Local links: Purple Skunk closing, BART to the beach?, MAFIA online, reclaimed furniture & more

Reindeer are back at the Academy of Sciences for the holidays. Photo by @calacademy

  • Lizzie, the owner of Purple Skunk Skateboard Shop at 6037 Geary wrote us to say they are closing their doors after the Christmas holidays. “After 21 years the Purple Skunk doors will be closing. Christmas week is our last retail hoorah. It’s time to retire, but on a good note. We will miss ALL of our customers that we have been serving throughout the years. We will always remember our little groms that got their first skateboard here.” The business is for sale so if you’re interested, contact the shop for more details. We’ll miss you Purple Skunk!
  • BART to the Beach? Don’t get too excited, but BART is “investigating” service expansions over the next decade that would include a second transbay tube and a new line out to the western part of the city. You can download the proposal here, which was presented to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board committee recently.
  • Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. The Examiner reports that “Next spring, Washington High School in the Richmond is poised to produce one of approximately 3,000 teams to compete in an international robotics competition after students recently created the school’s first robotics club.” The 60 students who have already signed up will be broken into teams of four to focus on different aspects, including building the robot, developing its software, calculating the business and handling public relations. The program was supported by a $20,000 grant from Facebook.
  • Izakaya Ju-Ku on the corner of 19th Avenue and Clement closed a couple of weeks ago. That’s a nice corner spot but has always been challenging for restaurants. We’ll have to see what opens there next…
  • Arion Press, just inside the 14th Avenue Presidio gate, is hosting a free, holiday open house this Saturday from 11am until 6pm. Go on a tour, check out their gallery, and experience the historic bookmaking and letterpress workshop. See where their books are made, including their historic printing presses, 100-year-old machinery, and one of the largest collections of metal type in North America. Free tours of the typefoundry, press room, and book bindery take place at 12noon and 2pm.
  • Two Richmond District residents have started a new furniture business using reclaimed materials. “We started out small but then we quickly realized we have a love for working with reclaimed materials. We have now begun expanding our collection in hopes of sharing it with the community. We’re starting small with a few select pieces but will be expanding in the coming months.” You can check out their products on Etsy – we like that bathtub shelf!
  • Remember MAFIA Bags, a new business that set up a manufacuturing space in the Richmond District, making bags and accessories from recycled sails? Their online store is now up, just in time for the holidays.


  1. To be honest, Izakaya Ju-Ku had odd hours (I think weekend evenings?), but I don’t think they were ever posted. It was always closed when we walked by after our late afternoon run to the Y. Tia Margarita’s on the opposite corner, on the other hand, is doing just fine…that place is always packed when we go by or stop in!

    Speaking of closures, I also see that the kids’ science center (sorry, forgotten the name) not too far from there has also recently closed up, having moved to a spot on Taraval.

  2. Bart to the beach is a horrible idea. You don’t want to be at the terminus of a line, particularly bart. If you think the iPhone strong arm robberies are bad now, wait until this happens.

  3. One vote for BART to the beach here (though I realize it won’t happen in my lifetime). I’d much prefer not having to take the 38 cattle car to get to BART.

  4. Oh no, Purple Skunk! – Always a weekend favorite for the kids when dad needed new bearings, or a reason to drool at all the new decks. I got my daughters first skateboard there. Lizzie and her staff are always friendly and helpful. I do miss the old Millipede high Score contests..I won free bearings once.

    I think i’ll go by this week and savor it all. Get some more PS shirts for the kids.

    Sad, yet happy Liz can retire. Thanks for all the great years of supporting skating in the Richmond.

  5. The original BART plan had a line out Geary which turned north at Park Presidio to go to Marin on a second deck of the Golden Gate Bridge, foiled by Marin voters who did not wish to increase their sales tax by half a cent to fund construction (back in the day when sales tax was 3%).

    I wonder what the plan will do to Geary BRT? After all it will require the premium Fast Pass to ride any non-Muni service inside city limits. On that note, why not make GG Transit accept premium Fast Pass and reduce congestion on Express buses by picking up passengers at Park Presidio & California? There used to be no restrictions on boarding Greyhound buses on Park Presidio to any destination back in the day before GGT took over their facilities in San Rafael.

