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It’s all about the blooming magnolias at GGP’s Botanical Gardens

Photo by James Gaither

While the rest of the country is bundled up, we’re enjoying record high temps and blooming magnolia trees at the SF Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Mid-January through mid-March is the best time of year to see the magnolia trees in bloom, and the gardens have a few events to showcase the magnificent flowers.

On Saturday January 18, take the Magnificent Magnolia Tour which includes a tour of the collection in the company of a magnolia expert. The tour runs from 1pm until 3:30pm, and admission is $20, $10 for members. Purchase tickets online in advance. Additional tours will be offered on February 15, March 8, and March 9.

The following Saturday, January 25, the Botanical Garden will host a Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration, featuring lion dancers, lively folk dances, tai chi performances with dazzling sword forms, children’s activities and more. It’s a great chance to see all of the gardens and take in the magnolias. The celebration is free and the full schedule (9am – 3pm) is online.

If you can’t make an organized tour to check out the magnolias, the Botanical Garden also offers a self-guided tour. Pick up a free Magnolia Highlights map at the ticket kiosks.

There are also free docent tours of the magnolias every Saturday, January 18 – March 15, at 2pm, departing from the North Gate.

The Botanical Garden’s magnolia collection includes 51 species and 33 cultivars, including many prized examples from Asia. The collection began in 1939 with Eric Walther, who planted the very first magnolia in the Garden and continued to introduce species and cultivars throughout his tenure as the first Director.

One of the most famous species he planted was the cup and saucer magnolia or Magnolia campbellii, the first of its kind to bloom in the United States in 1940, attracting huge crowds of excited and curious visitors who stood in long lines to see the magnificent large pink blossoms of this lovely magnolia that still stands in the Garden today.

C’est Magnifique!

Sarah B.

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Photo by
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 4:41 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park | 1 comment

Mayor Lee wants to eliminate Sunday meter parking – should we?

It’s been a full year now that parking meters have been in effect on Sundays between 12noon and 6pm. When the SFMTA put the new policy in place, they claimed it was “to make sure that motorists can easily find a place to park in commercial areas, which is currently very hard on Sundays.”

At the time, their FAQ about the new policy didn’t say anything about increased revenues for the SFMTA, but we all knew that was really the reason.

And yesterday, Mayor Ed Lee confirmed that, but at the same time said he wants to eliminate the year old program.

“I’ve always felt uncomfortable with it, but Muni was suffering and we needed the money,” Lee said.

The SFMTA estimated that charging for meters on Sunday would bring in a little under $2 million which would help fund a struggling MUNI system. But how much did they really pull in during the first year?

Closer to $6 million according to Matier & Ross.

That’s because about half of the revenue on Sundays is coming from tickets when people forget to pay their meters or let them expire. The ticket for an expired meter can run as high as $72.

Now Lee says they’ve found other ways to finance MUNI so he’s gun-ho to rollback Sunday meter parking (he’s planning to ask voters to approve a $500 million bond in November to fund transportation).

I bet his colleagues at the SFMTA are thrilled with Lee’s desire to rollback the program and strip $6M out of their annual budget!

When we posted about Sunday parking last year, comments were mixed. A lot of people liked the idea because they would be able to park more easily when visiting commercial districts in the city on Sundays. But others were tired of the city’s nickel and diming.

What do you think? Should Sunday meter parking stay as is, or be eliminated again? Take the poll below and leave us a comment with your thoughts. Merchants, we especially want to hear from you!

Sarah B.

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 12:17 pm | Posted under Transportation | 31 comments

King of Thai Noodle locations on Clement drop their royal monikers

The King of Thai location at 639 Clement, now missing its “King of” from the sign

Reader Maggie N. tweeted us earlier this week, asking “any leads on what’s up with King of Thai Noodle (I and II) covering the “King” portion of their name?”

Sure enough, a drive by the two locations on Clement Street revealed that the signage on both restaurants had the “King of” portions covered up, effectively renaming them to “Thai Noodle”.

We picked up a to-go order on Monday night at the 639 Clement Street location but the staff was tight-lipped on the reason for the name change.

