Miraloma Life Online – March 2010

  • First Annual MPIC Parking Lot Party: Saturday, April 17 at the MPIC Clubhouse
  • Notes from the MPIC Safety Committee
  • The Tragedy of Semmelweis: Have We Learned Our Lesson?
  • Creating a 21st Century Police Force:  Big Changes in the SFPD
  • A Cold? The Flu?  H1N1? What Have I Caught?
  • From the Legal Files: Prenuptial Agreements: What They Are and Why You Might Need One
  • Public Interest Notices
  • Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of February 4, 2010

First Annual MPIC Parking Lot Party: Saturday, April 17 at the MPIC Clubhouse

By Jim O’Donnell

Football season may be over, but the Miraloma Park Improvement Club will continue to tail-gate. This year we start a new tradition: a Spring Parking-Lot Party for the neighborhood to complement our Winter Holiday Party. The action will begin at 12 noon and last until 5 pm on Saturday, April 17, at the MPIC Clubhouse and parking lot, 350 O’Shaughnessy at Del Vale. We’re planning fun and games for all ages and a traditional barbecue with all the fixins. Live music will set the mood for this celebration of community spirit and fun.

Because we have so many young children in the neighborhood, courtesy of the 21st Century baby-boom, we want to have plenty for them to do, so if you have a good game for kids (and/or adults who are still kids in spirit), please bring it and we will look for room to set it up and play it.

Aside from soft drinks and the like, we’ll offer wine and beer, since there’s nothing like a “kegger” to help you loosen up, shoot the breeze, and get to know your neighbors. With hot dogs, hamburgers, and veggie fare, how can you not be there? Plus, this event is FREE AS THE BREEZE to residents of Miraloma Park. Though we will welcome voluntary donations or side dishes to share, the only requirements for admission are Miraloma Park residency and the desire to have a good time with your family and neighbors.

You may want to walk over to build up an appetite, since the parking lot will be filled not with cars but with fun, games, and food. Bring the whole family. See you there!


Notes from the MPIC Safety Committee

by Karen Wood and Jacob Koff

Marijuana Growing Operations: a Serious Public Safety Hazard

Marijuana growing operations have proliferated in the residential areas of San Francisco in recent years (two discovered in Miraloma Park were both abated). These establishments pose many problems for neighbors, including serious fire hazard due to non-permitted electrical installations and the presence of armed criminals.

According to Ingleside Station Captain David Lazar, one or two of the following characteristics alone do not necessarily indicate a marijuana growing location, but cumulatively several can indicate this type of operation. Residences housing marijuana growing operations easily catch fire, which can quickly spread to other homes. Here are some indicators of residential marijuana growing:

• A strong odor of marijuana coming from the residence
• The presence of industrial lighting, fans, and other equipment
• Suspicious activity at the residence
• Unusual power cords or power lines from the residence to an external power source, indicating illegal bypassing of electrical power sources
• Sounds of fans or a humming noise (indicative of fans or special lighting equipment)
• The building of structures inside of the residence
• Fire that is extinguished by the occupants of the residence (rather than by the Fire Department).

Please help to keep Miraloma Park safe by advising the SFPD of suspected marijuana growing houses in the neighborhood.

December Miraloma Park Burglaries: Update

Last month, the Miraloma Life reported on home burglaries and an armed robbery in December 2009. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Ingleside officers, including the investigative and problem-solving teams, one suspect is in custody, the car allegedly used in the burglaries is also in custody, and police are continuing to pursue leads in these cases. Because Ingleside Station was selected for a pilot program to implement Phase One of the PERF (Police Effectiveness Review Foundation) report, the Station now has its own investigative and problem-solving teams, which focus on serious crimes in our district. Prior to implementation of these specialized services, crimes in SF neighborhoods might or might not have been referred to SFPD headquarters for possible investigation. Now, investigation of Ingleside—including Miraloma Park—crimes is local, as is follow-up, and is under the direct command of Ingleside Station Captain David Lazar. This approach is yielding positive results.

Citizen witnesses helped to establish leads and identify the suspects in the December burglaries.

Door-to-door solicitation is a typical cover for casing houses (assessing homes for potential burglary). If you observe door-to-door solicitation, please call 553-0123 and tell Dispatch that due to recent burglaries in Miraloma Park, police have urged citizens to contact them about door-to-door soliciting for further investigation. Your report could save a neighbor—or yourself—from home burglary.

