your Miraloma Life … online – December 2007

  • Annual Holiday Party
  • What Ho? Coyote? Oh!
  • MPIC Saftey Committee
  • Disaster Meeting Place
  • Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines
  • Legal Ease
  • Sunnyside Park Reopening
  • Siddartha, The Bright Path
  • Design Matters
  • NERT News
  • Exploring the Silver Strand at Bonny Doon
  • Looking for a Few Good Backyards
  • What’s Wrong With In-Law Apartments?
  • SOTA’s Festive Winter Calendar 

Annual Holiday Party

by Kathy Rawlins

Once again it is time to fire-up the oven and get out your favorite recipe to prepare for the MPIC Holiday Party and Cook-Off. This has always been the highlight of the year, as neighbors join together to share the warmth of the fire, the tastes of many wonderful dishes, and the merriment of the entertainment.

Music will be provided by the very talented Laura Lee Brown and Company.  An encore appearance was requested after they performed so well at last year’s party. Also, to the delight of young and old, Boswick Turnstyle, Jr., clown extraordinaire and veteran of Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus, will perform his holiday magic from 6 to 7 PM.

The banquet will be hosted by the MPIC, who will provide roast turkey, ham, and a variety of hot and
cold beverages including our famous champagne punch. Everyone attending is encouraged to bring a dish to share. Please bring enough for at least twelve people.   Remember, the more you bring, the more people can sample, and the more votes you’ll have and a better chance to win one of the spectacular prizes.  The Holiday Pot Luck has had an international flavor in past years with such favorites as Taco Mix, Stilton Cheese, Moroccan Pasta, Chicken Mogul and a host of other treats.  Categories include Appetizers, Salads/Soups, Entrees and Desserts.

Winners of the each category, will choose from among gift certificates and gift items from our local merchants. Past donors have included Tower Market, Round Table Pizza, Bird and Beckett Book & Music Store, Creighton’s, Miraloma Cleaners, Tower Burger, Chenery Park Restaurant and many others.

Those not able to bring a dish to share will be asked for a small donation or to volunteer for set-up
or clean-up duties.  If you have questions, please call 281-0892 and leave a  message.


What Ho? Coyote? Oh!

The garbage can had aged and warped like a Katrina survivor, the lemons had left the tree to rot on the ground, the moon had wandered through her phases time and again, and still no word arrived from our wandering canid. Perhaps the dear creature had moved on altogether, forsaken Miraloma Park for some upscale venue, Forest Hill or¯the horror!¯Atherton. Yet some vestige of faith kept me going, that our hero could never sink so low (or rise so high?). At last, the very morning of our national feast of Thanksgiving, the following missive appeared, glued to the underside of our garbage can lid with the usual artistry and a liberal sealing of what appeared to be highly viscous white glue. And so, rejoice with me, reader, and give thanks for the return of our friend, the inimitable, Monsieur W. Coyote. — Ed

My Dear Editor, 
     Are you in fact perfectly all right? Tout copascetique? You have not, I pray, fallen on hard times in the wake of the credit crunch, like so many of your kind?  For so I suspect by the deplorable state of your garbage can, a battered relic.  I would think if I didn’t know there were none then that it came from the Triassic. Not to mention its cracked lid, upon whose underside I am accustomed to affix my most aromatic offerings.  Surely things are not so bad that you can’t afford a new one, or get your friends at Sunset Scavenger to invest in a replacement some of the fee hikes they’ve imposed on their captive clientele over these many years? Ah, well, needs must, as they never tire of saying¯what we cannot live with we shall endure.
     Which reminds me, if you are truly in the grip of penury, the white paste with which I have fastened this message to its warped bearer is in fact what passes for gravy in the great Southland of our country, a confection of starch and (I surmise) floury butter or lard that will serve with biscuits to ensure your survival through the lean times. Or it may be used for setting fence posts, if you are sated and have any such to set. I came by a lifetime supply of this versatile stuff while on a recent visit to my eighth cousin twelve times removed (yes, I do have quite an extended family) in the nether woods of Southern Illinois.

