letters to the editor
Support the Mountain Tunnel
Our City's Hetch Hetchy Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) is poised to celebrate its ten year anniversary in March. In the 1990s, a group of concerned residents formed Citizens Against Water & Sewer Rates Abuse, an ordinance I wrote to advocate for change in how the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) used our rate fees…in essence the legislation froze the rates until such time that the PUC changed policy. You, the electorate, passed the law with over 68% support. At that time millions were being transferred to other departments inappropriately.
In late 1990 it became evident that there was a great need for maintenance and major infrastructure improvement to our water system. Our rates were at that time being directed properly into the water system. In 1998 after many meetings and discussion with the Mayor's office I was appointed by then Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. to the SFPUC Infrastructure Task Force (2000-2003) as Chairman. Sixteen citizens and experts were appointed to the Task force. As the Infrastructure Task Force completed its basic purpose we can be proud to say we, the citizens, have fundamentally transformed how the SFPUC approaches and pays for infrastructure projects.
My early work has helped launch the SFPUC's historic WSIP – a $4.6 billion endeavor and one of the nation's largest water infrastructure improvement programs. Today, WSIP is not only 80% complete; it's miraculously within 1.5% of its original budget. Not perfect, but you would be hard pressed to find a program of this magnitude even close to being this efficient.
More importantly it has significantly increased the seismic and supply reliability of a system that traverses 3 major seismic faults before delivering water to 2.6 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area. And while this system is more resilient than ever, challenges still remain.
One of those challenges is Mountain Tunnel. The tunnel is one of the most critical components of our water system and it must be repaired after 89 years of continuous service.
The SF Examiner reports a doomsday scenario that reads like a bad graphic novel. However, I want to assure the public that the SFPUC is in capable hands with their new General Manager Harlan Kelly. As one of the chief architects of WSIP, I know Harlan and his seasoned staff are well equipped to tackle the repair of Mountain Tunnel and the multi-year Sewer System Improvement Program with the same patience, transparency and expertise that they afforded to WSIP.
It doesn't mean that we the public shouldn't continue ask the tough questions, but the reality is that we can now confidently invest in the Hetch Hetchy water system infrastructure. Thanks to the past ten years, and good citizens' work, I believe that path forward is clear. We must support the needed upgrades at the Mountain Tunnel.
Let us all support the work of the SFPUC that will keep our tap water flowing, streets lit, and our toilets flushing. Our future depends on it.
Richard Bodisco, Westside resident, Author – Water Rate Freeze, Term Limits for SF Supervisors
I so appreciate your articles concerning the oncoming loss of our real grass at the soccer fields by the Beach Chalet. I have voted and voted, and alas, we are going to receive artificial turf and eye jarring lighting and new parking. Where will the birds go? What will be the impact on our environment with lighting such as proposed? Realizing that exercise is very necessary for our children and adults alike, I remain stunned at the amount of money backing this project to put artificial turf where grass has been since the 1930's.
Thanks for your great article on Golden Gate Park's soccer fields! It's great to see so many people care as much as I do about our precious meadows.
Cheryl Richard, Noe Valley
We are happy to report that the Board of Appeals upheld our appeal to prevent construction at 70 Crestline. Thank you for covering our appeal in your publications.
One of the Board's primary reasons for overturning the permit issued 5/15/13 was the fact that the proposed project would create an unwanted precedent for future development of the 13 other open green spaces in Vista Francisco.
There were 13 members of the public (including 12 TPENA members) who presented testimony at the hearing in support of our appeal.
Patricia Campe-Aguilar and Donald Bateman, Co-Chairs, Twin Peaks Eastside Neighborhood Alliance (TPENA)
High Costs of City Attorney’s Advice
Re: Patrick Monette-Shaw’s article I really enjoyed your article. Thank you for your excellent reporting.
Grace Koch, Miraloma Park Resident
The aerial photo in the May 2013 issue is looking generally NW. Kezar Stadium is at the top. The widest street running bottom left toward top right is Judah/Parnassus. The area in the middle is now UCSF. Right?
I don’t actually remember the wa y it was, I’m a pretty recent transplant to San Francisco, having moved here from the Kansas City area a year ago. I like history and solving puzzles. A few minutes with Google Maps did the trick.
The photo was shot from the SE corner of Victoria and Urbano. In the middle distance is the intersection of Victoria and Ocean Avenue, with the Ingleside Terraces rock gates.
The photo was probably taken from what is now the site of 806 Urbano. The house on the right is 710 Victoria, and has been beautifully restored. The three houses on the left are also still there, at 727, 739, and 755 Victoria. I’m sure the History Center could research when the houses were built to get an idea on the date of the picture.
Thanks for publishing this very interesting photo. We live on the other side of Ocean,in what was the forest!
Wild Turkey in San Francisco
Thank you for publishing the photograph of the wild turkey recently cited in the vicinity of Mt. Davidson Park. My husband and I were surprised to see it walk across on the north slope trail the Saturday before Easter. It flew off before we could take a picture of it and wondered if it was something we just imagined - if not for the picture captured and printed in your paper. It is exciting to see such a large and unusual bird for San Francisco in our neighborhood park.
Jacquie and Ron Proctor
I read Kathy Howard’s letter about the misfortune of not being able to see many stars in our cities. Luckily, we have some dark skies on the western edge of San Francisco which allows us to enjoy the night skies. Unfortunately, the proposed Beach Chalet Soccer Fields project with stadium lighting will destroy this situation. Let’s not let Rec and Park take star gazing away from us. It is a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life in a city.
Thank you Ms. Howard for a great article. I would like to add to your information on light pollution on the disastrous effects on the wildlife and birds that live in Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach. Many of the animals in the park come out in the dark to live their lives. They are a very important part to the cycle of life. We, our children and future generations of the City of St. Francis deserve to keep what little part of nature we have.
Yes I remember when. When I was a kid my brothers and I would play in the open hillside, located on the left side middle of the photo. There was a dirt road from 6th Ave. above Kirkham St. that we had access to the area. This was before the Mt. Sutro Terrace Apartments were built. The year was 1950.
Also check out my home movies of Playland At The Beach 1960 (Original Film) and the
Sutro Cliff House Tram Ride 1960. on online YouTube.
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority is grateful for your coverage of our recent outreach to neighbors as a part of the 19th Avenue Transit Study (“Nervous 19th Avenue Neighbors Eye Agency’s Changes to Metro M-Line”). Unfortunately, your article included an anonymous quote with inaccurate information – that the City proposes “using eminent domain to benefit the Parkmerced expansion.” It is this statement that I would like to take the opportunity to correct.
The Study’s purpose is to identify feasible options for bringing the M-Ocean View to the west-side of 19th Avenue by making two crossings above or below the street – near Eucalyptus Drive and near Junipero Serra Boulevard. This idea reflects a community transportation priority that was identified during both the SF State Campus Master Plan and Parkmerced planning processes. This change would improve transit travel speeds and reliability, improve pedestrian safety, address motorist congestion and delay, and promote sustainable transportation choices for the growing neighborhood.
At the community meeting on February 13, we sought input on several conceptual alternatives. Our presentation included one option that would have possible direct impacts on residential properties. Community discussion from this meeting made it clear that this alternative needs to be rejected, and that is exactly how we are proceeding. In keeping with our evaluation framework, which includes community support as a key criterion, we have dropped this option (Option S3) from further study. The Transportation Authority is currently evaluating and refining the other options and will share the results during a second round of outreach expected in late Summer.
We look forward to our continued partnership with the community on this important Study. For more information, please visit www.sfcta.org/19thave
Chester Fung, Project Manager, San Francisco Transportation Authority
Farewell Fleishacker Pool
Somehow I missed this (opportunity to respond to your request for input-ed.). It’s an opportunity lost. Please know that I didn’t ignore you on purpose. I certainly would have responded.
Bottom line is that no one today cares enough to save it or to do anything with it. That should have been done years ago when the pool closed. It was a great building and would have provided historic space for anything from a restaurant to a museum or even just shops. The city wasted a great resource.
I’ve been trying to sequester myself as much as possible to get San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach: The Golden Years finished. Unfortunately, my day job has been in overtime for almost two years now. I’m targeting the end of this month to send it to my publisher. I’m really excited about this book.
James R. Smith, Author: Playland at the Beach: The Early Years, Nov 2010
Fact Checker for Supervisor Hall?
I read Tony Hall’s December column with interest but found his recollection of the 2000 campaign to be highly inaccurate.
