Miraloma Life Online – May 2010

  • Special May Event: A Miraloma Park Literary Soiree and Book Sale
  • A Great Day at the MPIC Parking Lot Party and Barbecue
  • Update on the Proposed Development on Los Palmos
  • “No” to Extended Parking Meter Hours and Enforcement
  • Laguna Honda Hospital Opening Celebration and Tours
  • Celebrating Restoration of Mt. Davidson Park and SFPUC Water Facilities
  • Public Interest Notices
  • San Francisco Police Urge Safety Awareness
  • From the Legal Files: Dog Bite and Your Liability
  • Splashin’ in the Rain
  • Summary of Minutes of MPIC Board Meeting of April 1, 2010

Special May Event: A Miraloma Park Literary Soiree and Book Sale

by Dan Liberthson

On Sunday, May 23, from 3 to 5 pm at the Clubhouse, we will continue a tradition started over a decade ago with a Spring literary gathering of local and neighborhood writers and poets. Authors from Miraloma Park and adjacent neighborhoods are cordially invited to come and read their work, and everyone is welcome to come and listen as our dedicated local scribes, mavens, and poets regale you with their tales and poems and give you the opportunity to purchase their published work. Each author will have 10 to 15 minutes to read, depending on the numbers attending. Among other authors, Dan Liberthson (Miraloma Life Editor) will be reading from his books of poetry, including his new publication Animal Songs. Wine, cheese, cookies, and coffee will be provided, and a 15 to 20 minute break will give audience and authors time to mingle, check out the books, and get to know each other. Questions? Send an email to miralomapark@gmail.com or phone us and leave a message at 281-0892.

A Great Day at the MPIC Parking Lot Party and Barbecue

by Dan Liberthson

Over 125 fun-loving neighbors came to the First Annual MPIC Parking Lot Party on April 17, virtually guaranteeing that we will make this an annual event. The aroma of primo hamburgers and hotdogs wafted over the parking lot and the sweet sounds of the band had many swaying in place as they waited for the grill masters to do their tasty thing. In the jump house, kids squealed and scrambled as their parents watched and urged them on to greater heights. We all drank keg beer or sodas and visited in the sunshine on a warm and delightful afternoon, next to the newly weeded and thriving native plant garden along O’Shaughnessy Boulevard. The Ingleside police were invited, and many came and relaxed at the end of their shift, sitting and chatting with each other and our neighbors, everyone having a grand time.

Bar-B-Que Fun-1

Bar-B-Que Fun-2

What a day to remember! Many thanks to everyone on the MPIC Board who worked so hard to make it happen, to everyone in the community who showed up to enjoy and make it the event we had envisioned, and to Mollie Stone’s Tower Market, which contributed both edibles and drinkables to the festivities. Miraloma Park really does know how to party!

Update on the Proposed Development on Los Palmos

by Cassandra Mettling-Davis

Three new homes have been proposed for construction in the 200 block of Los Palmos. The community has raised concerns based on the large size of the homes on relatively small lots. The approval process has been underway for many months now, with neighborhood meetings taking place and discussion on the MPIC website. The following article describes the background and current status of this project.

Developers purchased 795 Foerster, a corner single family home with a large rear garden in 2006. The property was resold in 2007 to Lee Yu Ling, Tam Yin Kwan, Lei Xiang Si, and Irene Chu (21 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118).

If you attended MPIC’s Garden Tours in the 1990s, this home’s garden was often featured on the tour, and was popular for its large size, established trees, and exotic cacti.

After the owner passed away and when their heir sold it, the 9,290 lot was subdivided into two lots. The one at 795 Foerster is now 5,360 sq ft and the adjacent lot to the west is 3,930 sq ft.

The developer hired architects to design three new homes for a total of four homes on the property encompassed by these two lots. The lot closest to Foerster currently contains only one home and the lot furthest from Foerster is unbuilt. The three new homes would require another future subdivision to take place, dividing the two current lots into four. To accomplish this, the current two lots would be re-merged into one, and the single lot would then be subdivided into 4 lots. The resulting lot sizes would be smaller than standard for RH-1 lots, but would meet the requirements of the Planning Code because of a provision in the Code that allows smaller size lots in proximity to an intersection. “Standard” lots in San Francisco are typically 2,500 sq ft but lot sizes vary greatly, even in our neighborhood. Neighbors and the MPIC were notified of the original subdivision but took no action since no development was proposed.

