Miraloma Life Online – May 2012

  • Spring Fling Bash Brings Out the Crowd
  • The Purpose of the MPIC
  • Bad Actors in the Plant World
  • From the Safety Committee
  • Miraloma Park Crime Report: 2012, First Quarter
  • Update to the General Plan: Community Safety Element
  • Lost and Found: A New Miraloma Life and MPIC Website Feature
  • A Lost Cat Story
  • The San Francisco Education Fund
  • MPIC Board Policy Regarding Anonymous Comments
  • Notice: Nominations of Candidates for the MPIC Board and the Election
  • Median Strips, Graffiti, and Other Maintenance Issues—Call 311
  • Summary of Minutes of April 5, 2012 Board Meeting
  • Opera Review and May Events at Ruth Asawa SF School of the Arts (SOTA)
  • “Big Bash” at the Clubhouse: a Benefit for Bird & Beckett Books
  • Gary Noguera Leaves the MPIC Board

Spring Fling Bash Brings Out the Crowd

by Dan Liberthson

It’s hard to figure who enjoyed the Spring Fling the most: the kids, the dogs, the gardeners, the adults, the hot dog guy—or hey, maybe all of the above. Fortunately the rains cleared, the winds died down, and the weather, while not exactly balmy, was moderate by Miraloma Park standards (i.e., shorts or bathing suits would have been associated with substantial goose bumps but only a light jacket was needed for relative comfort). The Spring Fling featured a plant exchange and give-away, and since by the end every plant on offer had disappeared, we assume that was a popular aspect of the event. The Native Plant garden, in full Spring finery, showed off its best, and many people walked away with Friends of the Urban Forest brochures (if you missed them, contact FUF at www.fuf.net/ or 561-6890 to find out how you can get an appropriate tree expertly planted in front of your home for minimal cost).

Two candidates for supervisor of District 7, Joel Engardio and FX Crowley, made an appearance and got to know their potential constituents. The MPIC does not endorse candidates (we take positions only on issues and not on persons),but they were welcomed to share the free drinks and franks. Speaking of which, the beer was fine, the hotdogs plentiful and tasty, with all the fixings you could want, the bouncy-house jumping with kids watched over by their parents and siblings, and everything as good as it could be for a veritable Spring Fling. I’m already looking forward to next year’s!

The Purpose of the MPIC

As stated in its Bylaws (Article 1), the purpose of the MPIC is:
• To promote the individual and collective interests of all persons owning, leasing, renting or in the process of purchasing homes in Miraloma Park; and to support the interests of other neighborhood groups and City entities when these interests are deemed to effect the interests of Miraloma Park residents.
• To promote sociability and friendship, and to provide recreation and entertainment among its members.
• To maintain and enhance the character, the quality of life, and the natural environment and open spaces of the areas within and adjacent to the boundaries of Miraloma Park.
• To carry out such other purposes as are specified in the Articles of Incorporation of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club.

The Bylaws also declare that the MPIC is a non-partisan body that does not endorse candidates for public office. The MPIC Board further adds that the MPIC supports all of our community regardless of religion, race, ethnic background, disability, sex, sexual orientation, or alternative lifestyle of any type. The MPIC is an inclusionary organization and welcomes diversity in our neighborhood.

Bad Actors in the Plant World

by Joanne Whitney

The MPIC will hold its annual election for Directors and Officers on Thursday, June 21, from 7:30 to 8:00. Come vote, chat with your neighbors, and then stick around to hear about mean, nasty, and poisonous plants found in your garden that may have changed the course of history. From 8:00 to 9:00 pm, Joanne Whitney, pharmacist, chemist and docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden (Strybing Arboretum), will present a slide show on such sensational characters as poison hemlock, foxglove, horse chestnuts, deadly nightshade, jasmine weed and many other terrifying horticultural encounters of the strange kind.

What is it that made this medieval Italian woman so alluring to men and considered a bella donna (beautiful woman)? She had very large and deep pupils caused by the instillation of an extract from the flowers of the plant below, Atropa belladonna. It also causes constipation and convulsions and is considered one of the most deadly plants in the Western Hemisphere.