  6. BART to the beach is a bad idea. Isn’t there already Geary light rail in the works? That seems much more appropriate to the neighborhood, leaving a lighter footprint. BART is a heavy duty operator – big people mover – the Richmond is just fine how it is. Good thing I doubt it would ever happen. I’m not sure why this idea got resurrected. It would only bring the rabble in and pave the way for more development. Of course it would be great if you lived in the Richmond and worked in Pittsburgh or something, but do we really need to facilitate that? The Richmond’s strong suit is that it’s a peaceful neighborhood where people can live quietly in a big city. We don’t need to develop it to the greatest extent. More effort should be put into trying to calm it down – depopulate it (in terms of houses holding twice the capacity they were designed for – and with this the insane number of cars literally parking all over the sidewalks these days). Bring back the lawns. And basically keep it how it is. Whenever I venture out to another part of the city, I am very glad to come back to the Richmond, which seems quite placid and where the most you might have to worry about is a panhandler in front of the Walgreens or something or some asshole tailgating you. BART would bring in thugs from Hayward to grab shit out of our cars to a greater degree. I think this was one of the arguments against BART in the Richmond in the first place (when it was being built), and I think it was prophetic. I’m very glad we have a new BART rep, but he’s a little wet behind the ears – was talking about building housing in the BART parking lots? Not sure where he’s getting these ideas. Hopefully he is not just in the pocket of some developer, as I found it strange he brought it up at all at the debate I watched.

  7. In my humble opinion Bart to the Richmond, Sunset and entire rest of the Western part of the city is the most important thing SF should be doing in 2015 and beyond. I’m pretty shocked to see the comments above that are opposed to the idea. We need a real, world class transit system in this city. Tourists should be able to take Bart to the de Young just like us residents should be able to take Bart downtown.

    On that note I’m a huge fan of upzoning more of the Richmond as well. Love our quaint neighborhood and all but let’s integrate it better into SF and get more commerce and dense development out in these here parts. I am a firm believer that if we densify more of the western part of the city we can help contribute to the solution for the affordability and housing crisis (but clearly this is not the silver bullet).

    Fwiw, I’m a home owner here as well … which maybe makes my opinion in the minority ?

  8. My vote for Dylan. Couldn’t agree with you more. We are part of city. If you want us to be different and not integrate maybe you should leave? Spread BART and maybe subway line out here. Get more grocery stores and other business out here. Even if it’s commercial. Seems like more and more businesses are closing out here. I would like to see more eclectic growth out here.

  9. What we really need is an end to the multiple fiefdoms for transit in the Bay Area as well as a definition of what the Bay Area is. When I was young it included San Mateo, SF, Marin, Alameda and western Contra Costa counties. Now it appears to include everything north to Occidental, east to almost Modesto, and south to Morgan Hill. There’s close to 30 transit agencies and taxpayer expense of management and boards as well as better planning for maintenance and storage facilities if there was consolidation. Muni used to go deep into San Mateo county before BART.

  10. @ SF owner: I’m confused as to why I would leave my neighborhood since birth because I hold an opinion that you disagree with. Is this a thing wherever you come from (I assume it’s not SF), and would I have to move there? I’m aware that ‘love it or leave it’ is a popular thing for obnoxious yokels to say in some parts of the country but in those contexts, but isn’t it usually the person who doesn’t like the way the place is who gets to leave, rather than the one advocating for the status quo? In any case this type of rudeness seems really out of nowhere. I get that times are tense in SF but ‘love it or leave it’ is pretty base. It’s pretty rich hearing it from someone who’s probably not even from here.

