Miraloma Life Online – April 2010

  • First Annual MPIC BBQ and Parking Lot Party
  • Miraloma Park Community Alert
  • Changes at Miraloma Elementary
  • Miraloma Elementary Annual Auction
  • March 11, 2010 Mt. Davidson Park Stabbing
  • A Marijuana “Grow” in Miraloma Park
  • Neighborhood Scams—Watch Out!
  • From the Legal Files: Dog Matters
  • Gitmo Diary: the Geneva Conventions Revisited
  • Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of March 4, 2010
  • Fool’s Luck
  • Keep Miraloma Park a Drug-Free Neighborhood!

First Annual MPIC BBQ and Parking Lot Party

by Joanne Whitney

Spring has sprung, and the party will begin at 12 noon and last until 5 pm on Saturday, April 17, at the MPIC Clubhouse and parking lot, 350 O’Shaughnessy at Del Vale. The MPIC welcomes you to its first annual barbeque featuring the juiciest, most scrumptious hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hot dogs on the planet with all the fixings. The food will be served up with soft drinks, wine, and the traditional keg of beer. We predict fun and games for all ages.

Live band music featuring 60s and 70s biggest hits is sure to set a cordial tone for this celebration of community spirit. Bring your dancing shoes—who knows when the spirit will hit!

The kids won’t be disappointed either. The younger ones can disappear into a spectacular jump house, and there will be plenty of other games to amuse them when they get too tired to take one more bounce on the house, and to keep heir older brothers and sisters occupied. If you have a favorite game at home for kids (and/or adults who are still kids in spirit), please bring it and we will look for room to set it up and play it.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and our friends from the Ingleside police station who keep our streets safe will attend to enjoy the festivities and meet you, their neighbors. The MPIC Safety Committee will have an informational area where they can provide you with hints on keeping your home and property safe, and members will be available for consultation. Representatives of Friends of the Urban Forest will answer any questions you may have about the greening of Miraloma Park. This is a unique opportunity to learn about which trees do best in our beautiful Miraloma Park environment while chowing down on a hamburger and quaffing a cold beer or soda.

The gathering is also an opportunity for you to shine because we are asking participants to please bring their favorite side dishes. Credit will be given at the event and in the May newsletter, so everyone will know that it was you who concocted that “delicious, can’t wait to get more of it” dish.

We want to thank our neighborhood store, Mollie Stone’s, which donated a number of the barbeque goodies.

This event is FREE AS THE BREEZE to residents of Miraloma Park. Though we welcome voluntary cash donations to defray costs and side dishes to share, the only requirements for admission are Miraloma Park residency and the desire to have a good time with your family and neighbors. The MPIC encourages you to make this a real neighborhood outing. Parking will be street only, as the parking lot will be filled with people having a good time, so please help one another with transportation. If you can, please walk to the Clubhouse. If you can’t walk, carpool. Ask your neighbors whether they need a ride.




Miraloma Park Community Alert

by Norman Nager, Judith Dauphinais, Faruq Ahmed, Jane Risk*

We are a concerned group of neighborhood residents who are trying to prevent the Miraloma Community Church building at 480 Teresita from becoming a cell-tower site. The building is owned by the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and has no congregation at present. RCA has signed a lucrative contract with T-Mobile to install eight flat panel antennas in the church steeple and five radio cabinets in the basement of the Church. Two other sites on church property are being considered as well.

T-Mobile representatives first informed us of these plans on Monday, February 22.. The Church had made no previous attempt to consult the members of this community and gain our support. We have collected more than 120 signatures on petitions opposing these plans, and we need many more. Here’s why we are concerned.

Possible Health Risk: There continues to be considerable debate and uncertainty within the scientific community as to the potential health effects to individuals, especially children, from exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic and radio-frequency (RF) radiation (1). Some adverse health effects show up immediately, but it can take 3 to 10 years or more for the longer-term effects of RF illness to appear, such as cancer. More research is needed to provide a definitive answer. We should not be forced to act as guinea pigs in a bio-effects experiment for the next 20 years (2).

Inadequate, outdated federal guidelines: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Guidelines have not been changed since 1997. The FCC is not a public health agency, and has been criticized as being “an arm of the industry.” The current U.S. standard for radiation exposure from cell phone towers is among the least protective in the world (2).

