West of Twin Peaks Central Council Meeting – Jan 2014

west of twin peaks council meeting January 2014The West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WTPCC)  had its first meeting of 2014 on January 27th, back in its lovely old club-house in Forest Hills. (The WTPCC is an association of associations; it has some 22 member organizations, including Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization.) Attendance was thinner than usual, perhaps because of the cold. But they got a quorum of 11 delegates and things went quickly.


Our District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee was present, and he spoke about pedestrian safety, and about using some funds he has available for the West Portal playground, and also to expand some open space beside Ingleside library. He’s setting up a system where various projects will be posted, and the ones people want the most will get funded. (Here’s a link to that process.)


Sally Stephens spoke about the Recreation and Open Space Element of the General Plan. It sets guidelines for how the city will use its open space in years to come. She was part of a working group convened by the Parks and Recreation Open Space Advisory Committee (PROSAC) that made exhaustive inputs into the draft plan. However, when the draft came out, they found they still had significant concerns, and submitted comments. The comment period is now closed, but WTPCC will send a letter in support of the concerns of the working group.


Jacquie Proctor spoke on behalf of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club about concerns regarding tree-felling in the forest on Mount Davidson by the Natural Areas Program. The WTPCC decided to send a letter in support.


I was invited to give a quick update about Mount Sutro Forest. UCSF has made some significant changes to their original plan. First, the range of slightly confusing objectives in the earlier plan have been simplified to focus on Safety. This is good because it enables a rational conversation about what that means and how best to achieve it. Second, and this is important: UCSF has committed to continuing its ‘No Pesticides’ policy on Mount Sutro. It has used no pesticides there since 2008, but the earlier Plan would have used up to 3 times the amount of pesticide used by SF Recreation and Parks Department in its parks – repeatedly, for seven years. There’s also been some reduction of the acreage affected, and the number of trees potentially destroyed has been reduced to around 4-5,000.

Forest Knolls will be most impacted by the new plan, though, with most of the tree-felling in the portion of the forest above our neighborhood – the purple area in the map below. (I will write about this in more detail another time.)

UCSF Revised Plan Map

I also spoke about the Natural Areas Program, which will affect one-quarter of Sutro Forest, including the narrow strip of forest along Clarendon Avenue, and on the Cole Valley side of the forest – and a total of 32 parks in the city. The new management plan (known as the Significant Management Resource Areas Management Plan) includes:

  • Cutting down 18,400 trees,
  • Restricting access to people and pets, and
  • Using increased amounts of herbicides.


The San Francisco Forest Alliance has a petition up, asking the Mayor to rein in this program.  (That’s HERE, in case you want to sign.)

Coit Tower Ballot, Mount Davidson Tree Destruction: The West of Twin Peaks Council Meets

I went to the West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WTPCC) meeting last evening, at the beautiful Forest Hill clubhouse. The WTPCC is an association of associations; it has some 22 member organizations (including Forest Knolls).


The Coit Tower initiative that I wrote about last time got enough signatures to go on the ballot, so you’ll be seeing it when you vote. It’s trying to push the SF Rec & Park to spend some of the visitors’ fees money to actually maintain the tower, which risks water-damage and cracks to its famous murals. WTPCC wants to write a supportive note on the ballot. It costs $200 + $2 per word. After a heated discussion about the exact wording, they decided to budget of $500 for it, and will sort out the wording later.


Gus Guibert,  Open Space committee, gave a hard-hitting presentation on what SFRPD’s Natural Areas Program (NAP) plans for Mount Davidson:

  • 1600 trees to be felled, including clear-cutting a 3.86 area, with more tree losses expected to wind-throw;
  • suppression and removal of uncounted saplings under 15 feet in height;
  • closure of several trails.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said that with NAP’s budget merely $1.3 mn annually, this is an unfunded initiative. But the fact is, as I pointed out, that trees are already being killed.

