your Miraloma Life … online – October 2007

  • Report on the Meeting About Walgreens’ Proposal
  • Fall Social and Political Discussion: Miraloma Park and West of Twin Peaks Combine Forces
  • Mt. Davidson Hike
  • Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines
  • Miraloma Park Improvement Club Clubhouse
  • Legal Ease
  • Miraloma School PTA Rummage Sale
  • From the President…
  • Sunnyside Park/ Pumpkins Seek Carving
  • Captain Chignell Transferred
  • Goodbye Upper Market Street Gas Stations?
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Tricks and Treats on Mt. Diablo
  • NERT News
  • Design Matters
  • Poem: Flight


Report on the Meeting About Walgreens’ Proposal

by Dan Liberthson

A couple dozen people were on hand September 19 to hear Walgreens present their proposal for a 7200 sq ft facility at 701 Portola at Fowler. The architect, David Blair of the SF firm MCG Architecture, showed a redesigned art deco approach to the proposed building, developed by researching similar buildings in the neighborhood and with input from the MPIC Board. A reduced version of this proposal appears in this newsletter. Please bear in mind that it is concept-only, as this is a very early stage of design, and some details may change (e.g., the sign has yet to be worked on). Response to this general design plan and direction was favorable; the audience felt that it was an architectural fit to the neighborhood and an attractive and interesting structure that echoed and complemented other important buildings (e.g., Tower Market).

A panel consisting of the architect, the store district manager, a representative of the independent developer, and a consultant on the project fielded questions about parking, traffic, design, hours, merchandizing, and other issues. The responses are summarized below.

The panel confirmed that the developer has in fact entered into a contract with the gas station owner to purchase the property contingent upon receiving city approvals, and is in escrow. Otherwise, the project is in an early stage, though submitted to Planning in July; a planner has not yet been assigned, and the process is slow. Additionally, environmental/soil studies must be conducted. Project review by the City will likely take 6 months to 1 year, and construction nother 6 months, approximately. The builder will make reasonable accommodations about construction hours.

The building will be 25 ft high and one storey, with a ceiling 14-15 ft high, an area of 5-6 ft above that for equipment needs, and a 3-ft. parapet around the roof to hide air conditioners and other machinery required.

Tile and stucco will likely be the main materials of the façade. Some deco style glass bricks are an option as well, and elements such as neon are under consideration. The current smaller Walgreens will close.   Walgreens wants the larger store in response to customer demand for a wider variety of merchandise and to offer better service to customers, especially the elderly residents of Miraloma Park who may have mobility challenges reaching other nearby Walgreens. Though there are many other Walgreens, including the ones in Diamond Heights and on West Portal, the company sees SF neighborhoods as very separate from one another, and they anticipate high use by pedestrian shoppers from nearby, so they want another larger store specifically for Miraloma Park and surrounding area.

Underground parking is not cost-effective because the site is bedrock from 2 ft below the top on down, and the excavation expense would be too high. A number of parking spaces, approximately 7, will be created in the area now occupied by the entry to the gas station. The store staff will total 20, not all will be working at the same time, and  some will use public transportation, which should help limit the impact of employees parking on neighborhood streets. Deliveries will be once a week at predictable daytime  hours, and Walgreens would support making the commercial space reserved for unloading available to general parking when the delivery truck does not need it. Walgreens does not expect a huge increase in the number of customers beyond those who use the current store, because the pharmacy business will remain the same. Given the above, Walgreens does not expect a dramatic increase in traffic, but the impact of the new building on parking and traffic has not yet been studied, and if there are problems such studies will be conducted. Concerns about additional traffic congestion and potential lack of parking were noted in many comments received by the MPIC Board, and some people remain unconvinced that the traffic impact will be “minimal.” The MPIC Board will insist on coordination of this project with the MTA’s “Traffic Calming” plan for Teresita.

Walgreens will supply greenery as will no doubt be required by the Planning Department; they are open to suggestions about what sorts of greenery and trees to use. An audience member commented that if the City requires trees in front of Walgreens, they should do so for the rest of the stores as well, to create a cohesive look.

