your Miraloma Life … online – October 2006

  • Interviewing Jacquie Proctor, Author of SF’s West of Twin Peaks
  • The MPIC Fall Social: Music and History of Miraloma Park
  • Legal Ease
  • From the President by Phil Laird
  • Fog Rise – Poem
  • Sunnyside Conservatory Renovation
  • California Native Plant Garden
  • Clubhouse Improvement Day: Work, Fun, Lunch
  • Design Matters
  • What Will They Think of Next?
  • Nursing Biodiversity on Twin Peaks
  • What is the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP)?
  • On Shaky Ground: NERT Notes

Interviewing Jacquie Proctor, Author of SF’s West of Twin Peaks

What was your inspiration for writing the book?
I have loved San Francisco since the first time I saw the gigantic fresh Christmas tree inside the City of Paris Department store on Union Square. Growing up in Southern California, I dared to dream that I might live here some day. In 1980 my husband and I moved to Miraloma Park. We have flourished ever since with wonderful neighbors who became our son’s “local” grandparents and enjoyed the fact that we lived on San Francisco’s highest hill, Mount Davidson, with a view of its historic depression-era cross, one of the world’s largest. When a court order resulted in part of the public park atop that hill being auctioned to the highest bidder, I gathered leaders from the neighborhoods in this book to create the Friends of Mount Davidson Conservancy. Our research to landmark the site revealed the efforts of Madie Brown. In the decade following approval of the nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, she and the 15,000-member strong City and County Federation of Women’s Clubs, successfully campaigned to preserve the first 26 acres of this park in the middle of one of the densest cities in the United States. I also learned that the first woman elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Margaret Mary Morgan, served on the committee of arrangements, along with the builders of the surrounding neighborhoods, for the 1934 Sunrise Easter Service – the first at the base of the 103-foot high Mount Davidson Cross. A San Francisco Bay Area-wide civic event held without interruption every year since 1923, crowds reaching 75,000 have hiked up the hill in the predawn chill to participate in the event. To save Madie Brown’s legacy, the Friends of Mount Davidson obtained a 5.62-acre reduction in the amount of parkland the city auctioned to settle the court order to remove the religious monument or sell the land it stands on. We also negotiated an open-space conservation easement for the park property to be sold ensuring it will remain public open space in perpetuity. Sixty-eight percent of the voters approved the sale of .38 acres of the park in order to save the monument in 1997. Living through the second time a dispute over this property went all the way to the California Supreme Court, I appreciated that the unique character of this part of San Francisco was not to be taken for granted. The experience inspired me to document the area’s history in collaboration with longtime residents and homeowner associations in the West of Twin Peaks district neighborhoods featured in the book.

How did you research the information for the book?
My research for the book started with collecting documents for the land marking of the Mount Davidson Cross, which revealed a more complex and interesting history than I expected. Built in 1934 by the architect and engineer of San Francisco’s tallest buildings, George Kelham and Henry Brunnier, it was famous for being lit by President Franklin Roosevelt. The more I uncovered, the more questions came to mind. I wondered why the President lit the cross. Historian Kevin Starr suggested I write to the FDR Library. It turned out that Madie Brown “dared to dream” of inviting the President, because he “brought light to many a darkened American home and who through his new deal has instilled the principles of the Golden Rule into American business.” As a long time member of local historical associations and neighborhood groups, I have been collecting information about this area of San Francisco for many years. For the images, I reached out to neighborhood residents, homeowner associations, and http://www.outsidelands.org/ who were most generous and helpful in sharing their archives for this history project.

