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Photos: Tree falls on Funston, damages car and bicycle

Photo by Benton R.

A large tree uprooted itself and fell over on Funston Avenue near Clement Street around 4:15pm on Sunday afternoon.

A reader passing by when it happened heard “a large crack and thump” as the tree fell over onto a parked SUV, also knocking off the bicycle that was on its rear rack. The tree fell well into the street, blocking traffic. No one was injured in the incident.

SFPD and a Park Ranger arrived on the scene, trying to locate the owner of the vehicle. As of 5:15pm, the tree is still being cleared from the street.

Falling eucalyptus are not uncommon along the Park Presidio beltway. One fell near Geary in May 2013 and a giant one crushed a car in 2009.

Sarah B.

Photo by Benton R.

Photo by Benton R.

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 5:18 pm | Posted under News | 8 comments

WNP History Minute: Army camps and race tracks in the early Richmond District

Did you know that the Richmond District was the stop-over point for troops on their way to the Philippines during the Spanish-American War? And that their camp was in the middle of a race track that was in the inner Richmond? Check out the latest history minute above from Western Neighborhoods Project to get the scoop!

Sarah B.

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 11:15 am | Posted under History, Video | Add comments

Beach at Mountain Lake closed due to algae bloom; steer clear of water

This week, the Presidio Trust closed off access to the small beach at Mountain Lake due to an occurrence of Blue-Green algae (Microscystis aeruginosa) in the lake, which has the potential to have adverse effects on human and animal health.

The full statement on the closure is below, sent out by Michael Boland, Chief of Planning, Park Projects, and Programs for the Presidio Trust.

In the meantime, keep your pooches on leash and your kiddos nearby, away from the water in the lake.

Sarah B.


As you may be aware, a large algae bloom is currently occurring in Mountain Lake. Annual summertime algae blooms occur in many water bodies around California and historically at Mountain Lake. Blooms are typically caused by a combination of excess nutrients, warmer temperatures and ample sunlight, and may last several months.

We expected a significant bloom at Mountain Lake this summer due to the recent above average temperatures and the amount of suspended nutrients in the water resulting from the recent dredging of the lake bottom. The current bloom is expected to dissipate in the fall. However we recently identified a type of Blue-Green algae (Microcystis aeruginosa), which has the potential to have adverse effects on human and animal health, in the lake. Out of an abundance of caution and to ensure the safety of park visitors and their pets, we are going to restrict access to the beach until this algae bloom subsides. This morning Trust crews temporarily closed off the access to the Mountain Lake beach, and we will be installing signage by the end of the day. Today we also plan to send an email to the Mountain Lake mailing list to be sure we get the word out broadly.

As you know, we are in the midst of ongoing work on a number of restoration projects at the lake including installation of an aeration system, eradication of invasive fish, replanting of submerged aquatic vegetation, and reintroductions of native plant and animal species. All of these measures will improve the health of the lake and help reduce the likelihood of large algae blooms in the future.

We will keep you informed on the safety of the lake as conditions progress and notify you when the beach is ready to reopen.


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 4:30 am | Posted under Parks, Pets | Add comments

Police Blotter – August 28, 2014

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of August 28, 2014. We've been told that the station has been flummoxed by a new email system, so the blotter is not currently being emailed every week, only posted to the station's Facebook page. To be added to the station's mailing list for future deliveries, email sfpdrichmondstation@sfgov.org.]

The officers of Richmond Station are committed to traffic safety which is why you often read about them making arrests for driving with a suspended or expired license in our weekly newsletters. Not surprisingly, a 2012 study by the California DMV noted that suspended and unlicensed drivers are more dangerous than drivers with a valid license. The study found that suspended and unlicensed drivers are almost three times as likely to cause a fatal collision.

When SFPD officers cite a person who is driving with a suspended or expired license (or who has never had a license), they do not let that person drive off. There are three options for what happens next: The car can be parked, a licensed driver can drive the car away, or the car can be towed.

