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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.

December in Stow Lake: Ducks and More

What better way to end the year than a walk round Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park? It remains one of my favorite places in San Francisco – user-friendly for people and waterbirds alike.
kid at water edge

Sbare areas with felled treeso I went down there on December 31st in the late afternoon with someone who wanted to try out a new Olympus camera. I carried my trusty Nikon Coolpix. (It’s a little less trusty now for having a strange gray line appear whenever I use the zoom; I’m going to have to fix or replace it).

Unfortunately, Strawberry Hill – the hill in the center of the lake, accessed by a bridge on either side – is a lot more bare than it used to be. They’ve been cutting down trees and removing vegetation. Before, you couldn’t even see the summit from the outside, and it always seemed green and lush.

gulls mallards coots at Stow Lake Dec 2014

We strolled around the lake,  enjoying the amazing birdlife and the clear evening light. On this trip, we saw not just the usual mallards and gulls, but a wealth of American coots…
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This shot reminded me of a hen overseeing a flock of chicks. “Are you our mother?
Are you my mother

This gull allowed a close-up. I tried to figure out its species from my bird books, but couldn’t really narrow it down. Maybe a Thayer’s or a Glaucus-winged? Or a young Western gull? [Edited to add: A friendly bird expert thought it was probably a glaucus-winged, but just possibly could be a Thayer’s.] Gulls are confusing, the more so because some of them hybridize quite happily.

A gull

There were some Northern Shovellers amid the mallards, and I got a picture of this couple.
northern shoveler

Perched on a rock, and preening continuously, we saw this duck – I think it’s a female ruddy duck.
PC310014 female ruddy duck and coot

And there was this smart black and white bufflehead. [Edited to add: The picture shows the green/ purple iridescence, but that wasn’t clearly visible from shore without binoculars – which I forgot to carry with me.] We first saw it near the boat-house, but then it reappeared on the side near the waterfall. I couldn’t tell if it was the same individual or not, it was diving and moving quickly. There were at least two; I have another photo of them which is too blurry to publish.
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A Double-crested cormorant swam around, low in the water. We saw a couple of others fly off.
double crested cormorantThey always remind me of a nonsense verse I read as a kid: ” The common cormorant or shag/ Lays eggs inside a paper bag/ The reason you will see no doubt/ It is to keep the lightning out/ But what these unobservant birds/ Have never noticed is that herds/ Of wandering bears may come with buns/ And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.” (It’s by Christopher Isherwood and of course it isn’t true – but as a child I had a strong mental image of the birds creeping into brown-paper bags to nest…)

The usual Muscovy ducks (which don’t actually come from Moscow) foraged around the edges of the lake.
muscovy duck at Stow Lake

There were a few of the Canada geese (formerly from Canada, but they live here now and particularly love the new Botanical Garden, which is goose heaven).
canada goose in a pine tree

Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, I offer you a wild goose in a pine tree.

It’s a couple of days late – but wishing everyone who reads this a wonderful year in 2015!

Huge Success: Forest Knolls Winter Party 2014

We dropped in on the Forest Knolls winter party on Sunday. Even the approach looked welcoming, with red and green balloons, and a sign saying FOREST KNOLLS.

forest knolls winter party
People were just beginning to arrive. A lot of families showed up, with kids or grandkids. It’s a lovely change that’s happened over the last few years. At one time, there were hardly any children in Forest Knolls; young families had moved in, the kids had grown and flown, and the aging folks stayed on. Now, we have a nice mix, with people from 8 weeks to 80+ years – and many of them came to the party.

kristine signing people in
Kristine Zaback was signing people in and issuing name-tags so neighbors could get to know each other. We talked with Walter Caplan, who had organized the party. “I got money from Sutro Tower,” he told us. The arrangements were great, and the space was really nice. “My Car Club friends decorated it,” he said. They did a lovely job.

lots of food
The party was just getting started when I took these pictures.

people beginning to gather

The Sutro Tower (TM) Public Relations people were there, with a banner that said Sutro Tower TM.
sutro tower cookiesSutro Tower TM
They had red tree decorations with Sutro Tower on it, and quite remarkably, cookies with the Sutro Tower picture on them. I took one, but Walter said, “We’ve got boxes of them,” and handed me three more.

