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Ho ho ho! Santa visits Angelina’s (photos)

Yesterday Santa made his annual visit to Angelina’s Cafe at California and 23rd Avenue. Everyone got a chance to sit on Santa’s lap for a photo, and participate in holiday cookie decorating.

The men and women from Fire Station 14 also came by to lend a hand for the festivities and collect some toys for the San Francisco Firefighters Toy program (By the way its still not too late to drop a new toy off at your local firehouse!).

There was still a large crowd at the end of the day to see the wondrous magic show of Professor Salamini (the father of Angelina’s owner, Angie Rando).

One resident remarked, “I stopped counting the years that this wonderful tradition has carried on at Angies, but what I do remember is that every year kids and parents alike come away happy!”

Special thanks to reader David H. for providing the pics and report.

More photos from Santa’s big day at SFAppeal.com

Sarah B.

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 2:20 pm | Posted under Events, Photos | 1 comment

I know parking can be tough… (photo)

But really? Too bad there’s not video from this vehicular climb. The descent should be interesting…

Sarah B.

Photo from Ocean Beach-Kelly’s Cove Facebook page

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 10:37 am | Posted under Photos | 5 comments

Traffic calming efforts begin in the central Richmond

There was a bit of chatter in an online neighborhood group this week about a new gateway island that was installed at Balboa and Funston. The installation is the first part of a larger effort known as the Central Richmond Traffic Calming Project, sponsored by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA)

The project, a result of San Francisco’s larger Livable Streets initiative, is designed to make neighborhood streets friendlier for pedestrians, children, bicyclists, and motorists. By using a variety of methods, the SFMTA hopes to increase pedestrian safety, reduce speeding and reckless driving, better control traffic spillover from major thoroughfares onto residential streets, and combat excessive noise and traffic levels.

The Central Richmond project will utilize a variety of methods to help calm traffic in the area bordered by Lake and Fulton Streets, and 12th to 26th Avenues (see map below). Over the course of the next three years, crews will install gateway, pedestrian and median islands, speed humps, traffic circles, and bus bulbs in areas where residents have reported issues. The SFMTA originally convened the project after receiving multiple traffic calming requests from Ricmond District residents.

Even planting new trees on a block can help with traffic calming. Studies show that the visual cue of foliage can alert a driver that they are entering a residential area, causing a reduction in speed. However, you have to make sure the trees that are planted survive past the first few months. This was not the case for dozens of trees planted along Anza, Balboa and Cabrillo earlier this year, which died quickly after lack of water. Though not part of the Central Richmond calming project, the DPW is working with the original contractor to replace the trees.

The new gateway island at Balboa and Funston is the first item in the Central Richmond plan to be completed. These gateways are planned for intersections where drivers turn off of busy streets like Geary and Fulton, onto the quieter, residential streets. By putting a hard divider between the lanes of the side streets, cars are forced to slow down on their turns. Pedestrians also have a safe haven as they cross the intersection.

This first gateway island is a test to assess whether they will result in effective traffic calming, according to Dan Provence, the SFMTA Project Manager for the Central Richmond project. So far he says they’ve heard both bad and good things from residents, but overall, their “observations show that it’s effective in slowing traffic down”.

Rather than being concerned about the island’s calming potential, the complaints from one online neighborhood group this week focused on the lack of landscaping in the gateway island. One resident, Patty Phleger, observed that the island is frequently run over by larger trucks (note the black marks on the side of the island), and due to this, “planting in it would be futile”.

When she asked the SFMTA who would be planting and maintaining it, they told her they hoped a resident would do it. Another commenter was a little more succint in his assessment of the sand-filled island: “It’s a dog poop and trash magnet!”

Provence says that the island was supposed to be landscaped by the Department of Public Works (DPW), but their staff cuts and budget shortfall have made that impossible. Provence says “the DPW can’t agree to maintain it as well as it deserves to be maintained”. He admitted they’ll need community support to help bridge the gap. With plans to put in drought resistant plants, Provence says they then “hope to find someone in the area to help with some of the maintenance”.