(As an aside: On Mt Davidson, a number of trees have been “girdled.” If bark is removed all around the trunk of a tree, it starves to death. The San Francisco Forest Alliance (www.SFForest.net) has recently been organized to fight tree-felling, habitat destruction, use of toxic herbicides and waste of money better utilized elsewhere. I’ve joined that group. It’s trying to prevent further damage to Natural Areas including Mount Davidson.)

Separately, Sean Elsbernd discussed the America’s Cup, and also the planned new Parks Bond of $185 mn.


If anyone is interested in NERT (Emergency Response) training, it’s on offer at Aptos Middle School Thursday evenings starting March 15th and running through April 26th. It’s free, and kids (especially grade school age) are welcome with their parents.  Click here for the flyer (It’s a PDF file).


Patrick Monette-Shaw, who has been investigating Laguna Honda Hospital’s issues around its Patients Gift Fund, was awarded the James Madison Freedom of Information Award.  WTPCC congratulated him. His advocacy pushed the City into a full audit of the Fund.

Mitch Bull, who publishes the Westside Observer, ran the articles. He pointed out that it’s the small neighborhood newspapers that actually have freedom of speech. (I agree. Westside Observer ran a story about Sutro Forest back in November 2009, when most papers were in lockstep favoring  the Native Areas Program and tree-felling.)

(Other problems relating to Laguna Honda Hospital:  Right now, it’s a loud whiny aircon system that’s eroded an estimated $50,000 each from the value of nearby homes in Midtown Terrace by rendering their yards unusable.)

I have to say I’m an admirer of neighborhood newspapers and newsletters that address day-to-day issues that impact our lives. Will blogs ever replace them? I don’t know, but I’m glad that these newspapers are available online as well. It makes their archives easy to access long after the last paper issue got tossed out.

Meeting Joel Engardio, D7 Supervisor Candidate

A couple of weeks ago, Joel Engardio contacted me. He’s running for District 7 supervisor. (Some of you may already know – as I didn’t – that the current District 7 Supervisor, Sean Elsbernd,  terms out this year.)

Joel doesn’t like the idea of wasting millions of dollars to cut down trees, close trails and deny access, use toxic pesticides on public land, and destroy habitat. He wanted to use some of the pictures from the SutroForest.com website (of which I’m webmaster) in a short video. Sure, I said. That’s a cause I believe in. (He asked separate permission for photos on the site that were taken by someone else.)

Clicking on the picture below will take you to the video he made. It’s sensible and  it’s beautiful and well worth watching. (Also see the Comments below.)

He’s not a single-issue candidate, though. Here’s what his website says he stands for: Common Sense. Accountability. Fiscally Responsible. Socially Progressive.

I asked if he wanted to say something here, and he sent me this note:

I’m running for supervisor to bring more common sense and innovation to City Hall. We must champion the entrepreneurial spirit to create jobs and fund the programs we need. Throughout my career, I have fought for the social issues San Francisco cares about like marriage equality, immigration and human rights. As your supervisor, I will fight for the fiscal responsibility and government efficiency San Francisco needs to be a vital and vibrant city that works for everyone. Every effort by City Hall must be held accountable and measured for success. I’m running in District 7, but will work for all San Franciscans. That’s why people are supporting me citywide. Please join us: www.engardio.com

I don’t know who else is running for District 7, so I’ve no idea what they stand for. But I have to say I’d be pretty happy to have Joel Engardio as my Supe. Or even as a Supervisor, even if it’s not for my district…

which could happen.


Right now, Forest Knolls is in District 7. But as readers of this site will know, we’re in the middle of the ten-year redistricting exercise. The initial draft planned on moving Forest Knolls, Midtown Terrace, The Woods all into District 8. The Supervisor there is Scott Wiener, and he’s there until 2014.

Meanwhile, the West of Twin Peaks Central Council is fighting to keep these neighborhoods in D7. (The report on the meeting to discuss that is here.)

Here’s the map they propose:

(The colors indicate various neighborhood associations.)

Chances are that WoTPCC will prevail. We’ll know by April 15th, 2012. That’s when the redistricting commission has to submit its final map.