Scoot trainer Kelly at our orientation
More and more companies are enabling San Franciscans to get around town quickly and easily. Last year, the city implemented the Bay Area Bikeshare program, enabling point to point, short-term rides at affordable rates. And companies like ZipCar and City CarShare have been around for awhile now, making car rental close to home effortless and affordable.
Now there’s a new player in the cheap, green transportation game. Scoot Networks (scootnetworks.com), which has been in business for about a year, offers affordable rentals of electric scooters in San Francisco. Riders can pick up at one location and drop off at another for short trips, or rent the scooter for up to 48 hours (longer if you have a motorcycle license).
The latest location to open up is right here in the neighborhood near the corner of 7th and Clement. Our Scoot location houses 2-3 scooters at any given time, and can be accessed 24 hours a day.
Signing up for Scoot is easy through their website. Before you can start renting, you have to attend a useful, 45 minute orientation class with a Scoot team member. We took ours on Sunday in the parking lot on 8th Avenue near Clement, covering the basics of the Scoot app and the how-to’s of the electric scooter.
Scoot’s fleet is all electric, and the app (native for iOS, mobile web for Android) does much of the heavy lifting. Log on to the app, find an available scoot on a map of the city, and reserve it. Once you get to the pickup location, simply mount your phone into the holder (charger is included), log into the app, and tap “turn on” to power on the scooter. The scooter powers up remotely via GPS and the app shows you how much charge the scooter has, how fast you’re going etc.
Driving the scooter is easy – there’s no shifting or special controls to master. During orientation, you’re shown how to reserve your scoot, get it started, control it, park it, and when you’re done with the rental, return it to an official Scoot parking location. The app shows you where there is an available spot in the Scoot network to park.
A fully charged Scoot scooter has a range of 5-10 miles depending on your terrain, and it takes 3-5 hours for a full charge.
After completing training, our instructor Kelly advised us to follow the Scoot motto – Be safe! Be seen! Be nice! – and sent us on our way. I had a 35% charge and decided to head out to the Cliff House to see how the vehicle performed on some minor hills.
Riding a scooter is just plain fun, especially on a nice, sunny day. The scooters have a max speed of 25-30 miles per hour which when you’re riding it, feels like more than enough. I was surprised by its guts on a flat block and pleasantly surprised with its hill performance. The scooter also includes a helmet (two sizes to choose from) and a storage compartment if you need to carry some items on your ride.
The app has helpful features to keep you up to date on your scooter’s health. It displays your current charge which you can tap on to see the approximate mileage you have left. When I left 8th and Clement I had about 33% charge remaining, and after out to the Cliff House and back, was at 18%.
The app texted me when I reached 25% charge, urging me to seek out a place to recharge (tip: plugshare.com – web or app – is a great directory for such things). There are a few public charging stations in Golden Gate Park, but any standard electrical outlet will do.
Pricing for using the Scoot Network varies depending on the membership plan you choose and how many hours you keep your rental. The most basic plan is $5 per month, and the first half hour of every ride is just $3. Keep it longer than 30 minutes and the rate is $1.50 per half hour for the daytime, and $.25 for the nighttime hours. Other membership plans are available for $10 and $29 per month, with varying hourly rates.
If you get really hooked, you can rent a scooter 24/7 for $185 per month.
Like many vehicle sharing programs, you’ll find the most economy with Scoot on short, point to point rides. Maybe you don’t want to take Muni home from work so you pick up a Scoot downtown for the commute home. It does take some planning though as you want to make sure you have a Scoot location to return it to near your destination.
Daniel, another student in our orientation class, lives in the Richmond and says he is thinking about using the scooter to go back and forth to school. “It ends up costing me about the same as Muni on the short rides,” he said.
When you return your scoot, you put the helmet back in the storage compartment, plug in the charging unit, and lock the front wheel in place. Then just hit “End” in the app to conclude your rental. That puts your scooter back into the available rental network, where prospective riders can see its location and available charge.
We had a lot of fun on our scoot around the neighborhood, and could see this catching on as an easy, affordable way to get around town. Where would you scoot to?
