Miraloma Life Online – January 2011

  • A Holiday Party for All Ages
  • 2010 Holiday Party Donors
  • CVS Drug Store May Replace Portola-Fowler Gas Station
  • From the MPIC Safety Committee: Quarterly Crime Report and Other Safety Tips
  • Gone But Not Forgotten:
    The End and the Start of My Wireless Telecommunications Equipment Story
  • From the Legal Files Condominium HOAs, or How the Wrong Shade of Paint Can Cost Over $60,000
  • Don’t Flush It! Dispose of Meds Safely and Easily
  • Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of December 2, 2010
  • The Mountain, Christmas Eve

A Holiday Party for All Ages

by Dan Liberthson

A record crowd turned out for the MPIC Holiday Party and Pot-Luck Cook-off on December 5, kicking off the Holiday Season in high fashion. Neighbors young, old, and everywhere in between enjoyed the general communal cheer as Laura Lee Brown and Company warbled up a storm outmatching the inclement Bay Area winter weather and Boswick Turnstyle, Jr., inimitable clown and balloonisto, kept things lively all through the splendid evening. Kathy Rawlins’s enchanting decorations, assembled with the help of her MPIC Board elves, sparkled magically in the firelight. Nearly a hundred guests scarfed up delectable of all sorts, and the wine and champagne punch disappeared at an astonishing rate. Look left to find the generous area merchants whose gifts spurred the neighborhood to its culinary best, and below to see the top finishers in our cook-off contest.

Appetizers: 1. Mushroom Pate by Gary Issacson
2. Crab Mold by Kathy Rawlins

Salads/Sides: 1. Taco Salad by Sharon Chu
2. Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprouts by Mike Naughton
Brussels Encline by Sheila Keating (tie)

Entrees: 1. Seafood Thai Soup by Emma Smith
2. Baked Orzo by Ratner

Desserts: 1. Chocolate Chip Coopies by Sharon Chu
2. Chocolate Pretzels by Gundula John
Carrot Cake by Norma Houg (tie)

The MPIC thanks one and all for coming out to make Miraloma Park’s Holiday festivities the opening highlight of the 2010 Holiday Season.

Holiday Collage

2010 Holiday Party Donors

The MPIC warmly thanks our local merchants for providing prizes for our Cook-Off winners:
your generous support helps to make our annual event truly special!

  • Bird & Becket Books and Records
    653 Chenery Street
  • Creighton’s
    673 Portola Drive
  • Critter Fritters
    670 Chenery Street
  • Izabella’s Beauty Salon
    21 Evelyn Way
  • Mollie Stones’ Tower Market
    635 Portola Drive
  • Papenhausen Hardware
    32 West Portal Avenue
  • Pop’s Sandwich Shop
    737 Portola Drive
  • Round Table Pizza
    737 Portola Drive

CVS Drug Store May Replace Portola-Fowler Gas Station

by Dan Liberthson

In November, representatives of CVS/pharmacy Corporation addressed both the MPIC Board and the general membership about their plans to build a store in the space currently occupied by the Portola-Fowler gas station (701 Portola), pending permit approvals and sale of the gas station. CVS plans to use the same exterior building design that Walgreens developed with MPIC Board input before pulling out of their project to replace the gas station. Like Walgreens, CVS sells prescription drugs and assorted general merchandise, including over-the-counter drugs, beauty products and cosmetics, film and photo finishing services, seasonal merchandise, greeting cards, and convenience foods. In some stores, CVS provides healthcare services through its MinuteClinic healthcare clinics and Diabetes Care Centers. Their representatives touted this as an advantage, which appealed to some who attended the general meeting, but explained that no such center is currently planned for 701 Portola. Differently from Walgreens, CVS told us that they want to sell wine and beer at the proposed Portola location, and want permission to remain open later.

The MPIC Board passed two motions in response to the CVS presentation, one requesting that no alcoholic beverages be sold at the store and another asking that hours of operation be 8:00 am to 9:30 pm. The Board formally opposes the sale of alcohol at 701 Portola, including beer, wine, and hard liquor, because the two-block long Portola commercial strip is already served by four liquor outlets: two markets, a liquor store, and a bar. Increasing the number of vendors of alcoholic beverages would over-saturate our small commercial community with such vendors, and would change the character of our quiet neighborhood. Because a high school campus, the Juvenile Justice Center, and an elementary school are all located within two blocks of 701 Portola Drive, increasing the availability of alcoholic drinks is not a good idea. The Board feels that CVS’s proposal to combine the sale of alcoholic beverages with later hours of operation than surrounding stores poses a risk of bringing illegal and nuisance activity to our quiet, low-crime neighborhood commercial district and its surrounding residential neighborhood.

