Random header image... Refresh for more!

Bird babies! The Great Blue Heron Watch at Stow Lake starts Saturday

Photo by judy h

Mating season is over for the Great Blue Herons at Stow Lake, which means it’s now time for the real fun – the babies.

Every Saturday through May 16, SF Nature Education sets up a free observation deck from 10am until 12:30pm. See the nesting herons and their chicks up close and personal with spotting scopes, and SF Nature volunteers and interns will be available to provide information and answer questions about these native birds.

SF Natures also offers naturalist-led walking tours to observe the chicks and other nesting birds from various spots around Stow Lake and Strawberry Island. The tours run from 10:15am until 12noon and begin at the observation site near the boat house. The cost is $10 for adults; young adults and children are free.

Great Blue Herons began nesting at Stow Lake in 1993. To date, 162 chicks have learned to fly here. The herons court, build their nests, mate, and lay eggs between January and March. By April, one or more nests have chicks. During April and May, the parents feed chicks as the chicks gradually grow to four feet. In June, the chicks begin to branch-hop and take short flights. The chicks typically fledge at 12 weeks, around July 4th.

SF Nature will host Heron Watch on the following Saturdays in 2015: April 11, 18, 25 and May 2, 9, 16.

Sarah B.

Photo courtesy of San Francisco Nature Education

Bookmark and Share
 4:15 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park, Wildlife | Add comments

Neighbors say goodbye to Leroy, beloved neighborhood dog

The neighbors that live along Park Presidio along Funston and 14th Avenue are a close-knit bunch, often sharing news and tips with each other through an online forum we also follow.

But this week one posting took a more sentimental turn when a neighbor paid tribute to Leroy, a beloved dog who, along with his owner Lloyd, were well known along the boulevard.

We were reminded that it’s the small things that make a neighborhood feel like one, be it the neighbor you recognize, or a great dog that got on with everyone.

R.I.P Leroy, we hope there are treats where you are.

Sarah B.

If you look out your front window almost anytime of the day or night, you were likely to see Lloyd and Leroy walking around the neighborhood. You might not know their names, but you know who they are — the guy with the white hat and the white, Spanky & Our Gang terrier with a few ink spots and a stubby white tail. Lloyd always has treats in his pocket for the other neighborhood dogs, and Leroy had a lot of canine buddies.

Five or so years ago, Leroy went missing. Signs were posted and everyone who knew was on the lookout. When all hope was gone, a woman tells Lloyd, “I saw this dog at a homeless encampment down by the beach.” Lloyd sprang into action, found the camp and picked up a very dirty Leroy who had been missing for days, and brought him home.

The last six months or so, we would see Lloyd walking on the same schedule, but pulling an open suitcase with Leroy in it. Leroy was sniffing the air, enjoying familiar neighborhood scents. Lloyd always made Leroy walk the last block, apparently this part taking the same amount of time for Lloyd to walk the other nine.

Eighteen and a half years later, Leroy decided to move on to the next fire hydrant in the sky.

Sympathies to our neighbor Lloyd. Leroy was truly one lucky dog. – Kay

What followed were more memories of Leroy and condolences for Lloyd:

“I will miss seeing Leroy and I hope that Lloyd knows we love him as much as we loved Leroy.”

“I’ll miss running into you at night and Oliver will miss you and his little buddy. I’m thankful we met and our neighbors. Leroy will always be remembered.”

“Leroy was one of my dog Wallie’s first friends, and she still stares up the block looking for him many early evenings. Lloyd introduced Wallie to treats and we used to call our meetings the doggie cocktail hour.”

“Leroy definitely inspired me to keep trying — no matter what my excuse.”

Bookmark and Share
 4:15 am | Posted under Community, Pets | 15 comments

Arsicault Bakery opens on Arguello, offering French pastries with a heritage

Many neighbors were sad to see Blissful Bites close its doors last year. But a new tenant has opened in the space, and they’ve brought delicious, French pastries to the neighborhood.

Arsicault Bakery (397 Arguello) is owned by Armando Lacayo, a first-time merchant with a passion for French baking. Lacayo comes from a legacy of baking – his great grandparents owned Arsicault Boulangerie in Corbeil-Essonnes, France in the early 1900’s.

Inside the bakery are two artifacts from his great-grandparents’ business – an old photograph from 1907 and a delivery cart from the shop.