What will readers find interesting about the book?
Organizing the fact-filled book chronologically, the area’s development is described in the context of historic figures and events affecting San Francisco, California, and the world , from the Gold Rush to the 1906 earthquake; the opening of the Panama Canal and the 1915 Pan American International Exposition; the Great Depression and 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition; World War II and the Summer of Love. The creation of San Francisco’s first railway and water systems, its tallest buildings and longest bridges, gourmet Tower Market, are just a few of the aspects of the city’s history that have links to West of Twin Peaks. Home to the city’s highest hill, Mount Davidson, called “the most beautiful spot in the scenic Bay Area,” by San Francisco Chronicle writer, Craig Marine, was named after scientist and surveyor, George Davidson, at the request of the Sierra Club in 1911.A remarkable California pioneer, Davidson was President of the California Academy of Sciences from 1871-1887. He built the first astronomical observatory on the West Coast and initiated California’s astronomical tradition. It is also interesting how many of those holding San Francisco’s highest elected office have ties to its highest hill. First owned in 1846 by the last Mexican alcalde, Jose Noe, the City’s fourth mayor, Cornelius Garrison, later purchased it, as well as its 21st, Adolph Sutro. A brilliant mining engineer, Sutro made a fortune digging a seven-mile long tunnel to mine silver from the Comstock Lode through another Mount Davidson, above Virginia City, Nevada. After a two-mile long transit tunnel was built through the Twin Peaks, the neighborhoods built on the slopes of the Mount Davidson in San Francisco have most recently been home to Mayors George Moscone and Art Agnos and many others whose imagination and creativity make San Francisco – San Francisco. Award winning San Francisco architect, Patrick McGrew, describes the neighborhoods found in this book as some of the city’s most attractive. “These homes will never be found in the tourist brochures…for none are located in the tourist zones…These are the homes where San Franciscans live – a ‘Home City – a good place to live,’” This is the first book ever published exclusively devoted to the West of Twin Peaks district, home to 69,000 residents.

The MPIC Fall Social: Music and History of Miraloma Park

Your Miraloma Park Improvement Club is upping the ante for the Fall Social Event on Oct. 22 this year by featuring the music of Dave Bisho and his fellow classmates from St. Brendan’s (circa 1964). Their acoustic music is reminiscent of the Kingston Trio and the folk music sound of the early 1960’s.

Of course, this is background for the star of our program, Jacquie Proctor. As we mentioned in last month’s issue of Miraloma Life, her new book, West of Twin Peaks, includes the history of Mount Davidson and the MPIC and Clubhouse, the Miraloma Elementary School, as well as the Miraloma Community Church. She wrote the book
as a tribute to Madie Brown, who in the 1920s worked to create the 38-acre open space oasis on San Francisco’s highest hill, Mount Davidson. Madie’s selfless dedication to community as well as that of many other residents celebrated in this book illustrate why these historic West of Twin Peaks neighborhoods are still just as viable in the Twenty-first Century.

Jacquie will be narrating a slide show of the pictures and the story of the making of the book. West of Twin Peaks will be available for purchase from the author for only $20.00.

The Miraloma Park Improvement Club is proud to have Jacquie and Dave Bisho’s group at the Fall Social . This fun-filled trip to yesteryear will also feature wine and snacks. You will get a chance to meet old and new neighbors alike at our now annual Fall event at the MPIC Clubhouse. You will also have a chance to discuss issues with the Board of Directors.

Legal Ease

by Steven Solomon

How about a test of your legal knowledge. The answers are at the bottom of the column.

  1. When was “The Verdict,” starring Paul Newman, first released? A. 1980. B. 1982. C. 1990.
  2. California voters approved the state lottery in what year? A. 1984. B. 1988. C. 1992.
  3. When was the Court TV television network launched? A. 1990. B. 1991. C. 1993.
  4. Californians approved the “three-strikes” law in what year? A. 1992. B. 1994. C. 1996.
  5. The TV show “Ally McBeal” premiered in what year? A. 1996. B. 1997. C. 1998.
  6. Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush resigned from office in what year? A. 1990. B. 2000. C. 2002.
  7. The TV show “Boston Legal,” starring William Shatner, premiered in what year? A. 2002. B. 2003. C. 2004.

Answers: 1. B; 2. A; 3. B; 4. B; 5. B; 6. B; 7. C.

