Miraloma Life Online – December 2008

  • Annual Holiday Party
  • Dear Miraloma Park Resident
  • Wanted:  Writers for Miraloma Life
  • Ingleside Station Information
  • Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines
  • A New Year’s Resolution That You Can Keep
  • Whatcha Gonna Do?
  • Do It Right: Use an Architect
  • Legal Ease
  • A Shopping Experience
  • Fools’ Luck
  • Benefits of Dollar-Cost Averaging
  • Stopover
  • Flight and Descent

Annual Holiday Party

 Fire-up the oven and get out your favorite recipe to prepare for the MPIC Holiday Party and Cook-Off. The event will take place at the MPIC clubhouse on Sunday, December 7 from 5pm to 8pm.  This has always been the highlight of the year, as neighbors join together to share the warmth of the fire, the tastes of many wonderful dishes, and the merriment of the entertainment.

The banquet will be hosted by the MPIC, who will provide roast turkey, ham, and a variety of hot and cold beverages including our famous champagne punch. Everyone attending is encouraged to bring a dish to share. Please bring enough for at least twelve people.   Remember, the more you bring, the more people can sample, and the more votes you’ll have and a better chance to win one of the spectacular prizes. 

Categories include Appetizers and Salads, Main Dishes, Side Dishes and Desserts.

Winners of the each category, will choose from among gift certificates and gift items from our local merchants. Past donors have included Tower Market, Round Table Pizza, Bird and Beckett Book & Music Store, Creighton’s, Miraloma Cleaners, Tower Burger, Chenery Park Restaurant and many others.  Those not able to bring a dish to share will be sked for a small donation
Music will be provided by the very talented Laura Lee Brown and Company.  An encore appearance was requested after they performed so well at last year’s party.

Also, to the delight of young and old, Boswick Turnstyle, Jr., clown extraordinaire and veteran of Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus, will perform his holiday magic from 6 to 7 PM.


Dear Miraloma Park Resident,

We invite you to renew your membership in the Miraloma Park Improvement Club (MPIC) by returning the enclosed form with your annual dues.  If you are not currently a member, please consider joining to support your neighborhood volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining and improving the great quality of life we enjoy in Miraloma Park.  We operate as a non-profit neighborhood organization working with neighbors, our district supervisor and city agencies on a broad range of issues that serve the needs of the community.

Our clubhouse, located at O’Shaughnessy and Del Vale, was built and donated to the neighborhood in 1937 by the original developers of Miraloma Park.  It’s a charming and beautiful room with a stage, kitchen and fireplace.  Our board members work diligently to maintain it, and it is available for rental at reduced rates for MPIC members.

The MPIC produces The Miraloma Life, our neighborhood’s monthly newsletter, and our website www.miralomapark.org.  The newsletter and website provide a means for us to reach out to residents to inform the community of our activities.  Residents also contribute to the dialogue, covering various topics of interest.

In 1999, the MPIC produced the Miraloma Park Residential Design Guidelines, which were adopted by the San Francisco Planning Commission.  The guidelines help insure that when homeowners improve their property, they do so within the context of their surroundings, while maintaining the character and charm of our neighborhood.

We put on many fun and educational events throughout the year including historical presentations, local area tours, candidate and local issue forums, kitchen and garden tours, and social events including our annual holiday party in early December.

Safety on Teresita is an on-going effort that is critical to everyone’s well-being.  The MPIC board works diligently with city officials to reduce speeding using careful placements of stop signs, speed monitors and other
 traffic calming tactics.

The MPIC has zero tolerance for any criminal activity in Miraloma Park.  Our active Safety committee’s mission is to maintain close relationships with the officers at Ingleside station, insuring that Miraloma Park remains the peaceful and relatively crime-free neighborhood we all enjoy.  We promote “community policing”, encouraging neighbors and officers to know and collaborate with one another.  We have worked very effectively with the City Attorney and SFPD advocating for code enforcement and curbing criminal activity, including drug house abatement.  The Safety committee has also been vocal with SFPD management supporting a full staff of officers at Ingleside station, insuring that our neighborhood gets its fair share of patrol car coverage.

Graffiti is a type of vandalism and urban blight that is not tolerated in our neighborhood by the MPIC.  Our board members consistently and swiftly eradicate graffiti as soon as it appears.  The quicker it’s removed, the less likely it is that it will re-appear.  The MPIC initiated this effort many years ago, and it is the reason why Miraloma Park is typically graffiti-free, unlike most other San Francisco neighborhoods.

