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Archive for the ‘Ocean Beach’ 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

Local Links: Sand art Sunday, CSA boxes, restaurant shuffles & more

Here are some local links to get you through your Wednesday…

  • Want to catch sand art in action? Head out to Ocean Beach on Sunday at 12noon to see Andres Amador at work. He usually wraps up the piece in about 2 hours.
  • Foggy Notion is now a pickup spot for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes from Say Hay Farms’, a 20-acre farm in Yolo County, California that raises certified-organic vegetables, melons, and eggs. Subscriptions start at just 4-weeks and as little as $16/week and can be picked up on Wednesdays from Foggy Notion (256 6th Avenue) between 3 – 6pm. More info
  • Parking alert: The metered lot on 8th Avenue between Clement and Geary will be closed for repaving from February 16 until March 14th.
  • The Chronicle recently highlighted some historic, long-running brands from San Francisco and we had a couple on the list. Its-It ice cream sandwiches started at Playland in 1928, and Boudin Bakery is still using the mother yeast from created by Isadore Boudin in 1849. The yeast was saved in the 1906 quake and the bakery moved from downtown to its current 10th Avenue location.
  • The start of the year restaurant shuffles continue… Reader Sarah tells us that Japanese restaurant Kaminari at 7th and Balboa is closing. And Francisco reports that the former Ju-Ku location at 19th Avenue and Clement is being taken over by a restaurant called The Flame (Hot Pot), with an opening date of March 1.
9:10 am | Posted under Art, Business, Events, Food, History, Ocean Beach | 8 comments

Public meeting this Thursday to discuss open fires on Ocean Beach

Photo by St. John’s Community

On Thursday night, the National Park Service will host a public meeting to discuss fires on Ocean Beach. The meeting will be held at the Cliff House- Terrace Room from 6pm until 8:30pm (1090 Point Lobos Avenue).

There has been a long brewing controversy over the fires on Ocean Beach, with beach visitors in favor of them and the Park Service not due to the cleanup and people’s inability to follow the rules when having fires.

Take a stroll on the beach on a Saturday or Sunday morning and you’ll see lots of remnants from the previous night’s fires including trash, bottles and broken glass. It’s this post-fire cleanup that is taxing the Park Service, who say they don’t have the staff or the budget to manage it.

In 2006, the Park Service was threatening to ban fires altogether, but fans fought to keep the tradition alive.

In 2007, a nonprofit organization called Burners Without Borders stepped in to represent the community, and work with the park service to design and build artistic fire pits for Ocean Beach, raising $40,000 for the project. The hope was that designated fire pits would help reduce the amount of rogue fires and encourage the community to better manage the trash and debris.

Unfortunately the designated fire pits did not alleviate the issues, and the Park Service is now reassessing the program.

Thursday’s meeting may be the last chance for the public to give their input into fires on the beach before the Park Service decides on next steps. Options on the table range from requiring permits for beach fires to banning fires altogether.

According to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, the objective is to “obtain productive input and feedback from the public to help inform the decision-making process for the future of fires on Ocean Beach.”

More from the Park Service:

Throughout the years there have been ongoing issues on the beach in the area wherefires are allowed, making it challenging for the park to manage effectively. The most prevalent issues include: hazardous materials such as broken glass, nails and hot coals; disorderly conduct associated with alcohol consumption; and significant amounts of trash left on the beach and promenade.

This meeting has been structured to provide as much information as possible and respond to questions and concerns from stakeholders. NPS staff will be available to discuss and provide information based on their experience in the field. District 1 Supervisor, Eric Mar, and representatives from San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department will also be in attendance and available to speak with attendees.

The agenda for Thursday’s meeting is as follows:

  • Introductory remarks – Frank Dean, Superintendent of GGNRA
  • Background information – Howard Levitt, Director of Communications and Partnerships, GGNRA
  • City of SF Partnership – Eric Mar, Supervisor, District 1
  • Review of Revised Pilot Program – Samantha Pollak, Planner, GGNRA
  • Concepts for the future – Aaron Roth, Deputy Superintendent, GGNRA

The meeting will also include small group discussions on focused topics. The meeting begins at 6pm at the Cliff House.