Bombs and Ammo: from the Captain’s Daily Report

In January 2010, officers responded to the Sunset District residence of a veteran of World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War. A family member had found a live World War II “souvenir” grenade. “This is not an unusual occurrence in the western side of the City and the officers knew exactly what to do … They advised residents to shelter in place and called for the SFPD Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, which safely contained the grenade and removed it from the City … These devices turn up from time to time in the homes of veterans, usually long forgotten until discovered by family members. If you discover such an item, do not touch or move it. Call the police.

No matter how long the device has been sitting quietly, it needs to be removed by professionals trained to deal with these items safely. To receive Captain Lazar’s daily e-crime report, contact david.lazar@sfgov.org.

Residential Parking Permit Program

Currently, residents who want Residential Parking Permits (RPPs) in their areas must submit a request to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) for their area to be included in the RPP program. Applicants must demonstrate the need for the requested restriction. The purpose of the RPP program, established in 1976, is to discourage long-term parking in residential areas by those who do not reside in those areas. Because an undesirable consequence of RPPs can be rather than to abate or reduce congestion merely to move it into neighboring areas, the RPP request process involves an SFMTA survey of areas adjacent to those requesting RPPs, and may result in denial of the request.

Miraloma Park has not required, nor has the MPIC requested, RPPs. However, recently, we have heard of an SFMTA proposal to enable the City to impose the Residential Parking Permit program, with its attendant fees and inconveniences, on neighborhoods whether or not residents or their associations have requested the implementation of RPPs in their areas. We checked on the status of this proposal.  According to a representative of the Municipal Transportation Commission, no RPP will be created without the consent of the neighborhood. He knows of no serious proposal to change that policy. The idea has been floated but not seriously pursued due to “the firestorm such a program would generate in neighborhoods without parking problems.” The MPIC has asked to be placed on the SFMTA notification list and will monitor and comment on future proposals to implement mandatory RPPs in residential neighborhoods.

Summary of Miraloma Park Crimes October, 2009–January, 2010 (courtesy of Ingleside Station, SFPD)

Month                                               Location
October, 2009
Auto boosting                                   Unit block, Agua
Car Vandalism (paint damaged)           Unit block, Molimo

November, 2009
SFPD Pedestrian Sting Operation (11 moving violations for failing to yield to a pedestrian)   

                                                        O’Shaughnessy at Malta

December, 2009
Residential Burglaries                          200 block of Juanita, 100 block of Dalewood, 100 block of Melrose
                                                        700 block of Foerster, 900 block of Portola

Armed Robbery                                  Miraloma Market and Taqueria on premises
Attempted Auto Theft                         700 block of Myra

January, 2010
Auto Theft                                         700 block of Teresita



The Tragedy of Semmelweis: Have We Learned Our Lesson?

by  Joanne Whitney, PharmD, PhD

The preceding article emphasizes the importance of hand washing in preventing colds and the flu. The following story may reinforce our resolution to apply this simple but effective intervention.

In the Nineteenth Century, one of the great scourges of was puerperal fever. This disease killed mothers a few days after childbirth. Ignatz Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician working in an obstetrics clinic in Vienna. He noticed that the young doctors went straight from the autopsy room, where they cut up cadavers, to the birthing area. They did not wash their hands or take any precautions to avoid infection.

Semmelweis proposed that physicians wash their hands before aiding women giving birth. The medical community laughed at him.  Semmelweis carried out experiments in which he showed that when the doctors washed their hands before aiding in childbirth, the mothers lived and thrived. When they did not wash their hands, the mothers died.  He was laughed at again and driven out of Vienna and back to Hungary.

Then Semmelweis performed more experiments that proved the value of hand washing in preventing puerperal fever. They still laughed. He became despondent, was admitted to an asylum, and died of injuries. Not until Pasteur proved the germ theory did the medical profession admit that Ignatz Semmelweis had been right.



Creating a 21st Century Police Force:  Big Changes in the SFPD

by Jed Lane

On September 16, 2009,  the Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) met for the first time at the Ingleside Police Station. This group, made up of involved citizens, is charged with bringing the voice of the Ingleside District communities to the Captain and taking the discussion issues of the Captain back to our communities. Because of its size and diversity, Ingleside District was chosen by prior Chief of Police Heather Fong as the test station for implementation of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), which included forming the CAB. These changes are based on recommendations by our new Chief, George Gascón.

