Miraloma Life Online – October 2010

  • Fall Ballot Issues Forum
  • Update From the MPIC Safety Committee
  • Captain’s Message
  • Scented Geraniums Are Really Pelargoniums
  • From the Legal Files: An Arbitration Clause in a Home Purchase and Sale Agreement
  • Return of the Repressed
  • Summary of the Minutes of the MPIC Board Meeting of September 2, 2010

Fall Ballot Issues Forum

By Jim O’Donnell

In keeping with our on-going Fall series about city politics, MPIC will be featuring speakers, both pro and con, on the major ballot issues in the election. You will have the chance to ask questions and learn more about who is behind them and their effect on the taxpayers and quality of life in the City.  The  propositions we will be discussing are B (City Retirement and Health Plans), E (Election Day Voter Registration),  F (Health Service Board Elections (sponsored by Dist. 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who will be attending), and G (Transit Operator Wages).  B and G involve long-term effects, on pensions in the former and Muni in the latter.  We will also feature Proposition D (Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections).

Refreshments will be served, so get ready to rub shoulders with your neighbors and of course, officials attending will be able to answer any other questions you might have about the election.

Date: Sunday, October 17th
Time: 2-5PM
Where: Miraloma Park Improvement Clubhouse, 350 Del Vale at O’Shaughnessy

See you there!

Update From the MPIC Safety Committee

by the Board of Directors Safety Committee, Miraloma Park Improvement Club

Youth-Related Problems in Miraloma Park

To date in this academic year, residents have reported that youth are not congregating in what had been problem areas: The MPIC has requested that the School of the Arts (SOTA), the Academy of Arts and Sciences on the SOTA campus, the SF Police Department (SFPD), and the Juvenile Probation Department (JPD) re-implement last academic year’s successful collaborative plan for abating youth-related problems in Miraloma Park, as follows.

1. Students at SOTA and EMSA will be informed of the areas they are allowed to enter if permitted to leave the school campus during the school day. [Please note: in April, 2010, EMSA became a closed campus.]

2. The SFPD will make passing calls specifically during the Noon hour in the areas previously identified as problematic.

3. Field ID cards completed by SFPD personnel on minors found within the Miraloma Park neighborhood during school hours will be forwarded to both the JPD and SOTA administrators.

4. Staff from the JPD, EMSA, and SOTA will conduct frequent periodic walk-throughs throughout the neighborhood to identify students engaged in inappropriate conduct.

5. Principal Sgarloto will address the student body at SOTA regarding the concerns raised during this meeting and his expectations for students and their conduct within the local neighborhood.

The EMSA, serving youth involved in the JPD and located on the Juvenile Justice Center site, is now a closed campus.

The Board of Directors of the MPIC once again thanks Captain Cassanego, Mr. Sgarlato, Mr. Sifferman, and all of the dedicated professionals serving San Francisco’s children and youth for giving their time, expertise, and commitment to improving safety and quality of life not only for Miraloma Park residents but also for our community’s youth.

The Miraloma Elementary School Traffic and Parking Mitigation Plan

Our collaborative partnership with the School to abate parking and traffic problems has paid off. The MPIC has received no reports of illegal parking. Parents are arriving 15 minutes or so earlier than in previous years and are parking further from the School and walking to School as early as 7:35 AM. Major components of the Plan that have been implemented are: (1) a process for communicating directly with Mr. Machado when residents’ driveways are blocked so that he can advise vehicle owners to move their vehicles immediately; (2) notification of residents in the immediate vicinity of the School of this process and providing contact information to be used in the event that a driveway is blocked; (3) a comprehensive plan for educating parents about the importance of not parking vehicles at corners, on bulb-outs, or blocking driveways; (4) increased and ongoing monitoring of traffic and parking patterns by School personnel; and (5) increased SFMTA and SFPD patrols. The MPIC has provided Miraloma Elementary with reflective safety vests for this purpose.

The MPIC is grateful to Mr. Machado, Ingleside Sergeant Jim Miller, Captain Cassanego, and the SFMTA for working as a team with us.  The Plan is replicable, and the Safety Committee will explore ways in which we can share it with other neighborhoods, many of which have similar school-related parking and traffic congestion problems.

Please continue to advise us of any School-related parking/traffic problems that you may experience.

