UPDATE Monday morning: One reader said that as of 6am, they were still without power. And at 8:20am, power was reported to be out again at 14th and California.
UPDATE Monday 8:58am: PG&E reports that two customers remain on generator power, but the rest are with power again. They attributed the cause of the outage to a “failed underground cable & failed overhead connector”:
@richmondsfblog Two customers remain on generator pending repairs. Two separate issues, failed underground cable & failed overhead connector
[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of February 20, 2014. To be added to the station's mailing list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.]
CAPTAIN SIMON SILVERMAN’S MESSAGE
Each week in our newsletter, we describe some of the noteworthy crimes in the Richmond District. Lots of homes and businesses have video recording systems and many people carry smart phones with cameras, so there is a chance that one of our readers has captured video of one of these crimes. If you see that there has been an incident near you and you have a video system, please take a moment to check if you have any footage that might help us. If you do, please call the station at 415-666-8000.
Our next Community meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 6pm. It will be in the Community Room, here at Richmond Station, 461 6th Ave.
On 02/13/14 at 8:30am, a city gardener and his crew were doing clean-up in the area of the Lily Pond near MLK Drive. The gardener came across a bike that was leaning up against a tent. The gardener asked the occupants of a tent if they knew who the bike belonged to. A female voice said, “Someone else.” Another occupant of the tent, a male exited with a knife in his hand a pointed it at the gardener. The suspect told him that he was going to cut him and the victim backed away. Another male told the suspect to put away the knife and the suspect did. A Golden Gate Park Ranger came upon the scene and could hear the suspect yelling obscenities. As 911 had been called, when the suspect heard the sirens he began to walk away with the ranger following. Officers arrived and detained the suspect. The 21 year old male was charged with aggravated assault and threats.
On 02/13/14 at 10:18pm, officers stopped a male who ran a red light on a bicycle at Euclid and Spruce St. They recognized him from previous contacts and determined that he was in possession of methamphetamine. He was also in possession of credit cards and identification belonging to others. One of whom had been a victim of an auto burglary on 02/01/14. The 44 year old male was charged with possession of stolen property and narcotic violations.
On 02/15/14 at 11:45pm, officers were called to a fight at 20th and Lake St. When they arrived they observed all parties on the corner, with one male bleeding from the head. They spoke to the victim who lives on the 100 block of 20th Ave. He told the officers that he was in his home and heard loud banging from his front door. When he went to check he could see that the glass on the front door was shattered and the suspect was making his way into the home. The victim grabbed a coat rack and began to strike the suspect who continued to push his way in. The victim, a 68 year old male, continued to strike the male and was able to push the suspect out of his home and down the front steps. The victim then fell down the stairs causing injuries. The victim grabbed the suspect by the collar and was able to get him to the ground. A neighbor came out and stood by with the suspect as the victim called 911. The officers attempted to speak with the suspect, however he was extremely intoxicated, incoherent and slurring his words. The victim was treated at the scene for his injuries. The 21 year old suspect was charged with vandalism and transported to a local hospital.
On 02/17/14 at 9:50pm, on the 200 block of El Camino Del Mar, the victim had just parked her car and was getting the groceries from the trunk. The suspect came up to her right side and pushed her to the ground while trying to take her bag. As the bag was slung across her body the victim pulled it off herself and handed it to the suspect who then fled with another male. A nearby witness heard the victim screaming and saw the suspects flee to a silver SUV. US Park Police were in the area and found the SUV inside the Presidio on Wedemeyer St. Two of the occupants had fled the vehicle with the driver taken into custody in the car. An extensive search was done and the two males were located. The two males, both 21 and the female driver, 19yrs, were charged with robbery and conspiracy.
On 02/18/14 at 1:42am, officers were patrolling the area of 24th and Fulton when they observed the suspect walking along the south side of Fulton. The suspect had a flashlight and a knife in a sheath on his hip. Officers stopped to talk to the male and detained him. The suspect was in possession of shaved keys and had several warrants. The suspect also had a stay away order from the area of Golden Gate Park. The 40yr old male, who was on probation, was charged with possession of burglary tools, probation violation and the warrants.
