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Sutro Forest 2017 Plan Imposes a Landslide Risk

This article is reprinted from SaveSutro.com with permission. The landslide hazard described touches our neighborhood; Christopher Drive and Crestmont are both in Forest Knolls!

This is risk that may actually increase over the years as a result of actions being taken now, for two reasons.

  • First, tree roots take time to die and rot, but when they do, they weaken the living geotextile that stabilizes the hillside.
  • Second, trees take up water and help to regulate moisture deep in the ground. When large trees are cut down and stop doing this, small saplings and ground cover are not an effective substitute. So if the trees are cut in dry or normal years, nothing may happen for a while – and then a really wet year can trigger landslides that would not have happened if the trees had remained.

Landslide under blue tarp. South Ridge at top left.

We’re reading the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the 2017 Sutro Forest Plan, and got to the section on landslide risk. This has been one of our concerns, especially since the tragedy at Oso, Washington, where the felling of trees in previous years was a factor in destabilizing the slope. (We wrote about that HERE: Cut Trees, Add Landslide Risk) We know this area is subject to landslides – we had a blue tarp covering unstable areas in Forest Knolls for a year when cutting trees destabilized a slope, and another just above UCSF’s Aldea housing area.

SHOCKING LANDSLIDE INFORMATION

We were shocked at what we found in the DEIR:
“Increased instability could cause a landslide that would impact Crestmont Drive, Christopher Drive, and Johnstone Drive. An existing landslide scarp is visible above Christopher Drive. Some homes along Christopher Drive could be placed at additional risk from localized landslides due to plan implementation. Phase I activities would result in a potentially significant impact…”

The map above is taken from the DEIR. All the dark green areas are potentially unstable. All the gold areas are potentially unstable. All the cream areas are potentially unstable. The little red blobs and stars are already unstable. The black arrows show the direction of potential landslides – right into our communities. Here’s the key to the map. The light yellow and light green areas are where they are cutting down trees in Phase I (five years, starting this fall – 2017):

Legend to Landslide Hazard Map Sutro Forest 2017

What’s the proposed “mitigation”? Avoiding work in the forest for 2 days when the soil is wet after rain. This completely ignores the fact that landslides are a MULTI-YEAR hazard after tree removal.

Here’s the proposed mitigation in their own words:
“After a significant storm event (defined as 0.5 inches of rain within a 48-hour or greater period), the following conditions shall be met prior to any vegetation management activities:

  • The maps detailing areas of historic slope instability or rock fall in the Final Geotechnical and Geological Evaluation Report for UCSF Mount Sutro shall be reviewed (Rutherford + Chekene 2013) 
  • If ground-disturbing or vegetation removal activities are proposed within or adjacent to areas of historic slope instability or rock fall, the saturation of the soils shall be estimated in the field; if muddy water drips from a handful of soil, the soil is considered saturated (Brouwer, Goffeau and Heibloem 1985) 
  • The areas of historic slope instability or rock fall shall be flagged if the moisture content of the soils is determined to be high (i.e., muddy) and ground-disturbing or vegetation removal activities shall be avoided for a minimum of 48-hours after a significant storm event to permit soil drying…”

In other words, we won’t chop down trees in the rain or when the soil is wet.

Other mitigations are palliative. They’re planning to build roads into the forest for trucks and heavy equipment, and those roads will follow the contour of the slope. The quarter-acre staging plazas – where they’ll remove trees so trucks can turn around and heavy equipment be parked – will be flattish, with a slight slope for drainage. None of this is as effective as not building these roads or bringing in heavy equipment in the first place.

WHY THE MITIGATION IS MEANINGLESS

The problem is, the effect of cutting down trees is a LONG TERM problem. The effect of tree removal takes years – not days, not months – to fix. In Oso, Washington, the slope gave way three years after the last tree-destruction. Here’s the story (from the article we published at the time). The tragedy was foreseen… but the regulators thought they had enough mitigations in place.

On March 22, 2014, a huge landslide destroyed the small Washington community of Oso. Rain was of course a factor, as was erosion at the base of the slope. But it’s probable that tree-cutting above the slide area was an important factor too. An article in the Seattle Times that quotes a report from Lee Benda, a University of Washington geologist. It said tree removal could increase soil water “on the order of 20 to 35 percent” — and that the impact could last 16-27 years, until new trees matured. Benda looked at past slides on the hill and found they occurred within five to 10 years of harvests [i.e. felling trees for timber].

There had been red flags before. The area was second growth forest, grown back from logging in the 1920s/30s. Over 300 acres were again logged in the late 1980s.

The first time regulators tried to stop logging on the hill was in 1988. But the owner of the timber successfully argued that measures could be taken to mitigate the risk. Eventually, the state only blocked it from logging some 48 acres, and the owners  gave in on that.

In 2004, new owners applied to cut 15 acres; when the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) objected, they halved the area and re-located the cut. DNR gave approval, subject to no work during heavy rain and for a day afterward. The tree-cutting finished in August 2005.

