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New underground, emergency water cistern being installed on Funston at Geary

The new cistern under construction at Funston and Geary

We’ve been meaning to mention this for months, as anyone living in the inner Richmond has probably run into the block of Funston between Geary and Clement being mostly closed to traffic.

The closure is due to the installation of a new underground cistern, which is part of the SFFD’s emergency water system. Cisterns are marked around the city with brick circles or squares embedded in the street, demarcating the tanks. There are about 180 cisterns across the city at regular intervals, ready for use in the event of a fire emergency.

A cistern is enormous, holding about 75,000 gallons of water on average. The cisterns are completely independent of San Francisco’s domestic water system. They were built in 1913 in response to the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire, and the network consists of a 135-mile pipeline network, a high-elevation reservoir with two large-capacity tanks, two pumping stations, fireboats, underground water storage tanks (cisterns), and Bay water intakes (suction connections).

The emergency system delivers water at much higher pressures and is also able to use unlimited water from the Bay. The network can be used as the secondary defense against fires in the event the domestic water system fails. The system and its core facilities are used throughout the year by SFFD to fight multiple-alarm fires like the large one at Mission Bay earlier this year.

Inside an empty San Francisco underground cistern. Photo by Robin Scheswohl

Not including this new one, there about 10 cisterns in the Richmond District at locations like California and Funston, Balboa and 34th Avenue, and Geary and 46th Avenue. See a map of San Francisco’s cisterns

The Exploratorium made an interesting video about the cisterns, how they work and their history in San Francisco. Check it out below.

Much of the funding for additional cisterns (and upgrades to the existing system) comes from the 2010 and 2014 Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bonds.

We don’t know when the cistern on Funston will be completed, but at least we know that in the event of a massive fire, we’ve got good backup.

Sarah B.

An existing cistern at Funston and California Streets

Cisterns in the Richmond District. See a map of San Francisco’s cisterns

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 4:13 am | Posted under Fire | 8 comments

Annual “Old Car Picnic” event returns to Golden Gate Park this Saturday

Back in April, we reported on the demise of Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic, a 25+ year tradition in Golden Gate Park that decided to call it quits after escalating permit fees and frustrating dealings with SF Rec & Park.

Now, two fans of the car show have decided to revive the tradition. The event has been renamed “Old Car Picnic” and will feature the same attractions as past shows, namely a wide variety of vintage vehicles from pre-1987.

Old Car Picnic will be held at Hellman Hollow (formerly Speedway Meadow) on Saturday, October 18 from 7am until 4pm. Vintage car, truck and motorcycle owners can display their vehicle simply by driving into the venue in the morning and paying the entry fee (Cars & trucks $40, motorcycles $20). Note: no vehicles larger than 3/4 ton pickup.

And for the first time ever, the Old Car Picnic also invites vintage bicycle owners to display. The entry fee for bikes is $10.

Proceeds from the event go towards two organizations that benefit developmentally disabled children – Pomeroy Center and Potrero Hill House.

We spoke with one of the organizers, Eric Johnson, via email about his relationship to past picnics.

“Our group mainly consists of former picnic organizers and workers, some from recent years and some whose involvement goes back to the 90’s. We do intend for the event to continue on an annual basis,” Eric said.

Eric said the permit fees for this year’s Old Car Picnic “are pretty much the same as last year”, and that Rec & Park “made it clear that they didn’t want a brand new event in the park, they would allow it only if it was a continuation of the existing event, so we aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel here.”

Jamie O’Keefe, daughter of the Jimmy O’Keefe who managed the original event, told us, “Though I’m not directly involved in organizing, I’ve been helping this new crew with their questions.”

Jamie is fully supportive of the event and is happy to see the tradition being continued by its fans.

Admission to Old Car Picnic to view the cars, trucks and bikes on display is completely free, so bring your friends and family out to this great tradition in Golden Gate Park. And don’t forget to pack a picnic!

Sarah B.