On 02/14/14 at 8:30pm the victim left his home on the 500 block of 3rd Ave. He observed 3 Hispanic males standing in the easement/alleyway on one side of his house. He asked what they were doing and did they need any help. One said, “Keep it moving, we’re having a conversation.” The victim told them they needed to leave and they started yelling at him. One of the suspects then took what appeared to be a shotgun from his pants. He told the victim that they could settle this right now. One of the other suspects took the gun away from the other and said that there were people around and they needed to go. The suspects fled west on Anza. They were described as being 18-20yrs, one wearing a red baseball cap and a gray t-shirt, the suspect with the gun was wearing a black North Face jacket and black pants. The third was wearing all dark clothing.
On 02/16/14 at 2:20am officers responded to a report of a stabbing at 3rd and Geary. The officers located two male victims but due to their injuries were unable at that time to tell the officers what happened. A witness was only able to say that he saw an Asian male punch one of the victim’s in the face several times. The group of Asian males then ran north on 3rd Ave and possibly got into a black BMW.
Between 02/17/14, 4pm and 02/18/14, 7:15am on the 300 block of Spruce St, a suspect tried to make entry into a home under construction by prying doors and windows but was unsuccessful.
Between 02/17/14, 8:15pm and 02/18/14, 6:45am on the unit block of Lupine, two different garages were entered by an unknown suspect. It appeared that by pushing on both front gates, the gate opened and then entry was made into the garage. In each an unlocked vehicle was parked inside and entered by the suspect. There was no loss in either.
On 02/18/14 at 12am, a resident of a home on the 700 block of 17th Ave happened to look out his window. He observed a white minivan stop in front of a neighbor’s home and the passenger exited the vehicle. The male went to the front door of a home under construction and forced open the front door. The minivan left but kept driving around the block. The officers arrived on scene but the suspect had fled out a back door. The neighbor could only say that the suspect was a male wearing a dark sweatshirt.
On 02/19/14 at 2:38am, the victim was walking on Euclid towards Palm Ave. The first suspect walked past her while the second crossed the street to come over to her side. She was then grabbed from behind and forced to the ground. The suspects rummaged through her pockets and took her phone, identification and cash. The suspects fled west towards Arguello. The suspects were males, one wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt.
On 02/19/14, between 9am and 12:35pm on the 2700 block of Clement St a suspect entered an apartment via the fire escape and then through an unlocked window. The suspect took cash.
Sutro Baths reimagined as a Center for the Human Spirit by Quan Nyen Tran
In 2012, Quan Nyen Tran, a student at the Academy of Art’s Graduate School of Architecture, submitted an entry to the American Institute of Architects Center for Emerging Professionals competition. In it, he re-imagined the ruins of Sutro Baths as a transformational retreat center he calls the “Center for the Human Spirit”.
What’s interesting about Tran’s design is that rather than rebuild on top of the ruins and cover them up, the center wraps around the existing pools, and uses the varied cliffs to tucks in structures and living spaces.
Tran refers to Sutro Baths as “an evocative ruin”, writing, “The evocativeness comes from a sublime coexistence of cliff, ruin and ocean – each a potential site for discovery of the human self and for an evocative architecture to house this discovery.
The center consists of three main spaces – a exhibition space, a meditation space, and a retreat – all with the goal of encouraging its visitors to treat themselves, others and nature with compassion.
The exhibition space features an ampitheater with a connecting tunnel that leads down into a bathhouse that is tucked into the side of the cliff. The meditation center is “cantilevered from an existing ledge, with steps leading down into the ocean, and takes in the view of the infinite horizon”. And finally, the retreat area is nested in the heart of the ruins, with minimal living quarters and a transparent ceiling open to the sky.
The Center for the Human Spirit was also Tran’s Master’s thesis.
“My project was ignited by a vision borrowed from Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead and the quote: “Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision.””
And while Tran’s re-imagining of our neighborhood relic wasn’t a a finalist in the 2012 AIA CEP ompetition, we think he has a winning idea here.
Earlier this week, we wrote about an alleged hit and run of a dog by a San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) squad car that took place on Saturday, February 15 at the intersection of Balboa and 6th Avenue.
Three eyewitnesses came forward to speak with us about the incident, and confirmed that the dog, a small Chihuahua, was struck and killed by a SFPD police car.
The 8 year old dog was being cared for by Casey Massam, a friend of the owner. He brought the dog around 1pm, on leash, to Cinderella Bakery, where he tied it up outside while he went in to order.
