Miraloma Life Online – October 2011

  • Mt. Davidson Park – An Open Space Preserved for Recreation or Native Plants?
  • T-Mobile Withdraws Cell Tower Application
  • Report from the Membership Committee
  • Ingleside District Community Safety Update
  • Chaves Burglary
  • Beautify Miraloma Park!
  • All I’ve Ever Known
  • Miraloma Park Improvement Club Fall Fiesta
  • From the Legal Files: The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow: San Francisco Courts Avoid Some Closures

Mt. Davidson Park – An Open Space Preserved for Recreation or Native Plants?

By Jacqueline Proctor

In 1995, the City transferred Mt. Davidson Park to the Natural Areas Program with the result that protection and restoration of native plants—rather than public recreation, aesthetics, or forest maintenance—has become the first priority of the few City staff assigned to maintain the park. A recently completed Draft EIR has determined that the Natural Areas Program Plan will have a significant impact on the environment. Indeed, the Plan envisions the negative consequences to public enjoyment of the Park to be beneficial. While the City is busy planting 1000s of street and median trees to “clean the air,” it is giving the OK to spend limited Recreation and Park funds to cut down 1000s of the historic trees along the trail and road areas of Mt. Davidson, restrict public access through native plants areas by installing barriers, prohibiting benches in the best view areas, and fostering the growth of poison oak (a native plant now thriving where non-native shrubs and trees have already been removed). The Miraloma Park Improvement Club Board plans a letter to the City advocating for the Final EIR to recommend preservation of the forest as an historic, natural, recreational, and aesthetic resource, as well as advocating for full access to the native plant area and installation of benches in the view areas. If you have any comments about this plan, please email the board at Miralomapark@gmail.com.

Click link below for Map of Park: brown areas, inside what is now forest, will be cleared of trees.
Natural Area Plan Mt. Davidson

For information about the plan, see http://sfrecpark.org/documents/1_Overview.pdf

T-Mobile Withdraws Cell Tower Application

We have important news to share:  T-Mobile has withdrawn their application to install a new wireless facility at the Miraloma Community Church, 480 Teresita.

Sincere thanks go to all those of you in the neighborhood who attended community meetings, signed petitions, and wrote letters to members of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors objecting to the construction of a macro-cell tower in our midst and to the Church Board asking them to act in the best interests of their neighbors. Special thanks go to Karen Wood and Dan Liberthson. Board members of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club, for their continual support and encouragement and to Doug Loranger, founder of the San Francisco Antenna-Free Union (SNAFU) for his willingness to share his expertise, answer our many questions, and offer excellent advice throughout this difficult ordeal.

We would like to welcome our new neighbor, Cornerstone Trinity Baptist Church: we hope that their congregation will enjoy many good years in their new and antenna-free location.

Jane Risk, Norman Nager, Faruq Ahmed, Judith Dauphinais; Organizers of the Stop T-Mobile effort

Note: While the application has been withdrawn, it is still not known if it is with any terms or conditions for future activation. The pastor of Cornerstone Trinity Baptist Church has stated that he is committed to preventing any cell tower installation at the Church site.

Report from the Membership Committee

by Robert Gee, MPIC Membership Chair

We are happy to report that MPIC currently has over 650 members! For a long time, membership stayed in the 500+ range. This year, our goal was to increase membership to 600+ and we’ve done it.  We truly appreciate all of you who have joined MPIC and thank you for your support. The larger our membership the greater our ability to advance MPIC’s mission to preserve and improve the quality of life in Miraloma Park.

To be a member of MPIC, you just need to live or own a home in Miraloma Park. Membership is voluntary and is for a 12 month period—one can join at anytime. Did you know that of the 2,200 homes in our neighborhood, almost 1,400 homes have never been members? So over the last few months, we’ve engaged in a campaign to reach out to those 1,400 households by delivering personalized letters inviting them to join. So far, the campaign has been a success as new members continue to join. We also continue to welcome new homeowners to the neighborhood with personalized letters inviting them to join. If you’re a new homeowner, please look out for your letter. This enlarged and ambitious outreach effort would not be possible without the tremendous efforts of MPIC members Peter Renteria, Brian Stone, Vivienne Antal and Deb Atkins plus the many MPIC Board of Directors members who helped to stuff, address, and/or deliver them.

Twelve months can go by quickly and then it’s time to renew your membership. Most members renew at the start of each year. We know everyone is very busy because of jobs, children, and other commitments so it’s easy to forget to renew. We send out emails to members when it’s time to renew their membership so be sure to check your spam folder. We also deliver personalized letters to members to remind them to renew.

