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Mountain Lake Park playground renovation nears its fundraising goal

A rendering of the new playground, as viewed from the Mountain Lake entrance

Last November, we told you about the project that is underway for a much needed renovation of the playground at Mountain Lake Park.

The planned renovation will feature brand new structures and separate play areas for preschool and school age children. The new playground will also have additional seating, expanded picnic and parents’ areas, and enhanced lake views. For improved safety and accessibility there will be limited entry points, smooth surfaces throughout, and improved sight lines for watching multiple children.

The playground was last renovated in the early 1980’s, and is well overdue for an upgrade. The $3.1 million cost for the playground renovation is primarily covered by a 2012 bond measure, but a small group of neighborhood Moms undertook the task of raising the remaining funds.

“It’s critical that we raise $750,000 by May of next year,” Claire Myers told us last November, who teamed up with friends and fellow moms Jen Fetner and Kate Green to create the Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground to lead the renovation effort.

A rendering of the new playground, as viewed from the 12th Avenue entrance

Fast forward to today and the group has some exciting news to share.

“Supervisor Mark Farrell successfully helped to secure an additional $250,000 in funding from the City for the playground renovation recently. This additional funding, as well as our very successful fundraising campaign this past spring, means that we only have the last $150,000 to raise to make our new playground a reality,” Myers told us in an email.

Now, Myers said, they’re on a final push to raise the remaining $150,000 which needs to be in place for construction to begin this Fall. If everything stays on schedule, kids will be playing on a new Mountain Lake Park playground in Fall 2015.

The FMLPP is now turning to the community (that’s you, readers!) to help them reach their goal. Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent in online through the Parks Alliance website, or by sending a check to:

San Francisco Parks Alliance*
P.O. Box 170160
San Francisco, CA 94117-0160
*In the memo line of your check, please write “Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground”

Any amount is appreciated – even $20 makes a difference – and donations at the $1,000 level or higher are eligible for recognition in the new playground via pavers, park benches and more. Merchants and businesses are also welcome donors.

To find out more about the Mountain Lake Park playground renovation, visit the FMLPP website or email info@flmpp.org.

Sarah B.

A rendering and examples of the structures in the pre-school side of the new playground. Click to enlarge

A rendering and examples of the structures in the school-age side of the new playground. Click to enlarge

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 4:30 am | Posted under Parks | 3 comments

Neighbor calls Recology for recycling request, gets bomb squad instead

Photo by Jeffrey G.

While cleaning out their garage on Saturday morning, a resident on 40th Avenue between Anza and Geary came across a suspicious device.

The resident initially called Recology for recycling of the device but after describing it in detail, was instructed to call SFPD.

SFPD arrived on the scene with the bomb squad, who cleared the device without incident. Officers spent 2 to 3 hours on the scene and the street was blocked off to traffic.

We did not receive word on what the suspicious device was. UPDATE: A reader, Valerie V. told us “My husband spoke with an officer there. Old Army Corps of Engineers guy had some old fuses.”

Thanks for reader Jeffrey G. for the report and photos.

Sarah B.

Photo by Jeffrey G.

Photo by Jeffrey G.

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 12:45 pm | Posted under News | 4 comments

Police Blotter – August 15, 2014

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of August 15, 2014. To be added to the station's mailing list, email sfpd.richmond.station@sfgov.org.]

This week, I want to let you know about 2 scams that I have talked before, but that have resurfaced.

The first is a fundraising scam where people pose as youth or staff of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (BGCSF). The imposters ask for donations in public locations in the Richmond District and other parts of the City. They use the logo of BGCSF and carry official-looking documents. However, the BGCSF does not endorse or participate in street canvassing, so this is a scam. If you are approached on the street by people collecting money who pretend to be from BGCSF, please call the SFPD at 415-553-0123. If you would like to safely make a donation to BGCSF please visit their website at www.kidsclub.org.

