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McLaren Lodge and the Sunshine Act

January 19, 2012

A few days ago, I visited McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park. Everyone knows this handsome old building.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I was there on a mission, looking for information under San Francisco’s Sunshine Act.

(Pardon me while I digress.  There are many things I love about San Francisco, most of which any casual visitor could appreciate (and do, when I take guests on the usual rounds of our city). But for someone who lives here, the Sunshine Ordinance is right up there with the views and the diversity. Its implies that ordinary people can ask for information from the city for any reason and no reason, because it’s their right.  I love the way that democracy here is built of small elements right at ground level. A community meeting here, a piece of local legislation there. I burbled about it two years ago in Admiring America and from time to time, I still burble.)

Anyway. I was looking for information on SF Rec & Parks Department’s pesticide use. Olive Gong, SFRPD’s own Lady Sunshine, is responsible for answering these  Sunshine requests. She emailed me to suggest I come in to look at the records, rather than her trying to send them to me. When I saw the binders, I understood why. It made a lot more sense for me to go through them, rather than her trying to copy what must have been maybe 5-10 lbs of paper…

John McLaren in McLaren Lodge Conference Room

McLaren looks down at the pesticide binders...

She was most gracious. She set me up in a corner of the conference room (which would be available for a couple of hours)  and popped in from time to time to check if I needed anything. I didn’t … I just needed not to be distracted from my work by the sheer awesomeness of the place.

McLaren Lodge is handsome on the outside, and it’s gorgeous on the inside. It used to be John McLaren’s residence. The conference room is paneled in what looks like leather: understated, elegant, warm. The view outside is Golden Gate Park.  It’s a good tribute to the man who made the park.

And the mission I was on? I was trying to find out more about pesticide use, particularly by the Natural Areas Program. For anyone who’s interested, the preliminary report of what I found is at the Save Sutro Forest website.

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