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Latest update from Richmond PD on the Mt. Lake Park incident

This entry was posted today, May 1, on the Richmond District Police Station’s website. For convenience, I have highlighted the new information in this latest update.

In regards to this incident, I know many of you have been commenting and discussing it heavily here on the blog. But I ask that you please do not post information that is unconfirmed or that is rumor. If you have information or hear of other incidents, report them to the police immediately by calling 911 or 553-0123.

Do not leave them here as comments on the blog. It only serves to further alarm other readers and residents and often, they turn out to be false or unfounded.

Thanks for your cooperation.

Sarah B.


Richmond Station Advisory, May 1, 2010
by Captain Richard Corriea

On April 21, 2010 Richmond Station was alerted though a widely circulated email about suspicious activity by a lone adult male at Mountain Lake Park . The email stated the individual had been using his cell phone to take photographs of other people’s children near the park’s play structures. He did not have any children with him and was doing pull ups while wearing casual street clothes. A parent used a cell phone to take a photograph of the subject, which she included with the email. Police were not notified at the time of the incident.

I live in the Richmond; my children are fifth generation Richmond residents, and I take my role as your Police Captain very seriously. Your sense of safety is paramount and that’s why upon receipt of the email we started an investigation. Our intent was to identify the individual, determine if he had violated any laws and ascertain if he presented an actual risk to our community.

On April 26, 2010, plain-clothes officers identified the subject and met with him at his home. While surprised at being the subject of a police investigation, he was cooperative and unguarded. Officers interviewed him and reviewed his background. He allowed officers to examine his cell phone and his laptop computer. I responded to his home and spoke with him. He stated that he hadn’t taken any photographs. He explained that he was looking at his phone’s screen while using the telephone’s stopwatch feature as part of his work out. Such an activity could be perceived as a person taking photographs. Our investigation did not disclose any facts that suggest that the individual had engaged in illegal activity or that he presents a risk to our community. We informed him about signage in the park that prohibits adults from entering the children’s play area except when they are accompanying children.

As for the blog entries concerning “recent sightings” and additional unusual acts reported to police subsequent to April 26, 2010, please remember that we sometimes attach meaning to equivocal facts using previously held beliefs and fears. This tendency works well to protect us all from extreme danger. However, we should be sensitive to those aspects of an observation that are inconsistent past incidents. In both recent reports the individuals were using tripods, video and one explained to those concerned what he was doing. Also, a different vehicle was involved.

The Officers at Richmond Station are available twenty-four hours a day to respond to your calls for service. I think that the many emails, forwarded emails and blog entries during the last week of April were helpful while we as a community sought answers to assuage our fears. As we return to a more general sense of vigilance for all risks, please remember to call 911 immediately anytime you see a person engaging in suspicious activity.

Captain Richard Corriea
Richmond Station

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 11:10 am | Posted under Crime, News | 6 comments

Great photos from de Young’s “Bouquets to Art” exhibition

In case you missed it during its brief run, below are some photos from the exhibition taken by MsYuppieScum.

The exhibition, which displayed fresh flower arrangements alongside pieces in the museum’s collection, was themed this year with the upcoming Impressionism exhibitions from the Musée d’Orsay that will open at the de Young in May.

Sarah B.

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 10:13 am | Posted under Art, Golden Gate Park, Museums | 2 comments

Richmond District YMCA Silent Auction, May 7

Next Friday night, the Richmond District YMCA will host their 4th annual Silent Auction on Friday night from 5:30pm – 9:30pm. In addition to a silent auction for special items, there will also be a raffle giveaway.

Silent auction items include a romantic Monterey getaway, a Schug Winery private tour and tasting for 10, a Russian River weekend getaway, a trip to Ashland, Oregon – home of the Shakespeare Festival – and much more.

Raffle tickets can also be purchased for a chance to win a digital camera, Yoshi’s tickets, ski lift tickets, wine tasting and more.

The event – “Winning, Wishing & Wine” – takes place at the Richmond District YMCA at 360 18th Avenue; you must be 21 and over to attend. Advance tickets, available at the YMCA, are $20; otherwise $25 the night of the event. All proceeds from the auction support Teen programming at the Richmond District YMCA.