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 5:02 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park | 8 comments

Local links: New veggie cafe, free Academy days, Mt. Lake update & more

“Sweet Soul Dream” by Thomas Hawk

  • A new healthy cafe is coming to the neighborhood called Nourish Cafe, according to EaterSF. The cafe will feature fresh juices and smoothies, big salads, sandwiches, soups, healthy baked goods and more. The cafe, which includes the blog’s Sarah B. as a co-owner, is currently running a Kickstarter campaign if you want to learn more or lend your support.
  • This Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 17-19), the California Academy of Sciences is offering free admission to residents of the 94118 and 94121 codes. Each visiting adult is limited to six children for free entry, and each adult must show a valid photo ID with proof of residency. See the San Francisco Neighborhood Free Weekends info on the calacademy.org website for more information. And if you want to go free in 2015, mark March 13, 14, 15 on the calendar.
  • Interested in the state of Mountain Lake? Then don’t miss the Invasive Fish Eradication and Future Restoration Plans public meeting on Thursday, October 16 at 6:30pm at The Observation Post (211 Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio, near the Transit Center). Learn about upcoming plans for Mountain Lake. Presidio Trust staff will discuss the installation of an aeration system, plans for eradication of remaining invasive fish, planting Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV), reintroduction of native plant and animal species, and restoration of the East Arm as a wetland. Following the presentation, a panel of staff, project partners, and issue experts will answer questions.
  • Remember the change to city code that shifted the responsibility for the care of street trees onto the adjacent homeowners? A couple of supervisors now say it’s unworkable and unsafe, and they’re working to overturn the original decision.
  • The Richmond District Neighborhood Center has a new grocery delivery program for seniors and they’re looking for qualified candidates. If you know a Richmond District senior in need of the program as well as volunteers who are interested in helping out a neighbor, please contact Sarah Huck at sarah@rvbeacon.org or call (415) 750-8554.
  • The Internet Archive is hosting their annual celebration on October 28 from 6pm to 9pm. Stop by their headquarters at Funston and Clement to learn more about what they do, listen to audio, play video games from the 1980’s, check out new tools they’ve created to organize their archives and make them accessible, and enjoy some food, wine and presentations. It’s a free event but RSVP’s are appreciated.
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 5:02 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park, Museums | 6 comments

It was burgers, pizza and ice cream at the 2014 LEAP Sandcastle Contest

The winning sand sculpture from Rooftop Elementary School

The 2014 LEAP Sandcastle Contest took place on Ocean Beach last Saturday. The contest pairs elementary school classes with professional contractors, engineers and architects to design a sandcastle that gets built on the day of the event.

The theme this year was “Food, Glorious Food” and after touring the sand sculptures, it was clear what’s on the mind of hungry kids – pizza, hamburgers, candy and ice cream. Not to mention sculptures of a few porky pigs meeting their demise.

Rooftop Elementary School took top honors this year for their Candyland sand sculpture. We also liked the “Food Map of San Francisco” by Skyline Elementary of Daly City which showcased the known foods of different city neighborhoods such as pizza for North Beach, a taco for the Mission, and sushi for Japantown.

Congratulations to all the schools and businesses that participated – it was another great year!

Sarah B.

The model created for Rooftop’s Candyland sculpture

A “hot dog” along with ketchup and mustard dispensers

Some hungry hippos

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 5:12 am | Posted under Events, Ocean Beach, Photos | 1 comment

Police Blotter – Oct. 10, 2014 | Nitrous dealer at HSB tries to claim his property

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of October 2, 2014. To be added to the station's mailing list, email sfpdrichmondstation@sfgov.org.]

It’s a scenario that happens hundreds of times a day at amusement parks all across the world. You’re walking along with your family or group, young child in hand, but when you look down a minute later, alas, he or she is gone! You suspect they’ve run off into the large crowd and begin to panic.

How to avoid the panic.

Before you go, explain to your children what they should do if they get separated at any time from you or their guardians.

Tell them to find a uniformed park employee and explain to them that they have been parted from their group. Make it clear that it is NOT okay to ask or follow strangers for help, even if they do look friendly. Have them explain to the employee (or security officer) their name, your names and where they got lost.

Write your mobile phone number on a sticker and fix it to the inside of their shirt. If you don’t have a sticker, write it on paper and put it in their pocket. Tell them to give it to a uniformed staff member if they get lost.

Use your camera or cell phone and take a picture of your children when you arrive at the park. This way you will have a current picture with you.

Make sure everyone in your group, including parents and older siblings, are wearing the same bright, recognizable clothing. Bold orange or yellow shirts will work fine for this purpose. Avoid wearing dark colors as these will make you and your children blend in easily with the crowd, and avoid putting your child’s name on it. This will make it easy for strangers to call them out and take your child with them.

Bring along a way to communicate with your kids. You can give older siblings a cell phone (just make sure they know your number). Younger kids can benefit from the use of a walkie-talkie to keep in touch with you should they get lost. Show them how to use it and explain that it is not a toy, but a way to reunite if you do get separated.