You wouldn’t think that a place only 250-odd miles below Chicago would be so Dixie in culture and cuisine, but Cairo, Illinois, where the broad Ohio joins the swollen Mississippi, is in fact south of St. Louis, and Kentucky lurks just over the border. This is the original heart of modern America, where the first explorers made their way by canoe and barge, riverboats were the main mode of transport, and cities large and small flourished in the first flush of the white man’s greed for land and wealth.  And yet, nowadays, Cairo’s a dilapidated remnant of it’s former glory, with more burnt and rotted buildings than sound ones, rarely a smiling face among its hangdog populace, and the only sign of commerce one lonely barge-string pushed midriver toward somewhere else. Coz and I watched in rainswept silence as this land’s great heartbeat slowed to a murmur, choked off by something akin to the sticky white gravy that clogs its denizens’ coronary trees, a stuff composted of conquest, exploitation, indifference, decay, and abandonment, the seemingly inevitable course of empire. Sobered by this dismal scene, we clicked our tongues, shook our heads, and solaced ourselves with an excellent squirrel stew, dumplings, and gravy assembled by my talented relation. Then I said my goodbyes and set off for home, yearning for the clear, bright air of Miraloma.

I arrived to find that summer hanging on late (as it is was in the rest of the country, where the leaves refused to turn, courtesy of glowball warming), and in mid-November a July fog smeared everything to near invisibility. Toxic oil, thick as Southern gravy, snarled the Bay and its creatures as the Mayor and the Supervisors traded snipes, City and Federal agencies hissed at one another, and all was business as usual in a world that desperately needs a new way to do business. Individuals have the will and the energy¯witness the thousands who donated their holiday time to rescue and clean-up¯if only the structures that govern them and the leaders who operate those structures would have the strength and flexibility not to fear change and cling to old ways, to put imagination pragmatically to work and make the changes that must come planned and sensible, instead of haphazard and hurtful.

Well, it’s late, the fog is turning from white to gray to dark, my spasm of eloquence is ebbing, and it’s time for me to eat up the remnant of my squirrel stew and settle into this cherished den for a night’s peace, even as the turmoil mounts. For not only my own, but also your safety and comfort, I give thanks, good neighbors, as we drift to sleep, hoping to do our best tomorrow.

Your affectionate but world-weary servant—
W. Coyote, Esq.


MPIC Saftey Committee

is sponsoring a neighborhood get together. Please look for news soon.
Come and meet your neighbors and learn how we can watch out for each other


Disaster Meeting Place

When disaster strikes, go to the NERT Incident Command Center at Miraloma Playground (Omar Way and Sequoia Way).   Rescue services, securing resources like food, water, shelter and medical services will be provided by trained volunteers.


Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines

The Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines were adopted in 1999 by the City Planning Commission to promote preservation of neighborhood character by encouraging residential design compatible with neighborhood setting.  Residential Design Guidelines can facilitate the complex and often frustrating process of permit application and design review and can prevent costly and time-consuming Discretionary Review proceedings. Guidelines at


Legal Ease

by Steven Solomon

As the holidays approach, our thoughts turn to family & children, & for lawyers, to THE LAW! For those youngins just a hankering to bust out of the old homestead, let’s review just what an 18 yr. old can & cannot do: at 18 yrs., you can vote; enter into a binding contract; inherit property; make a will; join the military, & consent to medical treatment. But what do you LOSE as a new adult: child labor laws do not apply; your parents do not have to continue providing you support & shelter; you will not be treated as a juvenile if you commit a crime. Oh, & you can now be hired as a driver! What are parents’ responsibilities to others for their kids’ behavior, you ask? Well: to pay victims of gun violence up to $60,000; to pay a $100 fine for the fourth truancy in one year; to pay up to $500 plus costs for shoplifting; to pay the costs of removal, repair & replacement of property for graffiti. Oh, let’s stop there – the holiday spirit is spinning wildly away. . .

SAD ANNOUNCEMENT – After 23 years of propping up the Davids & Davidas against the Goliaths of American society, I sadly announce the windup of my consumer law practice. 2008 will see me reinvented. Thank you for your support. Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!