UPDATE: Scoot Networks is offering Richmond Blog readers a discount. Signup for Scoot this week (by 2/23/14), use the promo code #RICHMONDBLOG and get $10 of riding credit.
Screenshots from the Scoot app showing available scooters in red,
a reserved scooter, and estimated miles remaining on your charge.
The 6th 7 Balboa and intersection where the dog was run over. Inset: Photo of the makeshift
memorial placed by a neighbor
Over the weekend, we received an email from a reader about a dog that was killed by a car on the corner of 6th Avenue and Balboa around 1pm on Saturday, February 15.
In the email, the reader alleged that the dog was struck by a San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) vehicle, claiming the incident “took place in plain view of a large number of people”.
The Richmond District police station is located just a couple of blocks away from the intersection at 461 6th Avenue near Geary.
On Sunday, the same reader sent us a photo of a mini memorial that was put up on the northeast corner of the intersection, featuring flowers and a handwritten sign that said “Police SFPD Please Slow Down!!! Don’t Kill Another Puppy”. The reader did not confirm if they were the memorial’s creator.
When we visited the intersection on Tuesday, only the flowers remained on the pole.
We contacted Officer Albie Esparza, Public Information Officer for the SFPD about the incident. He confirmed that a person did come to the Richmond District Police Station on Saturday, stating they allegedly saw a police car run over a Chihuahua dog.
Esparza said that per SFPD protocol, a collision report was filed and a supervisory investigation is underway to look into the incident and see if there was an officer involved.
So far, no officers have claimed to be involved in the incident, and no witnesses, including the original reporter of the incident, have identified the vehicle or the driver of the vehicle.
The station has not heard from any other witnesses nor from the dog’s owner. So it’s still unclear if the dog was run down by a SFPD vehicle, or another car altogether.
Esparza urges anyone with information about the incident to contact Richmond Police Station at 415-666-8000.
Sarah B.Crime, Pets | 8 comments
The Alexandria Theater at 5400 Geary Boulevard and 18th Avenue. And yes, we 311′d “le poop”.
Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the closing of the Alexandria Theater on the corner of Geary and 18th Avenue. The decade since its closing has been one of ongoing neighborhood blight, with the building slowly deteriorating and suffering from vandalism, as promised development plans never get underway.
The theater was opened in 1923 by Samuel Levin, a movie theater entrepreneur who was in business with his two brothers, Alex and Joseph. It was noteworthy for being the first theater to install a sloped floor for better viewing from every seat.
But the building is best known for its architectural fathers, the well-known Reid Brothers, who designed the movie house with an Egyptian theme, mixing elements of ancient Egypt, Minoan culture, and classical detailing. The brothers designed upwards of twenty movie houses in San Francisco, including the Balboa Theater.
In 1941, the theater underwent extensive remodeling and all that really remained of the original design were the stone pillars on its facade. United Artists then purchased the theater in 1976, converting it from a single screen theater into a 3-screen multiplex.
The Alexandria Theater, 1942
Interior of the theater, 1942
The theater, after struggling financially, closed on February 16, 2004 – one week after being sold to a group of investors, Alexandria Enterprises LLC, which owns it today. [SF Heritage]
Since its closing, the theater has been a source of blight for the neighborhood. A favorite for graffiti hounds, the walls along 18th Avenue and the entrance are often tagged.
Trash collected in the entrance to the theater and vagrants sometimes slept out in front of the theater under its protected alcove. Ownership resorted to erecting unsightly cyclone fencing around the front entrance, and throughout the last 10 years, trespassers have broken into the abandoned building and squatted for periods of time, one time causing a small fire.
The exterior of the building has had its share of travails as well. In April 2011, high winds unhinged the blade marquee of the theater. Repairs were made and the sign finally got a much needed, fresh coat of paint. High winds caused more damage two years later.
The decaying entrance alcove to the theater, featuring a peeling, water-damaged ceiling
So what do the Alexandria owners plan to do with the aging building?
For the last few years, plans have been shared with the community for a new development on the property, which would include a 221 seat theater and commercial retail space in the theater building, and a mixed use development on the back parking lot with retail space on the ground floor, residential units above, and underground parking.