So what future plans does the Membership Committee have?  We want to make it as easy as possible to join or renew. We are looking into offering PayPal as a payment option so that a member can join or renew online through our website. We want to hear from you with your suggestions on how to build our membership. Got a question?  Not sure why you should renew?  Just want to talk to a Board member?  Do you want to find out more about what the Club does?  Email us at miralomapark@gmail.com, leave us a message at 415-281-0892, or post a message on our website Message Board at (www.miralomapark.org/boards). Let us know your thoughts about neighborhood topics such as safety, native plant conservation, graffiti abatement, disaster preparation, Club events, zoning and planning, and traffic calming issues.

Our community will be better served by more participation and will be much stronger when neighbors get involved.

Ingleside District Community Safety Update

By Captain Daniel J. Mahoney, Commanding Officer, Ingleside Police Station

Greetings to all. To begin, I just want to thank all the members from the Miraloma Park community for the warm welcome I have received not only upon my arrival at Ingleside but also at the last meeting of the MPIC that I attended. This is a very active, motivated and involved community—which is just what is needed to make our communities safe.

In regard to our community crime problem, I would like to give everyone an update on past crimes and my targeted strategies for combating future crimes. Juanita Way was the scene of a terrible robbery several months ago where a woman was robbed of her purse and injured in the process. Through the diligent efforts of the Ingleside Investigative Team, and working along with the patrol units, they were able to identify the culprits. One has been taken into custody and is currently in the Criminal Justice system. The other has fled the area but we continue in our search for him.

As part of my enforcement strategy, it is clear to the officers of Ingleside that due to our “station footprint” being so large (we cover 6.3 square miles), criminals are driving to areas in cars to commit crimes. This has been verified in several cases where witnesses have reported seeing robbers fleeing in cars away from the crime scene. So—to combat this phenomena, we conduct “Robbery Abatement through Vehicle Enforcement” operations. We watch the anticipated travelled streets looking for known robbery suspects (those on probation or parole) and for vehicles that have been used in past robberies. We then conduct traffic and investigative enforcement. This allows us to know who is travelling through our district and lets them know that we are out there. We have had some success and will continue in that endeavor.

Additionally, I use decoy operations whenever feasible to combat the growing robbery and auto burglary occurrences —and have also had some success. In the middle of August, our “decoy” car was broken into and the thief quickly nabbed. Again—we will be continuing with those operations.

Finally, we have been seen an uptick in certain types of robberies. Thieves have been ripping necklaces right off of the necks of victims—commonly called “chain snatches”—probably due to the high value in gold. I again urge all to be aware—always—of their surroundings and who is near. Taking a page from the Department of Homeland Security, if you “see something—say something”. Ingleside’s best success comes from the police-community partnerships that we have.

Chaves Burglary

Miraloma Park has one of the lowest crime rates in San Francisco, but crimes occasionally do occur in our neighborhood. On Thursday, September 15, 2011, a burglary occurred on the 100 block of Chaves near Agua. According to police, burglars gained access by prying open the recessed front door. Police believe that these burglars may still be operating in the neighborhood. No physical description is available at this time. It is likely that the house was being watched prior to the burglary, because the crime was timed to the homeowner’s absence from home.

Please be alert and call police (553-0123) about any suspicious individuals in the area—especially those ringing doorbells or sitting in a car without apparent legitimate business. Tell Dispatch that the individuals are of special concern because of the recent burglary. If there is any doubt, police should be called to check on the situation. Many burglars have prior convictions and/or outstanding warrants, and officers are always glad to connect with these individuals. Someone with legitimate business will not be arrested or harassed, but an alert resident can prevent crime.

Also, please notify the SFPD at 553-0123 if you observed suspicious activity that may be related to the Chaves crime. Even small details can be helpful in identifying suspects.

Thank you for helping to keep Miraloma Park one of the safest in the City.
MPIC Board of Directors Safety Committee

Beautify Miraloma Park!

It’s not too late: if you’d like to plant a tree in front of your house, you can still sign up to participate in a neighborhood tree planting through the Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) planting program. The subsidized cost for a FUF tree is just $75! FUF makes the whole process easy and affordable, and by participating, you’ll increase the value of your home and potentially those of your neighbors. Your tree will absorb traffic noise and increase privacy. Your soul will benefit from its beauty, and birds (and dogs) will thank you. Needless to say, your tree will help to clean our air by removing carbon dioxide and providing oxygen. What could be better? Just as important, the involvement of neighbors in the planting and care of local trees will build a stronger Miraloma Park community.

The San Francisco Department of Public Works regulates where trees may and may not be planted, but FUF will work with us and DPW to ensure that your tree won’t interfere with utilities or street signs. (Sidewalks must be at least 4 feet wide to accommodate trees.)

If you’d like to participate or just have questions, please call the Miraloma Park Improvement Club at 415.281-0892 or email Miralomapark@gmail.com with your name, address, and phone number. Also, please indicate in your message whether you can help with coordination of this event.

To learn more about Friends of the Urban Forest and their neighborhood tree planting program, visit their website at www.fuf.net.

