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Jul-29-2010

Richmond District woman arrested for rent deposit scam

SFAppeal reports this morning that a woman has been arrested recently for allegedly scamming $20,000 from potential apartment renters.

Rachel Marie Smith was placing ads to rent her Richmond District apartment on Craigslist. After seeing the apartment, located in a building on the 5300 block of California, victims would sign the lease and leave a deposit for the apartment – as much as $5,600.

Shortly thereafter, Smith would inform the renters that she learned her mother had cancer, so she would not be vacating the apartment for at least another month. It was at that point that Smith would disappear, not returning calls or the hefty deposits.

The latest victim, a 22 year old woman, reported the incident to police on July 19 after learning a co-worker had signed a lease and provided a deposit down for the exact same apartment.

Prosecutors have charged Smith with eight counts each of grand theft and obtaining money under false pretenses, in connection with four alleged victims, according to district attorney’s office spokeswoman Erica Derryck.

Sarah B.

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 8:06 am | Posted under Crime | 7 comments
Jul-28-2010

Stow Lake changes in the works; pink popcorn will live on


A conceptual rendering of the vintage concession stand at the Stow Lake Boathouse

I haven’t covered much of the Stow Lake brouhaha which has been the topic of much discussion among Golden Gate Park purists; SFCitizen.com covered all the gory details quite well. It seems to be all about preserving the legacy of pink popcorn and people’s affection for the dilapidated boathouse and the family that runs it.

So we’ll just zoom ahead to this week, when the Recreation & Parks Department announced the new vendor they’re considering to take over operations at Stow Lake.

Ortega Family Enterprises from New Mexico is the frontrunner; they currently run the show at Muir Woods. Ortega would replace longtime operator Bruce McClellan, whose family has run the boathouse for three generations.

Ortega has big plans for Stow Lake which would give it a much-needed facelift, bringing it closer in quality to its high-end neighbors in the Music Concourse. Ortega plans to invest $233,000 for the following improvements:

– Interior and exterior renovations to the 64 year-old boat house. They’ll repaint the exterior, upgrade the vintage snack counter, and convert the interior space, which is now used for boat repair, into a small cafe. The menu will include sandwiches, salads, baked goods and cafe beverages, plus free WiFi. Don’t worry – longtime favorites pink popcorn and animal crackers will still be readily available.

– A new fleet of 50 boats to cruise Stow Lake including sea pedals, pontoons, swan-themed pedal and rowboats. Ortega will shell out $152,000 for the new vessels and they say they plan to reduce rental rates in the coming years.


A conceptual rendering of a new cafe inside the Stow Lake Boathouse

Ortega is also committing to ongoing maintenance, which is something the current owners have failed at in my opinion. 2% of Ortega’s revenues, or roughly $18,000 per year, will be put back into the facilities for regular maintenance and repair.

Ortega Family Enterprises will go before the Recreation & Parks Commission on August 19, seeking approval for their proposal and the green light to move forward. If they get it, it’s onto the Board of Supervisors for final sign off.

Despite all the shiny newness of Ortega’s plans, not everyone is happy about the impending changes. One group, Save Stow Lake, has been lobbying to preserve the boathouse in its current state and leave management in the hands of Bruce McClellan. And in a recent poll on SFAppeal.com, 53% voted to leave the boat house as is in favor of preserving tradition (only 88 votes, but still).

Well, I’m excited by the proposed changes. I don’t believe that you have to sacrifice quality to preserve tradition. I’ve felt for a long time that Stow Lake is a little seedy and as a result, its charm is wearing off. It’s someplace I’d like to take visitors to, but usually skip. With these new enhancements, I’m sure both tourist and local traffic will increase.

What do you think? Are you in favor of leaving things as is or giving Ortega the chance to improve Stow Lake?

Sarah B.

Some vintage postcards of lovely Stow Lake that I found at a flea market:

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 7:37 pm | Posted under Golden Gate Park | 22 comments
Jul-27-2010

Bicycle Music Festival returns to GGP, July 31

It’s back! The 4th Annual San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival gets underway on Saturday, July 31 at Marx Meadow in Golden Gate Park (NOTE: this event was originally scheduled for June 19 but due to permitting issues was rescheduled to July 31).