The proposed development would preserve original architectural elements of the art deco building, including the domed roof that was part of the original theater before it was sectioned off when it became a multiplex. The ornamental decoration on the facade of the theater building would also remain, including the blade sign (though the 1-2-3 numbers would be removed from the sign, an addition made in 1976).
The plans also indicate that some (or all?) of the original murals inside the building would also be preserved and on view.
But to this day, no work has started on the property. A quick search of the records at SFDBI shows that no new building, electrical or plumbing permits have been filed since the project approval came through.
“The Planning Commission’s approval is good for three years. Within that period, a building permit needs to be filed and issued. Once a permit is issued, the Department of Building Inspection or Building Department may grant extensions to start work and to complete work if the sponsor needed additional construction time,” Mary Woods of the Planning Department told us last April.
The back lot of the Alexandria Theater on 18th Avenue. The proposed redevelopment includes
building a 4 story residential building on the back lot.
At various times, the property has been for sale to the right developer. This expired listing from Marcus & Millchap Real Estate Investment Services was last updated over a year ago, and references the “Project Near Full Entitlement from City of San Francisco”.
Let’s not forget the illegal drama regarding the building’s plans and permits. In 2010, Jimmy Jen, a formerly licensed civil engineer, was arrested for allegedly forging the signatures and stamps of two licensed engineers on documents related to more than 100 construction projects throughout the city between 1990 and 2007, including those of the Alexandria development project.
Jen was often hired as an “expediter” for projects to move them through city approval channels more quickly. Rather than hiring a licensed engineer to review his clients’ construction projects, he allegedly impersonated unwitting engineers.
Jen’s ex-wife, Nancy Jen, was also reportedly the largest stakeholder in the Alexandria Theater project. [SF Examiner] Jen’s case went to trial in July 2013, but we were unable to find the outcome. But his wrongdoings on the Alexandria development’s paperwork did not hinder the project according to city officials.
At this point, most residents have an “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude about the Alexandria Theater redevelopment. After 10 years of neglect, it’s time for this large neighborhood landmark to be rehabilitated and put back into use.
Let’s hope that the owners and developers don’t wait until day 1,094 of their three year permit period to get started. Or worse yet, abandon the project altogether, leaving the Alexandria to continue its decade plus run as a neighborhood eyesore.
A rendition of the planned development at the Alexandria Theater
The proposed residential apartments that would be built on the lot behind the Alexandria on 18th Avenue
Mystery Diners is a reality show in which a crew goes undercover to find out what issues a restaurant may be having with its kitchen, wait staff or other personnel.
Chapeau! owner Philippe Gardelle, who opened the restaurant in 1996, is known for not only his excellent Southern French cuisine, but also for his warm, effusive manner with his patrons. So we were intrigued when the episode teaser said he was concerned that some of his wait staff were being rude with customers. We have only ever heard stellar reviews from readers who have dined there.
Enter Mystery Diners, who after consulting with Philippe, wired the restaurant with multiple cameras and mics, and focused their attention on a few waiters that Philippe thought might be the issue. The vacant space next door to them on Clement was used as the control center.
The episode was really entertaining because not only did it confirm Philippe’s suspicion, but the secret cameras also uncovered a host of other issues going on in the restaurant.
It turns out that Philippe’s own teenage son, Andrew, who is a busboy at the restaurant, was pulling the teenage hostess away from her station so they could lock lips in the alley. He also liked to take smoke breaks and talk down to the wait staff.
In another alarming scene, waiter Michael brazenly steals a $30 tip from another waiter’s table.
Another waiter proved to be hidden camera gold and the source of customer complaints. Renaud, a French waiter, starts out his shift by shirking off his training duties for a new hire, who is part of the Mystery Diners crew. Strike one!
But Renaud really loses it when one of the mystery diners insists on ordering white wine with her filet mignon.
His reaction? To tell her that it will be horrible and that he is bringing her red wine regardless. Owner Philippe watches the uncomfortable interaction unfold on screens in the control room, all the while swearing in French and pulling his hair out. Strike two!
Renaud then proceeds to the back alley to smoke, pace and vent, mumbling under his breath at the customer’s ridiculous order and how white wine would ruin their filet mignon. Meanwhile the diners have already walked out of the restaurant, abandoning their order. Oh mon dieu – strike three!