In cases like this, the law and SFPD policy allow an officer to tow the vehicle only when one or more of the following factors are present:

1. The vehicle is parked illegally or is a traffic hazard.
2. There is a risk of theft or vandalism if the vehicle is left at the scene.
3. There is a likelihood of immediate unlawful operation of the vehicle.

We will do our best to deal with dangerous drivers, but they are out there so be careful!

On 08/24/2014, at 1:13 am, Officers responded to the area of 36th and Anza regarding a reported assault. Upon arrival the officers saw a male laying on the sidewalk bleeding. The officers rendered aid until a medical unit arrived on scene. The male was unsure what had transpired and had initially thought he had been shot in the head or hit with a bottle. The victim was returning from a night out when he was assaulted by 3 males. A witness had observed the 3 males exit a grey Ford Expedition and then proceed west on Anza from 36th Ave. A short time later the 3 males returned and got into the waiting vehicle which was driven by a fourth suspect. The witness continued on Anza Street and discovered the male victim lying on the ground. The victim discovered that his phone was missing and did not appear to have suffered any further loss. SFFD Medics treated the victim at the scene and then transported him to St. Mary’s for further attention. The investigation continues…

On 08/25/2014, at 1:23 am, Officers on regular patrol in the area of the 3500 Block of California St. observed a male who the officers knew had an outstanding warrant. The male was known to the officers through multiple prior contacts. The officers arrested the male and while continuing their investigation discovered a quantity of possible Methamphetamine in baggies along with a measuring scale. The male was booked at county jail for possession of methamphetamine, possession for sales and the warrant.

On 08/23/2014, at 12:45 am, Officers on regular patrol in the area of Balboa and 12th Ave. observed a vehicle fail to stop at a posted stop sign. The vehicle went through the limit line at about 10-15 m.p.h.. The officers followed the vehicle and contacted the female driver. They saw that the driver showed the objective signs of intoxication so they initiated a D.U.I. investigation. The driver was later booked at the county jail for D.U.I..

On 08/22/2014, at 4:35 pm, Officers responded to the area of Geary and Masonic regarding a report of male possibly vandalizing vehicles in the area. Upon arrival in the area the officers spotted a male who matched the description provided by the dispatcher. The officers contacted the male and were able to find out he was on current probation. The officers discovered the male was in possession of burglary tools and various electronic items. While conducting their investigation they were approached by a citizen who stated that he was the victim of an auto burglary which had just occurred. As the victim described the stolen items, the officers realized that the detained suspect was in possession of matching items. A further independent witness was able to point out the suspect as the person he saw breaking into the victims vehicle. When the victim was shown a recovered Ipad mini he was able to provide proof that he was in fact the owner of the item. The suspect was later booked at the county jail on multiple felony charges.

On 08/23/2014, at 6:14 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Geary and Arguello Blvd saw a female park in a disabled parking space and walk towards a nearby store. The officers parked their vehicle next to the disabled spot and saw a parking placard hanging from the mirror. A short time later the officer saw the female walking back towards her vehicle. When the female made eye contact she transitioned from a normal walk to a heavy right side limp. The female stated the placard was issued to her mother and further stated that her mother was in the store which she had just left. The officer offered to escort the female back to the store in an effort to contact the placards owner. On hearing this the female then told the officer that her mother was not in the in the store but was in fact at home. The female was cited for placard misuse and the placard confiscated.

On 08/27/2014, at 8:10 am, Officers observed a Volkswagen Jetta fail to stop at a posted stop sign at Euclid and Heather. The officers contacted the driver and a computer query revealed that the driver was driving on an expired license. The driver was cited for both violations.

On 08/27/2014, at 11:00 pm, Officers responded to the 3600 Block of Washington Street regarding a report of a missing person. The officers interviewed the reportee and were directed to the Crissy Field area as a location which the missing person frequented. As these officers were searching for the missing male other officers were calling around other locations in an effort to make contact. Later that night officers contacted the male at his home and were told there were no problems or issues. The male had forgotten his phone and not checked in with his mother after making prior plans to meet her.

