The results are in! The sunny day paid off; the teams (34 people) saw 990 967 butterflies of 26 species. Last year, it was 775 butterflies, 24 species. The count this year was a month later than in 2010, and in hot weather rather than on cold and foggy day. Also, they looked on Angel Island for the first time.
The Cabbage Whites were the most common. Next were the striking yellow Anise Swallowtails. These two butterflies accounted for nearly half the butterflies the teams observed.
It’s very near here, the Concourse at Golden Gate Park. I’m a member of the Fine Arts Museums of SF, so admission would be free (or at least, covered by my annual membership). It was a weekday, and it was raining. So why not go to the Picasso exhibition at the De Young?
As usual, they did not permit photography inside the exhibition, but no one seemed to mind photos in the hall outside, which is where this was taken. It features one of the most striking pictures in the show, a portrait of Dora Maar. She was also an artist and photographer, brilliant and sharp-edged. (This poster shows the picture many times its actual size; it’s really fairly small.)
The exhibition was beautifully presented, showing not only Picasso’s path as an artist, but also his relationship with the multiple women in his life: His girlfriends Fernande Olivier and “Eva Gouel”; his ballerina wife Olga Khoklova; his mistress Marie-Therese Walter with whom he had a long affair, secret until she bore his daughter; Dora Maar, the woman in the picture; Francoise Gilot, mother of his son Claude and his daughter Paloma; and his second wife, Jacqueline Roque. He generally seemed to cheat on each wife or lover with a younger woman. Each of these women featured in paintings.
I strongly recommend the recorded audio tour (unless of course you’re already knowledgeable about Picasso). It’s 6 bucks for members (and 7 for others) and is definitely worth it. It puts what might otherwise be a rather overwhelming assemblage of paintings into context.
The San Francisco Forest Hill tree tour last Sunday, led by Mike Sullivan, had a great turnout. “I thought there’d be about ten or twelve,” said my companion. In fact, there were perhaps three times that number. The tour started at the Forest Hill club house, which is surrounded by big old Monterey cypress. It’s a strikingly pretty place; the Bernard Maybeck architecture and the tall trees give it a medieval air.
We moved on to a strawberry tree just up the road. It’s native to Southern Europe — and surprisingly, southern Ireland. Mike explained that most likely, they had a wider range before, but climate change had pushed them southward. This was a common pattern: It explained the distribution of Monterey pine, in small pockets as far apart as the Monterey peninsula and San Luis Obispo. Trees changed their home ranges in response to changing climatic conditions.
The next tree we saw was one I’ve been planning to photograph for a Memorable Trees post. It’s a Monterey Pine that towers above a white Spanish-style house. The house is handsome, but this tree is what makes it memorable. The tree has an almost manicured appearance. It’s been well-cared for and expertly pruned.
ARAUCARIA AND CONTINENTAL DRIFT
It’s almost impossible to think about memorable trees without considering the weird Araucarias, a age-old genus of living fossils that knew the dinosaurs. (Flowering plants didn’t. The dinosaurs lived in a world of horsetails and treefern — and araucaria.) They have wonderful names like bunya-bunya and monkey-puzzle and Norfolk Island Pine (though they’re not at all related to pines).
They come from the Southern Hemisphere, from places as distant as New Zealand to Chile in a scattered distribution. Mike’s explanation was continental drift: these trees were around before the continents split up, and traveled with the land masses as they moved. San Francisco has a number of them, of various kinds (including two of the Memorable Trees I posted about earlier).
NEIGHBORS AND STORIES
Most of the trees we saw were on private property, and some of the neighbors came out and told us about their trees. The owner of an English birch beech that I’ve often admired said the big window opposite the tree brought it right into the house, so it felt as though their living room was part of the tree.
Elsewhere, someone invited us into his backyard to see a large buckeye, which was already bare – it shed its leaves as early as July – showing off the twisty branch structure. Mike told us that another buckeye is the subject of the only tree easement in the city — one that was saved from destruction when a builder bought the land on which it grows. Friends of the Urban Forest holds that easement.
