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Local links: Pho closing, Saturday events, Farmer’s Market extended & more

Even the dogs can’t help smiling at Lands End. Photo by Jonathan Fleming

While you’re trying to fathom the litany of charges in State Senator Yee’s indictment, take a moment to check out these less threatening local links:

  • No mo’ pho: Reader Chet informed us that Pho Garden (2109 Clement), home of the infamous (and nausea inducing) Pho challenge, has closed. A call to their business phone number ends in a disconnected message.
  • Looks like Clement Street’s Barley Cafe has met the same fate. Eater SF reports that after only six months, Barley (343 Clement) has called it quits. The cafe has been locked up for the past couple of weeks and a phone call goes straight to voicemail.
  • Good news for fans of the Clement Street Farmer’s Market – The market’s life has been extended for another year until June 2015. The market will also add another block beginning April 6th, so it will run from Arguello Street to 4th Avenue every Sunday from 9am until 2pm.
  • Want to help your neighbors and community in a time of crisis? Enroll in a free NERT (SFFD Neighborhood Emergency Response Team) course on Wednesday June 11, 2014 from 6:30pm-8:30pm at the Richmond Branch Library. Learn skills to be prepared for emergencies big or small, and get to know your neighbors on your block to maximize resiliency after a disaster. Register online – it’s free!
  • A skateboard park at Ocean Beach? Radical, dude. It could happen if the San Francisco Skateboarding Association‘s vision comes to live. They were behind the successful Balboa Skate Park and have set their sights on Ocean Beach. Rec & Park is into it. Might not be Playland but sounds like a fun idea! [CurbedSF]
  • Fredy’s Deli near Ocean Beach has a new owner and a new lease on life. The Ocean Bulletin profiled new owners David “Kawika” Nottage and his wife, Joanne who are “trying to keep the best parts of what made Fredy’s Ocean Beach Deli a neighborhood favorite, while introducing some additions such as gluten-free menu items and an expanded selection of wine.”


  • Got veggies? Master Gardener Jonathan Propp will be at the Richmond District Branch Library this Saturday from 2-3:30pm to lead a free course on how to grow vegetables in your SF backyard. His presentation will cover selection of climate-appropriate varieties, soil and bed preparation, propagation and planting techniques, and plant maintenance.
  • Walk among the flowers: Wildflowers have started to bloom all over our parks including Lands End. The Parks Conservancy leads free walks every Saturday from noon until 1pm through May 31, including a special Mother’s Day walk on May 10. Info & registration here
  • This Saturday, Supervisor Eric Mar is sponsoring a Richmond District Housing Rights Town Hall from 2 to 4pm at the Richmond Recreation Center (251 18th Avenue). Learn about your rights and obligations as San Francisco tenants and landlords, hear from experts and get your questions answered.
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 9:25 am | Posted under Classes, Eric Mar, Events, Food, Ocean Beach, Parks, Volunteer | 29 comments

State Senator Leland Yee arrested on corruption, bribery charges

Leland Yee arriving at Phillip Burton Federal Building, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Photo: KPIX

State Senator Leland Yee was arrested this morning by the FBI on public corruption charges at his Sunset District home and taken to the federal building in San Francisco, where he will be arraigned at 1:30pm.

Yee, a Democrat, represents Senate District 8, which includes the western half of San Francisco and most of San Mateo County.

The FBI also raided his office in Sacramento and the Ghee Kung Tong Supreme Lodge of the Chinese Freemasons in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The investigation is also targeting Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a notorious former San Francisco gangster, who was arrested today.

Yee was led away from his home in handcuffs this morning. Other locations being searched include a building on the 1700 block of Hyde Street, a home on the 600 block of 42nd Avenue in San Mateo, and Yee’s office in Sacramento.

Yee, a former San Francisco school board member and supervisor and member of the state Assembly, is a candidate for California Secretary of State, one of the state’s seven highest offices.

As a candidate, he has promised to “increase government transparency, support small businesses, reform campaign financing and protect the most vulnerable.”

UPDATE 5:18pm: The charges against Yee include conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, conspiracy to illegally transport firearms, six counts of a scheme to defraud citizens on his services, and wire fraud. Lee was released on a $500,000 unsecured bond and will return to court Monday, March 31st to revisit the terms of his release. A total of 26 people were arrested on a variety of charges, including murder-for-hire, drug trafficking and gun running, according to the federal criminal complaint. Read the criminal complaint (PDF, 16MB)

Sarah B.

[via SFGate, Huffington Post, SFAppeal, CBS SF]

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 11:46 am | Posted under Crime | 14 comments

Spotted: Majestic coyote at Lands End

A coyote at Lands End on March 24, 2014. Photo by Shua

Blog reader Shua sent us this photo of a coyote that he spotted on a stone staircase at Lands End on Monday evening.