But it’s likely that it has to do with a legal challenge from another King of Thai Noodle House chain in the Bay Area. Which one is the complaintant is anyone’s guess.

A quick Google search reveals another King of Thai Noodle that has two locations, one in North Beach and another in the Financial District.

Head over to Yelp and you’ll see that they have employed a simple ascending numbering on the URL’s because there are so many places named King of Thai Noodle House in the city. #3 is on O’Farrell and has similar purple signage to Clement Street, and calls itself the “first original thai noodle house in San Francisco”. #4 is on Clement, and #5 is on Sloat Boulevard.

In short, there are a lot of Thai Kings serving up noodles in our fair city (not to mention Alameda).

We don’t know definitively why the Clement Street restaurants have lost their royal status, but most likely it’s due to pressure from the chain with two locations.

The good news is that even with its newly shortened name, we still have them in the neighborhood. So when you get a hankering for pad thai, curry or spicy larb, they’ll be there for you.

Long live the King.

Sarah B.

The King of Thai location at 346 Clement, with the “King of” portions on their signs blacked out

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 5:16 am | Posted under Business, Food | 8 comments

Police Blotter – January 10, 2014 | Goodbye from departing Captain

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of January 10, 2014. To be added to the station's mailing list, email sfpd.richmond.station@sfgov.org.]

Being the Captain of Richmond Station has been a highlight in my career. I have had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of men and women and the community is the best! I am excited to announce that effective Saturday I am being promoted to Commander of the Golden Gate Division, which includes 5 district stations and happily Richmond is amongst them. Growing up in West Portal I never strayed too far from home. Serving you in the Golden Gate Division is a great honor and I am thrilled to still be working here.

Captain Simon Silverman will be the new Captain of Richmond Station. Simon brings with him a wealth of experience and no doubt he will be the perfect fit. We welcome two new Lieutenants, Bill Conley and Joe Fong. I have had the pleasure of working with both Bill and Joe and I know that they are happy to be here in the Richmond District and we are fortunate to have such talent.

On 01/07/14 at 11:05am, a resident of an apartment on the 400 block of 8th Ave, heard noises on his back steps and the sound of the door knob rattling and went to check. He then saw the suspect running down the steps of his building. The suspect then ran up the steps of the adjacent apartment building and through the back door of one of the apartments. The suspect then fled the apartment building through the main front door. The resident called 911 and chased the suspect to eastbound Geary Bl. Responding officers located the suspect on the 300 block of 6th Ave and detained him.

Officers went back to the original location on 8th Ave and entered the apartment that the suspect had run through and saw that it was vacant. They also saw that a window into the unit had been broken. The 60 year old male was charged with burglary and he also had an outstanding parole violation warrant for burglary.

On 01/09/14 at 2:50am, officers responded to the area of 38th and Geary on a report of a male screaming for help. Another caller said that the male was breaking out windows of vehicles with a fire extinguisher. When officers arrived they observed the suspect, shirtless, walking in the middle of the street in the eastbound lanes carrying a fire extinguisher. The officers detained the male and determined that he had entered an apartment building on the 7300 block of Geary and took the extinguisher. He then sprayed it throughout the building and left onto Geary. The suspect then smashed out the windows of three parked vehicles. A cab had approached the intersection and the suspect smashed out the windshield of the cab. The suspect told the officers that he had been drinking and taking “meth” and took a bus out from the Tenderloin. The 47 year old male was charged with aggravated assault and vandalism.

On 01/03/14 on the 1400 block of Broderick, tenants from an apartment all left for work around 8am. One of the occupants however was still asleep. When everyone came home later in the day they saw the numerous items had been taken from the apartment, including 3 laptops and two iPads. The tenant who was home asleep reported that between 11:30am-12pm, she heard someone come into her room but thought it was a roommate and went back to sleep. A rear door had been left unlocked.

Between 01/04/14, 11:30am and 01/08/14, 7:30am on the 1900 block of Anza, a suspect entered a multi-unit garage and took a bike. There were no signs of forced entry.