Another neighbor told us about selecting sourwood trees – possibly the only ones in San Francisco – for the spot outside his home. Mike told us that the wood actually was sour, and jam could be made from the fruit. Later, we stopped to admire a rather large and twisted coastal live oak.
[Edited to Add: Forest Hill is proud of its trees; each one is tagged with a little metal accession number, and listed in a database. Someone explained that the neighborhood association cares for the trees; and will help a home-owner who wants to plant a tree to do so, free of charge. I have to say I was extremely impressed.]
One group of neighbors were trying to get support for a tree removal: A group of tall, stately, and possibly dangerous Monterey pines. They wanted to take down these trees, and replace them with smaller, younger ones.
WHAT NOT TO PLANT
One aspect of the tree tour didn’t appeal to me personally: Continual inputs about why various trees were bad. Invasive roots. Brittle wood. Dripping stamens and berries. Sensitivity to freezes. Pest vulnerabilities. (To be fair, most of these comments did not actually come from Mike.)
I think I’d want to know all these things if I were actually trying to select a tree for a street (a process Mike noted was extremely site-specific, depending on the micro-climate, the underlying soil, and the preferences of the owner).
But in the context of a tree-tour, a bit of a downer.
In addition to his book, The Trees of San Francisco, Mike maintains a website at www.sftrees.com — including a list (no pictures, unfortunately) of interesting street trees by neighborhood, as well as ‘Mystery trees’ he wants to identify. It also has occasional updates about the particular trees mentioned in the book.
FRIENDS OF THE URBAN FOREST
The tour, which was free, ended with an appeal for support for Friends of the Urban Forest. This marvelous group helps plant street trees all over San Francisco.
On the Landmark Tree Tour I wrote about recently, they were passing around an interesting book with a green cover: The Trees of San Francisco. “Mike Sullivan never met a tree he didn’t like…” said the inside flap, about the author. And he called eucalyptus “Australia’s gift to California” (though he takes a neutral position on the Sutro Forest issue). It was full of photographs and descriptions of San Francisco’s street trees.
I had to have this book.
It arrived today and it’s even better than I thought. The descriptions are lucid and easy to read. The photographs (by Jaime Pandolfo, a Brazilian resident of San Francisco) are beautiful; some are so artistic you can almost imagine them as posters. And it includes a whole bunch of walking tours, laid out by neighborhood and noting the special trees.
Unfortunately, some of those trees are now not what they were, as storms have taken their toll. A picture of the city’s Christmas Tree – a Monterey Cypress – in front of McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park shows the tree in its heyday; today, it’s sadly diminished as large branches have fallen off.
But many of the trees are even bigger. And with all the new trees being planted, we hope later editions of this book will still have thousands of trees to celebrate. Meanwhile, Mike Sullivan has a convenient website at sftrees.com that includes some updates to his book.
(Details: The Trees of San Francisco by Mike Sullivan, Pomegranate Communications, 2004)
Most of the time, we think of Golden Gate Park as pretty safe, and most of the time, it is. But recently, there were two unusual incidents.
Two dogs, believed to belong to homeless people living in the park, got loose and attacked visitors. One dog was shot by the police, the other was captured. (It happened near Lloyd Lake, Area 1 below.)
In response to this, the police are stepping up their presence in the Park. Here’s the Captain’s Message from the Park Station newsletter:
Park Station is working together with Park and Rec and the Park Rangers to increase patrols in Golden Gate Park. In order to keep Golden Gate Park safe for everyone to enjoy, Park Station and Richmond Station will be doing daily early morning patrols in the park to address illegal camping and sleeping in Golden Gate Park.
Good news from our monthly Compstat meeting this week; our year to date stats for Park Station show a reduction in Part 1 Violent Crimes of 14 percent.
