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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

Free Days at Cal Academy of Sciences – Sept 25-27, 2015!

Cal Academy of Sciences has free admission days by zip code, and ours is coming up this weekend.

CalAcademy entrance

From their website:

“Free admission is available for San Francisco residents of each zip code during the designated dates listed below. Visiting adults are limited to six children for free entry. Proof of residency* is required.

Neighborhoods: Bernal Heights, Castro, Cole Valley, Glen Park, Haight, Lake Merced, Mission, Noe Valley, St. Francis Wood [Huh, they missed us. But we are in 94131, so we should be good.]
Zip codes: 94110, 94114, 94117, 94127, 94131, 94132
Fall 2015 Free Days: Sep. 25, 26, 27
Spring 2016 Free Days: Feb. 19, 20, 21″

It’s normally like $35 for adults and $25-30 for kids (unless you’re a member). So this could be a big saving.

Forest Knolls Skunk

Sometimes, I cruise around the neighborhood at night in hopes of seeing our resident or visiting wildlife. It’s easier from a car; they get spooked by people walking.  Last night, I was rewarded with a skunk.

It was grubbing in the mulch along Christopher, the mulch that’s still there from the tree-cutting operation a couple of years ago. Grass is beginning to grow through it, but it’s a great place for beetles and grubs.

skunk in forest knolls 1

The skunk looked small, perhaps a kit that’s just gone out on its own. It wasn’t the least bothered by the headlights. I got a couple of iPhone pictures, not good ones but definitely a skunk!

little skunk in Forest KnollsI never got to see its face. When I rolled down the window, it realized I was looking at it, and it decided to move along. In a minute, it scrambled up the hillside into Sutro Forest, and all that was left was a sound of scrabbling in the bushes.

Feeling Guilty About Loving Bermuda Buttercups?

I love these yellow flowers that appear in spring in San Francisco and vanish a couple of weeks later. Many others do, too, but consider it a guilty pleasure because they think they’re bad for bees and birds and animals. Since we often have them around Forest Knolls, I’m re-publishing a shortened version of a post about oxalis from SFForest.org (with permission).

The oxalis season is over, and the perky yellow flowers have vanished for another year. These Bermuda buttercups will be back next year to herald the spring, bringing joy to those who love them, irritation to those who hate them, and Tier I herbicides targeted at them in San Francisco’s so-called “Natural” Areas.

oxalis in glen canyon feb 2011These flowers are so visible in spring that Bay Nature magazine did an article about them in March 2015: A Natural History of the Little Yellow Flower that’s Everywhere Right Now.

THOSE WHO HATE OXALIS AND WANT TO POISON IT WITH GARLON

The article quoted Jake Sigg, the retired SF Recreation and Parks gardener who is considered the doyen of San Francisco’s native plant movement. He hates oxalis pes caprae, which he considers extremely invasive. The article quotes him as saying that, without intervention, “in X many years Twin Peaks would just be one solid mass of yellow, and there wouldn’t be any other plants there…” The article suggested that an oxalis-dominated landscape “drives away coyotes, hawks and owls that feed on grassland foragers, and the situation is especially dire for endangered Mission blue butterflies, which depend heavily on native wildflowers.” Most of those ‘facts’ about oxalis are mistaken as we’ll explain below.

Mr Sigg’s theories align with those of the Natural Areas Program (NAP) of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD), which uses the herbicide, Garlon (triclopyr) to battle oxalis despite its dubious efficacy for the purpose. San Francisco’s Department of the Environment San Francisco’s Department of the Environment classifies Garlon 4 Ultra as Tier I: Most Hazardous. It’s listed as HIGH PRIORITY TO FIND AN ALTERNATIVE (their caps). Since oxalis is the main reason NAP uses Garlon, the alternative we propose is – don’t use Garlon or anything else on oxalis.

First, a little about the actual natural history of oxalis. This plant doesn’t set seed in California, and spreads entirely by sending out roots and forming little bulbils (like tiny potatoes) underground. It’s usually found where the soil has been disturbed by activities such as road-building, gardening, or trail-building. In some cases, the disturbance come from landslides or something similar. It can’t stand frost. If we do nothing, it would tend to die down rather than spreading uncontrollably.