Store hours will be approximately 8 AM to 10 PM. Alcohol will not be sold. In response to audience concerns that they might undercut merchandise in other stores on the strip, like the independent Miraloma Market, Walgreens said that they will try to carry a different selection of merchandise than other shops (for instance, they will greatly expand their cosmetics offerings in the new store) so as not to drive other stores out of business, and would be willing to talk to other shop-owners about this issue. There are, however, no guarantees about what may happen.

Re graffiti, Walgreens said their policy is to clear it ASAP, within 24 hours (though recently a tag on the current store was not cleared for 72+ hours, and that took non-Walgreens intervention). They affirmed their interest in being a participating member of the community.  They outlined some of their locally focused charitable work, and indicated their willingness to send a representative to MPIC meetings to deal with any issues that might come up. They said they are willing to “put money back into the community,” but no specifics were mentioned. (Please send your ideas to the MPIC Board.)

The representatives expressed a desire to continue interacting with and receiving input from the neighborhood throughout the permit process, and offered to send direct notice of the progress of this process to individuals as well as the MPIC.  Neighbors within 300 feet of the project will automatically get noticed by the city.  Others interested in getting official notices from the city should send their intentions to the Board at the Clubhouse (350 O’Shaughnessy Blvd, 94127), and we will forward that information on so you can be added to a master list.

Walgreens offered to look into whether they have any control over whom the storefront they would be vacating will be rented to, as the audience was concerned that another chain might want the space, and asked them if they could restrict it to an independent. The Board will monitor this issue closely, especially since there is a long vacant space immediate adjacent to the existing store which may make the area a target for the new tenant wanting to combine the spaces to increase the overall vacant rental area. At this point, however, there is no knowing who or what will want to move into the current store site. The meeting adjourned with affirmations on the part of Walgreens that they will be available and open to considering community input during the process.

The MPIC Board has not yet taken a position on whether to support or oppose the project. We are doing our best to represent the views of the community, but opinions so far are split roughly 50/50 for and against the store, and sentiment ranges from, “I’d love to see a bigger store” to “I’d hate to see a bigger store.” If you have not already returned the questionnaire that was in the last issue of ML, please do so. Regular updates will be made through this newsletter, the message board, and through additional town hall meetings if required.


Fall Social and Political Discussion
Miraloma Park and West of Twin Peaks Combine Forces

by Jim O’Donnell

The event begins at 3 PM for the usual socializing and snacks, including wine and cheese. An added bonus this year will be the contribution from members of the West of Twin Peaks Council to the event. It will be a real opportunity to meet and greet our brethren from the other side of Portola Drive. And since the 49ers are not playing that day, there is no excuse to stay in front of that TV set! Come on over and meet your neighbors!

We have combined the Fall social event with our political event that we normally have as a lead-in to the November Election. This harkens back to the days of George Washington, when spirits and politicking went hand-in-hand. Our nation’s founding father was also the biggest producer of whiskey in the colonies, however, we will be limiting our offerings to just wine, other beverages and snacks.

The format of the event is now set. At 3:45 we will have a proponent of Proposition A, which is an amendment to the City Charter regarding the Municipal Transit Authority and greenhouse gas emissions by transit vehicles. This is none other than our own supervisor of District 7, Sean Elsbernd, one of the co-sponsors of the ballot issue. Melinda LaValle of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods will be speaking against the measure.

The second ballot issue will concern Proposition D, the Library Charter. There will be a pro and a con for this measure as well, the presenters to be announced at the event on October 14..  Both issues will feature question and answer time, so bring your questions! Both issues will generate lively discussions and will be informative for those of you who want to find out more about them. Visit and click on Elections to read the ballot issues for yourself and put those presenters on the hot seat!

Come on  October 14  at 3 PM to the Miraloma Park Improvement Clubhouse and get energized for the election! The event will end around 5 PM.


Mt. Davidson Hike

Join local author and MPIC member, Jacquie Proctor, on Saturday October 27 at 1:30 PM as she presents the inspired history of San Francisco’s highest hill on a vigorous hike through our 38-acre nature preserve to the amazing view and gigantic monument at its 938 ft. high summit.

She will also take the group through Sherwood Forest along Robinhood Way, the city’s highest residential street, to distinctive hillside homes designed by noted architects.  Wear a jacket and sturdy shoes since there are steep trails and streets, which can be windy and muddy.  Meet at the 36 bus shelter on Myra Way at Sherwood St.


