Miraloma Life Online – April 2009

  • A Grand Bird and Plant Tour of Glen Park Canyon
  • Miraloma Life Volunteers Invited
  • 75th Anniversary of Mount Davidson Cross
  • What is the WOTPCC?
  • Legal Ease
  • What is the CSFN?
  • NERT News
  • Parks and Open Space Planning Meeting
  • Fifty Years Ago in Miraloma Park: Highlights from the April 1959 issue of Miraloma Life
  • Make Some Music!

A Grand Bird and Plant Tour of Glen Park Canyon

by Dan Liberthson

Friends and neighbors, you have an incredible treat in store. Allan Ridley and his wife Helen McKenna-Ridley will be giving a 2-hour walking tour of Glen Park Canyon on Saturday, May 2, followed by a chat about what we’ve seen (and not seen) at the Miraloma Park Clubhouse. Allan may be familiar to some of you who have gone on his wonderful birding tours of Mt. Davidson in past years.

Allan Ridley, MS,  taught biology and ornithology at the Urban School of San Francisco.   Helen McKenna-Ridley, MS, taught biology and environmental science at George Washington High School and became principal of Raoul Wallenberg High School. Helen is an experienced docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden (SFBG) in Golden Gate Park. Together they have traveled widely and have led birding and natural history trips to Costa Rica, Ecuador, New Zealand, and Australia. On the first Sunday of each month at 8:00 AM, they lead a bird walk through the SFBG.

For the May 2 event, we’ll  meet behind the recreation building in Glen Park Canyon, parking on Elk Street (which runs between Diamond Heights Boulevard and Bosworth Street) or side streets off  Elk Street. Enter the park by following the alley from Elk Street behind the tennis courts, and meet behind the recreation building. The tour will start at 9:00 AM sharp and last about 2 hours. After the walk, we will gather for refreshments at the Miraloma Park Clubhouse, 350 O’Shaughnessy Boulevard at Del Vale, at about 11:15 AM, chat, and Q&A. Here are the essentials:

Event:    Birding and plant tour of Glen Park Canyon with Allan Ridley and Helen McKenna-Ridley

Date:    Saturday, May 2

Time:    9 AM for the walking tour, 11:15 AM for gathering at the Clubhouse

Place:    For the walking tour, meet behind the Recreation building in Glen Park (enter from Elk St. behind tennis courts). For the gathering after, Miraloma

Park Clubhouse, 350 O’Shaughnessy Boulevard at Del Vale (enter the parking lot from Del Vale). See miralomapark.org for more information.

Miraloma Life Volunteers Invited

With the retirement of our long-time editor, Joanne Whitney, the Miraloma Life is interested in hearing from volunteers interested in doing editorial and/or publication work for the newsletter, whether on an ongoing basis or in a supporting capacity. Those interested in editing should have some background therein, and those interested in doing the layout/publication should have experience with Adobe InDesign software. As you know, the newsletter is a 12-page publication that comes out in the first week of every month except July and August. Experience as its Editor or Layout Artist/Publisher would be useful to anyone who wants to supplement his or her resume, and is a rewarding way to serve the community. Please send email responses to miralomapark@gmail.com or leave a message on our voicemail, (415) 281-0892.

75th Anniversary of Mount Davidson Cross

By Jacquie Proctor

Seventy-five years ago, in 1934, the highest cross in the world was dedicated and lit for the first time by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 11 years after

George Decatur organized the initial Easter Sunrise event atop Mount Davidson in 1923. After more than 5000 San Franciscans hiked up the City’s highest hill before dawn to hear the Dean of Grace Cathedral at that first Easter Sunrise service, Decatur worked to make it an annual event, which continues to this day.

Three years after that first service, in 1926, The Municipal Record reported that “the subdividers’ axe and steam shovel were heard on Mt. Davidson’s lower slopes, destroying in ruthless fashion the beauties of nature” and that “ardent nature lover, Mrs. Edmund N. “Madie” Brown, was aroused over the destruction.”  She “made a plea at the Commodore Sloat Parent-Teachers’ Association on April 12, 1926 for the preservation of Mt. Davidson,” still privately owned by subdivider A.S. Baldwin. Madie campaigned for 3 years with the PTA and the Federation of Women’s Clubs before the City appropriated $15,000 to purchase 20 acres of Mt. Davidson for a public park. The park was dedicated 80 years ago in December of 1929.