Good job, you’re hired!

Steve Solomon is an 18 year resident of Miraloma Park. He just relocated his law office to West Portal where he continutes to represent consumers and business groups in a variety of legal issues.

From the President by Phil Laird

The November ballot will ask voters to approve 11 measures, 6 of which are of concern to Miraloma Park residents. Measure A asks for approval of $450 million to upgrade school facilities in the city. Schools listed for improvements include Aptos Middle School, Fairmount Elementary, and Glen Park Elementary. Money is also allocated for development of the permanent Van Ness site of the School of the Arts, which current uses the MacAteer campus. The bonds will be financed by a property tax increase averaging $23 per $100,000 assessed valuation. A 55% majority is required for passage of a school bond.

Measure D prohibits the city or its contractors from disclosing the “private information” of city residents. Private information includes anything that can be used to identify the person, including name, address, and social security number. Exceptions include real estate transactions, state and federal laws, and court orders.

Measure E increases the parking tax from the current 25% to 35%. This applies to parking lots and garages and extends the tax to valet parking, which is currently exempted. Parking meters and neighborhood parking stickers are excluded. Measure F, probably the most controversial measure on the ballot, requires all city businesses to provide sick leave to their employees. Firms with ten or fewer employees would have to provide up to five days of sick leave per year; larger firms would have to provide up to nine days per year. An employee would earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of paid work. Workers become eligible after three months on the job, and leave may be taken for sickness, injuries, medical appointments, and to care for family members. Workers’ rights groups strongly support this legislation, citing the benefits of reduced turnover, less spreading of diseases, and improved productivity from a healthier workforce. Business interests are concerned about the vagueness of the measure as well as misuse of the leave and the potential for legal disputes about when sick leave may be taken legitimately.

Measure G requires a conditional use permit whenever a “formula retail store” (chain store) seeks to open in a neighborhood commercial district. This means that the Planning Commission would have to approve every chain store opening in every neighborhood shopping district, not just the three areas where such permits are now required (Cole Valley and parts of SoMa and Divisidero). If passed, the likelihood of a Wal-Mart ever opening in the city becomes negligible. Measure H requires landlords who evict tenants for capital improvement or by the Ellis Act (that allows landlords who want to get out of the rental business to evict tenants) to pay tenants $4500 in relocation costs. Currently tenants are entitled to a maximum of $1000 in relocation costs.

Fog Rise – Poem

Fog bursts over the hill,
slaps the insolent blue sky,
then sinks, rests, rises,
pressing up the eaves
till the roof drifts away.

Soothing, to stop fighting for coherence,
let Fog do its work, unglue and gently
float apart everything
with unthinking persistence
like a reptile munching swamp greens.

Astringent clear air that dries the glue,
making everything stick to the point,
leave now and let Fog prevail,
unstring the nets.

Sight and fret seep away
as the wind falls to a sigh.
Fog stretches, curls,
scratches its belly on the treetops.

by Dan liberthson, c 2006, all rights reserved.

Sunnyside Conservatory Renovation

by Andrea O’Leary

The Master Plan for the Sunnyside Conservatory has received approval from the Rec. & Park Commission. Friends of Sunnyside Conservatory are sponsoring a Renovation Celebration on Saturday, October 21, 2006.

There will be Tai Chi inspired exercises from 10-11 AM followed by a description of renovation plans at 11:30 AM by Rec. & Park Capital Division planners.From 12:30 – 3:00 PM the ever-polular Family Pumpkin Carving will take place. Child-safe carving tools are provided. Light refreshments.

For more information, visit: http://www.friendsofsunnysideconservatory.org/

California Native Plant Garden

by Connie Freeman

You have the opportunity to rejuvenate a California native plant garden in your own neighborhood at the MPIC Clubhouse, on Saturday, November 11 at 9:00 am. We will be planting the garden with plants native to Glen Canyon Park, which is next to the garden. These plants attract birds, butterflies, other insects and wildlife, providing a balanced ecosystem.

