Miraloma Life Online – April 2014

  • April Miraloma Life (PDF version)
  • Dealing With San Francisco Housing Needs
  • Five Smart Strategies to Save for College
  • Summary of MPIC Board Meeting Minutes of March 6, 2014
  • What’s Growing in Our Backyards?
  • Report on Commonwealth Club Lecture: “Conciliation Biology”
  • Alien-Like Worm Found in Cats
  • Caveat Emptor
  • Spring on the Mountain
  • How to be a Helpful and Responsible Neighbor*

Dealing With San Francisco Housing Needs

by District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee

It is no secret that San Francisco is facing a housing crunch as evident with skyrocketing rents and fewer affordable opportunities for first-time homeowners. The City has had a long history of having more people wanting to live here than there are housing units, which makes it very challenging to accommodate this demand. The key question now is: how do we accommodate growth while respecting our neighborhoods and our general plan?

At the Board of Supervisors, there are many discussions about how to secure more housing stock and how to keep existing properties affordable. One of the recommendations is legalizing in-law units as part of the solution to the housing crisis. I do support the general concept of in-law units to allow extended family members to live together. However, I also feel that neighborhoods should have a voice in determining if in-law units should be allowed in their area, especially those neighborhoods that have existing formal CC&Rs.*

Today’s debate about in-laws is centered on two local proposals, one that is being authored by Supervisor David Chiu and the other authored by Supervisor Scott Wiener. I would like to take time to address Supervisor Chiu’s proposal as it could have immediate impacts on District 7 while Supervisor Wiener’s is more specific his district. While I do like the fact that Supervisor Chiu’s legislation would make some in-law units safer by requiring them to follow building code standards, my concerns are centered on the one-size-fits-all nature of the legislation. The legislation would allow in-law units to be legalized citywide across all zoning districts, no matter when the unit was built and no matter what the neighborhood wants or needs. I cannot support such a far-reaching change that doesn’t respect decades of our best thinking around zoning and neighborhood preservation. I don’t believe that this is the proper solution. What I would like to see is more affordable housing opportunities and the ability for families to be able to stay in San Francisco, but not at the expense of our existing neighborhoods.

While District 7 will not see the level of growth as other areas of our city, there are still several housing projects in the pipeline. In the Oceanview Merced and Ingleside neighborhood, about 30 units are being built at Ocean Avenue and Lee Street, in addition to several other housing projects being proposed for the corridor. We hope to see more housing opportunities that are in line with our community needs.

We welcome further dialogue on how we can address this housing crisis while respecting every neighborhood’s character. Please contact us at YeeStaff@sfgov.org or 415-554-6521 to share your thoughts.

*Editor’s Note: CC&Rs are Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions governing property ownership in neighborhoods or subdivisions, often attached to the deed. Supervisor Yee’s suggestion that especially neighborhoods with existing formal CC&Rs should have a voice in decisions about legalizing illegal units is problematical for Miraloma Park, as the neighborhood has multiple subdivisions, each with different CC&Rs (though there are common elements), as well as an area that is not a subdivision and has no CC&Rs. Some other RH-1 (single-family zoned) neighborhoods in District 7 could present similar challenges if CC&Rs are to be a criterion in ranking how much input and choice a neighborhood would get. It is possible that by CC&Rs Mr. Yee means homeowner organizations with legally enforceable limits on neighborhood homes. Note that the MPIC (founded in the late 1930s), while not a homeowner organization, has for many decades defended our neighborhood’s single family zoning and residential character, which we consider a boon to residents both in terms of housing value and quality of life, as well as a promise made by the City of San Francisco to homeowners in our neighborhood.

In our letter to the supervisors about Mr. Chiu’s plan, sent on Nov. 21 of last year, the MPIC Board stated that we could support Mr. Chiu’s proposal “only if it excluded the legalization of illegal units in RH-1 areas.” Otherwise, “Supervisor Chiu’s proposed legislation would be a direct attack on the character of the City’s RH-1 neighborhoods and on the value of single-family homes, and will result in overcrowding, traffic congestion, and the other attendant ills of in-fill housing.” We maintain that permitting or facilitating legalization of illegal units would constitute “a violation of the zoning covenant between the City and RH-1 homeowners that promises them single-family zoning status.” We ask for Supervisor Yee’s support in protecting Miraloma Park’s singlefamily zoning.