Miraloma Park is within the Ingleside Station district. Ingleside covers the southeast section of the City from Noe Valley to Visitacion Valley and from Portola Drive to Third Street. It’s the largest district in the City, roughly the size of Daly City. Our Captain is David Lazar, who was raised in the area, attending Miraloma Elementary and for a while owning a home on Rio Ct. Captain Lazar writes a daily newsletter that you can receive by sending an e-mail to him at David.Lazar@sfgov.org and asking to be put on the Newsletter Distribution List.

Since September 2009, the CAB has met each month to discuss implementation of the new vision for the SFPD. While the focus has been on creating dialogue between the various communities and the police, the Board has also worked through some of the problematic issues that have plagued our communities. For example, some houses have been the site of multiple police calls, some stores and locations are known hang-outs for drug dealers, the incidence of traffic accidents is up, and the two most violent bus lines run through the district: the 9 San Bruno and the 14 Mission. Officers are now riding the MUNI as a regular part of every patrol day and running coordinated fare checks with MUNI to stop fare evasion. It’s surprising how many people with outstanding warrants don’t pay the fare and get themselves arrested on the bus.

To address traffic issues, one technique is pedestrian stings, in which a plain-clothes police officer poses as a pedestrian. When a driver doesn’t yield, the officer points out the vehicle and one of the stationed motorcycle officers pulls the driver over. This has worked effectively in the Richmond district on Geary Boulevard and has now been employed along Alemany and Bosworth, especially at the 280 on-ramp from Bosworth.

Another innovation is the problem solving team, called for in PERF and implemented by the Captain. Recognized problems in the community are communicated to the team, which then spends the necessary time to find all the interested parties and bring them together to discuss and solve the issues. Used to address all kinds of community problems, this approach is the basic format for the monthly CompStat meetings. For example, if a house is being used by drug dealers, or is sitting vacant and employed for some other criminal enterprise, the Police Department can now get the owner’s name and contact him or her directly. If the problem remains unabated, the City can file a lien against the house for the nuisance it is causing. This method is also used in the Sunnydale housing projects, where two gangs across the street from each other fight over turf.

Another change brought to the CAB by the Captain and then implemented is the Daily Hot Sheet. Every day at 4 pm, staff going off duty publish a sheet that tells the oncoming shift what has happened since they went off. The Hot Sheet lists who is being sought, the most recent crimes, the intersections with the most accidents, and other relevant information.

The evolution of the Police Department has taken a large step forward with the appointment of Chief Gascón. The Chief has implemented CompStat, which involves using computer-mapping software to pinpoint the location of criminal activity from real-time reports. This allows the District Captain to adjust his manpower assignments to respond to activity. The Chief is a nationally recognized expert in the community policing model and CompStat. I met with him and heard him describe his current goals and challenges. Interestingly, he never mentioned CompStat because, he said, it is only a tool to achieve community policing. (There is a national debate about whether CompStat is the antithesis of community policing. The former is driven by data and the latter by  the community.)

Other changes in the SFPD have had to do with the investigation of crimes. Notably, all inspectors have been moved out of the Hall of Justice and assigned to district stations, vastly improving the flow of information between the beat cop and the investigators. In a special program at Ingleside, uniformed officers now work alongside inspectors for a few weeks. The officers learn about evidence gathering, questions that are asked in court, and other aspects of investigation.

Every one of us can help by reporting crimes. If the police don’t know that your car was broken into or that you were robbed on or getting off MUNI, they can’t get a true picture of crime in our community. You can file police reports on-line for some crimes or you can call 311 to report anything after the fact. If a crime is actually happening or you know who did it or where the suspect is, call 911. All information needed to report crimes is at http://sf-police.org/index.aspx?page=778,  but if you don’t have access to a computer, call 311 or 911 as described above.  If you have questions or comments, contact Jed@JedLane.com.

Jed Lane is a Realtor, MPIC Board Member, West Side native, and current resident of Miraloma Park.



A Cold? The Flu?  H1N1? What Have I Caught?

by Joanne Whitney, PharmD, PhD

You wake up in the morning feeling absolutely terrible. You hope it’s a cold, but how can you tell? What symptoms distinguish a cold from seasonal flu or even the H1N1 (“swine”) flu?

Generally, colds come on gradually, and it is not unusual to feel bad for a day or two before symptoms such as a stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, mild chest discomfort, and tiredness become full blown.  Seasonal flu happens faster than a cold: within a few hours a fever with a temperature greater than 100oF can develop. With flu, fever is usually accompanied by headache, chills, major aches and pains, severe hest discomfort, a dry hacking cough, and fatigue that sends you to bed immediately. With a cold, however, chills, fever 100oF or greater, headaches, and bad chest discomfort are very unusual. With H1N1, all the flu symptoms mentioned above are present, but also prominent intestinal problems such as nausea, severe diarrhea, and vomiting.