In disturbed landscapes, it can spread fast. For this reason it can be a nuisance in gardens. People don’t want to leave their gardens alone for years to let nature take its course with the oxalis, and not every garden design includes brilliant yellow as the dominant color for a few weeks. The only way to eradicate it in the short term is to dig it out carefully every time you see it, and make sure you get most of the bulbils. Or use strong herbicides, which may not work.

In a natural landscape, though, it’s a different story and here’s why.

1) OXALIS IS GOOD FOR BEES AND BUTTERFLIES

Oxalis is actually an excellent plant for bees and butterflies. When blooming, it provides “copious nectar.” In fact, it generously gives away its nectar. Since it doesn’t set seed, it doesn’t benefit from pollinators – but it’s a food source for honey bees, bumblebees and butterflies.

In fact, a recent 2014 study shows that plant communities with exotic plants had more plant species as well as more pollinators, that pollinators didn’t prefer native plants, and that even some specialist pollinators depended on introduced plant species.

It’s true the Mission Blue butterfly needs (native) lupine as its nursery plant. (It doesn’t depend on any other native wildflowers – only three varieties of lupine. Incidentally, one of the key nectar sources for the Mission Blue butterfly is an invasive non-native Italian thistle: Carduus pycnocephalus).

Lupine has been planted on Twin Peaks as NAP attempts to reintroduce the Mission Blue butterfly there. But lupine is also a plant of disturbed areas, which means that NAP must maintain it or it will die out as the area stabilizes. An SFRPD report on the reintroduction project said “unmanaged habitat deteriorates quickly.” Presumably, they don’t use Garlon near the lupine patches, since it would likely kill that too. Despite what the Bay Nature article implies, it’s not oxalis that’s the issue. The real problem is another native plant, the coyote bush which takes over grasslands in a natural succession.

2) OXALIS IS GOOD FOR WILDLIFE

Oxalis bulbils are a food source for wildlife. Gophers and other rodents eat them. In fact, the Bay Nature article says, “Their spread is abetted by pocket gophers and scrub jays, which have been spotted carrying the bulbs and caching them in the ground—effectively planting them in new areas.”

Since gophers are a foundation species in the food web, being dinner for predators from hawks to coyotes to great blue herons, these plants actually provide habitat benefits whether or not they’re flowering, because the bulbils are there all year.

gopher-twin-peaksWhere there are gophers, the predators follow. Like the coyotes in these pictures, which clearly haven’t been driven away by a landscape dominated by oxalis.

coyote pouncing in oxalis field - copyright Janet Kessler
coyote pouncing in oxalis field – copyright Janet Kessler
coyote in oxalis field - copyright Janet Kessler
coyote in oxalis field – copyright Janet Kessler

3) OXALIS DOESN’T LEAVE THE GROUND BARE

The article says that oxalis leaves “bare ground during the six months of the year oxalis doesn’t flower.” That’s not true either.

oxalis interspersed with grasses and other plants

oxalis in glen canyon feb 2011The spectacular yellow bloom of the oxalis – valuable because it the mass of color attracts honey bees and bumblebees – gives the impression that it’s the only plant there. But though it visually takes over the landscape when it’s in bloom, it naturally grows interspersed with grasses and other plants. Like in the picture above.

In fact, oxalis tends to enrich the soil with phosphorus, which is good for grass.

So when it finishes blooming, as it has by now – you don’t get bare ground. The picture below shows the same area as the first picture in this article – but it’s after the oxalis bloom is over. It’s a grassland.

glen canyon after the oxalis season

4) OXALIS HAS LITTLE IMPACT ON “NATIVE” PLANTS

One argument – related to the ‘bare ground’ argument – is that oxalis takes over grasslands and destroys them, particularly the native grasses. However, grasslands in most of California including San Francisco are dominated non-native grasses. The change occurred over 100 years ago, when these grasses were planted for pasture. So the grassland that NAP is defending with herbicides are primarily non-native anyway.

oxalis and california poppies sm But anyway, what’s the evidence that oxalis is actually damaging native plants?

It’s true some European studies do suggest that an increase in oxalis is associated with a decrease in native plants diversity -though whether it’s a cause is unclear. It may just be benefiting from human activities that disrupt the landscape. Another study put oxalis head-to-head with a native annual grass, lolium rigidum. The native grass tended to dominate. Their conclusion: “Oxalis is a poor competitor. This is consistent with the preferential distribution of Oxalis in disturbed areas such as ruderal habitats, and might explain its low influence on the cover of native species in invaded sites.