The MPIC Board has communicated the above position to CVS representatives and awaits their response.

From the MPIC Safety Committee: Quarterly Crime Report and Other Safety Tips

by Jacob Koff

Crimes Reported in Miraloma Park, October 1 to December 15, 2010

Security Report

Beware Doorbell Ringers

Looking for charity. Last winter, several individuals, possibly working as a team, were ringing doorbells in Miraloma Park and Forest Hill Extension (including some on Agua, the 100 block of Molimo, and Rockwood Court). Their practice was to tell residents that they were from North Carolina asking for charity. This group may have been involved in the 100 block of Molimo burglary that resulted in the death of the family’s dog, as the burglarized house had previously been visited by one of the “North Carolina” visitors. (The alert homeowner had called the police, who were able to detain the individual and learned that he had multiple felony convictions, including attempted homicide in other states.) Shortly thereafter, the home was burglarized. The Rockwood Court resident thought that his visitor was suspicious and called the police. Officers arrived quickly, and when the visitor saw them, he took off running between houses and disappeared.

Familiar safety tip: Never open the door to a stranger.

Another creative approach. Also last year, numerous women residents were visited by a portly middle-aged man who would jovially ask, “Are you the captain of this ship? (Did he mean “Are you home alone?”) This individual rang doorbells along Sequoia, Teresita (twice at the same house), and Myra, and also in Forest Hill, where he assured the woman resident that he had legitimate business and that she should open her door! She wisely did not.

Be aware that ringing doorbells is a classic means of determining whether anyone is home and is often a prelude to burglary. Please report all doorbell ringers to police (553-0123) and let them check on those individuals legitimacy: you’ll be doing yourself and your neighbors a service.

It’s Against the Law

Parking on the Sidewalk. You’ve probably experienced it, or you know someone who has: You’re walking on the sidewalk, perhaps pushing a baby stroller or helping an elderly person using a walker, when you are forced to walk into the street because a car is blocking the sidewalk. This can sometimes happen several times in just one block. This is not only an inconvenience, but it poses a danger to pedestrians. Some streets are graded or crowned in such a way that you cannot see a car until it is almost on top of you.

We have abundant parking in our neighborhood, yet some people park with the front of their car in the driveway and the back in the street, and their car sometimes dripping oil on the sidewalk. Besides being inconsiderate, those who do so risk getting a parking ticket. And these days, two people can see a film and have a nice dinner for the price of that ticket.

Please think about your neighbors the next time you park like this. Parking on the street, and not on the sidewalk, will make Miraloma Park even more livable than it already is.

Non-permitted Building is a major cause of neighborhood deterioration, decline of property values, and safety hazards. The MPIC Safety Committee follows up on reports of non-Code compliant building in Miraloma Park. The Department of Building Inspection website (http://dbiweb.sfgov.org/dbipts) posts permits issued for electrical, plumbing, and building work, so if you are concerned about non-permitted building-related work in Miraloma Park, you can determine via the DBI site whether or not the work is permitted and Code-compliant. Reports may be made online or you can contact miralomapark@gmail.com with concerns.

Gone But Not Forgotten: The End and the Start of My Wireless Telecommunications Equipment Story

by Christine A. Olson

Last month I talked about my initial encounter with NextG Networks, a company that installs wireless telecommunications facilities. Even though the utility pole behind my house is on private property, the company had decided to use that pole for a NextG installation. Though I discovered their intention only by chance, NextG’s decision to target my utility pole has had a profound impact on my life. First, it made me become acutely aware of how many of these installations are going up all over town, especially in areas designated as PROW (Public Rights-of Way), where utility poles are frequently located close to private residences. In some neighborhoods, a brief walk can reveal three or four installations by different companies within a few blocks, often less than ten feet from a residence.