“Each native plant supports an average of ten wildlife species,” said Jake Sigg, a founder of this garden and a leading member of the California Native Plant Society. Wildlife depends upon the plants in a native environment such as Glen Canyon Park. We can further benefit the wildlife and ourselves by planting non-invasive, native plants in our gardens.

Drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, grasses, perennials, and self-sowing annuals will create a colorful garden with autumn foliage, winter berries, spring-flowering shrubs, and wildflowers. We are planting in November to take advantage of the winter rains, which allow the plants to establish a strong root system.

In this enhanced garden, you will be able to walk along a path, sit awhile with a friend, learn to identify the plants, and see how native plants grow over the seasons by helping to maintain the garden. For info contact ca99freeman@hotmail.com or 370-9035

Clubhouse Improvement Day: Work, Fun, Lunch

by Phil Laird, Clubhouse Manager

Miraloma Park residents know how fortunate we are to have the Miraloma Park clubhouse as a neighborhood resource for meetings and social events. Built in 1929 by the original developers, the clubhouse and its lodge-style architecture recall an era when San Francisco was half as old as she is today, when people dressed up to go downtown, and when people could actually park their car on West Portal Avenue.

But this seventy-five year old treasure needs care and maintenance. The MPIC hires licensed contractors for major work, but maintenance tasks uch as cleaning out gutters and downspouts, touch-up painting, and minor repairs are too small to be contracted out and must be done by MPIC members and supporters.

Announcing: the next Clubhouse Improvement Day on Saturday, October 7 from 8:30 AM to noon. Volunteers are invited to come dressed appropriately in work clothes: hat, gloves, and sturdy shoes. The reward for your morning’s labors will be a hearty and healthy lunch provided by the Miraloma Park Improvement Club and its most excellent clubhouse manager (moi). So that we may know how many potatoes to put into the pot, call our voicemail, (415) 281-0892, and tell us if you plan to help out on October 7.

Design Matters

Peter A. Zepponi, AIA – Architect

This is a monthly column addressing basic residential design and home improvement topics of interest to Miraloma Park residents. If you have a question or topic you’d like considered for a future article please send an email to: pazdesignmatters@aol.com or call 415.334.2868. http://www.zepponi-architects.com/ Q: Is my basement a good place to store wine?
A: Sure, if you plan on drinking it relatively soon.

San Francisco is a unique place to live in terms of long term wine storage. With our temperate and foggy climate, errors in extended storage of wine that would decimate a fine collection in a place like Walnut Creek, may not cause the same disastrous effects in an underground San Francisco basement. Wine wants to be stored in a consistently cool, stable, dark and humid environment. And even though our climate is very mild, the small seasonal temperature swings, are still enough to have a cumulative negative effect on your investments. The main concern is oxidation due to increased ‘ullage’. Ullage is the volume of air in a bottle of wine, or barrel, which increases due to evaporation or leakage. Temperature variation has serious effects on a bottle of wine. With an increase in temperature, water (wine) will expand seven times as much as the glass container, and if given room to expand the oxygen-free air gap would expand 32 times more than wine, and 188 times more than glass. This pressure will push the oxygen-free air out of an upright bottle or possibly eject the cork. In a horizontally stored bottle, which helps keep the cork wet, and maintains the seal, high temperature pressures can push wine out past the cork causing the tell-tale sign of dried wine on the cork or capsule. As the wine cools back down this creates a vacuum in the bottle that can suck in outside oxygenated air which will prematurely age the wine. If this heating and cooling cycle continues over several years the ullage may drop the level of the wine down to the shoulder of the bottle, so in ten years when you pull out that prized cabernet for a special occasion, all that you can do with it is pour it down the drain.

