your Miraloma Life … online – May 2006

    • MPIC Spring Event
    • Picturing Miraloma Life
    • Gardening – impact on your health and well-being
    • Dear Miraloma Park Neighbors
    • Mother’s Day Garden Tour
    • Is it a Bird, Is it a Plane, No, It’s . . .
    • MPIC Election
    • GET CONNECTED!
    • Legal Ease
    • Mosquitos And Standing Water – Wishing you a healthy, mosquito free summer
    • San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA)
    • Design Matters
    • Wheels On The Buzz – SF Hot Spots for Kids
    • Miraloma Elementary School Spring Festival
    • Out With The Lawn, In With The Coastal Prairie

    MPIC Spring Event

    by Jim O’Donnell

    The MPIC Spring Event is almost here! Mark your calendar for Sunday, May 21, 3-5PM at the MPIC Clubhouse, 350 Del Vale at O’Shaughnessy, at the quaint green building with the parking lot and Miraloma Park Improvement Club emblazoned across the top. You can meet and greet your neighbors, some new and some that you already know. The last “welcome to the neighborhood” mixer last Fall was a great success, so much so that the board of MPIC will have another in the Fall as well.

    Some of you may have participated in the 100 Anniversary remembrance of the 1906 earthquake, when Mt. Davidson was just another undeveloped hill in San Francisco’s outer periphery. Things have certainly changed since then but the need for neighborliness is still here. If it was not for that feeling back in 1906, the City may not have ever recovered. Miraloma Park is a “small town style” neighborhood in a big City, which really provides the best of both worlds, but only if we can get to know each other and promote good relations among the homeowners and other residents of the local area.

    Your Miraloma Park Improvement Club is providing all the snacks and drinks for the event free of charge on Sunday, May 21 between 3 and 5 PM. We will have wine and other drinks as well as cheese and other snacks. Make time to meet your neighbors, speak with the people who represent and protect you like District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, Capt. Paul Chignell, SF Ingleside Police Commander, and others. Assemblyman Leland Yee, running for State Senator, appeared at our last event in the Fall and is expected to attend. More are expected. No speeches, just mingle and meet local officials as well as your neighbors. Cassandra Mettling-Davis and Peter Zepponi, author of Design Matters, our local architects, will also be on hand to answer questions. Gabrielle Solomon of Earth Angel Gardening will bring literature, small sample plants, and stay by her table to speak to anyone seeking information. There will be exhibits set up on native birds and trees, on public safety and the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, on the activities of the School of the Arts, on the history of Miraloma Park, on the newsletter and website and other fascinating topics.

    Picturing Miraloma Life

    by Jacquie Proctor

    In 1914, engineer John M. Punnett drew up this plan for the Residential Development Company. It shows how the company had divided up Adolph Sutro’s land for housing tracts on either side of Corbett Avenue (present day Portola Drive), planned to extend old Sunnyside Avenue into present day Monterey Boulevard, and develop the property south of it all the way to Ocean Avenue. The line of trees still in place across Mount Davidson shows the boundary between Sutro’s former estate and the land owned by Leland Stanford. The reservoir on Agua Way is called Stanford Heights because it is located in Leland Stanford ‘s Heights as seen on this map. Leland had already sold part of his Heights to Behrend Joost to become Sunnyside by 1914. The rest was sold to the Meyer Brothers for Miraloma Park in 1926. The straight streets he planned to carve across the hills were never built. Instead John Punnett designed the curvilinear streets we see today in Miraloma Park and in many of the other neighborhoods around Mount Davidson.
    Learn more about the interesting history of Miraloma Park in my book coming out this summer from Arcadia Publishing entitled San Francisco’s West of Twin Peaks.
    See a preview of it at www.MtDavidson.org.

    Jacquie Proctor -584-8694 jacquie@mtdavidson.org
    Gardening – impact on your health and well-being

    Creating and maintaining a garden has significant impact on your health and well-being. Not only does it provide regular moderate exercise, it also yields results which please the eye and reduce stress. Trimming a hedge, wielding a hoe or mowing a lawn can burn anywhere form 300 – 600 calories within a half-hour! That’s the equivalent of a good workout at the gym. The gym however, does not provide the beautiful end result that a well-tended garden does. Gardening engages all your major muscle groups, the muscles which do most of the calorie burning. Consider 30-60 minute gardening sessions two or three times a week rather than a marathon session on one weekend day. If you’re away from home during the day, early mornings and evenings are ideal times to garden.

