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Mar-12-2014

Local links: Spring break options, Alexandria for sale?, RV parking bans & more


Ocean Beach, March 11, 2014

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

  • The venerable Green Apple Books has been named one of five finalists for Publishers Weekly’s Bookstore of the Year Award. We’ll have to wait until May when the winner will be announced at BookExpo America. Good luck Green Apple!
  • The Mountain Lake remediation project is winding down, but landscaping work is still going on including an effort to return part of the park to a wetland thanks to some goats and volunteers. “We’re returning the lake’s arm into the haven it once was for generations of wildlife going back long before the 1800s,” said Terri Thomas, the Presidio’s conservation director. Read the full article on SFGate
  • We’ve heard a rumor that the Alexandria Theater property is once again up for sale (anyone find a lising? We have not). That’s nothing really new but it signals that the current owners are not interested in developing the property as it’s been proposed. They want someone to take it off their hands. We’d be ok with that since they’ve done a piss poor job of managing it in the last 10 years.
  • Additional locations for the ban on overnight RV/oversized vehicle parking were approved by the SFMTA last week. That includes stretches of Clement Street along Lincoln Park and the Park Presidio greenbelt streets including Funston Avenue (west side) and 14th Avenue (east side).
  • Want your kid to skate(board) through Spring Break? Rec & Park is offering Shred N Butter skateboard camp at 25th Avenue’s Rochambeau Playground from March 31 through April 4. Camp runs daily from 9am to 3pm, and is designed for ages 7 – 14. Cost is $257 for residents, $370 for non-residents. Sign up here and enter code 34594 to find the listing.

    Alternatively, Shred N Butter also offers Saturday drop-in classes starting March 22 at the Richmond Rec Center on 18th Avenue for ages 5-13; fee is $32. Sign up here and enter code 34595 to find the listing.
  • In other Spring Break news, the RDNC is offering a free Spring Family Staycation outing of hiking and biking in San Rafael on Saturday, April 5th. Space is limited to 25 and spots will fill up fast so contact sarah@rvbeacon.org or 415-750-8554 to register before March 21st.
  • Remember the creepy guy in the Elmo suit that arrived here from NY and made a noisy appearance at Rossi Park in 2012? This time he’s turned up at Fisherman’s Wharf after finishing a stint in jail. “People are being told lies about me,” said Sandler, who is 50 and homeless. “I’m really sick of it. I’m just trying to make a living.”
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 12:17 pm | Posted under Kids, Parks, Traffic | 19 comments
Mar-11-2014

Safeway responds to effect of chain’s sale to Cerberus on La Playa remodel


Rendering of the new Safeway entrance at La Playa and Fulton

In case you haven’t heard the news, grocery chain Safeway is in the process of selling itself to Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm, for $9.4 billion. The deal is currently pending.

We’ve had inquiries from some readers about what this might mean for the upcoming remodel of the La Playa Safeway location.

The remodel, which will expand the store’s footprint from its current 40,000 square feet to nearly 59,000, has been in planning for several years. The project is currently in its environmental review phase, and expects to be in front of the Planning Commission for final approval by the end of 2014.

In addition to a completely new store, the remodel will also include 40-45 residential units on the north end of the property along Cabrillo and La Playa.

On Monday, Safeway Real Estate Manager Natalie Mattei sent out an email to project followers about the potential impact that the Cerebrus sale may have on the planned remodel:

Safeway is continuing with its Northern California projects on a business as usual basis. We remain very committed to San Francisco. Before proceeding with any construction, we always check budgets and evaluate return on investment. New investors in Safeway would become involved in this process, but we are confident that they will continue to consider San Francisco an important place for Safeway to invest.

Translation: We don’t really know yet.

The La Playa Safeway location presents an interesting opportunity for Cerebrus when it comes time to evaluate. That’s because Safeway owns the entire square block of land that the store sits on, which in the current San Francisco real estate market, is a very valuable piece of property that is highly attractive to developers.

Of the roughly 1,300 stores that Safeway operates, mostly on the West coast, they own about 48 percent of those locations and lease the rest, according to its annual filings [SFGate].