*** Update: As we go to press, the Planning Commission has already approved Supervisor Chiu’s legislation; it will come before the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee on 3/24 and then, if sent on, before the full Board. We will press the supervisors to exclude RH-1 zoning from the legislation, and we urge all residents to submit communications to this effect.


Five Smart Strategies to Save for College

by Bill Kan, CFA

Paying for college is a big investment. The keys to success when saving for college are to start early and to take advantage of tax breaks. If you have kids who attend UC Davis and Columbia, as my wife and I did, you will be staring at bills of $33,000 and $64,000, respectively, for the 2013-2014 school year. Over 4 years, you would be looking at more than $132,000 for Davis and $256,000 for Columbia in today’s dollars. If your kids will not attend college for another 10 years, the cost will increase by 63%, assuming tuition and living expenses increase 5% a year. Not pretty. Somewhat comforting is that families generally do not cover the entire bill. According to the College Board, grants cover an average of 40% of the costs. Families are responsible for the remaining 60% through savings, income and loans. Parental savings are generally more beneficial to families than student savings when applying for financial aid.

Saving early is essential so that investments can take advantage of the time value of money. Even if you didn’t start early, saving something is better than nothing. This article highlights five smart financial strategies to save by taking advantage of tax breaks to help savings grow. How appropriate each one is depends on your preferences, financial circumstances, and tax situation. The strategies should be reviewed with your tax advisor and, as always, investment involves risk and is subject to loss.

1. 529 Plans—Tax Deferral & Exemption, No Income Limit on Contributions

529 plans were created in 1996, when Congress enacted Section 529 of the IRS code to encourage people to save for college. 529 accounts are “tax smart” because contributions grow tax-deferred and distributions from investment earnings are tax-exempt if used for qualified education expenses: college tuition, room and board, mandatory fees, and other items. Distributions not used for qualified education expenses are subject to penalty. It is very important to know what a qualified expense is before disbursements from 529s are made in order to prevent penalties. Some states (not California) offer other tax benefits for contributions, such as tax deductions. 529 plans are also smart in other ways. Because these plans are not subject to income limits, parents (or other generous people) can make sizable contributions to prefund college or to catch up on their savings while also enjoying the tax benefits. Contributions for 2014 can be up to $14,000 ($28,000 for a married couple). 529s can be useful for estate planning. Under a special election, gifts to 529 plans can be as much as $140,000 at one time ($280,000 for a married couple). If Granny, for example, had already set aside money for little Johnny and Mary’s college, a gift to their 529s may allow the funds to grow faster while also reducing taxes on Granny’s estate. Unused balances are not lost because they can be rolled over to another beneficiary.

Almost every state has a 529 plan and some states sponsor multiple plans. Investment choices are usually mutual funds and vary from program to program. The programs also differ in terms of fees, the cost of the investments, service, contribution limits, etc. It is worth shopping around when considering 529 programs. Despite the tax benefits, some people consider the downsides to be the penalties if the funds in 529 accounts are not used for qualified education expenses and the lack of investment choices.

2. Coverdell ESA—Tax Deferral and Exemption and More Choices

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), formerly known as education IRAs, are similar to 529 plans but offer more investment options. Like 529 plans, contributions to ESAs grow tax-deferred and distributions from investment earnings are tax-exempt if used for qualified education expenses. Distributions not used for qualified education expenses are also subject to penalty. Unlike 529 accounts, the list of qualified education expenses for ESAs is more expansive. It includes, in addition to college, tuition for private elementary and high school. Financial institutions such as banks and brokerages offer ESAs as opposed to state sponsored programs for 529s. The choices of investment options for ESAs are much broader than under 529 programs. The downsides, in my opinion, are that contributions are subject to income limits and are limited to a maximum of $2,000 annually.

3. Custodial Accounts—UGMA/UTMA: Kiddie Tax Rate and More Choices

Earnings in custodial accounts have the benefit of being tax exempt or taxed at a child’s lower tax rate up to certain income limits. Custodial accounts are usually listed as Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) accounts or Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts. Often, a parent or grandparent will act as custodian on the account, making investment decisions on behalf of the child until the child reaches the age of majority. Unlike 529s, financial institutions offer custodial accounts, which can hold a broad range of investments. Also, funds in ESAs are not earmarked solely for education and can be used for other purposes without penalty. A big downside is that custodial accounts are considered an asset of the student, which is generally less preferable when applying for financial aid.