On 08/21/2014, at 4:52 pm, Officers saw a Silver Impala driving in the area of 8th and California with paper plates. The officers stopped the vehicle and contacted the driver who was later determined to be driving on a suspended license. The driver was cited for multiple violations.

On 08/26/2014, at 5:25 pm, Officers responded to the 300 block of Arguello Blvd. regarding a known parolee who had a warrant issued for his arrest. The officers contacted the parolee at his listed home and made an arrest without incident.

On 08/26/2014, at 11:00 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of 16th and Geary observed a vehicle which was driving in an unsafe manner. The officers followed the vehicle for a number of blocks and observed further violations so they pulled the vehicle over. When the officers contacted the driver they noted the distinct smell of marijuana and that the driver was showing signs of alcohol intoxication. The officers initiated a D.U.I. investigation and later booked the driver for the D.U.I. and various other violations.

On 08/28/2014, at 12:35 pm, Officers contacted a male regarding traffic code violation. When the officers conducted a records check they were advised the male had a warrant for his arrest. The male was arrested without further incident.

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 3:54 pm | Posted under Crime | 3 comments

Video: Green Apple takes on the ALS ice bucket challenge

Our friends at Green Apple Books were challenged by the Harvard Book Store to take the ALS ice bucket challenge. In typical fashion, the guys at Green Apple did it a little differently – and with the help of Mergatroid, the store’s mascot.

Sarah B.

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 5:04 am | Posted under Video | 2 comments

MAFIA Bags opens manufacturing space and showroom on Clement Street

Marcos and Paz Mafia, siblings and owners of Mafia Bags

While the Richmond District is known best for its abundance of restaurants, it’s also home to a handful of manufacturing businesses like Paul’s Hat Works, Anzfer Farms (furniture), and our latest addition, MAFIA Bags.

MAFIA Bags was started by brother and sister team Marcos and Paz Mafia, who hail all the way from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Both grew up with a passion for water sports. Marcos became a professional kitesurfer and earned the title of Argentine Kitesurf Champion at age 22, while Paz, a few years older, pursued a corporate career.

In 2012, the two joined forces to start MAFIA Bags in their home country. The company’s products puts old sails from kiteboards, windsurfing boards and boats back into use by re-purposing them as bags and other accessories. Old sails are donated or purchased at a discount, broken and cut into pieces, and then made into handcrafted backpacks, wallets, duffel bags and more.

After getting the business off the ground in Argentina by selling wholesale and online, the duo decided it was time to expand to the US market. After looking for a place to base their US operation and raising $26,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, Marcos and Paz settled on San Francisco, locating their workroom on Clement Street near 20th Avenue.

Clement Street is ground zero for manufacturing the US MAFIA product line. Shapes are hand-cut out of old sails, cataloged, and sent off to assemblers in Los Angeles and Santa Clara for final production.

The MAFIA workroom is a burst of bright color. The old sails piled on shelves come from a variety of sources including water sportsmen, marine surplus stores and even professional water sport events.

Sails get tossed aside for a variety of reasons; they may be beyond repair or simply outdated. Whenever someone donates a sail to MAFIA, they get back a free MAFIA product of their choice made from their own sail. (If you are interested in donating a sail, contact sailsforchange@mafiabags.com)

In one corner of the shop sits a five foot tall pile of old event banners from the 2014 US Open Surfing Championship that took place a few weeks ago. Event sponsor VANS enlisted MAFIA Bags to re-purpose the banners into bags for a follow-up campaign.

Posted on the wall is the weekly “to do” spreadsheet, showing how many of each product part needs to be cut and prepared in the Clement Street workroom by the MAFIA team of four. Another wall board shows the color combinations for each product.

Marcos is the CEO and design lead for the company while Paz holds the title of CFOO, handling finances and operations. Both of them have infectious, passionate personalities.

