Coit Tower Ballot, Mount Davidson Tree Destruction: The West of Twin Peaks Council Meets

I went to the West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WTPCC) meeting last evening, at the beautiful Forest Hill clubhouse. The WTPCC is an association of associations; it has some 22 member organizations (including Forest Knolls).


The Coit Tower initiative that I wrote about last time got enough signatures to go on the ballot, so you’ll be seeing it when you vote. It’s trying to push the SF Rec & Park to spend some of the visitors’ fees money to actually maintain the tower, which risks water-damage and cracks to its famous murals. WTPCC wants to write a supportive note on the ballot. It costs $200 + $2 per word. After a heated discussion about the exact wording, they decided to budget of $500 for it, and will sort out the wording later.


Gus Guibert,  Open Space committee, gave a hard-hitting presentation on what SFRPD’s Natural Areas Program (NAP) plans for Mount Davidson:

  • 1600 trees to be felled, including clear-cutting a 3.86 area, with more tree losses expected to wind-throw;
  • suppression and removal of uncounted saplings under 15 feet in height;
  • closure of several trails.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said that with NAP’s budget merely $1.3 mn annually, this is an unfunded initiative. But the fact is, as I pointed out, that trees are already being killed.

(As an aside: On Mt Davidson, a number of trees have been “girdled.” If bark is removed all around the trunk of a tree, it starves to death. The San Francisco Forest Alliance ( has recently been organized to fight tree-felling, habitat destruction, use of toxic herbicides and waste of money better utilized elsewhere. I’ve joined that group. It’s trying to prevent further damage to Natural Areas including Mount Davidson.)

Separately, Sean Elsbernd discussed the America’s Cup, and also the planned new Parks Bond of $185 mn.


If anyone is interested in NERT (Emergency Response) training, it’s on offer at Aptos Middle School Thursday evenings starting March 15th and running through April 26th. It’s free, and kids (especially grade school age) are welcome with their parents.  Click here for the flyer (It’s a PDF file).


Patrick Monette-Shaw, who has been investigating Laguna Honda Hospital’s issues around its Patients Gift Fund, was awarded the James Madison Freedom of Information Award.  WTPCC congratulated him. His advocacy pushed the City into a full audit of the Fund.

Mitch Bull, who publishes the Westside Observer, ran the articles. He pointed out that it’s the small neighborhood newspapers that actually have freedom of speech. (I agree. Westside Observer ran a story about Sutro Forest back in November 2009, when most papers were in lockstep favoring  the Native Areas Program and tree-felling.)

(Other problems relating to Laguna Honda Hospital:  Right now, it’s a loud whiny aircon system that’s eroded an estimated $50,000 each from the value of nearby homes in Midtown Terrace by rendering their yards unusable.)

I have to say I’m an admirer of neighborhood newspapers and newsletters that address day-to-day issues that impact our lives. Will blogs ever replace them? I don’t know, but I’m glad that these newspapers are available online as well. It makes their archives easy to access long after the last paper issue got tossed out.

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