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Local Links: Mayfaire Carnival, grad research, fundraisers, Green Apple & more

The labyrinth at Lands End. Photo by Stan-the-Rocker

Happy Thursday everyone! Here are some local links to distract you from the fog…

  • Argonne School’s Mayfaire Carnival fundraiser is this Saturday, featuring bouncing castles, a climbing wall, a dunk tank, crafts, games, a used book sale, raffle tickets for prizes, a silent auction and food. It runs from 11am until 4pm on the Argonne campus at 18th & Cabrillo. Admission is free.
  • A Stanford grad student is conducting a research project that investigates social interactions, specifically among neighbors, in the neighborhoods of Richmond District and North Beach. If you’d like to help her out, take the short online survey here (Richmond Dist or North Beach residents only!).
  • Back in April, a 3-year old boy named Nikita was hit by a truck while riding his bike across Fulton Street near 43rd Avenue, leaving him with critical brain and body injuries. Family friends are asking for financial help from the community to cover medical costs via an online fundraiser, which you can donate to here.
  • In other fundraising news, the George Washington High School baseball and softball teams need to raise $40,000 for a new batting cage facility, which the coach describes as “a first-in-class, enclosed, steel-structured cage” that will be permanent. Learn more and donate online here. P.S. – If you want the chance to win a signed bat from Giants player Hunter Pence, go to the end of the video for details.
  • Green Apple announced the winner in their t-shirt design contest. Congrats go to neighborhood resident Carrie Niziolek who is a scientist by day and part-time artist. She won $250 plus a $200 Green Apple gift card, and soon her design will grace hundreds of t-shirts and bags. Check out her winning design and runner-ups here.
  • There will be an open house meeting about the Ocean Beach Master Plan this Saturday in Golden Gate Park. The plan recommends ways to improve coastal access, restore ecological function and protect critical infrastructure in the face of chronic erosion and sea level rise at Ocean Beach. To find out more about the three projects that are underway, attend the meeting at the County Fair Building from 9am until 12noon.
9:27 am | Posted under Business, Ocean Beach, Schools | Comments Off

Local Links: Romo pitches school, Aziza 2.0, plant sale, Saturday events & more

Sergio Romo speaks to students at Lafayette Elementary. Photo by Juan Pardo / SF Examiner

Here are some local updates to start your weekend. Have a good one!

  • Reminder: This Saturday the SF Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park will host its 47th annual plant sale from 10am until 2pm, featuring over 20,000 plants. This year’s theme is drought tolerance hundreds of beautiful natives, succulents, and plants perfect for SF’s many micro-climates are for sale. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the garden.
  • If pampering is more up your alley, head to outer Balboa on Saturday for an open house at Elevation Pilates and Sweet Cheeks Skincare. Sweet Cheeks will be offering free Hand Treatments demoing all of the latest and greatest skincare technology, selling some skin care items at 50% off, and selling a Mother’s Day Gift Certificate that include a free gift with purchase. Elevation Pilates will be offering free classes, special pricing on class packages, and hosting an art show. The open house runs from 11am until 3pm at 3425 Balboa Street.
  • The community garden at the Richmond District Neighborhood Center is going strong. Some students from Katherine Delmar Burke School paid a visit recently to plant some kale for the community.

Burke’s students plant kale in the community garden at the RDNC. Photo by Kinder Musings.

  • Giants pitcher Sergio Romo was at Lafayette School (4545 Anza) on Tuesday to talk to students about the importance of education. It was Romo’s fourth visit for such an event, put on by Washington High School’s Athletes in Math Succeed program, in which high school students and professional athletes cheer on students to succeed in school. “It’s more personal to me,” Romo said of visiting the school, where he high-fived kids and signed their baseball paraphernalia. “I can relate to this program.” (SF Examiner)
  • The Chronicle reported this week that Aziza owner and cookbook author Mourad Lahlou is moving ahead with a second, downtown restaurant in the former Pacific Telephone Building (140 New Montgomery). He’s looking to open the Moroccan-themed, 6,000 sq. ft. restaurant in late 2014/early 2015. No word yet on Aziza’s future.
  • A writer at SF Weekly lamented over the forgotten era of the Tiki Bar when he journeyed out to Trad’r Sam’s on Geary, one of the first in the city. After hearing Warren G. coming from the jukebox and listening to patrons order chilled vodka shots instead of Tiki-themed rum drinks, he concluded that Trad’r Sam’s is “now just another bar”.
12:15 pm | Posted under Business, Community, Golden Gate Park, Green, Schools | 7 comments

