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Photos: Cock-a-doodle do! Roosters living in Golden Gate Park

Neighbors living near the west end of Golden Gate Park have been hearing an unusual sound in the mornings – crowing roosters.

Readers tell us that two roosters have been living in the park for the past couple of months near a lake. How they took up residence in the park is a mystery. Perhaps they escaped a home coop or were abandoned there?

Even more mysterious is how they’re surviving, considering the coyotes and raccoons that wander Golden Gate Park.

A reader snapped these pics of the handsome devils. Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Sarah B.

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 4:30 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park, Wildlife | 5 comments

Video: Drone’s eye view over Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach

It’s like someone made this video just for us… :) Nice views over Golden Gate Park including the Murphy Windmill, and some gorgeous shots of Ocean Beach at sunset with camp fires aglow.

Thanks to Rico for the tip.

Sarah B.

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 4:15 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, Video | 1 comment

Police Blotter – October 17, 2014 | Your guide to common scams & cons

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of October 17, 2014. To be added to the station's mailing list, email sfpdrichmondstation@sfgov.org.]

Don’t Get Taken by Con ArtIsts
Con Artists are persuasive and persistent. The schemes described here have many variations, but they all have the same goal:

This information is provided to help you identify fraudulent schemes; ways to avoid becoming a victim and whom to call if you believe you have been swindled by a con artist.

Earthquake Relief Fund:
This scam involves receiving a phone call from the suspect who identifies himself as calling from an official government office in San Francisco. The caller solicits donations for the “Earthquake Relief Fund”. There has been a recent reporting in these crimes occurring in the Asian community.

Grandparent Scam:
This scam involves receiving a phone call from a suspect pretending to be a “grandchild” in distress. The suspect says that they are in Mexico (or another country) and in trouble. They ask the elder to wire them money, often through Western Union. Although employees at Western Union have tried to dissuade the seniors from sending the money, these employees are rarely believed.

Pigeon Drop:
This scam usually involves 2-3 suspects working together to con you into believing they have found money, diamonds, gold bars, etc. They want to share it with you, but someone must hold the found item for a while before splitting it. You are convinced to withdraw ‘good faith’ money from your bank account to be combined with the suspect’s good faith money in a bag or handkerchief. The suspects switch the bag or handkerchief and disappear. They leave you with nothing but torn paper.

Charity Switch:
Very similar to Pigeon Drop, but with a slight variation: You are approached by suspect-one who claims to have recently come to America with a large amount of cash to be delivered to a church or a charity. Suspect-one then says he must leave the country soon and asks you & suspect-two to deliver the money for him. You are asked to put up ‘good faith’ money to show you are honest. Suspects switch the money and disappear.

Bank Examiner­:
This suspect approaches you or may call you on the phone claiming to be a police officer that is investigating a bank employee for embezzlement. You are asked to go to your bank and withdraw cash so the officer can watch the bank employee. You are told to give the money to a “detective” who will return it to the bank for you. The suspects disappear with your money.

Sweetheart Swindle:
This scam often involves an elderly man (70+) who is befriended by a young woman. She convinces him that she truly cares about him and implies a romantic interest. She tells him she needs money for rent, food, furniture, and her business or that she needs surgery. She may swindle him out of his life savings, often causing him to file bankruptcy.

Fortune-Telling/Psychic Fraud:
You may be approached at stores, hotels, restaurants, etc. or when you go to a ‘psychic reader.’ The psychic convinces you that you have an evil curse or evil spirits that must be ‘cleansed.’ Cleansing is an ongoing process that requires you to pay thousands of dollars in cash, jewelry, clothing, vehicles, etc.

Lost Pet or Lost Property:
You place an ad in a local paper about a lost pet or lost property. You then receive a call from a long-haul truck driver who found your missing item but he is now hundreds of miles away. He will return your property (or advise of the location of your pet) after you send a “reward” by Western Union.

Lost/Stolen Purse:
A ‘police officer’ calls you to advise he found your purse (often before you realize it is missing or have reported it). The ‘officer’ needs your personal information for his report. You, believing a police report is being taken, provide your information and take no further action.

Mail Theft:
Both incoming and outgoing mail may be taken from your mailbox. Your checks are ‘washed’ to remove payee and amount and altered so the suspect can cash them for more money. Your ATM and credit card numbers are picked up from your bills and used for purchases. Your credit card applications are taken and altered so the suspect receives a credit card in your name.

Home Repair:
These suspects go door-to-door offering you a great deal on yard work, roof repair, chimney sweeping, house painting, etc. They may have ‘extra’ supplies left over from their last job so they can save you money. At the completion of the work they claim they used more supplies or there was more work than anticipated so they demand more money from you. They can be very intimidating.