In January 2006, there was a major landslide 600 feet from the cut zone. The state built a log wall to shore up the slope.

The owners continued logging. In 2009, they removed 20% of the trees. In 2011, they removed another 15%. In 2014, the hillside collapsed.

The regulators were aware of the risk; they thought they were mitigating it with their restrictions and reaching a compromise with the owners. But it wasn’t enough. Destabilizing the mountainside is a long-term thing; the effects can show up in months, but it’s more likely to take years.

THE LESSON FOR MOUNT SUTRO

Our mountains not only are potentially unstable, they actually have landslides. The picture at the end of this article shows one on Twin Peaks, where rocks tumble after nearly every heavy rainy season.

The roots of the trees are helping to hold the unstable soil in place and that as the roots rot, landslide risk will increase.  It is going to be more unstable 2-3 years after the trees are removed than 2 days after it rains.  The information that instability increases over time is a little counter-intuitive.

Moreover, removing the trees takes away their ability to suck water out of the soil. If the tree-cutting is done in dry years, it may take a wet winter to trigger landslides… which would not have happened if the trees had been regulating the water and functioning as a living geotextile.

Since UCSF are not going to use herbicides on the stumps to prevent them from resprouting, they say they will grind the stumps.  That is an effective way to prevent resprouting, but it will greatly increase the instability of the soil because the heavy equipment digs down several feet into the stump to destroy the roots.  That’s another reason why they should not destroy trees where slide risk has been identified.

Anyone seriously considering the map above can only hope that UCSF will draw a better conclusion than the Washington State loggers and regulators. The planned destruction of thousands of trees – many within the first five years – could cause landslides in surrounding communities not days or months later, but years after the event.

UCSF: First, do no harm!

Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday April 16th – Inner Sunset

Here’s an announcement from Barbara Oleksiw, who organizes great neighborhood events in the Inner Sunset. (Thanks, Barbara!):

Sunday, April 16, 2017 – 10a.m.to Noon
NW Corner of 6th & Irving, Inner Sunset,
ALL Welcome to the **FREE** Easter Egg Hunt, in the Inner Sunset.
Rain or Shine, 10 a.m. to Noon.

Hundreds and hundreds of hidden eggs waiting to be found.

Bring your basket, or use one of ours!

No age too young.

Our Forest Knolls Coyotes

We’ve known for years that coyotes are all around us in Forest Knolls – I wrote about it here when a couple of neighbors reported seeing them. (LINK: Coyotes Among Us)

But this time, neighbor Michelle Lukban got this really neat picture (published here with permission). For everyone who’s been jealous of Bernal Heights coyote pictures, we got ours! [Edited 3/27/17 to correct attribution of picture]

 

BEING CAREFUL AROUND COYOTES

Janet Kessler,  the Jane Goodall of SF’s coyotes, has for many years been observing, photographing, and reporting on our San Francisco coyotes. Her website is at CoyoteYipps.com. She’s also involved with Coyote Coexistence, an organization that helps people and coyotes to co-exist safely.

For guidelines on staying safe – and keeping pets safe – around coyotes, click on this LINK:  Coyote Coexistence Guidelines

And here’s a 30-minute video on the subject.

Coyotes are not very concerned about people, and are generally quite shy of them. But they are very interested in dogs. Coyotes are territorial animals, and dogs could be considered interlopers. Also, some dogs chase coyotes, and so coyotes may feel threatened.  Often the coyote will remember which dog it was. Don’t let your dog do this. It could be dangerous for both animals. Finally, really small dogs – and cats – may be viewed as prey. This is rare, but it has happened. If you have pets, the video above may be useful.

Coyote looking at a dog (2011)

“San Francisco Overlook” Project for Sale

We’ve been following the much-disputed San Francisco Overlook project for some years now.

 

Crestmont map

This is the planned development at the end of narrow, twisting, Crestmont Drive and was earlier called the Crestmont Hills project.

San Francisco’s Planning Commission approved it in 2013, and we reported on that HERE. Soon afterward, the developers reached an agreement with the Mt Sutro Woods Home Owners’  Association to reduce the number of units from 34 to 29, and reduce the heights of the buildings. An April 2015 report on the real estate website, SocketSite.com, reported that the project was able to proceed.

But it didn’t proceed. Instead, it was put up for sale.

sf-overlook-crestmont-location
SF Overlook Project on a very steep slope – Google Maps image

FOR SALE AT $14 MILLION

  • In May 2015 SocketSite reported that the site was for sale, with the plans for the units (but without building permits).
  • In January 2016 they reported that the asking price, initially $20 million, had been cut to $15 million.
  • And in November 2016, they said the price had been cut to $14 million.

Hmm. According to a November 2016 mailing I received from realtor John Kirkpatrick, homes in the Forest Knolls neighborhood sold for an average of $1.195 million. Forest Knolls homes have 2 or 3 bedrooms and 1 or 2 bathrooms, but the back half of the garage typically offers customizable space. You can put in another 2 rooms and bathroom down there if you want. They’re standalone homes with no shared walls and most of them have a yard. That’s the competition to this project.

