Forest Knolls Neighborhood on the Web

computerI thought I’d write this post to let everyone know the various ways we can connect on the Internet. For now, there are the following:

1. This website and blog, (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 – 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.

2. The Forest_Knolls_Neighborhood Yahoo Group.

Anyone can join, though it’s really of interest to people within the Forest Knolls neighborhood.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 two years ago, with instructions for joining:

“This  group, managed by Mary Allen, is  helpful for anyone living in the neighborhood… people send out heads-ups, share information, and occasionally post lost or found pet notices. We get recommendations for handymen and other service providers, as well as neighborhood safety information. I generally post a notice there when I have something new out here, too.

“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!”

3. NextDoor Forest Knolls

Nextdoor is a new 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.

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.

Recently, our neighborhood got the “Nearby Neighborhoods” feature, which gives access to neighborhood-housesNextdoor in 9 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 1000 people will see your post.) You can even 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 – and discussions about Sutro Forest. 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.

4. Forest Knolls Group on Facebook

That’s just started up. 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 you decide to join really depends on how you want to use it.

  • The 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.
  • The Yahoo Group has the most members right now, though all of them may not be from the neighborhood. (There’s no requirement they should be.) I think it probably reaches the most neighbors.
  • 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.
  • 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!

Forest Knolls Neighborhood on Facebook

LIKE us on FacebookWe’re on Facebook! There’s now a community group called Forest Knolls Neighborhood, San Francisco. If you’re on Facebook, come join.

Right now, there’s not much up there.  If you have comments, stories, blog-posts or pictures to contribute, so much the better.  It’s at

“NextDoor” in Forest Knolls

neighborhood-houses[Edited to Add on 31 March 2013: We have the needed number of people to launch the group. So Nextdoor Forest Knolls exists. Come join if you’re interested.]

There’s a new platform for groups in town: Nextdoor. It’s like our Forest Knolls Neighborhood Yahoo Group, but unlike that, no one can be anonymous. Nextdoor is a closed group, and you can only join if you live within a specified neighborhood. They verify addresses and everyone uses their real names. Our Forest Knolls Nextdoor group will only launch if we can get at least 4 more members in the next week. We have a sort of pilot going on now. I’ve heard some reports from people in other neighborhoods who like NextDoor.

(Me, I’ve joined both.  The Forest_Knolls_Neighborhood Yahoo Group and NextDoor.)

Here’s an FAQ – and if you have more questions, post them to comments and either I’ll answer them or someone from NextDoor will.

1. How is this different from the Forest Knolls Yahoo Group that anyone can join?

Two main differences: First, it’s not anonymous; everyone who joins gives their name and address.

Second, it has more functions – it can have subgroups, like for instance a dog-owners group, or a parents group. Here’s a list:

  • A neighborhood directory, which is built on top of real profile pages, making it possible to really get to know your neighbors (as well as having a dynamically updated directory of contact info).
  • A neighborhood map.
  • The ability to create public or private groups (sub-groups) within the neighborhood or to communicate with people who live near you but outside the neighborhood through the Nearby Neighborhoods feature.
  • The ability for users to control their email settings based on the types of messages they want to receive.
  • An Urgent Alerts feature, which makes it possible to blast out urgent information (emergency, crime, etc.) by text message as well as email.
  • A Recommendations section which archives recommendations by category making it much easier to browse and find information over time.
  •  Event functionality with RSVPs.
  • Classifieds and Free Items categories which makes this kind of exchange easier and more efficient than a purely message based solution.
  • A dedicated Crime and Safety section.

2. How do I join?

You need an invitation, and then once you agree to join, your address needs to be verified. (This can be done by credit card – not with a charge, just for address verification – or by postcard.)  If you  click on this link, I’ll invite you to sign up:

You can learn more at

3. Why should I join?

It’s an easy way to stay in touch with neighbors, and start discussions about things that are important to the neighborhood. For instance, if we want to start a discussion about the new route-plan for the 36-Teresita, we could do so.

4. Can we post photographs and documents?

Yes, you can add one attachment to an original post.  (More functionality may be added later on.)

5. How private is it, anyway?

Well, it’s a private forum. Anyone who lives within the community and joins Nextdoor Forest Knolls can read it. If you choose to publish a post to nearby neighborhoods instead of just Forest Knolls, people in nearby neighborhoods can read it as well.  There’s nothing to stop anyone from cutting and pasting and sending a message to other people. So you can post things there that you don’t necessarily want to tell the whole world – but I wouldn’t recommend putting anything on that’s *really* private.

6. Does it cost anything?

No, Nextdoor is free. Later on they may add advertisements from local business to support the service. (The company intends to focus on local businesses as much as possible.)

Flyer: Midtown Terrace Playground

Midtown Terrace PlaygroundSome time ago, we’d posted about the renovations at the Midtown Terrace Playground. Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization sent round a flyer with details of what’s going on there — a latchkey program for 5-11 year-olds, and a daycamp — as well as hours and contact details. Here it is:

As usual, clicking on it twice will give a larger image. (We checked Terry Trejo’s email address in the Parks website, and it’s stated as — so if the one above doesn’t work, try this. Or call her!)

(FKNO is at, not — a cheap realty website, nor — which is the site you’re on now. Note the different extensions: org, com, and info.)

