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Archive for the ‘Green’ Category


Local links: Donut art, Argonne Fair, FUF tree planting, OB bonfires & more

Jay Mercado. Photo by Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

Happy hump day, Richmond District! Here are some local links for ya:

  • Neighborhood artist Jay Mercado, known for his donut paintings, was featured in the Chronicle this week. Still life painter raises doughnuts to level of art
  • The Argonne School Spring Fair is this Saturday from There will be food trucks (El Toyanese, Sunrise Deli, America’s Best Roasting Company), carnival games, rock climbing, live animals, entertainment, crafts, shopping, a raffle and much more. This year 17th Ave will be blocked to through traffic so all food and entertainment can be enjoyed outdoors just outside the school’s gates. The fair will be on the school’s premises at 17th Avenue and Cabrillo. Admission is free.
  • Want a tree planted in front of your home or building? Friends of the Urban Forest have planned a Richmond District tree planting for June. “We usually subsidize about 75% of the costs and handle most of the logistics. You only need to co-pay $135 and we’ll plant a tree with you in the sidewalk in front of your home AND come back for 3-years of follow-up care.” The deadline to apply for a tree is April 29.
  • Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR) recently posted an update on the National Park Service policy on fires at Ocean Beach. “For the upcoming spring/summer season fires will be allowed at Ocean Beach while we continue to work out the details of the future program.” Visit the PAR website for further details on changes that are being considered. Another public meeting will be scheduled in the late summer.
  • The Richmond District Library (351 9th Ave) will host “Women and Money – Pennies to Plans” on April 23rd from 6pm-7pm. “This workshop covers topics that all women deal with, such as budgeting, credit, and insurance, as well as specific life stages that many women face, such as having children, divorcing, and becoming a widow. This program is provided in conjunction with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco.”
  • Last week, a jury convicted Eduardo Chaparro-Esquivel, who ran over Albert Bartal in November 2011. Chaparro-Esquivel pursued Bartal and ran him down in the Shell 9th Avenue gas station parking lot after a fight at the Jack in the Box on 11th Avenue and Geary. The jury convicted Chaparro-Esquivel of torture, mayhem, and assault with a deadly weapon with an enhancement for great bodily injury, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. He will be sentenced on May 6. Bartal has never regained consciousness and lives in an acute care facility in the East Bay.
  • Mind your driving and speed when you’re traveling on Fulton. Speed limits were reduced and the Chronicle recently asked “Is this San Francisco’s worst speed trap?”. “In one 10-hour period, SFPD handed out 100 tickets. All but two were for speeding.”
  • Lou’s Sandwiches (5017 Geary near 14th Avenue), which some might consider the Ike’s of the Richmond District, recently got some notice from The Examiner. “The common threads that run through all of Lou’s offerings are the Lou’s sauce, basically aioli with “natural herbs,” and an olive oil-based jalapeño spread that adds just enough heat to make things interesting. A wall-sized menu board implored patrons to mix the two, whatever the sandwich.”
12:40 pm | Posted under Art, Crime, Events, Food, Green, Ocean Beach, Schools | 1 comment

All-electric Bolt Motorbikes get their start in a Richmond District garage

Bolt Motorbikes founders Nathan Jauvtis and Zachary Levenberg with the Bolt M-1

Like in many neighborhoods in San Francisco, Richmond District residents make the most of their available space. And often that means turning their garages into home offices, a residence, or in the case of Nathan Jauvtis, a workshop where Bolt Motorbikes was born.

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 is a 100% electric moped, invented by Jauvtis and his co-founder Zach Levenberg. Both of the founders are moped enthusiasts, and met in 2006 as members of Creatures of the Loin, the San Francisco division of the Moped Army that meets up weekly for group rides around the city.

Both are mechanical engineers with a passion for clean transportation. Jauvtis worked a stint at Zero Motorcyles, one of the industry’s leading electric motorcyle companies, and Levenberg worked on one of the first protoypes for Lit Motors, who make an all electric, 2-wheel pod-like vehicle.

Jauvtis first began tinkering with the idea of an electric moped around 2010, spending his nights and weekends building the first prototype which he called “Blackie”, named after the donkey in True Grit.

It wasn’t until 2012 that Jauvtis and Levenberg began collaborating on the project. With funds from friends and investors, they officially started Bolt Motorbikes and got to work on refining the product.