The ‘ideal’ storage temperature for wine is widely considered to be 55 F, with a possible range of 45 F to 65 F. A single annual temperature oscillation between these two extremes is considered to have minimal effect on the wine, whereas daily or frequent oscillations will rapidly age your wine. Heated bottles stored in direct sunlight or near your stove will also age more rapidly not only due to the rapid heating and cooling cycles, but also due to the fact that the heated molecules in the wine are moving faster and are breaking down the complexities of the wine at a much faster rate. Therefore it is a not a good idea to have wine racks in your kitchen around the stove, in direct sunlight or high on the wall where heat rises.

In order to maintain the ideal temperature or temperature range, enophiles can either install a manufactured wine cellar cooling unit, build a super insulated passive home cellar, or for peace of mind, both. A manufactured unit will maintain a constant temperature, however in the case of its failure or power outage (remember the blackouts?) your wine is at risk. In this case, for the serious collector I would recommend designing an insulated cellar that will regulate temperatures within an acceptable range along with a small refrigeration unit as a back up.

One other factor to consider in preventing evaporative losses is the level of humidity in your wine cellar. Even if you control your temperature and store your bottles on their side, levels of relative humidity below 60% will evaporate moisture from the corks to increase the bottles ullage. A relative humidity of 75% is considered ideal by many, because 80% relative humidity is the level around which many molds begin to grow. To monitor your humidity levels you should buy a calibrated hygrometer and mount it in a convenient eye-level location. Molds will feed on the cellulose in the cellar including the labels, corks, wood shelves, etc. How you control the relative humidity depends on your specific installation construction methods, and installation of vapor barriers. Listed below is a terrific reference book for the novice to expert wine collector interested in storing and aging wine. I have applied these same basic principals of temperature, humidity and light control in the wineries I’ve designed. As you can imagine, ullage, or evaporative loss from barrel storage and control of mold are major financial concerns for wineries. Wineries can sustain substantial evaporative losses to inventory if temperatures and humidity are not properly controlled in their barrel storage rooms.

Resources

How and Why to Build a Wine Cellar, by Richard M. Gold, Ph.D., Sandhill Publishing.
International Wine Accessories, Inc. – ‘Everything for the Wine Lover’http://www.iwawine.com/ Check out the ‘cooling units’, and the ‘Winekeeper 4-Bottle Preservation Systems’ which some clients have found to be an indispensable addition to their wine bars or wine cellars. This column and its content are intended to be a source of general information. Applicability to your specific project should be verified. Peter A. Zepponi, AIA – Architects, is an architectural firm in San Francisco specializing in residential and commercial architecture.

What Will They Think of Next?

Judging by the following communication, our resident coyote is a creature of habit—not only is he thankful to be back in his sweet Mt. Davidson haunt, but he also, no doubt for sentimental reasons, has reverted to his old site of delivery—the underside of my garbage can lid—though unless I send it to a lab for mass spectroscopy I don’t think I’ll ever guess the identity this gummy black stuff he used to attach it. I hope it’s not dangerous, but then he does seem a fairly responsible sort, and just to be safe I used my rubber gloves. Well, here’s the latest, and none too soon, from the four-legged wanderer. — Ed

Ah, home sweet home, nothing beats it, especially when the weather turns warm and the fog crawls back into its lair over the ocean. How lucky we Miralomans are! I’ve passed a glorious week, warm and snug in the old den, which needed only cursory airing and sweeping thanks to, or so I surmise from scent and body imprint, a very large feral kitty cat that has spent an occasional night herein, and has either eaten or swept out with its profusely evident fur anything that might have been spoiling. Now that I am in residence, I am sure this creature will make itself prudently scarce, but I am grateful to it for keeping the joint from more noxious subleasees, exempli gratia, the raccoon tribe. Garbage is their main delight and modus vivendi, and had they taken residence, I’m sure I’d have been weeks tidying the place.