The developers brought their designs to the MPIC for a presentation, and the designs were reviewed by the MPIC with respect to the Miraloma Park Residential Design Guidelines. The MPIC’s Zoning and Planning Committee thought that the proposed development complied with general principles of the guidelines; namely building heights, materials, and general design. The developers and their agents then proceeded with the mandatory neighborhood outreach meeting for neighbors immediately adjacent to the property.

Following this meeting, an application was filed with the Building and Planning Departments, resulting in a “311 notification” to all neighbors within a 150 foot radius of the property. When plans and drawings were issued, many neighbors raised questions. One neighbor filed for discretionary review (DR) by the Planning Commission, while others are in negotiations with the developers for concessions to mitigate the impact on their specific properties.

At the request of the DR applicant, story poles were erected to define the scale of the proposed structures. These are wooden poles that represent the walls and rooflines of the buildings, allowing neighboring residents to visualize the mass and height of the proposed buildings. This action brought the project to the attention of many other Miraloma Park residents who were not in the 311 notification zone.

Current Status
The project is still pending approval because many neighbors are still concerned about the development. Some strongly oppose the development on the grounds of the increased density of buildings that would result from the overall development. Last October, the Miraloma Park Improvement Club Zoning and Planning Committee wrote a letter to the planner in charge, Elizabeth Watty, in which five issues were raised.

1. The MPIC opposed the variance requested by the owners in order to allow subdivision into 4 lots. (The MPIC generally opposes zoning variances because these establish precedents for the erosion of Miraloma Park’s RH-1 [single-family] zoning.) The variance was required because the rear yard depth of the existing corner house would be less than the minimum allowed by the Planning Code. As a result, the owners redrew the proposed lot lines so that a variance is no longer required.

2. The new buildings would be higher than the existing buildings, as demonstrated by the story poles. The developer responded by agreeing to lower building heights to comply with our request and achieve a consistent block-face by making the new buildings’ heights compatible with those of the neighboring homes.

3. There is concern about loss of open space. Although this is private property, like all the gardens and relatively large rear yards in our community, it contributes to the greenbelt areas of our neighborhood. Citing the Miraloma Park Residential Design Guidelines, our letter stated: “The large greenbelts in our neighborhood are a key element of the neighborhood character, for not only aesthetic appeal but also to absorb the groundwater and water runoff that results from abundant natural underground streams and rainwater. The loss of views, light and natural open space, as well as potential mudslides and foundation slippage are strong concerns for the neighbors who oppose this project and for the MPIC. If the property is developed, what has historically been open space will be lost. There are also minimal setbacks and maximal structural coverage on the proposed lots.

4. Our final point discussed engineering concerns, but at this stage of approval engineering considerations are not at issue. These concerns relate to Building Code issues, and will be addressed at a later stage in the process.

5. The backyard depth of the existing house at 795 Foerster would be reduced to only 15 feet, which is extremely small for a Miraloma home. Should a future owner want to expand this home, he or she would only have the option of building up, which could set a precedent to further increase building heights and density overall in this part of the neighborhood.

The Future
What can or should the MPIC do now with respect to this project? The developers have made efforts to comply with all Planning Code requirements and to address the neighbors’ concerns by reducing roof heights and offering various other concessions The question that neighbors and the MPIC raise is, even though the project in its current form meets the minimal Code requirements, is it compatible with the present built environment—is it right for our neighborhood?

The MPIC developed the Miraloma Park Residential Design Guidelines (adopted by the City Planning Commission in 1999) to help preserve the architectural character of our neighborhood. Many Miraloma Park residents feel that this development, with its small lots and relatively large homes, would be too dense for any block in Miraloma Park. The MPIC intends to continue to support the concerned neighbors, and will continue to monitor the development of this project. Ideally, scaling back the project from the proposed 3 new homes to 1 or 2 homes similar in size to those currently proposed would be preferable: the project would be more compatible with neighborhood character if the lot sizes were larger, greater set-backs were called for, and more open space were retained.

“No” to Extended Parking Meter Hours and Enforcement

by Karen Breslin

At its October 20th Board of Directors Meeting, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Agency (SF-MTA) plans to discuss a proposal for a trial extension of parking meter hours. The MPIC Board joins the West of Twin Peaks Central Council in opposing any parking meter hour extensions at this time. We have requested our District 7 Supervisor, Sean Elsbernd, to support our opposition to extended meter hours by opposing this proposal at the October SF-MTA meeting.

