Miraloma Life Online – December 2012

  • PDF Version – December Miraloma Life
  • From the President’s Corner
  • Endangered Manzanita on Mt. Davidson
  • Bench Replaced on Mt. Davidson
  • About the Beach Chalet Soccer Field Renovations
  • From the MPIC Safety Committee: A Wake Up Call
  • Summary of MPIC Board Meeting on November 1, 2012
  • Poems of the True Holiday Spirit
  • How to Be a Helpful and Responsible Neighbor
  • Upcoming Ruth Asawa SOTA Events

From the President’s Corner

by Robert Gee

Happy December to everyone. The Holiday Season is fast approaching. It seems like yesterday when the sun set later in the evening. I’m Robert Gee and I am your new Miraloma Park Improvement Club (MPIC) President for the next two years. I succeed Karen Breslin who did a fantastic job. Thank you Karen for all your work. The MPIC and the community greatly appreciate it.

A little about myself: I have lived all my life in San Francisco. I attended elementary, high school (go Sacred Heart Irish), as well as college in San Francisco. I have worked at the Civic Center for the last 30 years. It wasn’t until 1998 that my wife, daughter, and I discovered the 2000+ single-family home neighborhood on the winding streets along Mt Davidson known as Miraloma Park. I had never heard of Miraloma Park or ever stepped foot here until we were house hunting. Our first impressions: this was a quiet oasis in the city with a wonderful diversity of people. But we weren’t alone in looking. I still remember making offers on houses with 40+ other bidders. It was an unbelievable time, but after a few offers we were successful.

Many of you have probably seen me doing my training runs around the neighborhood or riding my mid-lifecrisis, aero-wheel-equipped racing bike up and down all of our wonderful hills with my face clearly showing some discomfort. The hills of Miraloma Park are a great training ground. If you are in front of your house when I cruise by, I’ll be sure to say hi just to let you know I’m not a suspicious individual casing houses. Yes—I do make full stops at the stop signs!

It wasn’t until 2007, almost 9 years after moving into the neighborhood, that I started to pay attention to what the MPIC was doing. Until then, I had too many things going on with work, family, and my daughter’s activities to do more than skim the monthly Miraloma Life. During a social event at a friend’s house nearby, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet some of the MPIC board members. I learned about all that was going on in the neighborhood, the many different issues and dynamics and the interaction with city government that was taking place. It wasn’t long after that when I got hooked and wanted to become more involved. I was at a point in my life of wanting to contribute more to our community and intrigued about all the different issues that I’d been so ignorant of.

I joined the MPIC Board in 2007. After living in SF all my life, I’ve now realized how I took so much for granted and knew little of the many and intricate ways in which our city government impacts us. These include police and fire services, parks, Muni, road repair, traffic, public schools, street lighting, tree planting, graffiti abatement, disaster preparedness, and neighborhood zoning preservation. Most importantly, I learned that our neighborhood is great because of neighbors like yourself who really care and take the time and effort to speak up, watch out for each other, and take the necessary action when something isn’t right. This is a community where I think my wife and I will retire, though that is many years away.

Your current MPIC Board consists o  14 members. You can see the names of your Board Members at the back of this n ewsletter. They all live in this neighborhood and volunteer their valuable time to work on the issues impacting our community. They are people who care enough to volunteer for the benefit of the community: taking action on safety issues, attending neighborhood association meetings, contacting city officials, making statements before city commissions and departments, listening to people’s concerns and the frustrations they encounter dealing with the city bureaucracy, and advocating for services for our neighborhood in order to preserve our quality of life in Miraloma Park.

But the MPIC Board Members can’t do it alone. We need to hear about your concerns. You can phone, email, post a message on our website message board, send us a letter, or even request time to speak at a Board meeting. Tell us about what is important to you, what’s working or not working. What makes you proud and happy to live in Miraloma Park? More importantly, tell us how we can better serve the neighborhood. Are there other ways we can communicate important information to you? Would you like to help in some aspect of our work? Many neighbors do not serve on the Board but nevertheless consistently volunteer to do a variety of important tasks, including membership, safety, and clubhouse operations. Our terrific webmaster, Ron Proctor, is a volunteer, and invites you to check out our website at miralomapark.org.