Working together with the community has helped us reduce crime through strategic planning, community information sharing, and teamwork. Thank you for your continued support and input.
Captain Teri Barrett
Commanding Officer Park Station
Following a heads-up from the neighbors working to preserve the Laguna Honda Reservoir, I attended a meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WTPCC). The WTPCC is a council of councils; its members are the neighborhood organizations from all over San Francisco’s west side. We met in the quaint Maybeck clubhouse in Forest Hill. Nestled under tall redwoods, the place has a charming, almost medieval atmosphere.
After thanking two members of the Council who were retiring (to the tune of “Jolly Good Fellow”!), the chairman George Wooding rapidly got through several agenda items. Some that are relevant to our neighborhood:
Regarding the gravel yard at Laguna Honda Reservoir, he had attended the June 6th meeting with the PUC. He said the PUC had a moratorium in place until July 15th at least. The Home Owners’ Association of The Woods, a residential community adjacent to the reservoir, is joining the WTPCC.
About Sutro Forest, he mentioned that UCSF was having a community meeting on June 30th.
The current owners of Park Merced discussed what was happening there. They are under financial pressure with loans coming due, but hope to negotiate with their lenders for a better payment terms. Meanwhile, they are planning to build new housing and slowly phase out the older buildings. They assured us that existing tenants under rent control would be given comparable-but-new homes at the rent-controlled rate.
The evening’s main issue was the misuse of the Gift Fund of Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH). Apparently, a gift fund described as being specifically for the welfare and happiness of the residents/ patients/ inmates of the hospital, has been utilized for the benefit of the hospital staff. The fund, which had reached around $2 million, has been run down to about $700 thousand. Its oversight structures have been disbanded, so now money can be taken out more easily. Several sub-accounts have been set up under the Gift Fund to utilize the monies for the nurses, doctors, and administrators of the hospital while cutting back on excursions for the residents.
George described WTPCC’s futile efforts to get inputs or explanations from LHH representatives, from various oversight institutions, and from the district supervisor. WTPCC passed a resolution to recommend an independent audit of the funds, restoring any misspent monies, and reinstating oversight structures.
I received this email from the organizers of the Irving and 10th street fair:
“On behalf of the Inner Sunset Street Fair (SFF) organizing committee, I want to send a heartfelt to all of you who joined us at the first ever Inner Sunset Street Fair, last Saturday May 15th. Opening up Irving Street and 10th Avenue to the neighborhood was everything we dreamed of and more. Circus entertainers, all-day massage, local arts and crafts, a packed music schedule, outdoors yoga and Tai Chi, and neighbors doing the Lindy hop together… all of that, mixed with neighbors coming together, children smiling, and connections being created, made this a unique occasion.
“Underlying the street fair’s design was our collective belief in the importance of public space for community-building, not just for vehicles; in the value of people as citizens, not just consumers; and in the need to celebrate the many wonderful people, projects, and organizations that make the Inner Sunset. We think opening up the streets to all of this was a big success and we hope you will join us to making it happen more often.
“As this was our first street fair, we learned a lot and we expect next year’s street fair (you heard it – there will be another!) to be even better. However, only with your feedback on this year’s event can we make next year’s occasion really shine. Your input is crucial! To that end, we would be grateful if you would fill out this short anonymous survey: Thank you in advance.
“Lastly, thank you to the wonderful ISSF team – Chris (co-chair), Wendy, Randy, Jason, Tanya, Trina, Walter, Jim, Ellen, Tracy, Jamie, and Blas – for their wonderful work. Without their amazing dedication, this event would not have been possible. Thank you also to the many other supporters and sponsors – from individuals to local businesses and organizations – who also made this possible.
“We will see you next year – and surely long before then. All the best, Adam, Chris, and the ISSF team
Separately, someone gave us a heads-up about a Census of Farmer’s Markets:
HELP THE USDA COUNT ALL THE FARMERS MARKETS:
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JUNE 4
Each year the USDA does a census of farmers markets. It yields critical information about where and when farmers markets are operating, as well as what federal nutrition assistance programs are accepted at which farmers markets.