The Easter sunrise event continued to grow in popularity, with annual attendance reaching 30,000 during the Great Depression. Temporary crosses had been constructed on the eastern viewpoint atop Mt. Davidson, but with this high level of attendance, George Decatur was inspired to raise $25,000 in private donations to build the cross we see today. The architect and engineer of San Francisco’s highest buildings, George Kelham and Henry Brunnier, designed the 103-foot high reinforced concrete monument. The fundraising committee included Margaret Mary Morgan, the first woman elected to the Board of Supervisors, and Mrs. A.S. Baldwin, who donated the 6-acre summit of the hill to the city for the permanent location. On March 3, 1934,
thousands of San Franciscans watched as the final granite slab cornerstone was laid. Underneath it is a crypt containing a copper record box filled with historical items, including 1933 city telephone directories, copies of area newspapers, and a transcript of the 1845 deed of Mt. Davidson to Don Jose de Jesus Noe from the first Mexican Governor of California, Pio Pico. During the ceremony, Mayor Angelo Rossi appointed the Boy Scouts of the San Francisco area as guardians of the record box, which was accepted by William H. Worden, Jr., Eagle Scout of Troop 88. Three weeks later, on March 24, 1934, President Roosevelt, lit the cross at the request of the park founder, Madie Brown. She wrote:

“As Chairman of Arrangements, I have dared to dream that our President would press the button in Washington, D.C., which in turn would light for the first time this giant cross in San Francisco. It seems most appropriate that the President, who has brought light to many a darkened American home and who, through his new deal, has instilled the principles of the Golden Rule into American business, should take part in this cross-lighting ceremony.”

A crowd of 50,000 people surrounded the cross at 7:30 PM when President Roosevelt tapped a golden telegraph key to send a signal over a special direct circuit provided by Western Union, 3702 miles in length, from the White House through Chicago to Mt. Davidson. The signal lit the twelve 1000-watt floodlights for the first time, making the cross-visible 50 miles away.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the monument’s dedication, the Council of Armenian Organizations of Northern California (now owners of the cross) and Troop 88 are planning to open the copper record box during this year’s Easter Sunrise Event on Sunday, April 12.

Miraloma Park resident Jacquie Proctor is the author of Images of America: San Francisco’s West of Twin Peaks, published in 2006 by Arcadia Publishing.

What is the WOTPCC?

by Dan Liberthson

The West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WOTPCC), like the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (CSFN) discussed on page 7 in this issue of the Miraloma Life, is an “umbrella organization” including neighborhood organizations in San Francisco. However, unlike the CSFN, which admits neighborhoods City-wide, the WOTPCC  represents only neighborhoods in the West of Twin Peaks area and comes together to work on issues of particular importance to that area. The WOTPCC comprises 17 neighborhood organizations and over 10,000 homeowners in the West of Twin Peaks area of San Francisco, and the Miraloma Park Improvement Club is one of these member neighborhoods. The others are Balboa Terrace, Forest Hill, Forest
Knolls, Greater West Portal Ingleside Terraces, Lakeshore Acres, Lakeside Property Owners, Merced Manor, Midtown Terrace, Monterey Heights, Pinelake Park, St. Francis Homes, Sherwood Forest, Twin Peaks Improvement, Westwood Highlands, and Westwood Park. Delegates from these organizations meet on the fourth Monday of each month at the Forest Hill Clubhouse, a lovely Maybeck building just off Dewey Circle.

Since its origin in the mid 1930s, the WOTPCC has had a special interest in zoning issues, as most of its neighborhoods comprise exclusively single-family homes and are zoned for such homes (RH1 zoning). Early efforts to change that zoning led to cohesive opposition by the Council under its first president, John S. Curran. The continued interest of the Council in preservation of zoning was demonstrated at its March meeting, at which a substantial turnout listened to a presentation by John Rahaim, Director of the Planning Department, and then questioned him specifically about three RH1 zoning elements that have long been fiercely protected by the Council: a requirement for at least one off-street parking space for each home, a prohibition of
secondary units (illegal “in-law” apartments), and strict height limitations (currently 35 feet).

In recent years, moves by the Planning Department to promote “transit hubs” with higher height limits, greater population density, and a reduced requirement for off-street parking spaces have alarmed WOTPCC’s neighborhood organizations, as the implementation of such zoning modifications could degrade the character and quality of life in our single-family neighborhoods and small commercial districts (like West Portal and Miraloma Park’s Portola shopping area).