Burglary: 500 block of Molimo

The MPIC Safety Committee posted neighbor alert flyers on the 400 and 500 blocks of Molimo Drive regarding a daytime burglary on August 26 on the 500 block of Molimo, with entry made through an unlocked door by an 18 to 20 year old African American male whom the resident encountered in the home. Property in the home had been moved, but the suspect left without incident and fled the scene (SFPD Report number 100782764). If you have observed suspicious activity that may be related to this crime, please do not hesitate to contact the SFPD at 553-0123. Even small details can be helpful in identifying suspects.

Safety tip: Always keep windows and doors locked when you are away from home.

In addition, police are interested in contacting daytime solicitors, individuals who sometimes use solicitation as a cover for casing houses to burglarize. If you observe door-to-door solicitation, please call 911 and tell Dispatch that police have asked citizens to contact them about door-to-door soliciting for further investigation.

Miraloma Park continues to be one of the safest neighborhoods in San Francisco. You can help to prevent future crimes by proactively and without delay calling the police if you find a suspicious person on your property or in the neighborhood. When in doubt, call and let officers determine whether or not the individual or activity poses a community safety problem.

Captain’s Message

by Ingleside Captain Louis Cassanega, from his Daily E-Mail Report

Lately, I have been writing about “Neighborhood Heroes.”  Neighborhood heroes are residents who see suspicious activity and report it to the police.  Here is another example of a hero:

On Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 11:30 in the morning, our hero walked out of his home and saw two persons wearing black hooded sweatshirts standing against a building.  The two stood next to each other and kept looking about, as if they were “lookouts.”  Our hero stared at them, which made the two nervous.  A third person was walking a dog and got into a parked vehicle.  The two previous persons ran to the same vehicle and got in.  The vehicle then drove away, but not before our hero wrote down the license plate number.  Our hero was concerned because of the recent incidents of burglaries.  He was so concerned that he drove around the neighborhood to conduct his own investigation and spotted the vehicle parked.  He saw a person wearing a black hooded sweatshirt coming out of a neighbor’s house.  Our hero knew this person wasn’t a resident so he called the police.  When the police arrived, our hero pointed out the vehicle, which was now unoccupied.  Officers found multiple laptops in the vehicle.  After a little investigation, one of the suspects was taken into custody and stolen property from the burglary was recovered.

Once again, this example shows how you can be a neighborhood hero.  You are the neighborhood expert when it comes to a suspicious person or suspicious activity and when something is “out of place” in your community.  Just your observations and a phone call can stop not only a crime but possibly a crime wave.

Editor’s Note: Call 911 for emergency situations requiring the immediate response of police, fire, or medical personnel, including crimes in progress or about to happen. Call 553-0123 for non-emergency situation that require the police, but do not require an immediate police response (e.g., loud parties, a group of juveniles loitering in front of your home, noise complaints).

Scented Geraniums Are Really Pelargoniums

by Joanne Whitney

Plentiful in gardens all over the Bay Area and known as geraniums, these wonderful plants from South Africa are properly identified as pelargoniums.  The genus name Pelargonium comes from the Greek pelargos, meaning stork.  The plants were once called “storkbills” because their long narrow seed capsule resembles the bill of a stork.


Of the more than 250 species of pelargoniums, the most remarkable and desirable are those that produce fragrances. Glands at the base of little hairs on the underside of the leaves release scented oils.  The most common scents are sweet, floral, herbal, spicy, pungent, aromatic, and woodsy. The oils are thought to protect the plant from predators, which are repelled by smells we consider wonderful.  People have used pelargonium oils in perfumes, cosmetics, pot-pouris, sachets, and even in foods for centuries. Try fancying up rice pudding with some rose-scented pelargonium leaves. What a treat! Sometimes it is necessary to crush the leaf to release the aroma, but often just brushing against the plants will surround you with a heady fragrance.  In Europe, pelargoniums are often planted along pathways so that visitors walking up to the door will be greeted by heavenly aromas.  Much greener and more aesthetically satisfying than air freshener that whooshes out of a can!

The plants that produce scents are sometimes species but often hybrids are bred to generate a particular bouquet. The rose and rose-lemon scented pelargoniums are perhaps the best loved and easiest to find in garden stores.  “Attar of Roses” is a large plant with a strong rose scent that is used in commercial perfumes.  It can be found in almost any nursery and often in front of hardware and grocery stores that display and sell a few plants to capture customers.