“The ocean and outdoors have brought me good fortune and such happiness throughout my entire life,” said Marcos who continues to compete as a professional kitesurfer. “The purity of our special environment inspires me, and the entire MAFIA family, every single day. MAFIA Bags is our way of returning nature the favor.”

At the front of the Clement Street space are some corrugated displays showing off the MAFIA product line. Wallets straddle small pegs, colorful rucksacks hang off the sides, and bright backpacks are perched on top. Every MAFIA item is handcrafted, incorporating different sail pieces into a single item, all water-resistant. Even the smallest parts of the sails are used, like the keychains that are re-purposed from small pieces of neoprene.

Back in Argentina, the bestseller is MAFIA’s Discover Pack which is a useful, all-purpose backpack that is both sturdy and lightweight. The company is also working on some new products that they think will appeal to US customers, like a laptop bag.

So far Marcos and Paz are loving their new life in San Francisco. While Paz admits the foggy weather was “a bit difficult at first”, they can’t imagine being anywhere else. She first visited the city when she was 15, and Marcos for the first time in 2013.

“We love Golden Gate Park, the beach, everything is so close to our house,” Paz said.

Marcos and Paz both regularly kite surf at Ocean Beach and bike around the city. They list Pizzetta and Bazaar Cafe as some of their favorite places in the neighborhood. When friends come to visit, they take them to the Cliff House for a drink overlooking the ocean.

They’ve also made friends with nearby businesses like the Clement Nursery across the street. “We love those guys!” Marcos hopes to have a street fair of sorts where businesses in the outer Clement area can all open their doors and welcome in neighbors.

MAFIA is currently manufacturing inventory for their first three months of sales, which includes the rewards for their Kickstarter funders and sail donors. They’re focused on finding resale partners like design stores, surf shops and museums to carry MAFIA products, and getting their online store ready to open in October. MAFIA products will range in price from $30 up to $190, and include a lifetime guarantee.

We’ll keep you posted on the online debut of MAFIA Bags in the US. And if you run into Marcos or Paz, be sure to welcome them to the neighborhood!

Sarah B.

Shelves of old sails from kitesurfing, windsurfing and sailing

The small bins where the hand-cut sail pieces are stored

Wallets and small sacks made by MAFIA Bags

A backpack and the popular Discover Pack made by MAFIA Bags

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 5:02 am | Posted under Business | 6 comments

Police Blotter – August 22, 2014

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of August 22, 2014. To be added to the station's mailing list, email sfpdrichmondstation@sfgov.org.]

I am pleased to announce that two officers from Richmond Station are being promoted to sergeant next week. Officer Tom McWilliams and Officer Will Heppler have been key members of the plainclothes unit here at the station and have been responsible for many great investigations and apprehensions over the last few years. We wish them all the best and we congratulate them on their well deserved promotions!

Please also make note of a new phone scam that is making the rounds. You can get full details on the scam here. The danger to consumers is not in receiving the call, but in calling back. Scammers let the phone ring once and then hang up, prompting a missed call notification on phones. When an intended victim returns the call, police say they hear a message like “You’ve reached the operator, please hold,” while being slammed by a hefty per-minute charge on top of an international rate. Police say the calls come from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that look like they are from within the U.S., but are actually associated with international phone numbers. The area codes used by scammers include 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

On 08/14/2014, at 5:06 pm, Officers responded to 17th and Geary regarding a male taking off his clothing in the street. Officers contacted the male and during their investigation discovered the male had a warrant for his arrest. The male was booked at county jail.

On 08/14/2014, at 2:02 am, Officers on patrol in the area of Fulton and 4th Ave. saw a vehicle complete an unsafe U-turn over double yellow lines. The officers stopped the vehicle and contacted the driver who stated he was driving his friend’s home. Officers smelled alcohol coming from the vehicle and started a DUI investigation. Subsequently the male was arrested for DUI and booked into Jail.