For a private equity firm like Cerebrus, whose primary goal is to make money for its investors within five years or so, selling a valuable parcel of SF real estate to a developer may make more sense than remodeling the aging store.

However, the La Playa Safeway also occupies a unique position in the outer Richmond and even outer Sunset as one of the largest grocery stores in the area with plenty of parking.

And with the planned remodel to include selling off the north end of the property to a developer for condominium construction, it may prove to still be an attractive investment to Cerebrus. After all, Safeway is already one of the nation’s top performing supermarket chains. Remodel the store to drive long term profits, and in the meantime, see a short term gain by selling off some valuable SF real estate on the north end.

With the Safeway sale to Cerebrus still pending, it’s a little early for the company to definitively say what will happen to the La Playa location. But given all the work and community input that has gone into the project already, here’s hoping it stays on track and brings a much needed revitalization to an important retailer in the outer Richmond.

Sarah B.

More reading: With Cerberus, Safeway may get revitalized, or lose assets [SFGate]

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 5:03 am | Posted under Business, Real Estate | 8 comments
Mar-10-2014

Woman and 5-year old hit while crossing Fulton & 37th on Monday


The intersection of Fulton and 37th Avenue, looking west.

Around 5:15om this afternoon, a woman and a 5-year old boy were struck while crossing at the intersection of Fulton Street and 37th Avenue.

The intersection is right in front of the Golden Gate Park Senior Center and features wide striped crosswalks but no stop signs.

Both the woman, who was a babysitter, and child were transported to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment for their injuries. The boy suffered a contusion to his head, and the babysitter suffered a leg injury, according to San Francisco police Officer Gordon Shyy.

It’s unknown whether the driver was driving east or westbound on Fulton. The driver did remain at the scene and was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

This is one of many pedestrian versus car incidents in San Francisco this year, and the second in a little over a month here in the Richmond District. On February 6, an elderly woman was hit and injured while crossing the intersection of California Street and 10th Avenue.

Interesting fact: A 1995 study in Canada found that traffic accidents are 8.6% more common on the first Monday of daylight saving time. “Though it began on Sunday, researchers have found the most acute effects occur on the first Monday after clocks spring forward. That’s when about one-fifth of the world’s population is forced to get up and go to school or work one hour earlier than their bodies are used to.”

Thanks to cub reporter David H. for the tip.

NOTE: Earlier reports indicated that the boy was 4 years old and related to the woman that was hit. But authorities clarified that the boy is 5 years old and the woman with him was his babysitter.

Sarah B.

[via SFAppeal]

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 8:17 pm | Posted under Traffic | 27 comments
Mar-10-2014

Upcoming documentary “It Ain’t Pretty” about women surfers of Ocean Beach


A group of women surfers gathered at Kelly’s Cove for shooting on Sunday morning. Photo by Helynn Ospina

A new documentary is in production about the women who surf the waves at Ocean Beach. It’s entitled “It Ain’t Pretty” and filmmakers released their first teaser trailer last week – watch it below (or here if you can’t see the embed).

In addition to footage at Ocean Beach, the film also includes shots of the women surfing Mavericks.

To keep tabs on the film, follow the project on Facebook. It’s slated for a 2015 release.

Sarah B.

[via Stokereport]

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 5:10 am | Posted under Movies, Ocean Beach | 1 comment
Mar-7-2014

Residents displeased with new Balboa planters; public meeting March 10


An example of the new Balboa cobblestone planters near 36th Avenue. And don’t get
too excited – those meters will get their tops soon ;)

On February 20th, a meeting was held about the recent Balboa streetscape improvements project. The $3 million project focused on creating a safer corridor for pedestrians, motorists, cyclists and transit riders along outer Balboa Street, via a series of traffic calming measures. Features of the project included wider sidewalks, bulb outs to make street crossings safer, energy efficient light fixtures, and curb ramps.

Outer Balboa residents are happy with those improvements to their street, but there’s another aspect to the project that has them seeing red: the landscaping improvements.

Specifically, the new planters that were installed on several blocks of Balboa. The new raised sidewalk planters feature dark, cobblestone walls and in some cases, very deep wells to accommodate future trees. The project fact sheet states that the “sidewalk planters to be planted with low maintenance, salt spray and drought-tolerant native and adapted plants and trees. Mulched with gravel.”


