after a disaster. The San Francisco Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) is free training from the San Francisco Fire Department in how to help you, your family and your neighbors prepare for and respond to a disaster by working together.

NERT will be holding several new trainings in various neighborhoods in San Francisco during the month of June and July 2014. We find that citizens will take the NERT training outside of their neighborhoods as it fits into their schedules. Register on Eventbrite or call (415)970-2024 In addition, NERT will hold a Personal Readiness Workshop in the Ingleside and the Richmond Districts in June 2014.

The regular training sessions are once a week for 6 weeks. The 20-hour training taught by First Responders includes personal preparedness, light search and rescue, disaster medicine, shutting off your utilities, and how to participate as a member of a neighborhood response team. NERT also offers continuing training for graduates and activities that support building robust neighborhood teams. For more information, visit the NERT website at http://sfgov.org/sffdnert, or contact Lt. Erica Arteseros at (415)970-2022 or sffdnert@sfgov.org.

Bernal Heights
St. Kevin Church
702 Cortland Ave @ Ellsworth St.
Tuesdays
June 10 ~ July 15
6:30p-10:00p
RSVP for New Student – http://bit.ly/1j8BdER
RSVP for Recert – http://bit.ly/1kT8YcD

Nob Hill
St. Francis Memorial Hospital
900 Hyde St, Lower level, near Bush St.
Thursdays
June 19~ July 24
6:30p-10:00p
RSVP for New Student – http://bit.ly/1tahozD ;
RSVP for Recert – http://bit.ly/RUD317

Potrero Hill
St. Teresa’s Church
19th St @ Connecticut St
Wednesdays
July 16 ~ August 20
6:30p-10:00p
RSVP for New Student – http://bit.ly/1onD48w
RSVP for Recert – http://bit.ly/1oNQmyQ

And here are the one-day workshops:

Wednesday June 4, 2014
Supervisor Cohen hosts
Sunnyside Community Center
1654 Sunnydale Ave
6:00p-8:00p
Enroll – http://bit.ly/1g1oi8m
(Sorry, that was over before I got this posted)

Wednesday June 11, 2014
Supervisor Mar hosts
Richmond Library Branch
351 – 9th Ave
6:00p-8:00p
Enroll – http://bit.ly/1gRWsEC

 

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