The California Invasive Plant Council rates its invasiveness as “moderate,” considering it as somewhat invasive in sand dunes and less so in coastal bluff areas.

In San Francisco, every place where oxalis grows is already a disturbed environment, a mix of non-native grasses and plants with native plants (some of which have been artificially planted). Here, oxalis appears to grow happily with other plants – including, for instance, the native California poppy in the picture above.

5) KIDS LOVE IT AND IT’S EDIBLE

Children love oxalis, both for its pretty flower and for the sour taste of its edible stems. Even small children love gathering posies of Bermuda buttercups (though picking flowers is technically prohibited in Natural Areas). The flowers are surprisingly hardy for wildflowers, and in a glass of water last quite well as cut-flowers.

The plant is edible, and its tart leaves make a nice addition to salad. People enjoy snacking on its sour stems. Besides Bermuda buttercup, it’s also called ‘sourgrass’ and ‘soursob.’ It does contain oxalic acid (as does spinach, for instance), and so you probably wouldn’t want to make a meal of it. Though in South Africa it’s made into soup.

Adding Garlon to it is probably a bad thing.

Photo credit: Badjonni (Creative Commons - Flickr)
Photo credit: Badjonni (Creative Commons – Flickr)

From our current evidence, there’s no sign that oxalis has a negative impact on wildlife, and plenty of evidence it’s already part of the ecological food web of our city. The evidence also suggests it’s not having a negative effect on other plants in San Francisco either. Lots of people find this flower attractive; one writer described it as the city smiling with Bermuda buttercups.

[Webmaster: The original article goes on to argue that the city should not use Garlon to attack oxalis – it’s expensive, toxic, and pointless.]

 

Wild Parrots of San Francisco! – M. Bruce Grosjean

It was the book and movie, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill that first drew my attention to the marvelous fact that San Francisco has parakeets. Those birds originated in South America.  They’re related to the now-extinct Carolina Parakeet, which was found in North America until the early 1900s, being declared extinct in 1939.

I was interested to learn, while reading a birding group, that there’s a different parrot in town. Parrots are very social birds, and they need company. Apparently, the stranger can recognize a parrot when he sees one, so the new bird is hanging out with the locals.

How wonderfully cosmopolitan is our city?

The story and photographs below are from M. Bruce Grosjean, and are published here with permission.

AN INTERLOPER SURVIVAL STORY – M. BRUCE GROSJEAN

Back in October 2012 I reported seeing a single Rose-ring parakeet that seemed to be trying to attach itself to the larger population of our local Red-masked parakeets. Whereas the flock itself is made up of birds that are originally from Ecuador and Peru, this Rose-ringed individual comes from Asia and Africa. The fact that he recognizes they’re all family is fascinating to me.

parrots san francisco - copyright M. Bruce Grosjean
The rose-ringed parakeet, originally from Asia and Africa – (c) M Bruce Grosjean

It was predicted by some observers that the Rose-ringed would not survive all that long, so every time we saw it over a span of about a year and a half we were surprised. But then sometime around a year ago we stopped seeing it altogether and slowly began to believe that this bird indeed couldn’t survive.

Rose-ringed parakeet surround by red-masked conures - (c) M. Bruce Grosjean
Rose-ringed parakeet surround by red-masked conures – (c) M. Bruce Grosjean

So it was a complete surprise a few days ago when I spotted him feeding with a small flock of our local Red-masked birds again. By all appearances he looks quite healthy but still doesn’t seem to get along with the other birds much better than before, and yet he survives – I’m amazed!

parrots san francisco 6 - copyright M. Bruce Grosjean
Rose-ringed parakeet and red-masked parrots at a feeder – (c) M. Bruce Grosjean

[This flock was sighted near McLaren Park. “FYI,” Bruce wrote me as he sent these pictures over, “Some time ago Mark Bittner (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill) told me that he’d seen this bird on Telegraph Hill, which indicates it does get around.” Here are a few more pictures of the little flock with the outsider bird.  There are higher-resolution pictures at Bruce’s Zenfolio page, HERE.]