Coyote sightings are becoming very common. SFGate outdoors writer Tom Stienstra estimates there may be as many as 100 living in San Francisco. Spottings have been reported in several spots in the Richmond District including Golden Gate Park, Mountain Lake Park, Sea Cliff, Lincoln Park, as well as in the neighboring Presidio.

If you see one, consider calling the hotline for coyote sightings that has been established at (415) 554-9400. This will help Rec & Park monitor the growing population and when needed, put up appropriate signage for dog owners and park visitors.

Sarah B.

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 5:03 am | Posted under Lands End, Photos, Wildlife | 15 comments

Neighbors, volunteers and Rec & Park clean up Park Presidio greenway

USF students helped clean and plant along the Park Presidio greenway on March 22. Photo by phoca2004

This past Saturday, SF Recreation and Parks held a planting day on the 500 block of 14th Avenue, between Anza and Balboa. The planting event put in new trees and shrubs along the Park Presidio greenway meant to help repopulate the barrier on the side that faces the roadway.

Nearby residents of the greenway, Rec & Park staff, as well as students from the University of San Francisco’s Psychology Department and the Student Conservation Association came out to help with the planting.

The greenway along Park Presidio Boulevard has long been a source of frustration for residents due to its neglect. Historically, the greenway becomes overgrown due to lack of maintenance, making it an ideal hiding place for unauthorized camping and loitering.

However in the past six months, SF Recreation & Parks has put more effort into clearing out the pathways of the park. Just this past Friday, a large section of the greenbelt on the 600 block of 14th Avenue was finally cleared out.

The clearouts help eliminate many of the nooks and crannies where campers frequent, and for the first time in many years, neighbors along the greenbelt feel more safe and secure about their park.

“This is the most optimistic I’ve felt about our neighborhood in a long time. Thanks to all!” wrote one member of an online group of Park Presidio Boulevard neighbors.

The goal is to have a clear path along the middle of the parkways from Fulton all the way to Lake Street.

Special thanks to all the volunteers that came out to help with the planting, and to the neighbors along the greenway who often volunteer their own time to care for the park. It’s looking great!

Sarah B.

L: A pathway on the 600 block of 14th Avenue in the midst of clearing. R: What the finished, cleared path looks like after work is done. Photos by Kay Voyvodich

High school students from the Student Conservation Association helped clean
and plant along the Park Presidio greenway on March 22. Photo by phoca2004

Student volunteers from the USF Psychology program. Photo by phoca2004

Jon and Bennie from SF Rec & Park help replant the Park Presidio greenway. Photo by phoca2004

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 5:02 am | Posted under Community, Parks, Volunteer | 10 comments

Photos: Check out these beastly fish being pulled out of Mountain Lake

Photo by Jonathan Young

The Presidio Trust has spent millions to remediate Mountain Lake, removing contaminated sediment from the lake bottom and restoring the native species and plants to the areas around the lake.

A big part of that effort has been removing non-native species from the lake itself, in anticipation of returning native species to it like three-spined stickleback fish and Pacific chorus frogs.

One Presidio Trust intern is still on the hunt for non-native fish, and this week he shared some unsettlingly monstrous photos of what he’s been fishing out of the lake with baynature.org.

Jonathan Young is a San Francisco State graduate student in biology and ecological restoration intern at the Presidio Trust. He’s armed with fishing equipment and a small inflatable boat/raft and sent out into the lake to catch what he can.

The results are pretty surprising and include giant carp and oversized sturgeon fish. Not what you’d expect to come from a neighborhood lake in San Francisco.

Carp, bass, and mosquitofish are the main offenders, and Young has already fished 20 large carp out of the lake. One carp can lay two million eggs in a season, so imagine how many more are swimming around in there.

So where did these non-native fish come from? From nearby residents who dumped their aquarium fish or intentional releases back when fishing was allowed on the lake.

“It makes me freaked out every time I step in there in waders by myself, like something’s going to suck me down,” Young said. Jeez, no kidding!

And before you start lamenting for the demise of these scaly beasts, there’s no need. They are lovingly relocated to small ponds in the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma to live out their lives.

See more pics and get the full story at baynature.org

God bless interns.

Sarah B.

Photo by Jonathan Young

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 2:35 pm | Posted under Parks | 12 comments

Police Blotter – March 20, 2014

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of March 20, 2014. To be added to the station’s mailing list, email sfpd.richmond.station@sfgov.org.]