The second most common pelargonium aromas are the citrus scents. Citrus fragrances abound and P crispum is as lemony as a freshly cut lemon.  Other citrus aromas include lemon rose, orange, and lime.

Many pelargoniums have fruity bouquets.  Pelargonium odoritissimus smells like apple cider. Be careful when buying this species because some specimens have no scent at all.  Crush a leaf to be sure. Pineapple-scented plants are fairly easy to find. Stone fruits such as peach, apricot, mango, and almond are well represented, as is the berry family. “Strawberry” is sought after because of its breathtaking fragrance and because it makes a sensational display in a hanging basket.  Pelargonium grossulariodes could fool you into thinking that someone had just baked a coconut cream pie. Mint fragrances are not uncommon, and ‘Peppermint” is an easily grown example.

Who would believe that a plant could smell like nutmeg, cinnamon, camphor ,or black pepper?  Many pelargonium varieties astound with these herbal scents.  Among the pungent varieties are those that smell like oak, pine, cedar, and even eucalyptus.


Pelargoniums offer much else in addition to wonderful bouquets,.  They are attractive plants that can be grown in the garden, in window boxes, and in clay or plastic pots both outdoors and, if the right spot is found, indoors.  They display a variety of forms ranging from sprawling ground cover to full bushes to seven to eight foot shrubs.  They can be trained to an espalier or grown straight up as a standard like the California shaped-rose tree.
The leaves as shown in the illustration can be round, slightly lobed, deeply lobed, and even fern-like, and range from deep green to grayish green. Many pelargonium species and hybrids called sports develop variegated leaves that result from a genetic mutation.  They can be pure white or splotched with white or gold. “Lady Plymouth” has deeply divided leaves with white margins that give it a beautiful appearance to complement its marvelous rose fragrance. “Variegated Prince Rupert” displays clouds of deeply marginated leaves flecked with gold. The grower must be careful, however, and remove any leaf of a variegated specimen that comes up pure green. Sports of this type if left alone often revert to the solid green of the original plant.

Pelargonium flowers are not particularly spectacular in themselves but they are very pleasing coming in shades of white, pink, rose, and lavender.  A particularly desirable cultivar is “Mrs. Kingsley,” a large, semi-trailing plant with a pungent odor and deep cerise-colored flowers. As an additional bonus, the flowers are very plentiful and may bloom year round in our Mediterranean-type climate with dry summers and frost-free winters.

Pelargoniums can be raised from cuttings, so if you see or smell a special one, ask the grower for a piece.  It is difficult to raise pelargoniums from seed and seeds are hard to find.  Fortunately, a well known pelargonium nursery in Marin that you can find on the Internet supplies very healthy seedlings.


There is no place better to see and smell pelargoniums than the fragrance garden at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.  Although the garden now charges  admission to out-of-town visitors, if you are a resident of San Francisco you get in free. Enjoy the botanical garden; it is yours and a major treasure of your city.

*Joanne Whitney is a resident of Miraloma Park, an MPIC Director, and a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

From the Legal Files: An Arbitration Clause in a Home Purchase and Sale Agreement

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

Mr. and Mrs. Gravillis entered into a Residential Purchase Agreement to buy a home in Los Angeles.  The Agreement had a arbitration clause that governed disputes.  The clause specifically stated: “NOTICE: BY INITIALING IN THE SPACE BELOW YOU ARE . . . GIVING UP ANY RIGHTS YOU MIGHT POSSESS TO HAVE THE DISPUTE LITIGATED IN A COURT OR BY JURY TRIAL.”  All parties initialed the clause.  Mr. and Mrs. Gravillis relied on their broker’s recommendation of home inspectors.  Their home was inspected and they were told that there were no problems.

After the purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Gravillis had another home inspector examine their home.  That inspector found extensive damage.  They then sued their broker, alleging, among other causes of action, that the house had a termite infestation, earthquake damage, and water intrusion damage, and that repairs hid the structural damage.  They alleged if they had known about the damage they never would have bought the house.