A little label identified the source: Veronica’s Treats. They’re ‘Photo and Logo cookies’ and ‘Party favors and treats.’ Neat idea!

We left soon after Santa arrived. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. I’d like to say this photograph is blurred to preserve the privacy of the kids, but they’re blurred because the camera shook. The privacy is a positive result. (I usually get permission for kids’ pics, or shrink/ blur them so they can’t easily be identified.)

I checked in with Laura Bloch, who helped publicize the party. She was totally enthusiastic: “I can report that the party was a huge success – terrific decorations, great attendance by young and old, a fun raffle, a jolly Santa, plenty of food, and a real feeling of merriment.  Walter, Kristine and their helper-elves did a FANTASTIC job!

santa clausHAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!

UCSF Meeting Report: Dec 2014

I attended UCSF’s quarterly meeting of its Community Advisory Group on 3rd Dec 2014. (I’m not on the CAG, I went as a member of the public.)

UCSF’s Long Range Development Plan (2015-2035) has been approved. (This presumably includes removing the Aldea Student Housing from the space ceiling. You can read more about that HERE.)

Right now, there are two ongoing projects on the Parnassus campus (that’s the Inner Sunset campus, on the other side of Mount Sutro from Forest Knolls). The first is demolition and landscaping of 374 Parnassus, where a small building is being knocked down and converted to open space. The larger one is work on the old building, UC Hall which was earlier to be knocked down but is now to be converted to offices and housing.

SUTRO FOREST

sutro-forest-south-view2UCSF staff made two presentations about Sutro Forest recently. One was to the Urban Forestry Council. The Council has a listening series in which they invited a large number of stakeholders to talk about San Francisco’s urban forests. (SaveSutro also made a presentation to them about Sutro Forest.) They expect to issue a report possibly next spring.

The other was to the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Committee (PROSAC). Christine Gasparac, who was one of the presenters, said that PROSAC was particularly interested in recreational access to Mount Sutro.

There was some discussion around Sutro Forest. CAG member Dennis Antenore spoke of the management plan written 14 years ago that embodied Best Management Practices. I pointed out that it didn’t – it was designed to cut down most of the trees. What management is implemented depends on what you’re trying to achieve.  If you wish to preserve the forest – which is a unique and beautiful jewel of San Francisco – then it requires less intervention, not more. If you’re trying to turn it over to native plants, then you would want to cut down trees. Craig Dawson (also a CAG member, Executive Director of the Sutro Stewards, who favors cutting down trees and using herbicides to stop them coming back) said that the opponents of the plan were stopping UCSF from acting to save the forest and it’s dying.

They’ve been talking about the forest “dying” for years. (Here’s an article from the year 2000 – in which Craig Dawson is quoted. It’s based on the erroneous assumption that eucalyptus has a 100-year life-span, which is not true. It lives 300-500 years.)  But experts in forestry, eucalyptus, and  ecology have walked through and seen a healthy, thriving forest. Some trees are in poor condition, but that’s natural. If they are actually hazardous, they should of course be removed. But if they’re not, they’re valuable to the forest’s ecology. To say that the forest is dying because some trees in it are in poor condition is like saying San Francisco is dying because it has some people who are old and ailing.

DIVERSITY

Dr Renee Navarro presentationDr Renee Navarro, UCSF’s Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Outreach, made an excellent presentation about UCSF’s progress in increasing the percentage of women and minorities among its students and employees. On the whole, they’ve done well in terms of employing women; UCSF staff are about 68% women, and even in the rarefied group of the 20 or so people who are in senior management, 40% are female.