    Just as important as exercise, are the psychological benefits of maintaining a garden. Quietly working in your garden is an effective stress-reducer, providing a break from the hurried rush of everyday life. This is followed by the satisfaction of viewing what you’ve accomplished. For many, the garden is an escape from the pressures of job and family responsibilities, and is their personal link to nature.

    Spending time in a garden has both physical and emotional healing effects. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, gardening helps people who are recovering from physical illness by re-training their muscles and improving co-ordination, balance and strength. In addition, it lowers blood pressure, relieves muscle tension and lowers risk for many other illnesses. Gardening is also a great activity to do with kids. It’s a wonderful way to teach science, learn some of life’s lessons and to get connected with nature. Children can learn early in life to appreciate and value the environment, and benefit from such a productive and creative activity.

    Gardening is one of America’s top leisure activities, and for those who indulge in it, the life-extending dividends are priceless. If you would like to learn about cost-effective and low maintenance ways to maintain a beautiful garden, please come to the MPIC social event on Sunday May 21st from 3:00 – 5:00 pm, at the clubhouse. Among the exhibits will be a table hosted by Earth Angel Gardening to answer any questions and to help you develop your green thumb.

    Dear Miraloma Park Neighbors:

    Having true freedom of the press is essential to our liberty. Therefore, it is troubling that a recent U.S. Seventh Circuit Court decision ruled that a college administrator could require student editors of a state university’s newspaper to submit articles for prior review before the newspaper would be sent to the printer for publication.

    It is because of this threat that I have announced the nation’s first piece of legislation to protect the freedom of speech and press for college and university newspapers. Currently, state law only has statutory protection for high school journalists, but not higher education newspapers.

    College journalists deserve the same protections as any other journalist, especially their high school counterparts. Freedom of the press is a fundamental part of a young journalist’s training for real world reporting.

    The Court case, Hosty versus Carter, involved two editors and a reporter at the Innovator, a student newspaper at Governor’s State University in Illinois. The newspaper published a series of articles critical of the school’s administration, including one about the decision not to renew the contract of the Innovator’s advisor. Subsequently, the dean of student affairs instituted a requirement that the newspaper had to submit articles to the administration for approval prior to publication.

    The District Court first ruled that the students’ First Amendment rights were violated, but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court decision and recently the US Supreme Court declined to hear the students’ appeal. Prior to this decision, it was assumed in California that student publications had the same First Amendment protections as professional publications.

    In fact, the Seventh District decision spurred Christine Helwick, General Counsel for the California State University system, to send a memo to presidents at each CSU campus that read, “The [Hosty’] case appears to signal that CSU campuses may have more latitude than previously believed to censor the content of subsidized student newspapers.” This is a permission that should never have been granted in the U.S.

    A state law written in 1992 provided censorship protection for high school publications. The legislation I am authoring, Assembly Bill (AB) 2581, will ensure such free speech protections for college publications, specifically prohibiting censorship of student newspapers at any UC, CSU, or community college.

    AB 2581 will be considered later this month in Assembly Judiciary Committee. Please join me in protecting our sacred right to free speech and in protecting the freedom of the press on our college and university campuses.
    Sincerely,

    Leland Y. Yee, PH.D.
    Speaker pro Tempore
    California State Assembly

    Mother’s Day Garden Tour

    by Jeanne Halpern
    Of the many gardens featured in the Mother’s Day Native Plant Garden Tour this year, an unusually high number comes from the Miraloma, Mt. Davidson, Glen Park area of San Francisco.The self-guided Mother’s Day Tour takes place on May 14, 2006, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. To see the initial list of gardens on the tour, plus photos, go to the California Native Plant Society website www.cnps-yerbabuena.org/gardentour. Gardens will be added through April. To recommend a garden featuring native plants, or if you have questions, contact Jeanne Halpern, manager of this year’s tour, at 415-841-1254 or jeannehalpern@hotmail.com.

    Is it a Bird, Is it a Plane, No, It’s . . .