Distraction/Imposter Burglary:
These suspects can include women with children. A suspect comes to your home and engages you in conversation while other (unseen) suspects enter your house through another door and take cash and property.
A suspect comes to your house claiming to be from a City or County agency or a utility company employee. He needs to come into your house to check for problems. Once inside your house, the suspect distracts you and takes cash and valuables.

Canadian Sweepstakes:
You receive a call from someone who says you have won a Canadian sweepstakes, but you must pay Canadian taxes before the winnings can be claimed. You are told to send a cashier’s check or wire money via Western Union to them in Canada.

Purchase of Lottery Tickets:
You receive mail or calls from a company ‘representative’ who will purchase lottery tickets in another state for you (usually Florida) and send you photo copies of your tickets. (They keep the originals so they can collect for you if you win.) You may write them monthly checks, allow them to debit your checking account or provide them with credit card numbers so they can purchase lottery tickets for you on a weekly basis.

One of the biggest problems facing law enforcement in identifying and apprehending con artists is that the victims are reluctant to report the crime because of embarrassment. This is what the con artists count on. Don’t help them get away with their crime.

The only way we can stop these criminals is if you report it. You weren’t their first victim and you won’t be their last!

San Francisco Police Department: Emergency 9-1-1; Non-Emergency (415) 553-0123
Postal Inspector (Mail Theft): (415) 778-5900
Contractor’s License Board – Home Repair Fraud: (800) 321-2752
Find out more at: www.scambusters.org | www.fraud.org | www.truthorfiction.com | www.urbanlegends.miningco.com

Do-Not-Call: You can register your telephone number at www.donotcall.gov or (888) 382-1222 for the Do Not Call list. This should stop telemarketers and telephone solicitations.
Financial Crimes Unit: 415-553-1521
Officer Juan Gomez: 415-553-7311

On 10/09/14, at 4:00 am, Officers responded to the area of Washington St. and Divisadero St. regarding a reported fire. On arrival at the scene SFFD was able to determine that the fire was arson and not an accident. The SFPD arson unit was notified and the investigation continues…

On 10/09/2014, at 8:57 am, Officers responded to the area of 2nd and California St. regarding multiple complaints of a male being a problem. On arrival at the scene the officers contacted the male, who when asked was unable to provide identification. The male told the officers that when he had last been released from jail his identification was not returned. The male told the officers that there was probably a warrant for his arrest somewhere. The officers conducted a computer query and confirmed the outstanding warrant.

On 10/10/2014, at 8:15 am, Officers responded to the area of 9th Ave and Geary regarding a report of an auto burglary. Officers who responded found the husband of the victim in this incident had detained the culprit prior to their arrival. The victim had earlier exited her house and observed the male sitting in her truck going through the cab. When the female victim started to scream, the suspect was alerted and fled on foot. The husband chased the suspect down after hearing his wife scream. A computer check revealed that the suspect was on active probation for burglary. The suspect was booked at county jail.

On 10/12/2014, at 9:45 am, a male walking in the area of 5th and Geary was approached by a suspect with a handgun who demanded he empty his pockets. The victim in this incident was compiling when the suspect reached into his pocket and removed in excess of $1600.00 in U.S. Currency. The suspect fled towards a waiting motorcycle which was being driven by a second suspect who sped away west on Geary Blvd. The victim in this incident was not injured. The investigation continues…

On 10/13/2014, at 4:37 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Spruce and Geary observed a vehicle with an expired registration. The officers initiated a traffic stop and contacted the driver. A computer query revealed that the driver was driving while never having had a license issued to him. The driver was cited for both violations.

On 10/13/2014, at 10:51 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Fulton and Arguello observed a vehicle with an expired registration. The officers initiated a traffic stop and contacted the driver. A computer query revealed that the driver was suspended/revoked. The driver was cited for both violations.

On 10/13/2014, at 2:11 pm, Officers responded to the area of Anza and 32nd Ave. regarding a reported robbery in the area. The victim was on her way home from school when she was approached by two females who attempted to grab her phone. In the struggle to retain her phone the victim was pushed to the ground. At this time on of the females produced a knife and said “give it up bitch.” The victim complied and released her phone. The victim in this incident was not injured and refused any medical attention. The investigation into this incident continues…

On 10/13/2014, at 11:06 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of US101 and the Park Presidio transition ramp observed a vehicle driving with no headlights activated. The Officers followed the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop in the area of Park Presidio and 14th Ave. The officers contacted the female driver who was showing the objective signs of driving under the influence. The officers conducted standard a battery of standard field sobriety tests which resulted in the female driver being arrested. The driver was booked into the county jail for DUI.

On 10/14/2014, at 1:14 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Anza and Arguello observed a vehicle which was displaying expired registration. The officers initiated a traffic stop regarding the violation and contacted the driver. A computer check revealed that the driver was suspended from driving and was also unable to produce any proof of insurance. The driver was cited for multiple violations.