Our dedicated volunteer Board of Directors give freely of their time to help to make this community a better place to live, but we cannot succeed without your support.   Also, the more members we have, the more credibility we have with city agencies, allowing us to more effectively lobby on your behalf.   Please fill in the 2009 membership form in this month’s newsletter, and send it in with your check.  We greatly appreciate your support.


Mike Naughton
President, MPIC



Wanted:  Writers for Miraloma Life

We are always interested in stories about life in Miraloma Park, about the strange and not so   
strange denizens that one can encounter on an evening walk up and down our gentle hills.  Why not write about
what you have seen and let us all share in you  experieneces.

The website is very popular but your ideas can reach an even  larger audience if you organize them for publication in  
Miraloma  Life.

If you write poetry or prose or articles about health, gardening, home improvement, home care, home safety, please let your neighbors have the benefit of your knowledge.  Contact the editor at whitneyj@pharmacy.ucsf.edu.


Ingleside Station Information


Captain: Denis F. O’Leary
San Francisco Police Department
1 Sergeant John Young Lane, S.F., CA 94112
Desk: (415) 404-4030
Fax:    (415) 404-4008

To receive a copy of the Ingleside Station Newsletter please send an email to:
InglesideStationNew sletter-subscrib e@yahoogroups. Com



Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines

The Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines were adopted in 1999 by the City Planning Commission to promote preservation of neighborhood character by encouraging residential design compatible with neighborhood setting.  Residential Design Guidelines can facilitate the complex and often frustrating process of permit application and design review and can prevent costly and time-consuming Discretionary Review proceedings. Guidelines at www.miralomapark.org.



A New Year’s Resolution That You Can Keep

 by Joanne Whitney, pharmacist

One of the easiest New Year’s Resolutions to keep is to clean out your medicine cabinet in the first week of January every year.  If you are like most of us,  your medicine cabinet contains unfinished vials of antibiotics and over the counter drugs, old band-aids, dirty gauze, some never-to-be-used again makeup, empty lipsticks, congealed deodorants, rusty nail clippers, ancient toothbrushes and an endless variety of half-empty tubes and bottles with no labels.

Check the expiration date of all products in your cabinet including herbal, vitamin and homeopathic preparations.  When you find expired products, throw out these useless items since they will not be effective and will get in the way of your finding something you really need.

Moreover, some prescription medications like tetracycline antibiotics can form dangerous derivatives after prolonged storage.  Taking such expired products can make you very sick.

Also consider that the hot, humid and easily accessible bathroom cabinet is not a good place to store medicine. Bathroom conditions hasten the degradation of most medicines. A better place would be somewhere cool, dark and dry where children cannot get to them

A locked closet is an excellent alternative.


Whatcha Gonna Do?

Here’s a quiz: You’re walking or driving in the neighborhood and you see some people spraying graffiti on a wall. You should:

(a) Go over and tell them to stop.
(b) Pull out your spray paint can and offer to help.
(c) Turn up the volume on your iPod and ignore it.
(d) Call 911.
(e) Call 553-0123.

The correct answer, of course, is the last one: the number to report a non-emergency to the police. Unfortunately the response to your call, both the time for the dispatcher to answer and for authorities to respond, is often infuriatingly slow.

Recently the neighborhood has been plagued by juveniles hanging out between or after classes in places where they are not welcome: alleys, front stoops, back yards. Some of them have been using or sharing drugs, threatening residents, and vandalizing property with graffiti. What do you do if you see a bunch of them gathered near your house? In most cases, nothing: it is not a crime for kids to hang out in a public space. But if they are committing a public nuisance, tagging, or trespassing, then as long as no injuries are threatened and no serious crime is being committed, the 553-0123 number is the one to call. If you see a crime in progress—especially assault, theft, or breaking and entering—then call the emergency number 911 from a land line or 553-8090 from a cellphone. You need not identify yourself, but you should provide as detailed a description as possible, including the gender, race, and attire of the people, time, location, and the number of individuals involved.