4. Savings Bonds—Tax Exemption

Interest earned on Series EE and I Savings Bonds may be tax-free if used for qualified higher education expenses.  However, income limits dictate how much is tax-free when used for these expenses. Interest, nonetheless, is exempt from state and local taxes. Savings bonds can be purchased directly from the US Treasury and are backed by the US Government. As such, savings bonds are viewed as less risky and thus have lower expected returns. An individual may buy annually up to $10,000 per series of savings bonds. If savings bonds are held in the name of the parent, they are considered an asset of the parent, which is preferable when applying for financial aid.

5. Roth IRA—Exemption from Early Withdrawal Penalty, Financial Aid Shelter

Roth IRAs are retirement savings accounts with special allowances for education expenses. Withdrawals made from ROTH IRA accounts before age 59 ½ are exempt from the 10% pre-mature penalty if they are used to pay for qualified education expenses. As noted above for 529s and ESAs, it is important to review the terms defining qualified education expenses to prevent penalties. Unused balances can be left in the account for retirement or other allowances under IRS guidelines. In 2014, annual contributions to Roth IRAs are limited to $5,500 per individual ($6,500 if over age 50) subject to income limits. Roth IRA balances are sheltered in financial aid analyses, but withdrawals from IRAs may be considered income and can affect the needs-based analysis in the following year.

Starting early on saving for college is best, but a late start is better than none. The five tax strategies discussed above can help in either case, and they can be used in combination with one another.


Summary of MPIC Board Meeting Minutes of March 6, 2014

by Dan Liberthson and Carl Schick

Treasurer’s Report (T Sauvain): The MPIC’s net worth at the end of January was actually $2130 lower than reported in last month’s newsletter, at $20,808, because of outstanding checks (including $1980 to Gutter Busters for their work on the Clubhouse). During February, our net worth increased by $6365 to $27,172. February rental income was $406, vs $3040 in January.

We received $3704 in membership dues. Atypical expenses included $1000 to San Franciscans for Livable Neighborhoods to support legal defense with respect to their challenge to the EIR for 2004/2009 Housing Element and $55 for our annual taxes. Tax returns were submitted in February. The Reserve Account total is now $14,448.

Committees: Membership (R Gee)—As of 2/28/14, we had 485 members. In February 5 new members joined, 41 renewed current memberships, 3 contributed $50 each, and 1 commented “I really enjoy your newsletter.” Streets and Transportation (K Breslin)—D Homsey mentioned that legislation for stop signs and crosswalks in Miraloma Park and elsewhere could happen in May. Clubhouse Maintenance (K Rawlins)—As the current Clubhouse kitchen stove is malfunctioning, K Rawlins moved to allocate up to $1800 to purchase a new kitchen range with hood for Clubhouse kitchen, with 2-year warrantee (passed). Planning (T Armour)—Communication received from resident asking for help with neighbors participating in Airbnb, effectively subletting rooms in their homes temporarily to visitors, increasing traffic and noise. This would qualify as an illegal in-law apartment only if a second stove were present in the home.

Question whether it would be prohibited as a business in a residentially zoned area to be further investigated. R Gee will seek a volunteer member to help with reporting Planning and Building code violations and requesting enforcement. Safety (Committee)—An illegal encampment on Mt. Davidson has been cleared out. The Board is working with SFPD on abating a drug house in the neighborhood. Police are considering citing youths who continue to trespass on private property in the Portola- Teresita area. Events (S Chu)—MPIC Spring Fling Fiesta planned for Saturday, May 17, 3-6 pm, with taco truck and bouncy house. Proposed for the Thurs, Jun 19 MPIC election, one or more local authors to talk about SF history.

Community Organizations: Coalition for SF Neighborhoods (T Armour)—Debate about pros and cons of the 8 Washington high-rise and proposed Warrior Stadium proposal. There is talk of adding high rises West of Van Ness Blvd. West of Twin Peaks Central Council (K Breslin)—Representative from Phil Ting’s office discussed bike lanes pro and con. SF-PUC will raise rates to pay for infrastructure work. Forest Knolls wants to retain current 36 Teresita bus service.

Old Business: Supervisor Yee is advocating for funding to fix the Miraloma Playground—we should know in May if funding is approved by Recreation and Park.