Erin Steffen was having brunch with a friend at the bakery and recalled their arrival. “The dog was cute and caught all of our attention.”
A few minutes later, the dog wiggled out of its collar and began running back towards the intersection of 6th Avenue and Balboa. Erin ran into the bakery to alert Casey while another couple got up and tried to catch the dog.
When the dog reached the northeast corner of the intersection, it darted into the street and was run over by a SFPD vehicle that was turning right onto 6th Avenue from Balboa.
“It was a police car and the driver did not stop,” Erin said. She said that the police car did not appear to be responding to an emergency call. “There were no lights or sirens.”
Just before the dog was hit and the police car turned onto 6th Avenue, the dog’s guardian came out of Cinderella Bakery.
“It was disturbing that the officer didn’t stop,” Casey said. It was likely that the SFPD vehicle was headed back to the station house, just one block further down on 6th Avenue.
Shocked at what happened, none of the witnesses were able to take note of the vehicle’s ID or chase after it.
“We all kind of froze when we saw the dog get hit,” Erin said. “It was a police car but I could not see who was in it or get any number on the car.”
A third eyewitness, who asked to not be named, went to the Richmond District Police Station soon after and filed a report, providing contact information for Casey as well as Erin. Casey received a call later that day from an officer who took his statement over the phone.
When we spoke on Tuesday with Officer Albie Esparza, Public Information Officer for the SFPD about the incident, he indicated that aside from the initial eyewitness report that was filed, no other witnesses had come forward.
But as of Saturday evening, both an eyewitness and Casey had provided statements to the station about the hit and run. As of Wednesday afternoon, Erin had not been contacted by the SFPD even though her information was included in the first report filed.
Despite these eyewitnesses coming forward, Officer Esparza wrote in an email to us, “If anyone has any information/witnessed or have video surveillance of this, they are asked to contact Richmond Police Station.”
A confusing request considering by Tuesday morning they already had a report from an eyewitness, additional details from Casey’s statement via phone, and had also received a visit from the dog’s owner who filed her own report at the Richmond station in the wee hours of Monday morning.
During that visit, the station’s desk clerk told the dog’s owner that no report had been filed and that they were unfamiliar with the incident, despite a report being filed 36 hours earlier for which Casey had received a case number.
Casey was still very distraught about the incident when we spoke to him on Wednesday, and says the dog’s owner is “taking this really hard, the dog meant everything to her.”
Despite the disturbing hit and run behavior of the officer(s) involved, Casey said “it’s tough to really place blame and be angry for what happened. They may not have noticed that they hit anything.”
“There is room to consider that the cop had no idea what he/she did, but it is hard to believe,” Erin said. “Around four people were near the intersection at the time of the incident trying to catch the dog and then immediately in the road after.”
A makeshift memorial was placed for the dog on a pole at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Balboa over the weekend. A handmade sign with the flowers read “Police SFPD Please Slow Down!!! Don’t Kill Another Puppy”.
“It was like a scene out of a movie. The timing of it all couldn’t have been more tragic,” Erin said.
More and more companies are enabling San Franciscans to get around town quickly and easily. Last year, the city implemented the Bay Area Bikeshare program, enabling point to point, short-term rides at affordable rates. And companies like ZipCar and City CarShare have been around for awhile now, making car rental close to home effortless and affordable.
Now there’s a new player in the cheap, green transportation game. Scoot Networks (scootnetworks.com), which has been in business for about a year, offers affordable rentals of electric scooters in San Francisco. Riders can pick up at one location and drop off at another for short trips, or rent the scooter for up to 48 hours (longer if you have a motorcycle license).
The latest location to open up is right here in the neighborhood near the corner of 7th and Clement. Our Scoot location houses 2-3 scooters at any given time, and can be accessed 24 hours a day.
Signing up for Scoot is easy through their website. Before you can start renting, you have to attend a useful, 45 minute orientation class with a Scoot team member. We took ours on Sunday in the parking lot on 8th Avenue near Clement, covering the basics of the Scoot app and the how-to’s of the electric scooter.
Scoot’s fleet is all electric, and the app (native for iOS, mobile web for Android) does much of the heavy lifting. Log on to the app, find an available scoot on a map of the city, and reserve it. Once you get to the pickup location, simply mount your phone into the holder (charger is included), log into the app, and tap “turn on” to power on the scooter. The scooter powers up remotely via GPS and the app shows you how much charge the scooter has, how fast you’re going etc.