Sarah B.

10:21 am | Posted under Ocean Beach | 29 comments

Video: “California Cowboys” short documentary on Ocean Beach surfers

We don’t know too much about the video other than the interviews and photos were conducted by Claire Kirshner. It’s a nice look at the surfers that frequent the wild waters of Ocean Beach.


UPDATE: We got a note from Claire with some extra info on the video: “Hi there, I am Claire who created the Ocean Beach audio slideshow. Thanks so much for sharing it on your blog! I am a USF student and live in the Richmond district so it is such an honor! This project was for Audio Production class at USF taught by Beth Hoffman and features interviews by Andy Falzone and Aaron Lanes, two good friends of mine. All of the interviews, photos, videos and editing were done by me. Thanks again!”

Sarah B.

12:48 pm | Posted under Ocean Beach, Video | 1 comment

Local history group releases 1,000+ photos from Richmond District’s past

Ocean Beach. View looking southeast from the Cliff House circa 1905.
(Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

In early 2013, the volunteers at the Western Neighborhoods Project (WNP), a historical group dedicated to preserving the history of San Francisco’s western neighborhoods, were offered the chance to take stewardship of a massive photo collection containing thousands of images of San Francisco’s past.

The goal: to digitize and archive the photos, and make them available to the public. The collection, spread across more than 25 filing cabinets, contained 8×10 inch prints; acetate, glass, and nitrate negatives; cabinet cards; panoramas; postcards; scrapbooks; yearbooks and other items.

The WNP is a small organization but they took on the task, deciding to initially pilot the project with the historical images from the Cliff House, Sutro Baths, Sutro Heights, and Ocean Beach areas.

“We would sort, rehouse, catalog, digitize, and put online this first installment, then step back to assess the effort, costs, and rewards,” they wrote on their website.

Efforts began in summer 2014 and after 6 months of hard work, the WNP shared the first 1,182 images from the pilot last week.

We interviewed WNP members Woody LaBounty, David Gallagher and Nicole Meldahl about the project to find out more about the massive undertaking and why this collection is so significant to their mission, and the city’s history.

On your site, you refer to this as “perhaps the greatest collection of historical San Francisco photographs in private hands”. What makes it so valuable and great?

Woody: Sheer size to start. We’re talking tens of thousands of images. The collector’s house is jammed from basement to rafters with filing cabinets of negatives, prints, slides, and ephemera. The quality and clarity of many images is stunning and some items are incredibly important to San Francisco history. We may have discovered the very first photographic view of Alcatraz, for example.

We know these are a from a private collector who wishes to remain unnamed, but do you know how he or she came into possession of these images? You mention that much came from other local collections but do you know any more than that?

Woody: The collector is an accomplished photographer and knows his way around a darkroom. Over the past thirty years, he’s made copy negatives and prints from local collectors, institutions, businesses, and libraries, and, like all collectors, he traded and bartered and bought, from flea markets to eBay. The whole collection contains prints of well-known shots many of us have seen (say, much-reproduced views of Market Street or the 1906 earthquake), to one-of-kind negatives that exist nowhere else.

David: What Woody said is correct, I would add that the collector was tenacious in their pursuit of images and finding sources for them.

Second Cliff. View looking west from offshore circa 1890 (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Are there more in the collection from the west side? Or just these ones from Cliff House, Sutro Baths, Sutro Heights, and Ocean Beach? If more west side, how much do you estimate?

Woody: Every corner of San Francisco, west side and east, is covered. We came to an agreement with the collector that we would do a pilot project, starting with Ocean Beach views, to see if both sides felt comfortable with the arrangement. This is a huge responsibility, caring for these objects correctly, saving them for future generations, and we didn’t want to jump in without being certain we’d have the resources to do it right. This is an ongoing discussion internally, and we are carefully moving forward about taking more.

David: I would estimate that there are hundreds of images for every neighborhood.