Tony writes that: “On election night of November 7, 2000, I became the projected winner of that seat by a margin of some 1,200 to 1,300 votes.”
In fact, in the November, 2000 election Tony lagged behind Mabel Teng 13,269 to 6,706 but, as Mabel failed to achieve 50% of the 33,867 votes cast, a December run-off occurred. It was in the December run-off that Tony Hall secured his victory (9,333-9,294).
Tony delves deep into the 2000 campaign but fails to get essential details correct.What does this say about the value of his column?
Christmas time gift suggestion: a fact-checker for Tony.
(Tony Hall responds from Ireland)
David Hooper makes a valid observation as I should have clarified that the election night I was referring to in my column was the December run off. His numbers are correct regarding the November election date but I was the projected winner in the December run-off by some 1200-1300 on that night. Only after 3 re-counts and re-canvassings was the final tally arrived at, that being 9,333-9,294. One of the points that I try to illustrate in my column is about how votes are stolen, even through the re-count process. Apparantly David does not want to acknowledge that such voter fraud tactics exist.
While essential oils are often used as natural remedies, it is important to realize they may be just as harmful to our bodies. Plant extracts, while seemingly natural, can be just as fatal if used incorrectly or can possibly alter the effects of prescription medications.
There are various sources of herbal remedies today, including local pharmacies and grocery stores. With the increasing use of prescription medicines, it is important for patients to tell their pharmacists about the essential oils or other herbal supplements they may be using. Pharmacists not only have access to informational resources for various herbal remedies, but they can provide general drug information and ensure there are no harmful interactions with the prescription medications patients take. Community pharmacists are not only doctors whom are accessible to the public, but they can also play a vital role in optimizing patient therapy when natural remedies and prescription medications are being used simultaneously.
Michelle Yee, Student Pharmacist UCSF School of Pharmacy Class of 2014
Food Trucks I was very disappointed that OfftheGrid is reconsidering West Portal as a venue. Being a 33 year resident of Westwood Highlands I was hoping to show off our West Portal neighborhood as friendly and accepting. OfftheGrid will bring in walking traffic which relates to more money to the merchants. I for one won’t mind less parking as it is a temporary situation. Let’s show OfftheGrid that we can live in harmony and make this homeowner proud of our neighborhood and its merchants.
Phantom Votes There were a few strange things that happened during the counting of the votes from the November 6, 2012 election at City Hall.
At least two suspicious incidents surrounded City Hall. First there was the mysterious power outage at City Hall; however, there was no storm that could have caused the outage. Second there was a smell of smoke that must have set off the fire alarm and an evacuation ensued. Usually where there is smoke, there is fire, but there was no fire in this case. I am curious as to how the ballots were protected while the two emergencies occurred simultaneously within 24 hours of each other. Did these two emergencies have an impact on the winners?
Norman Yee won the election due to the votes from the residents of Parkmerced. This is intriguing because less than ten people attended his visit when he announced his candidacy at Parkmerced. When the District 7 candidates were interviewed by the San Francisco Examiner, Norman Yee said that he supported the demolition of the garden apartments at Parkmerced. Thus I am perplexed as to why so many people would vote for someone who supports their home being demolished and not paying them adequate compensation. Parkmerced is a vital part of District 7 with 3,022 apartments. Due to the pending redevelopment plan there are a lot of vacancies at Parkmerced. Could it be that phantom votes were cast?
As a former candidate in the District 7 November 6, 2012 election, I have some concerns about the ballots, and if there was any tampering with the ballots. I am considering contesting the votes. I think that it is important that every vote cast by someone was legal.
It appears that perhaps this rank choice voting is more confusing than we anticipated. This confusion, if left unchallenged, is a threat to the democratic process by which we govern ourselves.
A Good Thing: New Soccer Field
I’m very grateful for being a lifetime resident of San Francisco and it is my opinion that the world would be a better place if everyone adopted those controversial ‘San Francisco Values’. Unfortunately I feel like this city, its politicians and many of its residents are living more in the fantasy of San Francisco than the reality of San Francisco.
A few years back I had the same reaction about Crocker Amazon as the author’s reaction about the west end of Golden Gate Park. The community had the same opposition to that project as to this. The response was almost identical in scope and numbers. The project involved replacing half of the grass area with next generation artificial turf. A huge chunk of open grass space was being replaced with soccer fields. Soccer is a sport I neither care to watch let alone participate in.
We can see Crocker Amazon from our back window and I’m happy to report that the soccer fields in that park are in constant use. Each week easily hundreds of people are exercising and playing soccer from sun up to sun down. And when I say till sun down I mean it, they play until the lights are turned off at 10:15PM. And from what I know there has been little if any trouble at the park.
And the surrounding area, driving and walking by the park, no longer feels unsafe. The ripple effect of having ongoing healthy activity makes the entire area feel ‘family friendly’. Before the renovation the area could be considered somewhat suspect, especially after dark.
To address your article in particular, I challenge the notion that this is the beginning of the end. First lets start with the idea that GGP is one of San Francisco’s crown jewels. I agree that it’s SUPPOSED to be one of our jewels but in its current, neglected condition it is not. It can be a lot better. There is the constant drug dealing and numerous homeless encampments. You can find dirty needles and used condoms with frightening regularity, and the bathrooms are in indescribably filthy conditions. The web is littered with ‘letters to the editor’ from tourists who were tremendously disappointed by the condition of GGP. The park has its bright spots and conditions continue to improve with each new project, but having spent several summers in the park as part of my church’s youth day camp program I can tell you the park today is not the park I grew up in.
I suggest this project has the potential to become another bright spot in the continuing evolution of GGP.
I’m not going to debate the ‘political’ process that took place to get this project approved, any City project can have its process debated to death (which I would suggest is exactly the strategy minority voices use to hold the rest of us hostage). What I will say is, and with all due respect to Mr. Miller, he starts his article with scathing assessments of both the SF Planning Commission and Recreation and Park Commission, pointing out how they literally ignored 1000 emails from concerned citizens, many of who opposed the project. He then concludes his editorial stating this project excludes the 790,000 people who don’t or can’t play soccer. If this project were to impact 790,000 people I would expect you’d get more than just 1000 emails. And of those 790,000 people, how many of them even considered visiting the west end of GGP in the last year? The last 5 years? This just feels like another “just because I never use it doesn’t mean you can take it away from me” stance.
I will be the first one to admit that one of the reasons I resisted the change to Crocker Amazon was the idea of the soccer fields. If I may be politically incorrect for a moment, my feeling was soccer is not a traditional American sport and the idea that ‘American tax dollars’ were going to support an activity I didn’t grow up with kind of bothered me. But in the spirit of ‘San Francisco Values’, where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, seeing just how many people are using those fields absolutely validates the spending of the money to renovate that park. And for context, there are still two natural grass baseball diamonds sitting right next to those 5 soccer fields, and guess how often they’re used? Almost never.
And with response to Mr. Miller’s suggestion that city government completely ignored or dismissed errors in the submitted environmental impact report, I would submit that tirelessly debating EIRs is another tool for a minority voice to hold the rest of us hostage. There is no such thing as a ‘perfect project’, there will always be positives and negatives to everything. The idea is to see if the positive outweigh the negative. In this case, if the same thing happens to the west end of GGP that happened to Crocker Amazon, I would submit for your consideration that the environmental impact is hugely positive. If there are hundreds of people using those fields all day long, getting exercise while actually USING the park, brining with them a halo effect that cleans up undesirable activities in the nearby area, then how can one call this the ‘beginning of the end’?
San Francisco has always been a city where we do things for the right reasons even if it means some self sacrifice. We take chances because our conscience tells us its the right thing to do. We do these things with the faith that the benefits will be there even if we can’t absolutely see them in advance. And when we’re wrong we make it right. We don’t say ‘no’, we say ‘let try and see what happens’. Mr. Miller and members of SF Ocean Edge, come out the the south side of the city - go out to Crocker Amazon on a sunny Saturday afternoon and take a look at your possible future. Then ask yourself what’s better for our community as a whole.
Dean K. – 45 year NATIVE San Franciscan
Not So Much…
I’m Kathleen McCowin, a soccer mom for over ten years. My daughter plays in Viking Soccer, and this spring enjoyed playing on the Beach Chalet soccer fields, currently natural grass.
Many Viking parents support the hybrid alternative for the Beach Chalet soccer fields’ renovation - that is, grass in Golden Gate Park, with plastic turf fields and 60’ stadium lights reserved for more urban settings. We Viking parents believe real grass in Golden Gate Park is better for our children, the environment, and our City.