Arsicault specializes in French pastries. We sampled the chocolate croissant which was excellent. Lacayo also gave us a taste of the raspberry paille (translates as “straw”), which are two light, crunchy pastries with raspberry jam in the center.

The bakery’s specialty is the almond croissant, featuring almond cream made from Madagascar vanilla seed (no extract) and a touch of Meyer’s rum.

“It’s a croissant you can listen to,” Lacayo said as he picked up a croissant with tongs and demonstrated the crackling sound from the flaky crust.

Arsicault Bakery is open Wednesday through Monday from 7am until 3pm (closed Tuesdays); they may extend their hours in the coming weeks. The bakery also serves coffee and has ample indoor seating, as well as two outdoor tables.

Stop in and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Sarah B.

Arsicault staff. L to R: Lisa, employee #1, owner Armando Lacayo, Lacayo’s nephew Raphi

The delivery cart from the original Arsicault Bakery in France

A photo of Lacayo’s great-grandparents outside the original Arsicault Boulangerie in France, circa 1907

Bookmark and Share
 5:10 am | Posted under Business, Food | 14 comments

Gourmet popcorn gets its start in the Richmond District; now a national brand

Jean Arnold, owner and founder of 479° Popcorn, at the company’s Richmond District heaquarters

Jean Arnold has always loved to cook. She grew up in Korea, and came to the US at the age of 11. She later pursued a culinary degree at the Cordon-Bleu in London. But rather than cooking up rich entrees and desserts, Arnold turned her culinary passion to an everyday snack food – popcorn.

Growing up, she shared popcorn with her family. Her mom always insisted on organic popcorn made in a sturdy stove-top popper that she’d hand crank until the kernels were ready.

In 2003, Arnold moved to the Richmond District and took over the kitchen in her home’s in-law unit to start experimenting with high quality, flavored popcorns. She sourced organic, heirloom corn from a family farm in Sacramento and began creating popcorn that was delicious enough to be given as gifts.

In the fall of 2008, she launched 479 Degrees online and a few orders came in from friends and family. The company’s numeric name comes form the optimal temperature at which to make popcorn.

“And then Christmas rolled around and we started seeing names on the orders we didn’t recognize,” Arnold said. “It was really exciting.”

The following February, Arnold heard from a food writer at the New York Times who was fascinated with the trend of gourmet popcorn. That led to notice from Oprah herself, who named 479 Degrees on her “O List” that spring.

Arnold was still making popcorn out of her basement kitchen with a couple of employees, but within the first year, the company had already reached revenues of $1 million. She had just become a first-time Mom as well.

Even though 479 Degrees has since moved out of the Richmond District basement where it all started, the company’s headquarters, which employs 7 people, are still in the neighborhood on Geary Boulevard.

The company currently sells 11 flavors year-round including a basic Sea Salt, a cheesy Asiago, Parmesan + Cheddar, and a more unusual Toasted Sesame + Seaweed which is a nod to Arnold’s Asian heritage.

They also offer two specialty flavors during the holidays – Dark Chocolate + Bing Cherries and Pumpkin Pecan Praline.

“If I had my way we’d have 30 flavors,” Arnold told us during an interview at the company’s “annex” conference room a.k.a Coffee Break cafe. She says Sea Salt Caramel and the Asiago cheese flavors are the best sellers.

479’s manufacturing moved to Colorado about two years ago but Arnold still uses her own kitchen to experiment with new flavors. And the company has not strayed from its original, small batch process and organic, non-GMO ingredients.

“The seaweed and toasted sesame flavor took 45 iterations before it was ready,” Arnold said. She says that since the beginning, the White Cheddar + Black Truffle has been her favorite.

479’s revenues today are $10 million annually, thanks to shelf space in some of the nation’s leading food retailers including Whole Foods, Kroger and Target. Here in San Francisco, you’ll find 479 Degrees popcorn at Andronico’s, Mollie Stones, Birite, Whole Foods and the new Target Express in the Financial District. You can also buy it on their website.

Arnold is now a mom of two children, ages 4 and 6, who can’t help but notice Mom’s success. While on a Virgin Airlines flight, her son noticed bags of 479 popcorn on the food cart as it wheeled past him in the aisle.

Besides being close to home, Arnold says she likes having her headquarters in the Richmond District because “it’s a foodie area and I love to eat”. Some of her favorite spots include Y&Y Vietnamese, Daigo Sushi, Chapeau!, Heartbaker for brunch, Pizzetta, Kappou Gomi for Japanese, and Aziza for cocktails.