Sunnyside Park Reopening

Celebration a Resounding Success
by Andrea O’Leary

Hundreds of excited kids, most under three feet tall, kept crowded to capacity the new playground during the Ribbon Cutting Party for Sunnyside Playground & Park’s reopening on November 17. Hundreds more residents made the celebration a real show of inclusiveness where a crepe paper ribbon was broken by the many hands of citizens along side city officials. Final construction details should be completed within weeks making the site open for business on a continuous basis.

Bag pipe artist Lynn Miller’s music opened the celebration by calling everyone forward to join their neighbors, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Rec. & Park General Manager Yomi Agunbiade, Rec. & Park Commissioner Tom Harrison, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services and neighbor Daniel Homsey as well as the SF Arts Commissioner Tonia Macneil and artist Deborah Kennedy, creator of the metal “international orange” solar sun flare panels above the playground and at the Plaza.

Music kept activities lively all day with a band playing rock-n-roll and jazz tunes and another musician singing ballads and kids tunes. The barbeque grills churned out cheese burgers and hot dogs all day long until coals ran out; residents supplied side dishes. K’s Kitchen provided sushi and China WOK provided hot pot stickers. Jed Lane provided two bright yellow sun balloon bouquets that shown down all day while the real sun hid behind high fog – a typical day at the park. Darin Holwitz provided banners that grace two entrances to the Park. Kids painted ceramic sea creatures to be picked up after firing at the Krafty Korner on Monterey.

Balloon sculpture hats, swords and flowers were created until balloons ran out and commemorative buttons were stamped until the machine gave out.

Mayor Newsom tried out the three-seater seesaw and had his ears bent by citizens who had issues and stories of living in the area to share. He toured the recreation center building to see what improvements are planned for the Phase 2 renovations, capital budget surplus, expected to begin in spring 2008.

Some were surprised from the turn out at the Party that there were so many families with children in the neighborhood. For years Sunnyside Park Families & Neighbors (SPFN) has attempted to impress upon city officials and agencies the fact that ours is an area teeming with families who are the backbone of our great City and worthy of services.

To participate in upcoming activities and advocacy for our neighborhood parks, contact SPFN: PO Box 31304 , 94131; 334-3601;

Siddartha, The Bright Path

This holiday season, the Marsh Youth Theater, located at 1062 Valencia Street, is offering a wonderful show that will bring joy and delight to the whole family!  Siddartha, The Bright Path, is a musical theater production performed by local actors ages 10 – 15, and is directed and produced by our own local and independent theater, The Marsh. It is the story of the journey of Siddartha from a young prince given everything he could desire, to Buddha the wise and revered spiritual leader. Paralleling his story is a similar journey of a young San Franciscan girl who is lavished with gifts, but wants to understand how to end the poverty and suffering she sees around her. The story brings hope and joy to us all! The performers are wonderful and the music and dancing are inspiring!

Siddartha, the Bright Path, written by Emily Klion, Danny Duncan and Lisa Quoresimo, was first staged last May as part of the Marsh Youth Theater Main Stage Production and played to sold out audiences of all ages. The Marsh Youth Theater is dedicated to bringing theater to young people in San Francisco. It offers classes throughout the year and two to  three opportunities a year to see young people perform at very reasonable rates. This is the first time, however, that a Main Stage production has been so popular as to merit re-producing it!  The cast represents the diversity of children in our community, as the Marsh has been dedicated to bringing the arts to children of all ages and backgrounds for 7 years.

So come and be moved this winter by Siddartha, The Bright Path. There are 19 performances to choose from: evening performances Fridays and Saturdays and Sunday afternoons from December 14 through January 6, as well as performances on Thursdays, December 20, 27 and January 3rd and Wednesday, December 26.  Tickets cost $18  – 35 for adults and $12  – 20 for children under 12 and seniors over 65. For tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit


Design Matters

Peter A. Zepponi, AIA – Architect

This is a monthly column addressing basic residential design and home improvement topics of interest to Miraloma Park residents. If you have a question or topic you’d like considered for a future article please send an email to: or call 415.334.2868.

Q: Why do we have residential design guidelines?
A: To provide a framework within which to work.