Viking Soccer Management writes “…we represent all of San Francisco” in its aggressive and very public lobbying for plastic turf replacement of the Beach Chalet soccer fields, now seven acres of Golden Gate Park grass meadow at Ocean Beach, between the windmills. 60’ stadium lights will be installed, staying on until 10:00 P.M. This plan was approved May 24th by the SF Planning and Park & Rec Commissions.
However, Viking Management never asked us Viking parents what we think. I represent Viking Soccer parents and players who have not yet been heard.
Viking Management showcased dozens of child players at the approval hearing. Some of these children were taken to the hearing without their parents’ knowledge or permission. These parents, who support natural grass renovation, thought their uniformed children were being taken to their usual soccer practice. Children were promised pizza and games to attend the hearing.
At a recent rally, I made a short public statement that we Viking parents were never asked our opinion by Viking Management on the Chalet Fields renovation. Immediately afterwards, I was personally confronted by the President of Viking Soccer, obviously very angry that I expressed my views publicly.
Facing this kind of response from the highest official in the Viking League, you will understand why parents feel they don’t have a real say in this Viking policy, and are afraid to come forward with their names if they support real grass fields. I have been asked by the many Viking Soccer parents who have contacted me to withhold their names, since their children are still in the Viking league. My youngest child, 16, is leaving Vikings this fall, so I am able to speak openly.
Many Viking players want to play on real grass. Children have no more injuries on properly maintained grass fields than on plastic turf. Our kids complain that plastic turf gives them skin abrasions they don’t get on grass. The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery studies have confirmed soccer players suffer 3X as many skin abrasions on plastic turf.
A Norwegian study of 60,000 teen soccer players found more back and spine injuries with plastic turf. European soccer leagues have banned its use. And the jury is still out on long-term health effects on our children of inhaling finely ground tire dust.
Remaining as natural grass, these fields could be renovated for $1M. Even with the $5M grant from City Fields Foundation, the plastic turf renovation with some other amenities will cost San Francisco $7.5M. We soccer parents think that is irresponsible in these tough economic times.
Worse, the plastic turf and fill must be replaced every eight years, at a cost only 50% less than a full installation. If the City doesn’t pay these costs, the result will be fields that are unsafe and unsightly. We, as soccer parents, don’t want that for our kids.
Viking Soccer Parents Want Real Grass Fields in Golden Gate Park.
Thank you for your support of Viking kids and their parents. If you want grass in Golden Gate Park, please write e-mails to the Mayor and City Supervisors. And please email me if you are a Viking or other soccer parent who would like to be added to our members list. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathleen McCowin, San Francisco
Did anyone find the article (Help for Seniors to Pay for Long Term Health Care/Feb ‘12) that Sharon Caren, the health writer for the Westside Observer, of interest?
This is a topic that the public most definitely should be aware of that specifically targets the senior community. It was picked up by the Mercury News.
Mr Lawrence, in criticizing the RBOC (Mar ‘12), lumps every member of the RBOC into one cohesive group. He clearly has not been reading the articles by Brian Browne in your paper. Brian is a coauthor of Proposition P and was a member of the RBOC 2003-2012. He single handed tried to right many of the wrongs to which Mr. Lawrence attributes collective guilt. This is improper and inaccurate.
Any citizen, daring to attend a RBOC meeting at 930AM on a Monday morning would see Brian Browne bushwhacked and gang-tackled by the chair and his/her court on a continual basis. He never quit. Brian Browne, a neighbor and fellow activist, laments he did not achieve the high-goals intended by the framers of 2002 Proposition P, but as many of us say; he did shine a very bright flashlight in dark and dim corners of government especially the SFPUC. I hope Mr. Lawrence is more forthright and balanced in his general condemnation of the entire RBOC.
Brian, as president of the Golden Gateway Tenants Association, along with many of us at the Golden Gateway Center, assereted our First Amendment Rights and initialized a court case that went to the California Supreme Court. So often in San Francisco, activits don’t get the credit for their actions. I along with neighbors saved the most pristine park in San Francisco from commercial development. We wanted it named “Ferry Park.” The politicians stepped in and named it “Sue Bierman Park.” Sue was a fine person but had nothing to do with the creation of this beautiful park for the citizens of San Francisco.
Credit where credit is due, please.
The article, "Two Tough Little Dogs Survive Attack Of Two Hungry Coyotes", in the November 2011 issue of your Westside Observer, was high on sensationalism and inaccurate in its use of words.
This seems to be the usual fare in anything written about coyotes. But we all need to fine-tune what we see and what we report. For example, there is a big difference between "attack" and "encounter". And using the phrase "hungry coyotes", in this report, is just plain irresponsible — why would any writer use these words here except as a sensationalist scare tactic? We all need to develop an understanding of language nuance: "aggressive" does not mean "curious" or "inquisitive" or "playful" or even "mischievous".
One important fact left out of the article is that these very small and active dogs were not leashed, in an area where the owner knew coyotes have been seen. Several weeks before, I had met the owner there with her small dogs, unleashed then too, and I had let her know about the situation — she had told me that she already knew all about it and that her dogs were fine, back then. I'm all for off-leash dog walking generally — I walked my own dogs off-leash all the time. But the circumstances are different in a coyote area.
Everyone needs to understand that dogs raise the anxiety of coyotes because of territoriality — coyotes are tied to the land they use as much as we are to our own homes. Active small dogs, in particular, raise the anxiety of coyotes: I'm not sure why, perhaps it is because of the skittish and high-energy behaviors of such dogs. And coyotes raise the anxiety of dogs. This is why it is important to keep them apart — peaceful coexistence entails keeping them apart.
I have seen many "surprise" encounters between dogs and coyotes. I've seen even the smaller dogs, such as Jack Russells, actually go after coyotes, and then run for cover to their owner. Dogs seem to have a need to chase coyotes either in play or as a warning. Most of the time the coyote will flee, but sometimes the coyote will stand up for itself by chasing back.
And although, yes, I have seen coyotes approach dogs, this is not frequent, whereas many dogs have chased after coyotes. If a coyote approaches a dog, it could be for various reasons, from friendly curiosity, to messaging a warning, to testing and teasing — these don't constitute "attacks." Coyotes have followed some dogs, but this, too, does not constitute an "attack." Coyotes are easy to shoo off if the dogs are kept close using a leash.
The coyotes in our parks certainly are not "hungry" — I see them catch gophers and voles all day long, they are some of the healthiest-looking coyotes ever.
As to the incident reported in this article, I did not see the initial encounter, but I have seen many dog-coyote encounters, and I can pretty accurately describe what might have happened based on those many other observations. The incident could have been initiated by a surprise encounter, or by the active little dogs getting too close to where the coyotes were, or even by either the coyotes or dogs approaching the other to investigate or in a test of "one-up-manship" — but it really doesn't matter who initiated this particular incident. The result was that both parties became excited. If the dogs had been leashed, that would have been the end of it.
Instead, the little dogs ran off — and running always is seen as an invitation for another to chase, be it dog or coyote. So the owner ran in one direction to retrieve one of her dogs. Meanwhile, the other small dog headed in the other direction.
What drew my attention was the furious barking at the top of a hill. I looked up to see the little dog barking and running after a coyote. As far as I have seen, dogs only bark when they are chasing — not when they are being chased. Then the owner began yelling frantically for her dog, which would not come.
Within seconds the coyote had turned around and was now chasing back — and the little dog stopped barking. The silence did scare us for what it might mean. The three of us who were there all ran up the hill to retrieve the dog, but it was nowhere to be found.
One dog was found later that day. But even though several people, including me, spent many hours combing the park and streets for the other, it was three days before that one finally was found — found far away from the park.
The entire incident could have been prevented if that dog owner had put thought into protecting her little dogs in the first place.
Coyotes do not want to interact with humans, which is why leashing dogs and keeping them next to you is the best defense against an encounter getting out of hand. And keeping your dogs calm reduces the possibility of alarming coyotes in the first place.
I have written a couple of articles which might be useful. One is on coyote and dog coexistence: www.marinatimes.com/dec10/pets_petpages.html. The other is about coyotes generally: people need to know more about coyotes in order to understand them and deal with them — www.wildcarebayarea.org/site/PageServer?pagename=eNews_February2011_landingpage#coyote.