Find a place to designate as your ‘meeting spot’ if someone from the group is separated, once you arrive at the amusement park. Crowded, commonly designated areas like the front gates of the park or at a bench next to a popular attraction are not good meeting spaces as they will be very crowded at all times of the day and relatively unsafe for a young child to be sitting at alone. Instead, choose a less popular area to meet up, like at the security booth or next to the restaurant where you plan to eat. This will make it easier to find a lost child.

Remember to stay together at all times. You probably won’t mind letting older kids go off on their own for a while (as long as they keep in touch via cell phone), but younger children should hold your hand and stay with you as you walk through the park. Keep a firm grip to prevent your child from slipping away. In especially large, crowded events, it might be better to safely fasten your child in a stroller or carrier instead of allowing them to walk, lessening the chances of being separated.

Follow us on

On10/02/2014, at 12:09 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Chain of Lakes in Golden Gate Park observed a male know to them as having an active felony warrant. The male was taken into custody without incident.

On 10/02/2014, at 1:27 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Sutter and Pierce St. observed a vehicle with expired registration. The officers contacted the driver who stated that his wife neglected to take care of registration and he was unaware it was out of date. A computer check revealed that the driver’s license had also expired in January. This time the driver did not blame his wife and was cited for the registration and driving on the expired license.

On 10/02/2014, at 11:14 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Steiner and Geary Boulevard observed two males in what appeared to a narcotics “hand to hand” transaction. The officers contacted the males and were able to determine that one of the males had two outstanding warrants for his arrest. The male was later booked at the county jail on the warrants.

On 10/03/2014, at about 4:00 pm, Officers were advised by security at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival that there were two males selling “Hits” balloons filled with “Nitrous Oxide.” When officers arrived in the area they were unable to locate the males but did recover two backpacks filled with balloons and “Nitrous” canisters. The officers seized the bags to later book at the station for safekeeping. While starting the found property report another group of officers were contacted by a male who reported that his back packs had been stolen. When the male was reunited with his property (which he identified immediately) he was cited for the violations. All the recovered property was booked as property for safekeeping.

On 10/04/2014, at 8:45 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of 3rd and Cornwall St. observed a vehicle making an unsafe turn. The officers contacted the driver and were able to identify him via his passport. A computer query revealed that the driver was suspended and revoked from driving for prior violations. The driver was cited at the scene.

On 10/04/2014, at 11:00 pm, Officers responded to a report of a vehicle driving in an unsafe and erratic manner in the area of Balboa and Funston St. Officers were able to contact the driver found the driver appeared to be driving under the influence. The officers initiated a DUI investigation which resulted in the arrest of the driver. The driver was later booked at the county jail.

On 10/06/2014, at 1:50 am, Officers on patrol in the area of the 4600 block of Geary Blvd observed a male in a parked four door sedan acting in a suspicious manner. A computer check on the vehicle revealed that it was reported stolen out of Pacifica. As the officers approached the vehicle, the driver exited and attempted to walk away. The officers detained the suspect without incident and recovered various burglary tools in the vehicle. The male was booked at county on multiple felony charges.

On 10/06/2014, at 10:07 am, Officers on patrol in the area of Park Presidio and Funston St. observed a vehicle driving 20 mph over the speed limit. The officers contacted the driver regarding the violation and discovered they did not have a current license. The license had expired and the driver had failed to renew it. The driver was cited for speed and driving on an expired license.

On 10/06/2014, at 3:06 pm, a male responded to Richmond Station to make a report of an aggravated assault in the area of 10th and Geary. The male stated he was working construction that day and while being driven home he was being yelled at by the owner of the company. The victim stated that he feared for his safety and asked to be dropped off on the side walk. After exiting the vehicle the victim stated the driver threw a metal level which narrowly missed him. The victim did not sustain any injury during this incident and the investigation continues.

On 10/06/2014, at 5:30 pm, Officers responded to a report of a male assaulting a female. As the officers attempted to control the situation, the male subject started to physically assault the officers at the scene. As the struggle continued the suspect bit into the left leg of one of the officers creating a sizable open wound. The suspect was eventually subdued, but not before injuring 4 officers and the initial victim in this call. One officer was transported to the California Pacific Medical Center for further treatment on their leg and is still currently unable to work due to the injury. The suspect was transported and booked at the county jail after medical evaluation.

On 10/08/2014, at 5:55 pm, Officers on patrol in the area observed a white crown Victoria with a mechanical violation. The officer’s initiated a traffic stop and contacted the driver. A computer check revealed that the driver was never issued a California drivers license. The officers cited the driver for multiple violations.