All I’ve Ever Known

By Stephanie Gee, 11th Grade

My whole life, this small and comforting neighborhood, I have called home.13 years, about 4,745 days, numerous holidays, and special occasions have all happened here. This neighborhood is the escape from the chaos and noise of downtown San Francisco, and is the ultimate suburban environment embedded in a cosmopolitan city.

When I was in grammar school, my teacher would ask the semi-cliché question of, ‘What makes a house a home?’ to which people would respond with phrases such as, my home is where my family and friends are. However much that answer is true, a home cannot exist without other ‘good’ homes surrounding it. Our neighborhood provides a safe environment, relative to the dangers of the outside world. In this neighborhood, it is not just one home that makes us a community, it is many adjoining homes with inhabitants that respect each other.

Without this love and support that Miraloma neighbors provide for one another, our neighborhood would turn up in the newspaper as yet another statistic about a crime scene or a major theft. Yet, somehow, Miraloma has risen above all of the dreary statistics and stayed off the ‘wanted radar’.  This nurturing community of young families, retired couples, and single bachelors is what makes Miraloma unique.

My memories of the late 1990s, when I first moved here, are blurred, with only fuzzy images of the Miraloma playground, the then Tower Market, and winding streets. At only four years, I really had no concept of a neighborhood. The young motorcycle man next door, a black dog named Titus, and the Sullivan family were as close as I got to bonding with neighbors. As time went on, I began to see more of the people that I shared the Bella Vista block with. There was the businesswoman and entrepreneur, the young couple with a newborn baby, and the gardener. So much diversity within one or two blocks, and I could always count on waking up to see freshly planted flowers across the
street every morning that a neighbor had worked so hard to grow.

San Francisco has been a desired place to live, being a unique and diverse city. The average San Franciscan has heard of Pacific Heights, West Portal, The Castro, and the Downtown district, but when asked about Miraloma Park, people draw a blank look. Sure the 36 Teresita Muni line only comes every half an hour, and the biggest restaurant is Tower Burger. However, it is the quaint environment that satisfies us Miraloma neighbors. Also, living in a not as well populated area has its perks. We get to know the dry-cleaning lady well, and the Mollie Stone’s cashier greets you as if you were an old friend. The 36- Teresita Muni line is the only public transportation bus where 90 percent of people say thank you to the driver, and the annual block party allows both parents and kids to enjoy themselves.

In two years I will be headed off to college, maybe somewhere close, or possibly on the East Coast. I want to come home for break to the same neighborhood that I left, one of serenity in a bustling city. But for now, I’ll enjoy my neighbors and community while I can.

Miraloma Park Improvement Club Fall Fiesta

September 10, 2011 at the Clubhouse: This was a terrific event, thanks to the efforts of MPIC Board event organizers Shannon Chu, Thad Sauvain, and Carl Schick: 110 guests of MPIC—children and adults—turned out for the bouncy house, taco truck, toy exchange, and the opportunity to get to know neighbors and make new friends. Thanks, everyone, for a great day!

From the Legal Files: The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow: San Francisco Courts Avoid Some Closures

By Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

The California legislature passed and Governor Jerry Brown signed the state budget in June. The budget took $350 million out of the judicial branch and took an additional $310 million from a court construction fund. The San Francisco Superior Court, which operates three courthouses, was hit the hardest because the court made the decision last year not to lay off employees and to spend down its reserve.

This year the court has reserves that might be below the state mandate.

Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein had sent out layoff notices to 200 court employees. Virtually the entire civil division was to be shut down. However, as of early September, the San Francisco Superior Court received more than $3 million in additional funds from the state.

This money will guarantee that 14 of the 19 San Francisco courtrooms will remain open. These courtrooms included ones at the Civic Center Courthouse as well as at Juvenile Hall. Criminal trials are constitutionally required to go to trial within a shorter time frame, and they were least affected by the original cuts.

What are the practical effects of the San Francisco Superior court keeping the lights on? Usually the San Francisco Superior Court handles more than 30,000 civil cases every year. The only civil cases that would have gone to trial if the civil division had closed would have been cases facing a mandatory five year deadline for a trial. The five year period is measured from the date the case is filed. For elderly people who file lawsuits, there was the very real possibility that they would not have lived to see resolution of their cases. Obtaining a divorce would have taken a year and a half instead of six months. Although 98% of all cases settle, many cases settle right before the jury is sworn in.

The bigger picture is whether the Legislature’s cuts to the court system are constitutional. Under the California Constitution, the three branches of government, executive, legislative and judicial, are supposed to be independent. With the June budget the legislative and executive branches have effectively crippled the judicial branch by slashing its funding. Even with the increased funding, open access to the San Francisco Superior Court remains in doubt. As the 19th century British politician William Gladstone stated, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”