From the Safety Committee

Recent Series of Burglaries in Miraloma Park and Vicinity. Friday night, April 14 and early Saturday morning, a Rio Court and an El Sereno home were entered via front security gates, police believe by slipping the gate locks with plastic (the gates themselves were not damaged and a Starbucks plastic debit card was found near one of the subject homes). Expensive bicycles were stolen in both cases, one from the tunnel entry of a home and another from a garage whose door leading from the tunnel entry was not locked. In addition, police report that several gates in the Rio/El Sereno cul-de-sac were opened last night, but these homes showed no evidence of forced entry and nothing was reported stolen from them. A similar crime occurred in the Monterey/Ridgewood area. These cases are under investigation.

The police urge bicycle owners to photograph their bicycles and the bicycles’ serial numbers and to download these photos to computers for future use in recovering stolen bicycles and in prosecuting suspects. According to the police, the burglars may have ridden the stolen bicycles from the crime scenes or may have transported them in a truck or van. Please phone the police immediately if you observe unknown individuals sitting in vehicles or behaving in a suspicious manner. You could prevent yourself or your neighbor from being victimized. If you observed suspicious activity possibly related to these burglaries, please advise the police (553-0123).

SFPD recommendation. When dialing for emergency assistance from a cell phone, call 553-8090 to reach SF Emergency Dispatch. (Cellular 911 calls go to a relay station before being transferred to SF.) Rockdale suspicious activity. The MPIC received a report from a Rockdale resident who, hearing a noise outside at around 4:30 am, saw a man walking up the street and approaching every car parked along the street and in driveways, trying door handles to see if the cars were unlocked. Miraloma Park has a very low crime rate, but crimes do take place here. Our best defense is alertness and willingness to report. We’ve requested additional patrols, but we also know that the SFPD—including Ingleside Station—is understaffed (see SFPD budget information below), so please be sure to call 911 when observing any suspicious activity.

2012-2014 SFPD Budget. With SFPD staffing once again below Charter-mandated levels and with, hundreds of experienced officers approaching retirement, and no Academy classes scheduled for the coming fiscal year, police officers will be increasingly unable to provide proactive service and will be able to respond only to emergency calls. Community policing will suffer, and certainly under these conditions, the reduction in San Francisco’s violent crime rate will be reversed and the good work of programs serving high-risk children, youth, and adults will suffer proportionately. All of our City agencies face grave funding constraints, but Police Department staffing constraints inevitably will erode quality of life throughout the City and in all aspects of our lives.

SFPD staffing is currently 200 officers short of the Charter mandate of 1971, and approximately 265 officers are due to retire during fiscal years 2012-14. According to Chief Suhr, a minimum of four to five Academy classes per year will be required to meet the Charter mandate. The MPIC has asked Mayor Lee to prioritize Police Department funding to support at least four Police Academy classes per year during fiscal years 2012-14. In addition, to maximize current SFPD resources, funding should be provided to implement—as previously mandated by the voters—civilization of Police Department positions not requiring staffing by sworn officers. The cost of hiring civilian staff for this purpose will be a prudent long-term investment, bringing cost savings, Department sustainability, and community well being.   Mayor Lee wants to hear from citizens about their budget priorities. Please join the MPIC Board in advocating for a fully staffed SFPD by emailing the Mayor at mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org.

Miraloma Park Crime Report: 2012, First Quarter

(Compiled by Jacob Koff from the Ingleside Station Newsletter)


Update to the General Plan: Community Safety Element

The Planning Department has released an update of the Community Safety Element of the General Plan. The update devotes new sections to response and recovery, ensuring that we maximize our ability to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce damage directly after an earthquake.  The update ensures that over the long term, we are able to provide a positive path forward to house those displaced, provide services to homes and businesses, and resume economic and government functions.

The Community Safety Element supports the numerous City initiatives already underway to increase earthquake and emergency preparedness, and its adoption will ensure that such programs continue to be directed through City policy over the long-term. The update to the Community Safety Element is expected to be heard at the Planning Commission for initiation and adoption this spring. To view the update, visit: http://cse.sfplanning.org.

Lost and Found: A New Miraloma Life and MPIC Website Feature

Future issues of Miraloma Life will feature a Lost and Found column, with listings for lost personal property and pets. Notices for the column can be communicated by emailing them to miralomapark@gmail.com with “Lost and Found” in the subject line (preferred method) or by leaving a message at 281-0892. Because the newsletter comes out only once a month and is not issued in July and August, for potentially faster recovery all Lost and Found notices will also be posted on the MPIC website at miralomapark.org. The MPIC Board encourages all residents to check the website frequently, as you may be able to help find a lost item.