The San Francisco Health Code prohibits the presence of coyotes in our parks, along with bears, wolves, and other dangerous predators. San Francisco taxpayers pay for the parks, and have a right to visit those parks without fear for their children or companion animals.
The city has been remiss in enforcement because of bleeding-heart "naturalists" who believe our city should be reclaimed by the predator species and indigenous weeds and scrub that once covered sand dunes before people arrived. These reactionaries now threaten our safety.
City Hall needs to step up and do its job before an injury or death claim is filed.
Two weeks ago, CBS Sunday Morning ran this update piece about an abused, now retired circus elephant that had an unusual friendship with a stray dog. www.cbsnews.com/2300-18563_162-10010114.html?tag=mncol;lst;1 After years of dedication, the poor elephant's heart was broken because a couple of coyotes attacked and killed the dog.
Coyotes are killing house cats and attacking dogs from the Presidio to the Panhandle. City Hall needs to start doing its job before a child becomes the next victim.
I can really respect a man such as Quentin Kopp who has a sense of humor and uses a phrase such as "intellectually dishonest" in journalism. Both have lot's of uses. A few retorts.
The Central Subway is a waste if it costs more than the cost of its riders using cars. I'm pretty sure it doesn't. It also depends on how much you value good service. How much do we value the people's time being chronically wasted or the cost of lost time at work? How much is the health cost of auto pollution? Part of the investment will last over 50 years, another part will last more than 100 years. I am not ready to believe the off-street rail in Brooklyn, built 90 years ago and still serving the public, was a waste of money.
Visits to Montreal and Vancouver, cities with similar density and size, convince me we don't get good service because of the inter-action of transit with cars. They have invested in systems that are all off-street rail and so the trains are really moving. Let's recognize what we experience every time we take Muni. Isn't it usually 10-20 stops because of traffic lights and signs? Then, slow downs because of traffic, many turns because of our street plan, and then of course hills. It's the randomness of traffic that causes bunching then all lines converge on one short section of track.
Muni is getting some funding for infrastructure which will make efficiencies. Let's fund more and get as close as we can to all off-street rail. Next time you are at Sloat and West Portal imagine the train going underground to skip that intersection.
As for the street bond, I think the City is doing what it must to keep the system working in spite of the people who think taxation is the worst thing that can happen.
We under-fund, under-invest in the public service and then complain about it.
Todd LeFurge, Twin Peaks
As a journalist, I mostly avoid political involvement, for professional-ethics reasons.
The exception I make is on issues related to the First Amendment and freedom of information. The people have the right to freedom of speech, press and peaceful assembly, and to transparency and accountability in government and in the political process.
That is why I have joined five former Ethics Commission members and a number of my Sunshine Ordinance Task Force colleagues in opposing Proposition F, a "reform" measure that would take away the right of us voters to decide what the rules of conduct are for campaign consultants, giving that authority to the commission and the Board of Supervisors.
Proposition F is an insidious, power-grab measure that deserves your NO vote.
Additional information is available at www.facebook.com/FriendsofEthics.
Rick Knee, former Chair, SF Sunshine Ordinance Task Force
There are new and discouraging developments in the mismanagement at Lake Merced by SFPUC and SF Recreation & Park. The two agencies have refused to follow the direction of the Board of Supervisors and revise the management responsibilities to shift primary management responsibility back to SFPUC. That refusal was met with disappointment by the 45 or so people who attended a July 19 meeting hosted by the two agencies.
Since that time SFPUC has released a six-page document dated July 27, 2011 entitled Lake Merced Boathouse Renovation. On the surface the document seems innocuous, but see the vague language at the end of page 6: "These improvements will update the exterior restrooms, give the upper level a cleaner and more pleasant appearance, and be ready for a new tenant to take over the project and pursue any improvements to suit their needs. In the future, if a tenant is not identified and additional funding is available, the Boathouse can be converted into a concessions area and meeting rooms, in full compliance with all codes, and available for immediate occupancy."
When recently asked whether that meant that after the $940,000 was spent the building would not be in adequate condition for public use, a senior SFPUC staff member acknowledged that such was the case!
Why is SFPUC planning to spend close to a million dollars to make renovations to a building that will be unusable following the renovations? SFPUC spent about 4 years preparing a 187 page Lake Merced Watershed Report that was to guide future efforts at the lake. The Watershed Report was completed in early 2010. It can be found at sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=197
On page 24, in describing the condition of the Boathouse, the Report says, "…it may be better to completely rebuild and expand the facility rather than renovate." At page 158 the Report suggests three possible scenarios for the Boathouse that "require further exploration of their feasibility and consistency with watershed goals".
The Committee to Save Lake Merced did a SF Sunshine Act records request to determine how much SFPUC's ratepayers paid to four consultants for the Watershed Report. The original contract amount was $350,000. After change orders, add on and the like the total paid was a whopping $588,434.87. And the SFPUC staff has yet to take the $588,434 Watershed Report to its 5 Commissioners for their review and consideration.
This kind of scandalous mismanagement cries out for a bright light to be shone upon it by San Francisco's media. The Lake, the residents in the area, and the SFPUC ratepayers deserve much better treatment.
Jerry Cadagan email@example.com
Laguna Honda's Physician Responds
Back in September of 2009, 20 of 22 Laguna Honda Attending Physicians signed a Resolution criticizing a recommendation "...that higher salaried physicians be replaced by registered nursing staff, social workers and psychologists" in an edited report issued by Davis Ja, PhD & Associates.
We considered this recommendation to be invalid due to flawed methodology and professional bias.
The Ja Report was so troubling, that Dr. Maria Rivero and I decided to examine how this contract between Davis Ja and CBHS was awarded.
We found that Davis Ja, PhD and Deborah Sherwood, PhD - the CBHS Director of Research, Evaluation & Quality Management had a domestic and business relationship. This was the basis of a Whistleblower Complaint we filed on 9/18/2009
Two months before we filed our complaint, the City decided to award another contract to Davis Ja & Associates - for $1.9 million, to assess CBHS Substance Abuse Treatment Services. Our potential conflict of interests complaint applied to this contract as well.
It took 2 years - and public pressure, but today City Controller Ben Rosenfield told me that the second contract has been revoked, and that the remaining $600,000 will not be paid to Davis Ja & Associates because of the conflict of interests we identified. The remainder of the work will be completed "in-house". Mr. Rosenfield also informed the Whistleblower Program oversight committee (CGOBOC) that there will be some "personnel action". However, former CBHS Director Dr. Robert Cabaj resigned in May 2011.
I am grateful to my former LHH and UAPD colleagues who took a stand on this issue. Derek Kerr, MD
Thank you Dr. Kerr, and please see Patrick Monette-Shaw's full report on p. 5 -Editor.
Garbage, a response to Quentin Kopp
Solid waste collection services now being provided by either Sunset Scavenger Company and/or Golden Gate Disposal Company to all the residents of San Francisco, have provided uninterrupted waste collection services since 1906, well over 100 years.
Can any city in the world equal that record? Not likely, and I ponder why anyone would ever question that extraordinary record, especially with the expanded and comprehensive waste diversion programs, the most advanced and comprehensive solid waste management program in the world.
I am the former President of Sunset Scavenger and a "Scavenger" who 'worked on the trucks' prior, to becoming its president in 1965, right in the middle of the controversial issue of "filling the bay" with anything; least of all "garbage."
Quentin and I first met more than 50 years ago, when he was a young attorney, just arrived from New York and we became friends, he a promising attorney and me a garbage collector. He became an elected Supervisor and I became the President of the garbage company, in the middle of the "Save the Bay Movement".
Point being, if we had no place dump the refuse/garbage collected, we, the (scavengers) could not "collect" it, which could have surely happened, if we were unsuccessful in the development of the new landfill at Sierra Point in Brisbane. He, I, City Staff, and his colleagues helped to create a productive and working relationship between the waste collection companies and the City of San Francisco.
Out of this one single controversial event, (as noted) was the preamble, (50 years past) and because of this crisis, we the Scavengers, the elected officials and bureaucrats of San Francisco, worked together to create the most cost effective, comprehensive solid waste management programs in the world.
Ironically, who helped make that possible? My friend Quentin Kopp, who fully supported the plan that was the foundation of the program in existence today. It was really surprising and disappointing to me that he can now criticize and question a service that he supported and helped to create, one that overcame substantial bureaucratic, regulatory authority and incomprehensible environmental issues. As a result, we created what, in my humble, but experienced opinion (with some 57 years in this business). No one has a better comprehension and respect for the extraordinary, cost-effective services that the residents and business receive and enjoy to this day.