My awareness of the installations has also made me aware of the people affected by them. I listened to stories of residents returning home from work to find one of these monstrosities hanging on a utility pole right outside their front door. Not only did they have to deal with the visual pollution, but sometimes the equipment could be heard humming out in the street or even inside their homes. No notification preceded the installations, and many people had no idea what the array of boxes and wires represented. I spoke to one woman who had been fighting with a wireless company for over a year to remove an installation placed directly in front of her living room window.

To obtain a permit to put installations in the PROW a wireless company simply has to fill out an application with the Department of Public Works. In the past three months alone NextG Networks has had over 97 installation applications approved. And this is just one company. Multiply that by the number of wireless companies and potentially we would have a wireless facility installed on every utility pole in the City. Why are these companies rushing full speed ahead to put up so many installations as quickly as possible? They are trying to get permits approved before the City is able to pass legislation instituting broader guidelines and stronger restrictions about which areas are appropriate sites and which are not, as well as providing for notification of homeowners before installations are completed. The legislation, sponsored by Supervisor Avalos, will come before the Board of Supervisors in early January.

NextGs aggressiveness encouraged me to learn as much as possible about wireless installations. Besides causing visual pollution and noise pollution, these installations undermine the policy of the City and County of San Francisco to underground utilities. Overloaded utility poles can be dangerous. Fires, explosions, and toxic emissions from backup batteries can occur. Cellular installations can emit significant amounts of RF radiation, which can be a health risk. These negatives add up to a lowering of property value the focus of last months article and a lower quality of life.

When I wrote last month, the Balboa Terrace Homes Association had already resolved to oppose the installation proposed for my yard. We also presented to the West of Twin Peaks Central Council at their November 22 meeting, at which about 35 of my neighbors opposed the installation. Natasha Ernst of NextG Networks  stated that the utility pole on my property was found to be an undesirable site for an installation. Tom Kwong of the Department of Public Works said that they would not issue a permit anyway since the utility pole is located on private property. Doug Loranger of SNAFU talked about the dangers and health risks associated with wireless installations. Frances Hsieh of Supervisor Avalos’ office spoke about the upcoming legislation. Ultimately, West of Twin Peaks Central Council officially opposed the installation with a resolution.

I want to thank all of our supportive neighbors and both the Balboa Terrace Homes Association and the West of Twin peaks Central Council for their resolutions, as well as Doug Loranger for his help and support. Thanks also to Supervisor Avalos and Frances Hsieh for the upcoming legislation. And lastly, thank you to NextG. I’ve learned a lot in the past three months and intend to continue opposing unchecked wireless installations in residential neighborhoods both on private property and in the public right-of-way.

From the Legal Files: Condominium HOAs, or How the Wrong Shade of Paint Can Cost Over $60,000

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

You might think that owning a condominium is an attractive alternative to owning a house. You obtain a tax deduction and not have to worry about yardwork. But another factor should be considered:� most condominiums have covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). The CC&Rs govern what you can do with the parts of your property that can be seen from the street or common areas.� A condominium homeowners association (HOA) is typically made up of a small number of condominium homeowners who interpret the CC&Rs for the entire condominium complex. Disregarding the HOA’s interpretation of the CC&Rs can sometimes lead to litigation, as in the following dispute over a shade of paint for exterior windows.

Mr. and Mrs. Stanton owned a condominium in San Diego. � In December 2006, they submitted an application to their HOA seeking approval for the replacement of two windows in their condominium.  The windows faced the common area of the complex. � The HOA denied their application because their proposed window color was wrong. � The committee stated the proper color for their windows should be medium to dark brown. The Stantons wanted to put in windows that were painted light gray. � Another homeowner in the complex had been allowed to put in windows facing the common areas that were lighter in color than medium to dark brown.

In February 2007, the Stantons submitted two additional applications requesting approval of their windows.  Both applications were denied.� In April 2007, Mr. Stanton wrote to the HOA, accusing it of acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner in its color approvals. The Stantons then installed the sandstone-colored windows.� The HOA offered to mediate the matter, but the Stantons refused.� The HOA then filed a lawsuit against them based on the Stantons’s violation of the CC&Rs of the association.� The HOA asked for a permanent injunction requiring the Stantons to modify their windows by painting them a different color or by removing and replacing them.� The HOA also asked for costs and attorney fees, pursuant to the terms of the CC&Rs.