Let’s say these 29 luxury homes are priced at about $1.5 million, because they’ll have the latest fit and finish. Other benefits, like a 2-car garage and views are not unique to the development.

That would be a gross take of $43.5 mn, roughly 3 times the asking cost of the land and plans. Is it worth it? I don’t know.

ACCESS IS STILL AN ISSUE

Though there’s an agreement with the Mt Sutro Woods HOA, the project’s  only access runs through the very narrow Crestmont Drive, which has houses on one side and a steep hillside on the other. Though on the map it looks like you could easily link it up to 5th Avenue, the intervening land doesn’t belong to the developer and is also very steep.

The way in to these 29 would-be homes is through the Forest Knolls neighborhood. Fears of destabilizing the mountainside where many homes are supported by concrete piers, fears of added traffic on an already narrow street, fears of potential emergency situations with very poor access, all could fuel more opposition.

The steep hillside above the planned development
The steep hillside above the planned development

Forest Knolls Holiday Party – Dec 18, 2016

christmas-treeWalter Caplan of the Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization asked me to post this “save the date” for the Forest Knolls Holiday Party. It’ll be at the Armenian Church at 275 Olympia Way, on Dec 18 at 4 p.m. – with snacks, dinner, Santa, and gifts for children.

Unlike previous years, there’ll be a $10 per adult charge to cover costs. Children are free! If you wish to attend, please fill in the form below (or still better, in the linked PDF file) and mail it in with your check.

(Download the PDF here: forest-knolls-christmas-2016-save-the-date2a )

fk-party-dec-18-2016-1

fk-party-dec-18-2016-2

Halloween Loop in Forest Knolls – 2016

pumpkin clipart public domainIt’s that time of the year again! You may have seen the orange flyer in your mailbox or on the fence at the entrance to Forest Knolls: “Forest Knolls Trick or Treat Monday October 31”

Each year, the Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization (FKNO) encourages neighbors on Oak Park and Warren Drive (and a small stretch of Christopher) to join the “Loop” – a Halloween-friendly route that kids can trick-or-treat on.

This year, it’s been expanded to Forest Knolls Drive and Woodhaven Court. It runs between 5.30 and 8 p.m. People who want to greet kids with candy can get a pumpkin and a pumpkin sign to let them know they’re in. FKNO will provide both pumpkin and sign – email Walter Caplan at whcaplan@comcast.net

halloween-2016-1Here’s the map. If anyone wants to send me pictures afterward (and maybe a few lines about the event?) I’d be happy to publish them.

halloween-2016-2

Humpback Whales in Pacifica

One of the delights of living where we do is being so close to wildlife. I don’t mean just the raccoons or the hawks – but actual whales! I’d been seeing Youtube video of humpback whales in Pacifica, barely 15 minutes south of us.

whale spout_4867

So I went out to Pacifica Pier around 4 p.m. on a sunny Saturday afternoon,  hoping that I’d maybe see a whale. I was disappointed to find access is truncated – the pier is shaped like a shallow L, but the short arm was closed off after a big storm damaged the parapet. (In the picture below, you can see the concrete slab of the wall has been pushed in by the waves. I wish they’d repair it!)

damaged pier 4784

In the fine weather, the Pier was crowded.  Lots of people were fishing, lots of others walking around. My hopes rose when I saw a couple of people armed with cameras with lenses as long as my forearm… maybe they were seeing whales? I only had my iPhone camera, but thought maybe I’d get some distant sightings.

I didn’t have to wait long. Almost immediately, I could see the puffs of whale-spouts in the distance, north of the pier.

whale spout of Pacifica Pier 4782
Humpback whale spout off Pacifica Pier

Soon I could even see the whales when they surfaced. Flocks of birds surrounded them. As they fed, the fish that escaped them fed the gulls and other sea-birds. After I’d been there an hour or so, I wanted to leave. Except, I couldn’t. Every time I started to leave, more whales swam by.

fishing poles and whale spouts Pacifica CA 4819

Finally, one came in so close, it was inside the surf line. Someone next to me was explaining to a friend that it was likely a calf, and the shallow water was easier to breathe in. It was almost alongside the pier. After a minute or two, it turned around and swam back out.

humpback whale pacifica 4846

 

Police and Guns on Clarendon – and Why

Our neighborhood doesn’t see much crime, so it was surprising when neighbor Florence Meyering posted on NextDoor that there were police on Clarendon Avenue with guns drawn! (This was on 23rd July 2016 around 5.30 p.m.)

Police on ClarendonAs I was driving on Clarendon/Twin Peaks Blvd, I saw police with guns out and police cars were arriving from everywhere. They were looking at the hill towards Mount Sutro Forest. Does anyone know what was going on and if they caught whomever were were after?” she posted, along with the picture above.

So I wrote to Park Station police, and they wrote back within a couple of days: “On that date and time, there was a carjacking that occurred. I believe officers were most likely responding to this incident. The suspect is in custody and the stolen vehicle returned to it’s rightful owner.”

