Miraloma Life Online – November 2009

  • MPIC Annual Holiday Party
  • Pro-active Community Safety Practice: Reporting Suspicious Activity
  • San Francisco Gets Tougher on Graffiti
  • From The Legal Files
  • Tips for a Healthy Bay
  • Into the Past
  • Highlights from the MPIC Board Meeting of October 1, 2009
  • Lost Cat – (Poem)

MPIC Annual Holiday Party

Sunday, December 6, 5 to 8 pm
by Dan Liberthson

Once again it is time to fire up the oven and get out your favorite recipe to prepare for the MPIC Holiday Party and Cook-Off. 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, the merriment and entertainment, and the festive atmosphere and decorations in our newly renovated Clubhouse. This is a great way for those new to the neighborhood to meet their neighbors, and for those who have lived here for years to renew old acquaintance, all the while sampling culinary delights and fine Holiday entertainment.

Music will be provided by the very talented Laura Lee Brown and Company. As usual, they were wonderful last year and were invited back by popular acclaim. To the delight of  kids of all ages and the amusement of adults with a bit of kid left in them, and in keeping with our Holiday Party tradition, Boswich Turnstyle Jr., clown extraordinaire and veteran of Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Baily CIrcus, will perform his holiday magic from 6 to 7 PM.

The banquet will be hosted by the MPIC, which will provide roast turkey, ham, and roast beef, 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 to feed at least six people. Remember, the more you bring, the more people can sample, the more votes you’ll get, and the better chance you’ll have to win one of the excellent prizes. The Holiday Pot Luck has had an international flavor in past years, with such favorites as Taco Mix, Stilton Cheese, Moroccan Pasta, Chicken Mogul, and a host of other treats. Categories include Appetizers/soups/salads, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, and Desserts.

Winners in each category will choose from among gift certificates and gift items from our local neighborhood merchants. Past donors have
included Tower Market, Round Table Pizza, Bird and Beckett Books and Records, Creightons, Miraloma Cleaners, Tower Burger, and many others.

As the centerpiece of all the fun and the object of the Pot-Luck Cook-off contest is to taste each other’s finest creations, to help with costs those not bringing a dish will be asked to pay $10 per person in their party over 13 years old.

If you have any questions, please phone 281-0892 and leave a message.



Pro-active Community Safety Practice: Reporting Suspicious Activity

by Lt. Louis Cassanego, SFPD Ingleside Station

How do we define suspicious activity and when is it appropriate to report it? Suspicious activity is any activity that doesn’t conform with the ambient norms of the community with respect to time, place and/or manner. Following are some examples:

Time: A playground is normally filled with children playing, running, and shouting, but not at 3:00 AM.
Place: A budding musician practicing the violin is commendable, but not in a library.
Manner: It is not odd when a person walks down a street, but it is when he checks car door handles as he walks.

To put it succinctly, suspicious activity is anything that looks out of place. The experts who know when an activity is out of place are all of you who live in your community. You residents know who lives, works, or visits the area and what cars belong on the street. Residents also know what persons, cars and actions are new or out of place in their community.

It is important to understand that if you think it’s suspicious, it is suspicious. Remember, you are the expert. Don’t hesitate to call the police when you see something you think is suspicious. Don’t wait to call until the person commits a criminal act, and don’t think it’s not worthy for an officer to respond and investigate suspicious activity—because it is.

When speaking to a Dispatcher, I would say the following:

“I witnessed something or someone who is suspicious, and I truly believe a police officer should look into this.”  Then describe precisely why the activity is suspicious (e.g., “this is an unusual activity for our neighborhood”). Try to describe the exact location of the activity or provide an address very close to where it is occurring. Be ready to describe the person(s) and/or vehicle(s) and the direction in which the suspicious person(s) went.

I cannot list all actions that can be perceived as suspicious, but suffice it to say, you will know it when you see it. My best advice is to call the
police when you see suspicious activity, and then let the officer handle the situation. Also, inform your neighbors of the activity, so they can
be your extra eyes and ears. Operation SAFE (Safety Awareness For Everyone, 673-SAFE) does an outstanding job organizing
neighborhood phone trees just for this purpose.



San Francisco Gets Tougher on Graffiti

By Dan Liberthson

As newly appointed District 7 representative to the Graffiti Advisory Board, I attended my first meeting of the Board on Thursday, October 8.