Between 01/04/14, 5:30pm and 01/06/14, 8:40am on the 3600 block of Cabrillo a suspect pried open a tradesman door and entered a garage. The home was vacant as it is under construction but the suspect took numerous tools from the garage.

Between 01/05/14, 9pm and 01/06/14, 7:20am on the 600 block of 8th Ave, a suspect entered an apartment building by unknown means. The suspect took a bike that was in a common hallway.

Between 01/06/14, 4:45pm and 01/07/14, 7:40am on the 300 block of 19th Ave, a suspect entered a garage of an apartment building and took a bike. There were no signs of forced entry.

Between 01/06/14, 10pm and 01/07/14, 6:30am on the 300 block of 22nd Ave, a suspect pried open the lock box on the front gate of an apartment building. The suspect removed the key and entered the building and went into the garage. The suspect took a bike and a vehicle that was parked inside.

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 3:45 pm | Posted under Crime | 2 comments

Google’s watching us, but who’s watching their Maps car?

Photo by Derek

On Tuesday morning around 11:15am, blog reader Derek walked by a Google Maps car parked on 6th Avenue near Clement. He’d seen it parked in the neighborhood a few times, but this time, the passenger side front window was smashed.

Luckily SFPD was just up the block, arresting a man in an apartment building at 310 6th Avenue.

“I saw them detaining a suspect who tried hiding behind one of the cars inside,” Derek said. The cops were mum on the suspect’s alleged offense, but confiscated a duffel bag.

After Derek drew their attention to Google-gate, the SFPD began searching the the Google Maps car to determine damage and what had been taken (a laptop).

As they were going through the car, the alarm finally started going off. D’oh!

Sarah B.

Photo by Derek

Photo by Derek

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 5:01 am | Posted under Crime | 7 comments

Simon Silverman named new Captain at SFPD Richmond District Station

On Wednesday, current Captain Sharon Ferrigno of the Richmond District station emailed her Community Police Advisory Board about a change in guard at the station house on 6th Avenue:

    I have some terrific news. I am being promoted to Commander of the Golden Gate Division (which includes the Richmond District).

    I am certain this would not have happened without your amazing support over the past year and a half. Simon Silverman is the new Captain and he is a great fit. I won’t be far away as my responsiblity includes the Richmond.

Lt. Silverman, who appears to have last served at the Park Station and also served in the SFPD Legal department, will be promoted to Captain of the Richmond District station effective this Saturday.

Since Richard Correia moved on in 2011, we’ve had a lot of Captains come through the station – Keith Sanford, Eric Vintero, Sharon Ferrigno, and now Silverman. Our ‘hood seems to be quite the stepping stone to promotion!

Thanks to cub reporter David H. for the tip. Welcome to the neighborhood, Captain Silverman!

Sarah B.

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 5:20 pm | Posted under Crime | 3 comments

Mountain Lake Park Family Festival, January 11

There are lots of changes going on at Mountain Lake Park, and Saturday’s Family Festival is a great chance to learn more about them, and have some fun.

Come out between 10am and 12:30pm to learn more about the lake remediation / restoration project that is underway, and see the designs for the new children’s playground which will begin construction this Fall.

Join the Presidio education staff for a morning of place-based learning and exploration. There will be a variety of family-friendly activities, from water investigations to birding on the beach to artistic walks, all about Mountain Lake.

Members of the Friends of Mountain Lake Park Playground will be on hand to share the playground designs.

The festival also coincides with the Presidio Trust’s regularly scheduled drop-in restoration program, so you’ll also see people hard at work restoring Presidio native habitats.

Come take the pledge and receive your “Love Mountain Lake” water bottle sticker featuring the cute-as-a-button western pond turtle.

If it is raining on Saturday, the event will not take place.

Sarah B.

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 10:45 am | Posted under Events, Parks | Add comments

Video: Tightrope walkers at Lands End

SF Citizen turned us onto this cool video of some highline walkers who set up at Lands End – “right underneath the noses of one of the most popular parks in the city”. Epic indeed…

Sarah B.

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 10:31 am | Posted under Lands End, Video | 3 comments