Already there are neighborhood groups like Park Presidio Neighbors who shoulder some of the maintenance for public areas. The organization was started in 1998 to handle periodic, regular maintenance of the public park areas along the boulevard. Phleger, a PPN member, is not thrilled at the prospect of residents taking on more maintenance responsibility. “We neighbors have enough to do taking care of Park Presidio,” she says. So far, no one has stepped up to plant and take care of the Balboa & Funston island.

A map showing the planned installations from the Central Richmond Traffic Calming Project

Fulton Street, a longtime hazard to pedestrians, is one of the areas that will benefit from the traffic calming project. Drivers love Fulton for its lack of stop signs; many use it as an expressway to Civic Center and downtown. But residents crossing Fulton to catch a bus or enter the park find it risky.

To help counter this, pedestrian islands will be installed in the middle of the street at the intersections of Fulton and 16th and 20th Avenues. This will give pedestrians a safe place to wait if they don’t make it all the way across the street, and the new structures will signal to drivers that they’re approaching a pedestrian area.

The project also calls for a traffic calming method we Americans are not very familar with (and may have issues negotiating initially): traffic circles. Four are planned in total with three along Lake Street.

Which parts of the project get completed and when is largely dependent on funding. Provence says the bus bulb outs are the most costly, followed by traffic circles. Much of the funding comes from the 1/2 cent sales tax revenue passed by Proposition K. Other funds can come from grants like Safe Routes to Schools. Provence says the SFMTA secured $825,000 from the fund and will use some for the traffic calming installations around Alamo School near Calfornia and 23rd Avenue.

Provence says additional installations will occur in 2010 and should include a few more gateway islands on Funston and 14th Avenues, a traffic circle at Anza and 23rd Avenue, and speed humps on 17th and 18th Avenues.

Even with funding secured, more time can pass before construction begins so the community can weigh in on the projects. Neighbors have to be informed well in advance of any upcoming work and in the case of a high impact installation like a speed hump, the SFMTA has to send out ballots to the neighbors on the block to vote yay or nay.

To move forward, at least 50% of those voting have to approve the installation, with at least 25% of the ballots being returned. After neighbor review, it goes to a final public hearing for approval, and ultimately to a SFMTA board for final review. Depending on funding and the approval process, it could take several years to complete all the installations outlined in the Central Richmond Traffic Calming plan.

To find out more, visit the Central Richmond Traffic Calming Project website. Or read the plan outline (PDF).

Sarah B.

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 4:11 pm | Posted under Traffic | 11 comments

Sewing Bee for kids at the YMCA, Dec. 27

The kids are home on holiday break, and you’re always looking for things to keep them busy, right?

The Richmond District YMCA is hosting a Sewing Bee Club on Sunday, December 27 for students in first through eighth grades. It’s a great chance for kids to learn how to machine or hand sew, or improve on their skills. For machine sewing, please bring your own machine.

The class is $25 for members or non-members, and runs from 1pm – 5pm. Registration is required so contact Marian Roth-Cramer at 666-9603 or mroth-cramer@ymcasf.org.

Sarah B.

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 3:25 pm | Posted under Events, Kids | Comments Off

Photos from Star of the Sea Centennial Fashion Show

Star of the Sea School capped off their centennial celebration with “An Evening of Stars” on December 6th, a fashion show and holiday boutique. Below are some photos from the event.

Happy 100th birthday, Star of the Sea! Even after all these years, it’s good to know you’re still “in fashion”. ;)

Sarah B.

Christy Brooks, parent of 1st grade and Pre-K students at Star of the Sea (and daughter of alumna Dianne Balzer), wearing clothes from H&M, with vintage 1940s accessories.