On 08/16/2014, at 6:20 am, Officers responded to Turk and Beaumont regarding a reported robbery. The female victim in this incident stated she was walking east on Turk St. between Beaumont and Parker when a suspect approached her from behind. The female was wearing “earbuds” and listening to music at the time. The suspect grabbed her by the arm, spinning hher around and then grabbed her Iphone. The suspect fled on foot west on Turk St. The victim refused medical attention and the investigation continues….

On 08/17/2014, at 9:12 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Fulton and 6th Ave. saw a vehicle with expired registration tabs. They effected a traffic stop on the vehicle and contacted the driver. A computer check revealed the driver was suspended from driving due to a prior violation. The driver was cited for driving on a suspended license and also ticketed for the expired registration.

On 07/17/2014, at 1:13 am, Officers responded to Divisadero and Scott St. regarding a street robbery. On arrival they contacted a male and female who were victims in this incident. Both victims stated they were talking on the street in the 2500 block of Bush St., when they were passed by two males. As one of the males passed he asked “are you alright’” Both victims said they were “fine” and this is when the first suspect stepped between them and drew what is described as a black semi automatic handgun. The victims were told to hand over their belongings and they complied. The suspects fled the area in a silver vehicle. Neither victim was hurt during this incident…

On 08/17/2014, at 10:50 pm, Officers on patrol in the area of Funston and Geary saw a vehicle fail to stop at a posted stop sign. They conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and contacted the driver. A computer check revealed the driver was suspended from driving due to a prior violation. The driver was cited for failing to stop and driving on a suspended license.

On 08/17/2014, at 12:19 pm, Officers responded to a reported fight in the area of 3rd Ave. and Geary. At the scene officers during their investigation completed a records check and discovered that one of the individuals had a warrant for his arrest. The arrested person was also in possession of narcotics paraphernalia. The subject was later booked for the warrant and other violations.

On 08/16/2014, at 8:58 pm, Officers responded to an “A” priority call regarding what was reported as an intoxicated person asleep at the wheel of a vehicle. On their arrival at the 400 block of Clement St. they saw a black Mercedes which was double parked. The original caller in this incident was still in the area and pointed to the double-parked Mercedes as the vehicle they had called about. The officers positioned themselves to the rear of the double parked car and contacted the driver. The driver appeared to be “dazed” and when asked why he was double parked replied with slurred speech. The officers initiated a DUI investigation and later booked the driver for DUI at the county jail.

On 08/18/2014, at 4:06 pm, an officer on foot beat patrol in the area of Geary and 18th Ave. observed an occupied vehicle parked at an expired meter. The meter was also flashing red as the officer approached the vehicle. The officer also saw that there was a disabled placard hanging from the rearview mirror of the vehicle. The officer contacted the young male occupant who told the officer he was waiting for his grandmother to return from a nearby store. The officer was also informed that the owner of the placard would return within 5 to 10 mins. The officer waited almost 40 mins but there was no “grandmother.” What the occupant failed to realize was the officer knew the placard was issued to an elderly male. The officer cited the occupant for the meter violation and placard misuse. When the officer left the area at 5:05 pm he made note that the “grandmother” had still not returned.

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 9:32 am | Posted under Crime | 4 comments

Video: Dude, why is my car on its side?

Photo by @ericsteuer

Early Saturday morning, reader Eric S. heard a loud noise outside his house on 15th Avenue near Clement around 5:30am.

“The crash woke me up, which made me mad because I was dreaming of some seriously awesome s**t,” Eric wrote.

A woman was driving her station wagon down the street when she hit a parked car and managed to flip her vehicle on its side.

SFPD and a tow truck came, eventually putting the wagon back on its feet, which you can watch in the video below. FF to the :48 mark for the big drop.

Between this and the 6.0 quake at 3:20am on Sunday morning, Eric had some seriously fitful sleep this weekend. Hang in there, dude.

Sarah B.

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 10:43 am | Posted under Photos, Video | 14 comments