Miraloma Life Online – April 2011

  • How Would You Survive for 72 Hours?
  • The Housing Element: SF Continues to Try to Build up the Neighborhoods
  • Where is Miraloma Park?
  • Reported Crimes in Miraloma Park, February 15 to March 15, 2011
  • Catskill Gnats
  • From The Legal Files: Why Words Matter in a Contract
  • Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of March 3, 2011

How Would You Survive for 72 Hours?

by Bill Jeong, Miraloma Park/Mt. Davidson

National Emergency Response Team (NERT) Coordinator

The devastation and terrible loss of life from the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan should remind all San Franciscans that we need to be prepared for the likelihood of a catastrophic event in the Bay Area. Given the events of 1906 and 1989, we can’t possibly assume that somehow we will be lucky and continue to avoid disaster. In large part, how well we will survive and maintain after such an event will depend on how well prepared each and every citizen is to deal with a catastrophic situation. In a major disaster such as an earthquake, it might be at least three days before vital city services are restored.  As is evident from the Japanese experience, the things we take for granted, such as running water, electricity and telephones may be unavailable.

Emergency responders may not be able to respond to everyone’s needs.

Are you ready to take care of yourself and your family for the first 72 hours?

The month of April is the anniversary of the Great 1906 San Francisco earthquake. As your neighborhood NERT Coordinator, I want to share with you some critical information to help you prepare yourself and your family for this critical 72-hour period. The more opportunities we have to talk to our families, friends, and neighbors about how to prepare for and what to do in the event of major earthquake, the better we will be able to survive the big one when it comes.

Here are two great Internet resources that provide a wealth of information to help you get prepared:

Red Cross Preparedness Website at http://www.redcrossbayarea.org/general_calltoaction.asp?CTA=2&SN=5011&OP=5270&IDCapitulo=VA24T92924

San Francisco City/County Preparedness Website at http://72hours.org/

These websites suggest taking the following steps:

1. Make a Plan

Designate an out-of-area contact person. Try to select someone far enough away to not be affected by the same emergency. Provide this person with the names and contact information of the people you want to keep informed of your situation. Instruct family members to call this person and tell him or her where they are. Long distance phone service is often restored sooner than local service.

Duplicate important documents and keep copies off-site, either in a safety deposit box or with someone you trust. Documents may include: passport, drivers license, social security card, wills, deeds, financial statements, insurance information, marriage license, and prescriptions.

Inventory valuables, in writing and with photographs or video. Keep copies of this information off-site with your other important documents.

Make a Household/Family Plan. Talk with your family about potential disasters and why it’s necessary to prepare for them. Involve each family member in the planning process.

• Make sure everyone knows where to find your disaster supply kit and “go bag.” Have a flashlight and a pair of shoes under everyone’s bed in case there is an earthquake during the night.
• Plan where to meet after a disaster if your home becomes unsafe. Choose two places, one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you are told to evacuate. Be sure your gas tank is always at least half full.
• Determine the best escape routes from your home. Try to identify two escape routes.
• Make sure each member knows who your family’s out-of-state contact is and instruct family members to call this person and tell him/her where they are.
• Locate the gas main and other utilities and make sure family members know when and how to turn them off.
• Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher.

2. Make Your Home Safe

During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. However, simple steps can make your home safer. Start by viewing each room with a “disaster eye” and identify potential hazards, such as bookshelves that could tip over in an earthquake and block exits or heavy objects that could fall and cause injury.

• Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and change the batteries every 6 months.
• Move beds away from windows.
• Move mirrors and heavy pictures away from couches or places where people sit.
• Keep ABC-type fire extinguishers on each level and know how and when to use them.
• Strap down your water heater and fit all gas appliances with a flexible gas supply line.
• Store flammable or highly reactive chemicals (such as bleach, ammonia, paint thinners) securely and separate them from each other.
• Secure pictures and wall hangings and use restraints to secure heavy items such as bookcases and file cabinets.
• Be sure your home address number is visible from the street so emergency vehicles can find you.

3. Put Together a Disaster Supply Kit

Water: In a disaster, water supplies may be cut off or contaminated. You should store enough water for everyone in your family to last for at least 3 days.

Store one gallon of water per person, per day.

Food: Store enough food for everyone in your family to last for at least 3 days. Store food items that are familiar, rather than buying special emergency food. Consider any dietary restrictions and preferences that you may have. Ideal foods require no refrigeration, are low in salt, and do not require cooking.

