I love that I can walk late at night in Forest Knolls. I’ve always enjoyed these magical (though infrequent walks). Now, with social distancing, they’re better than ever; there’s hardly anyone around.
Last week, I was out a couple of times. The first night was as still and quiet as if someone had turned off the world’s sound. On my way home I saw a dark shape on the sidewalk ahead. At first, it was so still that I thought it was a small abandoned suitcase or something. But as I came closer, it moved, and the light from the street-lamp showed me a raccoon. It looked at me and dived into the roadside shrubs. I went out to the middle of the road to give it enough room. Though I was pleased to see it. With all the precautions people (including us) take with their trashcans, I thought raccoons had abandoned our neighborhood for lack of food.
Another night, the quiet was broken by one of my favorite sounds: a Great Horned Owl up in Sutro Forest. It sounded like a lone owl, and stopped after a few hoots. Later in the year, perhaps I’ll hear the duets of a pair talking to each other.
And the same night, the best sighting of all: a coyote, out on Oak Park Drive near the staircase called Glenhaven Lane. When it saw me, it retreated up the staircase, and then onto the hillside so it could escape into the bushes if I pursued it. I didn’t, of course. I gave it a wide berth, and took a few blurry pictures with my cellphone.
Also gone – the tall trees that lined Clarendon Avenue in front of the Aldea San Miguel UCSF student housing.
I remember a time when you couldn’t even see the fence from the street. When UCSF thinned the vegetation there many years ago, they promised plantings that would conceal the chain link fence. Well, they planted some vines, but the concealment didn’t happen.
The chain-link fence is more prominent than ever.
And across the road, a swath of trees adjacent to the homes on Clarendon have been felled too, I think by SF Rec and Parks (or possibly Sutro Tower, not sure).
Over the last decade, we have lost a lot of the glorious trees that made Forest Knolls a community surrounded by forest. I’m glad I had a chance to see them in their former beauty.
I got an email requesting me to post this notice about the Forest Knolls Block party…
It’s on Sunday May 19th 2018, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. and will be held in the 100 block cul-de-sac of Forest Knolls Drive (that’s just above the Clarendon School playground.) There’ll be snacks (tacos, empanadas) and drinks, a bouncy house, balloons, a fortune teller and a photo booth and more. Representatives from SAFE – Neighborhood Watch, the NERT Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, and from the Fire Station and SFPD may be present. Please RSVP to Walter Caplan at email@example.com
I attended a meeting at UCSF’s Milberry Union last evening, 20 March 2019.
UCSF is rejigging its plans for Parnassus. After spending the last many years focused on its new location at Mission Bay, they want to come back to where it all started: Parnassus. They’re planning a new hospital by 2029, which will comply with new seismic codes. Beyond that, they want to improve the aesthetics of the Parnassus experience – create a sense of entry, strengthen the connection to Golden Gate Park and Mount Sutro, and build more space. They have a community group working on it, with mostly Inner Sunset residents and UCSF staff. (The list is here as a PDF: UCSF_Parnassus_Heights_Roster )
NEW PLANS FOR ALDEA
For those who aren’t aware of it, UCSF’s Aldea Student Housing adjoins Forest Knolls to the north just above Christopher Drive from Clarendon Avenue to where the forest is cut for the pipeline.
Among the plans to expand housing for students and staff, they are considering rebuilding the student housing at Aldea, from 171 units now to 500+ units when the project concludes. Aldea used to be subject to the “space ceiling” (explained in this post: UCSF’s Space Ceiling Saga) but apparently in 2014, the UC Regents decided to exempt it – as with all the other student housing.
To do this, they plan to replace their current, mostly 3-storied buildings, with 5-8 story buildings. They will probably start with the oldest ones, which are nearest to Forest Knolls.
For our neighborhood, it raises several questions:
Parking. As it is, a lot of UCSF people park in Forest Knolls and Midtown Terrace because of inadequate parking at Aldea and Parnassus. If the number of units at Aldea triples, what happens to parking?
Traffic. Aldea gives on to Clarendon at an awkward spot, just before the wide road up from Laguna Honda turns into the narrow one joining Twin Peaks Boulevard. Right now, Aldea doesn’t generate much traffic. But if it’s going to be housing 500 families? This is an area with NO amenities within walking distance – even a gallon of milk is a car-ride away. The connections to MUNI are also dismal. The only thing they have is the UCSF shuttle, down to Parnassus.
Aesthetics. Aldea is adjacent to Forest Knolls on the north. Right now, the Aldea buildings are low-key, low-rise shingled buildings partially hidden by trees. With plans for major tree removal as part of the “Vegetation Management Plan” for Mount Sutro, these buildings will be much more visible. The most recent structure at Aldea, the community center, is not very reassuring in terms of aesthetic inspiration. (See the boxy structure in the picture below.)
Time Line. I didn’t get a clear sense of the time-line on Aldea. There’s something on the last slide that suggests 2025 as the target date, which means they will move quickly. As a state organization, they don’t need city permission, and are exempt from the usual constraints on building.
I’m uploading a bunch of pictures I took of the presentation. They said that they would be putting it on their website, so hopefully you can get better quality pictures there soon. (I might download it here if it’s feasible.)
Most of us, very fortunately, haven’t ever had to run for our lives ahead of a fire or flood or earthquake. But if it happens – it’s difficult to think straight. Someone posted this “Grab & Go” to Facebook and it looked so useful that I printed several copies.
Just in case you didn’t get the Forest Knolls annual holiday party flyer in your mailbox, here is the information.
The Forest Knolls Holiday Party is set for Sunday, 12/9, from 4-8pm with a dinner buffet at 5pm. The event will be held at the Armenian Church at 275 Olympia Way, next to our fire station.
If you plan to attend, PLEASE RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s a form to be filled in and mailed to Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization, PO Box 31387, SF 94131 (or you can email email@example.com). Adults are $25/person, kids are free. Photos of the front and back of the flyer are given below.
If you’re on the loop and want to trick-or-treaters coming by, you’ll need to be home on Wednesday Oct 31 between 5.30 and 8 p.m. (with candy!). Email the organizers by Sunday Oct 21 at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 415-621-0500. They’ll give you a pumpkin and a sign to indicate you’re participating.
If you want to take your kids trick-or-treating, bring them to the loop between 5.30 and 8 pm. on Oct 31 – and look out for the pumpkins of participation!