The brokers then filed a motion to compel arbitration.  Over the course of six days a retired judge found in favor of Mr. and Mrs. Gravillis and awarded them $347,671 in damages and $47,076.35 in arbitration costs.  The arbitrator found that the inspection report and the termite report were both faxed to Mr. and Mrs. Gravillis.  Both reports revealed damage.  However, the broker did not then follow up with Mr. and  Mrs. Gravillis and inquire whether the Granvillis’s wanted to buy the property or consult with the experts about their reports.  The arbitrator said that the broker should have connected the dots for Mr. and Mrs. Gravillis.

The broker then filed a lawsuit to have the award set aside, claiming that the arbitrator had committed several errors of law.  After the Superior Court denied the broker’s request, the broker appealed, claiming that California law should have governed the arbitrator’s decision.  The court of appeal found that “arbitrators . . . may base their decision upon broad principles of justice and equity, and in doing so may expressly or impliedly reject a claim that a party might successfully have asserted in a judicial action. . . . It is a general rule that, with narrow exceptions, an arbitrator’s decision cannot be reviewed for errors of fact or law.”  In other words, the arbitrator’s final decision, even it is not based on the law, will not be overturned by the courts.

When buying or selling a home, you may be confronted with an arbitration clause in the Purchase and Sale agreement.  You are giving up important legal rights when you sign an arbitration clause.  You should consult with a real estate attorney in order to decide whether you should give up these rights.

Return of the Repressed

Slogging through the heavy morning mist that, like the miasmic discharge of a herd of oversized snails, has slicked Mt. Davidson all summer, I found a note, written in  runny berry juice, on the sodden flap of a cardboard box labeled on the verso Campbell’s Soup, stuck to the underside of my garbage-can lid with a well-chewed, ancient wad of  bubble-gum. My aging heart would have skipped a beat if  it weren’t wary of tripping and breaking an ankle—or, as the hopelessly optimistic reader who has persevered thus far might suggest since hearts have no ankles—injuring some vital coronary component like a faithful ventricle unprepared for cardiac acrobatics. In short (having said it in long), I can only iterate what any devoted reader of this publication will have surmised, that our long-absent friend W. Coyote has deigned once more  to grace us with a communication. Not to belabor the point, I shall forthwith divulge without further convolution, being notified by my dog’s plaintive howling (her remonstrance when I wax too eloquent), the content of the mysterious missive. – Ed

My fellow Miralomans,

When last you heard from me, Mr. Obama had appointed yours truly Vice President in Charge of Animal-Human Relations (VP-CAHR), and I want to report that your tax dollars have been hard at work through my Agency. Upon receipt of my appointment, not knowing exactly how to proceed, I did what any prudent politician or bureaucrat would do to avoid being held accountable for anything, which was to appoint a bipartisan commission to investigate the current state of affairs. This commission has made a thorough inquiry into relations between humans and other species, and a preliminary report is imminent. In draft, this comprehensive assessment runs to over 2,700 pages, as would be expected given the inclusion of virtually every life-form capable of communication.

If my agency were a City Department, we would issue the report in full and give you a generous 72 hours to review it and comment. But the federal government, sadly, has refused to borrow more money from China for publication, so we will provide an Executive Summary, prepared by your humble servant, in later issues of Miraloma Life. At this early juncture informed sources report a pervasive lack of enthusiasm across all animal species for human attitudes toward them. Cats lament lack of consideration for their culinary preferences, and dogs complain en masse of insufficient quantities of both food and walks. As to the so-called wild animals, I reserve that for future editions, as their complaints will require more than a mere page.—

Respectfully, W. Coyote, Esq., VP-CAHR

Summary of the Minutes of the MPIC Board Meeting of September 2, 2010

by Joanne Whitney and Dan Liberthson

Karen Breslin, President, called the meeting to order with a quorum present. The August minutes were approved with corrections and the Treasurer’s report accepted.

Correspondence: Letter to Examiner re wind turbines well received.  Motion made and passed to send letter to Mayor Newsom re small wind generators (SWGs), to be written by D Liberthson, presenting wind turbine issue with emphasis on context (i.e., where placed). Letter re Geary Merchants’ Organization dinner received; K Breslin set to attend.