Internet Archive installs 100th “archivist statue”; will rebuild building lost in fire

The archivist statues in the Internet Archive. On the far left is Rick Prelinger, with
Brewster Kahle to the right. Photo by Michael Grecco Productions

If you’ve ever been to an event in the large auditorium at the Internet Archive at Funston and Clement, you’ve likely seen the unique sculptures scattered among the old church pews. The sculptures are representations of archivists or staff members that work at the Internet Archive.

The idea came from the IA’s founder, Brewster Kahle, who on a trip to China was impressed with the Terracotta Warriors depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China in Xian. When he returned to the US, he commissioned artist Nuala Creed to start making sculptures representing individuals who had dedicated at least three years of service to the Archive.

Recently, the 100th sculpture was completed and installed in the auditorium. Among the collection is founder Brewster Kahle as well as Rick Prelinger, the man behind the “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco” films.

Artist Creed says that even after creating 100 of the sculptures, it’s still “a challenge to convey the individual”:

“I love this commission, it allows me to do what I love, to create figures in clay. The Ceramic Archivists are hand-built, each figure is unique. I work from a photograph of the person, and a brief statement as to their interests. As I build the figure it is almost as though I am getting to know that person. Many of the figures are holding something, a coffee cup, book, cell phone, plate of cookies, knitting, a laptop etc. which personalizes them,” Creed says on the project website.

In November 2013, the Internet Archive lost part of its building to an electrical fire which also badly damaged a neighboring apartment building and its restaurant tenant on the ground floor, Taishan Cafe. Demolition of the damaged office space has been completed and word on the street is that the Internet Archive does plan to rebuild. We have not heard if Taishan will reopen in the future.

Sarah B.

The burned portion of the Internet Archive building on Clement that will be rebuilt.

5:02 am | Posted under Art, Business | 3 comments

New parklet opens outside Simple Pleasures on outer Balboa

The Richmond District’s second parklet opened on Saturday in front of Simple Pleasures Cafe at 3434 Balboa near 35th Avenue. The budget for the parklet was $26,000, one of the most expensive in the city to date.

Unlike most city parklets, this one is spacious. Because the parking on that block of Balboa is slanted, the parklet is much deeper than a typical one. It took over 3 parking spaces in total.

Designed by San Francisco’s Step 3 Studio, the parklet is well constructed with heavy, stained wood benches and planters, and tile flooring.

The parklet was paid for by Simple Pleasures Cafe but the space is considered public, and open to anyone to use at anytime. Parklets are part of the San Francisco Planning Department’s Pavement to Parks initiative, designed to “temporarily reclaim unused swathes of land and quickly and inexpensively turn them into new public spaces”.

Next up is a parklet outside Cinderella Bakery on Balboa near 6th Avenue. No word yet on when though.

Sarah B.

5:02 am | Posted under Business, Parks | 24 comments

Local links: Sand art, McCoppin grant, SFBG plant sale, 911 bravery & more

Inside the art studio of Jay Mercado at 10th & California. Photo by Jay Mercado

Lots of links to catch up on – enjoy! – Sarah B.

