Miraloma Life Online – June 2010

  • Greg Gaar Presents a Slide Show of the Natural and Cultural History of Glen Park, Mt. Davidson, Twin Peaks Following the MPIC Board Elections on June 17
  • MPIC Board Moves to Oppose Conditional Use Permit for Cell Phone Transmission Antennae in Residential Area
  • Urgent: Survey Regarding Cell Phone Service Quality
  • Stories and Tips from the Police: Selections From Ingleside Police Captain Louis Castanego’s Daily Email Newsletter
  • Public Notice: Park Merced DEIR
  • From the Legal Files: Friends of the Urban Forest
  • Jewels in Miraloma Park
  • Late Winter Outside Prescott, Arizona
  • Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of April 1, 2010

Greg Gaar Presents a Slide Show of the Natural and Cultural History of Glen Park, Mt. Davidson, Twin Peaks Following the MPIC Board Elections on June 17

by Dan Liberthson

It has been quite a while now since Greg Gaar graced the MPIC Clubhouse with a slideshow, and those who attended his presentation a few years ago know that we are all in for an education and a visual treat. For old Miraloma Park hands, Jake will provide a trip down memory lane seasoned with astute and knowledgeable comments about the Mt. Davidson area before development and the changes that have overtaken our neighborhood since its establishment. For the many new residents of Miraloma Park, this is an opportunity to get a concentrated course in your neighborhood and surrounding area, leavened by skillful photos rendered into slides and the commentary of a photographer, historian, and naturalist who was born on and grew up on Mt. Davidson in a time when much of the area was undeveloped open space.

A graduate of Lowell High school, Greg witnessed the City’s cultural and musical evolution as well as the development of its West of Twin Peaks neighborhoods, and was an early and staunch advocate of open space preservation. Currently, he volunteers with Park & Rec’s Natural Areas Program and sells native plants at the Haight Ashbury Recycling Center several days a week. A lifelong and accomplished photographer and former photojournalist, Greg has taken and preserved thousands of pictures of San Francisco from early times to the present day, a selection of which we will see in his slide presentation. Please join us for this rare opportunity to see an important archive of historical photos and hear their story from the man who made or saved them. Light refreshments will be offered. Here’s the schedule of events:

Place: Miraloma Park Improvement Club, 350 O’Shaughnessy at Del Vale
Date: Thursday, June 17
Time: MPIC Election, 7:30-8 pm; Greg Gaar Presentation, 8 to 9:15 pm

Following is the slate for the 2010 MPIC election by members of Directors and Officers. All members in good standing (2010 dues paid by May 17, 2010) are encouraged to cast their votes for the following candidates.

MPIC Election Slate for 2010


Jo Ann Eastep
Robert Gee
Jim Ilardo
Gary Isaacson
Jed Lane
Cassandra Mettling-Davis
Mike Naughton
Jim O’Donnell
Joanne Whitney
Karen Wood


President —  Karen Breslin

Vice President —

2010–2011: Gary Noguera
2011–2012: Robert Gee

Corresponding Secretary —  Dan Liberthson

Recording Secretary — Joanne Whitney

MPIC Board Moves to Oppose Conditional Use Permit for Cell Phone Transmission Antennae in Residential Area

by Dan Liberthson

On April 29h, a majority of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club Board approved a motion opposing granting a Conditional Use (CU) permit for the installation of  T-Mobile cell phone transmission units at the Miraloma Community Church on Teresita Boulevard. Accordingly, as Corresponding Secretary I sent a letter to the Planner in charge of the
application for CU (with copies to the Director of Planning, Planning Commission, the Zoning Administrator, and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd) stating that “because of unresolved questions concerning potential health hazards caused by cell phone antennae, citing Article 3 Section 303 of the San Francisco Planning Code, the Miraloma Park Improvement Club opposes the granting of a Conditional Use permit.”  The letter continues as follows:

These antennas are not wanted by most residents within 300 ft of the application site, and are not needed, as cell phone connection is adequate in this area. The dangers to health of long-term exposure to radio frequency radiation are not known, but we believe that it would be prudent to be cautious in this situation and avoid placing the transmitters in residential areas. Growing worldwide concern resulting from some studies, and the conservative approach taken by many European countries, should serve as a guide as to how to locate this technology, the safety of which has not been conclusively demonstrated.