Such foods include canned fruit, vegetables, peanut butter, jam, low salt crackers, cookies, cereal, nuts, dried fruit, canned soup and meats, juices, and non-fat dry milk. Be sure to include baby food, formula or other special dietary items for infants and seniors.  Most canned food can safely be stored for at least 18 months.

After a power outage, refrigerated food will stay cold longer if you keep the refrigerator door closed. The food should generally be consumed within 4 hours.

Food in the freezer will normally remain safe for 2 days.

Other Emergency Supplies:

• Manual can opener and other cooking supplies
• Plates, utensils, and other feeding supplies
• First Aid kit and instructions
• A copy of important documents and phone numbers
• Heavy work gloves
• Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
• Personal hygiene items, including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer, and soap
• Plastic sheeting, duct tape, and a utility knife for covering broken windows
• Tools, such as a crowbar, hammer and nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench, and bungee cords.
• Blanket or sleeping bag
• Large, heavy-duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation.

“Go-Bag”: A component of your disaster kit is your Go-bag. Put the following items together in a backpack or other easy-to-carry container in case you must evacuate quickly. Prepare one Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an ID tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes, so keep some additional supplies in your car and at work, considering what you would need for your immediate safety.

• Flashlight
• Radio, battery operated
• Batteries
• Whistle
• Dust mask
• Pocket knife
• Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
• Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat
• Some water and food
• Permanent marker, paper, and tape
• Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
• List of emergency point-of -contact phone numbers
• List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
• Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid, or other vital personal items
• Prescription medications and first aid supplies.

When planning, consider the special needs of children, seniors or people with disabilities, family members who don’t speak English, and pets.

Last, and perhaps most important, get NERT trained by completing the free training courses offered throughout the City and throughout the year.

The NERT training schedule and locations may be found at http://www.sf-fire.org/index.aspx?page=879. Following are the schedules of new NERT classes beginning in April and May:

362 Capp Street
Mission Neighborhood Centers

Thursday evenings 6:30pm-9:30pm
Class session 1: April 21
Class session 2: April 28
Class session 3: May 5
Class session 4: May 12
Class session 5: May 19
Class session 6: May 26

Potrero Hill
19th Street @ Connecticut
St. Theresa’s Church Hall
Saturdays 9:00am-4:00pm
Class Session 1 and 2: May 7
Class session 2 and 3: May 14
Class session 4 and 5: May 21

1563 Page Street
The Urban School of San Francisco

Tuesdays 6:30pm-9:30pm
Class session 1: May 10
Class session 2: May 17
Class session 3: May 24
Class session 4: May 31
Class session 5: June 7
Class session 6: June 14

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions and if you desire to have a one hour preparedness presentation by the American Red Cross. We will set one up. My e-mail address is billjeong01@gmail.com.

The Housing Element: SF Continues to Try to Build up the Neighborhoods

by Dan Liberthson*

The Housing Element (HE), a part of the General Plan, maps planned residential development in City neighborhoods and is the foundation of City Planning.  The HE sets the policy basis for construction of all housing including individual projects, and for zoning, which have to be found consistent with the General Plan. Several years ago, San Franciscans for Livable Neighborhoods (SFLN), a group of SF neighborhood organizations of which the MPIC is a member, filed suit against the City, arguing that its revisions of the HE (required by State law every 5 years to accommodate the regional housing need as assessed by the Association of Bay Area Governments [ABAG]) would impact the environment to the extent that an environmental impact report (EIR) was required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The SFLN contended that the Planning Department’s approach, which allowed more intense mixed use residential/commercial development along broad swathes of the City classified as “transit corridors,” and dropped the requirement for a parking space for each residential unit in these areas, could result in environmental deterioration.

The SFLN won the lawsuit, and an EIR was prepared by the City. The second draft of the HE that was analyzed in the EIR, though not optimal from the point of view of the neighborhoods, focused growth on the priority development areas, such as Treasure Island and Candlestick Point/Hunters Point, which are being revamped for higher density construction, and contained language calling for neighborhood-supported rezoning.

Then, as a result of intervention by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), a builder-dominated organization staunchly dedicated to increased residential density and attenuation of motor vehicle use in “transit corridors,” the Planning Department changed the language of the proposed HE after the public review period on the EIR had closed.