  • This Wednesday night is the general membership meeting for the Planning Association for the Richmond, also open to the public. Agenda items include a SFPUC Presentation about a proposed 4-year increase to water and sewer rates, and discussion of the recently released Urban Forest Plan for San Francisco. 7pm-9pm at the Richmond Recreation Center, 251 18th Avenue.
  • Sand art will abound on Saturday morning at Ocean Beach when artist Andres Amador returns to create his masterpieces on the shore. He’s being filmed for a documentary from 7:30am to 9am, so grab a spot on the Cliff House overlook and watch him at work. And if you want to learn his sand art technique, Amador has a workshop class on May 5.
  • Speaking of the Cliff House… The Chronicle took a look back at the “rollicking tale of the first Cliff House – a clapboard structure built by real estate tycoon Charles Butler in 1863.” One of the early visitors was author Mark Twain, who wrote, “The wind was cold and benumbing. It came straight from the ocean, and I think there are icebergs out there somewhere. True, there was not much dust, because the wind blew it all to Oregon in two minutes.”
  • Local art lovers, mark your calendars. The next Cabrillo Art Cave will take place on May 10 & 11 from 11am to 4pm at 925 Cabrillo. The cave is a community art space (read: someone’s garage) that opens occasionally for shows featuring a collective of local artists. Find out whose work will be showcased at cabrilloart.com
  • A new study shows that the median rent in San Francisco in the first quarter of 2014 was $3,200, approximately 8% higher than this time last year. In the Richmond District, we’re below the median at $2,695, but that’s still 14.6% higher than Q1 2013.
  • Frank McCoppin Elementary School (651 6th Avenue) learned in March that they’ll be receiving a $425,000 Kellogg Foundation grant, which is awarded to schools to optimize child development. The money will be used to implement a Balanced Literacy Program for the school, which has 265 students, about half of whom speak Cantonese as their first language.
  • Dirty Trix Saloon at 408 Clement shut down but has already reopened as Side Bar, “a remodeled drinking hole with more of a lounge feel than its previous incarnation. Multiple flat-screen TVs and a revamped sound system are part of the improvements,” says EaterSF.
  • Want to start growing vegetables in your backyard? Attend the free “Growing Vegetables from Seeds” class at the Richmond Branch Library (351 9th Avenue) on Saturday, May 3 from 2:30 to 4pm. Master Gardener Michael Klein will guide attendees through soil and bed preparation, propagation, planting techniques and plant maintenance.
  • In other gardening news, the SF Botanical Garden will have its 47th annual plant sale on Saturday, May 3 from 10am until 2pm, featuring over 20,000 plants. This year’s theme is drought tolerance hundreds of beautiful natives, succulents, and plants perfect for SF’s many micro-climates are for sale. If you’ve got a green thumb, don’t miss it!
  • 10 year old Dante Parker was honored by the city for his bravery while making a 911 call from his Richmond District home earlier this year, when his mother was experiencing severe abdominal pain. His mother made a full recovery from her stomach virus, and Dante said he was just “glad I helped. If I hadn’t helped, who would take care of me?” Aww. You can listen to it below.

11:32 am | Posted under Art, Business, Classes, Events, Green, Ocean Beach, Real Estate, Schools | 1 comment

Green Apple breathes new life into Sunset District’s Le Video; will be co-tenant

Photo by Le Video

If you think bookstores have been feeling the squeeze from the digital publishing world, imagine the challenges that a video store faces in today’s culture of on-demand movies and television shows. While some boomers fondly remember the days of browsing rows of VHS tapes and DVDs for movie night, it’s an activity that is hard to relive in San Francisco – there’s only a handful left.

Despite this, the Sunset District’s Le Video has managed to stay in business, attracting about 120 customers on a weekday. But that’s not enough to keep it afloat, and Le Video founder Catherine Tchen was facing an imminent closure earlier this year after spending nearly $1 million of her own funds in the last four years to keep the doors open at the 34 year old video store.

After posting a Facebook message in March about her financial predicament and impending closure, Tchen received a lifeline from another longtime, neighborhood business – Green Apple Books.

Beginning August 1, Green Apple will open its second location in the ground floor of Le Video, located on 9th Avenue between Lincoln and Irving in the inner Sunset District. Le Video will move its inventory of 100,000 video titles to the second floor.

In addition to Green Apple taking over some of the rent payment, Le Video should benefit from the increased traffic from book shoppers. Green Apple attracts roughly 500 customers daily to its Clement Street location; its second location on 9th Avenue will be roughly one third the size.

Le Video’s not completely out of the red yet. Tchen anticipates that she will need to raise an additional $30,000 to $60,000 simply to prep the new space and make the move. To help, an indiegogo campaign underway.

Green Apple was recently named Bookstore of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly, and now they can add small business savior to their list of accolades. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy to see Green Apple expand across the park, and help another business at the same time.

Sarah B.