Article 3, Section 303 of the SF Planning Code requires that CUs shall be authorized if the facts presented are such to establish: (1) That the proposed use or feature, at the size and intensity contemplated and at the proposed location, will provide a development that is necessary or desirable for, and compatible with, the neighborhood or the community…[t]hat such use or feature as proposed will not be detrimental to the health, safety, convenience or general welfare of persons residing or working in the vicinity, or injurious to property, improvements or potential development in the vicinity. (See complete text of Article 3 at http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?

We do not believe that the proposed transmission antennas are “necessary, desirable for, or compatible with the neighborhood or the community,” and we feel that it has not been “established” that these antennas will not be “detrimental to health, safety … or general welfare.” This church is not an appropriate location for cell phone transmission antennas because this is an RH-1 zoned area, and residents would be in close proximity to these devices generating constant emissions long term, which has not been demonstrated to be safe. These antennas are more appropriate for, and have customarily been installed in, areas with commercial or industrial zoning. Permitting these units in our residential area would set an undesirable precedent and would likely open the door for multiple transmission antennas at multiple locations in the neighborhood.

Urgent: Survey Regarding Cell Phone Service Quality

by Jane Risk and Norman Nager

On May 18, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 11-0 to support Sunset neighbors who had filed an appeal of a Planning Commission approval of a Conditional Use (CU) Permit for a T-Mobile wireless transmission unit at 725 Taraval Street.  Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, in whose district the proposed project was located, stated that T-Mobile had not made a case that the new antennas were necessary to provide service to its customers. Under Section 303(c)(1) of the San Francisco Planning Code, issuance of a CU Permit requires showing that a proposed change in use is ‘necessary or desirable for, and compatible with, the neighborhood or the community.’ Elsbernd
pointed out that while a number or residents testified in opposition to T-Mobile’s facility, no members of the public testified in favor.

At this time the Planning Department has not set a hearing date to approve issuance of a CU permit for installation of a wireless transmission unit at the Miraloma Community Church on Teresita Boulevard. Once that hearing is scheduled, those who oppose this installation must be prepared to present evidence that there is no need for new transmission units at this location.  As in the Sunset application, there will be grounds for denial of the CU permit if it is demonstrated that there is “no significant gap” in cell phone service in the Miraloma Park neighborhood. In order to demonstrate this, we need to hear from residents as quickly as possible about the present quality of their cell phone service.  Please take just one minute to fill out the following survey and either mail or hand deliver it to:

Jane Risk
64 El Sereno Court
San Francisco, CA 94127

To receive updates on or participate in the effort to stop the T-Mobile cell tower installation, send an email to Norman Nager at http://www.miralomapark.org/stoptmobiletower@yahoo.com or call Jane Risk at (415) 586-4549.

Thank you for your help.


Name (printed): __________________________________________

Signature: _______________________________________________

Address: __________________________________________________

Cell Company (T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon . . .): _______________________

Cell connection indoors (Circle one):

Excellent    /  Very Good  /   Good  /   Fair   /   Poor

Stories and Tips from the Police: Selections From Ingleside Police Captain Louis Castanego’s Daily Email Newsletter

Excerpted and Edited by Dan Liberthson

Beware Seller

A man saw an advertisement on Craig’s List for a Microsoft X-Box and agreed to meet the seller. When the man arrived, he was told to drive to a location a block or two away.  Once at the new location, the victim was set upon by two suspects and robbed at knifepoint. This event happened in Visitation Valley, and no such incidents have been reported in Miraloma Park or the West of Twin Peaks, but it is a good idea to be cautious if you use Craig’s List to shop. One way to avoid becoming a victim is to meet the seller in a public forum, where there are plenty of people about and security and video cameras are the standard.  Never let yourself be persuaded to relocate to a private or isolated area. For example, you can ask the seller to meet you in your bank, where you can withdraw the cash when the deal is struck.