New Business: R Gee seeks suggestions for budget item proposals for the District 7 Participatory Budget. J Whitney moved to write a letter to CVS thanking them for deciding not to sell cigarettes anymore (passed).


What’s Growing in Our Backyards?

by Denise Louie

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22. I treat every day like Earth Day by tending my native plants, conserving resources, and minimizing my footprint on the Earth. I also enjoy attending local Earth Day events at Civic Center and City College. The California Floristic Province, which comprises most of California and parts of Oregon and Baja, is a biodiversity hotspot, with 3,500 native plant species, 61% of which live nowhere else. An easy way to start learning about plants that naturally grow in California without human interference is to join the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Garden Tour on Sunday, April 27. Visit http://www.cnps-yerbabuena.org/gardens/annual_garden_ tour.html to see the backyard gardens open to the public on this tour, including a few within walking distance of Miraloma Park.

A garden to visit all year long is the award-winning Arthur Menzies Garden of CA Native Plants in the SF Botanical Garden (aka Strybing Arboretum). CNPS native plant experts will lead a tour there on May 1, 2014 at 5:30 pm; bring your own dinner and meet in the parking lot at Lincoln/10th Ave.

City College has two native plant gardens. In one, each type of native plant is labeled. The other is a demonstration
garden in a more natural setting. Find them on the east side of the Science Building at 50 Phelan. If we collectively appreciate diversity of life and recognize our responsibility to support this diversity for future generations, then we should take action to prevent local extinctions on our watch. “Plant a succession of blooms for your native garden! Winter: Silk-tassel bush & Ceanothus; Spring: Fremontodendron & Lupines; Summer: Buckwheats, Sages & Poppies; Fall: Lizardtail, bunch grasses & Yarrow” (quoted from SF-PUC’s 2014 calendar). Birds, bees and butterflies exemplify the diversity of wildlife that will appreciate a variety of native plants blooming at different times of the year in our backyards.

You can read about the SF Department of the Environment’s biodiversity program at http://www.sfenvironment.
org/article/biodiversity-in-the-city/biodiversityprogram-summary. Their mission is to “conserve the biodiversity, habitats and ecological integrity of San Francisco’s natural environment, in wildlands and in the urban environment, and to connect San Franciscans to their nearby nature.” We can support the City’s biodiversity mission in our own backyards.

Local native trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers are explained by Arvind Kumar, former president of the CNPS peninsula and South Bay chapters. See his presentation and recommended reading list at http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=Qv6b6dbgsZI&feature=youtu.be. Arvind says toyon should be our State shrub. It is beautiful all year long, provides food for wildlife in winter when there’s not much else, and can live 450 years! Once established, Toyon does well in Miraloma Park backyards, provided we don’t water it in the summer.


Report on Commonwealth Club Lecture: “Conciliation Biology”

On Jan 30, Dr. Scott Carroll, Founding Director of the Institute for Contemporary Evolution (affiliated with UC Davis), spoke at the SF Commonwealth Club on Conciliation Biology: An Approach to Conservation that Reconciles Past, Present and Future Landscapes in Nature. He explained that, ever since the nautical explorations of the 1700s, the percentage of wildland areas in the world has been drastically reduced. Ships brought exotic plants and animals that decimated local populations of native plants and animals. Most surviving true wild lands occur only near the polar regions.

As in almost all of the world’s ecosystems today, we in the Bay Area live in a “permanently invaded biotic system.” A plant or animal is arbitrarily considered invasive if it is introduced by humans, it has naturalized (can reproduce naturally without human intervention), and it either is, or is doing, something we don’t like. This last is crucial, because it depends on defining who we are. Invasive plants such as large palm or eucalyptus trees commonly become loved and accepted by the public, and, culturally speaking, no longer invasive by the above definition. (Consider the trees of Golden Gate Park.)

Dr. Carroll listed three major problems with trying to turn back the clock and eradicate invasive plants or animals: eradication efforts are very expensive because the invasive organisms will keep coming back; eradication efforts disrupt an already established ecosystem and may have negative consequences such as killing unintended targets; and application of pesticides is futile and highly toxic to the public. The so-called invasive plants will resprout, and those that do, will have mutated to be resistant to the pesticides used. This is how evolution works.