When you see statistics – in the press, quoted by politicians, or used as a way to chart the local food movement and prove its reach — they come from this census.
The results turn around quickly: this year’s numbers will be released in August.
Someone gave us a heads up on Muni – it’s short of funds, it needs more cuts, and its having public meetings about it.
Here’s the MUNI letter:
“Dear Community Leaders and Transit Colleagues,
The SFMTA Board of Directors confronts a challenging budget situation for both the current fiscal year and the next two-year budget cycle. After layoffs and other cost-cutting measures that began last November, the SFMTA still faces a current-year $16.9 million shortfall.
The solutions before the Agency and those impacted by its decisions are both painful and unpopular.
Proposed solutions include:
• Reduced frequencies and shorter service hoursfor Muni
• Munifare increases and parking fee and fine increases
Your opinion counts. Please attend one of the following meetings to learn more and to provide public comment.
FY 2010 Focus
Town Hall Meetings, One South Van Ness Ave. @ Market St., 2nd Floor Atrium
Saturday, Feb. 6 – 10 a.m. to noon
Tuesday, Feb. 9 – 6 to 8 p.m.
SFMTA Board Meeting, City Hall Room 400
Tuesday, Feb. 16 – 9 a.m. (public hearing and possible Board action)
FY 2011-2012 Focus
Town Hall Meetings, One South Van Ness Ave. @ Market St., 2nd Floor Atrium Wednesday, March 10 – 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 20 – 10 a.m.
SFMTA Board Meetings, City Hall Room 400
Tuesday, March 30 – 2 p.m.
Tuesday, April 6 – 2 p.m. (public hearing and possible Board action)
Tuesday, April 20 – 2 p.m. (public hearing and possible Board action)
Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH), at the foot of Clarendon Avenue, is in a sense part of our neighborhood. The Woods, a community of townhomes, lies just across from it, as does Galewood Court. Thanks to the addition of some unlovely tower blocks, and the felling of a lot of trees (eucalyptus – of course), it’s a lot more visible than it used to be. Especially at night, when it bears some resemblance to a large parking garage.
So we’re concerned at what’s happening at LHH. George Wooding, President of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, wrote an article pointing out problematic changes that the public has not been informed about.
For those interested in more detail, there’s a website called Stop LHH Downsize with a great deal of information (including the full text of Mr Wooding’s article, “Many Problems Face Laguna Honda Hospital“).
Here’s the gist of the story:
In 1999, the San Francisco voters agreed to a bond measure to rebuild Laguna Honda Hospital – a city-owned nursing home, they thought, for indigent elderly and disabled San Franciscans.
What has happened since?
The rebuild has cost $600 mn instead of the budgeted $401 mn.
Tree felling has chopped large holes in the screen between Clarendon Avenue and the hospital’s rear, giving the neighborhood a fine view of the backside of the new blocks and the parking lot.
LHH has cut 35% of the beds (420 of 1200), eliminated another 200 planned assisted living units, and suspended or terminated its adult daycare program for older people with dementia.
More problematically, LHH has changed its mission – or is trying to.
The Department of Public Health is planning to admit people with mental health and substance abuse problems. Instead of having a nursing home in our neighborhood – a mission most of us support – we will have effectively, a mental-health hospital.
It’s an experiment that has already been tried, unsuccessfully. In 2003, in order to reduce pressure on San Francisco General Hospital, young patients with substance abuse and mental health issues were sent on to LHH. Staff were attacked, fires set, and there were clashes between the young male patients and the older residents. Eventually, the situation deteriorated sufficiently that the Department of Justice was involved, and the experiment stopped.
It’s about to be restarted. (We think, since there has been no clarity on the issue.)