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


Miraloma Park Improvement Club Clubhouse

The beautiful original wood has been refurbished. There is a clean gas burning fireplace to add that extra bit of cheer to your special event. New colorful curtains grace the stage. There are modern, lightweight tables and new really comfortable chairs.  And there is a new piano for your enjoyment.  Free parking is in the adjacent parking lot. Members get a discount. Trash and recycling available. Call 415-281-0892 for rates/availability.


Legal Ease

by Steven Solomon 

URBAN LEGENDS DEBUNKED! Is it true that a first driving under the influence of alcohol conviction sends you to state prison for life? Ahhhhh, NO! In fact, jail time for a first offense ranges from 96 hrs. to 4 months, a fine & a 6-mo. license suspension. But a first conviction remains on your DMV driving record for 10 years! Fines for other driving no-no’s:

driving on the shoulder: $134;
carpool lane violation: $380;
blocking an intersection: $175;
child not buckled in a seatbelt: over $300.

Yes, it is true that as of July 1, 2008, NO driver may use a cell phone while driving, unless in an emergency. First time fine: $20, & $50 for each thereafter.

DOCUMENT SAFEKEEPING – These documents should be safely stored, preferably in a bank safe deposit box: passports, property deeds & title insurance, marriage & divorce papers, adoption records, life insurance policies, naturalization papers, stock certificates, wills & trusts, & birth certificates.


Miraloma School PTA Rummage Sale

You are invited to Miraloma Elementary School PTA’s school-wide, multi-family rummage and bake sale, Saturday, November 3, 9 am to 1 pm at 175 Omar Way.  All proceeds benefit programs for our wonderful neighborhood school. 

Donations are welcome and are tax deductible.  We are seeking gently used items, such as: complete toys, stuffed animals, baby items, electronics and electrical items in working order, camping gear, rugs, cameras and equipment, sports equipment, bikes, doll houses, furniture, lamps, books, CDs, DVDs, videos, linen sets, office accessories, kitchen, housewares, and adult’s and children’s clothing folded in bags.

Sorry, but we cannot accept items that are broken or in need of repair, any computers or computer peripherals, auto parts, cribs, crib mattresses, magazines, hazardous materials, or anything alive! Donations can be dropped off at the entrance to the gymnasium on Omar Way , Friday Nov. 2, from 9 am to 7 pm.


From the President…

by Phil Laird

Because the November elections for mayor and sheriff are so lightly contested, voter interest will focus primarily on the ballot measures consisting of six charter amendments, three ordinances, and two policy declarations. Following is a summary of the measures of greatest relevance to Miraloma Park residents.

The most controversial choice for voters is whether to reaffirm the “transit-first” policy—promoting public transportation at the expense of parking and other private vehicle accommodations—or to relax current restrictions and increase city parking. Two measures, A and H, present this choice. However one of these (Measure A) is buried in a measure to restructure Muni and reduce vehicle emissions, so voters will have a difficult time knowing what they are voting for.  

Here’s the back-story. Measure H would change existing ordinances to allow more off-street parking. Currently one parking space is allowed per four units of new housing, but under the proposed measure three spaces would be allowed. Developers of new office and retail properties would be able to provide more than three times the parking spaces now permitted, and existing single-family houses and apartment buildings with fewer than five units would also be able to add a garage without the approval of the Planning Commission. This would make it easier for the residents to park but would also eliminate the on-street parking in front of the garages. Measure H was sponsored and qualified by developers and neighborhood merchant groups to challenge the transit-first policy in place since the 1980’s.

The competing measure, Measure A, is a charter amendment that mostly proposes changes to the administrative control of Muni. Among other provisions it makes the Municipal Transportation Authority (MTA) the sole agency responsible for transit, parking, and traffic. It calls for reductions in carbon emissions from buses and taxis, abolishes the taxi commission, and directs that more parking revenues be used to fund public transit. An important provision gives Muni managers more authority to negotiate new work rules for drivers and to fire poorly performing supervisors. But one sentence added to the measure at the last minute by Supervisor Aaron Peskin has stirred the pot by explicitly countering the provisions of Measure H: it declares that the City may not require or permit off-street parking spaces for privately owned structures in excess of the number required on July 1 of this year.   