The second scam involves a phony phone call from a person claiming to be from the IRS. Usually they say that you owe back taxes and that local police are coming to arrest you right now unless you send them money. They will often demand that the money be sent through a wire transfer, money cards or some other non-refundable method. The SFPD does not arrest people for tax violations and the IRS does not demand payment through untraceable sources. The best thing to do is hang up on the scammers and refuse to answer if they call back. Although they may have your name and address they are probably nowhere near you and may not even be in the US. There have been no reports of someone actually showing up in person as part of this scam. If you are concerned that you actually do owe the IRS money, contact the IRS yourself (not through the call back number that the scammers provide).

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On 08/12/2014, at 4:44 pm, Richmond Station Officers Responded to the 500 block of El Camino Del Mar regarding a report of a suspicious person in a residence. Police dispatch was able to provide responding police units with a description of the vehicle and the person. One of the witnesses contacted at the scene stated that he was painting the interior of a residence when he saw an unknown subject enter through the back door. The witness confronted the male and asked what the he was doing in the premise. The subject said he was working for the property manager as he then continued to remove items from the premise. Officers later contacted the suspect who had left the general area in a black “Mini” while exiting from the side exit of another address a short distance away. When the male was asked what he was doing, he told officers he worked for “Zillow Real Estate” and was the company owner. Officers determined that the vehicle being driven was in fact stolen from Mini of San Francisco earlier in the day. Items from earlier burglaries were recovered from the vehicle and a representative of “Mini” responded to the area and recovered the vehicle. The suspect in this incident was booked for multiple felony violations

On 08/09/2014, at 2:02 am, Officers on regular patrol in the area of Baker and California were dispatched to check on the well-being of driver “sleeping at the wheel” of a black BMW. The initial call was made by a concerned citizen who said that the vehicle was creating a hazard. The officers contacted the occupant was displaying the objective signs of alcohol intoxication. The female driver was later booked at County Jail for DUI and other violations.

On 08/08/2014, at 10:35 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Baker and Post St. observed a vehicle double parked in the street, which was causing an issue for other road users in the area. The officers contacted the occupant who was in the driver’s seat to advise him regarding the safety issue which he was creating. A computer query revealed that the driver was never issued a license in the State of California. The driver was cited for both violations.

On 08/10/2014, at 5:45 pm, Officers working the Outside Lands Event were directed to contact a troublesome male outside the event. The male was being troublesome to event staff and trying to repeatedly “jump the fence.” While interviewing the subject it was discovered that he was in possession of a quantity of hallucinogenic narcotics. The male was booked at Park Station on felony possession charges.

On 08/10/2014, at 4:30 pm, Officers working the Outside Lands Event were flagged down by an individual regarding a person selling narcotics. The witness directed officers to the suspect who was immediately detained. While conducting their investigation, Officers discovered quantities of various narcotics which were seized and later booked into evidence. The male was arrested and booked at the Northern Station for multiple felony violations.

On 08/12/2014, at 9:00 pm, Officers at Richmond Station were reviewing information regarding active arrest warrants within the district. During this review the officers discovered an active warrant for an individual on Post St. The officers responded to the wanted felon’s home address and made contact. They made this felony arrest without incident.

On 08/12/2014, at about 7:43 pm, Officers responded to the area of 2400 Geary blvd regarding a robbery which had just occurred. The victim stated that she had just used the ATM at the Bank of America when she was approached by a male with a “black semi-automatic handgun.” The male demanded the victims Iphone and purse and then fled the scene in a vehicle. While walking home the victim in this incident contacted a female who stated that she had also been robbed.

On 08/12/2014, at about 7:40 pm, Officers responded to the 400 block of 38th Ave and spoke to the husband of a female who was robbed in the area of 38th Ave. and Anza. The victim saw a vehicle approaching her and a suspect jumped from the vehicle. The suspect had a “silver revolver” and engaged in a brief struggle for the victim’s purse. After the victim fell to the ground, she saw the suspect run to his waiting car and flee north on 38th Ave. The victim refused medical attention at the time of this incident. The investigation continues into both these incidents…

On 08/12/2014, at 11:00 am, Officers responded to the 500 block of 47th Ave. regarding a burglary of a residence under construction. At the scene they contacted the contractor who stated that he had locked and secured the premise the night before. When workers arrived at the house the following morning they discovered that the locks had been forced and entry made by unknown subjects. A number of tools were taken in this incident and the investigation continues.