Says Wooding in his article: “We don’t know what population LHH intends to serve when it opens just four months from now, and whether LHH will be serving geriatric patients with chronic medical illness, or psychosocial patients with mental illness and substance abuse needs.”
The underlying problem is that San Francisco has no place to send mentally ill/ substance abusing patients who cannot be released into the community. (In 2004, San Francisco’s only long-term care psychiatric facility closed down, with a loss of 145 psychiatric beds.)
That doesn’t mean that LHH should be sacrificed to that function.Especially without buy-in from voters and the surrounding communities.
[Edited to Add: At the March 11, 2010 community meeting, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd announced that the new facility would open in June (though the patients would not move in until later). In response to a question, he said that LHH was not changing its admission policy: It would be open only to people whose primary diagnosis was physical, though some of those might have mental challenges as well. “Don’t worry, it’s not becoming a homeless shelter,” he said.]
Merry Christmas, to all who celebrate it! And Happy New Year, everyone.
Today I received a charming message, anchored by a fractured candy-cane: The kids from the Japanese Bi-lingual Bi-cultural Program at Clarendon Elementary thanking their neighbors and giving them greetings of the season.
Over the last few days, I took some photographs of some of the decorated houses around our neighborhood. Here’s a selection.
It all started with a question on the Forest Knolls Yahoo Group about the brightly-colored paint-spots above the drain covers in our neighborhood. What were they?
Donna Chong responded. “Ever since the threat of West Nile Virus, San Francisco has been putting something in the sewers to keep the mosquitos from multiplying. The program has been going on for about 2 years. The paint indicates that these sewers have been treated and a new color spray is applied after each treatment. I am not sure how often they are treated but it is pretty frequent.”
Later, she added: “I personally am very glad they have the program. Our house borders a long drain and several catch basins that were a breeding ground for mosquitos. There were so many that we slept every night with a mosquito net!”
Someone else expressed a concern about dragonflies, wondering if they might be affected as well as the mosquitoes.
There was a sign on the pumphouse, she said, that indicated the treatment they were using, and we promised to check it out. Here it is:
They use Bt (a bacillus that kills mosquitoes) and liquid soap, up to once a week. (Another source said once a month, from late spring through fall, but that was in 2005 and they may have changed the regime.)
Bt dunks are what pond-owners are advised to put in their ponds to prevent mozzies from breeding there. As pesticides go, it’s pretty mild because it’s a bacillus and not a chemical. It’s more eco-friendly than the larvicides that some other cities use.
Can it affect dragonflies? We’re guessing that unlike mosquitoes, dragonflies don’t breed in the catch basins. They’re supposed to like lakes with vegetation, even garden ponds (some kinds prefer streams). One site we checked specifically recommended Bt Mosquito Dunks in garden ponds because it doesn’t harm dragonflies. So they may not be directly affected.
On the other hand, dragonflies eat mozzies, and if there aren’t any, they might not be doing as well. Also, there’s a possibility that some kind of herbicide or pesticide is getting in the places they do breed. Maybe Laguna Honda lake? It’s a possible site near our neighborhood.
Edited to Add: “DW” e-mailed to say the playground is now open and “they did a nice job.” ( 6 Nov 09)
The playground still isn’t open (3 Nov 09) even though it was supposed to be. It looks like it’s ready, though.
There’s a new picnic table, and a basketball court where the “big swings” used to be. The newlaid grass is neatly mowed, and the play structure seems to be installed.
The Recreation Center has a new (or at least, repaired) roof. (ETA: The Director told me the roof had actually been repaired some years ago. The inside is much the same, but she said they had new improved bathrooms.)
[This has been edited and updated on Dec 06, 2009.]
The closest Muni station is the Forest Hill station, (where you can get the K,L, M and T lines), opposite Laguna Honda Hospital. The closest BART station is at Glen Park, where, ironically, there is no parking.