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 has some impressive stats when it comes to riding around San Francisco. Technically, it’s classified as an electric bike so it does not require a driver’s license to operate (and can even use the bike lane). The Bolt runs off its proprietary lithium ion battery, composed of 160 individual cells encased in two compartments that straddle the frame.

Jauvtis estimates the overall life of the Bolt’s battery is 2000 cycles (25-30 miles per cycle), or 8-10 years depending on usage.

Levenberg holds up the Bolt’s lithium ion battery compartment, which if needed, can be removed for recharging.

On a full charge, the Bolt can travel 25 to 30 miles per day, at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Pretty impressive when you compare it to something like the electric Scoot scooters that you can rent around the city, which only have a range of 5-10 miles on a full charge. (Oh and whatever you do, don’t call the Bolt Motorbike a scooter, as we learned that scooters and mopeds are completely different classes of vehicle.)

The Bolt Motorbike M-1 has two drive modes – economy and sport. In economy mode, you are restricted to a top speed of 20 mph, but your range increases to as much as 50 miles. During testing at the Polo Fields, the Bolt circled the Polo Fields’ velo track for 50 miles at a speed of 20 mph.

When you put it into sport mode, which is technically only allowed when you are driving the Bolt off-road (e.g. not on city streets), the bike has a range of 30 miles and a top speed of 35mph.

Levenberg, a SF native, led us on a test ride through the neighborhood and Presidio just before Christmas. In short, we had a blast. The Bolt was easy to learn (no shifting required) and fun to drive. It’s not a large bike, weighing in at just 140 pounds, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by its heft.

Yet the Bolt feels substantial when you’re riding it. The frame is very solid and the tires are robust – fatter and sturdier than those on a scooter or electric bicycle.

“It’s a great motorbike for women,” Levenberg pointed out, because of its smaller frame and reduced weight.

And it’s no slouch on the city’s inclines. We zoomed up long, steep hills like Battery Caulfield Road just inside the 15th Avenue Presidio gate.

The Bolt is virtually silent, which ironically is what turns heads when you’re out riding around. There’s a little whirring when you accelerate, but otherwise it’s very quiet. When you pull up to a stop sign, pedestrians usually stare because they expect it to sound like a guttural motorcycle but instead, it sits silent.

When we headed out on our test drive, Levenberg said he never goes out on a Bolt without his business cards because inevitably, someone will stop him and ask what that is he’s riding. Sure enough, as we came to a stop sign, a man crossing the street implored us to pull over so he could get a closer look.

Jauvtis and Levenberg debuted the latest version of the Bolt Motorbike, code named Raven (or Darth Vader as we dubbed it), at their moped group’s annual rally last September.

“People loved it,” Jauvtis says. And since then, the two have been marketing the bikes and taking pre-orders for their first production run. “About 150 people have expressed interest.”

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 sells for $4,995, which isn’t outrageous when you consider that a new (gas-powered) scooter sells for around $3,500.

To fuel the bike, Jauvtis and Levenberg also had to create a custom charger. The standard charger, which comes with the purchase of the Bolt, requires about 5 hours to charge the bike to 100% capacity. If you purchase the charger upgrade (price TBD), you can get to 90% capacity in about 90 minutes.

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 on a ride near the Cliff House

Once all the parts are in hand, it takes about one day to assemble the finished bike. The duo are always refining the bike and working on add-ons, like a rack to carry extra batteries for those long road trips. They’ve also made the batteries removable so if you can’t charge the bike where you park it, you can take a battery with you to charge inside.

The Bolt Motorbike also has an app that can be used with it. The app connects to the bike via Bluetooth and wirelessly unlocks the Bolt, communicates speed and distance measurements in real-time and then records the data onto a remote server. A phone clamp sits on the Bolt’s handlebars and also includes a USB charger so you can charge your phone off the Bolt’s batteries.

Bolt is still in fundraising mode for its first production run, and plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in early 2015. In the meantime, they love to give test drives to anyone who’s interested. Just drop them a line through their website and tell them the Richmond Blog sent you.

Sarah B.

Bolt Motorbikes founders Zachary Levenberg and Nathan Jauvtis inside their outer Richmond garage workshop

4:12 am | Posted under Green, Transportation | 21 comments

Christmas tree collection / recycling runs January 2 – 16

Christmas is officially over so that means it will soon be time to dispose of your tree.

But don’t just drag it to the corner! The city has an official recycling program for Christmas trees that runs from January 2 until January 16, and all it requires is that you leave your tree right alongside your blue recycle bin on your regular garbage pickup day.