Driving the scooter is easy – there’s no shifting or special controls to master. During orientation, you’re shown how to reserve your scoot, get it started, control it, park it, and when you’re done with the rental, return it to an official Scoot parking location. The app shows you where there is an available spot in the Scoot network to park.
A fully charged Scoot scooter has a range of 5-10 miles depending on your terrain, and it takes 3-5 hours for a full charge.
After completing training, our instructor Kelly advised us to follow the Scoot motto – Be safe! Be seen! Be nice! – and sent us on our way. I had a 35% charge and decided to head out to the Cliff House to see how the vehicle performed on some minor hills.
Riding a scooter is just plain fun, especially on a nice, sunny day. The scooters have a max speed of 25-30 miles per hour which when you’re riding it, feels like more than enough. I was surprised by its guts on a flat block and pleasantly surprised with its hill performance. The scooter also includes a helmet (two sizes to choose from) and a storage compartment if you need to carry some items on your ride.
The app has helpful features to keep you up to date on your scooter’s health. It displays your current charge which you can tap on to see the approximate mileage you have left. When I left 8th and Clement I had about 33% charge remaining, and after out to the Cliff House and back, was at 18%.
The app texted me when I reached 25% charge, urging me to seek out a place to recharge (tip: plugshare.com – web or app – is a great directory for such things). There are a few public charging stations in Golden Gate Park, but any standard electrical outlet will do.
Pricing for using the Scoot Network varies depending on the membership plan you choose and how many hours you keep your rental. The most basic plan is $5 per month, and the first half hour of every ride is just $3. Keep it longer than 30 minutes and the rate is $1.50 per half hour for the daytime, and $.25 for the nighttime hours. Other membership plans are available for $10 and $29 per month, with varying hourly rates.
If you get really hooked, you can rent a scooter 24/7 for $185 per month.
Like many vehicle sharing programs, you’ll find the most economy with Scoot on short, point to point rides. Maybe you don’t want to take Muni home from work so you pick up a Scoot downtown for the commute home. It does take some planning though as you want to make sure you have a Scoot location to return it to near your destination.
Daniel, another student in our orientation class, lives in the Richmond and says he is thinking about using the scooter to go back and forth to school. “It ends up costing me about the same as Muni on the short rides,” he said.
When you return your scoot, you put the helmet back in the storage compartment, plug in the charging unit, and lock the front wheel in place. Then just hit “End” in the app to conclude your rental. That puts your scooter back into the available rental network, where prospective riders can see its location and available charge.
We had a lot of fun on our scoot around the neighborhood, and could see this catching on as an easy, affordable way to get around town. Where would you scoot to?
UPDATE: Scoot Networks is offering Richmond Blog readers a discount. Signup for Scoot this week (by 2/23/14), use the promo code #RICHMONDBLOG and get $10 of riding credit.
Screenshots from the Scoot app showing available scooters in red,
a reserved scooter, and estimated miles remaining on your charge.
The 6th 7 Balboa and intersection where the dog was run over. Inset: Photo of the makeshift
memorial placed by a neighbor
Over the weekend, we received an email from a reader about a dog that was killed by a car on the corner of 6th Avenue and Balboa around 1pm on Saturday, February 15.
In the email, the reader alleged that the dog was struck by a San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) vehicle, claiming the incident “took place in plain view of a large number of people”.
The Richmond District police station is located just a couple of blocks away from the intersection at 461 6th Avenue near Geary.
On Sunday, the same reader sent us a photo of a mini memorial that was put up on the northeast corner of the intersection, featuring flowers and a handwritten sign that said “Police SFPD Please Slow Down!!! Don’t Kill Another Puppy”. The reader did not confirm if they were the memorial’s creator.
When we visited the intersection on Tuesday, only the flowers remained on the pole.
We contacted Officer Albie Esparza, Public Information Officer for the SFPD about the incident. He confirmed that a person did come to the Richmond District Police Station on Saturday, stating they allegedly saw a police car run over a Chihuahua dog.
Esparza said that per SFPD protocol, a collision report was filed and a supervisory investigation is underway to look into the incident and see if there was an officer involved.
So far, no officers have claimed to be involved in the incident, and no witnesses, including the original reporter of the incident, have identified the vehicle or the driver of the vehicle.