Leonard D. Stefanelli, San Francisco, CA.
This is in response to the photo published on the back page of your February 2011.
Today was the pre 50th Reunion of my graduating class at Abraham Lincoln High School. We were given an organized tour of the School. At the School Tour, one of my Classmates, Arthur Elvin of Pacheco Street (Forest Hill), brought the clipping to me and asked if it was me. Answer "Yes".
My Uniform was sponsored by Siskin's Thrifty Drug, located next to Angelo's Restaurant, just across from the Tunnel Entrance. The Coach on the right rear is John Pearce, and his son, John Pearce, Jr. is in the back row, (Big Smile) third from left. I am the little guy, middle row, far right. Next to Mr. Pearce is Gil "Buddy" Haskell, now prominent in the NFL as a coach. I remember some of the other names, but I couldn't tell you who was who.
Even the name of Walt Lunny rings a bell, but I'm not sure which one is him. I still have a copy of this actual photo. I wish I would have written down the names.
Where are they now? Here I am. Mark D. Zimmerman, Emeryville; age 67 +. Semi-retired Real Estate Broker.
Before the School Tour today, Three of us had lunch at El Toreador, 50 West Portal Ave., and it was excellent. I didn't know then that I would be getting the photo from your Westside Observer, so it is funny, in a way, that I made conversation about our West Portal Merchants Midget Baseball Team. Truly a great neighborhood memory.
By the way, I think that the Photo is not '53, but more like '54, or '55.
The Westside Observer is the best paper in San Francisco. Where else would I find out about the privatization of our Parks and Recreation Centers. I had no idea what has been going on if it were not for the Westside Observer. I am now going to become actively involved in fighting this good fight.
My family, with my children born in the ‘50s and ‘60s would have missed so much activity and recreational opportunities if it were not for the Park Directors and their programs starting with the Tiny Tots programs. At almost 80 years of age I still have those wonderful pictures of the children in their graduation caps from Tiny Tots graduation ceremonies..We all must put a stop to this terrible privatization of the parks in San Francisco.
I can’t believe there is a charge for admission to the Arboretum. It is bad enough now to be charged to enter the Japanese Tea Garden where the children loved walking through the beautiful , blooming, Spring garden and having tea in the teahouse. With four children and their cousins we could just about afford the cost of tea and cookies let alone now having to pay to enter the gardens.
Also, thank you for the listing of community meetings which I now will begin attending to let my voice be heard as a San Francisco citizen who raised her children in this wonderful city that I am sad to say is really deteriorating.
Valerie Klung, Westside San Franciscan
Remember When Photo
In your March 2011 issue, you have a photo of the sunset district. It was taken from Moraga street between 15th and 16th avenues looking southwest. The date I would guess to be in the early 1930's. In the background the north basin of the Sunset reservoir is under construction and that might give a clue as to the year. The sandy area with the impressive looking quarry pit (for the reservoir work?) was the site of the Market Street Railway sand mine - about 21st and Ortega. The MSR #17 line ran along 20th avenue in this area. The antique - looking gas station just above the center of the photo was at 19th ave. and Noriega street.
The billboards were along the line of 19th avenue and that street does not appear to have been widened yet.
John Rossi, Sunset District
(See a larger photo)
I think the picture is from above 17th Ave near Moraga, looking south. I grew up at 1723 - 18th Ave., it looks like the picture of the new houses being built were the east side of 17th Ave between Moraga and Noriega. I believe the three barrel front houses at the right standing all on their own are on 18th ave, (my house would be the one on the right). Then 19th Ave farther up the picture (undeveloped).
Peggy Nevin, West Portal
An office mate brought this in to me as a SF native (Mission District & Eureka Valley). There is no question of the location: the houses under construction are on the east side of 17th Avenue between Noriega and Moraga – the 4 fronts just to the right of the vacant lot in the center can easily be seen on Google Maps Street View.
Noriega and 20th is the very clear intersection just above right center - the 2 story building on the sw corner is the United Commercial Bank building. (note several bill boards and tiny gas station on 19th Avenue). My guess is this was late 20's early 30's. The boom in the outer dunes did not occur until the war (this is really a guess).
Terry Strain, SF
I just finished reading the CVS plans to build a drugstore at 701 Portola Dr. (March Issue) and it interested me so much, that I went over to the SF Planning Dept to see what other information I could find. I could not find any information at all on this project. Is this really going to happen, or is CVS just researching this as a possible new location?
J Slattery, Miraloma Park
(Editor's Note) I am disappointed that the Department could not find any information on their project. I am not shocked. If I were you I would file a Sunshine Complaint for failing to inform the public. The hearing was a Special Hearing on Feb. 29th at 2:30 pm at 1650 Mission St. Room 431. The notice is online: www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=1541
Re: Quentin Kopp’s Degraded, Disrespected and Disregarded I find the article too conservative. The author seems to hide the reason why does the Government exist. Aren’t we a big country that needs a powerful and big Government? Does the author not know what just had happened in the end of 2008? The biggest financial meltdown ever due to an anemic Government that has no funds? Or the oil spill, Katrina, etc. We rather should call upon a powerful, well financed Government, since we live in a dangerously earthquake prone area. Does Mr. Kopp think Mexico will come to help us like they did during Katrina?
The General fund should go first of all to Public Transit and why not? We pretend to be a green city, so why not reward those who do not jam our streets with cars? Somewhere in the article Mr. Kopp insinuates that money generated from gasoline tax goes to Public Transit, as if it were a gift! Concerning the leitmotif of “Special Interest”, I am amazed that Mr. Kopp seems to aim at UNIONS and those who serve the people. I always believed that if there is any intrenched special interest is that of Business. They always win, doesn’t he know that? In fine, I would say that we have to tax the citizens to have a great country.
Nafiss Griffis, Outer Sunset
No on B!
Mr. Adachi’s suspiciously funded Prop. B deserves a NO vote because it is a mean spirited attack on San Francisco City workers as if they were the cause of the City’s fiscal problems. In his “Prop. B Deserves Support” he never mentions the causal effects of the greedy and dishonest big operators from here to Wall Street.
How unfortunate that he compares the City’s employee medical insurance benefits to the “only 60% of SF businesses that offer health care benefits for employees” (or the 40% that don’t). San Francisco seeks a higher standard in many areas including medical coverage for its employees and their dependents. Why compare her to employers that don’t?
Adachi argues that SF is extravagant in her coverage of her worker’s dependents. According to the Kaiser Foundation the average employer covers 73% of family health premium costs; SF covers 74%. San Franciscans are proud that their city is above average in many ways. We should not regress! Vote NO on B.
Anthony C. Bazan, City Worker, 94131
Remember When /Ocean Avenue
A belated response on the picture in July/August issue. According to acute
observer Lee Harrington, this is at 1400 Ocean Avenue at Grenada.
There has been some
remodeling to the building, front door moved left, and side
No on B!
It is unfortunate that Mr. Adachi, who makes $200k/year, sees nothing
wrong with spewing selective, dated and incomplete analysis in an attempt
to further his misguided political ambition on the backs of working class
Americans. Proposition B would double the cost even the lowest paid city
workers have to contribute to their health care, further burdening workers
who, unlike Mr. Adachi, actually contribute to their own retirement. Most
workers contribute at least 7.5% to their retirement. Mr. Adachi currently
contributes nothing. The assertion that this poorly written proposition
would actually save the City money has been disputed by the City Controller,
as well as the Health Services System, which noted that Prop B would actually
cost the City money. Prop B does nothing to ensure that supposed savings
would go to other City services. Poorly written propositions like this,
sponsored by wealthy businessmen and their local political stooges, have
made California ungovernable.
Obi Nzewi, Oakland
No on B!
Mr. Adachi, in his recent editorial about Proposition B, attempted to
focus on facts: however; like all lawyers, Mr. Adachi twisted his words
to provide a false picture of Prop B. I want to share with your readers
how Prop B will hurt our citizens:
1) Prop B will unfairly impact workers making the least amount of money
(gardeners, nursing assistance, and custodians).
2) Prop B will dramatically increase the cost of health care
(as much as $500/mo.) and force working families to make tough choices
between providing medical insurance for their children and putting food
on the table.
3) City employees have taken voluntary pay cuts of over $250
Million over the past few years to help balance the budget.
4) The Controller has refuted Adachi’s claim of how much Prop
B will save: the Health Service System stated clearly that Prop B will
cost the city money.