In 1996 the cell phone industry lobbied Congress with $39 million to pass a law that took away citizen’s rights to oppose cell towers based on health reasons (Section 704 of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996). San Francisco Supervisor David Campos has put forth a resolution that calls for the repeal of Section 704. A growing number of local governments throughout the country have passed similar resolutions. (More information is available at http://www.cloutnow.org/,)

More towers after this one: Once a cell tower is approved at this location, it becomes the “preferred site” for additional cell antennas. A law passed by the California State Legislature in 2006, S.B. 1627, would require that any additional antennas proposed for the Church be administratively approved by the Planning Department without a public hearing or possibility for denial.

Improper Zoning: Miraloma Church and its surrounding neighborhood is zoned RH-1: single-family residential. We value our neighborhood as a safe, community-oriented place to live and raise our children. We oppose using our neighborhood as the site of an installation originally approved only for industrial or mixed-use areas, an installation that emits low-intensity RF radiation 24/7. The cell phone tower at Miraloma Church will require a conditional use permit to bypass our residential zoning. Miraloma Community members need to protest issuance of this permit and take a strong stand to preserve the residential character of our neighborhood.

Effect on Property Values: The mere perception of a health risk can lower property values for those living near a cell site. City Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who lives directly behind the Church in the former minister’s house, was advised by the City Attorney to recuse himself from this controversy because of a possible conflict of interest since cell towers might lower his property value.

We object to the fact that no regional antenna plan exists. We urge our elected officials to protect the health and welfare of the citizens who live here, rather than big-money interests with profit as their bottom line (2).

What Can You Do?

1. Sign a petition to present to the RCA Board, the SF Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. Include your email address and telephone number so as to receive important future  updates.

2. Collect petition signatures on your block. Email stoptmobiletower@yahoo.com if you can help.

3. VERY IMPORTANT —Write letters to the decision-makers:

– Planning Commission, Recording Secretary Linda Avery: linda.avery@sfgov.org    
 1650 Mission Street, Fourth floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
– Case Planner (SF Planning Department) Adrian Putra: adrian.putra@sfgov.org  
 1650 Mission Street #400, San Francisco, CA 94103
– Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Angela Calvillo: board.of.supervisors@sfgov.org  
 1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244, San Francisco, CA 94102.

4. Attend the Planning Commission hearing (date to be announced).

5. We are also looking for neighborhood lawyers who are willing to take some time to look at the  rules and contracts.
6. Become informed. Check out the San Francisco Neighborhood Antenna-Free Union (SNAFU)  website at http://www.antennafreeunion.org/.


1. Resolution: Potential Health Impacts of Wireless Facilities.  Sponsors: Campos; Avalos, Chu and  Mar

2. Karen Rogers, Health Effects from Cell Phone Tower Radiation

*The views expressed in this article are those of the authors, and not necessarily of the MPIC Board.
  The Editor will consider publication of editorials with other views if such are submitted.


Changes at Miraloma Elementary

by September Jarrett

Change is afoot at your neighborhood school, Miraloma Elementary. This month we have embarked on a project to transform our landscaped grounds into a native plant garden. The goals of this school and community collaborative project are (1) to plant native, sustainable, low-water use plants; (2) to improve the aesthetics of our public spaces; and (3) to educate students, families, and neighbors about the opportunities and benefits a native plant approach for their yards.
Working together over the next few months, we will be removing non-native plants, installing native plants, building a rain-water collection system, and installing benches at the 36 Teresita bus stop at Myra and Omar.
Would you like to help beautify the neighborhood? Are you interested in learning about native plants? Would you like to meet people in your community? Please consider volunteering on one of our project work days. On Sunday, April 18 we will be removing plants and preparing the soil. On Sunday, May 1 we will be planting new plants. Volunteer a few hours or the whole day. Refreshements will be provided.
This project is one aspect of a major effort to create a robust environmental education program for students of Miraloma Elementary. The effort is lead by Allison Rothman Hall, a credentialed teacher and environmental expert. She has developed an earth-to-table curriculum that offers active, hands-on learning for students in many subjects, including science, nutrition, and writing. She led the successful effort to create an outdoor classroom and rainwater collection system along Myra Way last spring/summer.
Miraloma Elementary extends its thanks to the many supporters who are making this project possible, including the Miraloma Park Improvement Club, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, the San Francisco Unified School District, and the Community Challenge Grant Program of the City of San Francisco.
To volunteer for the work days or to learn more about the project, please contact Miraloma Elementary parent

September Jarrett at septemberjarrett@comcast.net or 334-2490.