On 10/15/2014, at 10:59 am, Officers on patrol in the area of Geary and 11th Ave. contacted a male who was known to them through numerous prior contacts. The Male started yelling at the officers and was in possession of a variety of items which he claimed were not his. A computer check revealed that the male had multiple outstanding warrants for his arrest. The male was taken into custody without further incident and booked in to county jail on the warrants.

On 10/15/2014, at 5:29 pm, Officers on patrol in Golden Gate Park observed a vehicle fail to stop at a posted stop sign. The officers initiated a traffic stop and contacted the driver. A computer check revealed that the driver was suspended from driving. The driver was also unable to produce any current insurance and was then cite4d for multiple violations.

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 5:40 pm | Posted under Crime | 2 comments

Academy of Sciences opens “The Terrace” cafe for garden dining

Today, the Academy of Sciences opens a new restaurant called The Terrace, located in the west garden of the museum.

The Terrace features a menu of small, shareable plates that range in price from $6 to $18. Some of the menu items we sampled at the media preview included a delicious orange elderberry mock tail, a toasted farro, wild rice, roasted beet and fennel salad, and a local goat cheese, red pepper and artichoke bruschetta. We didn’t get to try it but heard others cooing over the prosciutto, arugula, and fig jam sandwich.

The Terrace’s setting is lovely, designed for al fresco dining in the garden. But any restaurateur in San Francisco knows outdoor dining is a mixed bag, so the cafe’s retractable, floor to ceiling window panels can be closed when it gets chilly. The cafe also has radiant, in-floor heating.

The space used to be occupied by a bird aviary, and some of its concrete and fencing was re-purposed for the Terrace’s construction.

The opening of the Terrace also marks the start of a new food partnership the Academy established with Sodexo, who will also manage the Academy Cafe. The Moss Room has closed for renovation and will reopen in spring 2015 as a dedicated space for special events.

The Terrace cafe is open during regular museum hours, as well as during the Academy’s Nightlife events on Thursday nights.

Sarah B.

Would you like a mock-tini?

The retractable glass panels

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 8:57 am | Posted under Food, Golden Gate Park | 12 comments

New underground, emergency water cistern being installed on Funston at Geary

The new cistern under construction at Funston and Geary

We’ve been meaning to mention this for months, as anyone living in the inner Richmond has probably run into the block of Funston between Geary and Clement being mostly closed to traffic.

The closure is due to the installation of a new underground cistern, which is part of the SFFD’s emergency water system. Cisterns are marked around the city with brick circles or squares embedded in the street, demarcating the tanks. There are about 180 cisterns across the city at regular intervals, ready for use in the event of a fire emergency.

A cistern is enormous, holding about 75,000 gallons of water on average. The cisterns are completely independent of San Francisco’s domestic water system. They were built in 1913 in response to the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire, and the network consists of a 135-mile pipeline network, a high-elevation reservoir with two large-capacity tanks, two pumping stations, fireboats, underground water storage tanks (cisterns), and Bay water intakes (suction connections).

The emergency system delivers water at much higher pressures and is also able to use unlimited water from the Bay. The network can be used as the secondary defense against fires in the event the domestic water system fails. The system and its core facilities are used throughout the year by SFFD to fight multiple-alarm fires like the large one at Mission Bay earlier this year.

Inside an empty San Francisco underground cistern. Photo by Robin Scheswohl

Not including this new one, there about 10 cisterns in the Richmond District at locations like California and Funston, Balboa and 34th Avenue, and Geary and 46th Avenue. See a map of San Francisco’s cisterns

The Exploratorium made an interesting video about the cisterns, how they work and their history in San Francisco. Check it out below.

Much of the funding for additional cisterns (and upgrades to the existing system) comes from the 2010 and 2014 Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bonds.

We don’t know when the cistern on Funston will be completed, but at least we know that in the event of a massive fire, we’ve got good backup.

Sarah B.

An existing cistern at Funston and California Streets

Cisterns in the Richmond District. See a map of San Francisco’s cisterns

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 4:13 am | Posted under Fire | 7 comments

Annual “Old Car Picnic” event returns to Golden Gate Park this Saturday

Back in April, we reported on the demise of Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic, a 25+ year tradition in Golden Gate Park that decided to call it quits after escalating permit fees and frustrating dealings with SF Rec & Park.

Now, two fans of the car show have decided to revive the tradition. The event has been renamed “Old Car Picnic” and will feature the same attractions as past shows, namely a wide variety of vintage vehicles from pre-1987.