A rendering of the kind of landscaping the city envisions for some of the Balboa planters

So what’s to complain about? Plenty if RichmondSFBlog readers have anything to say about it. The planters were installed late last year and have yet to be filled with any greenery. As a result, they’ve become collection bins for rainwater, refuse and dog excrement. Not to mention a tripping hazard for pedestrians.

“I trip on the boxes going to Purusha Yoga. I know someone who actually fell. They are full of poop and garbage…,” wrote Jen J. on our Facebook page. And Brian W. wrote, “It’s only a matter of time until someone sues the city for an injury resulting from these planters.”

Others complain about the space the planters take away from the newly widened sidewalks.

“The planting areas are the biggest piece of junk ever!. If you walk down the sidewalk, there is not enough room for more than 2 people maybe to walk down,” Perrin B. wrote.

At the February 20th meeting, discussion got very heated over the planters and despite neighborhood disapproval of the landscaping, city officials told attendees “the decisions were already made” and could not be changed.

To add insult to injury, the city is only committing to planting and maintaining the planters for a period of 3 years. After that, it’s the responsibility of residents and merchants to keep the planters clean and healthy. And we all know how well that DOESN’T work in San Francisco.

Monday night’s meeting will be hosted by the Department of Public Works and Supervisor Eric Mar from 6-7:30pm at the Cabrillo Playground, located at 38th Avenue and Cabrillo (we’re presuming it will be inside the clubhouse at the playground). The goal of the meeting is to discuss the purpose and benefits of the streetscape changes along Balboa Street, and hear community input and answer questions.

What are your thoughts on the new planters along Balboa? Leave a comment to let us know.

Sarah B.

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 10:56 am | Posted under Eric Mar, Safety, Traffic | 42 comments
Mar-6-2014

Hi-Five Sports Zone moving into former Walgreens space near 18th & Geary

What was once a former Walgreens at 5411 Geary near 18th Avenue is soon to be a Hi-Five Sports Zone, a 5,000 square foot sports facility designed for private events and athletic development.

According to their website, Hi-Five’s “classes, leagues, and camps are designed from Hi-Five’s proprietary curriculums that have been proven and tested for over 20 years”.

The facility, which includes a large basketball court, can also be used for birthday parties, team practices and other athletic events for $100 per hour.

We spoke to Ryan Tuchman, CEO of Hi-Five Sports which started as a family business in Chicago in 1990. The company also offers its programs, designed for kids age 2-10 years, in Menlo Park, Atherton and Scottsdale, AZ.

The Geary location is the first brick-and-mortar location for Hi-Five Sports, which typically relies on venue rentals from schools, Rec & Park or other indoor venues for their programs.

Ryan says that the new location will feature “kid-sized” equipment. The basketball court will be large enough for adults to play on, but hoops will be a bit lower, and it can be covered in turf to accommodate soccer, flag football and tee-ball games.

Hi-Five chose the Richmond District for their first location because “it’s in a residential part of the city where families live, and there is a lack of indoor sports facilities there. And the space was perfect for what we needed.”

The company has hired General Manager Chris Tabarez, a former San Francisco State Gator and professional basketball player in Mexico, a teacher, coach, and athletic Director to run the new facility.

Ryan says construction is already underway inside the space and they anticipate opening in May or June of this year.

The company’s icon is Mascot Murphy, a French bulldog decked out in athletic gear. Ryan said to look for him around the neighborhood and that a possible “Murphy for Supervisor” campaign may be in the works.

It will be great to finally have that space occupied on Geary. Pressure’s on, Alexandria!

Thanks to cub reporter David H. (and other readers) for the tip.

Sarah B.

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 2:08 pm | Posted under Business, Kids, Sports | 14 comments
Mar-6-2014

Police Blotter – March 6, 2014

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of March 6, 2014. To be added to the station's mailing list, email sfpd.richmond.station@sfgov.org.]