Childcare is also available at the Silent Auction. Contact Raquel Espana at 666-9605 or respana@ymcasf.org to sign up.

Sarah B.

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 8:06 am | Posted under Events | Comments Off

Argonne Elementary turns local officials into poets

On Thursday, Argonne Elementary School held their first annual “Poem in Your Pocket Day” in recognition of National Poetry Month. Donna Campbell, a teacher and librarian at Argonne, says the event has become a tradition in many schools across the country.

“The idea is simple – students select a poem that they love (original or otherwise) and carry it with them, ready to share with anyone who asks,” Campbell said.

So who showed up with a poem in their pockets? None other than Richmond District Supervisor Eric Mar and his playground buddy Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of SF Rec & Parks Department. Mar read “I, Too, Sing America” and “The City,” by Langston Hughes. Ginsburg read “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Thayer.

Richmond District Police Captain Richard Corriea and City Librarian Luis Herrera also came by to share their favorite poem with students and teachers. Herrera read different poems in each classroom and included a couple of Shel Silverstein classics, “The Crocodile’s Toothache,” and “I Often Repeat Repeat Myself.”

Donna wasn’t sure what Captain Correia’s poem was but she says “it was about spaghetti and quite humorous.” Officer Feliciano from the Richmond PD also came along and read “The Joke” by Jack Prelutsky. He also handed out police badge stickers, which were a big hit with the kids.

Thanks to Donna for sending in the news and photos. Can’t wait to see who turns up next year with a poem in their pocket!

Sarah B.

Supervisor Eric Mar

Richmond District Police Captain Richard Correia

Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of SF Rec & Parks Department

City Librarian Luis Herrera

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 8:01 am | Posted under Eric Mar, Kids, Schools | 1 comment

Richmond YMCA students get their turn on the Red Carpet, May 1

This Saturday, students from the Richmond District YMCA’s Afterschool program may have to look over their shoulder for paparazzi while their short films premiere on the big screen at the Balboa Theater.

The “Richmond District YMCA Movie Premiere” event takes place at 11am on Saturday at the Balboa, 3630 Balboa Street. The films being shown are movies that K – 5 students in the program wrote, made the costumes for and starred in.

Tickets are $5 per person (adult or child) and all proceeds benefit the the Richmond District YMCA Afterschool Program for children at Argonne and Lafayette Elementary schools.

For more information, contact Raquel Espana at the Richmond District YMCA at 666-9605 or respana@ymcasf.org.

Sarah B.

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 1:42 pm | Posted under Events, Kids, Movies, Schools | Comments Off

“Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It” author at Green Apple Books, May 1

If you’re into D.I.Y. activities, this author event is for you.

This Saturday, author Billee Sharp will appear at Green Apple Books to share her freecycling, budget-savvy, barter-better wisdom that is part of her book, Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It.

From the radical common sense introduction to the practical how-to’s and yummy recipes, Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It is a step-by-step handbook to revolutionizing spending habits and reclaiming quality of life in the process.

Sharp will talk about some of the tips in her book including how to start a community garden and to seed share, ditch the grass and raise organic veggies in the front lawn, eco-clean the house with lemons and lavender, cure minor maladies from the kitchen cabinet, organize a trade-for-what-you-want free flea market, and cook meals for pennies.

The event is free and will take place in the Granny Smith Room at Green Apple Books, 506 Clement Street, at 2pm.

Plus, here’s a recent interview with Billee Sharp on Examiner.com.

Sarah B.

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 8:31 am | Posted under Events | Comments Off

How the Richmond District got its name

The February edition of the Western Neighborhoods Project newsletter included a great cover story on how the Richmond District was named. Written by WNP historian Woody LaBounty, the article does a great job of tying together the man behind the name, George Turner Marsh, and his enduring stamp on the northwest corner of San Francisco.

The name of “Richmond District” has been in use for some 125 years. But it was only in early 2009, with the help of local historian John Freeman and Supervisor Eric Mar, that the name became official again.

On March 3, 2009, the Board of Supervisors passed ordinance 36-09 to designate the neighborhood bounded by Arguello Boulevard, Ocean Beach, Lake Street, and Fulton Street, the Richmond District. The 2009 ordinance permanently reversed one passed in 1917 which had named the area the “Park Presidio District”.