The Planning Department released a third draft of the Housing Element in February 2011 that eliminated neighborhood-protective language and made other substantial changes. Policy 1.6 was changed from stating that “in some areas, such as RH-1 and RH-2, density limits should be maintained to protect neighborhood character” to “in some areas, such as RH-1 and RH-2, prevailing height and bulk limits should be maintained to protect neighborhood character.” This change would provide the policy basis for eliminating the traditional one- or two-unit limit for RH-1 and RH-2 districts, and would promote secondary units and additional units up to the 35- or 40-foot height limit, even though many established neighborhoods are not built to this limit. Many neighborhoods, including those on the West Side, could be built up “to the max,” destroying their existing character, making them unrecognizable and far less livable, and reducing the effectiveness of their neighborhood associations. Secondary units would become commonplace and the lots where single-family homes now stand could be filled with multi-unit housing.

The City plans to build 60,000 new housing units in  priority areas including Park Merced, Balboa Park, Glen Park,  Treasure Island, Candlestick Point/Hunters Point, and the area around SF State University. ABAG has determined that the City should provide 31,000 new units as its share of the regional housing allowance. Thus, SF plans to build twice the number of units required in priority areas alone. All of this development will create a tremendous burden on Muni service and on infrastructure, including roads, water, and sewage capacity. Westside homeowners will ultimately underwrite the infrastructure costs of these developments by paying higher taxes. Even the City admits that far more than enough capacity is planned in the priority development areas to satisfy ABAG’s requirement. A fair trade-off for the ultimate bill to homeowners who will pay for the infrastructure to sustain these units ought to be that other West-Side neighborhoods be left un-densified, not built up in every nook and cranny to the 40-foot height limit. However, the City also plans 17,000 new residential units in non-priority areas of  SF, including the West Side.

West of Twin Peaks neighbors should rightfully challenge the City with these questions: “Is it is not enough that we will pay higher taxes to support the infrastructure for the agreed-upon residential development? Must the City now receive carte blanche to collect higher property taxes as they permit taller, mixed-use, multi-unit buildings in our neighborhoods and ruin their livability in the bargain? Why does the Planning Department perennially place over-development of future residences above preserving quality and affordability of life for existing residents, home-owners, and tax-payers?” If City Planning can credibly answer these questions, Department leadership might be deserving of  something other than the deep suspicion of their motives now widely prevalent among informed home-owners in our Westside neighborhoods.

*based on SFLN and Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (CSFN) sources

Where is Miraloma Park?

by Robert Gee

Whether you just moved into our wonderful neighborhood or have lived here for 30 years, did you know that formal boundaries define the Miraloma Park area? The boundaries aren’t exactly easy to remember. But to find out if you live in Miraloma Park, read on carefully and especially note where both sides of a street or only one side of the street are in Miraloma Park. Limited resolution prevents printing a usable map of the neighborhood in this newsletter, but you can follow along with the verbal description below on the map Miraloma Park on our website at http://www.miralomapark.org/about/miraloma-park-boundaries/.

Let’s start our boundaries tour of the Miraloma Park area at the corner of Portola Drive and O’Shaughnessy Boulevard:

• Beginning at Portola Drive and O’Shaughnessy Boulevard (west side only), south on, but excluding Malta, Valleta Court and Vista Verde Court . . .

• Continuing at Stillings Avenue, east on Stillings (both sides) to Congo Street (but not including Congo), south to Melrose Avenue . . .

• West on Melrose (both sides), to Teresita, west on Teresita (both sides) to Foerster, including the 700 block of Foerster Street . . .

• Crossing Foerster in an imaginary line to the north side of Melrose at Stanford Heights Avenue . . .

• West on Melrose (north side only) to the end of the 400 block to Lulu Alley (an unlabeled easement that begins just before 500 Melrose) . . .

• North on Lulu Alley to Cresta Vista Street, crossing Los Palmos Street at number 495, crossing Burlwood Drive at number 100 . . .

• Crossing Cresta Vista Drive at number 300, then continuing north in an imaginary line to include both sides of Sherwood Court . . .

• Crossing Myra Way in a northwesterly direction through Mount Davidson Park bordering on Dalewood Way (but not including any of Dalewood) . . .

• To Juanita Way (both sides), to Miraloma Drive, then north and east on Miraloma Drive (east side only), including residence numbers 9 to 41 . . .

• Northeast on Portola Drive (east side only) to the starting point at Portola Drive and O’Shaughnessy Boulevard.
Please note that the Miraloma Park boundaries do not coincide with those used by the San Francisco Unified School District for the Miraloma Elementary School attendance area. You can find more information on school attendance areas at: http://sfusd.ggnet.net/resources/boundary-maps.php.