My sole complaint, and it is not a bitter one as I am more amused than offended, is with the posse of squirrels that has taken it upon themselves to picket my humble abode, carrying poorly written and error-riddled signs with such seriocomical messages as “Coyotes unfare to wildlife” and “Poop hed coyote, get gone” and “You suk, coyote, so bloe.” [sic, omnia] The last has a quasi-oxymoronic charm, don’t you think? Of course they show up only when I’m lazy, having my all-day doze before the twilight hunt, at which time they wisely (and unfortunately) disappear. Their spokes-rodent, one Ms. Busytail, or maybe it’s Bushytail or Boozytail—hard to tell with that valley girl accent—would have me believe that my conspicuous consumption of squirrel-kind is exceedingly politically incorrect, and one of her co-demonstrators, a certain Reverend Humptail, has been calling upon me to give up my nefarious ways and promising eternal salvation if I do, and similar damnation if I don’t.

This odd conglomeration of Sciuridae (from the Greek for shadow-tail, which is why all their names end in tail—and [forgive me!] therein lies a tale) would be entertaining if their violent chattering didn’t occasionally wake me from my well-deserved slumbers, and if their insistence that I convert to vegetarianism forthwith did not give me nightmares of being immobilized by virtue of tight wrapping in great bales of discarded, toxic spinach. In the worst of these visions, a mutant breed of the garishly green stuff began to breed, overflow the dumps it was consigned to, and set about taking over the world, the whole of which was about to be covered to a depth of 333 feet (something queasily mystical about that number) of the nasty fluorescent stuff. On lurching awake to find my nose stuffed firmly with a large clot of kitty hair, inadvertently (I’m sure) left behind by my summer caretaker, I gave a most satisfactory sneeze and then tried to educate the fervent rodents in the simple yet profound truths of Darwinian evolution, pointing out that I was performing a public service of inestimable value by consuming the weaker and stupider of them and so ensuring the eventual improvement of their species, but this seemed only to agitate them further, poor benighted creatures. Perhaps they will wear themselves out and stop bothering me, as they do have very short attention spans.

Ah, dusk is upon us, and, my friends, my stomach is growling, as is yours, no doubt. I will savor the silence a moment more, and then begin the daily forage. Wish me luck, as I wish you the very best. As a great sage once blessed me in a former life, so I bless you: “May you be healthy, wise, and free from pests.”

Your most considerate servant,
W. Coyote, Esq.

Nursing Biodiversity on Twin Peaks

by Geoffrey Coffey

Once upon a time, Twin Peaks stood as one mountain, united as man and wife. But the couple quarreled long and bitterly, until at last the Great Spirit cleaved them with a bolt of lightning. The neighborhood has been quiet ever since – or so say the chroniclers of Indian legend. Those Indians, alas no longer here to confirm or deny the tale, likely marked a drastic change in the neighborhood with the arrival of the Spaniards, who fortified the nearby Presidio in 1776 . Maps from this period call Twin Peaks “Los Pechos de la Choca” or “The Breasts of the Indian Maiden,” of whom General Vallejo’s botanically minded son once remarked, “Never have I seen a cultured woman half so fair as this untaught, unadorned daughter of the wilds.” Young Vallejo may have personified the very Franciscan flora, the smallest floristic region in California, with rich diversity growing upon a curvaceous landscape of flinty chert, sandstone, and dunes; this body of low-growing coastal scrub and grassland reclines between the regions of Mendocino/Sonoma to the north and the Santa Cruz mountains to the south, both of which favor the taller redwood-douglas fir association down to the sea.

