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Nearly Halloween…

October 29, 2014

Here’s a reminder and a new announcement.
First: Laura Bloch is organizing a trick-or-treat loop in Forest Knolls (details HERE). Please email her at LJBloch@aol.com if you want to participate, and you’ll get a free mini-pumpkin and a sign for your house. You can participate even if you’re not on the loop – but I suggest making your sign and lights very prominent!  Participants agree to be home from 5.30-8 p.m. (and of course, have candy!)

pumpkin vultures

And Barbara Oleksiw invites all pre-teens to a Halloween celebration at 6th and Irving – here are the details.

Pre-Teen Halloween, Friday, Oct. 31, 7p, NW corner of Sixth & Irving
Join us for our annual Pumpkin Promenade of more than 60 hand-carved pumpkins, hot cider, mulled wine, cotton-candy, “treats” for the kids, and any other mischief we can arrange. Bring a dessert to share, if you’re so inclined.Barbara: 415/2.46.47.48

Halloween is Coming to Forest Knolls

October 9, 2014

pumpkin clipart public domainEach year, for the last several years, neighbor Laura Bloch has worked with the Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization to set up a Halloween loop where neighbors can sign on to provide candy for trick-or-treating kids. It’s been excellent. Thanks, Laura, Siobhan and Walter for doing this!

Here’s their message:

Halloween is fast approaching and children from all over Forest Knolls are invited to safely trick or treat in “The Loop”! If you will be home from 5:30-8:00 on Halloween evening and would like to participate in the festivities, please e-mail  Laura Bloch (LJBloch@aol.com) to confirm and you will receive a small pumpkin and sign to display, which will alert prospective trick-or- treaters that you are home and handing out candy. Please see the attached for more information.

The Loop includes homes on 1-299 Oak Park, 401-409 Christopher, on 1-201 Warren Drive, and 100-191 Forest Knolls Drive.

(This doesn’t mean that people who don’t live on the Loop can’t participate! Put a pumpkin sign out prominently, and you may get trick-or-treaters.)

halloween map forest knolls 2014[Edited to Add: I modified this to remove a phone number and add a house address to the Loop at the request of the organizers.]

Stow Lake … with Alligator?

October 6, 2014

I was leafing through a sheaf of pesticide use reports from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, as I sometimes do. It’s mostly about herbicides sprayed on plants. The parts about animals usually relate to rodents and yellow-jackets.

Not this report.  Some people had seen an alligator. In Stow Lake.

stow lake with alligator

I checked the date on the report, just in case it was April Fools. But no, this had a June 2014 date on it.

It wasn’t a very big alligator – two feet, said the report. SFRPD called Fish and Game, and Animal Care and Control. But though they went out to look a couple of days in succession, there was no alligator seen. They closed the case until there’s another sighting.

Do we have our own Nessie in Golden Gate Park?

stow lake alligator sighting

Worrying About Proposition I on the Nov 2014 Ballot

October 1, 2014

AGAINST PROP I smI don’t consider myself particularly political. But in recent years, I’ve become aware of  various kinds of community activism, and developed a real appreciation of what democracy means.

So I’m especially concerned about one Proposition that will be on the Ballot in November 2014. It’s Proposition I: Increased Usage of Children’s Playgrounds, Walking Trails, and Athletic Fields Act.

Prop I is being talked about as the opposite of Proposition H (opposing artificial turf on the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields),  hence such campaigns as Yes on H/  No on Prop I.

But it’s not just that.

Here’s what I worry about: If passed, Prop I would sharply erode community voices in future decisions made by SF Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) regarding our parks and open spaces. It tips the scales strongly in favor of SFRPD.

WHAT IS PROPOSITION I?

Proposition I changes the Parks Code so that any major project that SFRPD forecasts will double usage in an calendar year gets the go-ahead once its Environmental Impact Report is certified. Here’s the proposition (as a PDF): Nov2014_ParkCode

Here’s what it does:

  • Applies to any SFRPD project concerning athletic fields, children’s playgrounds, or walking trails – which sounds like it would cover most SFRPD parks and open spaces.
  • Makes “doubles usage in a calendar year” as a benchmark – even if doubling usage isn’t a good objective or usage would fall after one calendar year. (And of course, since it’s about the future, it’s a forecast.)
  • Says that once such a project’s EIR has been certified, it “should be allowed” – presumably cutting off appeals, ballot measures and other community input.
  • It’s also got a “poison pill” for Proposition H. If it gets more votes that Prop H, then it invalidates Proposition H even if Prop H got over 50% of the votes.