All’s well that ends well.

 

If You Host AirBnB or Similar, Please Register!

neighborhood-housesAre you a short-term rental host? (AirBnB, VRBO, even on Craigslist – anything less than 30 days at a time) The city of San Francisco requires you to register. Walter Kaplan asked me to publish this PSA:

Forest Knolls residents who wish to act as a short-term rental host MUST register with the City’s Office of Short Term Rentals. The City is hosting a registration event at the Ortega Branch of the San Francisco Public Library on Thursday May 5, from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.
There will be walk-in registration, and no appointment is required.

Here’s the original message from the city:

Hi. Here is the information on the upcoming (City-run) registration event at the Ortega Branch of the Public Library. Feel free to share with your neighbors.

Short Version: If you plan to host short-term rentals (including through websites such as VRBO, Airbnb, & Craiglist) in your home, then registration is required with the City’s Office of Short-Term Rentals. A walk-in registration event (no appointment required) will be held at the community room of the Ortega Branch Library, on the evening of May 5th from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM. For more information visit http://www.sfgov.org/OSTR.

Long Form Version:

The San Francisco Office of Short-Term Rentals is offering additional opportunities to apply for registration as a Short-Term Rental host** or just to ask questions.

  • At the Ortega branch (3223 Ortega Street – meeting room) of the San Francisco Public Library on the evening of May 5th, from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Walk-in registration (no appointment required). This is not a library sponsored program.
  • Walk-in registrations (no appointment required) at 1660 Mission Street (inside the Dept. of Building Inspection), on the 5th floor, on every Wednesday afternoon, between 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.
  • Evening walk-in registrations (no appointment required) on the first Monday of every month, from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM, at the Planning Department. Located at 1650 Mission Street, on the 4th Floor.
  • At the Earthquake Retrofit Fair on April 18th from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, at Bill Graham Auditorium, located at 99 Grove Street. No appointment required.
  • Registrations can also be handled, by appointment, on most weekdays (at 1660 Mission Street), and take about 20 minutes. Appointments are held at 1660 Mission Street, on the 5th floor. Appointments can be requested online at http://www.sfgov.org/OSTR.
  • Having a complete application and required documents (listed on Page 3 of the application form) can help speed up review and approvals after the registration event or appointment.
  • Registration is required with BOTH the Office of Short-Term Rentals AND the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector.

For more information on the application requirements, including documents needed in order to register visit http://www.sfgov.org/OSTR.

For more information on registering with the Treasurer & Tax Collector, visit http://www.businessportal.sfgov.org/home-rentals.

Hosting Short-Term Rentals WITHOUT being registered with the Office of Short-Term Rentals can result in daily fines. The City’s Administrative Code (Section 41A) requires registration if a permanent San Francisco resident would like to host short-term rentals in their home. To file a complaint about a Short-Term Rental, or if you have any questions please contact us at shorttermrentals@sfgov.org or (415) 575-9179.

 **Short-Term Rentals are for stays of 30 days or less, that are hosted in residential dwellings. This includes if you offer stays in your home through the use of online platforms such as: Airbnb, Craigslist, Flipkey, HomeAway, and VRBO.

Regards,

OMAR MASRY, AICP | SENIOR ANALYST
Office of Short Term Rentals, City & County of San Francisco
omar.masry@sfgov.org
P. 415.575.9116 l F. 415.558.6409
1650 Mission Street | 4th Floor | San Francisco | CA 94103
http://www.sfgov.org/OSTR

FREE Inner Sunset Easter-Egg Hunt, Sunday March 27, 2016

Barbara Oleksiw, our favorite organizer of fun FREE events for neighbors, writes:

kitten doggy thumbnailFREE Inner Sunset Easter-Egg Hunt, Easter Sunday, March 27th, 10 a.m. to Noon.

We’re again expecting the Easter Bunny to hide gazillions of colorful eggs
in our backyard.

easter eggsWe hope you’ll come hunt…or come watch the excitement.
We’re at the NW corner of 6th & Irving, San Francisco 94122

Gates open at 10a.m, but there’ll be plenty of supplies for those coming later.
Bring your own basket … or use one of ours. All welcome.

Clarendon Trail Head Planned Beside Forest Knolls

forest-before The Sutro Stewards and UCSF are going ahead with plans to build the Clarendon connector trail, which would run inside the screen of trees that divides Forest Knolls from UCSF’s Aldea Housing.  This is, coincidentally, the area that was severely thinned in August 2013. (Before picture above, after picture below.) This means that the actual trail probably will cause less destruction than it would have before. They hope to finish it by November 2016.

forest-afterThe trail would start on the Clarendon- Christopher corner, go into the narrow alley behind the pump house and fence, and continue on parallel to Christopher. (That’s the orange line on the map below.)

clarendon trail

They’re also going to punch a new trail through on the South Ridge (the purple squiggly line), in addition to the Quarry Road Trail that was built with no notice to the community. These trails would not be bad, except that they always end up destroying trees – if not immediately, a year or two later when tree lining the trail are declared hazardous. Over 1500 trees have been removed since 2013, with around 350 being felled this last winter. There’s such a thing as too many trails for a 63-acre forest.