There, I got the details on several new innovative anti-graffiti programs and a stronger anti-graffiti ordinance.  The Board, chaired by Department of Public Works (DPW) Deputy Director of Operatins Mohammed Nuru, is impressive in its depth of community representation and the many avenues it is pursuing. For years I’ve been part of our dedicated crew of volunteer graffiti-fighters in Miraloma Park, and it was heartening to get a sense of the broader, cohesive effort City-wide. Following are excerpts from DPW’s Zero Graffiti Newsletter, Volume 1, which will convey the extent of the City-wide effort to abate this public nuisance. I am looking forward to participating on one of three standing committees: abatement, law enforcement, and education. Though I suspect that an ounce of education may be worth a pound of enforcement, for incorrigibles who refuse education consistent enforcement is the only answer.  Following are excerpts from DPW’s Zero Graffiti Newsletter, Volume 1, which will convey the extent of the City-wide effort to abate this public nuisance.

* * *

The Community Preservation and Blight Reduction Ordinance, passed in December 2008, gives the City new enforcement powers to reduce graffiti, along with other forms of blight, in San Francisco neighborhoods.  Mayor Newsom approved administrative procedures for implementing the ordinance in June, and the Department of Public Works began testing these procedures for graffiti enforcement in mid
August.  DPW staff inspected and notified over 200 property owners who had received two prior Notice of Violations under the Graffiti
Ordinance and allowed the graffiti to remain on their buildings.   In accordance with the ordinance, delinquent owners get 15 days to remove the graffiti and are charged a $250 inspection fee.  DPW reinspects each property, and will charge the owner $500 or more for the abatement service if they fail to comply with the notice.  Under the Blight Ordinance, the property owner has the right to ask for a blight

Taggers face a greater risk of getting caught spray painting property in San Francisco, now that the City has purchased state-of-the-art Merlin Anti-Graffiti System sensors. Merlin sensors use sound technology to detect graffiti vandals in the act of tagging and can instantly notify the property owner and the Police that a crime is being committed. These highly accurate sensors identify a graffiti event by recognizing the sound of aerosol can emissions being used in the immediate vicinity. The Merlin System was developed by Broadband Discover Systems, Inc, a California-based technology company that also develops security systems for law enforcement agencies and the US Military.  Currently Merlin sensors are deployed in over 50 cities throughout the United States.  In California, they been very effective for the Watsonvillle police, who made 20 arrests over a period of five to six months by using the sensors. The city of Pinole, in partnership with Caltrans, is also using the sensors.  Their police department made an arrest within the first seven hours of installing the system.

This fall, the San Francisco Arts Commission is collaborating with the Department of Public Works and the San Francisco Unified School
District to introduce its Where Art Lives graffiti vandalism education program to 4th to 6th grade children and youth in four public elementary or middle schools.  This is the age group when youngsters are most impressionable and at risk to become taggers.  SFAC arts educators have developed a special curriculum to teach them the difference between graffiti vandalism and the creation of public art, which requires permission.  The “Where Art Lives” curriculum consists of a minimum of four weekly lessons led by a teaching artist.  Where additional funding becomes available, the classes have theopportunity to create and paint a mural for their school with their teaching artist.  The Arts Commission is discussion regarding the “Where Art Lives” pilot with a variety of schools in areas where graffiti vandalism has been
increasing, including Martin Luther King Middle School, Jean Parker, John Muir, Paul Revere, Mckinley, and Cesar Chavez, among others.

For additional information contact the SFAC Arts Education Program at 252-2597 or 252-3928.
The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) is collaborating with the Department of Public Works on a second graffiti prevention initiative—the Street smARTS program that will connect artists with private property owners to create murals on exterior walls that are
frequently tagged. Artists and property owners will agree on the design of the mural with the approval of the San Francisco Arts Commission.

DPW is helping SFAC identify potential mural sites and private property partners for the mural program, which is projected to begin in late
fall of 2009.  For information, please contact  the Arts Commission’s Community Arts and Education Program at 252-2597 or 252-3298.



From The Legal Files

By Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

Arbitration Agreements: A Case and A Caveat

What two homeowners did not know about arbitration agreements cost them a half a million dollars.

Many people sign a sales contract for their homes given to them by their real estate agent.  The contract might contain statements about
arbitration that can determine whether a court can review an arbitrator’s decision.