For minorities, staff numbers superficially look quite good: around 58% non-white. There are two issues, though. First, most of this diversity is concentrated among the support staff. Only 36% of managers are minorities, and among the senior management, it’s 15%. Second, when it’s broken down, it shows the percentage of African Americans has actually declined between 2006 and 2014 – meaning growth in hiring hasn’t kept pace with UCSF’s expansion from 13 thousand employees in 2006 to 16.5 thousand in 2014. There’s been a marked increase in the percentage of Asian employees (from 33% to 37%), and some increase in the percentage of Hispanic employees, from 11% to 12.%)

It’s possible this reflects the changing demographics of San Francisco and the Bay Area, but UCSF is also taking measures to make attract and retain minority employees, and to create a multicultural and diverse organization.

She also spoke about community partnerships and early outreach to students in High School or even earlier, and opportunities UCSF is trying to create for its own employees to improve their skills and move to higher levels.

EBOLA

UCSF’s Intensive Care Unit at Mount Zion is their designated Ebola Isolation Unit should it become necessary. They are also encouraging medical workers who want to go fight the epidemic in West Africa to do so, preserving their jobs and seniority. There’s a quarantine procedure in place for when they return, depending on the level of exposure they have had. UCSF focuses on professional quarantine, but will co-ordinate with Department of Health in case community quarantine is appropriate.

 OTHER ISSUES DISCUSSED

  • UCSF’s Mission Bay medical center is currently holding community tours and have had an excellent response. The hospital is scheduled to open February 1st, 2015, when a “stream of ambulances” will transport patients from Parnassus to Mission Bay.
  • UCSF has acquired two parcels of land – Blocks 33/ 34 in Mission Bay – and are beginning to plan what they’ll put there. Meanwhile, they are working with the City and the Warriors to figure out how to mitigate the traffic ad parking impact of the planned new stadium, which will be right next to the hospital’s Emergency Room.
  • They’re also proceeding with the plan to divest the Laurel Heights campus via a ground lease. They think the actual move from there will take about 4 years. It’s going to be replaced with housing and possibly some retail.
  • They continue with efforts to hire locally for construction projects. Part of the issue is they use Union contractors, who for skilled trades favor seniority over local residency. They also compete with other projects that seek to hire local workers in the construction trades.

 

 

 

Night walk in Forest Knolls

It was such a clear night that we could actually see the stars – and they were brilliant.  Orion floated right beside Sutro Tower, reminding  me of a quote from Fritz Leiber’s book, ‘Our Lady of Darkness’: “The constellation of Orion was shouldering into his window… its nine brightest stars made an angular, tilted hourglass, challenging the smaller slenderer one made by the nineteen winking red lights of the TV tower… When he’d first seen the tower, he’d thought it worse than grotesque, but now — how strange! — it had become almost as reassuring to him as starry Orion.

sutro tower and stars

Of course this picture doesn’t do it anything like justice. But for a little point-and-shoot camera, stabilized only by resting it on someone’s car – it’s captured something!

We walked up Crestmont to Christopher. The picture below was from the head of the stairs there. (The staircase is actually called Blairwood Lane, as I discovered when I wrote about them here a few years ago – See The Stairways of Forest Knolls )

view from stairs - blairwood lane - forest knollsToday I’m thankful for our friendly neighborhood with the magnificent and mystical Forest above us, and splendid views only a few minutes’ walk from home.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Forest Knolls Winter Holiday Party – Dec 7th, 2014

Neighbors Siobhan, Laura and Walter are organizing a Holiday party for Forest Knollsians (Knollites? Knollers?) on Sunday Dec 7th at 3.30 p.m.  It’s at the City Forest Lodge at 254 Laguna Honda Boulevard.

There’ll be Santa Claus and gifts for the little ones.