NEW TRAIL HEAD PLANNED

On March 14th, they had a meeting to design a formal new trail head at Clarendon x Christopher. (The red labels aren’t original to the picture, they’re just to orient you.)

clarendon trail head site nowThe initial designs showed a seating area of granite, a kiosk with maps and signs, and gravel.  The idea was to provide a well-marked entrance to the forest from the UCSF side (there is already one from the Stanyan side) that would avoid the campus, connect to new trails across Clarendon Avenue being built by San Francisco Recreation and Parks (SFRPD) near Sutro Tower, and have street parking available since UCSF has no plans to provide additional parking for this.  They were looking for public input on what they wanted at the Trail Head.

planned clarendon trail head UCSF

Some of the ideas – seating, some kind of shelter from the wind that blows up Clarendon, a water-fountain, an earthen berm along the Christopher side to provide wind protection,  permeable pavers on the ground instead of gravel.

So far, no funds have been set aside for this. It seems to be a fund-raising opportunity for the Sutro Stewards, who plan to write grant proposals for the money. UCSF may provide some funding too, but it is unclear how much.  The team – the Sutro Stewards, and Julie Sutton of UCSF, seemed to want people to think big. Maybe that would justify a bigger grant?

CONNECTING TO OTHER SFRPD TRAILS

Lisa Wayne of SFRPD attended, to show how the new trail would link to three other trail projects SFRPD is working on: The Creeks-to-Peaks Trail from Glen Canyon to Twin Peaks (already being built); the plan to turn half of the figure 8 on Twin Peaks into a bicycle/ pedestrian area by restricting cars to the other half (in design); and trails to connect Twin Peaks to Mount Sutro via trails past Sutro Tower (yellow dotted line below – in planning).

lisa wayne shows planned trail system

She’s hoping to get work started this summer, for an opportunity to use VOCAL volunteers. Hope this doesn’t  mean cutting down trees in the nesting season. Actually, not cutting down trees at all would be better, but trees are apparently the casualty of every SFRPD project, especially near any “Natural Area.”

next steps for SFRPD trail projects

CONNECTING TO THE BAY AREA RIDGE TRAIL

Several people from the Bay Area Ridge Trail group came, and Bern Smith spoke about how this new trail would connect to other trails and become part of a 550-mile trail system around the Bay.

Bay Area Ridge Trail visionWHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FOREST KNOLLS?

Quite aside from such issues as tree removal and thinning of the forest, this project will practically be part of our neighborhood. On the one hand, if there’s enough seating, it might make a picnic or gathering spot for a neighborhood that doesn’t have one. On the other – could this mean parking problems on nice days?

UCSF is taking comments. You can send them to Christine Gasparac: christine.gasparac@ucsf.edu

COMMENTS AT THE MEETING

The gallery below shows the comments  from people at the meeting – which included a few members of the public, but no neighborhood representatives. If you click on the pictures, they should become legible.

 

UCSF: Free Kids’ Dental Care Day – Feb 16, 2016

I was contacted by UCSF School of Dentistry – which is hosting is hosting free dental care event for kids at the UCSF Dental Center at 707 Parnassus SF 94143 – and asked for help spreading the word. Please feel free to forward this post if you know anyone who would be interested.
Here’s their notice:
 UCSF School of Dentistry is hosting an event called Give Kids a Smile Day where kids ages 3-17 years old can receive free dental care!  The event this year:
February 6, 2016, 10am to 3pm

FREE SCREENINGSFREE FLUORIDE VARNISHFREE SEALANTSFREE TOOTHBRUSHESPRIZES & FUN for children ages 3-17!   SUPERHEROES WILL BE THERE!!

No appointment needed!  Arrive ANYTIME 10-3pm!

For questions or more info contact: CPHANatUCSF@gmail.com

UCSF Dentistry poster 2016

Forest Knolls Holiday Party on Dec 5th, 2015

Walter Caplan of FKNO asked me to post this flyer. A holiday party is planned for Dec 5th, 2015. Last year’s was great, and this one sounds like it’ll be awesome.

FK holiday flyer 2015
WHERE:  St. John Armenian Church Hall
275 Olympia Way – next to our fire station

WHEN:  For kids: 11 am – 2 pm for the kids
Santa will be there with gifts for the kids from 11 am – 2 pm

For ALL adults: 4 – 8 pm for ALL our neighborhood’s adults
Sandwiches – snacks – Christmas cookies – hot chocolate – warm cider – See’s Candies
A buffet dinner will be served along with holiday cheer

an opportunity to celebrate the holidays
and join with all your Forest Knolls neighbors
for food, drink, and the latest neighborhood gossip

RSVP to: whcaplan@comcast.net or 415.621.0500 (not in comments here!)
with the number of persons planning to attend

Santa would like to know the age range of children planning to attend
so his helpers can have age appropriate gifts for all the kids

You can download the flyer here in PDF form for printing: Forest Knolls Christmas 2015 leaflet

A Successful Forest Knolls Halloween in 2015

halloween-scary-house public domainRecently, we posted about the Halloween Loop, homes in Forest Knolls that would have candy for trick-or-treaters. For the 4th year in a row, it’s been great. It’s not the huge event that some streets put on that draw crowds from all over the city – it’s a friendly neighborhood Halloween.