Miraloma Elementary Annual Auction

The Miraloma Elementary School annual fundraising auction will take place on Saturday, April 24 at 5 pm at the historic Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa Street. There will be hundreds of exciting prizes to bid on, plus live music and appetizers. The silent auction starts at 5:30 pm and the live auction starts at 9 pm. Go to http://www.miralomasf.com/ for more information.


March 11, 2010 Mt. Davidson Park Stabbing

by Karen Wood

Many Miraloma Park residents are aware that on March 11, 2010 a stabbing that took place on the Rockdale Drive trailhead into Mt. Davidson Park. The victim, a young man who received multiple knife wounds to the abdomen, managed to reach St. Brendan’s school where emergency help was summoned. He was able to name his attacker and another young man present at the time of the attack. That afternoon, in the Outer Sunset, police arrested the two individuals named, one of whom is charged with attempted homicide. The MPIC is grateful to the Ingleside, Taraval, Park, and Narcotics officers who worked together to bring about this swift action. The investigation was led by Lt. Cherniss and the Investigations Team of Ingleside Station. (Information courtesy of Captain David Lazar.)
As a result of this crime, the MPIC learned that the Rockdale trailhead has been an ongoing and frequent source of serious problems for residents in its vicinity. Youths have established a pattern of congregating at that pathway to smoke marijuana and engage in other forms of unlawful activity, as witnessed by residents. The MPIC is working with Rockdale neighbors and with Ingleside Station to end this blight. Increased police presence in the area recently resulted in the arrest on the trailhead of two youths for possession of marijuana, and a comprehensive strategy has been put in place to address the root cause of the problem.


A Marijuana “Grow” in Miraloma Park

by Karen Wood

A Marijuana “grow” was discovered in Miraloma Park thanks to the work of Officers Oshita, Biggs, Scanlan, and Hyun from Taraval Station, who received information about this house on the 100 block of Marietta. On February 20, 2010, the officers seized 100 marijuana plants and additional bags of marijuana. (Please note that reporting of this seizure was delayed because this was an ongoing investigation.)

Marijuana grow houses threaten public safety. The greatest threat is the strong potential for fires due to the equipment required and increased energy output. If you suspect a marijuana grow house in your neighborhood, please telephone the police or, if you choose, leave a message on Ingleside Station’s anonymous tip line 1-800-crackit.


Neighborhood Scams—Watch Out!

From Captain Lazar’s Daily E-mail Report

This month, an elderly woman became a victim of theft. The suspect knocked on the victim’s door and told the victim that she was her neighbor and needed to call her husband because she was locked out. The elderly woman, not recognizing the suspect but believing her story, let her in. The suspect then asked for a drink of water, which the victim provided. Then the victim began to feel something wasn’t right, so she asked the suspect to leave. Minutes after the suspect left, the victim realized that her checkbook and cash were missing from her purse in the kitchen. Please be careful of these types of scams. Do not let anyone talk you into letting them into your home!

Door to Door Soliciting: Please be careful when encountering door-to-door sales people, including those selling magazines. Some such individuals may be using this activity to find out who is at home and what valuables are in the house—that is, to “case” your home for potential burglary. Residents must have a “No Solicitors” sign posted and visible in order for officers to issue a citation for door-to-door soliciting.

Internet Dangers: A member of our community reported that he saw an ad on Craigslist for a house for rent in the New Mission Terrace area. He contacted the person who placed the ad and was told to make a deposit on the house by wiring $600 to Nigeria. He wired the money to find out whether the house was actually for sale. The Realtor did not know the suspect who requested the money: it was all a scam. Be careful out there in Internet Land!

Census Do-s and Don’t-s: With the US Census process beginning, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises people to be cooperative, but cautious, in giving information to presumed census takers, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft. How can you tell the difference between a legitimate US Census worker and a fraudster or con artist? The BBB offers the following advice:

• If a US Census worker knocks on your door, he or she will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see his or her identification and badge before answering any questions. Never invite this person or anyone you don’t know into your home.

• Census workers are currently knocking on doors only to verify address information. Do not give your social security number, credit card number, or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the US Census. While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, it will not ask for social security, bank account, or credit card numbers, nor will its employees solicit donations.