    I think constantly about different possibilities for the Richmond. The one you guys are advocating to me appeals to me too, but I think I basically like the Rich the way it is. Zoning exists for this exact reason – to guard against change. The Richmond is designed as a flat board full of single family houses (and a healthy dose of smaller apartment buildings, limited retail). I’m into active change, but don’t see BART as necessary to that. As far as more dramatic redevelopment, I feel the ‘housing crisis’ is being used to push all types of agendas and legislation these days – does it occur to anyone that at some point you need to put a punctuation mark at the end of the sentence? Might now be a good time? Why must the Richmond also grow skyward? I never had any problem getting anywhere in the Bay Area from bus to BART. I know it’s hip to denigrate the transit services, and that people now believe the Richmond is isolated and out there, but transit’s always worked for me, getting me all over the Bay Area for decades. Downtown feels like a hop and a skip away, even on the 1. Maybe we have a different sense of time. Geary light rail does basically the same thing BART would, with fewer drawbacks. I don’t really want a rumbling tunnel underneath my house – not in my backyard.

  11. Since I’m casting votes today I’ll throw another towards 4thGenRichmond. I think it’s true that the balkanization of Bay Area transit is probably the root cause of a lot of the transit wars we seem to get into these days. On the other hand it’s hard to see how that can effectively be addressed. As we see in the above comments people have pretty strong feelings about how they want to see their neighborhoods, cities, regions,.. develop. And transit has real effects on development, so it’s hard to see how to impose one model on the whole bay area (e.g. BART’s childhood was pretty nasty). For now I’ll just appreciate that Clipper provides some small consolation in making it a wee bit easier to bridge the wildly disparate systems.

  12. Karl, regional transit could be addressed if ABAG put it on their agenda to go with the population densities they insist upon foisting on SF, Dublin, and other towns. Somehow much of the Peninsula has escaped the density demands and I am aware a lot of the East Bay density is in litigation.

    Let’s hope Willie Brown’s dream of flanking Golden Gate Park with highrise condos on both sides like Central Park in Manhattan doesn’t come to fruition. The freeway on Fulton is bad enough now and would become untenable with a zillion more stacked shoeboxes. I noticed property tax revenues are $1.2 Billion for 2014; it wasn’t that long ago that amount covered the entire City budget for several years.

  13. +1 to end the transit balkanization. There are some ways to do it that we’d never achieve (such as the way all the ‘burbs were combined with Toronto to create one mega-city). But there are plenty of other models of unified metropolitan transit – from the MBTA in metro Boston [probably the closest model to the Bay Area in terms of local government fiefdoms], to the Port Authority of NY/NJ, to Transport London. It’s quite feasible – and imminently practical – to have one transit agency even if there are multiple, separate local jurisdictions.

  14. #6 – no, Geary light rail is *not* in the works – instead Muni and the City are trying to foist on us the stupid “bus rapid transit” lanes, the worst of both worlds.

    As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care if it’s BART versus a Muni underground, but we need to get the Geary corridor transit off the surface and into smooth, stoplight-free tunnels. Heck, I’d even take bus tunnels (a la Harvard Square in Cambridge), though that’s hardly my first choice as it would not integrate well with the Market Street underground nor BART. At least having an underground subway (Muni or BART) could in theory interconnect with the rest of the system, to allow quick and easy transfers.

  15. @ Sierrajeff – Integrating the multiple transit agencies seems way more sane and logical than inviting the BART behemoth into our backyard. I had actually never thought about that as a possibility, even as it seems that has been the direction things have been going. I wonder what it would take to accomplish this? I wouldn’t trust the BART administrations to manage the neighborhood dump. It’s a workhorse and serves its purpose fairly well, but I feel our neighborhood is more peaceful, one of it’s best qualities, for not being penetrated by a big intra-area train system.

  16. Also, I guess from what you’re all saying Geary light rail is apparently not happening but the proposals for Geary bus rapid transit seem ok too (would have much preferred rail, though), with platforms being built and dedicated lanes. I have been a little confused about this – when did light rail get nixed?

  17. From an engineering standpoint it would be hard to imagine that they could extend a BART line all the way out to the ocean without spending an enormous amount of money. Where would there be a turnaround? Is there sufficient space to construct that? Also, at a certain point near the ocean, Point Lobos goes downhill sharply…I would imagine that would pose significant engineering challenges in terms of building tunnels and building out stations. Also the road at Point Lobos is so narrow it is hard to imagine that they could build out BART stops without compromising homeowners’ yards.

