Park Chalet to host meeting on Ocean Beach erosion

January 22, 2010

Following the closure of a portion of San Francisco’s Great Highway due to ocean erosion, users of Ocean Beach and neighborhood residents will have an opportunity to talk about the city’s plans to shore up the beach and protect the street and a nearby water-treatment system.

Ocean Beach erosion

A portion of San Francisco's Great Highway south of Sloat Boulevard was closed to traffic in January after rainstorms and the Pacific Ocean ate away at an already eroded portion of Ocean Beach. Photo by Crescent Calimpong via Surfrider Foundation, San Francisco chapter.

A meeting is planned for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25 at Park Chalet, behind the Beach Chalet at 1000 Great Highway. The meeting will cover the erosion, potential methods to address it, and an official emergency declaration that could speed and simplify the process for implementng erosion-control measures.

According to the San Francisco chapter of the Surfrider Foundation:

The DPW Project Manager, Frank Filice will be there to discuss the emergency declaration, the short-term strategy, and a process for a long-term solution.

Everyone who has an interest in the preservation and the future of Ocean Beach is encouraged to attend. The emergency declaration will go before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for ratification the following day, Tuesday, January 26th. For questions or more information, please email the meeting organizer and Chair of the San Francisco Ocean Beach Vision Council: Lara Truppelli at

The Surfrider Foundation has established a blog dedicated to tracking news and information about erosion on Ocean Beach.

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City plans new network of wells on west side of San Francisco

January 20, 2010

San Francisco is planning a groundwater well system that would draw millions of gallons a day from new and enlarged wells on the west side of the city, mixing the water with existing supplies for residents of western San Francisco to drink.

The proposed project is part of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s efforts to improve the safety and reliability of local water supplies.


Proposed Groundwater System Project

Six wells are planned as part of the project, from Lake Merced in the south to the northern edge of Golden Gate Park. Some new wells would be dug, while others would be modified to boost their pumping capacity. In addition, pipelines would be laid under neighborhood streets to get water from the wells to the recently renovated Sunset Reservoir at Ortega Street and 24th Avenue.

Neighborhood residents and businesses can weigh in on what kinds of environmental impacts the city should study before it launches the well project, starting tonight at a meeting in Golden Gate Park.

The Planning Department will hold a “scoping meeting” on the San Francisco Groundwater Supply Project at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Golden Gate Park Senior Center, 6101 Fulton St. at 37th Avenue. People will be able to tell the city what subjects it should study in its environmental-impact report on the project and how deep its analysis should be.

The department also will accept comments from the public in writing at the meeting or via mail, fax or email through Jan. 30.

More information about the San Francisco Groundwater Supply Project is available from the Planning Department (PDF).

Written comments should be sent to by mail to the San Francisco Planning Department, Attn: Bill Wycko, Environmental Review Officer, San Francisco Groundwater Supply Project Scoping Comments, 1650 Mission St., Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103; by fax to (415) 558-6409; or by e-mail to

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Muffins or a sharpened toothbrush?

January 19, 2010

I had a great time at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco Jan. 18.  The highlight of the show for me was a hilarious bit of cognitive dissonance when I found a particularly cute — I would even call it “precious” — booth.

This booth apparently belonged to a Florida-based maker of food, um, stuff. I don’t know how to describe what they do, because I could look at a pantry full of their products and not see a single thing to eat. Lots of dips and mixes and things that probably end up being passed off in charity raffle baskets or something. But whatever. If they make money, then good for them.

What got me was that the company at this booth with cheery colors and charming little displays shares a name with a maximum-security California state prison notorious for housing inmates too violent and depraved to be allowed to mix with the gentler souls filling the bunks at other state prisons.

I don’t think anyone had told them about the prison, but when I saw the booth I laughed out loud.

So if someone mentions Pelican Bay, be sure to ask if they mean the outfit specializing in charming gingerbread cookie mixes, or the place where you go if you shank a prison guard in the neck.

By the by, I looked for my favorite captain’s cap-wearing company rep from last year’s show to no avail.

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My visit to San Francisco State University’s corpse flower

June 30, 2009

I took the kids to see San Francisco State University’s corpse flower — also know as a titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum — on Monday afternoon. It wasn’t fully open, but the fellow who cares for it said he thought it might be open by Wednesday morning.

If you go, you should keep in mind that the greenhouse is small, and crowded with plants. No more than six or eight people can get a good look at the flower (actually an inflorescence) at any one time. The aisles of the greenhouse don’t look wheelchair-accessible, but the corpse flower itself is near a door and it should be easy to get a wheelchair in the door and up close to the flower.