As I am sitting down to write this the day after Thanksgiving, I’m thinking about how thankful and lucky we are to live in a City with such a rich and diverse architecture and community.  Even though we in Miraloma Park have a set of Residential Design Guidelines, it still allows an amazing amount of flexibility and creativity.  If you want to express your individuality through the design, and aesthetic of your home you have a lot of freedom to do just that.  This is a fact that is easily forgotten about or taken for granted until you venture outside of San Francisco to one of the new planned urban communities.  Last week we traveled to Laguna Niguel, Orange County to visit some friends who are also in the architecture and construction industries. We like to call it SoLa (South LA) mainly because our friends will emphatically correct us by saying that they are NOT in LA, they’re in the O.C.!  But we remind them that as native Northern Californians LA starts somewhere just south of San Luis Obispo and it’s hard for us to tell one town from the next.   It’s all good fun teasing my SoCal college buddies. 

Laguna Niguel only became a ‘city’ in 1989, and to me, architecturally speaking, it feels like it.  Apparently there are many wonderful reasons to live there, but creative expression through architecture doesn’t appear to be one of them.  As I was given directions to my friend’s house I joked by asking if it was the stucco one with a red tile roof.  They asked me if I saw one that wasn’t.  And in fact, as you drive around as a visitor, it is very difficult to get oriented because everything looks so similar. And they like it that way.   They said that all of the neighborhoods had very strict Home Owners Associations (HOA’s).  An HOA is very different than the Miraloma Park Improvement Club, and our Residential Design Guidelines are very different than the Code’s Covenants and Restrictions (CC&R’s) that the HOA’s enforce.  Our friend said that the president of their HOA is also the president of the school PTA! Now there is a power monger.  Whenever they run into her she say’s ‘oh yes, you’re the house that is still on the old color palette,’ and politely reminds them that there is a ‘new’ color palette if they would like to update their color scheme.  My wife and I realized we couldn’t have our yellow house in The O.C. and that we’d have to settle for a home color derived from a beverage served at Starbucks.
Now I am a student of historic preservation and contextualism and understand the necessity to develop a unified urban fabric, but stifling creativity and diversity creates a bland stagnation.  More than once I have told clients that ‘yes, beige is a color scheme.  It’s just not a very interesting one.’  The metaphor of fabric for a neighborhood is a very tangible way for people to visualize the overall character of a neighborhood.  Even though individual threads may be very different the overall fabric they create is unified if there is proper balance.  The big difference between residential guidelines and CC&R’s is that guidelines provide a framework to work within, whereas CC&R’s dictate what you can or cannot do.

  Guidelines are interpretive, and allow designers the opportunity to be creative within the context of a specific neighborhood or site and allow homeowners to express their individuality.  CC&R’s tell you which eight colors you can paint your house. The challenge for architects and designers is to find the balance between creative expression and the urban context.  If you are trying to push the envelope with design you need to step back and see if it is a stain on the fabric or a complimentary accent.  But as with all art and architecture, personal taste is subjective, making it all the more important to consider the residential design guidelines and the appropriateness of the project for the specific site.  It might be the right project and just the wrong site.  A fabulous project on one site can be a disaster on another.  The trick is to pick the right site for your project.

 * This column and its content are intended to be a source of general information. Applicability to your specific project should be verified.



by Jed Lane
Miraloma Park / Mt Davison NERT Coordinator

In light of the recent oil spill, the response of the volunteering public and how the untrained volunteers overwhelmed the agencies that were responsible for the clean-up. I’d like to take this opportunity to review what NERT training is in the hope that more of you will take advantage of the free emergency training available from San Francisco’s Fire Department. Be trained before the need arises!

First and foremost the training teaches preparedness, which has been proven to reduce the number of injured. If you know what to expect, you’re less likely to become a victim or panic. Next you learn what to have on hand to be supplied with the essentials for your unique needs i.e. family, pets and medicines. Remember that for the first 72 hours you could be on your own with no power or way to purchase supplies. Now that you’re uninjured and you know you have food, water and other essentials, you can help your neighbors or whomever you happen to be with when the disaster occurs.
In Class Session #1 subjects covered are Earthquake Awareness, Preparedness and Hazard     Mitigation. Class Session #2 covers Basic Disaster Skills, Fire Extinguishers/Behavior and Utilities Shut-offs. Class Session #3 covers Disaster Medicine. Class Session #4 covers Light Search and Rescue. Class Session #5 covers Team Organization and Management, Terrorism & NERT. Class Session #6 covers Hands-On Training, Skills Development and Application. The training is done at various sites throughout the city. The next training is 12/11 and 12/18 (8 -5) at UCSF. Go to for the latest schedule.