The SF-MTA assumes that higher turnover at parking meters will equate to higher merchant sales. No data or studies of any kind support this assumption. The MPIC Board and the WOTPCC believe that the SF-MTA’s proposed implementation of higher parking meter fees, higher parking violation fees, vigorous parking enforcement, and extended parking meter hours would hurt neighborhood businesses rather than help them. Customers of neighborhood merchants would be likely to stop shopping in the neighborhoods and patronize shopping centers that provide free parking. Oakland’s experience with extended parking meter hours has confirmed these assertions.

Laguna Honda Hospital Opening Celebration and Tours

by Arla Escontrias, Community Relations, Laguna Honda Hospital

Join your friends and neighbors on Saturday, June 26 to celebrate the opening of the country’s most advanced long term care facility for seniors and adults with disabilities, San Francisco’s new Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center.

The ribbon cutting for Laguna Honda’s three new buildings will begin at 1 pm at 375 Laguna Honda Boulevard. and will feature a sneak peak at the buildings before they begin operation, including a tour of the public art commissioned especially for the facility.

The new Laguna Honda joins Healthy San Francisco, the city’s health insurance plan, as a centerpiece of San Francisco’s commitment to universal public health. It will provide skilled nursing and other therapeutic services for a safety net population of 780 people in an environment that combines advanced healthcare technology with a
therapeutic design. Its new buildings were created to promote community living and the healing effects of the hospital’s natural surroundings on San Francisco’s Twin Peaks.

Laguna Honda first opened its doors in 1866 to care for one of the first generations of San Franciscans, the Gold Rush pioneers. Thanks to a new generation of visionaries, San Francisco’s voters, who overwhelmingly approved a 1999 ballot measure authorizing the construction of a modern center for skilled nursing and rehabilitation, the hospital is now poised to put the city in the forefront of innovation in long term care.

Laguna Honda’s programs are designed to help each person achieve his or her highest level of independence. Services include:

•    An award-winning restorative care program
•    The Bay Area’s only HIV/AIDS skilled nursing service
•    Monolingual care in Spanish and Chinese
•    A safe and comfortable environment for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias
•    Rehabilitative services including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and audiology
•    An in-house hospice operated with the Zen Hospice Project
•    Care that combines medical and social support for people coping with the effects of stroke, traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis.

Residents of the new Laguna Honda will live in households of 15 people, each household with its own dining room and living room. Every four households will constitute a neighborhood organized around a central Great Room where daily activities will take place. The three new buildings open onto a central park featuring Laguna Honda’s animal therapy center, raised planting beds for growing vegetables and flowers, secure therapeutic gardens to allow people with Alzheimer’s to enjoy the outdoors, and the Betty Sutro Meadow, named for a long time benefactor of the hospital.

At the heart of the new campus will be the Esplanade, a broad indoor boulevard lined with places to meet and greet, including a café, a cafeteria with indoor and outdoor seating, an art studio, a community meeting room, barber and beauty shops, a multi-media library, a gift shop, and a bamboo garden and aviary with tropical birds.

Laguna Honda staff, residents, family, friends, volunteers and the entire San Francisco community are invited to tour the new buildings on

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 17, 2010, 11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 2:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 5, 2010, 11:00 a.m.

Meet in the lobby in the old building to take a tour of our beautiful new buildings.
Please make tour reservations by phoning (415) 759-4597 or sending an email request to arla.escontrias@sfdph.org. Please wear long pants, blouses, or shirts with at least a 4 inch sleeve. No sleeveless shirts, skirts, or dresses will be allowed. Please wear boots or sturdy shoes with a hard sole. For your safety, dress shoes and tennis shoes will not be allowed. We will provide hard hats, safety glasses, and vests.

All San Franciscans are likewise invited to monthly community town hall meetings at the Laguna Honda facility. The meetings will be held in the Residents’ Library. For more information, please call: (415) 759-4597. Meetings are currently scheduled for Thursday, April 22 and Wednesday, May 12 at 8 am, 1:30 pm, and 8:30 pm.

Celebrating Restoration of Mt. Davidson Park and SFPUC Water Facilities

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Madie Brown

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), the Recreation & Parks Department Natural Areas Program, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, and Historian Jacquie Proctor invite you to celebrate the completion of critical SFPUC water projects and the dedication of a plaque honoring Mount Davidson Park’s founder Mrs. Edmund N. “Madie” Brown (pictured), the courageous woman who in 1926 organized the community to preserve Mount Davidson as a public park for San Francisco.

Meet rain or shine at the top of Mount Davidson near the cross on Saturday, June 5th, 2010 at 10:30 am. A light breakfast will be served.