Each week we write about crime trends and include examples of recent crimes hoping that this will help people to understand and lessen their risk of becoming a crime victim. One of the problems with publishing a newsletter that talks about crime all the time is that it can create the impression that the crime rate is rising. In fact, overall crime is actually down year to date. I’m unwilling to tolerate any level of crime. One crime is one crime too many, but I can at least report that crime rates are headed in the right direction.

Overall crime rates have decreased in the first part of 2014 when compared to the first part of 2013. This decrease is true citywide and is slightly greater for the Richmond District than for the City as a whole. Total violent crime is down 21% in the Richmond (17% citywide) while property crime is down 11% in the Richmond (6% citywide). Bearing that in mind, here is this week’s crime recap.

Our next Community meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 6pm. It will be in the Community Room, here at Richmond Station, 461 6th Ave.

On 03/15/14 at 1:30pm, officers responded to a call of a male breaking into a Zip Car on the 300 block of 7th Ave. The caller stated that he saw the male take items from the vehicle and provided a description of the suspect. While officers were searching for the suspect, another male came running up to an officer yelling that a male had just broken into his vehicle that was parked on Clement near 6th Ave. This male pointed out the suspect who was standing across the street who also matched the suspect from 7th Ave. The suspect saw the patrol vehicle and took off running east on Clement to 5th Ave. When the officer turned the corner, the suspect went back north on 5th and ducked into a market. Numerous citizens pointed out the suspect’s whereabouts and when the officer came back to the corner, the suspect fled the market and ran west on Clement to north on 6th Ave, where he was detained by the officers. The male that had his car parked on Clement near 6th told the officer that he was sitting in his vehicle when the indicator light came on that his rear lift gate was open. When he went around to the back of his car, he saw the suspect standing there removing items from the back. That is when he began to chase the suspect and saw the officer. The suspect, a 39yr old male, was charged with the theft and possession of stolen property.

On 03/16/14 at 6:10pm, at 34th and Fulton, officers stopped to talk to a bicyclist that had committed a moving violation. The bicyclist took off at a high rate of speed and entered Golden Gate Park on a dirt pathway. One officer pursued on foot as the suspect headed towards Spreckels Lake while the other drove into the park. The officer in the vehicle saw the bicyclist now on the access road near the dog park where he dumped the bike and headed into the dense brush. Several other officers arrived and they located the male burrowed underneath some dense foliage. The male was detained and it was determined that he had a warrant out for his arrest. The 44yr old male was charged with the warrant.

On 03/16/14 at 8:30pm, officers were called to 2nd and Balboa on a report of citizens detaining two auto burglary suspects. When officers arrived, they took custody of the two males and where told the following. The upstairs neighbor was on the back steps and could see that his neighbor’s vehicle had its parking lights flashing. He ran downstairs to alert his neighbor and when they looked outside they could see two males in the vehicle. They both ran outside and detained the two, one of whom was still inside the car. When the officers arrived on scene the upstairs neighbor looked at some of the property that was now lying on the back-seat of his neighbor’s car and realized that some of the items had come from his vehicle. He then went to his cars and saw that both of them had been broken into. The two suspects, one who was 18, the other 15, where charged with the auto burglary, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools.

On 03/20/14 at 5:20am, officers responded to a call of a male trying to break into a garage on the 2000 block of Post St. The caller provided a description of the suspect and officers located the male on Sutter St. When the male was approached by the officer he said, “I was just trying to get into the garage to get my car.” The male however said that he did not live there and was also holding onto a wrench and chisel when stopped by the officer. The suspect was also in possession of a fraudulent credit card that had the name of a woman who had been a victim of a theft. The 31yr old male was charged with attempted burglary, possession of burglary tools and a fraudulent card.

On 03/14/14 between 8:15pm and 8:40pm on the 300 block of Walnut, a resident forgot to close their garage door and two bikes were taken.

Between 03/15/14, 8pm and 03/16/14, 6:25am on the 600 block of Arguello, a suspect attempted to enter the main door to an apartment building by using a tool, possibly a wrench. There was damage to the door and door lock, but entry was not made.

Between 03/15/14, 11:30pm and 03/16/14, 10:15am on the 100 block of Balboa, a suspect attempted to enter the main door to an apartment building by using a tool, possibly a wrench. There was damage to the door and door lock, but entry was not made.

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 2:23 pm | Posted under Crime | Comments Off

How Water Shaped Development of the Outside Lands

We’re pleased to share a new article from Richmond District historian John Freeman, who wrote this timely, drought-relevant article for the Western Neighborhoods Project. Enjoy!

Sarah B.