5) Prop B says nothing about money going to other city services.
Proposition B is Bad Medicine for San Francisco. It doesn’t fix problems;
it punishes city workers for a situation they did not create, and it
will dramatically increase health care costs for children.
Please join me in voting “No on B”.
Garry Bieringer, Staples Ave.
I always enjoy the “remember when?” photo you print in your paper. I pick the paper up from my driveway each time with anticipation of what the old photo will be. So thank you for printing them. This month I was intrigued by the request for information. My first thought was that it reminded me of Ocean Avenue. As I happen to have a collection of old city directories, I thought I would look up the business and see if it was listed. Of course that would be too simple. So this information may be entirely wrong for your picture. There was nothing in the 1918 directory, and I don’t have 1919, but in 1920 there appears “Westwood Pharmacy” at 1526 Ocean Avenue. The proprietor was E.L. Nelson. That pharmacy was there for quite a few years. In 1933 there appears a Westwood Grocery at 560 Monterey, the proprietor Irma Baumgartener. That was only listed that one year, and the geography doesn’t fit the picture. The only other listed possibility was a Westwood Market, at 1708 Ocean Avenue. It too was only listed for only one year, 1934. My City Directory collection only runs through 1935. Perhaps this is information that you already accessed and which proved not correct. If so, forgive me for taking up your time. I just had a lot of fun puzzling it. Thank you.
I was just reading the Westside Observer online — and saw the photo of Westside Park Grocery -- sorry to say don’t know the answer to your question.
However—and you guys may know this trick—if you go to http://sflib1.sfpl.org:82/ and enter just <westside park> you get 94 photos of Westside Park, all dated “not before 1917” and many of them by Gabriel Moulin. One photo shows two women knitting on the front porch of a WP house. The notation on the back says “no 96”, perhaps the house number/street number.
Since there are streetcar tracks in front of the grocery, I assume this is Ocean Avenue.
I’d like to thank Quentin Kopp for his article, “Jig is Up for Justice.” I especially appreciated his comment on the newly appointed Superior Court Judge the Honorable Richard Ulmer - and the fact that his opponents in the up-coming election are weakly credentialed in comparison. I’ve come to admire Quentin Kopp’s judgment over the years, and because of his comments I plan to vote for Judge Ulmer. I only wish more information was provided every time there is an election that includes judges. I don’t know what other source there is for a person to inform themselves about the qualifications of judges running for office.
Virginia Hayes, Sunset District
A full Environmental Impact Report for the proposed soccer fields needs to be conducted. Golden Gate Park is a cultural, environmental and historical landmark for the city of San Francisco; the proposed GGP/Beach Chalet Soccer Fields significantly and seriously threatens its integrity.
I live and work at Ocean Beach, one block south of the park. I walk at least two hours of each day, seven days a week, in the park. At night I go outside to view the stars. I have lived my entire life in San Francisco (41 years); growing up near the Piers I never knew the sky could be what it is here at Lands End.
I’ve been living in the Sunset for nearly 10 years and have already been very negatively affected by the use of the park to generate funds to meet budget deficits. The Team In Training groups, the sundry Marathons, and the Outside Lands Concerts have only meant fecal matter and urine on my doorstep, excess trash in the neighborhood, physical pushing and shoving on the paths and in the park, and obnoxious drivers blocking my driveway or nearly running me over while I am walking.
When I heard they were planning a sports center I was, and am, horrified.
Supervisor Chu has expressed the idea that this proposed sports center will answer a budget need. I find that short sighted and negligent.
I am desperately concerned for the wildlife that live in the park. On my daily walks I have come to know the birds especially. The proposed lighting alone is of great concern. What is this light pollution going to do the nocturnal creatures and their habitat? And what about the unique place the western edge of the city holds for night skies? The fog, for which my neighborhood is notorious, will only amplify the light pollution. We need to foster habitats not destroy them.
I am also incensed that the city could even be considering artificial turf which has been shown to raise ground level temperatures an average of 20 degrees. This goes against its goal to reduce environmental destruction caused by urban life.
As I understand it, there isn’t even a plan for what to do with the turf once it ages and becomes unattractive for further play; given the rough estimate of its ten-year life span, I find this unbelievable. Nor is there any plan for disinfecting this turf, a fact the GGP gardeners, have expressed concern about. The rains will wash this into our ground waters and Ocean.
Golden Gate Park is a park. The Master Plan (1998) stated the need to keep the western edge pastoral. The district just gave a grant to Surfrider to increase permeable surface and promote the land stewardship; this proposed soccer field project, while it may increase city funds, and alcohol sales at the Park and Beach Chalet, will also bring more cars and destruction to park vegetation. It makes no sense.
With an EIR other options, such as maintaining the trees, plant life and grass fields for play, can be explored.
Dr. Reid Gómez, Sunset District Resident
Thank you for your article Paving Over Golden Gate Park in the February issue.
I am a business owner and resident of the Sunset. I live one block away from the Murphy Windmill that is currently under renovation, and I use the park for several hours each day.
I am incensed and alarmed about the city plan to install artificial turf and 60 foot sports lights in the park without even performing an Environmental Impact Report; considering the destruction to wildlife habitats, vegetation and the known elevation in ground temperatures (an average of 20 degrees) that will result, this is negligent at best.
Artificial turf is not sustainable. There is no plan for how to clean (disinfect) or dispose of the turf once it is installed. The soccer community admits they have a high percentage of staph infection. What about the animals, the GGP staff, and local residents who live and work in the park? What is going to be done with the turf when it has outlived its life? What about San Francisco’s proposed goal of decreasing garbage, increasing permeable surfaces, and the Secretary of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places (2004) support for keeping the western end of GGP as a “natural woodland?”
The proposed lights will generate pollution. I am concerned about their affect on park wildlife. I use the park to walk and to watch and study the birds and twilight creatures. These lights will alter their habitat, and result in their destruction. What trees will be displaced for their construction? What will the light pollution do to the night skies and neighborhoods?
The proposed soccer fields will likely draw players from outside the area. In my experience with the sports events already generating income for the city and held at the western edge, this means more cars and more illegal parkers. They see the park and beach as a playground, not a home, and they leave trash and urine in their wake. And they certainly don’t ride MUNI.
My primary concern is for the soil. We must protect our topsoil. The dunes are a fragile ecosphere. The proposed artificial turf is not permeable. Trees will likely be uprooted and further weaken an already delicate soil environment. Damage to plant life is guaranteed.
People come to the western edge to see the sea, to see the windmills and tulip gardens. As I understand this age, and the city, we have made a declaration to foster care for the natural world, and to curb our role in the environmental destruction that results from city construction. At the least a full EIR should be conducted and legitimate alternatives should be introduced and pursued before any forward movement with this artificial non-permeable surface and light pollution project.
This is the wrong project, wrong reasons, wrong place and time. Keep western GGPark serene, peaceful, and for day use only.
Don’t Sign Muni Reform Petitions!
Don’t be misguided into backing Supervisor Sean Elsbernd’s proposed Muni Reform ballot initiative for November’s election. Elsbernd failed to convince his Board colleagues to place this initiative on the ballot and now needs signatures to qualify his initiative. Here’s why readers shouldn’t sign Elsbernd’s signature petitions.
Transit operators — Muni drivers — represented by TWU-250A already negotiate their salaries under collective bargaining, so Elsbernd’s claim that the ballot initiative will introduce something new is completely false. TWU’s current seven-year, 102-page contract with the City runs from 2004 through 2011; it contains an extensive section already permitting Muni to hire part-time employees, dispelling the nonsense that Elsbernd’s “reforms” will suddenly allow Muni to hire part-time employees.
Of the 2,350 transit operators on the City payroll as of December 15, 2009, 1,038 part-time drivers (44.2%) earned less than the $58,073 base salary of full-time drivers. Almost 700 (nearly one-third) of the drivers earned less than $50,000, and 487 (20.7%) earned less than $40,000, in base wages as part-time drivers.
Worse, Muni drivers have not had pay raises in two to three years. Wooding’s assertion that granting a 5.4% raise to Muni drivers will cost an increase of $8 million is wrong; City Controller payroll data for end-of-year 2009 shows a 5.4% raise would cost just $6.3 million in increased base pay. Personal income dropped by 2.5% in California last year for the first time since 1938. Inflation eating away at driver’s incomes during the past three years, without any raises, is just pushing more middle-class residents into moving out of the City, probably costing the City millions in lost sales taxes from drivers who shop in other jurisdictions.