So what’s next for Arnold and her flavored popcorn empire?

“We’ll keep making great popcorn and hopefully become a household name. We’d much rather see people reach for popcorn than chips. It’s an inherently healthier snack.”

Sarah B.

The secret to 479’s success? Some offerings outside Arnold’s office.

Bookmark and Share
 4:15 am | Posted under Business, Food | 7 comments

Another porta-potty burnt down at Balboa & 12th Avenue

Last Thursday, another porta-potty was set on fire on 12th Avenue near Balboa.

Reader Abraham B. tweeted us the photos above and said there was a “small explosion and lots of flames/smoke.”

In February, a parked car was damaged after a porta-potty was burnt down on 10th Avenue.

Porta-potty arson has become a city-wide problem. 27 toilets were burned down during a spree in 2008-2009, and a small resurgence of the problem flared up in 2012. In January, one was burned down on Divisadero Street.

Sarah B.

Bookmark and Share
 10:39 am | Posted under Crime, Fire | 3 comments

Police Blotter – April 2, 2015

SFPD Richmond District Police Station
Weekly Update 04-02-2015
From Captain Simon Silverman

April is distracted driving awareness month, so if you are reading this on a mobile phone while driving…LOOK OUT! The officers of Richmond Station regularly cite people for texting and using the phone without a hands free device while driving. We suspect that this violation is a factor in many of our collisions. It’s hard to know for sure since people rarely admit to us that they were inattentive. Smart phones are not the only source of inattention. We also see people applying make-up, shaving, eating and even reading the paper in their cars. Please be careful. A moment of inattention could lead to a lifetime of anguish.

Bush & Broderick
03-27-2015 8:28 AM
A car was driving east on Bush when it made a sudden, unsafe lane change and struck a motorcycle traveling in the next lane. The motorcyclist sustained moderate injuries and the car driver was cited at the scene.

La Playa & Balboa
03-27-2015 9:55 AM
A resident of a multi-unit apartment complex heard the sound of someone kicking the door of a neighboring apartment and looked into the hallway to see a suspect flee to the roof of the building. This roof allows access to adjacent buildings. The story continues below…

La Playa & Balboa
03-27-2015 10:51 AM
A resident of a multi-unit apartment complex came home to discover a suspect in her apartment filling one of her travel bags with her property. She ran out of the house and called 911. The suspect dropped the stolen loot and fled down the fire escape. The story continues below…

La Playa & Balboa
03-27-2015 10:55 AM
A resident of a multi-unit apartment complex heard glass shatter and looked out to see that a window next to the roof access door was broken. The suspect had already fled. The story continues below…
Officers conducted an exhaustive search of the area using police dogs but did not find the suspect.
Suspect: White male, 20-25 years old, 5’7” 135lbs, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, dark jeans, athletic shoes and a bandana covering the lower half of his face.

Clement & 9th Ave
03-27-2105 12:30 PM
The suspect intentionally broke a large storefront window and fled on foot. An off duty federal agent passing by detained him until SFPD officers arrived.

MLK & Tea Garden Dr in Golden Gate Park
03-27-2015 2:30 PM
Three college students were walking in the park when three suspects attacked them and grabbed property from them. One suspect pistol whipped one of the victims with a hand gun. Through excellent investigative work, officers arrested the suspects in the Bayview district within a few hours.

Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park
03-27-2015 3:37 PM
Rec & Park employees knew that the suspect had a court order requiring him to stay away from the area. They called SFPD officers who arrested him for violating the order and for several misdemeanor warrants. The stay away order originated from a case in which he vandalized the garden. This same suspect was arrested for violating this same order at the Botanical Garden on March 19 and March 7.
Captain’s Note: I guess he’s a perennial suspect.

Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park
03-27-2015 5:53 PM
Officers responded to a report of two people spray painting Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park and arrested the two adult suspects for causing about $200 in damage.
Captain’s Note: Graffitists typically have a “tag” or name that they spray on everything. In this case, one suspect used the tag “Sewer.” Sewer was wearing a sweatshirt with the word “FAME” printed boldly on the front. He may wish to consult the dictionary to be certain that he understands the difference between “fame” and “infamy.”