Rich with texture, aroma, and color, our fair maiden helps us define our local identity. Her toes curl around Sign Hill, blazoned with “South San Francisco: The Industrial City” in block letters visible from the freeway and the airport. Her long legs are San Bruno Mountain, stretching for several miles of the inner peninsula with Brisbane and Colma snuggled on either side. Above the rude garter of Daly City her saucy flank swells at Mt. Davidson, then slims to a waistline and rises again to the torso topped with Twin Peaks, shoulders at Diamond Heights and Corona Heights, arms embracing Sunset Heights and Bernal Hill, with long tresses of serpentine flowing out to Bayview and into the Presidio. Here we find bunchgrasses like native blue grass (Poa unilateralis), purple needle grass (Nassella pulchra), and red and Idaho fescue (Festuca rubra and F. idahoensis) anchoring ecosystems tens of thousands of years old. The delicate rose-purple flowers of coast rock cress (Arabis blepharophylla) cling to red peaks of wind-ravaged rock, while blue and white lupines, golden poppies, and pink checkerblooms (Sidalcea malviflora) beckon from the grasslands to pleasure hungry butterflies.

The site of Twin Peaks enjoys special scientific status as the “type locality” of the endemic, rare and endangered Mission Blue butterfly, where the first specimens of the species were collected. The creature’s lifecycle begins with eggs laid on the leaves of silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons var. collinus and L. variicolor). The tiny larvae hatch and feed for a time, then burrow under the plant and lie dormant for the winter in the roots. Come February or March, the caterpillars emerge to fatten further on the lupine’s feathery foliage, then spin their cocoons on the stems and flower spikes. April and May witness the extraordinary Mission Blues take wing, often spied resting on a lupine, nectaring at the flowers of a coast buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium), or punctuating the breeze with whimsical fluttering color. The strongest populations of lupine and buckwheat grow on the grassy hill just south of the southern peak, embraced by the road’s hairpin turn, so that’s where to go look for the butterflies. Without these larval and mature food plants, the Mission Blue would join the Pheres Blue and the Xerxes Blue in extinction. Silver lupine and coast buckwheat look smashing together in the garden; they both grow in clumps to around 1 foot tall, the former with silvery palm-shaped leaves and a blue-and-white pea flower, the latter with dun spoon-shaped leaves and a big bloom of red to pink umbels. They should be considered key elements in any San Francisco native landscape, particularly in Miraloma Park, near Twin Peaks and San Bruno Mountain, the only places on earth with the Mission Blue butterfly.

Twin Peaks also boasts “type locality” status for Phacelia californica, the low-growing perennial that drives native bees mad with delight. Look for the blue-green leaf blades and tight clusters of lavender flowers – an especially vigorous population flourishes in the full sun on the south-facing slopes of the north peak. Today these metaphoric breasts of the Franciscan region are adorned with the raiment of progress – the ribbon of Portola Drive pulled tight around her waist, a three-pronged radio tower perched on her clavicle, a 300-million-gallon reservoir cradled in her armpit, and a split roadway describing a perfect figure-8 around the tips of her formidable bosom. Busloads of tourists pose on the stone brassier of an observation deck, taking snapshots of the remarkable city of San Francisco spread below them like a book cracked open to Market Street. Despite these accoutrements and the slow creep of subdivisions up her ribcage, the Twin Peaks still nurse remnants of the original Franciscan flora, thanks to the stewardship of city and community groups. A quarter-century ago, this natural area was faring badly under the onslaught of traffic, cars and hikers and yes, even off-road motorcycles taking those twin peaks roller-coaster style. Invasive weeds gripped the disturbed landscape, looking to smother it. But in the late ’80s, the city enlisted the San Francisco Conservation Corps to build meandering footpaths to the top of each peak, with railroad ties for steps, and to install massive timber barriers at the trailheads, putting a stop to marauding motorbikes. A team of local volunteers with shovel and pick erased the rutted dirt bike tracks, rooted out damaging tangles of broom, cotoneaster, ehrharta, and ice plant, and fortified the surviving population of native plants with seeds and plantings of bunchgrass, monkeyflower, Douglas iris, silver lupine, coast buckwheat, and many others. Since then, the city’s Natural Areas Program (NAP) has played a vital role in maintaining this indigenous biodiversity, controlling the spread of mustard, radish, broom, Italian thistle, English ivy, and other domineering monoculturalists.