Aly Pence (1st Grade teacher) and Adelyne (1st grade student) greet the crowd in the end-of-show parade. Mimi Gines (Kindergarten teacher) is in the background in the white/black dress, helping K students Anysha and Milla onto the catwalk. Behind Mimi is K student Aria, followed by 2004 alumni Adalia & Lydia Abordo. Aly is wearing a vintage 1960s dress, Adelyne is wearing a dress from Pumpkin Patch, Mimi is in Carina New York, Anysha & Milla are in Irina Kenderova (44 Melrose Ave, S.F.), Adalia & Lydia are in Carina New York.

Killian, Star of the Sea class of 2004, currently a Jr at St Ignatius, wearing clothing from The Hard Wear Store in the Sunset.

Star of the Sea School kindergarten students Halle, Milla, and Anysha, wearing handmade sweaters from Irina Kenderova.

Aly Pence, first grade teacher, in silhouette

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 11:20 am | Posted under Events, History, Photos | Comments Off

Golden Crust serves up holiday pies

Jessica Sennett and Lizzy Myers, two “pie masterminds” as they like to call themselves, have started up a new business here in the neighborhood called Golden Crust, offering scrumptious homemade pies for any occasion.

With the holidays upon us, here’s your chance to take one task off your to-do list. The ladies are offering pies of all kinds for the holidays, including traditional flavors with a bit of a twist. Their holiday menu:

Pecan and Mandarin – $20
Meyer Lemon Meringue – $20
Cafe au Chocolat with Caramelized Hazelnuts – $20
Upside Down Caramelized Pear and Quince Tart – $18
Sweet Potato Bourbon – $15
Pumpkin Bourbon – $15
Apple Medley with Lattice Crust- $20

Prices vary due to the expense of ingredients and labor, and if needed, they can bake a vegan option for you too.

Golden Crust is now taking Christmas orders. Just email them at thegoldencrust@gmail.com with your name, address, phone number and what pie(s) you would like. You can pick up your order the evening of December 23rd or on the afternoon of the 24th at both Inner Richmond and Bernal Heights locations.

Thanks to the Green Apple Blog for the golden tip.

Sarah B.

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 6:12 am | Posted under Business, Food | 2 comments

Driftwood sculpture opening at Table Asia Gallery, Dec. 17

Table Asia Gallery will host a reception for the opening of “Art of Nature: Driftwood Sculpture Art” on Thursday, December 17th from 5pm – 8pm.

The reception kicks off an exhibition of work by Michael David Green or “Forest”, as he prefers to be called. He’s known for creating sculptures that combine gorgeous found driftwood with his unique process of adding polychrome gold.

Come out to meet the artist and see some unusual, naturalistic art. The gallery tells us “you’ve probably never seen anything quite like this”.

Table Asia Gallery is located at 1101 Lake Street at 12th Avenue.

Sarah B.

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 6:29 pm | Posted under Art, Events | Comments Off

Meet David Greco, our neighborhood Indie musician

“The Art of Disassembly” is a new album by David Greco, a resident here in the Outer Richmond. I first encountered Dave when I saw him perform at the Bazaar Cafe’s “Bazaar Stock” festival back in May. So I jumped at the chance to interview him for the blog.

The Art of Disassembly contains just five tracks, but it’s enough for a glimpse into Dave’s self-exploration of past relationships. Three of the songs are about ex-girlfriends and as Dave describes it, “The theme of this album unfolded over time, it gradually became obvious that the songs all spoke of moving toward contentment through deconstruction.”

Deconstructing what went wrong, where he faltered and what he needs to move forward to make his marriage thrive. In “This Won’t Come Up Void”, written for his wife, Dave sings “So here’s my next accomplishment, to be someone you won’t remember, to burn away the rusted chards to see what can emerge from all the smoke and embers”.

I asked him how his wife feels about some of the tracks being about ex-girlfriends. “I think it’s kind of weird to dwell on it but at the same time, it’s all just kind of inspiration. You pull from your own life and that history.”

But Dave gets a little taste of his own medicine too. “My wife is an actor. I get to write songs about past girlfriends and I have to watch her kiss boys on stage.”

Dave grew up in Portland and at age 14, moved to Denver, Colorado. He proudly admits that “Hanging Tough” by the New Kids on the Block was one of his favorite early songs (“I’m a Jordan man”), and in high school, joined a cover band where he sang lead vocals.