Should both Measures A and H be approved by voters, measure A would prevail since it is a charter amendment. Mayor Newsom, who initially supported the Muni reforms in measure A, withdrew his support when the parking provision was added, saying, “Muni reform is too important to be drawn into a separate political battle.” So voters who support the Muni reforms but also support the provisions for increased off-street parking will face a dilemma: vote against the Muni reform by supporting measure H, or vote against the parking provisions by supporting measure A.  

Measure A was one of a handful of ballot measures submitted by the Supervisors just minutes before the filing deadline. These measures qualified for the ballot by garnering the support of at least four Supervisors, but because they qualified at the last minute, they were added without any public hearings before the Board of Supervisors (BOS).  In the past measures rushed onto the ballot just before the deadline have often been  clumsily constructed and poorly written. So Supervisor Elsbernd authored a measure (and submitted well in advance of the deadline) that would require any ballot measure submitted by the BOS or the mayor to be given a public hearing at least fifteen days before the filing deadline.

Measure D renews the popular set-aside fund for San Francisco libraries: 25¢ per $100 valuation to be added to whatever allocation is budgeted from the general fund for the libraries. This provision would continue for fifteen years.  Measure E requires the mayor to appear in person once a month before the BOS to discuss formal policy issues. Mayor Newsom circumvented a previous measure with the same aim by sending surrogates or memos, claiming that this so-called “question time” is just an opportunity for the Board to attack him in front of TV cameras. The sponsoring supervisors (those generally in opposition to Newsom) respond that Newsom has ignored the BOS and failed to account for their concerns on policy matters.

Measure I creates a new city department to assist small businesses (those with up to 100 employees) in obtaining business licenses, complying with regulations, accessing financial and other resources, and generally surviving as a small business in this city. The Mayor added it when the supervisors stripped funding for such a department out of this year’s budget.  The other measures are: Measure B, limiting to 60 days the time that city board and commission members may continue to serve after their term expires; Measure F, that allows police officers stationed at SFO to receive the same retirement benefits as other city police officers; and measure G, to provide a regular source of funds for the horse stables in Golden Gate Park. Measures J and K are non-binding policy declarations urging the city to adopt a citywide free wireless network for high-speed Internet and to restrict advertising on city buildings and street furniture.

On another thread, I am pleased to welcome Robert Gee to the Board of Directors of the M.P.I.C. A lifelong resident of San Francisco and Miraloma Park resident for the past ten years, Robert brings twenty-five years of public service with the F.B.I. and as a CPA. He will be continuing the work he has been doing with our Safety Committee over this past year.


Sunnyside Park/ Pumpkins Seek Carving

by Andrea O’Leary

On September 20  Rec. & Park approved the Conceptual Design for the renovation of the Sunnyside Park clubhouse to be paid for from an $843,500 surplus left over from the major capital renovation budget. The majority will be spent on American Disabilities Act barrier removal to the old kitchen and bathrooms, make the recreation space function better, renovate the bathrooms and to replace the roof.  Over the past year and a half, Sunnyside Park Families & Neighbors (SPFN) has negotiated to have some community generated Wish List items included that would make the Park more enjoyable. Barring overruns for the ADA needs, any additional amenities will be paid for from a contingency of $84,350. Expected completion is July 2008. The current major renovations to the Park are approaching completion, with few glitches – until now – including the delayed shipping of the field level prefabricated bathroom.

Reopening and Ribbon Cutting Party dates are in flux but will be announced by SPFN as soon as they are released. To receive updates via The Park News, contact 334-3601. The Sunnyside Conservatory has also made great strides with the approved Conceptual Design’s construction drawings being prepared for contractor bidding. The project is expected to break ground in Spring 2008. In the meantime, Friends of Sunnyside Conservatory invites all kids, their friends and families to participate in the Annual Pumpkin Carving Party on Saturday, October 27 from 11:00 to 3:00 PM at the Conservatory on Monterey Blvd. between Congo and Baden Streets. Some snacks, beverages, and carving tools will be provided with scary stories and songs thrown in to make your hair stand on end!