FK xmas party flyer 2014Here’s the PDF in case you want to download and print the flyer:Forest Knolls Christmas 2014 leaflet

Halloween, Giants, and Rain

I thought for sure Halloween would be rained out this year, or completely upstaged by the giant Giants Victory Parade being held downtown. But I laid in candy nonetheless, and plugged in a large plastic pumpkin in front of the house. By 5.30 p.m. the weather had cleared. I could see excited little princesses and superheroes running down the street in the Loop.

Thanks to the organizers for this year’s efforts! (And if anyone wants to publish their Halloween pictures here, send them in!  fk94131 at yahoo dot com) [Edited to Add: Here’s a cute ‘Officer E and his sidekick Owl costume picture someone sent me.]

Halloween - Officer E and his sidekick owl

This year, we had a fairy and a princess, a Giants fan and Black Widow (from the Avengers), a tiger-kitty, and a dramatic Voodoo priest accompanied by a large and shaggy bear. They all got candy, except for the bear. “Never feed the bears,” he said, as he declined.

Meanwhile, the parade was a huge success despite the rain.

This picture was actually taken earlier in the month from Twin Peaks, but I figured an orange-lit City Hall is an appropriate one to celebrate with. GO GIANTS!

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Nearly Halloween…

Here’s a reminder and a new announcement.
First: Laura Bloch is organizing a trick-or-treat loop in Forest Knolls (details HERE). Please email her at LJBloch@aol.com if you want to participate, and you’ll get a free mini-pumpkin and a sign for your house. You can participate even if you’re not on the loop – but I suggest making your sign and lights very prominent!  Participants agree to be home from 5.30-8 p.m. (and of course, have candy!)

pumpkin vultures

And Barbara Oleksiw invites all pre-teens to a Halloween celebration at 6th and Irving – here are the details.

Pre-Teen Halloween, Friday, Oct. 31, 7p, NW corner of Sixth & Irving
Join us for our annual Pumpkin Promenade of more than 60 hand-carved pumpkins, hot cider, mulled wine, cotton-candy, “treats” for the kids, and any other mischief we can arrange. Bring a dessert to share, if you’re so inclined.Barbara: 415/2.46.47.48

Halloween is Coming to Forest Knolls

pumpkin clipart public domainEach year, for the last several years, neighbor Laura Bloch has worked with the Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization to set up a Halloween loop where neighbors can sign on to provide candy for trick-or-treating kids. It’s been excellent. Thanks, Laura, Siobhan and Walter for doing this!

Here’s their message:

Halloween is fast approaching and children from all over Forest Knolls are invited to safely trick or treat in “The Loop”! If you will be home from 5:30-8:00 on Halloween evening and would like to participate in the festivities, please e-mail  Laura Bloch (LJBloch@aol.com) to confirm and you will receive a small pumpkin and sign to display, which will alert prospective trick-or- treaters that you are home and handing out candy. Please see the attached for more information.

The Loop includes homes on 1-299 Oak Park, 401-409 Christopher, on 1-201 Warren Drive, and 100-191 Forest Knolls Drive.

(This doesn’t mean that people who don’t live on the Loop can’t participate! Put a pumpkin sign out prominently, and you may get trick-or-treaters.)

halloween map forest knolls 2014[Edited to Add: I modified this to remove a phone number and add a house address to the Loop at the request of the organizers.]

Stow Lake … with Alligator?

I was leafing through a sheaf of pesticide use reports from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, as I sometimes do. It’s mostly about herbicides sprayed on plants. The parts about animals usually relate to rodents and yellow-jackets.

Not this report.  Some people had seen an alligator. In Stow Lake.

stow lake with alligator

I checked the date on the report, just in case it was April Fools. But no, this had a June 2014 date on it.

It wasn’t a very big alligator – two feet, said the report. SFRPD called Fish and Game, and Animal Care and Control. But though they went out to look a couple of days in succession, there was no alligator seen. They closed the case until there’s another sighting.