Mr. and Mrs. Christensen sold their home in Newport Beach to Mr. Smith for $8,350,000.  The property had two boat docks.  The second
dock, which ran along the property line, actually belonged to his neighbor.

Shortly after the purchase, Mr. Smith received a letter from the city stating the home’s second boat dock would be torn down.  Smith and the Christensens submitted the matter to arbitration, as provided for in the sales contract, regarding whether the Christensens had failed to
disclose to Smith the true ownership of the boat dock.  The arbitrator awarded Smith $543,451 for the value of the lost dock.

The Christensens filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the arbitrator’s decision.  The Christensens argued that the arbitrator’s decision was
based on a mistaken understanding of the law.  They argued the arbitrator also found that the market value of the property was what Smith paid for it.  Therefore, even without a second dock, Smith suffered no damages.  Under the law, the arbitrator should have ruled in favor of the Christensens.

The court held that the Christensen’s arguments could not be reviewed by a judge because certain arbitration awards in California cannot be
reviewed for legal error.  An exception to this rule is when the parties specifically provide for judicial review in the arbitration agreement.

Here, the sales contracts between the parties did not provide for review of the arbitration award.  The court noted that the language of the
agreement mandating arbitration did not allow the parties to go outside of the general rule that any arbitration award would be final.

Furthermore, the court noted, the agreement terms mandating arbitration did not expressly prohibit the arbitrator from committing legal error.

As a precedent, the court of appeal referred to another case in which the California Supreme Court cautioned parties to specifically provide
for an expanded scope of review in contracts that call for arbitration.  Otherwise, no judicial review will be possible because the court will
believe that all parties wanted a final resolution of the issue.

The court also looked at the language of the Smith and Christensen’s arbitration clause in the sales contract.  The agreement provided that
any interpretation of it was to be governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).  The FAA does not provide for parties to seek judicial review
for legal error.  The California Arbitration Act (CAA), on the other hand, does allow for review if specifically provided for in the agreement.

One legal commentator believes that many sales contracts provide for arbitration under the FAA, and most people do not realize there are
both a federal law and a state law on arbitration.  Depending on the agreement, different legal principles might apply.  Here, the arbitrator’s
award might have been the result of legal error.  Without specifically providing for judicial review under the California Arbitration Act in the
sales contract, the buyer or seller might never get into court, even if he or she is legally right.



Tips for a Healthy Bay

from San Francisco Baykeeper (reprinted with permission)

Small changes in our daily lives can make a big impact on the health of San Francisco Bay. You can help prevent sewage spills, reduce stormwater pollution, and reduce the amount of toxic chemicals that enter the Bay by following these basic pollution prevention tips around
your home.

In Your Home:
Don’t pour fats, oils and grease down the drain. When leftover oil and grease are poured down the drain, they can clog sewer pipes and lead
to sewage spills in the Bay. Instead, wipe oily pots and pans with a paper towel or put excess grease into a can and put it in the trash. Take large quantities of oil and grease to a collection site. Visit http://calfog.org/ CalFOG.org  for locations.

Don’t use toxic products in your household and yard. Limit your purchase and use of harsh chemical cleaning products and of paint,
pesticides and fertilizers that contain hazardous chemicals. Instead, buy less toxic alternatives or make your own natural cleaners. Find
guides on less toxic gardening, pest control, and home cleaning methods at  http://sfwater.org/detail.cfm/MC_ID/17/MSC_ID/197/C_ID/729 sfwater.org
Don’t pour hazardous products down the drain or into street gutters. Once they enter the sewer system, many hazardous chemicals used in
commercial cleaning and yard products end up in the Bay, harming fish, birds, and other wildlife. Always take toxic household and yard
products to a hazardous waste collection facility. Visit http://earth911.com/  Earth911.com for locations.

Don’t put unwanted medications down the sink or toilet. When medications like antibiotics, anti-depressants, and birth control pills are
flushed down the toilet, they aren’t always removed by the wastewater treatment process. These pharmaceuticals persist in the environment, altering the natural state of the Bay and endangering aquatic life and people exposed to the drugs in Bay waters. Take unused medication to a proper disposal facility or place them in a sealed container in the trash. Visit http://baywise.org/DisposalLocations/tabid/67/Default.aspx  Baywise.org  to find a collection site in your area.