NOTEWORTHY ARRESTS
On 02/28/14 at 5:15am on the unit block of Sea Cliff Ave, the victim woke up and saw that a light was on in the hallway. The victim then heard footsteps and got up to see what was happening. He walked throughout the house and went into the garage where he observed the suspect. The suspect was attempting to open the garage door when the victim confronted him and asked him what he was doing. The suspect kept questioning the victim saying, “What are you doing?” “What do you want” and “Are you crazy?” At this point the suspect was able to get the garage door open and he jumped into the victim’s vehicle that was parked in the garage and drove away. The suspect was also able to take the victim’s laptop and wallet from inside the home. Approximately 6 hours later, a Sheriff’s Deputy was called to a home in Humboldt County. A person in the home had a restraining order against a relative who had just fled in a vehicle. A description of the suspect and vehicle was put out in that county and deputies located the suspect a short time later. Upon running the license plate they saw that it came back as a stolen vehicle and contacted the Inspector at Richmond Station. The vehicle belonged to the victim on Sea Cliff and his wallet and laptop were also located. The 28yr old male was charged with stolen auto and possession of stolen property.

On 02/28/14 at 1:45pm, the victim walked out of Safeway at 850 La Playa and saw her vehicle that had been stolen the day before on the 3500 block of Geary. She saw a female get into the driver’s side and a male into the passenger side and drive off. She ran into the store to call 911 and when she came back out the car was gone. As she waited outside for the responding officers, her car came back into the parking lot but the female was the only one inside. The car drove out of the lot again and officers arrived and stopped the vehicle. The 31 year old female suspect was charged with possession of stolen property, stolen auto and a probation violation.

On 02/26/14 an auto burglary occurred in Golden Gate Park near the De Young Museum. A witness was able to provide the license plate of the suspect’s vehicle, which had fled the area. The same vehicle appeared to be involved in several other auto burglaries throughout the city and officers were able to determine who the driver of the vehicle was. On 02/28/14 officers were again made aware of the vehicle driving through the park near the De Young Museum. Several plainclothes officers from different station searched the park and other tourist areas. The officers located the vehicle and suspects in the parking lot of the Legion of Honor. Officers saw that the passenger had exited the vehicle, walked up to the victim’s vehicle, smashed the window and pulled out a backpack. The suspects fled down El Camino Del Mar towards 32nd Ave. A marked vehicle was in the area and attempted to stop the vehicle, which crashed into the patrol car. The suspect vehicle continued and hit a tree nearby and the suspect fled the car. A foot pursuit was initiated and the first suspect was caught after crossing the 17th fairway at Lincoln Park Golf Course. The second suspect had fled south on 32nd Ave towards Clement and was located on a bus at 33rd and Geary. The victim’s backpack and contents were recovered. The first suspect and driver of the vehicle is on federal probation and was charged with the violation of probation as well as auto burglary, assault on an officer, hit and run and possession of stolen property. The passenger was charged with auto burglary, possession of burglary tools and a probation violation.

On 03/01/14 at 5:23am, officers were called to the 1900 block of Divisadero on a report of two males trying to break into a business. When they arrived they saw the first suspect standing just inside the overhang looking north and south on Divisadero. The second male was tampering with the front door. The first suspect alerted the other to the officer’s arrival and the two men began to walk away. Officers detained the suspects and saw that there was a wood chisel stuck in the door jamb next to the deadbolt. The suspects were in possession of numerous burglary tools, including a crow bar, vice grips and screw drivers. Officers also located methamphetamine. The suspects, one 26yrs, the other 42yrs, were charged with attempted burglary, possession of burglary tools and a narcotic violation.

On 03/02/14 at 3:30pm, plainclothes officers were in the area MLK Drive near Stow Lake when they were made aware of a male attempting to break into vehicles. When the suspect saw that he was being watched by passerby’s he fled into the bushes. The plainclothes officers searched the area and located the suspect on Stow Lake Drive. They all knew this suspect as he has been arrested numerous times for auto burglary in Golden Gate Park. The 55 year old male was in possession of burglary tools, a glass pipe and is on felony probation. He was charged accordingly.