A Superior Court judge determined that the HOA was the prevailing party and was entitled to costs and attorney fees.� The court ordered the Stantons to pay their condominium HOA more than $63,000.� The Stantons appealed. The Appeals Court sided with the HOA. An attorney for the HOA noted in his legal newsletter that the dispute between the Stantons and the HOA had been about eight years in the making. While living in a condominium can release you from certain chores, before taking this step you need to consider whether you can live with other people making decisions about publicly visible areas of your home, including the proper paint shade for your outside windows.

Don’t Flush It! Dispose of Meds Safely and Easily

San Francisco Department of the Environment (http://www.sfenvironment.org/our_programs/interests.html?ssi=5&ti=11&ii=103)

What do you do with expired or unwanted medicine? When medicines expire or are no longer needed, most people either flush them down the toilet or toss them in the trash. Neither disposal method is environmentally sound or responsible.

Why Flushing Medicine is a Bad Idea. If you flush or pour medicines down the drain, they end up in the San Francisco Bay, where they can harm marine life. Medicines disposed of through the sewer system cannot be removed by waste treatment facilities and can therefore enter our water supply. Small concentrations of prescription drugs (including hormones, antidepressants, and antibiotics) and over-the-counter drugs like pain relievers, antiseptics, and cold and flu remedies have been detected in waterways nationwide. Trace amounts of medicines have unknown effects on humans, but they do have a demonstrated negative affect on certain wildlife, including fish. Antidepressants in particular, which have been found in many waterways, have caused abnormalities in fish reproductive cycles. As the use of pharmaceutical products grows, this problem shows no sign of abating.

What San Francisco is Doing. While the issue is being studied worldwide, the City of San Francisco is doing what it can to prevent the flow of pharmaceuticals into our waters. In May 2006 the City partnered with other Bay Area agencies to hold the Safe Medicine Collection Event, during which we collected over 3500 pounds of pharmaceutical waste. The San Francisco event took place at 13 Walgreens stores. While the City continues to partner with Walgreens on other projects (such as battery and sharps collection), current state and federal regulations prohibit permanent, long-term collection of pharmaceuticals at pharmacies.

Pilot Mail-In Program: Until pharmacy collection is an option, the City is piloting a mail-in program for pharmaceuticals. Phone 330-1405 to obtain a medicine envelope mailed to your home. These envelopes are pre-paid and can be placed in a mailbox when full. Mail-in envelopes also can be picked up at the Department of the Environment, 11 Grove Street, SF, 94102. Only SF residents may participate in this program. (Note that 11 Grove Street is not a drop-off site.) To learn more about the service, phone the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program at 330-1405.

Recycle AIDS Medication Program (RAMP):
If you have medications (sealed or opened) that are unexpired or up to one year out of date, you may donate the medications to the Recycle AIDS Medication Program (RAMP). This program is not limited to AIDS medications. For more information, visit RAMP or phone 285-0606.

Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of December 2, 2010

by Joanne Whitney and Dan Liberthson

A quorum of the Board was present. The minutes for the November meeting were approved and the Treasurer’s report accepted. The Treasurer requested that all bills submitted by end of year, to be followed by an audit. Fiscal year is same as calendar year, January 1 to December 31.

Correspondence: A neighbor complained on line re 4 separate individuals living in same house, and will be referred to sfgov.org to learn rules re housing and occupants.  Another newsletter article will be written concerning how information re rules of occupancy and other housing matters can be obtained from the Web.

Safety Committee: Car crashed into and damaged the street guard rail on O’Shaughnessy just above the Clubhouse.

Membership Committee: Have 560 members.  Slight drop because of lack of November renewals.  President’s letter, membership form, and return envelope will inserted be in December newsletter.  Special contact will be made for those who have not yet renewed.  Membership year is now individualized, based on the time neighbor joined (e.g., May-May).