Captain O’Leary of the Ingleside Police District also requests that you report anyone you see acting suspiciously in ringing doorbells or prowling around people’s yards. And if you find a vehicle parked in your vicinity with expired registration, send an email with the license plate number, description and location to Denis.O’Leary@sfgov.org (or you can call the station at (415)404-4000). The station also has an anonymous tip line: (415)587-8984. 
Graffiti vandalism continues to be a plague in the area, owing in part to the number of juveniles attending school at the nearby McAteer/SOTA campus and the Youth Guidance Center. Taggers compete with each other for prominence, so removing the graffiti as quickly as possible is essential to prevent it from proliferating. If the graffiti is on public property, call 38-CLEAN (282-5326) or the city’s switchboard 311.  You may need to call again if there is no response within a couple of days.  If possible, photograph the tag and email it to the Graffiti Unit of the SFPD (sfpd_graffiti_unit@pacbell.net) for use as evidence in prosecuting the vandals.

Recently an alert neighbor spotted a group of kids hanging out behind the Miraloma Park clubhouse, drinking, smoking, and tagging the building and the furniture. He called the police non-emergency line. It took two calls, but the police arrived and stopped the “party” before more serious damages occurred. The police cannot be everywhere, but with us as their eyes and ears we can help keep our neighborhood clean and safe.


Do It Right: Use an Architect

By Cassandra Mettling-Davis, Architect

Some people mistakenly believe that an architect only provides a product in the form of drawings for a building project, when, in fact, the architect performs a variety of services for a client. An architect is a licensed design professional, and may only use the word “architect” if he or she has a license issued by the State.  California state licensing requirements, which are administered by the California Architects Board, require that individuals must have 8 years of combined education and professional experience under the direction of a licensed architect, pass a rigorous 27 hours of examinations and an oral interview before being awarded a license to practice in the State of California. 

There are many reasons why a homeowner should consult a licensed architect when embarking on any home remodeling or expansion project.  The process of remodeling can often be overwhelming and complicated.  Even people who consider themselves to be creative and talented in the area of home improvement can benefit from the experience of an architect.  One certainly wants to ensure that the money spent on their project is maximized, that the desired outcome is clearly communicated to the builder, and that the end result meets or exceeds all of one’s expectations.  Overseeing construction on a project can be a second full-time job for the homeowner, and disputes between owners and builders during construction are inevitable. Using an experienced architect as your agent during construction can minimize these disputes, and save you cost overruns and untold anguish. Here are some of the services that a licensed architect can provide:

Pre-Design: Your architect should listen to you and comprehend what your goals are. He or she should also clearly communicate to you the entire process, including possible obstacles that can arise.

It is important that the architect acquire background information on a project before embarking on the design.  These items may include finding out if special planning and design guidelines apply to your neighborhood, unique site conditions, and whether the homeowner plans on staying in the home long-term or may possibly sell in the future.
Design Development: To fully utilize your architect’s experience and skills, several alternative designs should be reviewed.  By examining different possibilities, you can proceed with confidence knowing that various options were considered. In some cases, reworking the existing floor plan is a better solution than adding an addition or a new floor. Many of us have underutilized garage spaces that can be developed in a more cost effective manner than adding a floor.  The architect can present ideas that the homeowner may have overlooked that can greatly improve his or her ideas.  The architect considers potential designs in terms of ease of construction, the effects of shadow and light, while taking into account building code requirements. Experienced architects take into account the effect an expansion may have on adjacent properties and mitigate any negative effects through conscientious design measures. 

It is a good neighbor policy to discuss expansions in the early stages of design to find out what your neighbors’ concerns might be and to address them.  We are, after all, in close quarters in this City, and good neighbor relations truly improve the quality of life. 

Architects have access to many building material resources, and are up-to-date with the latest products.  Architects typically provide finish material specifications such as tile patterns, trim, flooring selection, plumbing fixture choices, and color schemes, to name a few. 

Construction Documents: The architectural drawings serve several purposes.  They document what the client’s end result should look like, provide the information required to obtain building permits, communicate information to the builder so that a comprehensive construction cost estimate can be provided, and serve as part of the contract between the owner and the builder. 

Building Permits:  Architects need to be knowledgeable of the building and planning code requirements and stay abreast of changes, as these codes are constantly being revised.  Being able to navigate the approval process at the building and planning departments is an art in itself, with different jurisdictions having different methods of obtaining permits.  It is advisable that your architect have experience with the building department applicable to your project, especially with larger projects. 

Bidding and Negotiation: The architect can assist the homeowner in identifying the right contractor for the job, review the owner-builder agreement and make sure that the owner’s best interests are upheld.  The architect also can make recommendations to the owner that the payment schedule to the builder is fair to both parties.