Captain Chignell Transferred

by Karen Miller Wood
Captain Paul Chignell has been transferred from Ingleside to Taraval Station. Captain Chignell is a 37 year veteran of the SFPD to whom no community issue was to large or too small to command his full attention, concern, and impressive problem-solving capabilities. From establishing programs leading to measurable reductions in crime in the Alemany Housing Project and in Bernal Heights to working closely with the MPIC safety committee to provide 24/7 patrols and highly effective targeted enforcement in our neighborhood. MPIC has tried to do our part in educating our community about specific ways in which we can support and augment community safety efforts, and, unfailingly, Captain Chignell was available to support us. In addition, he ensured that we developed ongoing and friendly relationships with lieutenants, sergeants, and patrol officers at Ingleside.

The Ingleside policing district is diverse in its policing needs. Miraloma Park shares services with Sunnydale, Alemany, Outer Mission, Visitation Valley, Bernal Heights and Diamond Heights (which has experienced a serious increase in crime in the last few years). Captain Chignell has demonstrated that he has the seemingly limitless dedication, energy, and understanding to address with amazing effectiveness the needs of all of us in the Ingleside.

Our new Captain is Denis O’Leary, transferred from the Southern Station. Captain O’Leary began his assignment at Ingleside 9/17 and has already met with members of the MPIC Board Safety Committee, Karen Wood and Robert Gee, toured the neighborhood with us, and discussed some of our safety and policing concerns. We look forward to working with Captain O’Leary.


Goodbye Upper Market Street Gas Stations?

by Gary Noguera

Recently, much attention has been focused on our own Miraloma Gas, but the closing of stations is not unique to Miraloma Park.  Why are so many going away? The answer is purely economic- the land is worth too much, and the pressure to develop more housing/retail locations in San Francisco is always looming.

An important area to discuss is the nearby “Upper Market Corridor” which runs roughly from Duboce to Castro. Currently well into the process is a planning “Charette” which is a housing/commercial “fill-in” program. Under the probable plan, almost every gas station in this area will be closing for development. They include the 76 at Duboce near the Mint, Shell at Sanchez/15 St. (already closed) the 76 station across from that Shell and the Arco station at Castro/17. Unless I’m mistaken, that will leave only the Chevron station at Castro.

Additional sites in the Charette likely to be developed are the S&C Ford showroom plus their separate garage at Dolores, The Thai House restaurant and parking lot at Sanchez St and the nearby Sullivan Funeral home and parking lot.  The site next to the Gay & Lesbian center near Octavia is already under construction for 158 housing units plus ground floor retail. The long abandoned site at 2299 Market, the former Methodist Church which burned down years ago at the corner of Market/Noe/16th,  has recently been sold to two developers and rebuilding with potentially up to five stories is almost certain.

Hopefully our city leaders will better balance the need for additional housing with those of us ordinary folks already here, needy for a nearby gas station!


Sympathy for the Devil: Tricks and Treats on Mt. Diablo

by Geoffrey Coffey

Fire danger is high on Mount Diablo in October – perhaps because the arch-fiend haunts his namesake peak for the season of All Hallow’s Eve, but more likely because the summer months have brought little water, and the parched local plant life must endure the purgatory of autumn while awaiting winter rains.  Dry, volcanic soil testifies to ancient forces in the bowels of the earth, and sustains today’s fire-dependent ecosystem.  Such infernal conditions have produced a hardy and drought-tolerant flora in a palette of feverish reds, subtle yellows, and silvery greens.  Not only do the native plants of Mount Diablo “care for themselves”  in the garden, but they evince an awareness of our history and help to define the identity of our state.

The diversity of vegetation here reaches nearly as high as the mountain itself.  Mount Diablo State Park embraces 81,000 acres, with countless trails to explore and a litany of evocative place names that read like poetry: Prospector’s Gap, Grapevine Spring, Alamo Canyon, Hidden Pond, Black Hawk Ranch, Sycamore Creek, Fossil Ridge, Knobcone Point, and many more.  Rich associations between geology and biology give rise to a number of distinct plant communities – including woodland, chaparral, grassland, and riparian – a smorgasbord for the casual leaf-peeper and the home horticulturalist, and all within the course of a single day’s hike.  Insiders recommend Mitchell Canyon (on the north side of the park near Clayton) as the best destination.