On 03/02/14 at 4:55pm, plainclothes officers responded to the area of 28th and Clement St as they were provided with information that a person who familiar to them may be in possession of firearms. The officers were aware that this subject was also on probation. They located the suspect standing on the 2700 block of Clement St. The officers exited the vehicle and at that point the suspect noticed the officers. The suspect reached into his pocket, took something out and placed it in his mouth. Believing that the suspect was trying to swallow narcotics, the officer pushed the suspects head towards his chest, making it difficult to swallow. The officer told him several times to spit it out and finally the suspect complied. The object was a small baggie with methamphetamine. Officers then conducted a probation search of the suspect’s residence and found no evidence of firearms, but did recover additional narcotics. The 50 yr old male was charged with possession of narcotics and a probation violation.

On 03/03/14 at 1:42am, an officer on patrol observed the suspect riding a bike along the sidewalk on Fulton at Arguello. The suspect was along the curbside of the vehicles parked along Fulton and the officer was aware of recent auto burglaries in the area. He stopped to talk to the male who told the officer he was on parole for auto theft. The 43yr old male who was also in possession of methamphetamine was charged with narcotic and parole violations.

NOTEWORTHY INCIDENTS
On 03/01/14 at 7:30pm, officers were dispatched to a call of an alarm on the unit block of Stanyan. They arrived to find the tradesman’s door pried open with a screw driver lying on the ground. Officers conducted a walkthrough of the premise and it appears that the alarm scared the suspect off.

On 03/01/14 between 9:30pm and 11:55pm on the 100 block of Cook St, a suspect entered an apartment building by unknown means. The suspect pried open the front door of one of the apartments and took two laptops and a camera.

On 03/02/14 at 8:28pm, the victim was eating at a restaurant on the 5500 block of Geary. A male came in and started to give the waitress a hard time. The victim verbally intervened on behalf of the waitress and tried to get the suspect to leave. The suspect then threw a fork at the victim, who was attempting to escort the suspect out. They got into a physical fight and the victim ended up with a large gash on his forehead. The suspect fled the scene. He was described as a white male, 30-40yrs with blond hair. He was wearing a blue ski jacket and carrying a sleeping bag.

On 03/03/14 at 10am, an 80 year old victim received a call from someone stating he worked for Legal Aid in Las Vegas and that the victim’s grandson was in jail. The victim was told to wire money for bail to the Dominican Republic to get the grandson out of jail. The victim complied and then later on told a relative what had occurred, she was told that the incident was a scam.

On 03/04/14 at 12:30pm on the 300 block of 2nd Ave, the victim was in the back of his apartment when he heard a loud noise at his front door. As he walked towards the front door, a suspect kicked opens the front door. The victim yelled out then could hear the suspect running down the steps. The victim ran out but when he got outside he couldn’t tell which direction the suspect had run.

On 03/05/14 between 7:30am and 6pm on the 700 block of 20th Ave, a suspect entered a home through an unlocked window. The suspect took a laptop, iPad and jewelry.

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 1:14 pm | Posted under Crime | 3 comments
Mar-3-2014

A peek at the upcoming $26k parklet on Balboa Street


A rendering of the planned parklet on Balboa Street

Simple Pleasures Cafe at 3434 Balboa near 35th Avenue is the latest merchant in the Richmond District to sponsor a parklet, or mini park, in front of their business. On Monday, the cafe posted a rendering of the parklet on their Facebook page.

Construction began about two weeks ago but was slowed by the recent rains. Scott, a spokesperson for Simple Pleasures, said they expect the parklet to be open in about 15 days (weather permitting).

The Simple Pleasures parklet will eliminate 3 parking spaces on the block, and is the first one in the city to be built on a 1.5 degree incline. Materials include wood and concrete, and the estimated budget for the parklet is $26,000.

“It’s one of the most expensive built yet in San Francisco,” Scott said.

Parklets typically consist of seating and some greenery, and though they are usually subsidized and cared for by a specific business, the parklet space is considered public.

Parklets are part of the San Francisco Planning Department’s Pavement to Parks initiative, designed to “temporarily reclaim unused swathes of land and quickly and inexpensively turn them into new public spaces”.

This will be the second parklet in the Richmond District. The first one debuted on Clement Street near 3rd Avenue in August 2013.

Sarah B.


Construction is underway on the new parklet in front of Simple Pleasures Cafe

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 2:15 pm | Posted under Business, Parks | 23 comments
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