    This was very odd indeed—in the midst of a perfect deluge last week, after hearing a strange yipping in the front hallway and poking my head out to see what manner of creature could conjure such utterance—I found my nostrils assailed by the scent of sodden fur and blinked to see a cunningly folded and quite dry paper airplane zipping at me. Before I could react, I was nailed between the eyes. As I caught it on the downdraft, recouping what dignity I could, I thought I heard the echo of sly laughter dwindling in the downpour. Yet, trudging down to my gate and peering out, I could see nothing but a solitary umbrella bobbing in the saturate distance. Needless to say, I unfolded with feigned disinterest the latest communication from our somewhat missing canid, W. Coyote, Esq., which I now pass on to you, dear readers. –Ed

    It was getting really old, the garbage can drop, so on the advice of dear Uncle NSA (the Nerdy Sobers Association) I changed my modus operandi, upgraded my technology, and winged in my report instead. I had heard lamentation at my temporary leave of absence, as it seems an editor always has space to fill, and so I decided it was high time to take pen in paw and cultivate my garden, this lovely Miraloma neighborhood clinging soggily to the mountainside. Where was I for a whole 2 months? You’ve heard of animals’ intuition, I’m sure—the way so many of us are able to predict natural and unnatural catastrophes such as earthquakes, unbridled development, volcanic eruptions, alien invasions, and obtuse, wackoid supervisors? Well, gifted as I am (let me modestly acknowledge, above all our other four-legged friends), I knew as surely as you know what’s for dinner (left-overs!) that we were due for a hell of moist March and April. So, rather than suffer in a drenched den along with the rest of you, I set out for sunnier climes.

    I guess I shouldn’t have turned left at Albuquerque, because somehow instead of Puerto Vallarta I ended up in New York. Airplanes are not nearly as reliable or predictable as the FAA would like to pretend, especially when one is hitchhiking! No matter, though it was a bit chilly on the Eastern Seaboard at least it wasn’t raining, so I made the best of it and looked up my running mate Hal, in his new digs in Central Park. It was good times—all the fat pigeons and discarded hot dogs you could eat, much better pickings than the discarded tofu that was our staple when we ran together in Marin. I slipped away while Hal was jumping 10-foot fences and otherwise captivating his adoring public. As if I needed the attention! Well, you no doubt read all about it—old Hal got too sassy for his own good, not to mention mine, and was caught and relocated by the local dogcatchers to a prime spot of Catskills real estate with precisely nothing of interest going on. His last communication was about trying to jump 12-foot fences to get at some tasty looking but rather outsized food sources on an ostrich farm near Podonken (coyote version of Price Club size servings!)—he says he came up 1 foot short with a badly kicked snout for his troubles.

    Poor Hal never was the brightest beast on the planet, but these rural idyls are way overrated—restful in theory, but nobody’s going to bring you a platter of roast goat when you’re stuck 15 miles out in the boonies.
    Actually, it was nearly Eastertime and I’d heard some fascinating rumors about a sacred giant Bunny Rabbit said to inhabit Mt. Davidson by the wise elders of the neighborhood. The thought of this gargantuan bunny, fat and juicy, came to haunt me in those last lean days hiding from the mass coyote worshippers in Central Manhattan. And so I availed myself of the first decent transport and returned to the Bay Area, just in time for yet another downpour. Never mind—wet weather is just dandy for picking up the odd bunny scent, and there is no shortage of umbrellas in these parts. A good living for someone, hunting down left-behind ‘brellies and selling them to the unprepared tourists, though a seasonal occupation at best. I have bigger game in mind—something rather more delicious, fattened on the spring herbage thickening on the mountain, something with great big ears (and not chocolate!) that may keep me “in clover” for a good long time. Yummm
    Your Most Hopeful Servant, W. Coyote, Esq.
     

    MPIC Election

    Here is the slate of nominees for the 2006 MPIC election:

    Candidates for Director are Vivienne Antal, JoAnn Eastep, Joanne Whitney, Gary Issacson, Cassandra Mettling-Davis, Mike Naughton, Jim O’Donnell, Phil Laird, Pete Renteria, Terry Still, and Karen Wood.

    Candidates for Office are: President, Phil Laird; Vice President, Mike Naughton, Treasurer, Terry Still; and Sergeant at Arms, Joanne Whitney.

    Nominations by members from the floor will be accepted , from 7:30 to 8 PM at the May 18 General Meeting at the MPIC Clubhouse. After that, nominations will be closed and the slate finalized.