How Water Shaped Development of the Outside Lands

by John Freeman

San Francisco has unique geography. Over millennia of faulting, folding, uplifting and subsiding, the land surface at this end of the peninsula has a mixture of high peaks and low depressions, with a rock base and more than a third of it covered with dune sand. Beneath our western waters is sand from other geological developments south of us. The uplifting of the Sierra created rivers that moved millions of tons of glaciated sand westward across an inland sea, to exit the Coast Range at the Golden Gate, and deposit additional sand at our western edge. The sand bank shown on maps actually stretches under water all the way to the Farallon Islands. Tides, wind, and erosion contributed to the buildup of the sand throughout the north end of the San Francisco peninsula.

The shifting sand of this desert was the major deterrent to travel and homesteading, but the pioneers learned to cope in various ways. Large portions of the emerging city’s sand was moved into low spots or dumped into the tidal margins to create “made” land. The hills of San Francisco are a vital part of the development of the city. In earlier times, most of the steeper hills were impractical to build on because of the difficulty of access by horse and wagon, but also because there was no reliable water source atop the hills. As the city developed and pumping became feasible, many of the hills were used to create reservoirs for water from other sources to be stored for domestic use or fire protection.

Sand is a porous substance, allowing rainwater, even fog, to seep through it to the bedrock basin or aquifer. Before there was a reliable water system in San Francisco, wells were dug near the drainage of the hills to access that water. The topography of the Richmond and Sunset Districts is different, and these differences greatly affected their development. The Richmond District has a series of hills draining into it from three sides. The Sunset has primarily one hill system on its eastern flank, draining west toward the ocean and south toward Pine Lake and Lake Merced.

To best understand the original drainage system of the western portions of San Francisco where pioneers settled–the Richmond District, Golden Gate Park, and Sunset-Parkside areas today–we need to consult the major topographical map done by the United States Coast Survey of 1869. (See below.) This map was created before the street grid extended beyond the cemeteries or Golden Gate Park boundaries were drawn, but there are landmarks we can still reference today.
1869 United States Coast Survey Map with notes added – Courtesy of John Freeman

The 1869 map shows four major high points of land on the east of the southern side of the Great Sand Bank. The hill with an elevation 673 would be Grand View Park in Golden Gate Heights. South of that hill, marked 783, is the original elevation of Larsen Peak. Hill 733 is the original elevation of West Portal’s Edgehill Mountain, and lastly, hill 938, the highest elevation in San Francisco, is Mt. Davidson. Early development in the Sunset could be found at the base of these hills where water was available and near Pine Lake and Lake Merced. Water could be found fairly close to the surface back from Ocean Beach as well, but only near Golden Gate Park. A well in the middle of the current Sunset District would have to be drilled down through 400 feet of sand to reach the aquifer.

The topographical map reveals additional information about the drainage of these Sunset high-points. While they drain west and south, they also drain north through a narrow gorge, marked on the map as “Spring Valley Reservoir,” which was fed by the Sunset hills noted earlier, and the drainage of the west side of Twin Peaks (identified on the map as Las Papas and showing the south peak at 925 feet). Today this same reservoir site is at the intersection of Laguna Honda Boulevard and Clarendon Avenue. North of the reservoir can be seen a seasonal lake stretching to about Seventh Avenue and Moraga today. The map shows no surface river, but if you follow the contours north, another body of water appears, which is the low point of the botanical garden in Golden Gate Park, just north of Funston and Lincoln Way, where originally a lake and later pumping station used the water from that source to irrigate the park. The drainage continued through the park and into the Richmond District, terminating at Mountain Lake and Lobos Creek. Water from Lobos Creek was the city’s first domestic source, dating from 1858, when a redwood flume was built from the creek, before it reached the ocean at Baker Beach, around and through the Presidio to a pumping station at the foot of Van Ness Avenue. The water was then pumped up the north side of Russian Hill to two reservoirs, then to be piped to the city’s center…

Read the full article at outsidelands.org

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 5:01 am | Posted under History | Comments Off

Stop and smell the flowers at the 30th annual Bouquets to Arts at the de Young

Monday night was the opening gala for the 30th annual Bouquets to Arts exhibition at the de Young Musuem, in which floral designers from the Bay Area create their own interpretations of works in the de Young’s permanent collection.

The annual exhibition is celebrating its 30th year, and every time we go, we’re reminded how beautiful the flowers are, and also how remarkable the de Young’s collection is.

The exhibition is open daily through Sunday from 9:30am until 5:15pm, but the earlier in the week you can get there, the fresher the flowers. ;) Bonus: Museum members have extended viewing hours on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 6pm to 8pm.

Sarah B.

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 5:04 am | Posted under Events, Golden Gate Park, Museums | 1 comment