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More Colorful Tiled Stairs – Lincoln Park – Tony Holiday

I was delighted to learn, recently, that San Francisco now has yet another set of colorful tiled steps… its fourth. These are the Lincoln Parks stairs. It’s a marvelous way to beautify our city – and there are so many staircases to work with!

We have pictures thanks to Tony Holiday (who also reported on the previous staircase, the Arelious Walker stairs). These are republished with minor edits from his blog, Stairways are Heaven. Go there for more pictures and his full hiking route.

Clicking on any of the pictures below will show you a larger version.

Tony writes, “The Lincoln Park tiled stairway (52 steps) is now walkable. Do go see this in person. The steps are at the west dead-end of California St. at 33rd Ave. in the Outer Richmond neighborhood. They climb to the golf course and a trail that’ll take you north a couple blocks to the east trailhead for the Lands End/Coastal Trail.”

I haven’t been there yet, but it’s definitely in my plans!

West Portal Arts Fair 2015: Still Open Sunday

west portal fair poster 2015The weather for the West Portal Arts and Crafts Fair today was  sunny and cool, perfect until the wind started gusting around 4 p.m. I stopped by to revisit some of my old favorites and also to see what was new. The Zapotec rug weavers didn’t come this year, but some of the other craftspeople were back.

As usual, it was a delightful mix of wood work, fabric creations, jewelry, fine art, and also some interesting things like scented candles, fur toys, and organic skin care. There were also boxes made of books, handthrown ceramics, and more art than I could possibly really see. The poster said it was 50 artists. They were spread across the first two blocks on the North side of the street, and the middle block of the South side. Of course I didn’t get to them all, but here’s a selection of what I did manage to look at. If you like the look of it – they’re there Sunday until 5 p.m.

These beautiful mirrors are in inlaid wood marquetry frames, and even whole pictures made with special woods. They’ve come in previous years, and I always stop for a look.

wood inlay mirrors and pictures

Another old favorite is Moonlight Shenanigans – hand-carved ladles and spatulas and more. They’re graceful in their designs and lovely to touch. I said as much as I bought yet another piece from David Rully, maple-wood salad servers this time. “I spend a long time sanding each piece so it feels smooth and soft,” he said.

handmade ergonomic and tactile wooden spoonsI also couldn’t resist the wooden toys made with safe dyes. I bought blocks and a train for a little relative. There were also airplanes and trucks, some with animal shapes in them, and fire engines. And some sleek army tanks, which caught the attention of a small group of boys. Who could blame them? The tanks were really elegant and minimalist, and yet rolled perfectly.

handmade and safe wooden toysAcross the road, there were more things for little ones – adorable clothes, mostly for tiny girls. Last year, someone had a stall specializing in cute clothes for boys; looks like they’re alternating years!

One stall had handmade silk scarves and dressy over-shirts in lovely colors. Next to it was a vendor with caps and hats, mostly for women but with a few for men as well.

handmade silks scarves and overshirts - and fun hatsClose by, a stall displayed serene watercolors of landscapes and flowers in a dreamy sort of style.

serene watercolors

I stopped on the corner near the Starbucks, where there’s usually a stall with dramatic jewelry, and sure enough she was back this year. I got her card: Gayle Mayhew of Fun Girls Jewelry and a slogan, “If it’s not fun, what’s the point?” It was beautifully set up, with these strong pieces in pearls and stones and glass. A mirror hung next to it to encourage people to try things on, so I did. And then came a sudden gust of wind, and it blew down the display forms. We all scrambled to catch the necklaces before they fell, and then she rearranged her stall. None of the vertical displays were doing well so she laid them flat. But they all looked wonderful anyway.

unusual chunky jewelry - Fun Girls Jewelry

The Wooly Rascals stall of sheepskin products (shoes and slippers, dusters and stuffies) was on the first block. I bet this looks really inviting on a cold day.

wooly rascals sheepskin stuff at West PortalNext to it was a stall of fragrant candles.

scented candlesThis stall had glowing colored art glass objects, as well as some statement pieces like the pears and aubergines in the picture and some luminous glass plaques. I didn’t catch the vendors’ name, but it looked lovely.

glowing glassware
Across the street, I saw these colorful tie-dye clothes. They’re by Susan Baker, of Rad Rags of California. She has an Etsy store online. The sun-dress in front is one of her best-selling items, probably because of its graceful drape.

brilliant tie-dye clothes from Susan Baker

One unusual item: polymer bracelets in fine designs that wrap round your wrist and are light and waterproof – the FaCuff from Ava Austin. I don’t wear bracelets, or I’d have been very tempted by their delicate intricacy. If they come back with necklaces next year, I’ll pretty certainly get one.