Mr. Rahaim’s responses indicated a sensitivity to neighborhood character and zoning concerns that appeared to reassure many of the delegates of the Council’s member organizations, who nonetheless made it clear that they intend to protect their zoning, as the WOTPCC staunchly has done since its founding. The MPIC, which represents the entirely RH1-zoned neighborhood of Miraloma Park, identifies strongly with the Council’s conservative approach to zoning issues, and has consistently lent its voice to the unanimous opposition by the Council’s member organizations to any potential erosion of West Side zoning.

Their website at westoftwinpeaks.org provides Board minutes and a calendar of events.

Legal Ease

By Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

A few months ago I wrote about jury service in San Francisco. I am a litigator and have done trials. Some people believe that lawyers are not asked to serve on juries, but this is not true. In July 2008, I received a jury summons, for which I sought a postponement because I was an attorney in a trial. But when the jury summons arrived again in January 2009, and I could not postpone it any longer. I was to report to the Civic Center Courthouse, which mostly has civil trials. Unfortunately, I had to participate as a lawyer in a trial on the date I was to report.

When I went down to the jury service room in the Civic Center Courthouse on January 26, I told the people who were going to check me in that I was starting a jury trial. They refused to check me in. I went upstairs to the second floor, answered the 9:00 AM roll call in Department (courtroom) 206, and told the presiding judge that my client and I were ready for trial. I then stated that I had received a jury summons and that the personnel downstairs were refusing to check me in. The presiding judge stated, “You have to do your jury duty,” and then dismissed me. My client and I eventually settled her case.

Not wanting to be a juror scofflaw, I called jury services at the Civic Center Courthouse, told them my situation, and asked what could be done. They told me to come in and serve on February 5. So on February 5, at 8:45 AM, I entered the courthouse with my knitting and two books.

The Jury Services Room is on the lower level of the courthouse. It is a large, dark-paneled room that seats about 150 people. Free internet service is available. In the center of the room are a heavy wooden table and chairs. On either side are two large glass etchings with some phrases from the U.S. Constitution. Beside the phrases, etched into the glass, are pictures of the bodies of the Framers without their faces.

A video, which I could not see but could hear, informed me that I had to be at least 18 years old to serve, have no felony convictions, and be a U.S. resident. I qualified on all counts. The video discussed the importance of being a juror. After a short wait, my name was called, along with those of many other people, and we were told to report to a courtroom on the sixth floor. The clerk in that courtroom called our names and made certain we were all present.

The courtroom was one of the smaller ones. The court reporter sat in front of the witness stand, across from the clerk, near the judge’s raised desk. The bailiff sat in the back near the corner. The attorneys sat at the large table in the center of the room. The judge came out and explained who the parties were and introduced the court reporter, the clerk, and the bailiff. She said that three-quarters of a jury needed to agree in a civil trial, but not at this trial. This was a criminal case, and the verdict had to be unanimous. Because it is unusual for a criminal case to be held in the Civic Center Courthouse, I was very interested. The judge explained that the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution mandated jury trials in criminal matters. She introduced the Deputy District Attorney, the Deputy Public Defender, and the defendant. She stated that the defendant was being charged with a felony of possessing drugs and with two other felony charges. She said it would be a 5-day trial, and she gave the times and days that court would be in session. Giving a schedule was helpful for people with children or dependent family members, and for arranging work.

Twelve people were called to sit in assigned seats in the jury box and 6 more people were assigned seats in front of the box. This began the process in which the judge and the lawyers ask questions to individual jurors to determine if they could be fair in this case. Each potential juror stood and provided his or her name, neighborhood, length of residence in San Francisco, highest educational degree, spouse’s or domestic partner’s employment, number of children and their ages and occupations, and other information. This information give the attorneys a sense of who the jurors were. As a litigator, I find it helpful when people present this information slowly, because attorneys write it down in shorthand and use these notes for follow-up questions to the
potential jurors.

The judge also asked if any of the potential jurors were members of victims’ rights groups, if they would evaluate the testimony of law enforcement differently than other witnesses, and if they had any moral or religious beliefs about judging other people. The Deputy District Attorney began questioning the jurors by thanking them for showing up for their jury duty. She then asked if the jurors believed that “no one tells the same story twice.” The Deputy Public Defender objected, and I wondered if this might be an issue in the case. When the Deputy Public Defender asked questions, he told us about the “reasonable doubt” standard, and how it is a higher standard than clear and convincing evidence or preponderance of evidence. Then he asked the
potential jurors about their biases about the defendant’s being a drug addict and if they would tend to discount his testimony because of this. He also asked whether the jurors would believe a police officer more than a person who was not a police offer. We then adjourned for lunch for about an hour and a half.