The monthly Miraloma Life newsletter is our principal way of relaying important neighborhood information to our community, and we are always looking for articles from members about matters they feel are important. Check the back page for information on article submission. If you are a current MPIC member, thank you. We truly appreciate your support. If you are new to the community, please consider supporting MPIC by joining. One of my goals as President is to maintain our strong membership and to grow it by encouraging neighbors who have lived in our community for years to finally join. But more importantly, I want build our sense of community by getting neighbors to know one another and value what we have. So I encourage everyone say hi to those next door and across the street from you. As our Safety Committee articles have often pointed out, knowing your neighbors is a great way to prevent crime and foster community, and volunteering on behalf of your neighborhood is a reward in itself. No need to dive in headfirst, but stick a toe in the water to see how it feels!

The long-term projects your MPIC Board is considering include changing our tax-exempt status from 501(c)(4) to a 501(c)(3), which will make contributions deductible. We will continue to monitor the city’s long term traffic calming project for Teresita Blvd. and maintain a strong relationship with the Ingleside Police Station to ensure adequate police presence in the neighborhood. We will continue to work to preserve single-family zoning in Miraloma Park and to monitor policies impacting Mt. Davidson, and we want to provide events that will encourage neighbors to meet and get to know one another. I look forward to working on these and other issues and to hearing from you about your concerns.

Endangered Manzanita on Mt. Davidson

by Dan Liberthson

Following is the body of a letter the MPIC submitted to the Federal government regarding the potential setting aside of land on Mt. Davidson to host an endangered manzanita variety:

“Dear US Fish and Wildlife Service: This letter concerns potential plans to convert portions of Mt. Davidson Park in San Francisco, CA into habitat for an endangered variety of manzanita. The Miraloma Park Improvement Club (MPIC) represents 2200 homes in an area immediately adjacent to Mt. Davidson Park. Our primary purpose is to work for and preserve the amenities of the neighborhood. We, our 650 members, and the entire neighborhood are concerned that any action to set aside portions of Mt. Davidson Park for this purpose be undertaken with the understanding and recognition that the park is a recreational resource for us all, who regularly hike and walk our dogs on its trails and enjoy its vistas. Please note that it was for this purpose that the Park area was acquired and dedicated by the city of San Francisco in the 1930s, and that the Park was then and continues to be a significant cultural and recreational resource.

Documentation of the potential plans for endangered manzanita restoration and preservation leads us to believe that up to 30% of the Park’s approximately 40 acres could be set aside for the manzanita. We feel that setting aside any more than one or two acres of the park for this purpose would seriously impact its recreational use. We do not want to lose any viable trees for this purpose or to be confronted with fenced-in, no-access, protected areas that would impede views and interfere with hiking and walking trails. While we understand the value of restoring and maintaining a population of an endangered plant species, we suggest that there might be better sites to try to achieve this on a large scale, sites more isolated than our central, heavily used recreational area. On Mt. Davidson, modest plantings of at most two acres, away from trails and on the north and east slopes where there are no trees, would be best suited for endangered manzanita preservation if there is no viable alternative.”

Bench Replaced on Mt. Davidson

by Jacquie Proctor

For many years, Mt, Davidson had two handcrafted benches for park users to enjoy. However during Spring 2010, Natural Areas Program staff removed the bench on the northeast viewpoint because they felt it encouraged visitors with dogs to let their pets tear up the native plants growing there. The MPIC Board wrote a letter to the Recreation and Parks Dept. requesting that the bench be put back or moved to another location, especially since the 40-acre park had only two benches in the first place. This request went unanswered until I asked for help from Supervisor Elsbernd earlier this year. After his intervention, I am pleased to tell you that, 2.5 years after removal of the original bench, we once again have two benches in the park: a new traditional park bench at the top of the hill and a second one re-installed on the north east view point! We thank Supervisor Elsbernd, we are heartened that the Parks and Recreation Department has restored this amenity for recreational users of Mt. Davidson, and we look forward to their future consideration of all who rely on the park’s views, woodlands, and quiet for rest and refreshment from the daily hubbub of the City.