“A successful Halloween was had by all!” writes neighbor Laura. “I know our family enjoyed going out trick-or-treating with our friends, who came to FK to join us. Among other terrific costumes we had that night, we had a detective, a bartender, a goth guy, and a zombie cheerleader!”

The pictures here are published with permission. (If you’d like to add in pictures of you or your kids in costume from Halloween, please email them to fk94131 at yahoo.com)

goth dude and zombie cheerleader halloween 2015

 

 

Forest Knolls Neighborhood – Staying connected on the Internet

computerBy request, I am reprising this post that lets everyone know how to stay connected with our neighborhood on the Internet. It’s been slightly edited and updated.

There are several ways to connect to what’s happening in our neighborhood.

1. NextDoor Forest Knolls

Right now, Nextdoor is probably the most active platform (which I wrote about HERE). It’s different from the Yahoo Group in that you need to give your actual name and address (and NextDoor will verify the address). It’s the opposite of anonymity. The idea is to facilitate the building of community and trust. There are group leaders who can act if someone seems to be violating community norms. I’m one for Forest Knolls. So far, there’ve been no problems.

It’s relatively private, in that only others on NextDoor will see it. It won’t show up on a Google Search, for instance. But I’d warn that it’s private, not confidential. There’s no way of knowing who might copy or forward your post to someone else. Also, over time people who move away might not bother to change the details on their Nextdoor account unless they want to set up a new account where they’ve moved.

If you use the “Nearby Neighborhoods” feature, it gives access to neighborhood-housesNextdoor in 10 other neighborhoods. That means when you post something on Nextdoor, you can decide whether to post it just to Forest Knolls, or to the whole bunch of neighborhoods. (If you post to all the nearby neighborhoods as well, around 4800 people could see your post.)

You can turn off some of the neighborhoods if they are not really of interest. People have been using it for things like recommendations for contractors, baby-sitters, household stuff for sale, announcements of neighborhood or commercial events – and warnings about crime and other safety issues. It’s a good way to meet up with others who have similar interests, say, for instance, small kids.

If you’d like to join, that link is HERE

2. This website and blog, www.ForestKnolls.info (not dot com or dot org ! dot INFO)

This runs stuff of general interest, occasional pictures and articles, and announcements. It’s a good place for laying out or updating any neighborhood issues. It’s completely public – anyone anywhere with internet access can read it (should they want to).

It’s got a Pets page, so if you’d like to add a picture of any Forest Knolls pet to it, send it in to fk94131@yahoo.com – with the name of the animal if you want it included. So far, we only have dogs and cats, but I’m completely open to pictures of iguanas or macaws or even the odd tarantula. Send them in!

If you want to stay updated whenever there’s a new post, you can subscribe to the site for emails. (Go HERE and enter your email address in the box on the right side.) Your email does not become public, but the Webmaster can see it.

3. The Forest_Knolls_Neighborhood Yahoo Group.

Anyone can join, though it’s really of interest to people within the Forest Knolls neighborhood. It’s managed by Mary Allen. You can give your actual name or not as you prefer. Your email address will be visible. It’s also public, but people are unlikely to search it out. They could if they wanted, though.

Here’s what I wrote about it with instructions for joining:

“This is a free group. Anyone can join, though of course its greatest value is to people in the neighborhood. And, as groups go, it’s civilized. I’ve seen groups where participants forget they’re in a public space, and start flame-wars or post overly personal information. This is not that kind of group.”

If you’d like to join that, the link is HERE. Look for the button that says “Join This Group!”

4. Forest Knolls Group on Facebook

Anyone who’s on Facebook can join, but you have to ask the administrator (right now, that would be me). I’d love for more people to join and post stuff. It’s a good place to share pictures or anything you like. It’s public to anyone on Facebook.

Here’s the link:

Join us on Facebook

WHAT SHOULD I JOIN?

What you decide to join really depends on how you want to use it.

  • The ForestKnolls.info website is intended to keep you informed, but it’s really dependent on the Webmaster. Stuff can slip by me. If there’s something you think the neighborhood should know, email me.  It’s pretty easy reading. It also has neighborhood information.
  • Nextdoor is good if it’s important to know who you’re talking to. Real names, real addresses. I think it’s pretty practical for the kind of thing you’d like to do in person. As of now, it’s got about 230 neighbors in Forest Knolls, and around 4,800 including the 10 nearby neighborhoods.
  • The Yahoo Group has around 100 members, though all of them may not be from the neighborhood. (There’s no requirement they should be.) It’s relatively quiet now; I think many of the functions it served have been overtaken by Nextdoor. But it does exist and is functioning.
  • Facebook is neat if you tend to go there anyway. It has the advantage that anyone in the group can post there – pictures, issues, just comments – it’s all welcome.