On 08/10/2014, Richmond District Officers were contacted by a female who stated that her son was missing and at risk. The mother was able to provide a digital picture which was transmitted via department issued cell phone to officers working the Outside Lands Event. Due to this, the missing at risk person was located in the area of 36th and Fulton St.

On 08/10/2014, at about 3:30 am, Officers responded to the area of Post and Scott regarding a reported robbery. Officers contacted the female victim and her friend who said that while sitting on a park bench they were approached by an unknown male. The victim who was talking on her Iphone 5 was grabbed from behind. The suspect said to the victim, “you be quiet now or I will shoot you.” Fearing that the suspect may indeed have a gun, the victim released hold on her iphone. The victim’s friend approached and started kicking and screaming at the suspect who then fled on foot towards Geary. The victim in this incident declined medical treatment at the scene. The investigation continues…

We are still suffering from vehicle break-ins along Fulton St. and around the Sutro Baths – Point Lobos Areas. We are actively addressing the vehicle break-ins that occur but we also need the assistance of the general public in this endeavor. We would ask you to follow these general guidelines.

  • You should lock doors and windows, even if the car’s in front of your home.
  • Remove valuables from your automobile.
  • Remove ‘pull-out’ style radio face plates (if equipped).
  • Park in well lit areas when possible.
  • Park where your car will be easily & frequently viewed (natural surveillance).
  • Park in your garage if you have one.
  • Use a car alarm, it will alert anyone nearby.
  • Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when you’re away from it, even for a short time.
  • Use anti-theft devices like “The Club” or an alarm system. You may get a discount on your auto insurance.
  • You should never leave portable electronic devices such as smart phones and GPS navigation systems in a vehicle.
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 2:05 pm | Posted under Crime | 11 comments

After 30 years, medieval archery event leaves Golden Gate Park due to fees

Anyone who lives in the city occasionally has those “only in SF” moments where you come across something that is odd and unusual but at the same time, seems perfectly at home here.

That was my reaction the first time I learned about Debardchery, the Medieval Archery & Bardic event that takes place at the archery range in Golden Gate Park near Fulton and 47th Avenue, and is hosted by the the San Francisco Chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

They describe it as their “annual celebration of mirth, merriment, archery and the bardic arts” and the free event includes an archery competition, a Bardic tournament (poetry, song, music, skit), and a potluck lunch. Attendees are encouraged to dress in medieval or Renaissance fare garb, which they do, in spades (loaner tunics are also on hand for the wardrobe challenged). Typically they have 50 to 100 attendees, and the free event is open to the public.

Only in SF, right?

So I was saddened to hear that after 30 years of holding Debardchery in Golden Gate Park, organizers had decided to move the venue to an archery range in Pacifica.

The reason? Increased fees for their Rec & Park event permit.

Last year’s fees were $350 ($250 plus a $50 application fee and a $50 insurance waiver fee) but when they inquired about their fee for 2014, they were told there would be an additional $200 “park impact fee”. When they asked what that was for, they got no explanation from Rec & Park.

Lucien Canton, one of the event’s organizers, said they also received push back on some of the things their event has always included.

“[Rec & Park] was also requiring food handler certificates for the potluck lunch our members bring or we could not serve food. They would also not allow us to erect sunshades using stakes as we have always done in the past with the head gardener’s blessing,” Canton told us.

Canton says they did not even apply for their permit after getting the fee estimate, and instead sought another location for their event. The San Francisco Archers Range in Pacifica welcomed Debardchery with open arms, charging them $200 to host their event.

While an event fee of $550 (or more depending on the additional requirements) doesn’t sound cost prohibitive, it can be just that for small, local groups that use the park for events.

“The sums involved aren’t enormous in the great scheme of things,” Canton said. “However, our event only raises between $500-$600, mostly through donations. We use the money to purchase things like loaner equipment for our martial arts program and craft materials for our classes and to subsidize smaller events throughout the year.”

He says they’ve considered charging admission and have even tried it in the past, but it only limited attendance and hurt the spirit of Debardchery.

Canton says there are no hard feelings, just disappointment at having to leave the Golden Gate Park Archery Range after 30 years.