Construction Administration:  It is in the best interest of the homeowner to have the architect observe construction periodically to make sure that the work is being performed in a manner consistent with the building plans. By providing oversight during the construction process, the architect can help to see that the completed project meets the satisfaction of the client and that all items promised by the construction agreement are met, prior to final payment to the builder.

For more information and what to expect from your architect visit the California Architects Board at http://www.cab.ca.gov/.



Legal Ease

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

This column will discuss jury duty for the Superior Court of San Francisco. 

The county of San Francisco has two courts that use juries: the Civic Center Courthouse at 400 McAllister Street and the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant Street.  The Youth Guidance Center at 375 Woodside Avenue does not use juries because it deals with offenders under the age of 18, and therefore the proceedings are confidential. 

The United States and California Constitutions guarantee the right to a trial by jury.  The San Francisco Jury Commissioner is authorized under state law to randomly select names of licensed drivers from the Department of Motor Vehicles and from voter registration records.  You are qualified to be a juror if you are a U.S. citizen, are at least 18 years old, know enough English enough to understand and discuss court testimony, are a San Francisco resident, have not served on a jury within the last 12 months and are not a convicted felon. 

Potential jurors are entitled to a six-month postponement of jury service.  This is available by completing Box A on the Response Form to the jury summons and returning it to the court.  If you do not ask for an extension, the Jury Commissioner mandates that you, as a potential juror, be available anytime during a five-day period that you are called for jury duty.  San Francisco has a system for checking by telephone whether you have been called to serve.  If you are not required to report during the week, then your jury service is completed for the year.  If you are asked to report to a courthouse during the week but are not assigned to a courtroom for jury selection on the day you report, then your service is completed for the year.  If you are, however, assigned to a courtroom for jury selection, then you are required to serve for the trial’s duration unless you are excused by the judge. 

Your employer is not required to pay you while you are on jury duty.  Your employer is required, however, to give you time off to serve.  State law prohibits an employer from firing you for taking time off to serve on a jury, provided reasonable notice is given to the employer. You may be excused from jury service if you have a physical or mental impairment, serving would be an extreme financial burden, or need to take care of another person and there is no one else available to do it.

The biggest complaint I receive as an attorney from potential jurors is: “Why do jurors have to wait around so much?”  The reasons for the wait are complicated.  Before a trial begins there is often an effort to settle the case.  Additionally, attorneys argue before the trial begins what evidence should be presented to the jury, and which order evidence should be presented.  During the trial, issues come up and the judge may need to hear arguments from the attorneys outside of the presence of the jury.  The jury is not supposed to hear arguments about why evidence should be admitted or why certain witnesses should be allowed to testify.

Readers with ideas for future columns may write to the author at mcw@mcwrealestatelaw.com

A Shopping Experience

Sitting outside the “Amish” furniture store
somewhere on the back side of the Catskills
a grizzled woman smokes filters and looks away
from where I bide my time on a wooden barrel.
“Wife’s inside,” I venture, “so I’ve time to kill.”
The woman shifts to look even further away
but a gray cat with swirling chocolate markings
glides to my side, wraps herself neatly
in plump tail, lifts her head and offers green eyes.
She accepts a stroke or two and sits companionably¾
that I come from a far coast no matter to her.
“Scat!” the cigarette woman hisses sharply
and the cat leaps to a highboy on the porch,
then all the way to the roof in a great bound.
Padding up the slope she glances back once,
neatly nods her head and then vanishes
elegantly and forever over the peak.
Cigarette woman’s throat catches and she
rasps harshly to clear it, but does not speak.
I watch the door again. No one walks out.
Never have I felt quite this lonely.

Fools’ Luck

Tremendous crackling in the branches:
wild turkey, tail akimbo, teeters on a limb
barely thick enough to hold it, maybe not:
so precarious but so certain all the while,
pompous, big and riotous as a clown,
blind to the still coyote’s tracking eye.
Stuttering cries as another hoves in sight,
ungainly regal mate or brother crashing on
the same encumbered route one wingbeat
from disaster but somehow rising
just enough, this time, to tear through
the woods’ net and come safe home.

Copyright©Dan Liberthson, 2004



Benefits of Dollar-Cost Averaging

by Eddy Gutierrez

When I meet with clients who are new to investing, I like to tell them about ‘’dollar cost averaging.” Over the long term, it has historically been a smart, low-cost and potentially profitable way to invest.