Describe the process you went through to digitize a single 8×10 image including a time estimate per image.

David: The over 1600 8×10 prints (made by the PC in his darkroom in the 80s) came to us roughly sorted in 6 boxes arranged by location: Playland, Cliff House, Ocean Beach, Sutro Baths, Sutro Heights, etc. These areas were what we agreed to take in the pilot project, primarily because we all believed that they would be the most popular. These were sorted into a single set, duplicates weeded out ( although we kept at least 2 of each image if we had them), the prints were numbered and rehoused in archival folders and boxes, catalogued in a spreadsheet, the best prints were scanned at 600dpi 13” at the long side (about 7000 pixels) each one took about 2 minutes. The spreadsheet, which documents any notations or words on the prints and the physical folder was used as the basis for adding descriptive information about the image to a database. We put versions of the images on a hidden site online and invited local experts to help with the metadata for each image; adding dates, titles, descriptions, locations, photographer, even other copies on the web. We are also producing an academic finding aid for the collection which will be available on the site at some point. It’s hard to estimate the time for an individual image, but suffice to say that it is multiple hours from removing it from the original storage, cataloguing, rehousing, digitizing, documenting, identifying, and posting it to the web. All that is without even interpreting it for the public, which is what we are more known for in the first place.

Nicole: What David said is spot-on. This is been a time intensive labor of love.

At Playland: Shoot the Chutes circa 1925. (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Who worked on digitizing the collection? Feel free to name volunteers etc – we want to acknowledge them!

David: The collection has had many volunteers and still needs more. Nicole deserves the greatest praise in this, without her archival and cataloguing skills from her 8 tears at the GGNRA, we wouldn’t be in a position to accept this at all. I did the heavy lifting of scanning the images and building the interface online to display them. We had documentation help from Dustin Magidson, Julie O’Keefe, Beth McLaughlin, and Brandi Chalker. (all west side residents I might add.) We had expert identifications help from James R. Smith, John Freeman, and especially John Martini who has spent many hours online and in our office. I use the past tense here, but all these efforts are ongoing.

I’m sure you have many, but what are your 3 favorite images from the collection?

Nicole: It’s so hard to pick just three! However, a favorite series of mine shows a group of young boys adventuring around Ocean Beach and Lands End. A truly charming slice of life from the early 1920s bit still completely relatable to modern life.

Was there a particular image that made your heart beat faster when you first came across it? Why?

David: I put together the 25 featured images, the ones I thought were the best and most interesting, but my absolute favorite of those is the glass negative showing the view from Sutro Heights in 1895:

View south. Seal Rock House, Ocean Beach Pavilion, and Lurline Pump Station at left.
(Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Nicole: Again, it’s too hard to pick just one! We’ve just received a large series glass negatives that depict the 1894 Mid-Winter Fair in Golden Gate Park. We usually see officially sanctioned images that were mass produced in souvenir publications, but these are more informal and while you lead through them in succession you almost feel as if you’re touring the fair in person. In particular, they document the people who worked the fair–not the high profile officials or visitors, but the ladies and gentlemen who worked the exhibits. That was pretty exciting to see.

Point Lobos Ave. Paving street near Cliff House 1922. (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Was there an image that you remember that made you say “well that hasn’t changed at all!” or “that is completely unrecognizable compared to today”?

Nicole: Visitors to Ocean Beach all take the same photo of friends and family looking up the beach towards the Cliff House, no matter the era. And the versions of the Cliff House may change through the years but that visitor vantage point remains the same. As for unrecognizable, the obvious call would be Sutro Heights and the Sutro family residence that is a shadow of its former glory.

Sutro Heights Conservatory 1909 (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Adolph Sutro’s Stable 1910 (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Sutro Heights. View of Adolph Sutro’s residence and observatory tower circa 1895 (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

What surprised you about these images? Were there any social or cultural findings that surprised you?