A Lost Cat Story

by Sue Kirkham

Recently I found a handsome, collarless, pedigree Abyssinian cat curled up on my front doorstep. I would shelter and do my best to locate the owner of any lost cat. This one was well-cared for and probably an indoor-only pet. I brought the animal into my house and began to make phone calls and send e-mails to everyone I knew in the area to try to locate the owner.

In addition, I registered the cat with Animal Control, posted a “found cat” report on Craigslist (not giving the breed, as a purebred might encourage false claims, but only the block where the cat was found), and on other websites devoted to re-uniting pets with their owners. One neighbor suggested I take the cat to the SPCA or a vet to check if the it had a microchip. My vet advised me to not get excited even if the cat had a chip, and she was correct. The cat had a chip, but the chip number was not registered. The vet said this is a common occurrence, as the breeder, an animal welfare organization, or a vet may insert the chip, but the owner often fails to follow through and register the chip at 1-800-336-2843. My vet has now made a practice of having the owner complete the registration form at the time the chip is inserted, and then mails the registration in for the client.

Others joined me in my quest to find the owner. The quest was more challenging as I did not want to advertise that I had a handsome young pedigreed cat. Some would find claiming the cat an easy way to secure an expensive cat for free to keep or sell. A lot of time and effort was put into locating the owner. If the cat’s chip had been registered, the cat would most likely have been returned the same day, or the next, relieving the owner of a lot of anxiety. The owners of the cat connected with me through my Craigslist posting, but had not bothered to put posters up, look for posters, or contact Animal Control. They were able to tell me the breed and age of the cat, provide proof of purchase from the breeder, and bring identifying photographs verifying ownership. Incidentally, the owners live in the Sunnyside, just out of  Miraloma Park.

Fortunately this story had a happy ending, but happiness could have come faster if the owners had taken the steps discussed above. I urge all pet owners to have their pets micro-chipped and to register the chip number. The SPCA website notes the microchip fee as $25, a small price to pay to help locate your pet.

The San Francisco Education Fund

by Jill Williams

Research shows that the single greatest predictor of student achievement is teacher quality. Recruiting and retaining quality teachers remains an ongoing challenge facing San Francisco public schools, especially in lower performing schools. The quality of public education in our city matters to everyone. Teachers don’t get enough respect or appreciation for all that they do. We want to change that.

The San Francisco Education Fund (one of the largest non-profits supporting SF Public Schools) is running the “Thank a Teacher Today” campaign to provide a way for all members of the community to participate in honoring teachers and helping to improve student academic achievement. The Fund engages the community and leverages financial and human capital to ensure that all SF public school students reach their full potential. We do this by enhancing teacher quality, fostering youth engagement, mobilizing volunteers, building strategic partnerships, and directing resources to where they will have the greatest impact for those who need them most.

This public call to action is to thank SF public school teachers for their professionalism, dedication, and work on behalf of our City’s young people. We want to mobilize everyone who lives or works in San Francisco to thank a teacher. The campaign will culminate when we deliver care packages to teacher’s lounges in every public school the week of May 7 and teachers of the year will be honored during a home-plate ceremony at an SF Giants Teacher Appreciation game on May 16. The SF Education Fund, along with Mayor Edwin Lee and Superintendent Carlos Garcia, is leading this coalition of community-based organizations, civic groups, businesses, and media partners to promote the 2012 “Thank a Teacher Today” Campaign.

As a board member for the Fund, and a resident of Miraloma Park, I wanted to sponsor Miraloma Elementary School for the Thank a Teacher Today campaign. I am trying to rally the Miraloma Park neighborhood to support our local school and thank the teachers who work there. The money raised will provide teachers with classroom supplies (did you know they pay for many classroom supplies out of pocket?) and small gifts of appreciation.   Your donation will help. Please visit http://www.razoo.com/story/Jill-Williams-Fundraising-For-Show-Sf-Teachers-Some-Love-With-Classroom-Supplies-And-More?referral_code=share.

MPIC Board Policy Regarding Anonymous Comments

The MPIC Board wants to notify the neighborhood that we will not respond to anonymous complaints or comments, either in print in the Miraloma Life or by other means. We will consider and respond to any reasonable comment or complaint made by any members or neighbors who identify themselves and provide contact information.