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 4:44 pm | Posted under Crime | 2 comments

LEAP’s 31st annual sandcastle contest at Ocean Beach this Saturday

The 2013 best in show gold sculpture by The Chinese Immersion School at DeAvila

This Saturday, October 11, LEAP will host their annual sandcastle contest at Ocean Beach. Every year, professional architects, contractors and designers collaborate with teams of middle school students for the contest to raise money for LEAP’s art education programs. Last year the event raised $250,000.

This year’s theme is “Food, Glorious Food”. Before the event, teams meet with students in the classroom to develop ideas based on a set theme. Plans are finalized, clay models are shaped, team structure and schedules are defined, and tasks are assigned, all in preparation for the big day. On the morning of the event, the teams and students arrive and await the whistle that signals the start of the contest. As soon as it sounds, four hours of intensive building begin.

The contest begins at 10:30am, and the public is encouraged to come out and view the final sandcastle creations around 2:30pm, when judging begins and the beach is covered with sculptures. View photos from 2013

Good luck to all the participating teams! We can’t wait to see what you create this year.

Sarah B.

The sculpture and winning signage from George Peabody Elementary School

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 4:23 am | Posted under Events, Ocean Beach | 2 comments

New fence going up around troubled property bordering Sutro Heights Park

Photo by Jason J.

We’ve written a couple of times on the blog about the troubles at the southern border of Sutro Heights Park, including one late night fire in January 2013, and the reclusive resident who lives adjacent to the park.

For several years, the adjoining property – more specifically the fence surrounding it – has been neglected. Homeless encampments have often found refuge within the fence boundaries, sometimes starting campfires.

The home (and the one next to it) is occupied by a Wing King, a licensed physician who last practiced endoscopy at UC San Francisco. In March 2013 the Examiner wrote a story about King and his house woes, which included multiple fires on the property since 2004, false 911 calls, and lawsuits related to his business dealings. When a fire does break out, it’s challenging for SFFD as they have to access the location from down below on Balboa Street.

But to the delight of some neighbors and park users, improvements are being made to King’s property which should help prevent further issues with homeless encampments.

Earlier this year, a chain link fence was installed along the western edge of the property that borders the trail that runs up from Balboa Street into the park’s south side.

And last week, we received the above photo from reader Jason J., who noticed private contractors were installing a new fence on the property’s north side.

“I was pleased to see that workers are repairing the horrible fence on the Dr. King property,” Jason wrote to us. “Perhaps this sort of positive event happens every few decades. Better late than never.”

In March of last year, the city tried to address King’s property neglect by giving him 15 days to prove that the homes are occupied or he faced penalties of up to $7,000 per home. We don’t know what happened with the case, and it’s unclear if these latest improvements are a result of city or legal pressure.

Whatever the impetus, let’s hope this prevents further homeless encampments and issues from arising.

Sarah B.

A diagram showing where the SFFD set up at 48th and Balboa to tackle the 2013
fire that broke out. The red line illustrates the path they took with their
hoses to fight the blaze.

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 5:12 am | Posted under Parks | 4 comments

“Spooky San Francisco” event at the Balboa Theater, Halloween night

If trick or treating ain’t your thing on Halloween and you can’t find a costume party to attend, head over to the Balboa Theater for “Spooky San Francisco”, featuring a documentary about the city’s cemetery history plus short films and other surprises.

The event, hosted by the Western Neighborhoods Project, will screen “A Second Final Rest: The History of San Francisco’s Lost Cemeteries” from filmmaker Trina Lopez. The film looks at the early cemeteries that were spread throughout western San Francisco in what is now Laurel Heights, Rossi Park, Lincoln Park Golf Course, and the Legion of Honor. View photos of the old cemeteries

A Second Final Rest is a story of spooks, a truth stranger than that which many can imagine. It hearkens back to the film Poltergeist with its famous line that goes something like “They moved the tombstones, but they forgot to move the bodies!” But it also speaks to the dreams of a restless world and the desire to leave a mark in it before we depart. Whether there is room for the living and the dead to coexist as the years pass remains to be seen. I hope A Second Final Rest generates more questions than it answers, and reminds viewers to ponder humankind’s effects upon the earth now and after death, and to appreciate life while there’s still time. [trinalopez.com]

The evening begins at 7pm on October 31, and tickets are $10 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and children. You can purchase tickets online at the WNP website (which we recommend because the event will most likely sell out in advance).

Sarah B.

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 5:02 am | Posted under Events, History | Add comments