• Eventually, Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail, or in person at home. However, they will not contact you by e-mail, so watch out for e-mail scammers impersonating the Census. Never click on a link or open any attachments in an e-mail supposedly from the US Census Bureau.
Note that the US Census Bureau has severed ties with ACORN, whose representatives will not participate in legitimately collecting census data. For more advice on avoiding identity theft and fraud, visit http://www.bbb.org/.


From the Legal Files: Dog Matters

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

If your dog misbehaves, it might be summoned to appear in Dog Court. Most San Franciscans have never heard of Dog Court. It is an administrative hearing concerning complaints of “vicious and dangerous” dogs. If your dog bites someone, the victim may file a complaint within 30 days and request a hearing with San Francisco Animal Care and Control. The Animal Bite Unit will review the request for a hearing. San Francisco Police Officer John Denny does an investigation of the victim and the dog. Then, under the San Francisco Health Code, Animal Care and Control might come to your house and take your dog away. Or it may give you a notice to show up to “Dog Court.” A dog owner is usually notified by mail about two weeks before the date of the hearing.

Originally, Dog Court was held in the Health Department. The Health Department had a mandate to check to see if a dog had rabies after it had bitten someone. If it had rabies, it would be quarantined. Now, Dog Court is located in Room 408 in San Francisco City Hall. San Francisco Police Sergeant William Herndon conducts the hearings. Animal Care and Control send a representative to the hearing and may make a report. The owner can present oral and written testimony with or without a lawyer. Then Sergeant Herndon will review officer Denny’s report, Animal Care and Control’s report, and the owner’s testimony. He has broad latitude regarding the dog. His decision is final and is usually made within two weeks of the hearing.

Sergeant Herndon’s decision can range from a citation requiring that the dog be leashed, spayed, or neutered, to registration of the dog as “vicious and dangerous.” If your dog is declared vicious and dangerous, various rules under the Health Code must be followed. These include supplying two photographs of your dog to Animal Care and Control, having a sign displayed in your window (capable of being seen from the street) giving warning that a vicious and dangerous dog is on the premises, and having your dog securely confined either indoors or outdoors. If these and other rules are violated, Animal Care and Control can come to your home and seize your dog. Sergeant Herndon may also order you and your dog to attend obedience school. If he determines that your dog is vicious and dangerous and the health, safety and welfare of the community are not addressed by the above requirements, he could order your dog destroyed.

Sergeant Herndon said he does not consider any dog to be bad. Although some pit bulls have bitten people, recently a different breed of unleashed dog bit an elderly woman in a Nob Hill park while she was walking her leashed dog. He believes that people do not always report incidents to Animal Care and Control after they have been bitten, and encourages them to do so, as well as to report bites to their dog or cat.

Gitmo Diary: the Geneva Conventions Revisited

By Jim O’Donnell

Closing Guantanamo Bay prison was one of Obama’s major campaign promises in 2008. The issue is still unresolved two years later and probably will not move any closer to resolution for the foreseeable future for reasons far beyond the control of any individual administration.

The problem began during 2001, when instead of directing special teams to hunt down 9/11 villain Osama bin Laden in the Tora Bora region, the Bush Administration decided on a major military campaign against the entire country of Afghanistan. This produced a significant number of prisoners of war. The United States is a signatory of the 1949 Geneva Convention that spelled out the rules for warfare and the treatment of prisoners in the post-World War II world. Unfortunately, declarations of war, which had played a major role in international law, have not been used after World War II: the US has made none since the end of that war. Thus, the 1949 accords at Geneva were obsolete from the beginning. The Convention’s terms and conditions are available on line, and it is eye-opening to compare the actual language to how the conventions are referred to by the media and government agencies such as the Department of Justice.

John Ashcroft, as US Attorney General used, the term “unlawful combatants” in his first press conference after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The term is still being used today by Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General, in reference to the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. Nonetheless, neither Attorney General had or has the right to refer to anyone as an “unlawful combatant.” The capturing power, according to the Geneva Convention, has the right to declare a combatant “legal.” There is then a laundry list of rules for treating such a prisoner, and the use of torture is proscribed, if not clearly defined. However, the capturing power does not have the right to declare a prisoner “unlawful or illegal.” If prisoners do not qualify as legal combatants under the convention rules, then an international commission must be appointed to determine the prisoners’ status. This stipulation was a change from the rules during World War II, when the capturing power could shoot illegal combatants out of hand, which often happened when soldiers were captured wearing the uniform of the capturing power or suspected of espionage.