Forest Knolls is served by one bus-route, the 36 Teresita, which operates between Forest Hill Station, Forest Knolls, and Midtown Terrace. (Following a recent route-change on that stretch, the other leg of the route goes from Forest Hill Station out to Glen Park BART station and on to St Luke’s Hospital at Cesar Chavez & Valencia – see below).
Here’s the new route of the 36 Teresita (dark pink). The dotted black lines show a discontinued route.
Starting 5 December, 2009, the 36 Teresita was re-routed to go to Glen Park BART station and St. Luke’s Hospital (part of the 26 route) instead of Balboa Park.
The section between Forest Hill Muni station and Forest Knolls was not affected.
The service now stops at 11 p.m. (last bus at 11 p.m. at Forest Hill Station and 11.10 from St Luke’s Hospital)
The rush-hour frequency was formerly 20 minutes, but is now 30 minutes. (It was 20 minutes on weekdays 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m., 30 minutes at other times).
Though Forest Knolls is exclusively residential, it is close (by car) to some pleasant shopping areas.
West Portal has a drugstore, a hardware store, antiques, a bookstore, a number of coffee-shops, a movie theater, a number of dentists, hair salons and spas, groceries, pet supplies, and restaurants with all kinds of cuisines – and a major Muni station. It still has the charm of a neighborhood shopping street.
Just over the hill in Miraloma Park is a small group of shops: Molly Stones, a grocery and butchers with an abundant deli section; two coffee shops, a pizza place, a drugstore, and several cleaners.
There are also the shops and restaurants on Taraval and further down in the Sunset, at Diamond Heights (including the Post Office that serves the neighborhood), and in Cole Valley (charming, but where parking is rather problematic).
Two Safeway stores are within easy reach: One at Diamond Heights (open until 2 a.m.) and another on Taraval (which I think closes at 10 p.m.) There’s a Lucky on Sloat Boulevard, where there’s also a Fedex Kinkos, a Blockbuster, and a Ross Dress For Less store. Also a pet store.
We’re also close to shops and restaurants of the Inner Sunset — and there are some delightful ones. Arizmendi bakery. Pacific Catch restaurant. Park Chow. That’s just the beginning. Irving and 9th is a good place to start.
Forest Knolls was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Some of the residents are the first owners of the homes that were built then. According the website of realtors Ahlheim and Kearney: “The detached homes and townhomes, many with similar floor plans, are well constructed and spacious. Winding streets, hilly terrain and ever changing weather add to Forest Knolls’ character and privacy. The original homes were built between 1959 and 1963. Crestmont Drive’s two unit buildings were built between 1962 and 1979. Galewood Circle’s townhomes were constructed in 1978-79. Newer homes on Warren and Oak Park Drives were built in the 80’s and early 90’s.”
The area where Forest Knolls was built was part of an 1100-acre forest planted by former mayor Adolph Sutro, one of San Francisco’s most colorful characters. Sutro Forest and the forest on Mt Davidson are among the last remnants of these woods. This map, from 1927, shows Sutro Forest before. Trees were cleared to build first Midtown Terrace, then Forest Knolls.
Before that, it was all part of Rancho San Miguel, a ranch with 2,000 cattle and 200 horses. Before Sutro bought the land, it was owned by Jose Jesus Noe (whose name is memorialized in Noe Valley).
For a historic picture of Forest Knolls, and a link to more pictures, go HERE.
CLICK HERE for a lovely description of a walk down rural Clarendon Avenue in 1896.
If anyone would like to contribute photographs for the photo album page, we’d be happy to include them, with a photo-credit. Just leave a comment here and we’ll e-mail you. We’re particularly interested in historical pictures related to Forest Knolls, or anything showing the beauty of our neighborhood, or neighborhood gatherings. (Or anything else that you’d like to see there.)
We’re starting a new website and blog for the neighborhood. We’re hoping to provide a presence on the web, and collect information that is of interest to all of us. Once it’s established, it may be a good place for public announcements and comments.
Look forward to hearing from other Forest Knollers.