“We’re not looking to pick a fight with Rec & Park. It’s just unfortunate that they seem to have a “one-size-fits-all” mentality and don’t seem to make any concessions to small, local groups.”

Or ones that have been using Golden Gate Park for 30 years.

If you are interested in attending Debardchery at its new location, it takes place this Saturday (tomorrow!) at 10am at the San Francisco Archery Range in Pacifica, CA. As always, admission is free and dressing up is highly encouraged!

While we’re on this topic, I wonder if the SF Archery range has room for a few hundred vintage cars that are looking for a new home

The SF Recreation & Parks Department was contacted for comment but did not get back to us in time for publication.

Sarah B.

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 4:35 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park | 33 comments

Photos: The parrots of… the Richmond District?

Photo by Tom Freeman

San Francisco is well known for its parrots of Telegraph Hill. They’re a regular stop for tourists visiting the city.

But the flock has gotten larger over the years – and let’s face it, savvier. They cover a lot of territory across the city, and it’s not unusual to hear a screeching pack fly overhead in a myriad of neighborhoods.

Reader (and Richmond District historian) John Freeman was delighted to encounter some of the parrots on the 600 block of 11th Avenue last week.

“I was shocked to see them in our neighborhood. There is a bush in front of a neighbor’s house that attracted them. We came home to see the bush covered with about 12 green parrots, plucking berries off the branches,” John told us. “I’ve lived over 70 years in the Richmond District and this is the FIRST time I have ever seen parrots on our turf.”

John’s grandson was able to snap a couple of pictures before they all flew on to their next feeding spot.

We had another parrot flock spotting at Balboa and 27th a couple of years ago. Do you run into the parrots in the Richmond? Leave a comment to let us know.

Sarah B.

Photo by Tom Freeman

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 11:09 am | Posted under Photos, Wildlife | 20 comments

Photos: A dying relic – Sutro Baths just before demolition (and fire) in 1966

Sutro Baths, 1966. Photo by Suki Hill

Our neighborhood historians at the Western Neighborhoods Project shared a link to some interesting old photos of Sutro Baths, just before it was demolished in 1966. The plan was to build high-rise apartments on the land.

The demolition never took place because a large fire broke out at Sutro Baths on June 26, 1966 (video). All the structures on the property burned to the ground.

See the full collection of Sutro Baths photos here (plus a few of Playland)

The photos were taken by late photographer Suki Hill, who passed away in June. According to her website, she “photographed subjects ranging from the streets of Paris to portraits of rock stars, authors, painters, musicians and the rich and famous, but her favorite subjects were the people of her community – their celebrations, events, gatherings, work – in short, their lives.”

Sarah B.

Sutro Baths, 1966. Photo by Suki Hill

Sutro Baths, 1966. Photo by Suki Hill

Sutro Baths, 1966. Photo by Suki Hill

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 9:58 am | Posted under History, Photos | Add comments

Police arrest Richmond Distict church pastor for alleged lewd acts on a minor

The building at 378 18th Avenue where Indonesian Pentecostal Foursquare Church holds its services

KTVU reports that Daly City police arrested 69-year-old Ventje Cornelis Singkoh this morning for alleged lewd acts on a minor.

Singkobh is the pastor at the Indonesian Pentecostal Foursquare Church, located at 378 18th Avenue near Geary Boulevard.

Authorities said he has also held services at other locations in San Francisco, Concord and his home in Daly City.

Anyone with information related to the investigation is urged to call Daly City Police at 650-991-8175.

Sarah B.

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 5:39 pm | Posted under Crime | Add comments

Richmond Republic Draught House to open soon on Clement in old Haig’s space

The proprietors of Chomp N’ Swig, the beer and sandwich spot on Clement near 17th Avenue, posted this sneak peek photo of their new venture on Facebook.

It will be called the Richmond Republic Draught House and will open soon in the old Haig’s Delicatessen space at 642 Clement Street.

The space has been under brown window wrap for many months. This is the second business for the owners who opened Chomp N’ Swig, their first eatery, in February 2012.

Thank to Ben L. for the tip.

Sarah B.

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 5:12 am | Posted under Business | 14 comments