An assertion that drivers don’t have to work 40 hours in a week to earn overtime might be germane, if the police officers contract didn’t also have the same stipulation that working more than eight hours in one day may result in overtime. Also lamenting that Muni drivers have automatic annual salary guarantees (ignoring that driver’s have not had annual raises for several years), but Elsbernd “forgets” that the police earn almost-guaranteed semi-annual pay raises every six months.
While Elsbernd bemoans the $6.3 million increase to bus driver pay in the face of the Mayor Gavin Newsom’s anticipated $522 million deficit, he neglects to consider that raises for police employees — only police officers, lieutenant’s, sergeant’s, and inspector’s — climbed by $4.8 million (2%) in January 2010, is scheduled to climb another $9.9 million (a 4% bump) in July 2010, and will climb another $5 million (another 2% raise) in January 2011. This 8% totals $19.7 million, before including yet another “thank-you” bump in July 2011 of up to 5%, estimated at $11.1 million, bringing their total 13% raises to $30 million between January 2010 and July 2011, just for the 2,450 employees in these four police job classifications.
This doesn’t include another 15% across five raises these police classifications already received between July 2007 and July 2009 in a five-year contract granting 28% in total raises.
Base pay for these four police classifications ranges from $102,648 for a Police Officer I, to $139,840 for a Lieutenant III. Sixteen lieutenant’s earned over $140,000 in base pay in 2009; one lieutenant earned $149,963 in base pay and $23,166 in overtime, which combined with “other pay” drove his total pay to $177,845!
While Elsbernd laments the salary comparison across jurisdictions for transit operators, he ignores that the police contract performs salary comparisons across 11 jurisdictions to arrive at a formula for setting police salaries in San Francisco. This is nothing more than a pyramid scheme that causes salary increases in one jurisdiction to then boomerang, causing police salaries in other jurisdictions to spiral upwards.
Jim Lazarus’s claim that City “employees have to realize they cannot keep getting paid the same when less money is coming in.” Tell this to police officers, Mr. Lazarus. After all, much of Mayor Newsom’s perennial budget deficits are caused by police who believe they not only should be paid the same with less money coming in, they feel entitled to their 28% in total raises, even in the face of a $522 million City deficit and 17,000 pink slips handed to City employees, pink slips designed to find revenue to keep giving raises to police employees.
It wasn’t bus driver salaries that caused the City of Vallejo to declare bankruptcy, it was police salaries. Elsbernd should focus on police salary reform, before police salaries bankrupt San Francisco.
Don’t sign Elbernd’s Muni “reform” petitions. If he was unable to convince the other ten Supervisors to place it on the ballot, we shouldn’t do it for him.
Elsbernd’s hypocrisy is breathtaking: In 2007, he not only voted as a sitting Supervisor to place the “Proposition A “ Muni reform on the ballot, he signed a rebuttal to the opponent’s argument, claiming Prop A would “bring Muni employees back to the bargaining table to create more efficient work rules.” Has Elsbernd explained his new flip-flop to Jim Lazarus?
Amanda Runcible, Twin Peaks
Paving Over Golden Gate Park
In reading George Wooding’s article in
the February edition of the Westside Observer, (Paving Over Golden Gate Park), I was amazed that someone so involved with the community could be so misinformed. If not misinformed, the only other possibility is a tremendous bias against the athletes who have used the western edge (better known as Beach Chalet) soccer fields in Golden Gate Park for more than 50 years.
Mr. Wooding implies that the area should remain “pastoral” with meadows (ne: the current 3 soccer fields) and surrounded by groves of trees. Ask any parent who has delivered their child to the Beach Chalet fields if they are comfortable with the knowledge that the “groves of trees” obscure the lurking men looking for whatever. The best thing that could happen would be to reduce those groves to a minimal border so as to discourage the “lurkers”.
Regarding the footprint the new fields would create: There are already 3 full grass fields and a restroom and fences around them. At most, there would be no more than a 20% increase in the open space. Most of the increased space would come from eliminating some of the groves.
Mr. Wooding portrays the inclusion of field lights and a clubhouse as a bad thing. Many of our baseball/softball fields have lights and absolutely every one of our golf courses has a clubhouse. Why would this be a bad thing?
The permits, exemptions, and other bureaucratic obstacles indicated by Mr. Wooding are no different than those encountered anytime anyone wants to do anything to change the status quo. They can be worked out without a big hassle or a lot of vitriolic.
Probably the most misdirected comments by Mr. Wooding have to do with the projected cost comparisons. I do not take issues with the costs he places on installation, repairs or maintenance. If one were to use his numbers, regarding costs only, over a 20-year amortization period, the artificial turf fields will cost about $10,000 per year less than grass on average. Beyond 20 years, the turf fields would be almost $80,000 less expensive per year.
These comparisons are for cost only: they do not take into account the revenue generated by the rental of the fields. One only needs to visit the new Crocker Amazon turf fields to realize the potential. They can be used almost constantly with no downtime for rainouts, reseeding or irrigation replacement.
Assuming the Rec & Park rescind their silly decision to triple field fees, the Premier divisions of SF Soccer and the Golden Gate Women’s Soccer League will return to SF to play on the turf fields. They will come back not just because of a fee reduction but because they will be able to rely on a “rain or shine” schedule. This can happen with turf fields. Not only will the city recover the lost income of approximately $100,000 but will eliminate he grass field maintenance of $42,000/year and replace that cost with about $6,000/year if turf field maintenance.
The Beach Chalet fields will not be converted to a picnic meadow even if turf is not installed. Adding a fourth field (turf or not) would go a long way in alleviating the incredible backlog of field demand by our youth teams. Turf would further enhance the outcome.
I would suggest a letter and/or a petition to your supervisor AND to Mr. Wooding supporting the new turfing proposal at the western edge of Golden Gate Park.
Richard Cross, 50 year SF Resident
After reading Mr. Wooding’s article on the “Paving of
Golden Gate Park,” I was appalled to learn that a section of our nationally
recognized historic park might be transformed from a woodland meadow
with children’s soccer into a full-sized super-sports complex. This
development apparently introduces structures where none were intended
according to the park’s master plan.
The drawing in the article shows the present four fields to be expanded and adding two more. The park generously accommodates these grass soccer fields because they exist without conflict with the natural setting. But I gather that this concession is not enough in the eyes of those who view the park as just raw land to be developed.
It seems as if this new plan was drawn with no understanding of WHERE the complex is to be constructed. Golden Gate Park is not a vacant lot just waiting for someone with money to fix it up. It is already “fixed” with neat stuff like trees and grass and birds and bees, ready for people to enjoy. The Beach Chalet site currently serves multiple purposes from athletics to concerts with its flexible open pasture.
Golden Gate Park is special, very special. It is a gift of open space to the residents of a crowded city, both human and animal. It is a gift from the past to future generations to have something of value, far beyond the man-made structures that the early urban planners knew would fill up the city one day. It is the gift of nature to remind us of what is real and where we came from.
Thank you Mr. Wooding for bringing this poorly vetted proposal to our awareness. We did not know about this well kept secret. You mention that “there are many other parks and high schools where synthetic turf soccer fields could be built.” Let the Recreation and Park Department pursue these other sites for installing soccer complexes, and leave the western end our most unique and wonderful park as it was intended to be - undeveloped.
Anna Gordon, Sunset Heights
Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Serafin’s November letter
Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Serafin’s November letter about Laguna Honda
contained a number of inaccurate statements.
If nursing homes are pursuing efforts to reduce costs, why is LHH keeping its marketing and public relations staff at a cost of nearly $400,000 in annual salary while eliminating doctors? Why is a marketing department necessary for a captive audience of public health Medi-Cal patients other facilities won’t admit?
Serafin claims there “are no studies in any literature … that states reducing the number of physicians and replacing them with nurses … will worsen patient care.” Serafin should have reviewed the March 2009 Annals
of Internal Medicine article by Paul Katz, MD that I referenced in October; Katz’s article noted marginalizing physicians in nursing homes threatens the overall quality of care to patients with medically complex illnesses, and noted that having a dedicated medical staff improves patient care. If in-house physicians improve patient care, then not having physicians will worsen care.
Serafin is wrong about “travelling doctors.” Patients in nursing homes without on-staff physicians do wait weeks to receive medical care, because travelling doctors rely on observational skills of nursing staff. When overworked nurses miss observing patient conditions, patients do wait weeks to see an MD.