The end result? The sticky fingered waiter was fired (go Philippe!), son Andrew got a talking to and promised to work harder, and Renaud, after admitting he was stressed out from trying to quit smoking, was given a second chance.
Bon apetit and thanks to reader Chet for the tip!
Chapeau! owner Philippe Gardelle (L) watches the drama unfold from the control room
Here’s a little puppy love for your Valentine’s Day…
Reader and Richmond District resident Chelsey sent us a note earlier this week about some pups who are looking for a home:
The mom dog, Betty, was to be put down at a shelter in Modesto and the rescue group I volunteer for, Wonderdog, got her and the unborn litter out of there at the last second. She had her pups in my car on the bay bridge! Anyway, I am fostering them right here in the Richmond district and would love it if the pups stayed Richmond hounds.
Betty is a 25 lb beagle/lab mix and the puppies appear to be a Beagle/Pitbull/Lab mix and will likely be medium-to-large size when fully grown. You can check out the puppies in the video above, or in their photos on their Wonder Dog page.
There are five girls and three boys – Huxley is the lover boy of the group, Wednesday is small but big on personality, Waya has the softest coat, Dickens is very loyal, Miesha is the sweet kissy little sister, Mochi is sweet and goofy, Dolly is calm and caring, and Howl is the strong man of the group.
If you’re interested in adopting the pups, you can apply through the Wonderdog website, which charges an adoption fee of $275 that includes their first set of shots, first vet exam, and spay/nueter.
The pups will also be on view at The Animal House this Saturday from 12-3pm, located at 157 Fillmore near Waller. Chelsey is also working on a future appearance for them at Pet’s Corner on Geary and Arguello.
Let’s see if we can keep all 8 of these babies right in the ‘hood!
Mom Betty (R) with her eight pups which are available for adoption
[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of February 14, 2014. To be added to the station's mailing list, email email@example.com.]
CAPTAIN SIMON SILVERMAN’S MESSAGE
Several people have asked me when to call 911 and when to use the SFPD’s non-emergency number (415-553-0123). Here is an overview from the Department of Emergency Management:
Call 911 for help in an emergency. If you are not sure if it’s an emergency, call 911 anyway. If you call 911 and the dispatcher determines that your call requires response, but not emergency response, you will be transferred to the non-emergency dispatch line.
Common examples of emergencies include:
- A danger to life, property or the environment
- A crime in progress or a crime just occurred
- A medical emergency
- A fire
If you need help, but there is no emergency, call 415-553-0123.
When you call 911 a public safety dispatcher, also known as a call taker, evaluates your call and determines what type of response is required. They enter your call information into the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system for first responder deployment. In addition to evaluating your situation, the call taker can also provide medical instruction, such as CPR, before help arrives.
Another public safety dispatcher, also known as a radio dispatcher, communicates to first responders in the field. The radio dispatcher coordinates the response of first responders and maintains the status of all units. For law enforcement situations, this includes deploying more police if needed. In the event of a medical or fire response, this includes making sure the right type of resources and equipment is on the scene.
What Will The Dispatcher Want To Know?
- What language or dialect you speak
- What is happening
- Where the situation is occurring
- When the incident occurred
- Who is involved,
- Was a weapon used
- Is anyone injured
These questions help us to send the right kind of help to you as quickly as possible. They also help us to keep our police officers, firefighters, and paramedics safe by helping them know what to expect when they arrive.
Even though we are asking you a lot of questions, we are sending help. We may keep you on the line to gather more information, even after we dispatch police, fire, or medical help to your location. Do not hang up.
What if I Call 9-1-1 By Accident?
Do not hang up. Stay on the line and tell the dispatcher that everything is all right. If you don’t, the dispatcher may think that something is wrong and send a police officer.
The majority of 9-1-1 calls we receive from cell phones are the result of accidental dialing. Processing these calls can delay help for real emergencies. Become familiar with the features of your cell phone, especially the “key lock”, which prevents accidental dialing.
Our next Community meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 6pm. It will be in the Community Room, here at Richmond Station, 461 6th Ave.