Prized for an autumnal bloom attracting hummingbirds, low-growing Epilobium canum (formerly Zauschneria and still known by the descriptive if misleading common name California Fuchsia) punctuates the dry October landscape with silky bluish-green plumes covered in tubular red flowers.  It clings to rocky embankments on the margins of chaparral and spreads by creeping, rarely reaching more than 1 or 2 feet tall.  An excellent edging for sunny beds or along the edge of retaining walls, this perennial is indispensable in the garden for its brilliant fall color when other plants have gone to seed.  Here on Mount Diablo, Epilobium canum grows together with California sagebrush, bush monkeyflower, black sage, and Yerba Santa, all outstanding choices for the California habitat garden.

Another of our most important species for wildlife, Baccharis pilularis or Coyote Brush, blooms in October and November with tufts of shaggy blossoms in yellowing shades of white.  A robust shrub from 5 to 15 feet tall, it grows rich evergreen foliage with a thick mounding habit in which many birds prefer to nest, while its late-season flower provides a crucial source of nectar for beneficial insects in an otherwise hungry time.

Mount Diablo is home to a rare and exquisite endemic species of manzanita, Arctostaphylos auriculata, the Mount Diablo manzanita.  It grows in the chaparral between 4 to 14 feet tall with an elegant serpentine curvature to its branches, long white bristles between its silvery leaves, and a dense white winter bloom.  Often difficult to find in the trade, specimens are available in limited quantity at the annual sale of the E. Bay chapter of CNPS, held this year on October 20 and 21 (see, and occasionally at the monthly sale of the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum (see

All the undergrowth on Mount Diablo harbors devilish thickets of poison oak, Toxicodendron diversilobium, while the trees beside streams, near springs, and along canyons are draped in thick vines of California wild grape (Vitis californica).  Both these species produce spectacular red foliage before dropping their leaves in winter.  The latter gives insignificant fruit but grows voraciously and looks wonderful in the fall, a real treat on a trellis or against a wall; the former is tricky, unsuitable in the garden except for witches seeking a good garnish for eye of newt and toe of frog.

The name Mount Diablo itself derives from a thicket, though swathed in mystery and misunderstanding.  On a Spanish map from 1824, “Monte del Diablo” signifies a Christian Indian village, not a mountain.  The reference comes from an expedition of Conquistadors hunting runaway mission Indians at the turn of the nineteenth century.  At dusk by a willow thicket near present-day Buchanan Field, the soldiers stumbled upon a group of recalcitrant Chupcan Indians who refused to abandon their ancestral ways in favor of the Spanish missions.  The Conquistadors surrounded the site, intending to capture the Chupcans at sunrise, but that night all the Indians escaped.  Angry and confused, the Spanish called the site Monte del Diablo or “Thicket of the Devil.”  Later, English-speaking newcomers took monte to mean “mountain” and erroneously applied the title to this prominent East Bay summit.

By any other name, Mount Diablo stands among the Bay Area’s most valuable ecological treasures. Take a peek into the recently revised Flowering Plants and Ferns of Mount Diablo by Ertter and Bowerman, two of California’s most respected minds in botany.  A dynamo in her early 90s, Mary Bowerman plays an active role in Save Mount Diablo, the preservation movement she founded 32 years ago, and prowls the mountain for new plants whenever the opportunity arises.  (Willis Jepson, whose eponymous Manual sets the standard for California flora, called Bowerman’s original 1944 flora of Mt. Diablo “a book always to have and to hold.”)  Native plant enthusiasts are raving about the latest edition of Bowerman’s work, updated in 2002 by Barbara Ertter.

Web-crawlers can find further information online through the state park service at, the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association at, and Save Mount Diablo at, but there’s no substitute for experiencing the mountain first-hand.  You native plant fanciers, you horticultural trick-or-treaters — take up the torch and go for a walk with the devil.