If it’s Suspicious, Call the Police

Another story from Visitation Valley demonstrates the importance of keeping your eyes open and watching out for your neighbors’ property and welfare, since even in relatively crime-free Miraloma Park residential burglaries do occur. A woman wrote in:  “Many times, I’ve noticed a suspicious person sitting in his car as if he is monitoring houses.  When I look at him, he will usually duck down or have a hand over his face (usually wearing a hood).  Is this something I can call into the police station?”  The Captain responded, “This type of suspicious activity is what police officers need to know about, especially with recent burglaries in the area.  This person’s accomplices may be burglarizing a home while he waits in the get-away car.  Large flat panel televisions have been taken, and cars would be a reasonable method of moving the “loot.”  Security gates have been pried, most likely with a short, flat pry tool like roofers use.  (Not the common long pry bar used to break and lift up cement.)  This lady could be tomorrow’s “neighborhood heroine.”  If you see suspicious activity, call the police.  You could be a “neighborhood hero,” too.

How to Handle Home Solicitations

A woman was ringing door bells asking for money to pay for baby food, medicine or diapers. One citizen believed this was just a ploy to get money from the good-hearted. If any person contacts you with this type of request, tell him or her to call 3-1-1 for referral to social services and aid. You can avoid unwanted solicitors and peddlers by placing a  “No Peddlers” sign at your front door.  When this sign is present, any solicitation is a violation of 870 of the Municipal Police Code.  If you suspect a person is “casing” homes to commit burglaries, please call the police.  An officer  can respond and investigate the problem.

Public Notice: Park Merced DEIR

by Aaron Goodman

The SF Planning Department issued a draft environmental impact report (DEIR) on the proposed Parkmerced development on May 12th. The DEIR can be found at www.sfgov.org. The SF Historic Preservation Commission hearing on the matter is June 2nd, and SF Planning Commission hearing is June 17th. Final comments are due by June 28th. West Side residents are encouraged to read the DEIR and provide input on how they think the proposed development will affect their community, business, open-space, transit, traffic, parking, and housing.

Aaron Goodman (http://www.miralomapark.org/amgodman@yahoo.com)

From the Legal Files: Friends of the Urban Forest

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

I had known about Friends of the Urban Forest for awhile but never thought about how a tree becomes part of the urban forest, at least until I saw a taped ‘X’ on the sidewalk in front of 22 Sequoia Way.  Then, the concrete was demolished and a tree was planted in a square in the sidewalk.  This Victorian Box tree is anchored to three stakes, one of which has an inspirational message by President Obama.  The message on the other stake informs the reader that the tree had been paid for by the property owner and was planted by the Friends of the Urban Forest.  A small wooden picket fence around the tree base guards against dogs.  The young tree looks good on the side of the road, and it will help fight global warming, increase the property value of the home, and increase the attractive urban forest in Miraloma Park.

Friends of the Urban Forest was started by San Francisco residents in 1980 who were concerned about the dearth of tree-lined streets.  To date, the Friends have planted about 43,000 trees in San Francisco, according to executive director Dan Flanagan.  In 2009, volunteers planted 936 trees in San Francisco.  Thirty-four trees were planted in
the Miraloma Park/Sunnyside area in April 2010 in an event organized by Jonathan Mergy. Trees are not merely limited to sidewalks, but can also be planted in a homeowner’s front yard.

The cost to the property owner for an average tree is a very reasonable $75.  This includes the tree, acquiring the permits from the city, performing checks for utilities under the sidewalk, cutting the concrete in front of the house, planting the tree, and providing water buckets and stakes.  Volunteers visit the tree within 2 months after planting and again at 18 and 36 months to make sure it is growing properly, watered properly, and not hindered in its growth by the stakes.

The volunteers give the homeowner a brochure about tree care.  In San Francisco, the homeowner is responsible for the care of the tree and for keeping the surrounding sidewalk in good condition.  However, the sidewalk and the newly planted tree are not considered part of the homeowner’s property.  This area is under the jurisdiction of the SF Department of Public Works.

If you buy a home with a tree growing in a square in the sidewalk in front of your home and you dislike the tree, you cannot merely cut it down.  You need to apply to the SF Urban Forestry Council (formerly known as the Tree Board) for permission to remove the tree.

What happens if your tree grows up tall and leafy, but you think it is too big?  You should call an arborist, who will explain which branches should be cut and why, so your tree will not be damaged. You do not want to prune more than 25% of the tree at any time.  Cutting too many branches can eventually kill the tree.