    I’m thinking it is even difficult to build an above-ground muni train which follows the current Geary 38 route. Probably an above-ground train could go no farther than 42nd.

    In general I love the idea of an above ground muni out to the ocean. I think it would be beneficial in the same way that the N-Judah appears to benefit the sunset district.

    I would love to hear from experienced engineers on these issues.

  18. Light rail got nixed when the streetcars were removed from Geary, Balboa and Fulton (Clement as well) before BART. Somehow the Sunset was saved. Many other streetcar lines were nixed when BART was supposed to compensate for the loss of these lines, some extending into San Mateo well past Matthews Top of the Hill Daly City. Streetcars were ignored during BART construction well into the 1970s. Once Muni Metro opened in the 1980s and attempted to couple and decouple the N and J on the slope entering the tunnel (without regarding much litigation history with railroads in the 1930s) for longer trains, any thought of re-introducing a slope at Kearny & Market or at Van Ness and Geary were given the kibosh.

    There’s plenty of track under a lot of the tar out here, would make curbs high like they used to be.

    As to turnaround of a streetcar line, it would be down Balboa and around Safeway, not down Point Lobos which would require different service just as the VA hospital does. I don’t see BART having a terminus unless some portion of the Presidio or VA property is forsaken.

  19. @sf: Re your response to @SF owner, well said! The odds are very good that @sf owner moved to SF from somewhere else, possibly within the past few years, and now that he/she is here and giving us all the benefit of his/wisdom, we should pack up and leave if we don’t agree. After all, what’s not to like about more and more, higher and higher. One thing @sf owner fails to address is where exactly all the new residents of high rise, densely packed a pts are going to park their cars. Or perhaps @sf owner believes most of these newly arriving people will not have cars. The Richmond ain’t the sleepy place it used to be, what with all the single family houses (mostly two cars, max) being torn down and replace by 3-6 unit a pts (with each unit have 1-2 cars average). @sf owner apparently wants skyscrapers. There are so many soulless, character-less cities with high rises. Just as every part of the city isn’t undergoing what’s happening in the Mission (thankfully!), in my estimation it stakes a stunning lack of foresight to suggest that the solution to the housing crisis is to build more & higher–without seriously thinking about the consequences of it.

  20. Forgot to mention that in the olden days after the streetcar was removed the 31 Balboa (local and Limited) was diesel and terminated at 33rd Avenue where all the coaches lined up in front of Washington High. To determine which coach was leaving next (not necessarily the one at the front of the parked row, we would sniff for the distinct aroma of burning weed and locate the card game at the back of a coach to ask for that coach number and how long we would be waiting. Most drivers (they weren’t called operators back then) also had a canned beverage in a brown paper bag while colas were mostly still sold in returnable glass bottles. After I graduated one coach rolled, unattended, all the way into Golden Gate Park. This incident was after the last good year on Muni, 1968.

  21. renee, that seems like quite a few assumptions re. @sf (though perhaps his statement about who should be in the hood was provocative enough to draw some fire). And I’m not sure you’re characterization of high density is exactly fair; you seem to assume that what everyone means by high density is downtown Hong Kong but that’s not typical re. current ideas. High density needn’t mean contiguous ugly sky scrapers or even buildings that are particularly high; it could just mean something as simple as more shared open space instead of large private backyards, with some efficient use of space thus freed up for housing. While I’m no fan of fast, wholesale transformation of the Richmond I think it’s useful to nonetheless pay attention to suggestions for making neighborhoods more livable and try to avoid generalized demonization of people that think about such things (e.g. high density spans quite a range of different ideas). Re. cars, I have one and am sensitive to the needs of people who can’t avoid using them, but I’ve tried to cut my use (part of that is just the luck of my situation but part is also via choices I’ve made) and would love to be given the opportunity to not have to have one at all. If we could cut the need for car trips by some reasonable fraction, e.g. via decent transit, the Richmond could seem even sleepier despite some increase in density.

  22. Now for something completely different. I just got back from the tour of Arion Press that Sarah mentioned in this piece. At the risk of being a little hyperbolic, that place is amazing ! (as Huell Hoeser used to say…). I highly recommend checking it out at their next open house.