Do we have our own Nessie in Golden Gate Park?

stow lake alligator sighting

Worrying About Proposition I on the Nov 2014 Ballot

AGAINST PROP I smI don’t consider myself particularly political. But in recent years, I’ve become aware of  various kinds of community activism, and developed a real appreciation of what democracy means.

So I’m especially concerned about one Proposition that will be on the Ballot in November 2014. It’s Proposition I: Increased Usage of Children’s Playgrounds, Walking Trails, and Athletic Fields Act.

Prop I is being talked about as the opposite of Proposition H (opposing artificial turf on the Beach Chalet Soccer Fields),  hence such campaigns as Yes on H/  No on Prop I.

But it’s not just that.

Here’s what I worry about: If passed, Prop I would sharply erode community voices in future decisions made by SF Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) regarding our parks and open spaces. It tips the scales strongly in favor of SFRPD.

WHAT IS PROPOSITION I?

Proposition I changes the Parks Code so that any major project that SFRPD forecasts will double usage in an calendar year gets the go-ahead once its Environmental Impact Report is certified. Here’s the proposition (as a PDF): Nov2014_ParkCode

Here’s what it does:

  • Applies to any SFRPD project concerning athletic fields, children’s playgrounds, or walking trails – which sounds like it would cover most SFRPD parks and open spaces.
  • Makes “doubles usage in a calendar year” as a benchmark – even if doubling usage isn’t a good objective or usage would fall after one calendar year. (And of course, since it’s about the future, it’s a forecast.)
  • Says that once such a project’s EIR has been certified, it “should be allowed” – presumably cutting off appeals, ballot measures and other community input.
  • It’s also got a “poison pill” for Proposition H. If it gets more votes that Prop H, then it invalidates Proposition H even if Prop H got over 50% of the votes.

Because of the “poison pill” some people are saying Proposition I is ‘the anti-H.’ However, its impact is much broader.

prop i 5
The Anti-Prop H Clause – Prop I – Nov 2014

MUCH WIDER IN SCOPE THAN JUST AN ANTI-PROP-H MEASURE

 It allows SFRPD to proceed with any major project that they estimate will double usage in a calendar year, independent of the community’s desires or priorities. It removes nearly all means of appeal or review. So if this Prop I passes, then for any SFRPD project, they need only:

  1. Pick any project and estimate it will at least double usage within a calendar year;
  2. Hire a consultant to complete an EIR and agree that it will double forecast usage in a calendar year;
  3. As long as the EIR is certified, SFRPD can implement the project without any community input or challenge.
prop i 2
Estimating doubled usage in a calendar year is enough reason?

 

WHAT ABOUT CEQA?

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which is what requires projects to get Environmental Impact Reports, is enforced through lawsuits. There’s no regulatory body.

It’s not clear whether Prop I would take away the right to a legal appeal, or to a ballot measure. But the way it’s worded, it could do so.

Even worse – the language specifies it shall be “liberally construed.” This could mean anything.

prop i 3
“Liberal Construction” – Prop I – Nov 2014

Prop I can also be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of the Board of Supervisors with the Mayor’s approval. It doesn’t need to go back to the voters. This means the Supes and the Mayor can change a lot of the wording afterward.

prop i 4
“Amendment” – Proposition I – Nov 2014

WHY THE SUPERVISORS MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND

I know that City Hall is much in favor of Prop I. Seven supervisors signed to put it on the ballot, including Scott Wiener and David Chiu, both people whom I respect. Supervisor Wiener in particular feels it’s wrong for people opposing an SFRPD project to get more “bites at the apple” – after the Supervisors have approved it, and the EIR has been certified. I do understand that it’s frustrating when a multi-million dollar project is held up because a group of people in the community don’t want it.