Committees: Zoning and Planning—C Mettling-Davis reported Planning Commission approved Los Palmos project. She also attended pre-application meeting on permit application to expand 367 Teresita plan and found no problems. M Naughton reported that reservoir pipes that have been a sore spot for neighbors have been made palatable by plantings in front of them, and he is investigating whether large ugly concrete areas can be made acceptable. Neighbors are grateful to MPIC for design and good looks of pumphouse. Geoff Coffey, native plant expert, has agreed to get neighbors together and supply expertise. M Naughton will write an article about the pumphouse and other beautification of the reservoir. Safety—Traffic and safety problem with Miraloma School resolved with agreement among MPIC, neighbors, police, and school principal . MPIC donated vests to school for use for traffic control related to meetings.  Events of school will be published in Miraloma Life. Flyers sent to interested parties. Membership—MPIC has 480 members, down due to August membership expiration. Personal letters will be delivered encouraging membership. Graffiti—Ongoing problem with heavily tagged white truck that owner refuses to remove or have cleaned even using DPW’s free truck cleaning offer. City cannot provide this service on site as it requires special facilities for repainting.

Community Organizations: Coalition for SF Neighborhoods(CSFN)—Will support MPIC measure opposing SWG at 400 Teresita and take a firm position opposing wind turbines in the city in general if in wrong places. Telegraph Hill dwellers asked for help in lawsuit vs City demanding EIR before Planning begins study of waterfront management (no fiscal responsibility to participants). Motion made and passed to spend $125.00 for pizza for next CSFN meeting as is customary for each group to provide refreshment once or twice yearly. K Breslin will address CSFN  re MPIC interests, activities. Ingleside Community Advisory Board to Police—J Whitney is on a committee to design safety flyers for Ingleside communities and also will help make videos about safety to be translated into pertinent languages. K Wood suggested video showing people discussing what to do if they see a suspicious event.

Clubhouse: Management—G Isaacson pointed out that duties are not defined well. T Sauvain stated that they are in Box.net as written by P Laird. Clubhouse management has changed however and relationship to rental manager is not defined. Question re how records are stored. Now paperwork is scanned into Box.net but there is no easily recognizable record of time, payment, etc. Discussion of how to access duties of various officers. P Laird also left description of Treasurer’s duties on Box.net.  J Whitney will investigate what office duties have been described and where the information is, and will compile the  information for review. G Isaacson will set up a meeting with rental agent and other members of management committee.  He has volunteered to collect and take out garbage but this should be decided in committee. Question whether P Renteria will be able to take garbage out when he is in town.
Building/grounds—Floor was refurbished last month. Kitchen should be rehabilitated soon. C Mettling-Davis and K Rawlins will investigate kitchen needs, material needs and extent/cost of renovation. PUC will trim trees in parking lot and take away fallen limb.

Events—J O’Donnell has contacted some speakers for Oct. 17 political forum. Transportation— Rumor still is that CVS may build on the gas station site now that Walgreens has declined to do so. Will invite reps to come to Board meeting and explain plans

Guest: Captain Louis Cassanego, Ingleside Station—The Captain reported that crime, particularly robberies, was up in the district but Miraloma Park is particularly safe.  Car break-ins a big problem in neighborhood.  Don’t leave valuables in car.  Seem to be organized groups who use things like a spark plug on a string to break windows. One breaks the windows, the other leans in and takes things.  Many car alarms do not go off unless door is opened. Captain urged Board to inform neighbors to call non-emergency line if they see any suspicious action, e.g., a car speeding away, people running down the street, lurking in the dark or in bushes, sitting in a dark car, etc  Captain promised to keep Board informed of police and criminal activities in Miraloma Park.

New Business: Jacquie Proctor of Friends of Mt. Davidson reported that when Park & Rec removed benches from Mt. Davidson to do work, they promised to return all sites to original condition, but this has not occurred (including failure to restore bench on north summit).  J Proctor asked that MPIC request from Phil Ginsberg, Park & Rec Director and Supervisor Elsbernd that MPIC have a representative on any board, committee, or group (e.g., Natural Areas Program) that determines what should be done on the mountain. Native plant activists have a great deal of influence but the community has been left out.  Proctor also volunteered to represent MPIC in dealings with Park and Rec and other agencies in matters related to Mt. Davidson plantings and use, and this offer was accepted. The Board agreed to have D Liberthson write a letter to Phil Ginsberg and Sup. Elsbernd requesting that MPIC have representation in decisions made on use of Mt Davidson.