The US, instead of quickly determining the status of the prisoners as combatants, has left the issue unresolved. In 2007, the Joint Chiefs of Staff finally decided to appoint its own commission to determine the status of the prisoners. However, most of the military legal officers appointed promptly resigned from the commission because they could not declare the prisoners unlawful, and if they were declared lawful, they could be held indefinitely from then on, because release depends on cessation of hostilities, which never officially happens anymore because there has been no formal declaration of war. In June,2008, the commission completed prisoner review and declared most of the prisoners legal combatants, leaving the status of a few as yet undetermined.

A change of venue, such as moving the prisoners to the continental US, would not alter the legal quandary with respect to the prisoners. Until the Geneva Convention by-laws are reformed to reflect the realities of a 21st Century battlefield, expect a lot more entries in the Gitmo Diary.

Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of March 4, 2010

by Kathy Rawlins and Dan Liberthson

A quorum of the Board was present.

Neighbor presentation: Norm Nager and other Miraloma Park neighbors gave an informational presentation regarding their concerns about the proposed T-Mobile cell tower installation at the 480 Teresita Church site (see article in this issue). The validity of the contract, the issue of zoning, obtaining legal council, the potential health impacts, how other neighborhoods have dealt with similar proposals (and in some cases stopped them), and future meetings at the Clubhouse to further explore this issue were discussed. The neighbors plan to contact the Church about their concerns and the Board expressed willingness to help them navigate the Planning Department bureaucracy with respect to this application. Due to time limitations, discussion by the Board was to continue on-line.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd Visit: Sup. Elsbernd discussed the Mayor’s plan to lay off and then rehire for fewer work hours 20,000 City workers in order to save about $50-$60 million. The unions may fight this proposal. Supervisor Elsbernd is on the Budget committee with John Avalos, David Campos, and Sophie Maxwell. Six thousand Police, Fire, Sheriff, and Muni drivers will be exempt from the layoffs and so will be asked to contribute by taking a 6.25% voluntary pay cut. On the June Ballot will be an initiative to modify the pension plan for Fire & Police by basing payments on “best income over 24 months” (vs 12 months, the present situation). Muni plans to cut costs 10% by limiting service to some areas. Muni drivers are asking for a collective $8 million raise. The Libraries Initiative has a clause that guarantees no closures. Parks are facing a $12.5 million cut unless they can find a way to increase revenues, such as a proposal to charge $7 admission to Strybring Arboreteum for non-residents. An Earthquake Bond will aim to rebuild fire stations; the primary purpose will be to create an auxiliary water system and fix some cisterns. A Voluntary Retrofit Bill will target ‘soft’ (unreinforced masonry) buildings by providing owners incentives to retrofit. ADA compliance will be needed. On June 26, Laguna Honda Hospital will reopen with a capacity of 780 patients. Democratic Central Committee elections are also coming up.

Events: The April 17 Barbecue was discussed. A jump-house will be rented and alcohol offered inside the Clubhouse to adults only. A recommendation to acquire alcohol-serving insurance for event was accepted, and an event budget of up to $1100 was set.

Other: Time constraints necessitated postponing all other agenda items until the next Board meeting.


Fool’s Luck

Tremendous crackling in the branches:
wild turkey, tail askew, teeters on a limb
barely thick enough to hold it, maybe not—
so precarious yet so certain,
pompous and riotous as a clown,
blind to the coyote’s tracking eye.

Stuttering cries: another heaves into sight,
ungainly mate or brother crashing on
the same encumbered route one wing-
beat from disaster but somehow rising
to tear through the woods’ net
and come safe home.

©2010 by Dan Liberthson, from his poetry book
Animal Songs due out in May (see liberthson.com).



Keep Miraloma Park a Drug-Free Neighborhood!

Cumulatively, the following conditions may indicate a marijuana-growing operation:

• the strong odor of marijuana coming from a residence;
• the presence of industrial lighting, fans, and other equipment;
• suspicious activity at the residence;
• unusual power cords or power lines from the residence to an external power source indicating illegal bypass of electrical power sources;
• the sounds of fans or humming noise (indicating fans or special lighting equipment);
• the building of structures inside of the residence;
• a fire that was extinguished by the occupants of the residence rather than by SFFD.

If you observe these indicators, please report your concerns to the SFPD at 553-0123. Reports may be made anonymously. You can help to keep Miraloma Park safe and crime-free.