Fa wristbands in beautiful intricate designs
Madd Love Designs is humorous art with a mission to promote awareness of the 5th World Conference on Women. It was mostly pins and magnets of little wire and yarn people and monsters – and artworks of photographs of these little characters by the Golden Gate Bridge. Quite charming.

madd love designs - pins and magnet art with a feminist missionDichroic glass looks so wonderful in the sunshine, and is so difficult to photograph well. You’ll have to take my word for it. The colors here were gorgeous: brilliant turquoises and teals and golds and magentas.

brilliant dichroic glassThis stall had a whole lot of little canvases with landscapes (more seascapes, actually) and still lifes. Just after I took this picture, another gust of wind blew down the display. I hope nothing was damaged.

tiny canvases with still lifes and sceneryJennifer Clifford’s pieces are collages often featuring San Francisco landmarks and a creative use of materials. In the picture with the orange poppies below, the windows of the Transamerica Pyramid are made of a golden lace that perfectly nails it. There’s more on her website.

jennifer clifford's art - collages and moreThese pictures, made from gears and other parts of clocks and watches, had a steam-punk sense to them. The construction was careful and clever. Unsurprisingly, the shop is called Time Craft Designs. The website has close-ups of the designs – and their titles.

time craft designs - pictures from watch partsThis selection of art prints was eye-catching. I especially liked the one with the tall old houses; there’s something about that perspective.

Art prints of san Francisco and more

The final stop for me, just before I had to leave, was a stall of handcrafted organic skincare products. Owner Erica Kriss has her website at ElkaHerbals.com

organic skincare

West Portal Arts Fair 2015 on April 10-12

Yesterday in West Portal I saw posters up for this year’s Arts Fair at West Portal. It’s a lovely little fair featuring artists and craftspeople. I always try to visit at least once if I can.

west portal fair poster 2015This year looks to be as interesting as in earlier years. If you haven’t been to this fair, you can get a sense of it from my reports:

2014 West Portal Fair

2013 West Portal Fair

2012 West Portal Fair

2011 West Portal Fair

Easter Egg Hunt for Little Kids – April 5th, 2015

Our favorite Inner Sunset event organizer, Barbara Oleksiw, is doing an Easter Egg Hunt for the littlest ones. She asked me to publicize this to Forest Knolls (our kids are invited, too!), and I’m happy to announce the details:

easter eggsALL children five years and younger (with parents) are invited to our (first-ever) Inner Sunset Easter-Egg Hunt in our backyard. We’ll attempt to transform our space into a suitable landscape, with hundreds of hidden (and not-so-hidden) Easter treats.

If your favorite children happen to be a bit older, and would enjoy the spirited mêlée, please invite them.

We’ll have *plenty* of supplies to refresh what’s discovered, so we plan for all to leave with a bag of success. (Easter baskets are discouraged, because we’ll give out individual bags.)

FREE Easter-Egg Hunt at Sixth & Irving
Sunday, April 5th

Staggered Entry schedule
11a.m:  Babies with Parents
11:30a.m:  2- and 3-year olds with Parents
Noon:  4- and 5-year olds, with *no* parents
1p.m: Naps for all!

Pls call Barbara (415- 2.46.47.48) if you have even an hour to volunteer

Hope everyone has a splendid time!

 

Strangers in the Night

Around midnight, it’s usually quiet in Forest Knolls, the only sounds coming from the house itself. Outside, you might hear the wind soughing in the trees and humming in Sutro Tower. But tonight, a bird chirped tentatively in the backyard. At first I thought it was just a songbird disturbed on its perch, or responding to the bright moon.

moon from forest knolls drive san francisco
But it continued, growing louder and insistent. Opening a window to listen, I wondered if a raccoon had caught a bird. It sounded distressed. I could see nothing in the dark, my yard was in shadow.

skunk 1I ran down to turn on the garden light. And then I saw it – not a bird at all, but a skunk, right up against the back fence in a corner. When I shone the flashlight on it, it emerged from the shrubbery. And then, out came another one. Mating season!