Tree collections will occur January 2 to January 16 on regular service days. City officials are asking residents to place trees next to their recycling carts before 6 a.m. on their regular pickup day.

Officials are also asking residents to remove tinsel, decorations, plastic bags, stands, fake snow “flocking” and lights and cut in half any trees taller than 6 feet.

Recology then chips the trees at a center in San Francisco and take the chips to Tracy, CA where they’ll be used to generate electricity.

On to the New Year…

Sarah B.

11:30 am | Posted under Green | 6 comments

See the final designs for SFPUC’s “Baker Beach Green Street” project, Aug. 26

A rendering of Baker Beach Green Street improvements on El Camino del Mar
between the Lands End trailhead and the Legion of Honor

Next Tuesday night, the SFPUC is hosting a public meeting about the Baker Beach Green Street project, designed to manage stormwater and improve water quality at Baker Beach.

The project is focused on enhancements in two corridors: El Camino Del Mar between the Legion of Honor and the Lands End Trailhead, and on Sea Cliff Avenue between 25th and 26th Avenues.

From the project website:

During heavy rains, stormwater can overwhelm the City’s combined sewer system and contribute to neighborhood flooding and discharges into the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. Rain gardens, permeable paving, and other green infrastructure technologies are stormwater management technologies that take advantage of the natural processes of soils and plants to slow down and divert stormwater runoff so it does not overwhelm the sewer system. Green infrastructure also cleans stormwater onsite before it enters our sewer system.

The Baker Beach Green Street is one of eight green infrastructure projects the SFPUC is planning to build throughout the City in the next few years. These projects are part of the Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP), a multi-billion dollar citywide investment to upgrade our aging sewer infrastructure now and for generations to come.

The project’s goals are to improve water quality at Baker Beach and China Beach and reduce localized flooding by integrating rain gardens into existing parkland and neighborhood, and introducing permeable concrete to reduce stormwater runoff.

Construction will also improve pedestrian and cyclist accessibility on El Camino Del Mar, and create habitats for birds and butterflies using California native plants.

At the August 26 open house, project managers will present the final designs for El Camino Del Mar, Sea Cliff Ave, and 25th Avenue. According to the project schedule, construction will kick off in summer 2015 and last until Summer 2016.

The meeting will take place from 6pm until 7pm at Katherine Delmar Burke School, 7070 California Street near 32nd Avenue.

For more information on the Baker Beach Green Street project, visit the website or download the fact sheet (PDF).

Sarah B.

12:06 pm | Posted under Events, Green, Utilities | 9 comments

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

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

Local links: MUNIhack, Bubble tea wars, hot wings, greenbates & more

Photo by Bolditalic

Farewell Friday, hello weekend! Here are some local links to ease you into it…

  • #MUNIhack – Nope, you’re not seeing things. That is a Prius with trolley poles on its roof so it can run off the power from MUNI lines. Bolditalic got’s the story about the car’s creator, an outer Richmond District resident named Jon. “You know it, dude! 150 miles of free energy courtesy of Mr. MTA!”
  • #Springblooms – The Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park is hosting a Spring Bloom sale this Saturday from 10am to 1pm. Featuring many varieties of Grevillea, Abutilon and the garden’s native Ceanothus, Iris and assorted annual native wildflower starts.
  • #HotWings – Wings fans will be finding their way to Hot Sauce and Panko (1545 Clement) soon after a nice review in the Chronicle. “But it would be a shame not to make Hot Sauce and Panko part of the weekly routine. With a dozen varieties of the handheld chicken pieces at any given time, not to mention a couple of seriously decadent sandwiches, this place is worth a visit.”
  • #GreenBates – The SF Dept of Energy is hosting a Energy Upgrade California workshop at the Anza branch library on Saturday, April 12 from 2-3pm. Learn how to increase your home’s energy efficiency with energy upgrades such as sealing air leaks or installing insulation, a new furnace, or energy efficient window – moves that could yield you $1,000 to $4,500 in rebates. A neighborhood resident will there to talk about his experience in the program.
  • #BubbleTeaWars – Share Tea recently opened on Geary near 18th Avenue in what used to be the Samila Thai restaurant space. They have two other locations in Berkeley and San Mateo. The 5336 Geary location is open Sunday – Thursday from 12noon to 9pm, and until 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights. We may have a bubble tea war on our hands – InfiniTea is just across the street.
11:17 am | Posted under Food, Golden Gate Park, Green, Muni | 11 comments

Low cost, electric scooter rental network adds location in the Richmond District

Scoot trainer Kelly at our orientation

More and more companies are enabling San Franciscans to get around town quickly and easily. Last year, the city implemented the Bay Area Bikeshare program, enabling point to point, short-term rides at affordable rates. And companies like ZipCar and City CarShare have been around for awhile now, making car rental close to home effortless and affordable.