On 02/07/14 at 8:05am, officers were called to the 6100 block of California St on a report of a suspicious male trying to place a padlock and chain on her neighbor’s front door. Officers located the male at 22nd and California St and had him sit in a chair while conducting the investigation. Officers determined that the suspect was a wanted subjected in an aggravated assault and was also on parole. The officers had the male stand up so handcuffs could be placed on him and he said, “I ain’t going, get the f*** off of me!” He tried to run away and when an officer grabbed his arm, he continued to struggle. Another officer was able to grab him and pull him to the ground. The suspect jumped up and threw the officer in the air and into a wooden cabinet. The suspect fled on foot towards Lake St and hopped a fence on the 2000 block of Lake St. Officers set up a perimeter around the home and found him hiding in a detached garage behind a parked vehicle. The 27yr old male was charged with the warrant, parole violation, resisting arrest and aggravated assault on a police officer. The officer was transported to a local hospital for arm and neck injuries. The padlock and chain were recovered.
On 02/07/14 at 6:45pm, officers responded to a call of an auto accident on Crossover Dr at Park Presidio Bypass. Officers located three vehicles involved with one vehicle on its side. They secured the scene and checked for injuries on all parties. One of the officers was checking the interior of the vehicle on its side by illuminating the interior with a flashlight. He saw that there were two large black garbage bags that come open. Inside the bags was a large quantity of marijuana. The officers spoke with the two occupants of that vehicle who were a little unclear as to how they knew each other. They were also unclear as to who owned the vehicle and that they only knew that they were to drive the vehicle to Santa Cruz. The approximate weight of the marijuana was 105 pounds. The two female occupants, one 18yr old and a 25yr old were charged with possession for sale and transportation of marijuana.
On 02/07/14 at 11:30pm on the 3000 block of Jackson a subject continually rang the door bell to an apartment from outside the main lobby door. The victim finally went to the main door and saw the suspect standing there. He opened the door and told the suspect to knock it off, but let him in believing he was there to see another tenant in the building. The victim went back to his own apartment and 5 minutes later, he could hear the suspect outside his front door. When he went out again the suspect called him names and said. “Let’s take this outside.” The victim agreed and walked to the main door and opened it. When the suspect walked out the victim closed the door and locked the suspect outside. The suspect began to pound and kick at the glass door and the noise brought the other tenants to the entryway. No one in the building knew the suspect. The suspect finally kicked the glass out, walked through the opening and began to swing at the victim and other tenants. Finally they were able to subdue him and hold him on the ground until officers arrived. The officers could hear the suspect screaming to let him go and that he would pay for the window. When officers detained the male he swore at them and said, “I’m from Santa Clara and my parents have money to pay for this.” The 22 year old male, who was under the influence of alcohol, was charged with vandalism and trespassing.
On 02/09/14 at 1:45am, officers were called to an assault that had just occurred at a bar at 3rd and Geary. When the officers arrived there was a large crowd out in front and people were huddled together due to the rain. The victim approached the officers and pointed out the female suspect to them. The victim told the officers that she was in the women’s restroom and for no reason; the suspect punched her twice in the face. There was a witness as well who didn’t know either the victim or suspect that also spoke to the officers. The witness told the officers that she was waiting line in the women’s restroom when the suspect accidentally got hit by a door. The suspect suddenly punched the victim in the face even though she had nothing to do with it. When the victim asked why, the suspect punched her again. The witness said that she took a photo of the suspect with her cell phone. When the suspect saw this she tried to grab the phone away from the witness, but was unsuccessful. The officers went to speak with the suspect and had her step aside due to the noise of the crowd. When they told her why she was being detained she said that she had only pushed the victim and it was because she was interrupting. The officers could see that she was intoxicated. The officers were then confronted by two males, one of whom was the brother of the female suspect. They told the two males to step away and stop interrupting. The males refused and at one point the brother told the officers to leave her alone. Again the brother was told to move away and he said to the officer, “You’re so tough.” He grabbed the officer’s arm. The officer struck the brother on the arm which made him let go. The brother (who was also intoxicated) tried to hide in the crowd but was detained. The 22yr old female was charged with battery and public intoxication, the 23yr old brother was charged with obstruction and public intoxication.