They stuck around for a while, but annoyed by my watching them, they left through a hole under the fence. There was mildly skunky smell. Love was in the air.

 

PG&E in Forest Knolls

pics10 013Yesterday on NextDoor, someone wanted to know what was going on with so much PG&E activity in our neighborhood.

I was curious, too, and even more so because today I saw this outside my house – a fleet of PG&E trucks, complete with a porta-potty. I counted four large trucks, and an earth mover.

 

pics10 010The earth-mover was parked way at the back, waiting.

pics10 019There was even a truck blocking one of our garages. When we came out, the PG&E guy running the project offered to moved it if  we wanted. As it happened, we didn’t need that garage today, so we said not to bother.

pics10 020Two men were digging a hole near the house opposite.

pics10 016I asked one of the PG&E men what it was about.  They’d done a survey some time back, he said, checking for leaks. They were now fixing the ones where they’d detected a problem. He said they had already completed a couple of jobs.

After the terrible accident in San Bruno, I’m glad they’re being proactive here.

pics10 022The earthmover came down by our house. I’m not sure why it was wearing so much jewelry.

pics10 023The truck in front of my house tipped up, and the earthmover grabbed the soil. I presume they filled in the hole they’d dug.

pics10 025 Within a couple of hours, they were done and had moved on. The road was empty, the signs and traffic cones gone, and all was quiet.

pics10 017

Bite and Run

Alfie dog
Alfie, who got bitten

Alfie dog with biteRecently, a neighbor out walking her dog encountered a large unfriendly dog that bit her dog so badly it required stitches.  In the public interest, she would like this dog to be identified and asked me to put it here.

She writes:

Alfie was attacked by a grey Great Dane on January 24. His owner could not control him. When he finally got his dog off Alfie he left the scene showing no concern for my small dog.

alfie - stitchesIf you know where the dog lives, please let me know – it will remain confidential. Animal Care and Control consider this a “bite and run.” We do not want it to happen to another dog, cat, child or adult.

 

If you respond in comments, we can pass it on to the neighbor.

great-dane-md

Hearing Postponed on Sutro Tower – Antennae and Trees

sutro towerIf you were thinking of going to tomorrow’s hearing about Sutro Tower (adding 50 antennae, removing an unspecified number of trees) – the hearing has been RESCHEDULED TO MARCH 19:

“The Zoning Administrator determined that further review of the existing site is needed with respect to the applicable Conditional Use Authorization. Therefore, we are continuing the Mandatory Discretionary Review hearing to March 19, 2015.”

UCSF Free Dental Clinic for Kids

gkasflyer2015-400pxI just got an email from Christine Gasparac, the Community Relations officer at UCSF saying they’re offering a free dental clinic for kids on Feb 21, 2015. I’m sharing it here in case any parents among you are interested.

Dear Neighbors:

Students and faculty from the UCSF School of Dentistry will be offering free dental services – screenings, sealants, and fluoride treatments – for kids 4-17 on Saturday, February 21 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The screening satisfies the K-1 school oral assessment requirement.

What:  Give Kids A Smile Day (ages 4-17)
When: Saturday, February 21, 2015 (9:00 AM to 4:00 PM)
Where: UCSF School of Dentistry, 707 Parnassus Avenue @ 4th Avenue (served by MUNI lines 6, 43, 66, N-Judah)
Questions: mailto: CPHAN@UCSF@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/ucsfCPHAN

Flyer in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese attached and at this link
http://bit.ly/smileUCSF2015.

 

A Neighbor’s Beautiful Farewell to Forest Knolls

copyright erika burke - fog in forest knolls

Neighbor Erika Burke is a copywriter, editor and website designer,  and loves to write for herself and her clients. Here’s her website: scribe415.com

And she’s moving. Not far, happily, just across Clarendon Avenue – but away from Forest Knolls neighborhood. In farewell,  she wrote a poem and sent some photographs.  (All photographs in this page are hers, and used with permission.)

erika burke 1

The glittering lights sparkle like myriad lives lived in the distance spackling the hillsides from my perch high atop San Francisco’s Wuthering Heights.
After the sun has split the sky into breathtaking colors that only imagination can conjure.
The sea so far in the distance is mine in its perfect horizon.
I bid it farewell this view that makes whole my inside with natures varying perfection.
Sweeping, fortuitous, the dear fog, the swooping birds, the implacable hills, the bitty boxes, the impossible clouds, the silence.
It has been mine, in my sight.
I am expanded forever.