The NAP has faced violent opposition from a group of dog owners who accuse the plant people of hijacking public land and fencing off common ground into a hands-off botanical museum. The plant people accuse the dog people of selfish myopia and ignorance for failing to understand the difference between horticulture and natural stewardship. The situation has become so polarized, with the finger-pointers and name-callers shouting in tones increasingly hostile, the two sides are beginning to sound alike, and losing sight of the real issues at stake. Humans are the only invasive species with the ability to make moral decisions, and therefore we should practice stewardship of the life forms that lived here first. No single species holds more importance than the natural diversity to which it contributes; the network of connections between living organisms remains most valuable of all. This holds particularly true at the intersection of natural and urban, where the activities of mankind operate at high concentration and their effects on the surrounding web of life are most severe.

If we cannot stop our squabbling, perhaps the Great Spirit will intervene with a bolt of lightning. Meanwhile, Twin Peaks are abloom with history. Go take a walk there and savor your connection with the millennia. Better yet, volunteer for the NAP (call 753-7268) or write your supervisor in support of natural stewardship. The power of many is stronger than the cult of one.

Geoffrey Coffey writes for the garden section of the Chronicle. He is the founder of Madroño landscape design studio and a principal of Bay Natives nursery. More info: geoffreycoffey.com.

What is the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP)?

by Gary Noguera

The TEP is an 18 month project ending in December 2007. The basic goals are studying how to improve overall performance of MUNI, to make it more attractive to users/potential users, and to map out a blueprint for future service. Underlying this effort is the important task of defining the vision for public transit in San Francisco As a subset, the project will explore best planning practices, service design patterns (e.g. current routes and schedules) cost allocations and success benchmarks.

This is a complex project. Outside professional consultants are involved as are MTA staff and three advisory teams. I represent the Coalition of SF Neighborhoods (CSFN) on the Citizen’s Advisory team. Other members include Rescue MUNI, SPUR, SF Tomorrow and the Sierra Club. The second committee is the Technical/Regional composed of representatives of BART, AC/GG transit and Cal Train etc. The third is called the Public Advisory. It is made up of representatives from unions, the Board of Supervisors , the Mayor’s staff, etc.

There are many strategies and tactics being studied in the TEP. These include adopting land use and travel needs that will affect us all during the next 30 years. The project also is looking at safety, community vitality, environmental quality, and in making wise investments. As this project moves forward, CSFN and MPIC will have a voice. I will be attending the monthly meetings and welcome input from MPIC members.

On Shaky Ground: NERT Notes

by Gary Isaacson/ Jed Lane
Miraloma Pk/ Mt. Davidson NERT Co-coordinators

This year, in further commemoration of the Centennial Anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake, the NERT Neighborhood Fall Citywide Drill will be held on Saturday morning, October 14, from 9:00 am to 1 pm. This will be one of the last hurrahs of the yearlong recollection of the historic and earth shaking event. Teams will be responding to a single staging area where we will set up command, respond to incidents, and triage victims. Check the NERT website for the exact location: http://www.sfgov.org/site/sfnert.

Also in the works for our Miraloma/ Mt. Davidson team is a plan from our West of Twin Peaks Ham Radio subteam to put together an interneighborhood ham plan to complement the NERT neighborhood-to-ERD (SFFD Emergency Response District) network. Anyone interested in working on this should get in touch, probably in October at garyi6n@aol.com or 585-9729

Have you looked at your bedrooms with earthquake eyes? What is stored above your beds that could be a problem in a strong temblor? All of you folks who are storing your bowling balls on that shelf may want to rethink it. . . .Did you know? One of the most common injuries after a quake is cut feet from broken glass. Keep a pair of solid soled shoes by your bed.

We will be having a neighborhood team meeting sometime after the October drill to get together and meet our new team co-coordinator, long time Miraloma resident, Jed Lane. Exact date to be announced. Here is a link to the Fall NERT Newsletter: sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/fire/sfnert/2006-Fall-NN-2.pdf