On 02/12/14 at 1:15pm, plain clothes officers were in the JFK Drive and Bernice Rodgers Way in Golden Gate Park, looking for a male they knew had a parole warrant. They located that male, along with two others in the area. One of the other males also had a warrant and was in possession of narcotic paraphernalia. The third male, who is on probation, was in possession of methamphetamine and a stun gun. All three were booked.
Between 02/07/14, 11am and 02/10/14, 1:30pm on the 100 block of Wood St, a suspect gained entry into a residence by forcing open a rear door. The suspect took a 46” flat screen TV, a desk top computer and a wheel chair.
On 02/07/14 at 12pm on the 3000 block of Geary Blvd., the victim was refilling a stand-alone ATM machine in a corner store. The two suspects approached the front door of the business and confronted the victim. One of the suspects was armed with a handgun, the other with pepper spray which he sprayed in the victim’s face. The victim was told to drop the bag of cash and he complied.
The suspects then fled south on Blake St. They were described as black males, 20-25yrs, one wearing a green camouflage jacket, the other a black hooded jacket.
Between 02/07/14, 9pm and 02/08/14, 8am on the 700 block of 16th Ave, a suspect entered a garage and took two bikes. There were no signs of forced entry.
Between 02/08/14, 3:30pm and 02/10/14, 6:45am on the 2600 block of Sutter St a suspect broke into a home under construction by prying open a window. The suspect then took tools from the home.
On 02/09/14 at 4:45am, on the unit block of Edward, a roommate heard the sound of glass breaking. He went outside to investigate but saw nothing unusual. When the other roommate, who had fallen asleep on the couch, went to her room, she saw that her window was broken and her laptop was missing.
Between 02/09/14, 12pm and 02/10/14, 6:30am on the 2600 block of Pacific, a suspect pried open a rear door to a home under construction. The suspect forced entry into the lock boxes and took tools.
On 02/10/14 at 9:45pm, the victim was east on Post St towards Steiner. She saw the suspects on the opposite side of the street and watched them cross the street towards her. One of the suspects covered her mouth while the other took her laptop and bag. They then fled east on Post towards Fillmore in a newer model dark sedan. The suspects were two black males, 18-20yrs, wearing all dark clothing.
On 02/11/14 at 12:15am, the victim was walking west on Anza towards 17th Ave. She was immediately approached by two suspects and pushed to the ground. When she started to scream, one of the suspects covered her mouth. She tried to hide her cell phone but the suspect saw her and hit her in the head. The suspects took her purse and contents, along with her phone. The suspects ran to a waiting vehicle parked at 17th and Anza and fled. The suspects were described as two black males, 18-25yrs, both wearing dark clothing. The vehicle was described as a black 4dr sedan, possibly a Toyota.Crime | Add comments
Photo by Dave G.
Reader Dave G., and many other residents, encountered a frustrating sight on Thursday morning: nearly twenty smashed car windows along Fulton Street.
“Last night was completely ridiculous. There were around 20 cars that all had their windows smashed and things stolen along the south side of Fulton, between 17th and 25th, possibly more than that,” Dave said.
Between the roar of passing traffic and the ease of slipping into nearby Golden Gate Park after stealing something, parked cars on the south side of Fulton are an easy target.
Dave says because of this, he tries not to park there, but that “sometimes, that’s all that’s open in the crowded neighborhood.”
And before you say “just make sure nothing’s visible in your car!”, know that Dave and at least one of the other victims did not have anything showing in their car. Dave even has an alarm and a light that blinks on the dash to ward off burglars.
Last night’s spree, which resulted in nearly 20 smashed windows, was as much a work of vandalism as theft.
Dave says he’ll head to the next Richmond District Police Community Meeting to voice his frustration (Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 6pm).
But in the meantime, make sure if you park on the south side of Fulton, that NOTHING is visible in your car that would attract a curious thief. Well, that goes for anywhere you park in SF…
UPDATE 2/14/14: Dave sent us this update: “I did hear back from Captain Silverman who said he’s going to make it a priority for the night shift, so, awesome! He said it’s probably the work of just a few people, so any arrests may have a significant impact. Great to hear back from him in a positive manner.”
Sarah B.Crime | 14 comments