The State of California will provide insurance for properly trained responders and compensation for supplies that are used as long as the correct protocols are used. That’s why the volunteers needed to spend four hours in training before they could be sent out to clean oil. Be prepared! Be trained before the need arises!


Exploring the Silver Strand at Bonny Doon

by Geoffrey Coffey

Few explorers would expect to find a beach hidden in the middle of a redwood grove.  Yet such incongruities lurk in the mountains above Santa Cruz, where ancient seabeds upthrust millions of years ago by tectonic turmoil gave rise to stark hills of sand now tucked among lush evergreen forests more than five miles from the sea.  Fossilized sand dollars and shark teeth in the ground testify to the marine origin of these Santa Cruz sandhills, whose so-called Zayante soils support a rare and unusual community of native plants found no place else on earth. 

The Bonny Doon Ecological Preserve  is the largest and most accessible of these unique habitats, with 550 acres and a network of trails open to the public during daylight hours.  Walking these paths of heavy sand, one expects to hear the roar of the surf around every corner – yet the ear meets nothing but the sound of a mountain breeze whispering through the surrounding woods. Here we find a dominant population of the rare and endangered Bonny Doon manzanita, Arctostaphylos silvicola, an upright shrub from 5-15 feet tall with gorgeous silver foliage and a gnarled trunk of deep red vein-like branches.  Sunlight shining at an angle through the leaves can cause this foliage to glow as if from within, rendering the landscape otherworldly and magical. 

Each December the manzanitas burst into bloom with clusters of delicate white urn-shaped flowers, attracting squadrons of hungry hummingbirds.  The Bonny Doon manzanita is endemic to the Santa Cruz sandhills and does not occur anywhere else on the planet; but it has been taken into cultivation and is (very occasionally) available through the horticultural trade.  For its distinctive evergreen foliage, bright winter blossoms, and striking architectural habit, the taller species of Arctostaphylos make an excellent choice as focal points in the native plant garden – and the Bonny Doon manzanita stands among the most beautiful of them all.  Bonny Doon contains several other endangered species that grow here and only here.  The annual Ben Lomond spineflower (Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana), for example, covers wide swaths of the sand with a bright pink bloom every spring, its small white flowers surrounded by spiny pink bracts that give this plant both its common name and its underlying color.  Another rare spring bloomer is the Santa Cruz wallflower (Erysimum teretifolium), a biennial that grows a silvery basal rosette of needle-like leaves its first year, blooms a brilliant yellow in its second spring, then dries up and dies, leaving behind only a seed bank as the foundation for next year’s growth. Silvery color characterizes the leaves of many other members of the Bonny Doon flora, an adaptation that reflects sunlight and thus helps these plants conserve precious water in such dry and unforgiving conditions.  Take the Ben Lomond wild buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum var. decurrens), another rare and endangered species, with delicate white hairs on its spoon-shaped leaves and a summer bloom of tiny white flowers held in dense heads like cotton balls.  Wild buckwheats draw many native bees and other beneficial insects to feed on their flowers, which in turn attract a host of native birds to feed on the bugs; home gardeners seeking to attract wildlife, take note.  While the Ben Lomond buckwheat is protected and not cultivated for the trade, Eriogonum is the largest dicot genus in California with approximately 250 species, many of which are available to home gardeners and are wildlife magnets.  Here in the S.F. Bay Area, ask your nurseryman for E. latifolium, our most common local variety, or E. ‘grande rubescens,’ a beautiful red-blooming selection from San Miguel Island.