Because of the “poison pill” some people are saying Proposition I is ‘the anti-H.’ However, its impact is much broader.

prop i 5

The Anti-Prop H Clause – Prop I – Nov 2014

MUCH WIDER IN SCOPE THAN JUST AN ANTI-PROP-H MEASURE

 It allows SFRPD to proceed with any major project that they estimate will double usage in a calendar year, independent of the community’s desires or priorities. It removes nearly all means of appeal or review. So if this Prop I passes, then for any SFRPD project, they need only:

  1. Pick any project and estimate it will at least double usage within a calendar year;
  2. Hire a consultant to complete an EIR and agree that it will double forecast usage in a calendar year;
  3. As long as the EIR is certified, SFRPD can implement the project without any community input or challenge.
prop i 2

Estimating doubled usage in a calendar year is enough reason?

 

WHAT ABOUT CEQA?

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which is what requires projects to get Environmental Impact Reports, is enforced through lawsuits. There’s no regulatory body.

It’s not clear whether Prop I would take away the right to a legal appeal, or to a ballot measure. But the way it’s worded, it could do so.

Even worse – the language specifies it shall be “liberally construed.” This could mean anything.

prop i 3

“Liberal Construction” – Prop I – Nov 2014

Prop I can also be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of the Board of Supervisors with the Mayor’s approval. It doesn’t need to go back to the voters. This means the Supes and the Mayor can change a lot of the wording afterward.

prop i 4

“Amendment” – Proposition I – Nov 2014

WHY THE SUPERVISORS MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND

I know that City Hall is much in favor of Prop I. Seven supervisors signed to put it on the ballot, including Scott Wiener and David Chiu, both people whom I respect. Supervisor Wiener in particular feels it’s wrong for people opposing an SFRPD project to get more “bites at the apple” – after the Supervisors have approved it, and the EIR has been certified. I do understand that it’s frustrating when a multi-million dollar project is held up because a group of people in the community don’t want it.

What that argument doesn’t allow for is that the situation is inherently asymmetrical. The saying “You can’t fight City Hall” exists for a reason. All these rules – the Sunshine Act, the ability to go directly to the electorate via a ballot measure, the ability to take legal action – they all exist to redress the power imbalance, at least somewhat.

Theoretically, “City Hall” represents us. But a lot of things have to be weighed in any decision – from funds to feasibility to desirability of a project. And these can set up things so that what City Hall wants is not aligned with what the community wants.

Taking away avenues of recourse – including putting things on the ballot – feels efficient. But ‘efficient’ decisions are not always the right decisions.

ocean edge poster - yes on H - no on IJUST ABOUT SOCCER FIELDS?

Even though the main campaigners against Prop I are those who support Proposition H (and oppose artificial turf  in Golden Gate Park), the issue is so much broader.

That’s why I hope that Prop I doesn’t pass, no matter what happens to Prop H.

I was talking to  friends who plays soccer, and are willing to accept artificial turf as the price of play.  “I’m voting No on H, No on I,”  they said.

From where I sit it looks like Proposition I muffles the public voice about what happens in our parks.

I’d love to hear your views.

 

 

That No-Mow Fescue ‘Furry Grass’ Again

October 1, 2014

In 2010, I wrote about the  no-mow fescue planted on the side of Junipero Serra, right where it turns to Portola.  Here’s what it looked like at the time: a dramatic green, with a furry texture.

furry grassA year later, it was dry and looked more like hay, and I wrote about it again as ‘shaggy grass‘ in 2011.

furry grass aug 2011

Since I pass that way a lot, I have often thought of doing a follow up – especially this summer, when the whole thing had an interesting patchy look. It was brown for the most part, but green in the shadow of the big tree growing there.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get round to taking a picture until a few days ago, when the contrast was less dramatic. But it’s still evident. This is the grass where it’s dry.

brown grass no mow fescue

And here’s what it looks like under the tree. I can’t figure if the tree is helping the grass by shading it, or by watering it by harvesting fog, or something else. But within the outline of the tree, the grass is green.

green under the tree

I also found a bunch of mushrooms nestled in the grass, like these here.
mushrooms in the grass

Even at that busy intersection, the scent of the moment was the honey fragrance from the self-seeded sweet alyssum.

sweet alyssum

I love how nature fills in gaps with life and beauty.

Here’s another picture of the grass under the trees. You can see where it turns patchy outside the tree’s dripline.

green grass and patchy grass - no mow fescue

I was delighted to see a row of trees planted all along the sidewalk here.

When they’re grown, they’ll help the homes back there,  fighting the pollution from the heavy traffic on Junipero Serra. They’ll absorb some of the traffic noise. They’ll provide a pleasing visual barrier.

And they’ll shade the no-mow fescue grass and it will be green.

UCSF’s 15-Minute Public Hearing – Sept 2014

September 23, 2014

UCSF held a meeting for public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on its Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) on Sept 22, 2014. About 15-20 neighbors showed up. No one (including me) had any comments ready. The meeting started at 7p.m. and adjourned at 7.15 p.m.