Ordinary seasonal flu has its greatest impact on young children and seniors over 65.  H1N1 flu, because of immunological differences, causes more hospitalizations and deaths in very young children, young adults, and pregnant women. Colds, seasonal flu, and H1N1 flu all are caused by viruses transmitted through the air and by touching contaminated surfaces. About 200 different viruses can cause colds, so it is impractical to create an effective vaccine for the common cold. However, only three types of viruses are associated with seasonal flu, so scientists can track the prevalence of certain proteins on the surface of the viral cells and then develop the appropriate flu vaccine each season.  Scientists have categorized the H1N1 virus separately because it has different proteins (called hemagglutinin 1 and neuraminidase 1) on the surface of the viral cell than does seasonal flu. Although H1N1 is found often in swine, eating pork will not give you the virus.

Frequent hand washing is the best prevention for colds, seasonal flu, and H1N1 flu. Vaccination can help prevent both types of flu. Treatment of colds is usually based on the severity of the symptoms. DO NOT GIVE ASPIRIN TO CHILDREN, because it has been associated with an often fatal liver disease called Reyes Syndrome.  Most over-the-counter drugs have not been shown to reduce either the severity or the duration of colds.  Caveat emptor!  Some prescription antiviral medications are active against seasonal and H1N1 flu. These drugs should be used under a physician’s care.

Joanne Whitney has retired from UCSF but remains on the faculty of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy. The opinions expressed in this article are hers and not necessarily those of the MPIC. When in doubt about how to treat a suspected cold or flu, please consult your physician.


From the Legal Files: Prenuptial Agreements: What They Are and Why You Might Need One 

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esp. 

One reason for a prenuptial agreement might be to pass separate property on to children from a prior marriage. The term “community property” typically refers to money and assets acquired after marriage. “Separate property” is generally the property that a spouse has before marriage or inherits after marriage. But separate property can become community property if it is mingled with money made after marriage. Assets that were separate property can become at least partially community property if additional payments are made into the assets after marriage, unless the new payments are clearly made from funds that are separate property. A prenuptial agreement can preserve certain assets as separate property, and in some situations it can convert income and property acquired after marriage into separate property. Without such an agreement, the surviving spouse might have the right to claim a greater share of the deceased spouse’s property than the decedent might have wished.

Another reason to have a prenuptial agreement is that it clarifies the financial rights and responsibilities of each party. A prenuptial agreement can outline whether you file joint or separate income tax returns. This agreement can also detail who will pay the household bills and whether the parties will have joint bank accounts, as well as finalize any agreements to set aside money for savings or for putting each other through graduate school. A family attorney told me that a prenuptial agreement is sometimes the only way for couples finally to start talking about money—how much of it each party will spend and how they will save money for retirement.

Having a prenuptial agreement can avoid arguments about money and property in the event of divorce.  Determining a property split when heads are cool can avoid an expensive and potentially emotionally damaging experience for the parties in the event of divorce.

The California legislature drafted very strict rules about prenuptial agreements after Barry Bonds had his former wife sign a prenuptial agreement while she was not represented by an attorney. Now, for example, family courts will not enforce an agreement if one party proves that he or she did not execute the agreement voluntarily. The court also will not enforce the agreement if one person can show that the agreement was unfair when it was written, that full disclosure of the other person’s property was not provided, that full disclosure of financial obligations was not made, or that there was not a voluntarily waiver of rights to the other person’s property. The court will not enforce a prenuptial agreement if the party being presented with the agreement had less than seven calendar days between the time that the party was first shown the agreement and the time the agreement was signed.

Prenuptial agreements are for making decisions before marriage so that these decisions have already been made in the event of death or divorce.  Nuptial agreements can be made after marriage under certain circumstances, but the “prenup” is often the best way to address potential property concerns.


Public Interest Notices

Update on Tree Planting Effort – by Jonathan Mergy

The tree planting effort with Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) announced in the February Miraloma Life is moving along. We are approaching 20 interested parties, but I know we can do even better! If you are interested, please check out our site at http://mergy.org/fuf2010, where you will find a map with addresses of others who are interested. Then email me at mergy@mergy.org so I can let FUF know that more people are interested in planting. Help us get a great event for Miraloma Park in the next few months!