Now there’s a new player in the cheap, green transportation game. Scoot Networks (scootnetworks.com), which has been in business for about a year, offers affordable rentals of electric scooters in San Francisco. Riders can pick up at one location and drop off at another for short trips, or rent the scooter for up to 48 hours (longer if you have a motorcycle license).

The latest location to open up is right here in the neighborhood near the corner of 7th and Clement. Our Scoot location houses 2-3 scooters at any given time, and can be accessed 24 hours a day.

Signing up for Scoot is easy through their website. Before you can start renting, you have to attend a useful, 45 minute orientation class with a Scoot team member. We took ours on Sunday in the parking lot on 8th Avenue near Clement, covering the basics of the Scoot app and the how-to’s of the electric scooter.

Scoot’s fleet is all electric, and the app (native for iOS, mobile web for Android) does much of the heavy lifting. Log on to the app, find an available scoot on a map of the city, and reserve it. Once you get to the pickup location, simply mount your phone into the holder (charger is included), log into the app, and tap “turn on” to power on the scooter. The scooter powers up remotely via GPS and the app shows you how much charge the scooter has, how fast you’re going etc.

Driving the scooter is easy – there’s no shifting or special controls to master. During orientation, you’re shown how to reserve your scoot, get it started, control it, park it, and when you’re done with the rental, return it to an official Scoot parking location. The app shows you where there is an available spot in the Scoot network to park.

A fully charged Scoot scooter has a range of 5-10 miles depending on your terrain, and it takes 3-5 hours for a full charge.

After completing training, our instructor Kelly advised us to follow the Scoot motto – Be safe! Be seen! Be nice! – and sent us on our way. I had a 35% charge and decided to head out to the Cliff House to see how the vehicle performed on some minor hills.

Riding a scooter is just plain fun, especially on a nice, sunny day. The scooters have a max speed of 25-30 miles per hour which when you’re riding it, feels like more than enough. I was surprised by its guts on a flat block and pleasantly surprised with its hill performance. The scooter also includes a helmet (two sizes to choose from) and a storage compartment if you need to carry some items on your ride.

The app has helpful features to keep you up to date on your scooter’s health. It displays your current charge which you can tap on to see the approximate mileage you have left. When I left 8th and Clement I had about 33% charge remaining, and after out to the Cliff House and back, was at 18%.

The app texted me when I reached 25% charge, urging me to seek out a place to recharge (tip: plugshare.com – web or app – is a great directory for such things). There are a few public charging stations in Golden Gate Park, but any standard electrical outlet will do.

Pricing for using the Scoot Network varies depending on the membership plan you choose and how many hours you keep your rental. The most basic plan is $5 per month, and the first half hour of every ride is just $3. Keep it longer than 30 minutes and the rate is $1.50 per half hour for the daytime, and $.25 for the nighttime hours. Other membership plans are available for $10 and $29 per month, with varying hourly rates.

If you get really hooked, you can rent a scooter 24/7 for $185 per month.

Like many vehicle sharing programs, you’ll find the most economy with Scoot on short, point to point rides. Maybe you don’t want to take Muni home from work so you pick up a Scoot downtown for the commute home. It does take some planning though as you want to make sure you have a Scoot location to return it to near your destination.

Daniel, another student in our orientation class, lives in the Richmond and says he is thinking about using the scooter to go back and forth to school. “It ends up costing me about the same as Muni on the short rides,” he said.

When you return your scoot, you put the helmet back in the storage compartment, plug in the charging unit, and lock the front wheel in place. Then just hit “End” in the app to conclude your rental. That puts your scooter back into the available rental network, where prospective riders can see its location and available charge.

We had a lot of fun on our scoot around the neighborhood, and could see this catching on as an easy, affordable way to get around town. Where would you scoot to?

UPDATE: Scoot Networks is offering Richmond Blog readers a discount. Signup for Scoot this week (by 2/23/14), use the promo code #RICHMONDBLOG and get $10 of riding credit.

Sarah B.

Screenshots from the Scoot app showing available scooters in red,
a reserved scooter, and estimated miles remaining on your charge.

4:45 am | Posted under Green, Transportation | 8 comments