Old Car Picnic will be held at Hellman Hollow (formerly Speedway Meadow) on Saturday, October 18 from 7am until 4pm. Vintage car, truck and motorcycle owners can display their vehicle simply by driving into the venue in the morning and paying the entry fee (Cars & trucks $40, motorcycles $20). Note: no vehicles larger than 3/4 ton pickup.

And for the first time ever, the Old Car Picnic also invites vintage bicycle owners to display. The entry fee for bikes is $10.

Proceeds from the event go towards two organizations that benefit developmentally disabled children – Pomeroy Center and Potrero Hill House.

We spoke with one of the organizers, Eric Johnson, via email about his relationship to past picnics.

“Our group mainly consists of former picnic organizers and workers, some from recent years and some whose involvement goes back to the 90’s. We do intend for the event to continue on an annual basis,” Eric said.

Eric said the permit fees for this year’s Old Car Picnic “are pretty much the same as last year”, and that Rec & Park “made it clear that they didn’t want a brand new event in the park, they would allow it only if it was a continuation of the existing event, so we aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel here.”

Jamie O’Keefe, daughter of the Jimmy O’Keefe who managed the original event, told us, “Though I’m not directly involved in organizing, I’ve been helping this new crew with their questions.”

Jamie is fully supportive of the event and is happy to see the tradition being continued by its fans.

Admission to Old Car Picnic to view the cars, trucks and bikes on display is completely free, so bring your friends and family out to this great tradition in Golden Gate Park. And don’t forget to pack a picnic!

Sarah B.

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 5:02 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park | 8 comments

Local links: New veggie cafe, free Academy days, Mt. Lake update & more

“Sweet Soul Dream” by Thomas Hawk

  • A new healthy cafe is coming to the neighborhood called Nourish Cafe, according to EaterSF. The cafe will feature fresh juices and smoothies, big salads, sandwiches, soups, healthy baked goods and more. The cafe, which includes the blog’s Sarah B. as a co-owner, is currently running a Kickstarter campaign if you want to learn more or lend your support.
  • This Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 17-19), the California Academy of Sciences is offering free admission to residents of the 94118 and 94121 codes. Each visiting adult is limited to six children for free entry, and each adult must show a valid photo ID with proof of residency. See the San Francisco Neighborhood Free Weekends info on the calacademy.org website for more information. And if you want to go free in 2015, mark March 13, 14, 15 on the calendar.
  • Interested in the state of Mountain Lake? Then don’t miss the Invasive Fish Eradication and Future Restoration Plans public meeting on Thursday, October 16 at 6:30pm at The Observation Post (211 Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio, near the Transit Center). Learn about upcoming plans for Mountain Lake. Presidio Trust staff will discuss the installation of an aeration system, plans for eradication of remaining invasive fish, planting Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV), reintroduction of native plant and animal species, and restoration of the East Arm as a wetland. Following the presentation, a panel of staff, project partners, and issue experts will answer questions.
  • Remember the change to city code that shifted the responsibility for the care of street trees onto the adjacent homeowners? A couple of supervisors now say it’s unworkable and unsafe, and they’re working to overturn the original decision.
  • The Richmond District Neighborhood Center has a new grocery delivery program for seniors and they’re looking for qualified candidates. If you know a Richmond District senior in need of the program as well as volunteers who are interested in helping out a neighbor, please contact Sarah Huck at sarah@rvbeacon.org or call (415) 750-8554.
  • The Internet Archive is hosting their annual celebration on October 28 from 6pm to 9pm. Stop by their headquarters at Funston and Clement to learn more about what they do, listen to audio, play video games from the 1980’s, check out new tools they’ve created to organize their archives and make them accessible, and enjoy some food, wine and presentations. It’s a free event but RSVP’s are appreciated.
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 5:02 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park, Museums | 6 comments

It was burgers, pizza and ice cream at the 2014 LEAP Sandcastle Contest

The winning sand sculpture from Rooftop Elementary School

The 2014 LEAP Sandcastle Contest took place on Ocean Beach last Saturday. The contest pairs elementary school classes with professional contractors, engineers and architects to design a sandcastle that gets built on the day of the event.

The theme this year was “Food, Glorious Food” and after touring the sand sculptures, it was clear what’s on the mind of hungry kids – pizza, hamburgers, candy and ice cream. Not to mention sculptures of a few porky pigs meeting their demise.

Rooftop Elementary School took top honors this year for their Candyland sand sculpture. We also liked the “Food Map of San Francisco” by Skyline Elementary of Daly City which showcased the known foods of different city neighborhoods such as pizza for North Beach, a taco for the Mission, and sushi for Japantown.

Congratulations to all the schools and businesses that participated – it was another great year!

Sarah B.

The model created for Rooftop’s Candyland sculpture

A “hot dog” along with ketchup and mustard dispensers

Some hungry hippos

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 5:12 am | Posted under Events, Ocean Beach, Photos | 1 comment