Dollar-cost averaging simply means investing a set amount of money at regular intervals, usually on a monthly or quarterly basis over a period of years, regardless of what’s happening in the market.  For instance, if you plan to invest $3,000 a year, using the dollar-cost averaging method, you will invest roughly $250 each month.

Consequently, you will buy more shares when the price is lower (during market troughs) and fewer shares when the price is higher (at market peaks). As the months go by, the average cost per share will turn out to be less than the average of the purchase prices. This disciplined approach to investing cuts down on the risk of investing a lump sum at a market high and helps you to continue buying at market lows when others may be selling and missing out on potential future gains.

Dollar-cost averaging doesn’t eliminate risk
Dollar-cost averaging may be an easy and disciplined way to invest, but it doesn’t guarantee that your investments will rise in value, nor does it eliminate the risk that you could lose some or all of your money. Since the method involves continuous investment in securities regardless of the fluctuating price levels, you should consider your financial ability to continue purchases [through periods of low price levels] before deciding to invest this way.

Three major benefits of dollar-cost averaging
· Prevents procrastination. Some investors have a hard time getting started. They may know they should be investing, but they never quite get around to it. Once begun, dollar-cost averaging can be an easy way to commit to regular investing.

· Avoids market timing. Dollar-cost averaging helps you participate in the stock market regardless of current economic conditions.

· Minimizes regret. Even the most unflappable investor may feel a tinge of regret when an investment proves to be ill timed. Worse, such regret may cause you to disrupt your investment strategy in an attempt to make up for your setback. Dollar-cost averaging can minimize this regret because you make multiple investments, with none of them being particularly large.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or investment planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. recommends consultation with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, or financial planner. The information presented here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice.  The investment strategies and advice mentioned may not be suitable for everyone. Schwab believes the information is reliable, but does not guarantee its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. Any opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

Periodic investment plans (dollar cost averaging, dividend reinvestment or Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.’s Automatic Investment Plan, do not assure a profit and do not protect against loss in declining markets. Since the plan involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuating price levels of such securities, you should consider your financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low price levels before deciding to investment this way.

Eddy Gutierrez is Financial Consultant with Charles Schwab & Co. and has been working with clients in the San Francisco area for the past 17 years.



During a three-hour layover in Milan
I found the airport gate, followed the chainlink
fence to the first branch street, wandered
past a bar, its open door spilling out song,
a warehouse with workers smoking, chatting,
one sleeping on a bench after lunch,
found my own bench and sat beneath
a tree with thin vital leaves glowing
in Fall sun, branches sheltering, like ribs
of a gauzy umbrella, nipple-shaped buds
swaying gently in the light warm breeze.

I had nearly two hours to learn each crack
and bump in that green bench, each finger
of the breeze, each curve in the tree limbs.
Only a few people walked by, but those I
memorized instantly: the teenaged girl
undulating in too-warm leathers, the old man
worn grainy as a black and white photo,
the kerchiefed mother guiding a pram
holding the universe of her sleeping infant
carefully over the curb, around my splayed legs,
smiling as if she saw me sprawled there every day.

I was supposed to be traveling to Greece,
but somehow, like my tree, I had grown roots
in this way station, found life more nourishing
than in any wrecked temple or palace I would see
in Achaia. Later, I showed photos to friends,
but had none of this place that felt most like home,
and was reluctant to describe the scene nurturing
within: tree enfolding me, its rough and smooth
textures giving my eyes play through those hours, 
green patterns in sifted yellow light refreshing me
deeply as a forest glade, now seeding my dreams

©2008, Dan Liberthson
for more, visit “Liberthson.com”

Flight and Descent

Days and days of rain past,
the cloud breaks open and lets
a shard of blue show through.
Just there, at eleven o’clock,
a hovering hawk slightly rocks
side to side, tail and wing feathers
feeling to hold the shifting wind.
Suddenly, silently, celebrant, he
stoops into a double barrel-roll
to thrill his close-trailing mate.
My lungs try to draw up and in
the whole sky
wracked with adoration
while she tips her wings
lightly, steadies, and shows
no sign of being swept away.

I have climbed to the summit
of my steep yard to escape
the sour smell of brain work,
snug stale air sagging
within the house like the dull
remnant in a downed balloon.
And for my labor I have earned
the certainty of being earth-
bound. I would give my whole
crabbed frontal lobe to win
what Madame Hawk assumes
her natural due. But I must
let go my heavy breath, give back
the borrowed air and descend,
stair by narrow stair, as new clouds
crowd in and the rain begins again.

©2002, Dan Liberthso