Balboa & 8th Ave
03-27-2015 8:24 PM
Officers responded to a report of a man running down the middle of the street and screaming. He initially claimed to have been pepper sprayed and then said that he had been sprayed by a skunk. There was no evidence of him having been sprayed by either but his safety was of concern and he was transported to the hospital.
Captain’s Note: Section 5150 of the Welfare & Institutions code allows a police officer to detain a person and take them for evaluation and treatment at a mental health facility if the officer believes that the person has a mental health disorder that makes him a danger to himself or a danger to others or if a mental health disorder makes the person gravely disabled. This is not an arrest.

Stanyan & Anza
03-28-2015 4:41 PM
A Jeep was driving south on Stanyan. The driver did not notice that she had run a red light. A Hyundai that was west on Anza broadsided the Jeep causing it to overturn. People in both cars sustained only minor injuries.
Captain’s Note: See my comments above about people rarely admitting that they were doing something that caused them to be inattentive.

Geary & Arguello
03-28-2015 5:48
The family of a disturbed man called 911 for police assistance because he was experiencing delusions. Officers talked with the man as he sat calmly on a bench in the hallway of the home. Without warning, he lunged at one of the officers and grabbed at the officer’s holstered gun. Officers were able to restrain the man and he did not get the gun out of the officer’s holster. The man was transported to the hospital due to his psychiatric condition. The officer was injured during the struggle and remains off duty as a result.
Captain’s Note: This case illustrates how quickly situations can become dangerous, even life threatening for police officers. Fortunately, we carry holsters with a number of features that make it very difficult for an assailant to get an officer’s gun and we train for this very scenario.

Jackson & Locust
03-28-2015 9:30 PM to 03-29-2015 8:20 AM
The resident went out to get his morning paper and saw that the window to his garage was broken, the garage door was open and his bicycle was missing.
Captain’s Note: Thefts of bicycles from garages are common enough that I recommend locking your bike even when it is in your garage. The best bike locks are the U shaped locks. Almost any chain or cable can be cut easily. Our friends at Safebikes.org have a great web page on the best way to lock up your bike: http://www.safebikes.org/learn-how-to-lock-your-bike.html

Geary & Cook
03-29-2015 12:50 AM
Officers caught a 21 year old male applying graffiti to a US Postal Service mail box using silver paint. He was arrested post haste.

Divisadero & Sutter
03-29-2015 3:13 AM
Five street corner fire alarm boxes were pulled in the same area in a short period of time. As firefighters arrived, they saw the suspect running away from one of the boxes and detained him.
When asked why he did it he said that he was very drunk and thought it would be funny.
Captain’s Note: Far from amusing, this ties up the fire department when they might be needed to respond to a real emergency.

Near Fulton & 6th Ave (inside Golden Gate Park)
03-29-2015 3:16 PM
Citizens called the SFPD to report a man who was threatening people in the area of the skate park. When officers detained the man, it was evident that he was having a psychiatric crisis. He was transported to the hospital.

California & 8th Ave
03-30-2015 2:28 PM
Two suspects went into a café, grabbed two laptops from customers who were sitting at tables and ran off.
Suspect 1: Latino male, 20-25 years old, 5’6” 130 lbs, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and light colored jeans
Suspect 2: Latino male, 20-25 years old, 5’8” 130 lbs, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark colored jeans

Presidio Terrace & Arguello
03-30-2015 5:05 PM
Officers responded to a man who claimed to have swallowed a number of objects including a razor blade. He complained of abdominal pain and was transported to the hospital.

Balboa & 16th Ave
03-30-2015 5:40 PM
The victim parked in front of her house, locked her car and left her purse inside. She came out five minutes later to find the two suspects reaching through her now broken window and stealing her purse. The suspects ran off with the victim’s brother in pursuit. They dropped the purse and he lost sight of them.
Suspect 1: White male, 15-17 years old, 5’3” 120 lbs, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans
Suspect 2: Latino male, 15-17 years old, 5’3” 120 lbs, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans
Captain’s Note: This case shows how quick and easy it is for someone to break into a car and why one should never leave property of value in the car – even for a short period.

El Camino Del Mar & 25th Ave
03-31-201512:25 AM
Officers on patrol saw a car run a stop sign. They detained the driver who had outstanding felony warrants for theft and assault.

Anza & 38th Ave
04-01-2015 2:53 PM
The suspect (boyfriend) came to the home of the victim (girlfriend) and punched her several times. After bystanders intervened, he fled and sent her a series of threatening text messages.

Park Presidio & Crossover
04-01-2015 11:20PM
Officers stopped a driver for speeding (20MPH over the limit) and found that he was under the influence of alcohol. He was already on probation for a DUI conviction.
Captain’s Note: I imagine that it’s difficult to pronounce the word “recidivist” when one is drunk.