    The MPIC election will take place at the Clubhouse at the June 15 meeting, from 7:30 to 8 pm. Members in good standing (dues paid by May 15, 2006) may vote.

     

    GET CONNECTED!

    by Gary Noguera
    In March 2006, an important new telephone service became available for all San Franciscans. By dialing 211 on your telephone, you will get free, confidential 24-hour a day social resource assistance. Callers can access support for Senior and Disability Services (i.e., transportation, home delivered meals or health care) and information for Families, Children and Youth, such as mentoring, childcare, homework help and other resources. In addition, there is a myriad of other referral information, such as volunteer opportunities, where to drop off donated goods, information about MediCal and Medicare, job search assistance, and even rent and utility assistance information. This service is called Helplink and is provided by United Way of the San Francisco Bay Area. For more info, call 211, or go to www.211sf.org.

    On the other hand, 511 Service brings you up-to-the-minute transit related information. You can get traffic conditions based on constantly updated reports from CalTrans cameras and road sensors, that feed through central computers to 511. Also, dialing 511 gives public transit information, rideshare connections, bicycle information, information concerning FASTRAK, how to reach transit agencies, etc. The 511 website, www.511.org, is particularly useful for those commuters who drive on freeways. The interactive congestion map shows major Bay Area freeways, with traffic conditions color-coded on each of the roadways, down to lane level.

    Information is updated every few minutes. You are given incident alerts on the maps, and have the option to click on camera icons and get live video feeds from the hot spots! (Of course the camera views work best with high-speed Internet access. You will need a media player on your computer to see the live video feeds.)

    But wait! There is more coming! 311 service is in the planning stages for San Francisco. As in many other cities callers to 311 access a variety of city services including non-emergency police information and a place to report potholes or water main leaks, etc.

    Currently, there are 140 city departments and agencies, and at least 1,500 listed telephone numbers There are thousands of city services available, but they are not always easy to find. 311 service will provide, “a single call to City Hall” to a live person who will be able to give you a tracking number so you can easily do follow-up calls about your issue, so that you will not have to start from scratch if you need to call back. This will be a free, 24-hour a day service that is scheduled to start later this year. For more information see: www.sfgov.org/sf311.

    IMPORTANT: While 211 and 511 services work from traditional “wire-line” phones, not all cell phone companies have set up connections yet.

    Legal Ease

    by Steven Solomon
    Q: With all this rain & water drenching us day after day, is there any recourse when homes have construction defects that allow water damage?

    A: Matter of fact, yes. The doors, windows, roof, deck, foundation, exterior walls, showers & baths, ceramic tiles & tile countertops are NOT to allow unintended water & excessive condensation to pass into the house, causing damage. The law provides a very specific process before a homeowner can file suit – including providing written notice to the builder, allowing for inspections, entering binding arbitration if that mechanism was provided, etc.

    Did you know dept: “As between appropriators [of water], the one first in time is the first in right.” Remember that . . .
    Steve Solomon is an 18 year resident of Miraloma Park. He just relocated his law office to West Portal where he continues to represent consumers and business groups in a variety of legal issues.

    Mosquitos And Standing Water
    Wishing you a healthy, mosquito free summer

    by Sue Kirkham

    During my walks around Miraloma Park I have noticed a lot of standing water, the result of many weeks of non-stop rain. Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, so please do a regular check of your home and garden to locate any standing water and eliminate or treat it.

    Mosquitoes can be annoying and sometimes pose a serious risk to public health. In certain areas of the United States, mosquitoes can transmit diseases like West Nile Virus and equine encephalitis.

    Garden centers sell granules and mosquito dunks for ponds, potted plants, gutters, tree holes, and containers – any place that water sits. Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted plant trays at least once a week if not more often. Keep the water in water features circulating, and rain gutters unclogged. Make sure your window and door screens are bug tight.

    Information on mosquito control can be found at the following sites: www.smcmad.org for the San Mateo County Mosquito Abatement District and www.mosquitoes.org for the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District.