Scattered widely throughout Bonny Doon’s sandy open areas, the silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons var. albifrons) and the silvery-white fragrant everlasting (Gnaphalium canescens ssp. beneolens) yield further evidence of the prevailing color scheme.  This species of lupine is common in chaparral and foothill woodlands throughout California, where it can grow to a shrub of 6 feet and closer to green in color, but here in the sandhills it stays lower and more compact (no more than 2 feet tall), with tight leaves a bright hue like a shiny silver coin.  The fragrant everlasting rises like a white lock of wool to a height of 2 feet, its leaves linear in basal tufts with an aroma like minty pineapple; deployed in the garden or planned landscape, everlasting can be useful as edging along paths or to define the boundaries of a planted flower bed.

Isolated ecosystems like Bonny Doon serve as Darwinistic laboratories, where plants have evolved into micro-populations genetically distinct from their more widespread cousins.  This may explain the number of silver-leafed endemic species restricted to such a narrow range, and also the several “undescribed species” like the tipless tidy tips (Layia platyglossa), the slender gilia (Gilia tenuiflora), and the as-yet-unnamed Zayante everlasting (Gnaphalium sp. nov.) that demonstrate evolution in progress, warranting further taxonomic research.  But the Santa Cruz sandhills also host several disjunct populations of plants that normally grow elsewhere – closer to the ocean, for example, in the obvious case of mock heather (Ericameria ericoides), sea pink (Armeria maritima var. californica), and beach sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala).  It stands to reason that such beach-loving species would thrive here in the sandy soils of an ancient seabed, but still we may wonder how they came to dwell here on a mountain so far from the shore.  More perplexing is the presence of Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), a common tree in the Sierra above 3,000 feet but rather unusual this far west.  Local botanist and revegetation specialist Valerie Haley explains that these pines were once considered their own distinct species, Pinus benthamiana, but later were lumped together with Pinus ponderosa – although other botanists still argue whether or not to put them in their own subspecies. “These pines have 7 or 8 features that are different from those in the Sierra,” says Haley, “but that’s not always enough to convince the taxonomists.”

Unbowed by the indignities of modern nomenclature, the flora of Bonny Doon exudes its own proud charisma, with a cool zeitgeist that endows this region with the sense of a silvery paradise regained.  Local residents have pitched in with a volunteer program, organized by Haley, that meets once a month to clear trails, pick up litter, and otherwise support the underfunded and overworked Dept. of Fish & Game to maintain the beauty of this rare and endangered preserve.  Such relationships underscore the dividends generated by like-minded people who rally around the common goal of deepening our connections to earth. 
Whether at the beach, in the redwood forest, or in some enchanted zone between them,  native plants (and the people who cultivate them) help to define our special identity of place.

Geoffrey Coffey propagates the Bonny Doon manzanita for Bay Natives nursery (


Looking for a Few Good Backyards

by JoAnn Eastep

The Miraloma Park Improvement Club (MPIC) is planning a 2008 Backyard and Garden Tour as a fund raising event.  If you are a resident of Miraloma Park and have enhanced your backyard, sideyard or frontyard and would be willing to share your ideas with your neighbors please call us.  We are seeking interesting plantings, fabulous decks, innovative fish ponds and whatever else your imagination has created.  The tour will take place on Sunday, May 18, 2008 in the afternoon.

In past years the MPIC has held a kitchen tour, a home improvement tour and several garden tours with great success thanks to the generosity and support of our magnificent neighbors.  It is a wonderful way to show off your yard as well as to help others who would like to improve their own garden space.

The income derived from the tour will be used to help make improvements and maintain the clubhouse and to fund the many events MPIC offers throughout the year.

If you would like to be part of the 2008 tour please call the clubhouse at 281-0892 and leave a message for JoAnn.  Your call will be returned promptly.


What’s Wrong With In-Law Apartments?

In San Francisco, renting out “in-law apartments” in the home is illegal. In-law apartments (also called illegal secondary units) are generally defined as those that are equipped to be used as a separate dwelling place from the main house, and thus include kitchens, stoves, separate entrances, and/or other components necessary for use as a separate unit. Miraloma Park is zoned RH-1, which means that it is a single-family-home district, and in such an area, secondary units are not only illegal but also completely at odds with the zoning.