For myself – I’m on all of them. It’s neat that our neighborhood can be connected on the web. I hope more people join in – spread the word!

The Halloween “Loop” for 2015

It’s that time of the year again, and our neighbors (Thank you, Laura and FKNO!) are organizing the Halloween Loop in Forest Knolls. Neighbors with candy will have a pumpkin decoration up.

If anyone wants to send pictures of themselves or their kids in costume for this site, please email them to FK94131 at yahoo.com, and we’ll post them after Halloween!

Here’s the flyer:

halloween flyer

The same flyer as a printable PDF is here: Forest Knolls Halloween 2015

The Tranquility of Forest Knolls

Recently, Danh Tran of  the web-based real estate company Trulia (acquired earlier this year by Zillow) reached out to me with an interesting map. It showed noise complaints across San Francisco for 2010-2013 as an animation. Would I care to share it with our readers?

San Francisco noise complaints map dec 2013

This is a screenshot for December 2013, the latest data they have. What this shows is where people call the police to complain about noise. The color coding is self-evident – green shades to yellow shades to red as the density of noise complaints rises.

The animation is available at this link on the Trulia website. It starts with Feb 2010 and cycles to December 2013 and back.

San Francisco’s noise complaint levels vary a lot: Here’s a screen-shot from October 2013. There’s a lot more red in this one!

San Francisco noise complaints map oct 2013

Trulia’s Peter Black has made a similar analysis of several cities, including New York and Seattle. But the methodology he’s used for San Francisco is slightly different.

Why does San Francisco only have data through 2013? I asked.  Simply – it looks like no one is compiling the data any more. Or if they are, it’s not easily available.

In regards to the date, the reason for that is Peter couldn’t find any data for SF from the normal, open sources (311 calls) like he did for NYC and Seattle. Instead, he pulled it from our (Trulia) crime database. Unfortunately, and for no known explained reason, the noise complaints simply disappear from the data in 2014.”

Regardless, the data clearly show what we know already: We live in a tranquil neighborhood. Here’s the [December 2013] noise complaints map for Forest Knolls (thanks, Danh Tran). Not a spot of red in sight.

 

forest knolls noise complaints map

 

What’s Happening with the Coyotes?

coyote looking at dog, San Francisco
Coyote looking at dog, San Francisco, Aug 2011

A couple of days ago, neighbor Greg Flowers posted this on our Nextdoor site. (It’s reproduced here with permission.)

COYOTE SCARE

“After my experience last night, I plan to behave much differently when I am met by a coyote (or two) on the Sutro trails or on our neighborhood sidewalks. My usual MO is to respect its space and maybe snap a few photos of it as past encounters have been limited to in the woods of Mt. Sutro, and they usually run away.

“I took my dog out last night for a walk around the neighborhood around 10:45p following Christopher Dr east. As we were passing 15 Christopher, there was a rustle in the bushes and my dog lunged into the darkness. I pulled him back and we continued a few steps and then I saw it was indeed a coyote. It crossed the street into the woods and we made it to Clarendon before I turned and saw there were now two coyotes stalking us.

“Now I’m concerned and my dog is very interested in playing or giving chase. I tried to make myself look big and menacing, yelled a bit and made like I was going to charge them but they continued toward us so I then made the mistake of turning and continuing down Clarendon to get to Oak Park, looking over my shoulder constantly. No cars or people were out at this time and the fog + blood moon combo + coyotes stalking me really affected my nerves. The coyote in front crossed Clarendon as if it was planning to circle around to surround us and so when I got to Oak Park we turned the corner and sprinted all the way back to Christopher and Oak Park til we got home. That wasn’t the smartest choice but they didn’t follow me back into the neighborhood which was a huge relief.

“I’m posting this as a learning experience for myself and hoping it will help raise the awareness about the coyote presence around these parts. The closest I let them get to us was about 20 yards and my dog is 60lbs and these coyotes appeared larger than him. Because they were unaffected by my dog’s size and my scare tactic, I looked online and found this explanation of how to ‘haze’ coyotes so that they will fear humans again: Coyote Hazing: Guidelines for Discouraging Neighborhood Coyotes

“Hopefully we can make a neighborhood effort toward keeping coyotes, all our pets, and ourselves safe and that starts with coyotes maintaining a healthy fear of humans.”

A COYOTE WATCHER’S OBSERVATIONS

As readers of this site know, I’m a believer in coyote coexistence. This report was concerning, especially in the context of recent reports in which coyotes attacked dogs (one fatally) at Pine Lake (behind Stern Grove), a popular dog-play area.  So I reached out to Janet Kessler, the Jane Goodall of San Francisco’s coyotes. She’s been studying our coyotes for years, and maintains a great blog, CoyoteYipps.com where she puts up her observations. Why were we suddenly getting this bold behavior?