Muni, Clipper and Me

On Saturday  (2 Oct 2010) I took the Muni downtown from Forest Hill Station. I do this often enough that I know the drill, but seldom enough that I don’t carry a pass – or have the correct change. I always need to use the change machines.

But on Saturday they were out of service. Every single one was blocked with yellow tape. I looked at the station-master in puzzlement. She waved me over to new ticket machines on the other side of the station. Those didn’t need the exact change, they worked with credit cards. And they issued paper tickets at $2 for a single trip, $4 for a return fare.

Whatever happened to the transfer with the 90-minute validity? I wasn’t sure.  (It was academic, anyway. I was meeting friends for lunch; it would take more than 90 minutes.) After a little fumbling, I got a return ticket. It had a nice picture of the ballpark on the front.

On the back were a couple of icons indicating how to pay (just tap your card on the reader); and some fine print.

I couldn’t figure out what was meant by “A 90-minute transfer will be calculated automatically from initial time of entry.” I went looking on the SFMTA website, but that was some miles away from being crystal clear…

By contrast, here’s what the old-now-obsolete transfer said on the back:

That’s crystal clear.

So anyway, I called 311, and within a minute or two (at 11.30 at night!) got a helpful lady who assured me that I could use the colorful-but-baffling ticket in exactly the same way as the old Muni transfer. It really was valid for 90 minutes from the time of entry, so if I took a short trip downtown, I didn’t have to buy a return ticket.

I’ll be trying it out one of these days, and will update this post then. I might even break down and get a Clipper card. It’s the San Franciscan thing to do. [ETA: It works. It’s valid for 90 minutes, no problem.]

(Other than that confusion, things were going reasonably well. Transit staff were on duty everywhere telling people what they needed to do.)

Disaster Preparedness Class

This is being circulated in another Group. It’s reproduced here in case anyone wants to go.



Offered by SF SAFE and the San Francisco Fire Department’s

Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT)

WHO: For everyone – bring your friends, family and neighbors!

WHAT: Free Two-Hour Preparedness Workshop

This workshop will cover what everyone should know to prepare personally, as a business and as a community for a disaster, large or small.
Topics Include:

  • Risk Awareness
  • Disaster Supplies
  • Personal Disaster Planning
  • Utilities Overview
  • NERT Overview
  • Disaster Pre-Planning with NERT and SF SAFE

WHERE: Park Police Station Community Room, 1899 Waller Street

WHEN: Wednesday May 5, 6:30 to 9 PM

HOW: RSVP to or call 415-970-2024 to register

For more information about NERT, visit

And about SF SAFE and Neighborhood Watch, visit

WHY: For your safety in times of emergency, it matters what you do today!

QUESTIONS?: Please contact Bill Lafferty (415-661-1750) if you have any questions.

We encourage participation from people with disabilities and seniors.  The location is wheelchair accessible, and Assisted Listening Devices will be available by request.  For real-time captioning, sign language interpretation, or any other accommodation, please contact Erica Arteseros at ph: 415-970-2022 email:


Around: Stow Lake Evening

A marvelous feature of our neighborhood is that it’s so close to Golden Gate Park.

Mt Sutro from Stow Lake – shows UCSF (Photo credit: LC)

The park is full of wonders, from the carousel to the Japanese Garden to the museums and golf-course and windmill… but Stow Lake remains a favorite. (Not just with me – this neat essay talks about looking for microbes in Stow Lake water.)

Stow Lake is an artificial lake that feels natural. With the island of Strawberry Hill in the middle, and smaller islands where birds can safely nest, it’s become a bird and animal habitat. At the same time, it’s very accessible.  It’s paved all round, which means that even people who can’t safely walk trails can go around the lake. For those who want more, Strawberry Hill has trails encircling it and climbing it. And there are the boats, or at least, if you go early enough and are willing to pay the fees, there are boats. (Stow Lake access is free.) Parking is seldom a problem.

Old postcard from Save Stow Lake Boathouse website shows college that became UCSF. (Click on pic to go to website.)

Being San Francisco, of course there’s a controversy: A historic boat house and snack stand on the edge of the lake may be turned into a cafe (this links to a PDF file from Rec and Parks, describing the project and asking for proposals from interested concessionaires.) Opponents  fighting to prevent a restaurant fear it will alter the historic character of the boat-house and destroy the peace of the area. I wonder if this latest iteration (dated 5 March 2010) which notes that Rec and Parks don’t want a restaurant with table-service (i.e., upscale) represents an acceptable compromise?

I was at the lake one evening, not long ago. It was too late for the boats, late enough that most people had left, except for a few joggers and dog-walkers.  The lake had ducks, coots, Canada geese, and seagulls, but most of them had called it a day. Even the herons in the nesting colony in the trees near the boathouse had settled down.

A rat ran through the undergrowth, and a few squirrels. This one glared at me from a redwood. They’re pretty unafraid, out at Stow Lake. They know we’re not going to eat them, and who knows, maybe we’ll feed them.

The birds were starting to look for places to roost, and I heard the soft, resonant hoot of a Great Horned Owl. Bats emerged in ones and twos, fluttering and swinging across the sky.

Finally the moon rose over the pines. Peaceful.