     

    San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA)

    555 Portola at O’Shaughnessy.

    May 11, 5:30 p.m., the Sophomore Art Show
    May 12, 7:30 p.m., Band Concert
    May 13, 7:30 p.m., Orchestra and Wind Ensemble
    May 17, 7:30 p.m., Piano Recital
    May 23, at 7:30 p.m., Jazz and Latin ensembles
    May 24, at 5:30 p.m., the Senior Art Show will be held in the Gallery.
    May 25, at 7:30 p.m, the Vocal Department will hold its finale in the Main Stage Theatre.
    May 26, May 27, 7:30 p.m., the Theatre Department will present A Year in Review in the Drama Studio.
    June 2, June 3, a Media Night
    And offsite, the Dance Department will present a Dance Concert at Cowell Theatre, Fort Mason, May 18-20, at 7:30, and May 21, 2 p.m.

    For more information, www.sfsota-ptsa.org or call the box office, 415/695-5720. SOTA has free parking.

    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: pazdesignmatters@aol.com or call 415.334.2868. www.zepponi-architects.com

    Q: I’m stuck in a rut. What should I do?
    A: Get a fresh perspective.

    This morning I was visiting with a Miraloma Park resident who reads this column. He had emailed me a question about remodeling or reconfiguring his master bathroom and walk-in closet in order to ‘add value’. His reasoning, which I agree with, was that if he was going to go to the trouble and expense of doing it, he might as well do it right. He had created his own measured drawing with a do-it-yourself software program and sent it to me for my review and comments. This wasn’t a project that required full architectural services and didn’t have the budget for it either. It was a fairly small scope of work and he wasn’t looking for an intricate design. What he really needed was a fresh perspective. For this, hiring an architect or design consultant to give you a fresh perspective can be invaluable.

    Almost invariably when I meet a new client, they have already solved the problem and can’t wait to explain to me what it is that I’m going to do for them. To which, almost invariably, I proceed to provide them with a solution that they had not considered and get the usual response, “Hmmm, I never thought of that.” It’s because I come in with a fresh perspective. People adapt to their environments. Every new home owner moves in with a list of ‘stuff’ they want to change or fix, but somehow not everything on the list gets done, and they stop noticing that it didn’t get done because they’ve adapted to it. Rather than making their environment conform to their needs and desires, they instead, adjust their patterns and routines to suit their environment. Once they’ve done that, they’re are in a rut. The problem is no longer visible to them and therefore does not need to change and neither do they.

    However, sometimes it’s not too late to recall a fuzzy memory in the back of your consciousness that speaks to you and says….”why do we still only have one bathroom?”, “why don’t we have a dishwasher?”, “why are my washer and dryer next to my garbage cans?”, “is a pantry too much to ask for?”, “how many power strips can you really plug into one outlet?”, “you mean my garage is supposed to be for a car?” I know this doesn’t apply to you personally. We’re all just trying to help our neighbors by pointing this out to them.

    One of the best jobs I ever had was pro bono. I volunteered a couple of hours of my time for an ‘in home design consultation’ for a Meals on Wheels fund raiser auction. A retired couple won the bid, so I went to their home and was given the charge of walking around their house with them and telling them every thing I thought that was wrong with their home! Their furnishings, design, décor, ….everything. It was actually very fun. How often do you get to do that?!! Never, and that is exactly the point. Everyone is always so polite and politically correct that you never get an honest unbiased answer. It was hilarious.

    I’d say, ‘I don’t think what you’ve done here works very well’, and I’d hear an, ‘I told you so’ behind me. This went back and forth the whole time I was with them. Several months later they called and said they’d made some of the changes I’d recommended and were very happy and that their kids and friends told them later, ‘yeah, we never liked it either.’

    * This column and its content are intended to be a source of general information. Applicability to your specific project should be verified.
    Peter A. Zepponi, AIA – Architects, is an architectural firm in San Francisco specializing in residential and commercial architecture.

    Wheels On The Buzz – SF Hot Spots for Kids

    by Natalie Krelle-Zepponi, RD, MOM
    Peter A. Zepponi, AIA, DAD

    So, how’s that New Year’s resolution to finally get back into shape workin’ out for you? What? Too busy to carve out a little ‘me’ time. Yoga just isn’t as relaxing as it used to be with kids screaming and crying in the background, and you just can’t justify hiring a baby sitter to get in a workout? Well, here’s a little good news to give you that break you’ve been looking for. Join a gym! I know there are several really good excuses to avoid them….except one! Many have CHILD CARE and it costs a lot less than a nanny or babysitter.