Dr. Carroll contends that eucalyptus trees provide environmental beauty and are no more a fire threat than other trees. In dry areas possibly vulnerable to fire, park funds should be spent on clearing out eucalyptus leaf litter rather than spraying pesticides. He noted that native plants require intensive care and watering and are most suitable for small-scale settings like private yards or small sections of parkland where they can be cared for intensively and watered during dry periods.

Another Commonwealth Club lecture on ecologic issues relevant to our parks is scheduled: The History, Ecology and Future of Eucalyptus Plantations in the Bay Area by Dr. Joseph R. McBride, Professor of Urban Forestry, UC Berkeley on Apr 9 at noon (admission is $8 for members; $20 for non-members) This lecture is at the SF Commonwealth Club Office, 595 Market St.; to register visit http://www.commonwealthclub.org or call 415-597-6705.


Alien-Like Worm Found in Cats

by Dan Liberthson

As if threats from vehicles, coyotes, raccoons, dogs, poisons, and other cats weren’t enough, now you have another reason to make your pet an in-door cat. A worm that can burst forth from its host’s body, just like the extraterrestrial menace in the movie Alien, has been found for the first time in cats. Dracunculus insignis—a parasite that infects hosts via dirty drinking water— was isolated from two felines, according to a report in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (Feb 2014, vol. 16, no. 2, 194-197). Typically found in raccoons, D insignis grows up to a foot long. It can form a bulge in an animal’s leg and slowly break out through the skin. Veterinarians recommend keeping cats indoors to protect them from drinking unsafe water.


Caveat Emptor

by Gary Nogura

Are you, like me, afflicted with “Egg Confusion”? Since Miraloma Park has many health-conscious and animal loving  residents, I want to share my research about what the terminology in egg labels actually means.

In Traditional Egg farming or CAFO (confined animal farming operation), hens are confined in indoor cages or pens, often so crowded that they lack room to move or even stretch their wings. These “regular eggs” are what you get if nothing else is indicated on the label. Cage Free hens, like CAFO hens, are confined indoors, but have more room.

Free Range is a term often interpreted to mean that the hens live outdoors to roam and feed freely. Actually, USDA rules state that as long as the hens are allowed access to free roaming for a short time every day, their eggs may be labeled “Free Range.” Many “Free Range” hens are still confined in pens, and are raised in essentially the CAFO or “cage free” model. One supermarket chain well known to Miraloma Park residents sells Organic Eggs labeled “Free Range” and also states on the front of the box that they are “Certified Humane.” But the fine print reads “meets the Humane Animal Care Program standards, which includes nutritious diet without antibiotics, animals raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space and the ability to engage in natural behaviors.” The language is carefully worded, and does not state that the hens are always free to roam. The same box is further labeled “the hens are free ranging with access to the outdoors, shade, fresh air, and direct sunlight. They receive fresh water and exercise areas…”

Pasture Raised eggs are actually what many of us think of when “Free Range” is used on the labeling. These hens live outdoors in fields and have access to shelter. This type of egg is the most difficult to find and, of course, the most expensive.

None of the above terms relates to the term Organic, which refers not to the animals’ living space but rather to their diet (organic feed, from sources not treated with chemical pesticides or fertilizers), and is only assured if the box of eggs is labeled Certified Organic. Organic eggs usually come from chickens given no hormones or prophylactic antibiotics (to prevent infection), and fed an organic diet, i.e., feed not treated with chemical pesticide or fertilizer.

Brown eggs and white eggs are essentially the same. The color of the egg is determined by the color of the hen’s feathers. The flavor of an egg is determined by what the hen eats.


Spring on the Mountain

by Kathy Rawlins

The very sunny and warm weather followed by recent rains has brought with it a profound Spring feeling in the depths (or, this year, “shallows”) of winter. Take a walk around the streets of our neighborhood and up on the mountain, and you will find many flowering and budding plants and trees to please your eye while the cardiovascular exercise improves your body. Footsteps of Spring, small patches of yellow flowers, are on display along the mountain paths in the treeless north and east areas, as are the many native currants, with pink and white blooms on tall bushes. Native Douglas iris are starting to bloom.

The many birds on our mountain are starting to court before they nest. On early morning walks, you can see the crows calling out and careening on the breezes as they choose their mates. The mourning doves coo loudly as they look for sheltered nesting areas. A pair of doves built a nest under the eaves of the MPIC Clubhouse during the past few years, but not yet this year, so far. Anna’s hummingbirds are actively courting and you can see the males chasing each other around, each trying to keep the females for himself. The owls and hawks start courting in late February and early March, and their fledglings will appear in April and May. It will be interesting to see if the usual owl pair nests in the large eucalyptus near the recreation building in Glen Canyon with all the renovation going on there. The website sfbirds@yahoo.com reports the latest bird sightings in the Bay area.