About the Beach Chalet Soccer Field Renovations

by Dan Liberthson

While the primary purpose of the MPIC is to improve quality of life for the neighborhood, a secondary concern is for quality of life in San Francisco at large, which of course impacts our lives in Miraloma Park. For this reason, the MPIC Board sometimes takes positions on and comments on happenings outside the immediate neighborhood, if they might decrease quality of life for other neighborhoods, or detract from resources for the whole city, which our residents might visit and wish to enjoy. We also take positions on issues and projects when we feel that they set a bad precedent that could eventually result in deterioration of quality of life in Miraloma Park if the same process were to be applied here. This last criterion is relevant to a proposal recently approved by our city government that appears to contradict the very laws, guidelines, and principles established to shape city Policy. In total opposition to the concept of a wild and natural western Golden Gate Park envisioned by the park’s founders and reiterated in the City’s plan for Golden Gate Park developed in 1998, the Planning Department has conceived and the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors approved a plan to convert a large portion of the park’s west end to an artificially lighted artificial turf stadium.

This project would convert seven acres of grassy meadow in Golden Gate Park, directly across the Great Highway from Ocean Beach, into synthetic-turf soccer fields composed of layers of gravel, shredded tires, and plastic grass. From dusk until 10:00 pm every night of the year, 150,000 watts of sports lights on ten 60 foot poles taller than the thin line of trees between this complex and the beach would illuminate the fields. At least 55 trees would be cut down and a currently natural area will be paved over for parking and bleacher seats for over 1,000 spectators. The project would expand the existing parking lot by 33%, replace dirt and grass paths with pavement or crushed concrete, install 60 additional light poles for pathway and parking lot lighting, and install additional amenities for visitors. Twenty foot high fencing would surround fields extending half the width of the park, covering an area larger than Candlestick Stadium. The Audubon Society and the Sierra Club are among many organizations that oppose this project, on the grounds that it would displace and disturb wildlife and does not respect the master plan for Golden Gate Park, in which the west end of the park was to remain natural, with structures and artificial environments confined to the east end. The plan would involve significant loss of wildlife habitat in an area designated as the most wild and wooded in the Golden Gate Park Master Plan. Light scatter after dark, becoming glare in the common foggy weather, would ruin the experience of the beach at night for walkers and impact star-gazing on the beach and at Land’s End, one of the few City sites where stars are actually visible.

The Board of the MPIC agrees with opponents of the project that turning the west end of Golden Gate Park into an urbanized sports complex violates the intentions of the developers of the park as well as the Recreation and Parks Department’s 1998 Golden Gate Park Master Plan, the 2004 National Register listing, the City’s own Coastal Plan, and the 2012 Ocean Beach Master Plan. Located next to Ocean Beach, this area is prime parkland. Isabel Wade, founder of the Neighborhood Parks Council, has rendered an opinion with which the MPIC Board and many others agree: “We all want better recreation opportunities in San Francisco, but they should not come at the expense of the unique open-space assets at the quiet end of our Flagship park, nor should we violate the Master Plan for the park without full examination of any other options for a sports complex.”

And in fact another option has been proposed, which would enable both preservation of the west end of the park and expansion of time available on soccer facilities.  Environmental groups and neighborhood activists have proposed the Hybrid Alternative, in which the more urbanized West Sunset Playground fields, which are scheduled for renovation with natural grass, would instead receive the artificial turf and night-time lighting, while the Beach Chalet soccer fields would remain natural grass with no lighting, but with upgrades including a new subsurface irrigation system and gopher controls. A complete description of the proposal can be found on the SF Ocean Edge website, sfoceanedge.org.