After lunch, court reconvened with more questioning, and some potential jurors were let go. After I and other potential jurors were called to the witness box and questioned by the attorneys, the judge and the attorneys went into her chambers and discussed which jurors should be excused “for cause.” “For cause” means that the judge says that a potential juror might have a bias or information that might interfere with his or her deliberations. I was excused “for cause” because I knew one of the witnesses in the case.

The whole process took about a day, and it was interesting to me to see the process from the other side, as a potential juror rather than an attorney. Although I traditionally thank potential jurors when they first file into the jury box for my trials, from now on I will be even more appreciative of their time.

What is the CSFN?

by Gary Noguera

The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (CSFN) is an “umbrella organization” comprising representatives from most San Francisco neighborhoods who come together to work with the City on issues of importance to individual neighborhoods and to the City at large. The CSFN started when the Planning Department rejected the proposals of concerned neighborhood organizations for amendments to height and bulk limits in the Planning Code. The San Francisco Foundation gave a small grant to the Coalition to help it on its way, a neighborhood group in the Sunset served as its first fiscal agent, and a part-time secretary was hired to set up meetings, produce a newsletter, and recruit other neighborhood organizations.

Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR) President Martin McIntyre convened the first meeting of the CSFN on September 11, 1972, with 47 representatives of the neighborhoods present, covering most areas of SF. Today, there are 43 member organizations from all parts of the City.

The CSFN was incorporated in 1991 as a 501(c)4 nonprofit civic organization with a Board of Directors made up of representatives of all member organizations. It has held candidates and issues forums to educate the members and the public. It has, through member participation and lobbying, supported its member neighborhoods on issues affecting the broad community, and continues to monitor various City departments to insure fair treatment of all City residents.

The Miraloma Park Improvement Club (MPIC) plays an active role in the CSFN. We send a representative to CSFN monthly meetings to voice our opinions and vote on issues of concern to us and to all City residents. Our delegate, yours truly Gary Noguera, is currently the President of the CSFN, and sits on the Board of Directors. Thus, the MPIC affords its members the important benefit of direct representation at CSFN and a voice that will be heard City-wide.


by Jed Lane

In last month’s article I wrote about new studies done to inform the City’s citizens and administration of the imminent danger of residential destruction from an “expected-size” earthquake. An expected-size earthquake is one the size of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, not the Big One that is also expected.

The Richter scale, developed in 1937, is used to measure the relative force of the energy released when the tectonic plates in the earth slip along one another, causing earthquakes. The Loma Prieta quake was 7.1 on the Richter scale, and the slip was 25 miles long on the fault (where the two shifting plates meet). In the 1906 quake, which is estimated to have been 7.7 to 7.9 on the Richter scale, the slip was 296 miles long on the San Andreas fault.  A quake that is 9.0 on the Richter scale releases 1000 times the energy of a 7.0 quake.

When next we experience a large quake in the 7.1 range close to the San Francisco, the SPUR and CAPPS reports show there will be massive loss of housing. The City is not prepared to take care of us in that event. Are we prepared to take care of ourselves?

Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) training prepares you to be aware of your surroundings in earthquakes and other disasters and provides guidance on the necessary plans to be self-sufficient after the event. In April, on the anniversary of the 1906 quake, NERT will hold its annual City-wide drill. At the drill, NERT members from across the City will gather to practice the skills they’ve learned and will have the opportunity to interact with the Fire Department and other City leaders.

Drill time and location: April 18, 2009 from 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM at Everett Middle School on Church St. at 17th St. The entrance to the school yard is on 17th St.

Here on Mt. Davidson, we should be having a conversation focused on how to be organized, so that when faced with the upheaval that will be going on all over the City, we will be able to care for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors and rebuild the community. This conversation should take place first in your home and then with your neighbors. Neighbor-to-neighbor conversation is just the beginning; knowing where our neighbors live and what their needs are likely to be is equally important.

Almost all members of the MPIC Board have been through the NERT training program, and we are evaluating the community leadership that will be required. We will not be able to do much without organized support from all residents, or if general panic and a “mob mentality” develop. So we ask that all Miraloma Park residents “Be safe – Be prepared – Get NERT trained,” and join us in this vital conversation about survival and recovery after a big quake.

Contact me (Jed@JedLane.com,  415.425.9810) if you have any questions or would like more information on NERT or the SAFE Block Captain program.

Parks and Open Space Planning Meeting

by Jed Lane

On March 4, 2009 a community meeting was held at the Miraloma Park Clubhouse to provide community input to the San Francisco Planning Department for the Regional Open Space Element (ROSE). This plan is being developed is part of the General Plan and has not been updated for a very long time.