Reduce your use of products containing the chemical triclosan. Triclosan is an antibacterial agent linked to serious human health problems and is toxic to aquatic life. Check the labels of products like toothpaste, soaps, detergents and deodorant, and opt for versions that don’t contain triclosan. For a list of products containing triclosan, see the triclosan factsheet at http://www.beyondpesticides.org/antibacterial/triclosan.htm BeyondPesticides.org

In Your Yard and Driveway:
Practice Bay-friendly car maintenance. When you wash your car in your driveway or street, harmful chemicals flow into storm drains and end up in the Bay. Instead, take your car to a car wash facility where the water is diverted to a wastewater treatment plant. Check your car regularly for leaks—oil and gas leaks leave residues on the road that will eventually be flushed into the Bay. Re-use rainwater. Reduce your water consumption and stormwater pollution to the Bay by capturing rainwater in cisterns or buckets outside your home for re-use later. Learn more at the stormwater management section of
http://sfwater.org/mto_main.cfm/MC_ID/14/MSC_ID/361/MTO_ID/559 SFwater.org
Plant a rain garden. Direct the rainwater from your roof, driveway, and walkways to a garden containing native, drought-resistant plants. A
rain garden absorbs rainwater and breaks down pollutants naturally instead of allowing polluted water to flow to the Bay. For instructions on how to build one, visit http://raingardennetwork.com/ RainGardenNetwork.com

In Your Community:
Help your city build Bay-friendly sewage and stormwater systems. Learn more about the stormwater and sewer systems where you live, and support funding increases for infrastructure repairs and upgrades. It’s important that we invest in maintaining effective storm drains and
sewer pipes in order to reduce pollution to the Bay. You can find your local stormwater program at the Bay Area Stormwater Management
Agencies Association website, http://basmaa.org/AboutBASMAA/tabid/55/Default.aspx BASMAA.org

For more information about, and to join, the San Francisco Baykeeper organization, please visit http://www.baykeeper.org/  http://www.baykeeper.org/   on the Web or phone 856-0444.



Into the Past

by Garrett Griffin (©2008, Garret Griffin)

On a recent cool but sunny Saturday morning several members of the Photochrome Camera Club walked through a 12-foot brick wall and steel-clad Star Gate into the middle of the 19th century. Well, not really. It was a structure from that time, Fort Point to be exact. A Civil War era Army building, Fort Point was built to defend the Golden Gate, not the bridge of that name, but the entrance to a destination that
promised riches to all who passed through, San Francisco Bay and environs.

The members weren’t there for a history lesson, although we all learned something new that day, I’m sure. We were there to find that illusive one picture. You know, the one that gets the photographer that crown of laurel.

I suppose that is an over statement. We were all there just to take pictures, to create a memorable image or at least try. Once inside, our
Photochrome knot came undone, members scattering on their own to find that image. We wandered among cathedral-like passages and
into dark, dusty corners, crossed the parapets of the high protective walls and tripped over rusty steel cleats that once anchored long-gone
gun emplacements. The sun-filled courtyard made a great foreground for pictures of the tower on the battlements, while the Golden Gate
Bridge created a most dramatic background. Stored barrels of gun powder, ready for the defending cannons, lay neatly stacked on a rack,
like fine ageing wine. We discovered repeating doorways, framing long halls to infinity, and dusty “blue belly” Army uniforms in dustier display

There was something for every eye. Our members did well, recording numerous images throughout the morning. One picture, at least, must
be that sought-after masterpiece we all search for. I know it was there. I only hope one of us found it. The members returned through that brick and steel Star Gate to the 21st century, and a few hungry souls adjourned to the warming hut at Crissy Field for sustenance and conversation after their memorable foray into the past.

[Note: This article was originally written for The Photo chrome Camera Club of San Francisco, which is located at http://photochrome.org/club http://photochrome.org/club on the Web.]



Highlights from the MPIC Board Meeting of October 1, 2009

A quorum of Directors was present.

Events: D. Liberthson and K. Rawlins will co-chair the holiday party committee. How to get people to bring dishes to Holiday Party was discussed.  A decision was made to charge a $10.00 entry fee per head for all persons 13 or older who do not bring a dish large enough to serve 6 people. Boswick the clown and Laura Lee’s band will entertain. City college students will serve. M. Naughton, D. Liberthson, R. Gee agreed to solicit prizes from merchants, using a letter to the merchants outlining the value of the publicity they will receive.