Farewell, Erika and enjoy your new place!

erika burke sunset 2

Sutro Tower – More Antennae, Erosion Control

[IT SEEMS THE HEARING IS POSTPONED TO MARCH. STAY TUNED.]

Sutro Tower from GlenhavenSutro Tower has been sending out notices that it plans to add more antennae to the tower, plus a 30-foot satellite dish on the ground; and do some work around the tower.

I hope the work on the ground isn’t going to involve cutting down trees. As it is, the base of the tower is overly visible from the Twin Peaks side. It looks interesting and iconic rising above a fringe of green – it’s one of the few objects that can visually dwarf eucalyptus trees! But planted on bare ground, it would look industrial, more like a pylon.

(I wrote to Sutro Tower, and they are indeed cutting down some trees.)

This picture is from the Planning Commission website and it’s copyright so I can’t actually put it here – but it indicates what I mean:

Click to access Photo%20Simulation_1.pdf

The Planning Commission has a hearing on Feb 5th, 2015.

If this is important to you,  please write to them about the importance of preserving as many trees as possible, and replacing the ones that are removed with actual trees, not native-plant shrubs or grasses.

 

sutro tower announcement

Wrong-side Car – What Would You Do?

I was driving down Diamond Heights Boulevard toward the Safeway. Just before you enter the parking lot, the road slopes down from the Stop sign and splits.  It has a center divide with shrubs and trees, intersected by a couple of gaps that allow you to make a left when you leave the parking lot. The whole area is dimly lit at night. Prime accident territory. A few years ago, I saw a lady in an older car come out of the parking lot, trying to cross the median strip to turn left when another car came zooming down the road and hit her. They both ended up in the median; I hope no one was hurt. car with headlightsToday, I was just entering the dark downslope when I saw headlights … on the wrong side of the road.  A car was facing me.

He’d obviously exited the parking lot, missed the gap in the verge, and turned into the oncoming traffic. I could imagine a head-on collision happening in the next few seconds; it would only take one heedless driver going too fast. So I put on my hazard lights and angled my car across both lanes of traffic and stopped. All the wrong-side driver needed was a few minutes and a clear space to turn around.

Most cars behind me stopped. A few beeped lightly, wondering what was happening. And a few others just nudged past my car. One driver just swerved wildly and zoomed by. My little car really couldn’t block a two lanes effectively. I was relying on other drivers to realize that something was wrong, and hoping they’d give the wrong-side guy a chance to turn his car. But evidently, not everyone did, or maybe they were in a hurry and didn’t care. It did however give the wrong-side car a chance to pull over out of the traffic. I pulled over myself and waited. When he had an opportunity, he did a 3-point turn and got himself facing in the right direction. Everything quickly cleared up. A few minutes later a police car cruised by, perhaps called by one of the people in the traffic. By then, there was nothing to see. But I wondered – what is the appropriate thing to do? What would you have done?

Golden Gate Bridge Closed This Weekend – Jan 10-12, 2015

Reminder, everyone! Golden Gate Bridge will be closed this weekend. This is taken from the GoldenGate.org website.

NOTICE OF GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE CLOSURE IN JANUARY 2015
Area Road Closures
Transit Options  |  Press Releases  |  Photos  |  Videos

The Golden Gate Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic the second weekend of January 2015. The roadway will be closed starting at 12:01am on Saturday, January 10 and will reopen at 4:00 am on Monday, January 12.

The Bridge will be closed to install a moveable median barrier which will provide a safer and more efficient system of separating opposing lanes of traffic.

The Bridge District is issuing a no travel advisory that weekend but if travel between San Francisco and the North Bay Area is necessary, there are several ways to get to your destination:

  • Golden Gate Transit bus service will be allowed to cross the Bridge.
  • Golden Gate Ferry will be offering expanded service that weekend, including late night service.
  • Use alternate routes (Richmond and Bay Bridges)

Bridge’s east sidewalk will remain open to pedestrians and bicyclists but parking lots at the Bridge will be closed.

A new driving experience after installation

With the installation of the moveable median barrier comes a new and different driving experience across the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, plastic tubular pylons are used to separate opposing lanes of traffic on the Bridge. The new barrier system will provide a safer and more efficient system of dividing opposing lanes of traffic.