Reported Crimes in Miraloma Park, February 15 to March 15, 2011

Date Street Block Crime Notes
2/18/11 Portola 800 Vehicle Boost/Strip
3/2/11 Juanita 200 Burglary  Front door forced open; no loss reported
3/4/11 Molimo 200 Vehicle Theft from unattended vehicle
3/6/11 Rockdale 800 Vehicle Stolen
3/6/11 Los Palmos 500 Vehicle Attempted theft
3/6/11 Rockdale 800 Vehicle Boost/Strip
3/7/11 Chaves 100 Vehicle Boost/Strip
3/9/11 Del Sur/Juanita  Vehicle Stolen
3/9/11 Foerster 700 Vehicle Stolen
3/12/11 Los Palmos 200 Vehicle Boost/Strip

Sources: Ingleside Station Newsletter and Crimemapping.com.
Note: Crimemapping.com provides a limited number of crime categories under which reports may be made, so that entries occasionally reflect data entry constraints, with suspected events recorded as actual. Burglaries reported in the Miraloma Life have been confirmed as actual illegal entries by SFPD.

Catskill Gnats

They bore in the more
you beat them down.
These unforgiving bugs
invade every crevice
every living space
until hands wildly
flail and smash
and mind imagines

burning the round air
clean as fresh sheets,
cool and still as fjords.

But as heads severed
from the nimble hydra
replenish and thrive
or envy wells over
any containment wall
impervious to prayer,
force or subtle reason,
gnats remain, remain.

©2010, Dan Liberthson
from his book Animal Songs
(visit http//liberthson.com)

From The Legal Files: Why Words Matter in a Contract

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

Some people remark that purchase and sale agreements for homes seem to cover every possible contingency and are too long. They complain the contracts are full of the type of language that only a lawyer could love. There is a reason for this. Sometimes a contract is reviewed only after many years have passed. In the event of a disagreement, courts need to determine what the agreement was.

Recently an appellate court needed to decide the intent of a contract more than 30 years after it was signed. The contract concerned an approximately 18 -acre parcel of land in Santa Ana where a 150-unit condominium project and a clubhouse had been built. The complex was built on land for which long-term (75-year) ground leases mandated a rent increase after 30 years. The ren increase was to be based on a percentage of the appraised value of the “leased land.” The landowners believed that all 18 acres, including the 150 condominium units and the clubhouse, should be re-assessed together. The owners of the units argued that only their interests in their individual condominium units as well as a fractional share of the clubhouse should qualify as “leased land.” The trial court ruled for the landowners, and the homeowners appealed.

The appellate court reviewed the language of the original 1974 contract between the land owners and the developer of the condominium project. The court stated, “To avoid future disputes and to provide predictability and stability to transactions, courts attempt to interpret the parties’ intentions from the writing alone, if possible. This is particularly true with documents relating to real estate transactions, which, when recorded, are intended to provide public notice and promote public reliance on their facial meaning.” In other words, courts typically look at the plain meaning of the words in a contract. If there is ambiguity in the contractual language, then the court might review other documents outside the contract to determine the meaning of the contract.

In the Santa Ana case, the appellate court found that the words “leased land” in the contract did not apply to the entire condominium project, but only to the individual units. This meant that instead of a rent increase from $45 to $2,000 per month, the landowners were only entitled to an increase based on the remaining condominium leasehold. This valuation meant a much smaller increase.

When clients wonder why contracts are so long and cover so many potential issues, none of which they believe will ever occur, I explain that having a longer contract is better than spending money later in court arguing over the contract’s wording.

Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of March 3, 2011

by Joanne Whitney and Dan Liberthson

A quorum was present, with President Karen Breslin presiding. The minutes of the February Board meeting were approved. An e-mail motion by T. Sauvain to move insurance policies to State Farm to save costs was unanimously approved.

Correspondence (R. Gee): A letter from a neighbor asked how to obtain permission to start a business in the home. Gee responded that the MPIC is not involved in such proceedings and provided agencies to contact.

Membership Committee (R. Gee): MPIC now has 550 members. The Committee has worked with webmaster R. Proctor to put a map on our website showing Miraloma Park’s boundaries so neighbors will know if they are in the area and can join. R. Gee with S. Kirkham’s help is updating Miraloma Park list of addresses. Special contacts are planned for members who have not yet renewed.

Zoning and Planning (ZAP; C. Mettling-Davis): K. Wood met with reps of Reformed Church of America (RCA), owners of the Teresita church. They want to sell the church to one church group that will not buy if the cell-phone in the tower that was contracted for is included, and RCA is concerned other church groups may feel the same. The RCA is trying to find some way to get out of cell phone contract, which was made by the former Miraloma Community Church congregation. If the cell phone unit is not installed by April 19 2012, the contract will be void. S. The MPIC supports the RCA in its efforts and encourages them to continue to search for a group that would not pursue undue development of the church property.