David: One detail I love in seeing the large scans of these is the bicycles. We talk on our site about the bicycle culture that existed in the 1890s, the Lady Falcons of Carville for example, but it’s another thing to see bicycles sitting around in so many of the pictures. I know it’s a long hard ride to get all the way out to the beach, ok it’s harder getting back, but folks have been doing it for more than 100 years!

Leonard Mendoza in front of the Skeeball parlor at Playland. circa 1935. (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Snow on Ocean Beach Dec 11, 1932. (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Nicole: Even after eight years of processing and researching historical images of San Francisco, I am always struck by how the City is continually evolving yet the people–be they plumbers, politicians, or someone in between–are the same. They visit the Conservatory of Flowers, they picnic in the sand at Ocean Beach, they come out in droves to see a shipwreck at Lands End. San Francisco’s changing landscape and the sociability of San Franciscans are the same now as they were in 1890, the only difference being technology and fashion! (And probably a few other differences too)

Wreck of the freighter Ohioan at Point Lobos 1936 (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

What was the total spend for this pilot, be it $ and / or volunteer hours?

David: Specifically for the pilot project we received donations of over $12,000. All of it was used for archival supplies, equipment and software. Volunteer hours amounted to at least 2500.

Do you plan to make these available to other digital archives? And if so, which one(s)?

Woody: We’re exploring best practices in the display, organization, and contextualization of historical images online. We’re contacted frequently to add Western Neighborhoods Project content (mostly images) to mobile platforms, aggregation sites/projects, social media groups, and slideshow presentations for use on other sites. Our mission is to share history with the public, so we’re not opposed to a lot of this, but we want to make sure that the information that travels with an image is accurate and that people have an easy way to find out more (usually linking to our site). So we are open to such an idea if it makes sense.

Ocean Beach. Olympic Club run and swim 1912. (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Picnickers at Ocean Beach circa 1910 (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

If there was one place or event you could travel back in time to in the neighborhood, what would it be and why?

Woody: In the Richmond? Well, my family is from here, so I selfishly would like to go back to my great-grandparents house on 16th Avenue a century ago to chat up my relatives. Other than that, I think an 1897 stroll around the Victorian Cliff House (what’s going on in those towers?), a brand-new Sutro Baths, and some tea with Adolph Sutro in his library above it all sounds great.

David: It’s hard to argue with Woody’s idea, but I wouldn’t mind taking the Park and Ocean Railroad out from Haight and Stanyan all the way to end of the line at 49th and B then setting up a barstool at the Seal Rock House or Ocean Beach Pavilion. (maybe climbing some shipwreck junk while I’m out there.)

Nicole: This might seem a little too recent, but I wish I could have seen Robin Williams perform at Holy City Zoo on Clement. His high energy comedy in a space that intimate would have been unforgettable.

Sutro Baths. Bathers in pools with bleachers in background circa 1910 (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Sutro Baths. Life Saver and swimmers circa 1910 (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

Sutro Baths. Woman and man in boxing match circa 1910. (Courtesy of a Private Collector & outsidelands.org)

4:15 am | Posted under History, Ocean Beach, Photos | 24 comments

Photo: Striking a pose at Ocean Beach

December 2014. Photo by Amy W.

11:22 am | Posted under Ocean Beach, Photos | Add comments

Coast Guard rescues tired surfer near Cliff House

Left: Surfer waves from the water for help. Right: Coast Guard boat to the rescue! Photos by @AlicesTake

Around 2:51pm today, authorities received a call about surfer in distress in the waters off of Ocean Beach near the Cliff House.

The Coast Guard dispatched two, 47-foot motor boats to rescue the surfer who they say was fatigued because of the waves and the weather.

The surfer was cold but ok according to Coast Guard medical examiners, and refused any further medical attention once he was back on shore.

We’re not sure who would want to surf on a day like today with the heavy rains and wind. Not to mention that due to the rain, North Ocean Beach was closed due to Combined Sewer Discharge. Ick.

Sarah B.

[via KCBS]

5:52 pm | Posted under Ocean Beach | 5 comments

Happy Halloween sunset

Photo by @ob_kc

7:15 pm | Posted under Ocean Beach, Photos | 1 comment