    This was news to us before we joined the Stonestown YMCA. When was the last time you saw toddlers and children at the gym before you had your own? No longer do you have to figure out how to juggle your schedule between work, dinner, naps, and pre-school. For a flat monthly fee of around $35 (what a bargain!) you just bring your kids with you and drop them off while you take a yoga or pilates class, do a circuit workout, or just go and sit in the Jacuzzi tub. Now you can get ‘me’ time disguised as a workout, without having to stress out about who’s going to watch the kids. And as your kids get older there are lots of activities and programs for them to get involved.

    Stonestown YMCA
    333 Eucalyptus Drive
    San Francisco, CA 94132
    Tel: (415) 242-7101
    Payment Options:
    * Drop In-hourly: $5.00/up to 60 minutes/ per child
    * Punch Card Rate: $2.50 for 10 one-hour increments
    * Monthly Rate: $35/mo for one child/additional $5.00
    From 12 weeks old and up.
    Child Watch Questions? Please call Diane Alves: (415) 242-7127; www.ymcasf.org
    24 Hour Fitness – Ocean Club
    1850 Ocean Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94112
    Tel: (415) 334-1400
    Payment Options:
    $3 drop-in , $40 for 20 visit card, $25 for a 10 visit
    From ages 6 months to 12 years.
    www.24hourfitness.com

     

    Miraloma Elementary School Spring Festival

    Mark your calendar for an afternoon of food, fun and entertainment, including live music from The Jakes and Playdate. Event features bake sale and food stands; games, activities and prizes for kids; raffle to win a Hawaiian vacation, restaurant gift certificates and more; silent auction with goods and services from more than 100 San Francisco businesses. For details and directions visit www.miralomasf.com. Saturday, May 6, 11 – 3 Free admission

     

    Out With The Lawn, In With The Coastal Prairie

    by Geoffrey Coffey
    Why not rip out the lawn? This simple idea eludes most homeowners because that formal rectangle of grass has become such the de facto standard of residential landscaping that we never even think about it. We grow lawns because our parents and our grandparents grew lawns – end of discussion.

    But the lawn also reeks of cliché (everybody has one), and particularly in California, of waste. Our idea of the lawn came from the English countryside, famed for its rolling hills of heath, and the lawn makes sense as a garden element in England, in that climate where it rains all year long.

    Pilgrims brought the stereotype with them to America, then passed it to their heirs, and so on. Lawns happen to grow well in New England. The lawn thus entered the fabric of our national identity at an early and formative period, lasting through revolution and westward expansion. Next thing you know, it’s the mid-20th century and new houses are going up in a San Francisco subdivision called Miraloma Park, and every property is outfitted with a nice tidy lawn.

    Alas, the paradigm does not translate to our climate (despite the record rains of recent months, the dry season is still coming). Just try explaining it to an alien: “First, I pay this guy to put in some grass. Then I foot a big water bill so I can irrigate the grass. Then I pay another guy to cut the grass. Then I buy a lot of fertilizer to make the grass grow faster.” Repeat until exhausted.

    Or … reject the oxymoron of an English lawn in drought-prone California, and consider one of our own beautiful local habitats for your garden inspiration.

    For example, the coastal prairie. Tear up that sod and replace it with a foundation of midsize native bunchgrasses like the shimmering oniongrass (Melica imperfecta) or the tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa), mixed for dramatic effect with the occasional larger specimen like robust Festuca californica or bold Muhlenbergia rigens. Space them one per 2-3 feet and fill in with flowering native perennials such as checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora), seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus), and/or hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea). These species grow together in nature with no help from the fertilizer bag or the watering can and they complement each other in the garden. Bay Area birds and butterflies evolved with these local plant species, recognize them, and are attracted to them.

    Please note, a new native plant garden is not instantly self-sufficient. It requires irrigation for the first summer and regular weeding for the first year or two. But after that point, it truly anchors the property, less a horticultural relic from the old country and more a piece of contemporary garden design, a miniature ecosystem, a responsible member of the community. It contains beautiful plants that define our special part of the world. It brings wildlife hungry for a bit of nectar in the urban jungle. It only drinks when it rains.

    Geoffrey Coffey wears a “Mount Davidson” t-shirt to work. He writes the column “Locals Only” for the garden section of the San Francisco Chronicle and is the director of the Madroño landscape design studio (www.madrono.org).