The 16 hour festival is very unique in that not only are bikes celebrated, but they also power the very stage that hosts the performances. The Bicycle Music Festival is the largest 100% bicycle-powered music festival in the world.

The festival features a 2000 watt pedal-powered PA system, as many as 15 bands, up to 7 festival stops, outrageous Critical Mass-style bicycle party caravans between festival stops, and zero use of cars or trucks.

It’s also a mobile festival as the hordes of bikes, along with the music, move from location to location over the 16 hour duration (see the route map). With its completely bike-haulable stage, the event is packed up and deployed numerous times: staged sequentially at different public parks and also on a moving “Live On Bike” stage which rolls down city streets.

The first leg of the Bicycle Music Festival begins at Marx Meadow in Golden Gate Park, accessible from Fulton Street and 25th or 26th Avenues (map). The Marx Meadow portion of the festival will run from 10am until 2pm.

Bike on!

Sarah B.

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 2:25 pm | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park | 1 comment
Jul-27-2010

Photographers: Be part of SFAC’s “Night/Light” exhibition


Photo by Plomomedia

The San Francisco Arts Commission is sending out an open call to photographers for their upcoming “Night/Light: Bay Area Photographers Take Aim After Dark” exhibition:

We are inviting submissions of works that explore what happens after sunset and before sunrise. Nighttime images of interest will range from landscapes to portraits, from photodocumentary essays to fantastical narratives. We’ll be looking for technical proficiency, creative innovation, and a wide variety of subject matter.

The SFAC jury will select between three and ten images from each selected artist, which will then be displayed at the SFAC’s ground floor Gallery inside City Hall. The exhibition will run from September 16, 2010 until January 14, 2011.

Entries for the Night/Light exhibition must be received by Saturday, August 14 by 6pm, and only digital submissions will be accepted. Visit the exhibiton info page for complete submission guidelines.

The SFAC’s Gallery at City Hall is currently exhibiting “Picturing Power & Potential” until August 27.

If you’re submitting any night/light images representing the Richmond District, be sure to let us know!

Sarah B.

[via SFist]

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 11:08 am | Posted under Art | 2 comments
Jul-26-2010

There’s a new sheriff in town – you!


The next time you or a neighbor experiences a car break-in or home burglary, it may not be the men and women in blue that respond to your police call. It could be a “civilian investigator” that is part of the SFPD’s new pilot program that will kick off in January.

Designed to take some of the load off of sworn police officers, civilian investigators will be trained to respond to nonviolent crimes. They’ll gather evidence, conduct interviews, and photograph crime scenes.

The pilot program, which will train just 15 civilian investigators citywide, is designed to speed up response times, reduce costs and free up regular police officers to respond more quickly to violent crimes. Civilian investigators are expected to be stationed at just a couple of the city’s ten district stations.

After a recommendation from new Police Chief George Gascon, the pilot program was approved by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors at a cost of just under $1 million. The program projects that civilian investigators will cost half as much as a regular police officer.

If the time is now for you to come out of your bat cave and help the SFPD fight crime, you can apply to be a civilian investigator. Just visit a SFPD station house for an application – the closest to us is the Richmond District Police Station at 461 6th Avenue near Geary.

Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility. And the obligation to help your favorite blogger get out of their parking tickets. ;)

Sarah B.

[via ABC7, SFAppeal]

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 10:29 pm | Posted under Crime | 2 comments
Jul-24-2010

Who’s killing the trees in Golden Gate Park?

The video above from K9VideoBlog documents the sad vandalism of elm trees in Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse.

The latest attack was discovered on Wednesday morning; 14 young elms and one sycamore had been sawed in two about 8 inches from the ground. The Chronicle notes it’s the fifth tree attack in the park since May, bringing the total of vandalized trees to 44.