Graffiti (S. Kirkham): Kirkham reported removing graffiti in the Monterey area. S. Chu said that her husband has volunteered to help with graffiti abatement; Kirkham will show him the techniques.

Transportation (G. Noguera): John Maloney and guests from Del Vale are attempting to procure a crosswalk at O’Shaunessy and Del Vale, working with SF municpal transit, Sean Elsbernd’s office, MPIC, and other agencies. Mr. Maloney asked that MPIC for help. Traffic light or pedestrian overpass and a sidewalk on the east side of the road are possibilities. An MTA study showed that 6-9 pedestians cross O’Shaunessey each day, mainly after getting off the 44 bus. G. Noguera pointed out that a formal request for a study had to be made by the neighbors concerned themselves. Neighbor Daniel Louie agreed to make a formal request, which requires the signatures of at least 10 neighbors. After neighbors initiate and follow through as a community, MPIC will help.

Community Organizations: Coalition for SF Neighborhoods (CSFN; G. Noguera): Noguera is chair of nominating committee. Some in group would like to change by-laws which disallow chair having 3 terms consecutively; want to change to 5 terms. West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WOTPCC; K. Breslin): Senator Yee talked about the budget; WOTPCC will decide at March 28 meeting whether or not to support MPIC Board’s position re alcohol prohibition at CVS site. Ingleside Community Police Advisory Board (CAB; J. Whitney): Whitney on committee to write letters to DA on particularly egregious offenders, recommending full punishment allowed by law. Recent case of two young men trying to break into house on Sunday in broad daylight not heard by judge since one of the accused had to register for classes at a community college. Also judge mentioned that he was impressed that one of the accused grandmother’s was at all hearings. Whitney to find out name of judge. Sex offenders must always register and their addresses are on record.

Homeless sex offenders must register. If sex offenders are no longer on probation or parole, they do not have any distance limitations on how close they can live near a school, playground, area where children congregate, etc.

Clubhouse Maintenance (G. Issacson): Chicken wire could be put in temporarily to prevent slipping on outside stairs at clubhouse. Treasurer still asking for clubhouse committee to check cleanliness, etc of clubhouse one time a week. Isaacson suggested that cleaning service be changed from an as-needed basis to one to two times per month. K Wood moved that that cleaning service be used one time per month on a regular basis ($100) with a second time if necessary. Board voted unanimously to have cleaning service regularly once a month and at the manager’s discretion, a second time. Still need to be sure new keys for clubhouse work. Members reminded of lock box access. Whitney to call gardeners suggested by Jake Sigg and get estimates for whole outdoor area to compare to present gardener. Difference will be that new gardeners will also maintain native plant garden. All effort will be made to keep maintenance green. Whitney reported she interviewed two gardeners and received one estimate. Will finalize next month. Both gardeners complimented the native plant garden. Kudos to Dan and Kathy for creating such an interesting, beautiful, and valuable asset. K. Wood questioned whether tree in native plant garden really dead. Whitney explained that both she and the gardeners agreed and pointed out that tree was split in half. Kitchen sink and flooring are being installed.

Old Business: Board asked by the Taylors to send a letter supporting CEQA review to new Board of Supervisors regarding property development on Los Palmos. Insert costing $355 was placed in Miraloma Life re the hours and selling of alcoholic beverages at CVS. Members of committee felt that an insert made for more impact than the article which was in paper. Board was not informed because the committee did not think there was time to do so and since were told that CVS is contacting people.

Whitney asked why all members of the Board could not be contacted since many did know.

New Business: Board President K. Breslin appointed Shannon Chu to Board, to be confirmed by vote at next meeting with quorum of members. Peter attended meeting as guest and was thanked for all the work he does such as putting out and taking in garbage, collecting and distributing mail. A singular devoted neighbor.

Guests: Senator Yee attended meeting not as a candidate but to bring board and neighborhood up to date on pending budget cuts and vote on extending special taxes for five years. Situation is dire with many programs helping poor, aged, children being cut. Senator agreed that the legislature is responsible for budget impasses and for overspending but defended the value judgment of the Bay Area to help the less fortunate. He himself may not vote with the party because he is against cutting programs, e.g., day care for elderly, although he is for extension of the special taxes. Senator Yeke pointed out that all redevelopment money will be stopped and, as following previous cuts to mental health programs, cities will be responsible.

Shannon Chu was appointed as Board Member by President K. Breslin.