The barrier will be installed on the 1.7-mile-long Bridge and on the approach portion of Highway 101, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, starting at Alexander Avenue. Using transfer machines, the barrier will be moved several times a day to create more lanes in a particular direction to accommodate variable traffic demands such as the morning and evening commutes.

A new merge will be very different for southbound vehicles. Where drivers current merge from left to right, the new merge will be from right to left. In addition, the speed limit will be dropped to 45 miles per hour from the current 55 miles per hour on the descent down the Waldo Grade. Lastly, with the installation of the barrier, the two inside lanes will lose 6-inches of width. Getting used to driving next to the barrier may take some adjustment for some drivers, and the District advises motorists to take it slow and get used to the new driving conditions.

This new moveable median barrier system will enhance safety by reducing the potential for cross-over collisions and will allow the Bridge District to more efficiently reconfigure lane changes to optimize traffic operations on the bridge.

To view an animation of the new driving experience, click here.

For more information on the Moveable Median Barrier project, click here.

Area Road Closures

North End of the Golden Gate Bridge – Friday, January 9

  • At 8:00 a.m.
    • Southbound Hwy 101 off-ramp at Rodeo Avenue (see map)
  • At 8:00 p.m.
    • Parking lots at north end of Bridge (see map)
    • Alexander Avenue at Conzelman (see map)
  • At 11:30 p.m.
    • Southbound Hwy 101 at Marin City (see map)
    • Southbound Hwy 101 on-ramp at Spencer Avenue (see map)
    • Southbound Hwy 101 on-ramp at Alexander Avenue (see map)
    • Northbound Hwy 101 on-ramp at Alexander Avenue (see map)

South End of the Golden Gate Bridge – Friday, January 9

  • At 8:00 p.m.
    • Parking lots at south end of the Bridge (see map)
  • At 11:30 p.m.
    • Northbound Hwy 101 at Marina Boulevard & Richardson Avenue (see map)
    • Northbound Hwy 1 at Lake Street (see map)
  • At 11:45 p.m.
    • Northbound Hwy 101 off-ramp at Merchant Road (see map)
    • Southbound Hwy 101 off-ramp at Merchant Road (see map)
North End of GGB
Rodeo Ave
Parking lots &
Alexander Ave at Conzelman
Marin City
Spencer Ave
 Alexander Ave
South End of GGB
Parking lots
Marina Blvd
Lake Street
Merchant Road

Transit Service Info

Golden Gate Transit BUS: Weekend service. Click HERE for timetables. Routes 10 and 17 & late night Route 70 trips will NOT operate in Sausalito. Use free shuttle and make all connections in Marin City.

Golden Gate FERRY: Added early-morning to late-night service on Larkspur Ferry. Late-night service added to Sausalito Ferry weekend schedules. Click HERE for timetables.

Press Releases

Sutro Tower Holiday Ornament

Red sutro tower holiday ornamentAt the Forest Knolls holiday party last month, Sutro Tower, Inc was one of the sponsors. They attended with some cool giveaways – including this cool red ornament with a picture of the Tower.

Someone posted a picture of it on our Forest Knolls Facebook page, and immediately people were asking where they could get one.

I wrote to Sutro Tower’s “information” email address. VP and General Manager Eric Dausman immediately responded and offered me some. I picked up a dozen, and have them available. (Two are spoken for already, ten left.)

If you live in Forest Knolls and want one, I’d be happy to drop it off at your place. If you live farther afield, we’ll need to make some arrangements. Email me at fk94131 at yahoo dot com either way.

Offer open, as they say, while stocks last.

 

Two Days Left for Free Workout at UCSF Gym

aerobic dancerUCSF is offering an open house at its Fitness Center – with free workouts – through January 10, 2015. They’re also offering free enrollments any time in January.  Here’s their message:

Parnassus neighbors:
Happy New Year. UCSF’s Fitness Center is holding an open house event this week that is open to our neighbors. The Fitness Center is offering free workouts now through January 10. If you become a member in January, there is no enrollment fee. Learn more at http://bit.ly/transform2015.

The Fitness Center is located in Millberry Union at 500 Parnassus Avenue.
If you have questions, you can call them at 476-0348.