Notice: Nominations of Candidates for the MPIC Board and the Election

On Thursday, May 17, from 7:30 to 8:00 pm, MPIC members in good standing (2012-13 dues paid on or before April 17) may appear at the MPIC Clubhouse and nominate candidates (who must also be members in good standing) for the MPIC Board of Directors and Officers.

After that date and time, nominations will be closed. Any candidates nominated by members at large at the designated time and place will be added to the slate of candidates assembled by the Nominating Committee of the MPIC Board. The election, at which all MPIC members in good standing (dues paid on or before May 21) may vote, will be held at the Clubhouse on Thursday, June 21 from 7:30 to 8:00 (see “Bad Actors in the Plant World” in this issue).

Median Strips, Graffiti, and Other Maintenance Issues—Call 311

by Sue Kirkham

When driving on Monterey Boulevard and Bosworth, have you noticed that the bountiful weeds were recently removed and fresh bark applied? Repeated calls to 311 and a meeting with a DPW representative finally achieved action. Reporting neglected median strips, graffiti, dumped trash, overturned trash containers, dead trees, and other blight to DPW by calling 311 results in a report being filed, and with persistence and luck, action. Our team of Miraloma Park Graffiti Volunteers abates much of the graffiti in Miraloma Park and the thoroughfares bordering and leading to our neighborhood (Portola, Monterey, and O’Shaughnessy), but some graffiti are located too high for us to reach or are in a dangerous location for us to access.

If you make a report through 311, you will need to give an actual street address, or report a particular block or blocks as in the case of the weed-filled median strips. Tax dollars are spread thin, but funds are allocated for maintenance. It appears that there is not a regular maintenance program, but rather one based on the number of complaints received. Neglected areas attract crime and more blight, and then property values decrease. Please help us keep Miraloma Park and our borders and thoroughfares well maintained by calling 311 to report any blight and neglected areas.

Summary of Minutes of April 5, 2012 Board Meeting

by Dan Liberthson and Carl Schick

Online Vote: G Noguera moved that a community meeting be held at the Clubhouse regarding the Teresita traffic calming project and that MTA be requested to present and explain why the project has stalled and what is in store for the future (passed).

Treasurer’s Report (T Sauvain): The MPIC’s current net worth in March was $32,156.47, up $4077.73 from February. The MPIC had $1602 in advertising income in March, plus $435 more in February. Club membership income fell to $572.20. Over and above our normal monthly expenses (newsletter costs, utilities, etc.), we paid: remaining WOTPCC dues of $55.16 (left after a 214.84 credit for our donation to their Mayoral Forum); $550 for painting the front stairs; $32.54 for a sign warning people not to drag equipment up the front stairs; and $645.58 to the caterer for the Spring Fling. Current reserve account total is $18,200. Rental income in March fell to $1032 (vs $2117 in February).

Committees: Zoning and Planning (ZAP, C Mettling-Davis [CMD])—At 278 Juanita, the Planning Department requested that a planned vertical addition have an increased front setback, and at 354 Molimo Drive, a permit notice was issued for a new rear deck. The projects were reviewed (by CMD and D Liberthson, respectively) and considered consistent with the Miraloma Park Residential Design Guidelines.

Membership (R Gee)—As of 3/31/2012, the MPIC had 625 members. The Membership Committee is preparing personalized reminder letters to be hand delivered to 89 whose memberships from last year have expired. Eight new members joined in March. Three members renewed at the $50 Contributing level, one with a $125 contribution and one with a $200 contribution.

The Membership Committee met on March 21 and planned a membership table at the April 14 Spring Fling, follow-up phone calls to approximately 54 members who have expressed an interest in helping on certain issues, and future realignment of duties within the membership committee plus the need for another committee member.

Clubhouse Maintenance (CMD)—Railings for the stairways to the stage were installed. New signs were installed by the front stairs and inside asking renters to not wheel dollys or carts up the steps to prevent damage. D Liberthson created and installed decorative coyote cutouts for the center of the fireplace screen to complement the existing decorations.