A Healthy Miraloma Park Group – by Larry Fleck, Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)

A resident of Miraloma Park since November of 2005, Larry wants to establish a Healthy Miraloma Park group to participate in activities such as walking, bicycle outings, healthy potlucks, nutrition and exercise classes, and yoga and meditation sessions. He notes that Mayor Newsom has established a Healthy San Francisco program to encourage all San Francisco residents to take an active role in their health.

Larry would like to establish a steering committee to get Healthy Miraloma Park up and running. If you are interested, please e-mail


Silent and Live Auction Fundraiser for the  Miraloma Cooperative Nursery School

This local, parent-run, cooperative nonprofit will hold its main fundraiser on March 6 from 6 to 10 pm at St. Mary’s Event Center, 1111 Gough St., featuring wine sampling, food, music, and major auction items including a one-week stay on Lake Maggiore in Ticino, Switzerland.

Admission is $10 per person paid in advance or $15 at the door (includes food, beer, and wine).  Pre-register at miraloma.org/auction, get more information from Trish Winum at 415-585-6789, or, for assistance with registration, contact Robin Savage at miraloma.cooperative@gmail.com.


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

by Joanne Whitney and Dan Liberthson

Treasurer’s Report: The MPIC is approximately $2800 in the red. We expect that approximately $1500 more will be made from club rentals next year than was made this year. It was suggested that fund raising events make up the remaining shortfall. Ideas for fundraisers included car washes, auctions, a book fair, a puppet show, a garden tour, a talent show, a flea market, and plant demonstrations, such as establishing cuttings, orchid potting, rose care.  Cassandra Mettling-Davis volunteered to be chair of a committee to examine these options, with Jim O’Donnell and Joanne Whitney to help. The gardener’s time grooming the Clubhouse grounds has been cut to 2 hours as a cost-saving measure.

Safety Committee/Guests: Officers Matt Leong and Brandon Harris from Ingleside Station discussed how all officers are now community police. Officers Leong and Harris work the afternoon shift and patrol the major thoroughfares of Miraloma Park each day unless called away to a major crime in another area. Jed Lane noted that drug deals are occurring on minor streets. The officers said that they do not regularly patrol minor streets, but whenever and wherever we suspect illegal activity we should report it. Karen Wood called for more patrols and the officers agreed that those who complain the most get most service. The officers asked that people running stop signs or speeding be reported and they will step up surveillance. The officers also asked the MPIC to make sure the community knows to remove valuables like mobile GPS units from their cars. The officers complimented the MPIC for our cooperation and interest in keeping neighborhood safe.

Umbrella Organizations: The West of Twin Peaks Central Council sent a letter to the Planning Department objecting to plans to take responsibility for Discretionary Review (DR) away from Planning Commission and give it to Planning Department. The Council discussed having residential permits near schools and freeways. Jim Lazarus of the Chamber of Commerce talked about the budget and Chamber activities. At the Coalition for SF Neighborhoods, Police Chief Gascón gave a presentation. The Coalition voted to oppose the planned installation of artificial turf on and expansion of the soccer fields at the west end of Golden Gate Park. The issue of whether to support or oppose a planned 400-ft building at 555 Washington, near the Trans-America Pyramid, was discussed. The builder promised to provide a large adjacent park. The MPIC Board discussed the building and passed a motion to oppose it. Gary Noguera, MPIC Delegate to the CSFN, was instructed to vote against the building unless greater concessions were made by the builder.

Events: The proposed Spring barbeque was discussed, a committee to plan the event was finalized, and publicity was explored. Jim O’Donnell joined the committee. J. Whitney volunteered to make posters. April 17 was chosen as the date for the Party.

Clubhouse Issues: Volunteers are needed to do Clubhouse chores. The Miraloma School group asked for reduced fees to rent the Clubhouse for 11 weeks and then a weekend for teaching and producing a musical. The Board agreed to propose a reduced rate, but not as low as requested, and follow up with the group.

Planning: Jed Lane gave a clear and concise summary of the proposal to move responsibility for Discretionary Review (DR) from Planning Commission to the Planning Department. This has been proposed in order to unburden Commission members, and the proponents claim that enough checks and balances have been included in the plan to ensure fairness for a person applying for DR.  Many organizations worry that increased fees and review by the Planning Department, which would make the decision to accept an application in the first place, would be unfair to the applicant for DR. K. Wood, C. Mettling-Davis, and K. Breslin moved to modify the MPIC’s previous position supporting the change in responsibility for DR with restrictions, and propose that DR remain under the discretion of the Planning Commission. K. Breslin proposed that a letter be sent affirming this position, and the Board voted to support the position that t