“There seems to be a change in their behavior going on, but I’m told that it’s not due to habituation, it’s due to the drought. All urban coyotes are habituated by definition, yet they still keep a healthy distance (can’t use habituated and wary at the same time). For dogs, it’s a different story — and it’s going to be the same story whether a coyote is habituated to humans or not. Habituation to humans has nothing to do with coyotes approaching dogs — especially when they are curious about them.

“[Greg] did the right thing by moving away from the coyote — that’s how you diffuse a situation and maintain control — you are simply not going to engage. If a coyote follows… he’s just checking out your dog, gauging whether it’s a threat to be worried about, and making sure it is a safe distance away.

“We’re seeing more coyotes because of the drought. Because of the drought, there are fewer gophers and voles in the coyotes’ home range, so they are expanding that range as they hunt for their favorite foods. However, as they hunt in new areas, they will opportunistically take free roaming cats.”

This is also a concern; I know some people in Forest Knolls do have outdoor or indoor-outdoor cats. I think it’s also important for people with small dogs to be especially careful. Coyotes may see them as rivals or as prey, and they’re much more vulnerable. Humane Society guidelines recommend keeping cats indoors, and not letting small dogs off-leash in the backyard at night. Here’s their article: Coyotes, Pets and Community Cats.

From Janet Kessler: “And, yes, coyotes have been approaching dogs, much more than we’ve seen before. Walk away always, and keep walking (never run) away from the coyote, even if he follows.

There’s more useful information on the CoyoteYipps website, here: CoyoteYipps.com

It also has some great photographs and observations of coyote behavior.

Seeking the Supermoon Eclipse

Like people everywhere in the city, in fact, across the world, I went looking for the supermoon eclipse last evening. The moon was going to rise, red and already eclipsed, around 7 p.m. – a “blood moon.”  Totality would be7.47 p.m.

I thought the best place to watch would be Twin Peaks, and at 6.45 pm, that’s where I headed from the Portola Avenue side. But I got there to find a line of cars jammed all the way up Twin Peaks Boulevard. I did a U-turn, carefully avoiding a skunk. (It got safely across the road. All the cars in both directions waited for it.)

Time to go to Plan B: leave my car at home, and walk up to Tank Hill.

pics31 001 tank hill 7.35 pmClearly, a lot of people had the same thought. I’d never seen it so crowded, not on the 4th of July, not during the Blue Angels performance. Many had come much better prepared than I, with telephoto lenses as long as my forearm, rugs, chairs, and reflective clothing.

pics31 005 tank hill 7.37 pmWe were all a little worried. The fog was prowling around the western side of the city, and knowing San Francisco, could blow in any minute.

pics31 008 fog rolling in from the west 7.38 pmEveryone watched the eastern sky intently. “Did we get the wrong night,” I heard someone joke. “Maybe we should have read the science pages instead of the news.”

I was unsure how much we’d actually see, whether the haze low on the horizon would turn into a vision-blocking fog.

Waiting for the supermoon eclipse 7.39 pmSomeone raised a shout, and everyone looked for the moon. No sign of it. “Just a bunch of people trying to get a buzz going,” commented one of the would-be spectators.

Quite suddenly at 7.47 p.m. there it was, a dull red disk visible through the trees. Just in time for the peak of the totality.

supermoon eclipse 7.47 pmPeople gazed at it. Some took pictures, including me.

supermoon eclipse 7.51 pm

Next to me, a man holding a dog said, “I hope you have a telephoto on that.” I didn’t, but I would get some pictures anyway, I said. They won’t be great, not like the real photographers photos, but they’ll record the event. We chatted briefly about eclipses past.

watching the supermoon eclipseThe crowd thinned out. Parents with small children left quickly. The kids had seen the moon, understood the color was different, and they were ready to play or go. So did a lot of people who’d driven in. They wanted to leave before more traffic jams started up.

still watching supermoon eclipseHere’s how it looked at one minute past 8 p.m. (still through the trees).

supermoon eclipse 8.01 pmI left, too, a little later. From the foot of the Tank Hill steps, I got a clear view of the moon. This was a picture at 8.22 pm.

eclipsed supermoon 8.22 pmAn hour later, I went for a walk. The fog had started blowing in, but the moon was visible. It looked like a traditional eclipse now, a crescent that could be mistaken for a waning moon.

And even later than that, the eclipse was over and the fog was crawling over Twin Peaks.

fog over twin peaks 27 sept 2015It was beginning to drift down to the Bay.

fog by the bay sept 27 2015Overhead, the full supermoon was back to normal.

full supermoon 11.55 sept 27 2015

Sutro Tower Night and Day

The moon was rising beside Sutro Tower, behind the eucalyptus forest. I tried for some pictures. I love that digital cameras can actually get something under these conditions! It’s not the best picture, but it’s something. Of course it was much more dramatic and beautiful than this.

sutro tower with rising moon

The picture below is from a year ago (June 2014, actually). It makes a nice contrast to the night view. I love the way the trees soften the base and contrast with the tower.

sutro tower in mist