  23. The thing I would love the most would be if this happened (I think it is already happening a bit, though I couldn’t really prove it): The price of single family houses and apartments in the Richmond keep rising, but the price of those Richmond specials, and of those huge horrible apartment complexes built in the 90’s – such as those at 33rd and Geary, for example, lags seriously behind because of the unattractive quality of the build. Flippers or developers zero in on this fact – that a building/lot zoned for several stories is worth well below market b/c it is a horrible crappily-constructed building that no one wants to live in. They either do a dramatic redo to add quality housing stock, or demolish it and build something new. I know this is the opposite of what a lot of outspoken people in the city seem to want, but I think it would be something good that could come out of the increasing affluence that is pretty much inevitable. I feel like this might be bound to happen, since it seems like for quality properties the selling price goes up 100K every month I check, while the Richmond specials are being marked down week after week. When the nice houses are worth $3M and the Richmond specials can’t get $1.5M, someone will knock them down and we’ll all get to look at better buildings. I am probably rare in that aesthetics win out over basically everything in my mind.

  24. BART to the Richmond? Heck, why not add another 100,000 residents to our little neighborhood. It won’t be that hard. First, get rid of all the backyards, and let developers build out to the back fences. Also, lets raise the height limits to 85 feet; if we don’t have back yards, we won’t need the sun shining back there and the extra shade may prevent skin cancer. And require every homeowner to remove their garages and require them to build more in-laws (yuck).
    Really – we don’t need more density in the Richmond. It will lose its “livability”.
    How about this instead. Continue to develop the underbuilt 3rd Street corridor
    Change Geary from Park Presidio to 33rd Ave to have 3 lanes in each direction, and make the right lane MUNI only. Much less costly than a BRT or underground, it could be done almost immediately, and will result in immediate improvements.

  25. @Richmondman – I am with you. Don’t know if you’re aware, but the plan is in progress for just that – dedicated lane for the 38 in the next few years. I think it’s a shame that not only did the law against illegal in-laws (there’s got to be a better way to say that) not get enforced for years, but this year the BOS went ahead and legalized in-law units. I don’t see what the point of having zoning is if you’re just ready to fold that easily. It’s added a lot of density to the neighborhood. Eric Mar didn’t even attend this meeting to vote on it. Still think the Richmond’s the best, but I think we should be aware that the ‘housing crisis’ is going to be used to try to push through all sorts of things in the coming years.

  26. I own a car, but rarely drive. I am all for some other form of transit. The 38 doesn’t do it well, nor does the 31. The lines are pokey because of traffic and you have to take multiple lines if you are going beyond a direct route to downtown from the Richmond.

  27. @ Mel – I would love an explanation for how major parts of Geary Blvd, as well as key veins through the park such as Chain of Lakes and Crossover Drives can have such degraded road quality that is never ever addressed, even as much less-used streets like the individual avenues are repaved, considering that we approve half a billion dollars of road bonds each year via ballot. I am sure this is not helping traffic move smoothly forward.

  28. what Geary needs is a high-speed Gondola running from The Ferry Building along Market then up Geary to the Cliff House. The new detachable gondolas can come to a complete stop at mid-point and terminus stations so they’re easy for disabled/elderly boarding. Way higher volume than even a subway, beautiful, not much more expensive than the BRT and way cheaper than a subway, very little surface footprint, and great for sightseers. Don’t laugh too quickly, Austin, Texas is looking into this already. It’s the future and it’s awesome! Green too.
    One of the best things SF ever did was win the freeway wars. However, a downside was we put tons of vehicle traffic onto our surface streets. The long term solution is to put some of the traffic along Park Presidio / 19th Ave underground. Cities around the country are ‘capping’ freeways and large boulevards and putting parks or lighter traffic roads overtop. We should look into our options. I wish there were zero vehicles in Golden Gate Park because crossover, Sunset-36th, 41st-43rd, and 7th-8th were all tunneled.
    Just some food for thought.

  29. BART would be great. no waiting at red lights. it should also turn northward and deal with the awful Marin commute as well. the light rail train would be stuck in car traffic so not much better than existing bus.

Comments are closed.