What that argument doesn’t allow for is that the situation is inherently asymmetrical. The saying “You can’t fight City Hall” exists for a reason. All these rules – the Sunshine Act, the ability to go directly to the electorate via a ballot measure, the ability to take legal action – they all exist to redress the power imbalance, at least somewhat.

Theoretically, “City Hall” represents us. But a lot of things have to be weighed in any decision – from funds to feasibility to desirability of a project. And these can set up things so that what City Hall wants is not aligned with what the community wants.

Taking away avenues of recourse – including putting things on the ballot – feels efficient. But ‘efficient’ decisions are not always the right decisions.

ocean edge poster - yes on H - no on IJUST ABOUT SOCCER FIELDS?

Even though the main campaigners against Prop I are those who support Proposition H (and oppose artificial turf  in Golden Gate Park), the issue is so much broader.

That’s why I hope that Prop I doesn’t pass, no matter what happens to Prop H.

I was talking to  friends who plays soccer, and are willing to accept artificial turf as the price of play.  “I’m voting No on H, No on I,”  they said.

From where I sit it looks like Proposition I muffles the public voice about what happens in our parks.

I’d love to hear your views.

 

 

That No-Mow Fescue ‘Furry Grass’ Again

In 2010, I wrote about the  no-mow fescue planted on the side of Junipero Serra, right where it turns to Portola.  Here’s what it looked like at the time: a dramatic green, with a furry texture.

furry grassA year later, it was dry and looked more like hay, and I wrote about it again as ‘shaggy grass‘ in 2011.

furry grass aug 2011

Since I pass that way a lot, I have often thought of doing a follow up – especially this summer, when the whole thing had an interesting patchy look. It was brown for the most part, but green in the shadow of the big tree growing there.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get round to taking a picture until a few days ago, when the contrast was less dramatic. But it’s still evident. This is the grass where it’s dry.

brown grass no mow fescue

And here’s what it looks like under the tree. I can’t figure if the tree is helping the grass by shading it, or by watering it by harvesting fog, or something else. But within the outline of the tree, the grass is green.

green under the tree

I also found a bunch of mushrooms nestled in the grass, like these here.
mushrooms in the grass

Even at that busy intersection, the scent of the moment was the honey fragrance from the self-seeded sweet alyssum.

sweet alyssum

I love how nature fills in gaps with life and beauty.

Here’s another picture of the grass under the trees. You can see where it turns patchy outside the tree’s dripline.

green grass and patchy grass - no mow fescue

I was delighted to see a row of trees planted all along the sidewalk here.

When they’re grown, they’ll help the homes back there,  fighting the pollution from the heavy traffic on Junipero Serra. They’ll absorb some of the traffic noise. They’ll provide a pleasing visual barrier.

And they’ll shade the no-mow fescue grass and it will be green.

UCSF’s 15-Minute Public Hearing – Sept 2014

UCSF held a meeting for public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on its Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) on Sept 22, 2014. About 15-20 neighbors showed up. No one (including me) had any comments ready. The meeting started at 7p.m. and adjourned at 7.15 p.m.

DEIR for UCSF LRDP 2014

I picked up a copy of the DEIR; it’s roughly 2 inches thick. The electronic version on UCSF’s website is HERE.

UCSF are accepting written comments until October 14th.

It was surprising that no one commented. It was such a contrast with a similar meeting last year for DEIR comments about cutting down trees in Sutro Forest. There, 250 people showed up, 50 spoke (with over 70% opposed), and it ran to 9.15 p.m.

WHAT’S HAPPENING ABOUT SUTRO FOREST?

This EIR was for the Long Range Development Plan, which is mainly about construction and changes in usage in Parnassus as well as UCSF’s other campuses. They have said that Sutro Forest is specifically excluded, since it will have its own Plan and will presumably have another EIR.

(As of now, we understand that UCSF has a new plan for Sutro Forest that focuses on fire hazard and commits to not using herbicides. We actually think the plan will increase, not decrease, the fire hazard by drying out the forest and making it windier. Anyway, the only information we have about the plan came from a Powerpoint presentation. There’s no EIR yet, but UCSF has said the new plan would need a new EIR when they can devote resources to it.)