Jewels in Miraloma Park

by Joanne Whitney

There are many jewels in Miraloma Park, not the least of which are the three Flannel Bush trees gracing the Miraloma School.  Two small shrubs stand sentinel on either side of the entrance and a large specimen is situated on the hill next to the baseball field.  The tree is called the Flannel Bush because the stems and the underside of the leaves have a texture like felt.  Large yellow flowers cover the bush in Spring and create a spectacular sight.

The scientific name of the Flannel Bush is Fremontodendron californicum or Fremont’s tree from California.  It is named after General John C. Fremont, called The Pathfinder because of his extensive explorations of California. He also was the first Republican candidate for President of the United States and the first to run on an antislavery platform. As its species name implies, Fremontodendron is a California native.  It can withstand drought and is resistant to many diseases. It does well in our Mediterranean climate with long, dry, temperate summers and cool, wet winters with no frost. It can grow almost twenty feet tall and expand to twelve feet in width.

Flannel Bush Flower (showing center pistil encircled by Five Stamens)

Luckily for those of us with little space, Fremontodendron does well as a container plant and remains a manageable size.  It needs almost full sun and is easy to grow, but too much watering will kill it. Even in nature, because it is so susceptible to rot, it grows best on hillsides and well-drained soil.  You can order the Flannel Bush at local nurseries but you will probably find great specimens at a good price at one of the San Francisco Botanical Garden (SF Arboretum) plant sales.

Fremontodendron is related to the red Mexican Monkey’s Hand Tree that grows in the cloud forests of Mexico, a climate similar to our coastal, Mediterranean environment. Both shrubs have large, saucer-shaped flowers, in the center of which is a circle of five long stamens (the male part that produces pollen).  In the middle of the stamens is a
fat pistil (the female organ) that accepts pollen and transfers it to the ovules where fertilization occurs and seed is made.  This arrangement looks very much like a hand with five fingers and a thumb, and hence the name of the Mexican bush.  Both Fremontodendron and the Mexican Monkey Hand Tree have a large, cone-shaped seed capsule
that is covered with bristly hairs. Touching either the leaves or the seed capsule can irritate the skin of some people.

Sentinel Flannel Bushes at Miraloma School

Take a walk around Miraloma School and enjoy these wonderful plants.  You will also be delighted by the many native plants that have been installed, and by the succulents, bushes, shrubs, grasses, and other specimens that the school’s students help to plant and maintain.

Joanne Whitney is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

Late Winter Outside Prescott, Arizona

A lake nurses a rim of snow
and slow ducks on its mild swell.
The silence is so pristine,
the unbroken snow so virginal
I cannot let things alone
but like a schoolboy loosed
pack a snowball and throw
at a bobbing ring-necked drake.
The shot falls short and the duck
unflustered in his gaudy colors
glances at me as if he knows
in Spring males of every species
cannot leave anything be.

©2010 by Dan Liberthson from his book Animal Songs
available at liberthson.com

Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of April 1, 2010

by Joanne Whitney and Dan Liberthson

Dan Liberthson, Acting Chair called the meeting to order with a quorum present at 7:05 pm. The minutes of the April meeting were accepted. Joanne Whitney proposed and the Board accepted that minutes be distributed and corrected by email but final copy brought to board meeting. Tom Sparks attended as a guest; he has lived in Miraloma
Park for 2 years and is seeing what occurs at Board meetings. He is interested in learning about plants and in neighborhood activities.

Nominating Committee: K. Wood and J. Ilardo volunteered to be at Clubhouse on May 20, 7- 7:30 pm to accept floor nominations. C. Mettling-Davis volunteered to contact Greg Gaar to do a talk on Mt. Davidson at the Election Night meeting (June 17).

Umbrella Neighborhood Organizations: Coalition of SF Neighbors is reviewing City propositions for the September ballot; delegate G. Noguera was absent so no report was made. At the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, K. Breslin (also absent) reported by email), the issue of proposed Sunday parking fees in West Portal was discussed and a written report was to be prepared but this is now moot since the City withdrew the proposal. M. Leigh, Deputy Superintendent of Schools, and O. O’Keefe, Special Assistant, discussed new school policies and urged support for Prop A, a property owners’ tax for safety issues. The question was raised why property owners are always
taxed and renters are not.  Since 70% of  the City population are renters, such propositions are likely to pass. Carmen Chu opposed a proposed medical marijuana facility on Taraval.  Sean Elsbernd asked for signatures for his Muni reform ballot measure. G. Wooding’s motion to support Muni reform was passed unanimously.  Jana Clark, City
Attorney, talked about code enforcement.