The Park Presidio moniker never really stuck. Even the local paper stayed with their “Richmond Banner” masthead. By the 1930s, everyone was back to calling it the Richmond District.

The original name for the neighborhood goes back to an Australian immigrant named George Turner Marsh. During his family’s move from Australia to San Francisco in 1872, they made a stop in Japan. George was fascinated with Japanese culture and after begging his family to let him stay in Yokohama, “his father found the boy a position at a tea import/export firm and auction house, and George began his life in business.”

Four years later, George moved to San Francisco to rejoin his family. He had already amassed quiet a collection of Japanese antiques and art, so with his father’s help, “he opened his own store in the Palace Hotel at 625 Market Street, “G.T. Marsh and Company: Japanese Art Repository”. It was likely the first Asian-art gallery in the United States.

A bit later, in 1880, George Turner Marsh married and built a large home in what was then the sparsely settled Western end of San Francisco, also known as the outside lands.

The home and estate Marsh built on the southeast corner of 12th Avenue and Clement Street was considerably different than most of the humble houses in the area. The residence was large and elegant, and on the land around it Marsh installed a garden and ornamental stream, orchard, carriage house, stables, quarters for servants, and chicken pens.

See a photo of George Turner Marsh’s home

Commuting between the outside lands and the Palace Hotel was no small feat. In one of my favorite parts of the article, Woody describes Marsh’s unique solution to help bridge the distance:

Marsh raised carrier pigeons, and would always carry a couple with him when he rode on horseback to work downtown. In the late afternoon he would send a bird home with a message for his wife about when he’d be home, and if he planned to bring guests for dinner. In one family story, Marsh even sent a vial of medicine to a doctor by carrier pigeon to save one of his children stricken by diphtheria.

As the district became more populated, there was a move in 1884 to decide on an official name. Outside lands was no longer appropriate, as evidenced by this note in a March 1884 issue of the San Francisco Bulletin:

“…the section noted is gradually being built up by tasty one and two-story structures, occupied by families whose heads are mostly identified with down-town business firms, and whose interests, personal or otherwise, can hardly be classed as outside in any sense.”

George Turner Marsh was one of those very business men, and had named his home “Richmond House” after his home suburb of Richmond in Australia. LaBounty writes, “His prosperity and respectability must have seemed a model for the face of the growing neighborhood, because after various names were suggested, the property owners selected Richmond as their choice of name.”

The city made the Richmond District name official by passing ordinance 2309 in 1890, “obliterating the name ‘Outside Lands’ from the official map” and designating the area the Richmond District.”

I encourage you to read Woody’s full article, Naming the Richmond District: George Turner Marsh and the Birth of a Neighborhood” on outsidelands.org to learn more about Marsh’s life, his pioneering retail store, and to see a photo of his original Richmond District home at Clement and 12th Avenue.

Outsidelands.org is a website belonging to the Western Neighborhoods Project, which is a nonprofit organization formed in 1999 to preserve and share the history and culture of the neighborhoods in western San Francisco. Become a member today to support their efforts – you get a quarterly newsletter, special guided history walks, and other great historical information.

Special thanks to Woody LaBounty for authoring and sharing this excellent article.

Sarah B.

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 7:15 am | Posted under History | 1 comment

Richmond residents get in free to the Academy of Sciences, April 30 – May 2

The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is hosting Neighborhood Free Days for the Richmond District this Friday through Sunday.

Free admission is available for any resident living in the 94115, 94118, 94121, 94129 zip codes this weekend (with valid ID; see below).

If you want to see the new Extreme Mammals exhibit, be sure to go right to the second level when you arrive to pick up passes. Same is true for the planetarium shows – secure your passes as soon as you arrive.

Each visiting adult during neighborhood free days must show a valid photo ID with proof of residency. The following items or combinations are acceptable:

– A driver license or state ID card
– Photo ID plus postmarked envelope, postcard, or magazine label with name and date
– Photo ID plus utility bill (gas/electric/cable), bank statement, or letter from a government agency with name and home address (not a P.O. Box)

The Academy is open 9:30am – 5pm on Friday and Saturday, 11am to 5pm on Sunday. Have fun!

Sarah B.

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 3:22 pm | Posted under Free stuff, Golden Gate Park, Kids | Comments Off