[via SFGate]

5:02 am | Posted under Business | 10 comments

Green Apple named Bookstore of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly

Green Apple owners (L to R) Kevin Hunsanger, Kevin Ryan and Pete Mulvihill with store mascot Mergatroid.
Photo by SFGate

We all love having Green Apple Books in our neighborhood, and it turns out we’re not the only ones who notice what a great store and community they’ve built there in their 47 years of business.

Last week, Publisher’s Weekly awarded Green Apple Bookstore of the Year honors, which waxed peotic about the store’s “labyrinthine” layout and reputation for community involvement with merchants associations, literary events and as the driving force behind this year’s California Bookstore Day.

Green Apple is a model for how to operate an independent, brick and mortar bookstore today, when competition is stiff from online stores and e-readers.

A lot of Green Apple’s success is due to their programming, whether it’s hosting interesting authors and lectures, or carrying out quirky promotions like midnight sales for new releases (final Harry Potter, IQ84), t-shirt design contests, or creating tongue-in-cheek YouTube videos.

The store has even extended beyond its 7,500 square feet on Clement Street by placing “Cafe Green Apple” shelves in cafes around the Bay Area, featuring their used books for sale.

We reached out to Pete Mulvihill, one of the owners of Green Apple to get his reaction to the big award.

“We’re honored, of course. To me, it reflects mostly on the readers of San Francisco. They vote with their wallets every day to keep stores like Green Apple thriving. We’re grateful to the judges, to our many partners (publishers, authors, sales reps), and especially to our staff. They do the hard work day in and day out to keep the place friendly, dynamic, and organized (I swear it’s more organized than you think!),” Pete said.

Congratulations to the team at Green Apple – so well deserved!

Sarah B.

5:05 am | Posted under Business | 10 comments

Safeway responds to effect of chain’s sale to Cerberus on La Playa remodel

Rendering of the new Safeway entrance at La Playa and Fulton

In case you haven’t heard the news, grocery chain Safeway is in the process of selling itself to Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm, for $9.4 billion. The deal is currently pending.

We’ve had inquiries from some readers about what this might mean for the upcoming remodel of the La Playa Safeway location.

The remodel, which will expand the store’s footprint from its current 40,000 square feet to nearly 59,000, has been in planning for several years. The project is currently in its environmental review phase, and expects to be in front of the Planning Commission for final approval by the end of 2014.

In addition to a completely new store, the remodel will also include 40-45 residential units on the north end of the property along Cabrillo and La Playa.

On Monday, Safeway Real Estate Manager Natalie Mattei sent out an email to project followers about the potential impact that the Cerebrus sale may have on the planned remodel:

Safeway is continuing with its Northern California projects on a business as usual basis. We remain very committed to San Francisco. Before proceeding with any construction, we always check budgets and evaluate return on investment. New investors in Safeway would become involved in this process, but we are confident that they will continue to consider San Francisco an important place for Safeway to invest.

Translation: We don’t really know yet.

The La Playa Safeway location presents an interesting opportunity for Cerebrus when it comes time to evaluate. That’s because Safeway owns the entire square block of land that the store sits on, which in the current San Francisco real estate market, is a very valuable piece of property that is highly attractive to developers.

Of the roughly 1,300 stores that Safeway operates, mostly on the West coast, they own about 48 percent of those locations and lease the rest, according to its annual filings [SFGate].

For a private equity firm like Cerebrus, whose primary goal is to make money for its investors within five years or so, selling a valuable parcel of SF real estate to a developer may make more sense than remodeling the aging store.

However, the La Playa Safeway also occupies a unique position in the outer Richmond and even outer Sunset as one of the largest grocery stores in the area with plenty of parking.

And with the planned remodel to include selling off the north end of the property to a developer for condominium construction, it may prove to still be an attractive investment to Cerebrus. After all, Safeway is already one of the nation’s top performing supermarket chains. Remodel the store to drive long term profits, and in the meantime, see a short term gain by selling off some valuable SF real estate on the north end.

With the Safeway sale to Cerebrus still pending, it’s a little early for the company to definitively say what will happen to the La Playa location. But given all the work and community input that has gone into the project already, here’s hoping it stays on track and brings a much needed revitalization to an important retailer in the outer Richmond.

Sarah B.

More reading: With Cerberus, Safeway may get revitalized, or lose assets [SFGate]

5:03 am | Posted under Business, Real Estate | 8 comments