Over 86% of Miraloma Park homes are owner occupied. This high level of owner occupancy, and the neighborhood’s single-family occupancy zoning, contribute to the fact that Miraloma Park is such a clean, uncongested, and safe neighborhood, where parking is typically much easier than most parts of San Francisco. While in-law apartments are commonplace in many parts of San Francisco, neighborhoods with such units become more and more congested as extra cars are brought in by the tenants. There is more trash on the streets in these areas, and often more noise from younger tenants playing loud music in their apartment or in their vehicles. In addition, there is more traffic on the streets, some of which are narrow and difficult to navigate.

Because Miraloma Park is zoned for single-family homes, there are fewer in-law apartments than in neighborhoods zoned for occupancy of a home by more than one family. Nonetheless, there are some illegal in-law units in Miraloma Park, and the MPIC has received complaints by homeowners living near illegal in-law apartments whose tenants are noisy, leave trash on the street, and make parking more difficult due to the additional cars they bring. In Miraloma Park and in other parts of SF, homeowners have concreted their front yards in order to provide more parking for themselves and tenants, which not only violates City Code requiring green space in the front area but also decreases property values by detracting from the pleasant appearance of a home that might otherwise have a nice front garden.

Thus, your property values and your quality of life are both at stake when in-law apartments are tolerated.  Certainly, there are some quiet and considerate tenants living in in-law apartments, but one has only to travel to the neighborhoods where in-law apartments are more common to see how the neighborhood deteriorates and property values decline or do not increase as much as they do in other neighborhoods. When a property is sold in California, it is required that seller and the seller’s realtor disclose to the buyer any known defects and certain other information, including, in San Francisco, the presence of an in-law apartment, using language similar to the following:

Buyer understands that the in-law apartment is not a legal unit, it may have been built without a building permit, and a certificate of final completion and occupancy may not have been issued. Buyer acknowledges that if the City [of San Francisco] becomes aware of the illegal unit(s), it may require Buyer to bring the unit(s) into compliance with building codes, or to remove any bathroom, kitchen or other facilities in violation of building codes, at Buyer’s expense. A substantial fine of up to 9 times the amount of the permit fee, in addition to the permit cost, may be imposed, and the Buyer may be prevented from renting the illegal unit(s).
In-law apartments in Miraloma Park have been reported to the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) and closed down. It is important that all property owners in Miraloma Park understand the implications and potential consequences of having an illegal unit (in-law apartment), including the possibility of having to abate (modify or eliminate) the unit, and understand the disclosure requirements.

Please keep Miraloma Park an exceptional neighborhood by not renting illegal units, and in this way helping to preserve our zoning, and thus our quality of life, for everyone here. Some homeowners in Miraloma Park may have in-law apartments with wonderful tenants who have no cars and provide extra income to the homeowner.  But taking into account the broader picture of the negative impact that in-law apartments has had on other neighborhoods, and that a proliferation of such apartments could have on Miraloma Park, the MPIC feels that it is important to avoid them in our neighborhood. They are illegal here in Miraloma Park, after all, for a reason: so that we can enjoy the benefits of a single-family zoned neighborhood, for which we all paid a premium when we bought our homes, and which the City has promised us by zoning Miraloma Park RH-1.

SOTA’s Festive Winter Calendar

by Caroline Grannan

The winter performance schedule at School of the Arts (SOTA), San Francisco’s acclaimed public arts high school conveniently located in Miraloma Park, features tributes to legends Edith Piaf and Judy Garland, along with top-quality student productions.
The public is invited to all performances. More and more Miraloma Park neighbors have been learning that SOTA productions are worth checking out even if you haven’t been to school for years.

On Dec. 7 and 8, SOTA’s Vocal Department and Orchestra present a musical winter concert on the Main Stage, followed by a Dec. 13 piano recital. Then, just before the winter break, SOTA teams up with professional artists to present a truly special weekend of two concerts, each paying tribute to a legend. On Friday, Dec. 14, Madame Jo and Trio present “Piaf Remembered,” at 8 p.m. on SOTA’s Main Stage. The next evening, Saturday, Dec. 15, songstress Connie Champagne sparkles in “A Tribute to Judy Garland.”
Make sure not to miss SOTA’s gala annual musical in March 2008. This year’s production is “Beauty and the Beast,” playing March 6-22.

For tickets and information, please go to the SOTA PTSA website,, or call 415/695-5720.