Safety (K Wood)—Residents on Dalewood have reported men ringing their doorbells under the pretense of selling magazines. The men are suspected of casing the houses in order to rob them. Police were called in one instance and arrests were made. One “seller” had an outstanding warrant for burglary. SFPD is very committed to confronting this issue and has upgraded calls for service regarding suspicious doorbell ringing from C to B level priority. These reports follow a similar incident on Juanita a few months ago, when arrests were also made. Anyone who sees anything suspicious in the neighborhood and/or finds anyone ringing their doorbell unsolicited should report the incident to the police.

Delegate Reports: West of Twin Peaks Central Council (D Liberthson)—So far District 7 has remained intact and unscathed by the Redistricting Commission.

New Business: CMD requested that a revised mission statement about the MPIC’s commitment to representing all segments of the community be created and added to the MPIC bylaws.

Opera Review and May Events at Ruth Asawa SF School of the Arts (SOTA)

by Dan Liberthson

I attended the April 14 performance of Scorned—an Opera Scenes Program at Ruth Asawa SOTA and was well entertained by many talented operatic voices and acting ranging from competent to inspired. In segments of nicely varied emotional tone, from rollicking and hilarious scenes from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida to a racy sequence from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and a lyrical Hansel and Gretel excerpt (Engelbert Humperdinck), students sang of love, longing, and mischief in French, Italian, and German as well as English. All of the young voices showed promise, and a few had the maturity, power, and projection you would expect from professional operatic singers. The piano accompanists did nearly flawless and expressive work. I was not surprised to hear after the concert that three of the senior class had been accepted to the Juilliard School.

Tickets for future performances are available on line at www.sfsota.org. Coming events on the campus (555 Portola; enter from O’Shaughnessy) include, all starting at 7:30 pm, a Band Concert (May 4), Orchestra Performance (May 5), Media Night (May 11), Vocal Finale (May 16), and a Fashion Show (May 22). A Dance Showcase will be held May 18 and 19 starting at 8 pm at the Palace of Fine Arts. Caroline Grannan, 24-year Miraloma Park resident and parent of students at the school, writes “I want to echo Dan’s encouragement to attend Ruth Asawa SOTA’s performances and gallery shows. This year the annual musical, The Producers, was for mature audiences, but often it is kid-friendly, so families should keep an eye out for future G-rated shows. And parents of artistically talented younger kids, check out SOTA as a high school possibility.”

“Big Bash” at the Clubhouse: a Benefit for Bird & Beckett Books

by Eric Whittington, Owner and Dan Liberthson, Fan

On Saturday, May 19, from 2 to 6 pm, at the MPIC Clubhouse, Bird and Beckett Books and Records will host a benefit for the bookstore and its Cultural Legacy Project, which supports an ambitious schedule of performances at the store by poets,writers, musicians (jazz, bluegrass, reggae, and more), and many other culturally enhancing events. Check out www.birdbeckett.com and you’ll be amazed at the talent on display for a very low gate fee. This year’s “Big Bash” fundraiser will spotlight talented youth, faculty, and families from Ruth Asawa SOTA (see article in this issue), including the eight-piece Latin jazz ensemble “New Arrival.” Enjoy yourself and help maintain a neighborhood treasure: bring extra cash or your checkbook to buy great food, participate in a raffle, and donate directly to the nonprofit “Cultural Legacy Project”—the 501(c)3 corporation that funds the programs the neighborhood has come to expect from SF’s
“southernmost literary and jazz joint.”

Gary Noguera Leaves the MPIC Board

by Dan Liberthson

After many years of volunteer service, including stints as Vice President of the MPIC, President of the Coalition of San Francisco Neighborhoods (CSFN), and MPIC’s delegate to that organization, Gary Noguera has left the MPIC Board. His projects in recent years have included getting the Teresita traffic calming plan started and trying to revive it in the last few months, as well as negotiating with Walgreens and then CVS with respect to the design of the drugstore now under construction at 701 Portola, and pushing for no alcohol sales and limited hours of operation at the store. Getting the City to install a stop sign at Teresita and Stillings—a task that required a ton of work—is a particular achievement of Gary’s for which the neighborhood is grateful.

We on the Board will miss Gary’s advocacy and efforts, and hope we can persuade him to return to the Board someday. In the meantime, he remains a highly valued MPIC member, and we are sure he will lend his vigorous support to the community on important issues. He has indicated his willingness to continue to address inquiries about the traffic calming issue, in which he has more experience than anyone on the Board. If you want information on this issue, please contact the MPIC by phone, email, or letter, and we will forward your communication to Gary.