DEIR for UCSF LRDP 2014

I picked up a copy of the DEIR; it’s roughly 2 inches thick. The electronic version on UCSF’s website is HERE.

UCSF are accepting written comments until October 14th.

It was surprising that no one commented. It was such a contrast with a similar meeting last year for DEIR comments about cutting down trees in Sutro Forest. There, 250 people showed up, 50 spoke (with over 70% opposed), and it ran to 9.15 p.m.

WHAT’S HAPPENING ABOUT SUTRO FOREST?

This EIR was for the Long Range Development Plan, which is mainly about construction and changes in usage in Parnassus as well as UCSF’s other campuses. They have said that Sutro Forest is specifically excluded, since it will have its own Plan and will presumably have another EIR.

(As of now, we understand that UCSF has a new plan for Sutro Forest that focuses on fire hazard and commits to not using herbicides. We actually think the plan will increase, not decrease, the fire hazard by drying out the forest and making it windier. Anyway, the only information we have about the plan came from a Powerpoint presentation. There’s no EIR yet, but UCSF has said the new plan would need a new EIR when they can devote resources to it.)

Meanwhile, what UCSF has been doing is cutting down trees first for “fire safety” and then for “hazard reduction. More trees are expected to be felled before year end. This is considered routine maintenance and doesn’t require an EIR.

As far as we can gauge right now, the LRDP still affects the Forest in three ways:

  • A new trail is to be built from the Inner Sunset side, which is good; but it is likely to cost trees, which is bad.
  • They are removing Aldea Student Housing from the space ceiling, with the immediate effect of preserving some buildings scheduled to be knocked down, and a long term impact of – who knows?
  • They plan to knock down two small office buildings in the forest – just off the parking lots. It’s a Space Ceiling issue.

HOW IS FOREST KNOLLS IMPACTED?

We will possibly be impacted by UCSF removing Aldea Student Housing from the Space Ceiling. The immediate effect is that they will keep three buildings they had planned to knock down.

In the longer term, it could mean expansion at Aldea, which would of course impact our neighborhood, since the only thing between the student housing area and Forest Knolls is a strip of trees – which was thinned last August, so the housing is now clearly visible from Christopher.

At present, UCSF has said the LRDP includes no plans to expand in Aldea.

If I figure out any other impacts, I’ll post about it here.

 

Free Fitness Festival at UCSF Parnassus on Sept 25, 2014

September 19, 2014

UCSF sent around this message to all the Parnassus neighbors (broadly defined). The event is open to all.

aerobic dancerNext week, the fitness center in UCSF’s Millberry Union is hosting a festival with complimentary workout classes and fitness consultations.  The free activities are open to the UCSF community and to neighbors.

September 25, 2014
Millberry Fitness & Recreation Center
500 Parnassus Avenue, Level B1

Body Composition Testing
Personal Trainer Consultations
Event Specials

Mid-Day Schedule
11:00 am-2:30 pm            Free body composition testing and fitness consultations
11:15 am-11:45 am          GRIT™ CARDIO
11:50 am-12:35 pm          ZUMBA®
12:45-1:15 pm                    CXWORX™
1:30-2:20 pm                      BODYFLOW ™

Evening Schedule
4:30-7:30 pm                      Free body composition testing and fitness consultations
5:00-5:45 pm                      ZUMBA®
5:50-6:20 pm                      Motown Moves
6:25-7:15 pm                      BODYCOMBAT ™

For more information, call 415.476.0348 or visit http://bit.ly/UCSFFitnessFestival2014

THERE’S PARKING (FOR A FEE)

Three convenient sites serve our 107-acre Parnassus campus, located south of Golden Gate Park.

  • Millberry Union Public Garage: 500 Parnassus Avenue, located across from the Medical Sciences Building
  • Westside/Kirkham Surface Lot: 707 Parnassus Avenue, located behind the School of Dentistry
  • Beckman/Koret Surface Lot: 5th Avenue at Kirkham

Public parking rates at Parnassus garages are as follows:
0-1 Hours = $3.75
1-2 Hours = $7.50
2-3 Hours = $11.25
3-4 Hours = $15.00
4-5 Hours = $18.75 (24-hour comp sticker rate)
5-6 Hours = $22.50
6-7 Hours = $26.25
7-24 Hours = $30.00 (daily maximum)

The parking rate for motorcycles is a $5.00 daily maximum.

Disabled parking rates are as follows:
0-1 Hours = $3.75
1-2 Hours = $6.00
2-3 Hours = $6.00 (daily maximum)
Weeknight (6:00 pm-7:00 am) and weekend parking is available at the Westside/Kirkham Surface Lot and Beckman/Koret Surface Lot at a rate of $3.00.
– See more at: http://campuslifeservices.ucsf.edu/transportation/services/parking/public_parking#sthash.zZSBtQfS.dpuf

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