Miraloma Park dweller and freelance writer Geoffrey Coffey is going for Halloween this year dressed as Toxicodendron diversilobium.  Find more at



Jed Lane

After ten years of volunteer service to the NERTs of Mt Davidson and Miraloma Park Gary Isaacson has stepped down as our coordinator. Bill Jeong and I have been asked to assume the leadership positions.
I took my NERT training in 1994 after the Northridge earthquake motivated by a radio interview I heard of a volunteer who found a woman in a collapsed building and after telling her he would return with help found her dead when he returned. As a new father at the time this was all I needed to motivate me to be better prepared. I have a construction and business management background and currently am a Realtor in the area. My contact information is (415) 425-9810, or

Bill took his NERT training in 2006 and has been active since. He is a retired PG&E employee and also is a Red Cross volunteer working with their Disaster Action Team. Bill’s e-mail is

Our first order of business is to update our member list and contact information. We have sent out an e-mail to all the people that are on the roster supplied to us by the Fire Department. We called everyone that didn’t have an e-mail address. If you have not responded to the message or have not received an e-mail please send either of us your contact information. At this point in time very few of our members are not using e-mail so that is the preferred method of communication.

Our second piece of business is to let all of you know that NERT’s next city wide drill will on October 13. This drill is being organized city wide but working locally in each of the battalion districts. We will gather October 13 from 9:00 till noon at the open area along Junipero Serra at Mercedes in the Ingelside Terrace area. The focus of this exercise will be on setting up the Incident Command Center using ICS protocol and working on the communication relay throughout the neighborhoods in this battalion area.

Next I am very pleased to announce a new joint training available from NERT and SF SAFE. Many of you are familiar with SF SAFE this organization is responsible for Neighborhood Watch and many other valuable programs.
NERT Personal Preparedness Workshop/Block Captain Training with NERT and SF SAFE, Wednesday, September 26, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., SF Fire Department Division of Training, 2310 Folsom at 19 Street.

This free workshop for non-NERTs covers what every individual needs to know to prepare for a disaster, including: risk awareness, disaster supplies, personal disaster planning, utilities overview, NERT overview, and block disaster planning. Please RSVP to, or call 415-970-2024 to register.


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: or call 415.334.2868

Q: For what types of projects can you get an Over-the-Counter Permit?
A: There are many residential projects which qualify for an Over-the-Counter Permit.

One of homeowners’ biggest fears in starting a project is that it will take forever to get a building permit.  For some projects, there is a lengthy planning and approval process, but for many projects it is possible to obtain a permit in one day.  This type of permit is called an “Over-the-Counter” permit because quite literally you sit down at a counter in the building department with a plan checker and have them review and approve the plans on the spot.  Some very minor repair projects don’t even need drawings, but others may require you to stop at several different department counters to get separate approvals for building, planning, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and fire code issues.   In the latter case, you move from one counter to the next until every required approval has been signed off and you have your permit.   One of the benefits of the over-the-counter permit process is that the preparer of the drawings is often the person submitting the drawings.  In my case, as the architect, I am able to explain the project to the plan checker, answer questions and, if necessary, add information or modify the drawings right at the counter in order to have them approved. 

The City of San Francisco has issued an Administrative Bulletin, AB-024, titled ‘Over-the-Counter Permits.’  This bulletin identifies several project scopes of work that are eligible for possible over-the-counter permits and some that are specifically excluded.  Of those NOT eligible are conversions of previously illegal occupancies, increases in the building envelope (i.e. vertical or horizontal additions), and changes to the occupancy use of part or all of the building.

The following scopes of work are eligible for possible over-the-counter permits:
· Dry rot repair
· Termite inspection report work
· Window replacement (Same size and location)
· Exterior stucco, siding, cladding (Replace in kind)
· Remodel existing kitchen
· Remodel existing bathroom
· Re-sheet rocking interior
· Addition of new bathroom, laundry, or wet bar
· Re-roofing
· Residential Alteration interior/exterior
· Repair existing decks
· Repair existing stairs
· Replace existing stairs, decks (same location)
· Replace garage doors (same size, location)
· Foundation bolting, adding plywood to garage walls
· Adding SF approved fire escape ladders
· Repair or replace existing fire escapes
· Handicap chairlifts to existing stairs
· Repair existing building components to same location
· Replace existing garage concrete slab
· Fence work requiring a permit
· Adding new residential skylights

In general, most work that is within the building envelope (exterior walls and roof), that doesn’t change the occupancy use of the home is eligible for an over-the-counter permit.  So if you think the project you’ve been considering is eligible for an OTC permit, don’t let the permit process be the reason for putting it off.

* 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.         



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, shows
no sign of being swept away.

C-2007 by Dan Liberthson