Opponents of the project intend to appeal to the Coastal Commission, as the project falls within the coastal area but does not conform to standards in the San Francisco Local Coastal Program (LCP), in the Western Shoreline Area Plan of the San Francisco General Plan, or the California Coastal Act. These documents stipulate maintenance of the natural landscape qualities of the western end of the park for visitor use. Because West Sunset is further from the Beach—and outside the Coastal Zone— the West Sunset alternative might be more acceptable to the Coastal Commission, though it might encourage Recreation and Parks to use less powerful lights even at that location. The environmental impact report for the Beach Chalet project, which was supposed to consider viable alternatives, failed to consider this option. The cost of the current Beach Chalet project is estimated at over $13 million, while a more natural rehabilitation such as proposed above would likely cost about $4 million, leaving $9 million for the West Sunset and other playing fields all over San Francisco.

This solution makes sense, as it is a compromise in which both soccer players and lovers of the planned natural state of the west end of Golden Gate Park can achieve their goals. It is also a resolution that respects the guidelines for the area established by the City itself. We can’t but wonder if, when it comes to preserving the green and wooded character of Miraloma Park, the City, emboldened by its success in urbanizing Golden Gate Park’s west end in contravention of its own policy, might again turn a blind eye to neighborhood character. Therefore, the MPIC Board supports the appeal of the Beach Chalet Soccer Field project to the Coastal Commission, and we suggest that readers consider contributing to that effort. For further information, please visit sfoceanedge.org.

From the MPIC Safety C ommittee: A Wake Up Call

The November 5, 2012 Ingleside Station Newsletter for Monday, November 5, 2012 reported the following under the Arrests section:

8:12 am – 700 block Myra – Recovered Vehicle Officer Morgante responded to a complaint of a man sleeping in a vehicle. He arrived on the scene and observed the male sleeping in the vehicle. The officer conducted a record check of the vehicle that revealed it was stolen. Several other Ingleside officers responded as back up and the male suspect was removed from the vehicle. When the officers searched the suspect they found special keys that were used for carjacking. The suspect was also in possession of multiple cellular phones and credit cards which were not in his name. At the instruction of Sgt. Garrick, the suspect was arrested and booked for possession of stolen property. Report Number 120894349.

The MPIC Board is grateful to the observant and pro-active resident who saw a suspicious situation and took action by calling police to investigate. Her suspicions were well founded, and not only was the suspect involved arrested, but also, because of his contact with police on Myra Way, his unpleasant awakening should have taught him to avoid this neighborhood. We hope so.

Other notes:
On October 16, 2012 a residential burglary occurred on the 200 block of Evelyn Way. The SFPD reports that one suspect is in custody, as is the vehicle used in this crime. The MPIC Safety Committee Google Group, currently with 120+ members, circulates important safety advisories relevant to Miraloma Park. If you would like to join, let us know by sending an e-mail to that effect to miralomapark@gmail.org.

Summary of MPIC Board Meeting on November 1, 2012

by Dan Liberthson and Carl Schick

On-Line Votes: Three motions, all approved: 10/7—Designate $1500 budget for the annual MPIC Holiday Party. 10/1—Permit use of Clubhouse for a Miraloma Park SAFE meeting. 10/16—Write a letter to US Fish and Game Dept. on the impact of designating a part of Mt. Davidson as critical habitat for the endangered Manzanita (see article in this issue).

Treasurer’s Report (T Sauvain): The MPIC’s current net worth has increased by $2,853 since September to $29,163. October rental activity rebounded very well, bringing in $3167 in rental fees. We had $975 in advertising income in October. Membership income was $160. Over and above normal monthly expenses (newsletter printing costs, utilities, etc.), we spent $125 in Clubhouse cleaning fees, $520 in newsletter delivery fees for Sept. and Oct., and $376 for yearly property taxes. The reserve total is currently $15,200. We will need to replenish $2600 of these funds at the end of the year from our overall account.

Committees: Safety—Please see article in this issue. Reminder: Please spread the word that if you see something suspicious, please immediately call 9-1-1!

Membership (R Gee) — As of 9/30/2012, we had 575 members. As of 10/31/2012, we have 539 members. The decrease was due to memberships expiring in October. Seven members renewed their current memberships, one at the $50 Contributing level.