But eventually Dave picked up the guitar, wanting to take the band to the next level with their own songwriting. He taught himself with an EZ Beatles guitar book, thinking “I’ll learn how to write from the best.” To this day, he cites the Beatles as his favorite band and greatest influence. He even named one of his dogs Paul McCartney (his wife shot down “Ringo” as a name).

Vascillating between drawing comic books and making music, Dave eventually chose the latter and recorded his first record when he was still a teenager. You won’t find it on any store shelves; Dave refers to it as “not a real record”. But it would set the stage for his future career.

“The Art of Disassembly” comes four years after his first album. Dave says his second effort “is more who I am, me kind of growing up as a writer,” further adding that getting married and moving to California has given him “a whole new perspective on things”.

In true Beatles fashion, Dave got a little help from his friends on the album. While growing up in Denver, he lived across the street from a kid named David Welsh. Fast forward to today and you’ll find Welsh playing guitar for the breakout band, The Fray, who have topped the charts this year after their single “How to Save a Life” was used by the television show Grey’s Anatomy.

When Welsh and Fray drummer Ben Wysocki offered to do what they could to help him with his sophomore effort, Dave took them up on the offer. They recorded Art of Disassembly in Denver where The Fray is based. “We used a bunch of their gear because they’ve got more money than I have. Thank you Grey’s Anatomy!” Dave jokes.

When it comes to The Fray’s story, Dave probably feels a bit like Pete Best, often referred to as the “Fifth Beatle”. Just after moving from Denver to Phoenix for a short time, Dave’s friends joined The Fray and the rest is history.

“It was pretty funny to move away and watch my friends explode,” Dave recalls. But he says “it’s cool to see your friends make it and cheer them on. And cool that they come alongside me and support me on my new album”.

Even without the fame and fortune his friends have found, Dave makes his living as a full-time musician. “I hustle and figure out how to make it work.” Before coming to the Bay Area, he played with other bands but recently, has been working on just his own stuff.

In addition to playing bars, cafes and house shows around the area, Dave gives back by playing shows like November’s Abolitionists (in the round), a benefit for International Justice Mission, a human rights agency.

Like many musicians today, Dave has had to rely on his own ingenuity and independent spirit to get his music heard. Record labels are a dying breed, so Dave relies on his people skills and talent to keep things going. But that’s ok, as it’s more fitting to who he is as a musician and a person.

“I’m so organic in my nature that my tendency is to sell out of my trunk as long as I can,” he says. When asked if he wants his career to explode like his friends in The Fray, he doesn’t outright say no, but adds “I like that I have my roots here and my music is here, it doesn’t have to be all over the place”.

Dave also says that being on a record label is not as glamorous as it sounds. “I have a number of friends who are signed to labels and with the exception of a couple of them, everyone is really unhappy and really underpaid.”

When Dave isn’t making music, you might find him walking his two German short-haired pointers out on Ocean Beach or in Golden Gate Park. His other favorite neighborhood spots include Beach Chalet restaurant (“The burgers are unbelievable”), Pizzetta (“Whenever we want to treat ourselves, we end up there”), and Green Apple Books. “My wife’s a big reader so she loves to look at the books and I like to look at the records.”

Click below to listen to a couple of tracks from Dave’s new album “The Art of Disassembly”. Then head over to his website to download the full album. In keeping with Dave’s independent spirit, you can get it for free by telling five friends about the album, or by naming your own price for the download.

This Won’t Come up Void from The Art of Disassembly | by David Greco

Who Loves Ya from The Art of Disassembly | by David Greco

Dave is taking some time off for the holidays but mark you calendar for February 27 – he’s on the bill for the second Bazaar Stock. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Special thanks to Dave for talking to the blog. We wish you great success (but not too much success). ;)

Sarah B.

Watch part of Dave’s performance at Bazaar Stock in May:

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 6:30 am | Posted under Music | 2 comments