Meanwhile, what UCSF has been doing is cutting down trees first for “fire safety” and then for “hazard reduction. More trees are expected to be felled before year end. This is considered routine maintenance and doesn’t require an EIR.

As far as we can gauge right now, the LRDP still affects the Forest in three ways:

  • A new trail is to be built from the Inner Sunset side, which is good; but it is likely to cost trees, which is bad.
  • They are removing Aldea Student Housing from the space ceiling, with the immediate effect of preserving some buildings scheduled to be knocked down, and a long term impact of – who knows?
  • They plan to knock down two small office buildings in the forest – just off the parking lots. It’s a Space Ceiling issue.

HOW IS FOREST KNOLLS IMPACTED?

We will possibly be impacted by UCSF removing Aldea Student Housing from the Space Ceiling. The immediate effect is that they will keep three buildings they had planned to knock down.

In the longer term, it could mean expansion at Aldea, which would of course impact our neighborhood, since the only thing between the student housing area and Forest Knolls is a strip of trees – which was thinned last August, so the housing is now clearly visible from Christopher.

At present, UCSF has said the LRDP includes no plans to expand in Aldea.

If I figure out any other impacts, I’ll post about it here.

 

Free Fitness Festival at UCSF Parnassus on Sept 25, 2014

UCSF sent around this message to all the Parnassus neighbors (broadly defined). The event is open to all.

aerobic dancerNext week, the fitness center in UCSF’s Millberry Union is hosting a festival with complimentary workout classes and fitness consultations.  The free activities are open to the UCSF community and to neighbors.

September 25, 2014
Millberry Fitness & Recreation Center
500 Parnassus Avenue, Level B1

Body Composition Testing
Personal Trainer Consultations
Event Specials

Mid-Day Schedule
11:00 am-2:30 pm            Free body composition testing and fitness consultations
11:15 am-11:45 am          GRIT™ CARDIO
11:50 am-12:35 pm          ZUMBA®
12:45-1:15 pm                    CXWORX™
1:30-2:20 pm                      BODYFLOW ™

Evening Schedule
4:30-7:30 pm                      Free body composition testing and fitness consultations
5:00-5:45 pm                      ZUMBA®
5:50-6:20 pm                      Motown Moves
6:25-7:15 pm                      BODYCOMBAT ™

For more information, call 415.476.0348 or visit http://bit.ly/UCSFFitnessFestival2014

THERE’S PARKING (FOR A FEE)

Three convenient sites serve our 107-acre Parnassus campus, located south of Golden Gate Park.

  • Millberry Union Public Garage: 500 Parnassus Avenue, located across from the Medical Sciences Building
  • Westside/Kirkham Surface Lot: 707 Parnassus Avenue, located behind the School of Dentistry
  • Beckman/Koret Surface Lot: 5th Avenue at Kirkham

Public parking rates at Parnassus garages are as follows:
0-1 Hours = $3.75
1-2 Hours = $7.50
2-3 Hours = $11.25
3-4 Hours = $15.00
4-5 Hours = $18.75 (24-hour comp sticker rate)
5-6 Hours = $22.50
6-7 Hours = $26.25
7-24 Hours = $30.00 (daily maximum)

The parking rate for motorcycles is a $5.00 daily maximum.

Disabled parking rates are as follows:
0-1 Hours = $3.75
1-2 Hours = $6.00
2-3 Hours = $6.00 (daily maximum)
Weeknight (6:00 pm-7:00 am) and weekend parking is available at the Westside/Kirkham Surface Lot and Beckman/Koret Surface Lot at a rate of $3.00.
– See more at: http://campuslifeservices.ucsf.edu/transportation/services/parking/public_parking#sthash.zZSBtQfS.dpuf