While we were there I took a look around SFSU’s greenhouse complex, which is pretty nifty. They have one room dedicated to California native plants, and even though it wasn’t open it was cool to see they had several varieties of manzanita to demonstrate adaptations to various water, soil and fire regimes.

Corpse flower, also known as titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum, at San Francisco State Universitys greenhouse, Monday, June 29, 2009.

Corpse flower, also known as titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum, at San Francisco State University's greenhouse, Monday, June 29, 2009.

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‘The time has come to set aside childish things’

January 20, 2009

Yes, I know, Barack Obama probably is going to disappoint me. He probably is going to disappoint a lot of people. Nearly every politician — nearly every person — fails to live up to the potential of what he could achieve, and that always is

Thank you for being our president. Make us proud. Artist Arlene Elizabeth created this portrait of Obama from 1,000 origami cranes.

My daughter (with white backpack) writes a message to President Barack Obama in San Francisco's Civic Center on Inauguration Day: "Thank you for being our president. Make us proud." Artist Arlene Elizabeth created this portrait of Obama from 1,000 origami cranes.

disappointing. But standing among my fellow San Franciscans in Civic Center Plaza on Inauguration Day, it was impossible not to share some measure of the hope, pride and excitement that filled the crowd as Obama took the oath of office and issued an inspiring call to strive toward the pinnacle of our collective potential, even knowing that we may fall short of the goal. That, after all, is what many Americans of the post-Baby Boom generations have awaited for so long: a call to make big changes, a call to do great things, a call to right wrongs, a call to strive to become better than we are. Earlier generations heard their own calls and faced their own tests in accordance with the challenges of their time, and if what I saw in that crowd on Inauguration Day was any indication, young Americans are eager to take up the challenges and opportunities of our day. I hope for the sake of the country that we can remember that while falling short of our potential is part of the human condition, so is getting up to try again.

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San Franciscans sing “Star Spangled Banner” at inauguration viewing

January 20, 2009

San Francisco is widely regarded as a reserved and cynical place, but when my daughter and I watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration at Civic Center Plaza the air was alive with pride, patriotism, expectation and hope. I have lived in San Francisco for most of my life, and I have never seen anything like it. The crowd captured the vibe of the day by singing “The Star Spangled Banner” from the heart, something I never expected to see in San Francisco. Watch it here.

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Collected morsels from the Fancy Food Show 2009

January 20, 2009

Didn’t get a chance to do more than Tweet in between walking and eating at the Fancy Food Show on Monday, but in case you missed the Tweets from directly, here they are all together — plus a couple of corrections of my fat-thumb typing.

Heading out for Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Tweets and liveblog at as wireless connections from inside allow. The wireless reception in Moscone Center was flawless.

NextBus on inbound L Taraval wildly inaccurate. Said next train in 17 mins, but actual time was 3 mins. Thanx, NextBus.

Fancy Food Show: Serrano ham, blood oranges. They’ll need a stick to get me away from this section.

Fancy Food Show: OK, mezzeMarin has lured me from the serrano ham with these great little spears of olives, anchivies and peppers. That’s MezzeMarin.

And MezzeMarin’s anchovy fillets are fantastic.

Fancy food show: nice to see a booth of Potuguese stuff, including from Sao George, but naught from Terciera, alas. That’s Portuguese and Sao Jorge.

Fancy food show: Oh, no – Van Vooren foie gras. I’m a goner.

Fancy food show: Fresca Italia gets the beauty prize so far, for its cheeses. Like art.

Fancy food show: This convention is great, but what an environmental downer. Millions of tiny plastic spoons, cups, plates, etc.
… And why does Moscone Center only have hot-water faucets in the restrooms, and only the kind that don’t automatically turn off? The restrooms in the halls were like this, but the restroom in between the two halls of the show did have auto-off faucets.

Fancy food show: wow, Patti LaBelle has a spice mix brand?

Fancy food show: The green/sustainability angle is big, of course, but Gidi is the only booth so far the uses compostable spoons. Kudos. Green themes were trumpteted by a lot of booths, and some of them didn’t have any samples or giveaways at all, so they didn’t use any packaging. But I only found one other booth that used compostable service, and the woman at that booth complained that San Francisco is the only place where people are bothered by the use of so much plastic.

Just met Reno Rossi, owner of Marin Cheese Co., who knows my wife. Guy has no personality whatsoever. (Hah!)

Fancy food show: we’re counting houndstooth sportcoats. 27 so far.

27 houndstooth sport coats. I think we’re done.

Fancy food show: Just passed Mario Batali. I’m not getting paid so I decided not to throw elbows to get through the throng for a pic. If you count seeing the back of his head and the side of his face, then sure, I saw Mario. I think I caught a glimpse of the clogs, too.

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