Events (S Chu)— 12/2/2012 Holiday Party on track. S Chu moved and J Whitney seconded increase in party budget from $1500 to $2000. Motion approved.

Clubhouse Maintenance (CMD)—Kathy Rawlins donated $60 in plants for the area near the bench. Thank you, Kathy! Parking lot repaving status still unresolved.

Streets and Transportation (K Breslin)—K Breslin contacted staff at the city’s traffic division about the Teresita Calming Project. The City may coordinate efforts to initiate the project when the city’s paving project commences.Members noted an influx of large trucks on Teresita lately.

Delegate Reports: West of Twin Peaks Central Council (WOTPCC, K Breslin)—Discussed Props A and C. Coalition for SF Neighborhoods (CSFN, T Armour)— CSFN urged a “no” vote on Prop B, “yes” on Prop A, and “no” on Props C and F. Installation of parking meters in Potrero Hill was discussed..

Old Business: K Breslin moved to allow WOTPCC to rent the clubhouse on the fourth Monday of the month in April, May and June of next year without insurance. Because they are a community group, insurance clause in the MPIC regulations would be waived. Passed unanimously. After discussion of whether MPIC should donate $500 to SF Ocean Edge to support an appeal to the Coastal Commission to prevent lights and artificial turf on soccer fields at western end of Golden Gate Park, S Chu moved that MPIC instead write an article about the issue detailing how the city violated the Master Plan for the Park in approving this project. See article in this issue.

Poems of the True Holiday Spirit*

by Dan Liberthson

Kissing Great Aunts
on Thanksgiving
Thin, withered faces
like worn houndstooth
drift slowly toward me
on bodies collapsed
like scalloped potatoes
or slopping over like wads
of soft spilled stuffing.
Dutiful, I kiss each cheek,
feeling doeskin textures,
inhaling mossy lavenders,
and lightly hug each body,
sensing its slack breasts
and mindful of its dire fragility—
the dry-sponge bones within.
Gradually, I become speechless,
humbled by the certainty
that these old women
birthed and sustain the world,
their dignity and care
glowing through worn flesh
to light all our generations.

Cherish all flesh
as you do your own,
the brain that tends it
feels pain in the bone
as you do
and in the hollow
bend of arm or leg
feels cool air pooling
to bless the skin alive
with a sense of itself.

Know that the chest
of that cough-racked
old man on the curb
is your chest, the blind
eye of the mine-ripped
child, your eye, loved
skin of your love’s
temple, sweet in its
crushable valley,
your own temple.

If you believe your blood
flows in your veins alone,
realize that all the veins
in all the world conjoin
and all blood flowing
from the start of time
is yours and mine,
feeding the same life.

Cherish all flesh, then.

What Goes Around

Those who think
God’s love is
for them alone
and for those
who believe
as they do
don’t see
God’s love is
their own love
which denying others
they deny God
and God them.

How to Be a Helpful and Responsible Neighbor

A helpful and responsible neighbor:
(1) When walking a dog, whether on a path in the park or on the street, not only picks up the poop in a plastic bag but ALSO carries it to and deposits it in a trash container, and DOES NOT leave the bag on the ground or in the street.
(2) Keeps hedges trimmed back from sidewalks so walkways are open for pedestrians.
(3) To help protect neighbors and their property, reports individuals who are behaving suspiciously to 9-1-1 when quick police action is necessary or to the SF Police at 553-0123.

*This new column has been proposed as a regular feature in Miraloma Life. Suggestions for the column are welcome; submission instructions are on the back page.

Upcoming Ruth Asawa SOTA Events

• Piano Recital, December 7, 7.30 pm at Dan Kryston Memorial Theater (accessed from the O’Shaughnessy Boulevard entry).
• Jazz Band, December 8, 7.30 pm at Dan Kryston Memorial Theater
• Vocal and Orchestra Concert, December 14-15, 7.30 pm at St. Marks, 1111 O Farrell Street.
Tickets at the door for all events; for more info visit www.sfsota.org