Cutting expenses is one thing. But why is fox-guarding-the-RN-hen-house Serafin okay with cutting “extra expenses” of MD’s who provide direct care, when LHH has a bloated Nursing Administration Department that doesn’t provide direct patient care, including 16 Nursing Supervisors, 20 Nurse Managers, and 7 Clinical Nurse Specialists paid a combined total of $6 million in 2008 (seven earned over $200,000; 27 earned over $150,000). Private-sector nursing homes rarely have clinical nurse specialists, multiple nursing directors, and the number of nurse managers and nursing supervisors LHH employs, which “extra expenses” Nurse Serafin ignores.
Had Serafin actually read the Ja report, she’d know it recommends LHH’s certified nursing assistants (CNAs) take on more skilled-care work, by being trained to assume management of behavioral and substance abuse problem patients, which is outside their typical practice area — after CNAs just had their salaries cut 20.5 percent! Ja’s flawed methodology may have inflated his claim 46 percent of LHH residents have “behavioral diagnoses.” Ja, and Serafin, fail to note 100 percent have medical diagnoses; cutting doctors providing medical care to both groups isn’t simple cost-cutting.
If Serafin were really concerned about cost-cutting as a necessary part of life, cutting physicians and CNAs would be considered last (not first), since LHH pays its skilled-nursing registered nurses (RNs) the same pay rate ($61.05 hourly) the City pays its acute-care RNs. The web site www.indeed.com reports RN salaries in San Francisco residential nursing homes average $52,000 annually; the City’s web site shows that effective December 2009 LHH RNs are paid $126,984 after ten years of service, 2.4 times more than San Francisco’s average nursing home RN salary. For instance, LHH RNs are thought to be paid almost $20 more hourly than RNs at the Jewish Home for the Aged. Does Serafin know why LHH CNA salaries were slashed, but LHH RN salaries weren’t?
Instead of eliminating doctors entirely, and slashing the pay of CNAs 20.5 percent, how about starting first paying LHH RNs skilled-nursing, rather than acute-nursing, salaries? That alone would save tens of millions annually!
The City pays its Nurse Practitioners $81.50 hourly (who were paid $300,000 in overtime in 2008), and its Physician Specialists $81.78 hourly (who earned no overtime), so there is no savings to be realized from replacing MD’s with Nurse Practitioners.
If Serafin’s main shtick is “cost cutting,” she should start with cleaning up Nursing’s back yard. Eliminating MD’s is a negative move when it causes medical neglect.
Patrick Monette-Shaw www.stopLHHdownsize.com
Has anyone noticed
Has anyone noticed that anyone who has run for Supervisor in District 7 over the past several elections ends up in controversy? The hotly-contested race between Mabel Teng and Tony Hall enabled neighborhood residents to focus on politics and issues, but... how many of us can remember discussing the details of that race?
Next came the infamous “triple play” manuever involving Annemarie Conroy, Tony Hall, and Sean Elsbernd. How many of the local residents have an opinion about the pros and cons of that “agreement”?
In the November, 2008, election, a written complaint was filed with the Department of Elections and the Ethics Commission questioning the residency of Supervisor Elsbernd (as in did he live in district seven during this campaign?). As of now, there has been no written statement from anyone, including Mayor Newsom and the City Attorney’s office. In fact, the current controversy is still undisclosed by city hall leaders.
I believe that District 7 residents deserve a written, detailed explanation, with facts and findings as it’s one year later. C’mon City Hall, let us know the truth on this and clear this up once and for all.
Douglas Yep – Longtime District 7 resident
I would just like to comment on the article “Laguna Honda’s Unkindest Cut”, by Patrick Manette-Shaw, published in the October 2009 issue. I have worked for over 10 years as a Nurse Practitioner in another Long Term Care facility in San Francisco, and I would like to clarify some of the comments made in the article. First, there is effort underway in all nursing homes to reduce costs, so Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH) is no exception. During this economic downturn, most hospitals and nursing homes are slashing staff positions to cut costs. However, the author feels that these cuts would be detrimental for the types of patients that LHH contains. He mentions the “Ja Report” is an incomplete analysis, and feels that their data is flawed. First, there are no studies in any literature that I have read that states that reducing the number of physicians and replacing them with nurses, social workers, and psychologists will worsen patient care, especially in regards to substance abuse treatment.
Secondly, the article voices concerns that losing staff physicians and using “traveling” physicians instead will cause patients to have to “wait weeks for medical care”. Let me assure the public that this absolutely not the case. While it is true that federally mandated visits (every 60 days) are required if the patient is stable, if a patient becomes medically ill or needs more medical attention, then more frequent visits are warranted, and can be provided by physicians and other health care professionals that come in to the nursing home. In fact, this is how the great majority of nursing homes across the country operate. Most nursing homes do not have staff physicians; all medical care is provided by outside doctors. The reason for this is that most physicians bill Medicare/Medicaid directly for their services, and most nursing homes cannot support a large medical group as LHH can. Therefore, LHH is lucky to have this kind of set-up, as it is expensive, so this is why there is talk of cutting this extra expense out.
I would also like to clear up the concerns the author has about the CNAs in LHH. First off, CNAs are not considered “skilled-care” providers. Most CNAs train for just a few months to be able to provide care to patients. In fact, the care they provide is the basics, like feeding and bathing, not management of behavioral or substance abuse problems. On the other hand, nurses, social workers, and psychologists are all positions which require more skill and training, which should improve the quality of care for most patients with behavioral health problems.
With our current health care system, unfortunately cost cutting is a necessary part of life. However, I do not agree with the author’s comments that losing physicians and CNAs while replacing them with nurses and other health care professionals would be a negative move.
Jennifer Serafin RN, GNP
I just found the October issue of Westside Observer.
The Remember When? photo shows a view looking north from the top of Merced Heights, probably Shields or Grafton Streets. The left side of the photo shows the Homewood Terrace Orphanage, on Ocean Ave between Faxon and Ashton Avenues. That’s Mt. Davidson at the rear.
At the right front corner of the photo is what looks like the old Farragut Grammar School--since turned into condos. It probably dates to the late 1930’s. I’ll be checking to see if I am right this time!
Thanks for your great publication.
Carole Issel - San Francisco
Jed Lane’s response to Tony Halls letter
I’m glad you were amused Mr. Hall, I’m actually one of your ex-supporters and we’ve met at least five times, I guess you’ve forgotten. I have no need to “stalk” you, you’re a recognizable man and you live on the street where I grew up. I pass by the intersection that’s the entrance to your street many times a day. If you don’t own the Harley I’ve seen you on - my mistake.
I’m far too old to be considered one of “those self-appointed whiz kids” having graduated from St Brendan’s long before you moved into the parish. Nor am I a “holier than thou San Francisco liberal”, since I actually fall on the conservative side of SF politics. Sorry I don’t fit your description of the bad bogeymen “other” that your straw-man argument needs to have any credence.
Let’s put all of that aside - who you think you are or who you wish I am - the state IS passing laws that will affect us all, even you. My goal was to bring the attention of my neighbors to the use of punitive parking fees to reduce vehicle travel. Raising fees to get people out of cars is happening in many cities around the world. Zurich, London, Stockholm, San Francisco to mention just a few.
Muni service is so terrible in our hilly neighborhoods that we can’t rely on it so we don’t ride it. We don’t have the ridership so MUNI cuts the line out completely. If we don’t advocate we will all be left stranded like our neighbors in Forest Knolls will be as soon as the 36 stops running on Warren Drive.
While you and your compadres rail against the fees that are being charged, painting them as another unjust revenue source from an administration that you disagree with. Your neighbors will be left high and dry because their “leaders” stopped being involved and devolved into curmudgeons, ranting and tilting against windmills instead of getting off their donkeys, paying attention to what is going on and making an effort to shape the future. Our kids, Mr. Hall are why I’m involved in neighborhood planning, disaster resiliency and public safety issues. So think about it Mr. Hall what good do you do now? I don’t see you at NERT events. I don’t see you working on the CAPSS project or advocating for Forest Hill Extension at the Planning Commission. I don’t see you working on the Open Space, Housing or Community Safety Elements of the General Plan. I do see you at SPUR’s grand opening where nothing is getting done other than food, drinks and smooze time. Why don’t I see you at any of the SPUR seminars where you might actually get informed about new laws and be part of discussions about the future of San Francisco? I’m there, learning and advocating, why aren’t you.
Nope, I have to assume that you’d rather spend your time sitting on your donkey tilting at windmills.
Previous letters (Nov 08 - Aug 09)