It’s been a tough summer for Golden Gate Park with pit bull attacks on July 1st, followed shortly thereafter by a fatal stabbing on July 4th, and now, this senseless vandalism.

Elton Pon, a parks department spokesman told the Chronicle, “We don’t know if it is someone with a political agenda, or a mental problem or something else. It does seem like someone knows what they’re doing.”

The Recreation & Parks Department is offering a $2,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the tree vandal.

Sarah B.

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 4:32 pm | Posted under Crime, Golden Gate Park | 6 comments
Jul-24-2010

New visitor center coming to Lands End in 2011

Thanks to a $5 million donation from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and donations from National Park Service and Park Conservancy members, Lands End will soon be home to a brand new visitor center.

About 100 people gathered in the Terrace Room of the Cliff House on Wednesday night to hear details about the center, and offer feedback to the park service and project architects.

The new 2,500 square foot center will be called the Lands End Lookout, and will include 500 square feet of food service. A separate, 1,000 square foot building will house restrooms. The center and restrooms will be built on a triangular patch of land on the south end of the Lands End parking lot along Point Lobos Avenue.

The project design is in good hands. Architectural firm Esherick, Homsey, Dodge & Davis (EHDD) has years of experience with oceanside venues and leveraging the natural climate in their designs. They were the lead firm for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Sea Ranch houses back in the 1960s.


The Lands End Lookout will be located on this patch of land adjacent to the parking lot and Point Lobos Avenue.
New restroom facilities will eliminate the need for port-a-potties.

No formal plans or drawings for the visitor center were shared at the meeting. Instead, National Park service and EHDD staff shared the goals and visions they have for the center. Attendees were then asked to discuss some key questions to help inform the design development process: What does Lands End mean to you? How do you use Lands End? and What functions would you like to see at Lands End Lookout?

EHDD has a weighty task on their hands. Lands End is many things to many people. For some it’s simply a place to stroll and enjoy stunnings view while for others it’s a rich source of local history that includes San Francisco landmarks like the Cliff House, Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights Park. Still others think of it as a place rich with maritime and Native American history.

EHDD envisions the Lands End Lookout as “a touchstone for a network of places along the edge”, a starting point for visitors to begin their exploration of Lands End. And visitors don’t just mean tourists; according to a recent survey, 80% of visitors to Lands End are local to San Francisco.

Because the visitor center can’t be all things to everyone, the Park Service developed five themes to help guide the design process: Lands End’s history of recreation (think Sutro Baths, Camera Obscura, rides along Merrie Way, the Cliff House and its Sky Tram), the cultural landscape (who’s been part of the history of Lands End and the archaeology that has evolved), the natural landscape, the Native American presence of the Ohlone/Costonoa tribes that visited seasonally for nearly 3,500 years, and finally, Lands End’s identity as a National Park.

EHDD summed up their objective nicely for the new center: “A place that reflects the past, represents the present, and provides opportunities for future use of Lands End, its protection and enjoyment.”

Design development is slated to run through the summer, with construction documents to be completed by December 2010. Construction will begin in February 2011 with the Lands End Lookout opening its doors in Fall 2011.

The new visitor center and accompanying restrooms won’t fill the entire space along Point Lobos which was parceled out back in 1993 when planning for Lands End was underway. Future phases may include another 5,500 square feet of facilities.

If you’d like to receive regular email updates or have any questions about the Lands End Lookout project, contact Jennifer Greene Ringgold at 561-3054 or at jgreene@parksconservancy.org.

Sarah B.

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 4:13 pm | Posted under Recreation | 8 comments
Jul-22-2010

Golfing near history

A golfer gets ready for his next shot on Lincoln Golf Course near The California Legion of Honor museum. Nearby is a commemorative plaque that reads, “This Tree was planted by Joseph JOFFRE Marechal de France. April 7, 1922.”

Photographer 2Composers adds, “The golfer is probably unaware of the fact, that both Maréchals de France, Joffre and Foch, visited The Legion and commemorated the war dead.”

Sarah B.

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 12:26 pm | Posted under History, Photos | Comments Off
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