Tuesday 04-21-2015 @ 7:00 PM
Richmond Station Community Room
461 6th Ave.

Call 911 for emergencies
Call 415-553-0123 for non-emergency police service
Richmond Station
461 6th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118
E-mail: SFPDRichmondStation@sfgov.org
Follow us on Twitter: @SFPDRichmond

Bookmark and Share
 3:08 pm | Posted under Crime | 1 comment

Local links: Wildflower walks, best regional Chinese, new fish in Mt. Lake & more

Photo courtesy of Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Happy Thursday to all! Here are some local links to distract you as the weekend approaches…

  • Wildflower walks at Lands End kick off this Saturday. From 11am-12:30pm enjoy a free guided tour with the Parks Conservancy along the trails and share the folklore, medicinal uses, and biology of the native wildflowers. All ages welcome; registration is required due to limited space. Dates: April 4, 18, 25, May 9, 16, June 6, 13, 20, 27
  • The Outside Lands Music Festival ramped up recently with the announcement of the lineup and schedule. Tickets are selling fast so if you’re planning to go to catch bands like Mumford & Sons, Elton John, The Black Keys, Sam Smith and more – don’t delay! August 7-9
  • The Richmond District Neighborhood Center has opened up registration for their summer camps, which includes Summer Solstice Camp for Elementary Students, where campers will be hitting the trail to adventure around the Richmond District neighborhood, as well as hands-on activities, crafts and games. RDNC Summer Camp is also available for 6-11 year olds, and features an art-based camp, a performing arts camp, and an urban farmer camp.
  • Mountain Lake received some new residents recently, when biologists and volunteers introduced more than 150 three-spined stickleback fish after a multi-year rehabilitation of the lake water and bed. Get the full scoop on SFGate. Soon to come – chorus frogs, Western pond turtles, thousands more California floaters, and rough-skinned newts. In other lake news, the new aquatic amnesty box on the south shore is being used according to Planning Association for the Richmond. “Recently, two red-eared slider turtles (one of the most popular pet turtles) deposited in the box were taken to Sonoma County Reptile Rescue.”
  • Several Richmond District restaurants were named among San Francisco Magazine’s 15 Best Regional Chinese Restaurants, including Hakka (4401 Cabrillo; house specialties include salt-baked chicken, clams stir-fried with basil, and lush slices of braised pork belly served over preserved mustard greens), Shanghai House (3641 Balboa St.; a good place for xiao long bao and salty soy milk, a savory-spicy soup spiked with chili oil, pickled vegetables, fried Chinese doughnuts, and tiny dried shrimp), Spices II (Szechuan, 291 6th Ave.; good bet for authentic versions of classics such as chili oil–spiked “water-boiled fish” and ma po tofu), and Grand Hot Pot Lounge (Szechuan, 3565 Geary Blvd.; for the communal tongue-scorching of a ma la hot pot meal).
  • Grocer Fresh & Easy announced they will be closing their store at Silver and Somerset in the Portola neighborhood as of April 3. Still no word on the Richmond District location at 32nd Avenue and Clement, which will be the sole Fresh & Easy in the city. [Socketsite]
Bookmark and Share
 11:09 am | Posted under Events, Food, Lands End, Parks | 2 comments

Washington High students prepare for tech careers through robotics club

KALW Radio recently profiled a robotics club (known as the “Eaglebots”) at George Washington High School, where students are learning math, science, computer science and engineering skills that can prepare them for a future career in technology.

The club entered a national robotics competition where they competed against 3,000 other teams in Davis, CA. They had six weeks to prepare for the prescribed challenge: to build a robot that can lift and stack big plastic bins.

The students worked every day after school and Saturdays, and relied on YouTube videos and internet searches to help them with the project. They’re building a robot and also writing code to make it perform specific functions.

It’s part of a city-wide focus on technology curriculum in schools that the SF Unified School District, and sponsor Salesforce, have invested in.

The Eaglebots club worked with a neighborhood organization to raise $20,000 from Facebook to help fund the creation of “mechaneagle”, their name for the robot.

Read the full story online or listen to the audio of it below.

We don’t know how they fared at the competition which took place in mid-March. If you do, leave a comment to let us know!

Sarah B.

Bookmark and Share
 10:57 am | Posted under Schools | 4 comments