The station has not heard from any other witnesses nor from the dog’s owner. So it’s still unclear if the dog was run down by a SFPD vehicle, or another car altogether.
Esparza urges anyone with information about the incident to contact Richmond Police Station at 415-666-8000.
The Alexandria Theater at 5400 Geary Boulevard and 18th Avenue. And yes, we 311′d “le poop”.
Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the closing of the Alexandria Theater on the corner of Geary and 18th Avenue. The decade since its closing has been one of ongoing neighborhood blight, with the building slowly deteriorating and suffering from vandalism, as promised development plans never get underway.
The theater was opened in 1923 by Samuel Levin, a movie theater entrepreneur who was in business with his two brothers, Alex and Joseph. It was noteworthy for being the first theater to install a sloped floor for better viewing from every seat.
But the building is best known for its architectural fathers, the well-known Reid Brothers, who designed the movie house with an Egyptian theme, mixing elements of ancient Egypt, Minoan culture, and classical detailing. The brothers designed upwards of twenty movie houses in San Francisco, including the Balboa Theater.
In 1941, the theater underwent extensive remodeling and all that really remained of the original design were the stone pillars on its facade. United Artists then purchased the theater in 1976, converting it from a single screen theater into a 3-screen multiplex.
The Alexandria Theater, 1942
Interior of the theater, 1942
The theater, after struggling financially, closed on February 16, 2004 – one week after being sold to a group of investors, Alexandria Enterprises LLC, which owns it today. [SF Heritage]
Since its closing, the theater has been a source of blight for the neighborhood. A favorite for graffiti hounds, the walls along 18th Avenue and the entrance are often tagged.
Trash collected in the entrance to the theater and vagrants sometimes slept out in front of the theater under its protected alcove. Ownership resorted to erecting unsightly cyclone fencing around the front entrance, and throughout the last 10 years, trespassers have broken into the abandoned building and squatted for periods of time, one time causing a small fire.
The decaying entrance alcove to the theater, featuring a peeling, water-damaged ceiling
So what do the Alexandria owners plan to do with the aging building?
For the last few years, plans have been shared with the community for a new development on the property, which would include a 221 seat theater and commercial retail space in the theater building, and a mixed use development on the back parking lot with retail space on the ground floor, residential units above, and underground parking.
The proposed development would preserve original architectural elements of the art deco building, including the domed roof that was part of the original theater before it was sectioned off when it became a multiplex. The ornamental decoration on the facade of the theater building would also remain, including the blade sign (though the 1-2-3 numbers would be removed from the sign, an addition made in 1976).
The plans also indicate that some (or all?) of the original murals inside the building would also be preserved and on view.
But to this day, no work has started on the property. A quick search of the records at SFDBI shows that no new building, electrical or plumbing permits have been filed since the project approval came through.
“The Planning Commission’s approval is good for three years. Within that period, a building permit needs to be filed and issued. Once a permit is issued, the Department of Building Inspection or Building Department may grant extensions to start work and to complete work if the sponsor needed additional construction time,” Mary Woods of the Planning Department told us last April.
The back lot of the Alexandria Theater on 18th Avenue. The proposed redevelopment includes
building a 4 story residential building on the back lot.
Let’s not forget the illegal drama regarding the building’s plans and permits. In 2010, Jimmy Jen, a formerly licensed civil engineer, was arrested for allegedly forging the signatures and stamps of two licensed engineers on documents related to more than 100 construction projects throughout the city between 1990 and 2007, including those of the Alexandria development project.
Jen was often hired as an “expediter” for projects to move them through city approval channels more quickly. Rather than hiring a licensed engineer to review his clients’ construction projects, he allegedly impersonated unwitting engineers.
Jen’s ex-wife, Nancy Jen, was also reportedly the largest stakeholder in the Alexandria Theater project. [SF Examiner] Jen’s case went to trial in July 2013, but we were unable to find the outcome. But his wrongdoings on the Alexandria development’s paperwork did not hinder the project according to city officials.
At this point, most residents have an “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude about the Alexandria Theater redevelopment. After 10 years of neglect, it’s time for this large neighborhood landmark to be rehabilitated and put back into use.
Let’s hope that the owners and developers don’t wait until day 1,094 of their three year permit period to get started. Or worse yet, abandon the project altogether, leaving the Alexandria to continue its decade plus run as a neighborhood eyesore.