Public Interest Notices

Miraloma Elementary School Spring Festival

Sunday, May 16, Noon-3 pm; Free admission! Join us for fun and games on the Miraloma Elementary School blacktop! Live entertainment with rockin’ fifth-grade student band “Destiny Unknown”, and two parent bands, add to the fun of festival games galore. A taco truck will be on hand providing delicious food, as well as our ever-popular bake sale featuring an array of delectable goodies. Our festival also features a plant sale this year with plants grown in our own school garden. To cap it all off, our annual school raffle is offering many fun prizes. Come join the fun and support your neighborhood school!

Spring Fest Fundraiser at Sunnyside School

Sunnyside School will host a spring fundraiser on Saturday, May 22nd from 11-3. Join us at 250 Foerster (1 block off Monterey) for lunch, games for all ages, a gift sale raffle and silent auction. The top raffle prize is a Disneyland package for 4 (park passes, airfare and hotel). Other prizes include gift cards to restaurants, merchandise, amusement park tickets, classes and much more. Also featured is a silent auction with tantalizing gifts. Go to www.sunnysidek5.org for more information.

Nominations Open for MPIC Board

On Thursday, May 20, from 7:30 pm to 8 pm, at the MPIC Clubhouse, nominations from the floor for MPIC Director may be made by MPIC members in good standing (2010 dues paid by April 23, 2010). Nominations will be closed after this time.

Miraloma Elementary School Native Plant Project

Volunteer to help with planting on Sunday, May 1. Contact September Jarrett: semtemberjarrett@comcast.net or (415)334-2490.

San Francisco Police Urge Safety Awareness

by Ingleside Station Captain Louis Cassanego

Safety Precautions on Muni

San Francisco police are urging the public to be vigilant about their safety in public, particularly when using Muni. While on Muni vehicles and at Muni bus stops and platforms, citizens are urged to be vigilant about their surroundings and to note any suspicious activity. On Muni buses, be wary of persons standing especially close or jostling, which may indicate a possible pickpocket or robbery attempt. While waiting for a bus, try to be at a location where there are other persons waiting with you. If you are the only person waiting, go to another stop where others are waiting.

Be especially careful when using electronic devices on transit vehicles. Opportunist criminals know that a person talking on a cell phone, listening to an iPod, or texting, is distracted and thus an easy target. Try to avoid using any electronic device while seated or standing near the rear exit of a transit vehicle, since this door provides a quick exit for grab-and-run suspects.

If you must use an electronic device on the street, be aware that you may be a target for theft. Opportunist criminals, sometimes operating in groups, look for people using these devices and often will approach a victim from behind, knowing that the person talking on a cell phone, texting, or using an iPod is distracted. Some of these criminals are armed with handguns. Avoid becoming so preoccupied with your communication device that you become unaware of your surroundings and fail to notice a person or persons nearby acting suspiciously. Immediately report any robbery by calling 9-1-1.

Avoid Dealing With Curb Number Painters

Now that rains have subsided and our neighborhoods are drying out, Ingleside Station has received several calls about individuals coming to residences to solicit a fee or donation for painting house numbers on the curbs. We discourage this behavior because only the City has the right to paint sidewalks or curbs. The best prevention is for everyone to politely refuse the service.

From the Legal Files: Dog Bite and Your Liability

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

Dogs bite. Depending on the bite, victims might sue the owner of the dog for damages and for pain and suffering. In states like Oregon and Nevada, the “one bite” rule applies.

This law shields the dog owner from liability unless she has knowledge of the viciousness of her dog. Not in California. Here, we have laws known as “strict liability.” These laws make dog owners civilly liable for most dog bites as long as the victim was not trespassing when she was bit by the dog. In fact the law is that “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog.” The courts have decided that a dog does not need to break the skin in order for the owner to be liable.

California courts have ruled that a residential landlord may be held liable for her tenant’s biting dog as long as the landlord has knowledge of the dog’s viciousness and had the opportunity to have the dog removed but did not. Commercial landlords bear a greater duty to their tenants because they have a duty to inspect the premises before renting.

California has laws that hold the owner liable if her dog attacks other animals. California Civil Code section 3341 states: “The owner . . . that shall, on the premises of any person other than the owner, . . . of such dog or other animal, kill, worry, or wound any bovine animal, swine, horse, mule, burro, sheep, angora goat, or cashmere goat, or poultry, shall be liable to the owner of the same for damages and costs of suit.” The owner does not need to have knowledge of the propensity of their dog to bite.

A bite victim who has to submit to rabies treatment can base a cause of action on the fact that the attacking dog was over four months old when it bit and had not been vaccinated against rabies.