Members of the community were asked to speak to parks and open-space issues, looking forward 100, 50, and 25 years, and to the immediate future. The meeting was facilitated by staff of the Neighborhood Parks Council (NPC) and moderated by DeeDee Workman, President of Workman Associates, a public affairs consulting firm, and the past Executive Director of San Francisco Beautiful.

Visionary ideas were shared and current concerns were discussed. Full notes from all the meetings can be found at openspacesf.org/OSmeetingnotes. If you would like to participate, additional meetings are scheduled, with the meeting schedule provided at www.sfnpc.org/2009OSworkshops. You can also organize your own meeting by contacting the NPC for their “meeting in a box” program.

We have more open space in our neighborhood than most. With Mt. Davidson, Twin Peaks, and Glen Canyon close by, it is easily possible to walk to a semi-natural space. In recognition and continuation of the past stewardship of citizens who prevented residential encroachment on Mt. Davidson and a freeway through Glen Canyon, we need to do our part for our kids and their kids. If parks are your issue, join with the leaders in your community to help advocate. If you don’t think you can make a difference, look at all that has been accomplished by Andrea O’Leary and her neighbors at the Sunnyside Playground and the Sunnyside Conservatory.

Contact me for more information: Jed@JedLane.com;  415-425-9810.

Fifty Years Ago in Miraloma Park: Highlights from the April 1959 issue of Miraloma Life

compiled by Phil Laird

Cecil F. Hickman, MPIC President, wrote:
“For the regular monthly meeting of April 16, our program chairman has secured an excellent foreign film [“Scandinavian Rhapsody”]. Showing time is approximately 35 minutes. Due to a great number of requests by other organizations for this film, we are having an early showing—probably 8:20 PM—to permit a second showing elsewhere in the City later this same evening…

“It was decided by the Board of Directors that no official action would be taken by the Club in regard to the changes in #36 bus schedule until and unless valid protests are received in sufficient number. We will need a number of sound objections to rebut the big reason for the curtailment of service—dollars and cents. Please phone Streets and Transportation Chairman Edward White with your views on this matter…

“I have received information…to the effect that at long last we may say goodbye to the “Shack” off Molimo Drive… The owner has contracted to have the edifice torn down within 2 weeks. Let us see!

“I hope everyone had a Happy Easter. How thankful we should be that we live in the beneficent shadow of the Cross—not the ominous shadow of the hammer and sickle!”

Excerpts from other articles:
“ ‘They said it couldn’t be done.’ But seeing is believing—the Scouts managed to change a Girl into a Boy Scout. Eleanor Mirabella finally made it at this last High Court of Honor. She was made a First Class Scout of the Boy Scouts of America. Her son, Michael, and Seth Samuels both made Eagle Scouts this month of March and were honored at a High Court of Honor dinner held on March 24 at the Community Church.”

“Billy Price, our 11-year-old carrier, fell for the fascination of a house under construction, and also fell 12 feet through a stairway. No stairs. He suffered a broken collar bone and was out of school a week. A steel brace was necessary for 8 weeks, but he is now looking forward to the baseball season. Good batting, Billy.”

Folk Dance News:
“Our group is having its usual amount of fun each Tuesday evening. We have been honored with the presence of several dancers from other dance groups lately. It is nice having you, and do come more often.

“Our teacher is really giving us a workout these days, putting the finishing touches to many new dances. What fun!”
“Teacher of slip cover and drapery making from your own material. $3.00 per lesson. For further information call …”

In 1959, annual dues for membership in the Miraloma Park Improvement Club were $2.00.

Make Some Music!

Upcoming Neighborhood Event Announcement

Are you a musician or a songwriter? Do you have a band? We are planning a neighborhood event for Saturday June 20th at Sunnyside Playground that will showcase the many musically talented residents of our neighborhoods and we want you to show your stuff!

The event will include all ages presenting solo recitals and acoustic or amplified ensembles in any style or tradition. Other musical groups will direct us in making a joyful noise with implements everyone brings: spoons, buckets, jugs, washboards, or even just hollow heads and puffy cheeks.

A segment will showcase original songs written for the event with special recognition for songs co-authored by kids and parents around the theme of what goes into and comes out of the three bins. Call it the BBG Song (Black, Blue & Green): Silly – Serious – Gross – Anything Goes!

We are seeking a graphic designer to design a poster for the event.  Contact Andrea O’Leary at Jultonedes@aol.com (or call 334-3601) or Jed Lane at Jed@JedLane.com to offer your talents or to be part of the planning.