Zoning and Planning (ZAP) Committee: ZAP members met with neighbors at 203 and 207 Marietta and examined area for proposed decks. The ZAP members suggested to the sponsor consideration as “Good Neighbor Gestures: of the use of glare-proof glass in the roof deck wind barrier and a solid partition on the rear deck between the homes for privacy. The neighbors will meet to try to resolve their differences. The vacant Miraloma Church property, if sold and razed, could provide space for up to 7 residences. Vacant wild area at end of Dorcas again up for sale; how to keep this area untouched is a problem. C. Mettling Davis will look into this issue. Re Glen Park development meeting attended by C. Mettling-Davis, a big neighborhood concern is to retain the BART parking lot.  One suggestion is to have storefronts in front and parking behind. Concern that political pressure may result in elimination of all parking. Teresita owner proposing windmill appears not to be proceeding with his application.

Umbrella Neighborhood Organizations: SF Graffiti Advisory Board (D. Liberthson is MPIC delegate) urges citizens to register for Graffiti Watch (graffiti detection/prevention). Coalition of SF Neighbors (D. Liberthson, Alternate Delegate): Soccer fields still being discussed.  Meeting centered on analysis of recent SF election. G. Noguera made motion to send $100 for one seat at annual dinner as a patron sponsor. West of Twin Peaks Central Council (K. Breslin, Delegate): Discussion re privatization of Murphy clubhouse and danger of privatization of all park clubhouses. K. Wood made motion (passed unanimously) that MPIC oppose privatization of any city parks, facilities and buildings. Ingleside Community Advisory Board to Police (J. Whitney, Delegate): Professional designer completed flyers pro bono and printer will produce 250 to start pro bono; will be ready by end of year.  Other groups agreed to contribute to any distribution costs. SF Conveners Group (J. Whitney, Delegate): SF State has revived Convener’s Group for District 7. Eighteen groups present at meeting.  J. Whitney will compile list of all agencies, groups available in our area.

Clubhouse: Footlights replaced, banister repaired, need to consider repairing front steps. Just had a general light cleaning by company.  K. Wood asked that people be secured to set up and clean up before any event and that Board members agree to attend event. K. Rawlins and D. Liberthson asked that floor of kitchen and the kitchen sink be replaced. C. Mettling-Davis will explore options for these renovations. Motion to reimburse K. Rawlins and D. Liberthson for $101 for new plants for garden passed unanimously.

Old Business: R. Gee will try out Google voice as substitute for current phone messaging system to save money. For proposed drugstore on gas station site, CVS will keep the same external architecture as was proposed for Walgreens. CVS reps said they intended to request a beer/ wine sales license and are contemplating a 7 to 11 schedule. Ray Crawford is planner handling building permit. Three motions made and passed: (1) MPIC opposes sale of any alcoholic beverage (passed 7 to 2); (2) MPIC requests that hours be 8 am to 9:30 pm (passed 6 to 4);  (3) MPIC requests that prescription drugs be available during all the hours CVS is open (passed 6 to 4).G. Issacson asked for a bonus for Clubhouse Rental Agent and newsletter delivery persons. Will give agent bonus based on activity. Delivery persons to receive $65 to $100 depending upon service time/quality.

The Mountain, Christmas Eve

Southeast from Mount Davidson
the whole Visitation Valley brims
with a froth-topped cloud sea.
Black based clouds fade
to gray middles, white apices.
A handful of sparrows
scatters above the waves
and any moment I expect to see
a whale breach the cloudy deep,
stare, and slide beneath.

The sun rises in a local but spreading
pool of orange verging to pink and white.
Cloud wave crests tinge.
A single robin tumbles by my window,
looming as if magnified.

All is still this moment.
The garbage trucks hunker
in their bays.
The airplanes hibernate.
A fling of starlings cartwheels
stilled by distance
along the horizon.
Everything awaits birth.

The sun breaks the surface, blinding
further sight. Dawn is done, day
begun. Everywhere on the mountain
people begin moving as if turned on by a switch.
Garage doors open, cars back and lunge,
sun helling off their sideview mirrors,
children rush outdoors, dogs shout,
garbage trucks grind up the hill.

Has anyone else seen what I have?
If someone was awake,
we could re-create it together, more
powerfully than either alone. He or she
might recall this cloud or that,
this tint or that, which I’ve forgotten.
I could have photographed itbut what then?
Eat the picture to recoup the taste, the feel?

What can I do now but remember
and celebrate until the sun’s eye closes
Christmas Eve.
A gull sails past my window and disappears.
No less quickly, love glides through my life,
then beyond.

by Dan Liberthson, ©2010