For the planned April 2010 event, the BBQ aspect (fun and eats) will be highlighted in publicity, though safety presentations will also be offered. The Board will try to come up with ideas for children’s events.

Membership: Following 387 letters delivered reminding Miraloma Park residents to join or renew their membership, 60 new members joined;
500 more letters remain to be delivered. Four membership solicitations per year are planned.

Clubhouse Maintenance: K. Wood made a motion that “Neither traps, nor poisons/toxins, nor devices potentially harmful to wildlife will be used at any time to control gophers on the outside ground of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club Clubhouse,” which passed. How to
achieve all the cleaning up needed at the Clubhouse after rentals was discussed. Re K. Wood’s and J. Whitney’s research into natural
means of gopher control, Don Monsor of  the Randall Museum claims that barn owls may not be a good control for gophers since they are
nocturnal and gophers are diurnal. Also, great horned owls predominate in SF and are a predator of barn owls. The Marin group selling barn owl houses claim that they may still be a deterrent because the houses may attract kestrels, which could control gophers. Further research is planned.

Planning: The Zoning and Planning Committee. D Liberthson and K Rawlins announced that after the native plant sale in early November, at which plants will be purchased, the new plants will be placed in Clubhouse native plant garden. The Board discussed ways to facilitate correct disposal of garbage, recycling, and mulchables after events, and will look into separate, large, labeled containers for the kitchen.

Planning: Zoning and Planning Committee members will meet with neighbors and sponsor representatives at the Clubhouse on October 7 re the proposed Foerster/Los Palmos development. Many in the community are unclear about the 2004 and 2009 housing elements: what they contain and what positions we should take. We will work at getting clarification. Miraloma Life: We have two new delivery persons.

Traffic:  A letter will be distributed to residents around the Miraloma School asking neighbors for input re how important the parking and traffic situation near the school is to them. Other: September Jarret and Allison Rothman, Miraloma School parents working to plant more native plants around the school, will be invited to speak at the November Board meeting. The MPIC has written a letter supporting a request for a grant for this project. More discussion about MTA’s plan to eliminate one left-turn lane from Portola to Fowler in order to create a bicycle lane indicates ongoing concern about this plan and the need for action. Rules regarding use of  MPIC letterhead by Committees and individual

Board members were clarified; a motion by R Gee was passed: letterhead may be used by Committees for official business, but other uses should be checked with the President, VP, or Corresponding Secretary. J. Lane has been appointed to the Ingleside Advisory Committee; it was decided he should inform that Committee that he will represent the MPIC at their meetings. J. Lane called for a committee to deal with neighborhood parks, e.g., the children’s swings, slides, etc. at Miraloma Park, and asked for money to help support the opening party for the Sunnyside Park and Conservatory. Discussion of these proposals was tabled until the November Board Meeting. J. Whitney suggested that there be a parliamentarian and that the Board meeting be run according to Robert’s Rules; this will be discussed further.



Lost Cat

My sweet black Nefertiti
killed by a car
thirty years ago
still sat on our windowsill
every dinner time
condensing from the dark
long enough to tear my heart
with one hooked claw,
then melt into the night.

Now, another cat is lost.
Posters on nearly every pole
(as if sheer multiplicity could force
the answer to at least one prayer)
promise a THOUSAND dollars
for your return. For you, Tabitha,
there is still hope (bait that keeps
love’s teeth biting): your tabby body,
honey colored and dark striped,
is absent too. No bloody mess,
no fur tufts on the mountain
where some hungry raccoon
craved flesh more than cash.

Some comfort there, but shrinking
as the nights grow longer
and you go on missing.
Oh, Cheshire cat, you suckle
on our yearning more greedily,
draw love’s milk harder
and make the ache sharper
now only your smile remains.
Without corpus delicti
we can doubt your death but
cannot trust your life.

If only love could do
everything we need it to,
but it cannot conquer all—
not even its own illusions.
Why must you return,
half ghost, to haunt our dreams,
when, waking, here kitty
draws only a phantom purr
and the faint wind sometimes
we think we feel stirring
from your ringed tail’s passage.
As in heaven, we can’t believe
yet we can’t bear to disbelieve.

©2009 by Dan Liberthson
(from Dan’s forthcoming book of poems titled Animal Songs)