Graffiti: D. Liberthson reported that the City Graffiti Commission (on which he serves as District 7 Representative) has a program in which established mural artists are funded by consenting building owners to paint murals on (and thus deter graffiti on) their buildings. The muralists also hold classes with grade-school children to educate them about the difference between illegal tagging and legally making mural art with the permission of the building owner. There is also a program to paint trucks that have been tagged. The Board felt these were very positive steps to combat the graffiti problem. Cards were passed out to sign up and pledge various ways to work against graffiti.

Ingleside Liaison with Police: J. Lane, who participates in this function, mentioned a festival to be held at Boys’ and Girls’ Club to get neighborhood groups together with the police to iron out differences and encourage communication. He also noted that a method of allowing citizens to see where a case stands in the justice system (e.g., at the
stage of arraignment, charges, judge, trial date, etc.) is being developed.

District 7 Conveners Meeting: J. Whitney, who participates in this meeting, reported that money for the Convener was cut from SF budget. A motion was made to write a letter to Supervisor Elsbernd asking that money be found for the Convener function. J. Whitney volunteered to write draft describing the important accomplishments of the Convener group and D. Liberthson to rewrite and send the letter to Supervisor Elsbernd

Correspondence: D. Liberthson passed around a brochure regarding hiring Patrol Special Members to patrol communities.  Being utilized in Glen Park.  The Board felt the Miraloma Park was better off with police services and will not pursue this option. D. Liberthson said that to save on time and paper he now sends letters by e-mail with a summary in the e-mail and attached letter. The Board accepted this method of correspondence with the proviso that files containing the correspondence be converted to pdf format to make it harder to change the text..

Zoning and Planning/Development: C. Mettling-Davis volunteered to look into a permit application for 300 Cresta Vista after Karen Wood determines whether or not this property is in Miraloma Park

: Robert Gee reported that the MPIC now has approximately 435 members.  About 700 informational letters to attract new and lapsed members were folded and stuffed by R Gee, P. Laird, N. Don, K. Wood, J. Ilardo and D. Liberthson and various Board members volunteered to deliver these letters.

Events: The Parking Lot Picnic and Barbeque event on 4-18 was a great success, with over 125 attendees, thanks to Thad Sauvain and other Board Members. J. Whitney suggested a talk by a member of the Health Insurance Counseling Program on Medicare benefits as an event.
An Event Planning Committee will be to be appointed to look into event planning will be further discussed in July. Cost was somewhat defrayed by contributions and neighbors bringing food

Clubhouse Maintenance: C. Mettling-Davis, J. Eastep, and T. Sauvain (if he agrees) will put together a committee to handle Clubhouse Maintenance. P. Laird noted that the floor was scratched due to chairs and tables being pulled and rubber ends lost, Re-sanding and finishing too expensive.  Kim Meyer, clubhouse handyman will do some buffering and new coats of finish will be applied. Phil and committee will explore obtaining a new furnace since the furnace is quite old, becoming inefficient, and should be replaced fairly soon. This would be a very expensive purchase.

Zoning and Planning (ZAP): A letter was sent on behalf of the MPIC (9 vote majority to accept ZAP recommendation) to oppose due to questionable health consequences granting a Conditional Use permit to allow installation of  cell phone transmitters in the Miraloma Community Church.  J. Lane asked for a definition of how the Board reacts to
issues, e.g., how it responds to neighbors concerns, how it researches issues, etc. Discussion on this topic will be given time at next board meeting.

Newsletter: P. Laird congratulated Sue Kirkham on the great job of getting new advertisers and keeping old ones. It was decided that the  newsletter contain only summaries of minutes of umbrella group meetings rather than their entire minutes

New Business: K. Wood will draft a procedure entailing steps to take in proposing and voting on urgent matters that cannot wait until the next Board meeting.