Splashin’ in the Rain

by Joanne Whitney

The news is so full of stabbings and robberies and general meanness that I was touched this rainy Sunday morning by the lovely frolicking of a mother and daughter. I was sitting watching the rain fall when the two came into sight. The mother had on a red raincoat, carried on big open umbrella, and held the hand of her little girl. The green-rain-coated daughter jumped off the curb in her big rubber boots and splashed and splashed along in the rivulet running down the gutter. On occasion, the mother joined her. The two proceeded merrily up Teresita Boulevard. This is a picture of Miraloma Park that I like to keep in my mind, and that our neighborhood—and those outside of it—should know defines our way of life.

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

by Joanne Whitney and Dan Liberthson

A quorum of the Board was present. The minutes for the March meeting were accepted.

Nominating Committee: Karen Wood and Kathy Rawlins were appointed to the Nominating Committee for the June MPIC elections of delegates and officers.

Program for election day: Greg Gaar possible, Jacquie Proctor possible but will be on Dan’s literary program in May, J Whitney suggested that September Jarrett give presentation on obtaining a grant and on entire process of planting native garden and involving students at Miraloma Elementary. Karen Breslin suggested that voting be by mail so many could participate. Could use a page in newsletter for a ballot. Members would send in by a specified date. Would require change in by-laws.

Umbrella Neighborhood Organizations: No report for the Coalition of SF Neighbors, which is reviewing city propositions for Sept. At West of Twin Peaks Central Council, there was a review of the new IRS rules. Hospice closing and what to do at Laguna Honda were discussed. Sean Elsbernd is circulating a petition to return to old methods of calculating salary for Muni employees.

Ed Briskin (Department of Public Works) talked about a new bond to upgrade safety response (water, fire, central command station).

Increase in parking fees and a possible fee for non-San Franciscans to enter arboretum were discussed.

Guest Presenters: September Jarrett and her son Justin gave update on native plant gardening around Miraloma School from the entrance near Omar and Myra to the gym area near the Rec and Park site. Much nonnative material has been removed, some of which has been used by Jennifer, Rec & Park gardener, for other areas around school.

Two workdays are coming up: April 18 for soil amendment and May 1 for planting. Workers will be fed well. Temporary drip irrigation will be placed until the plants are established and can exist without supplementation. In addition to plants there will be some work on the hardscaping. September passed out pictures of metal and wooden benches. School kids will help with maintenance and the garden will become part of present plan supported by school board which includes an edible garden. Justin explained how he helped with maintenance and how his sister actually ate chard. Participation of the school children has been a great boon to the community. The workdays will be announced in the Miraloma Life. A list of actual plants purchased from nursery in Santa Rosa will be supplied to Mike Naughton. Articles about the work will be placed in Miraloma Life. Pictures would be desirable. The Board liked wooden benches but thought that metal benches were very attractive and would be easier to maintain. They were concerned about gouging of initials, etc., on wood.

Parking Lot Party Event Planning: Tasks were assigned and discussed.

Safety Committee: Sgt. Jim Miller has been a policeman for 32 years and stationed at Ingleside for 4.5 years. He is the Community Liaison from the Ingleside Precinct to Miraloma Park. Sergeant Miller talks to groups, finds out their complaints, needs, suggestions, reports to his captain, and helps to implement suggested ideas. He pointed out that good communication is the basis of good community relations. The Sergeant talked about the stabbing on Mt. Davidson, and assured the board that the perpetrator will be prosecuted . He answered questions about better surveillance of the pathways to the mountain, Portola strip, dog alley areas, and other “hangouts” in Miraloma Park. He discussed efforts to coordinate with the SOTA principal and with Juvenile Hall. The Sergeant. believes that lives would be saved if stunning were an alternative when a perpetrator is wielding a gun or a knife. He promised to see that Miraloma Park gets its full complement of police patrols. A marijuana growing house at 128 Marietta has been shut down. The Assistant DA wrote a letter to owner Walsh citing all concerns and legal implications of his property being used as a grow house. Growing paraphernalia, sheet rock and all areas involved in the operation are being torn out. Sergeant Miller pledged to help with other marijuana grow houses, including talking to owners about unruly behavior. He may set up meeting with the Safety Committee and owners at the Miraloma Clubhouse. The Sergeant will summarize this meeting and all the concerns of the people of Miraloma Park and present them to his Captain. The Board thanked Sergeant Miller for all his efforts over the years to help keep Miraloma Park safe.

Membership: Approximately 700 letters waiting for folding and stuffing to go out to attract members.

Events: Dan Liberthson requested $25.00 for refreshment for literary gathering to be held on Sunday, May 23, which was approved.