The world is a smorgasbord for the senses, so take advantage of this Spring: get outside, go for a walk, and entertain your eyes, ears, nose, and skin.


How to be a Helpful and Responsible Neighbor*

Especially around Miraloma Elementary, people commonly leave dog turds, as many as four on a recent day. I have had to do the job the responsible dog owner should do: put the waste in a plastic bag and take it away to my garbage can. Dog owners who do not do this, or who bag the dog turds and then leave the bag (particularly common on Mt. Davidson trails), are just passing on the labor to their neighbors. Who else do they think cleans up? DON’T DEVALUE OUR NEIGHBORHOOD BY DOG CARE NEGLIGENCE. BAG IT AND TAKE IT AWAY!!!
* * *
In our sometimes windy neighborhood, trash cans often blow over, allowing trash to escape from disposal bins onto the street, or this happens during pickup by disposal trucks. When trash spills, please take the time to clean it up thoroughly so that it doesn’t invade neighboring yards, persistently clutter the streets, or get ground into the roadway. Trash and garbage on the streets and sidewalks is not attractive. The more attractive our neighborhood, the more our homes are worth, and the more we will enjoy them. Be considerate of your neighbors and do yourself a favor—if trash falls out, pick it up.
* * *
Lately we’ve heard a lot about the escalating rate of vehicle-pedestrian collisions and serious injuries or mortality resulting from them. There is a tendency to blame this on reckless driving: going too fast, jumping stop signs, intoxication, and running red lights. But pedestrians are sometimes to blame for assuming that car drivers can see them and stop no matter what they do, like jaywalking or wearing dark colors at night. Sober, careful drivers can get distracted when too much vies for their attention, their view of the pedestrian is blocked, or they simply can’t see the pedestrian because he or she is wearing dark clothing at night or because sun or headlight glare temporarily blinds the driver. Older, perfectly competent drivers are more vulnerable to sun and headlight glare than younger ones, and may be less quick in processing multiple stimuli. Many pedestrians seem not to realize this, and assume that simply because they are in the crosswalk they don’t have to watch out for the driver who might innocently miss seeing them. For example, recently I was turning left at night from Portola Blvd onto Fowler Ave. As I entered the turn, a car in front of me turned left into the parking area in front of Tower Market while another suddenly emerged from the parking lot to the right in front of CVS Drugstore and turned right in front of me onto Fowler. Meanwhile, a third car waited facing west on Fowler, its headlights glaring. Dealing with all these distractions, I proceeded at a slow pace, and was then shocked to find that just as I entered the crosswalk a pedestrian materialized crossing from my left, only a few feet away, and rendered invisible to me (and to my wife): hidden at first by the turning cars, then by the headlight glare of the car facing him (and me), and finally by his dark clothing. I continued, as I was too far into the crosswalk to stop, and the pedestrian stopped a couple of feet before he would have passed in front of my car or bumped into it. He yelled at me to a choice obscenity. Yet, by assuming I could see him, he was, to my mind, partly responsible for the near-miss.

When you are walking, you have a responsibility to protect yourself; it’s not all on drivers. Like all humans, drivers are limited and may make mistakes. Be vigilant, try to wear light colors when walking at night, think about the hindrances and distractions drivers may face, and do not think that you are infallible simply because you are in a crosswalk, have glanced quickly before crossing an area through which cars may drive, or have the right of way. This is especially important in adverse visual conditions: sun glare, fog, rain, darkness, and headlight glare. Above all, pay attention! Don’t be buried
in your cell phone, I-pad, or private ruminations in any situation in which you might be approached by a vehicle (or, let me add, by a thief). Drivers need to be as vigilant and careful as they can be, but so do pedestrians! Once you’re seriously hurt or killed by a car, it won’t do you any good that you were in a crosswalk or had the right of way or that the driver “should have seen you.” He or she, through no fault other than not being perfect, might not see you, and you need always to keep that in mind.

*These suggestions were contributed by Miraloma Park residents. We welcome additional submissions from readers for this ongoing column.