Thursday, November 8, 2007

Tiny at Studio Gallery & Tree Planting with FUF

"Green Hills"

by Mina Reimer

Mixed media and resin

"Tiny" is probably my favorite recurring show at Studio Gallery. In this third incarnation, Jennifer hangs 225 paintings at a time and when one sells, it is replaced by another. Besides being small in size, all the artwork is small in price - everything under $400, and the little gem pictured above? just $80.

The show is up now, and the reception is this Saturday from 4-8. It will be a scene because so many artists are represented. It is no accident that this show will run through December 23. All you holiday shoppers are fully expected to get out there, support your economy, local artists and your country, dammit!

Most likely, you will be very tired from planting trees at 9:00 am with the Friends of the Urban Forest. Just go home, take a shower and a nap and put on your party frock for a 4:00 appearance at the opening. Volunteers can show up Saturday, November 10, at 9am rain or shine at 1465 Washington between Leavenworth and Hyde. We will start off with instruction and get all the equipment necessary and then move on to the planting sites.

See more art bits and get Studio Gallery particulars at their website:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Notes from Middle Polk Neighborhood Association Meeting 10/15

Dawn Trennert opened the meeting at Its a Grind coffeehouse and introduced Sergeants from Central and Northern police stations for neighborhood updates.

Sergeant Vanderbilt from Central Station reported that they are staffing a prostitution abatement detail 3-5 times a week.

If you need to report suspected prostitution, call the non-emergency line at 415-553-0123. It is important to report incidents because this line also records statistics that are used for resource allocation decision making. When phoning in a report, give as full a description of what you saw as possible including what activities transpired, physical descriptions of the suspects and any vehicles involved. The report can be anonymous, but giving your name will increase the effectiveness and probable cause.

Auto burglary enforcement teams are operating and are also training incoming officers for the detail.

Sergeant Ford of Northern Station gave us the names of the Sector Sergeants responsible for Polk Street: Sergeant Flaherty on the early shift, Sergeant Pena on the swing shift, and Sergeant Cruz on the late shift.

Polk Street Merchant of the Month, Elizabeth Shypertt of Velvet Da Vinci (2015 Polk near Pacific), shared information about their current show of earrings from 100 artists from around the world. Items in the show range from $50 to $5,000. Elizabeth has been on Polk Street with Velvet Da Vinci for 3 years and enjoys it very much. The gallery moved to Polk after 13 years in Hayes Valley.

I have been helping out on the Trees and Beautification Committee and I gave the following update:
-MPNA is helping coordinate volunteers for a tree planting day organized by the Friends of the Urban Forest. Volunteers can show up Saturday, November 10, at 9am rain or shine at 1465 Washington between Leavenworth and Hyde. We will start off with instruction and get all the equipment necessary and then move on to the planting sites.
-MPNA has pledged 100 hours of volunteer service to assist the Russian Hill Neighbors with their Greening the Broadway Tunnel project. These efforts will begin in January.

Frank Cannata gave updates on developments that the MPNA is watching. 1650 Broadway has a proposed 80 foot condo complex with 34 market rate units. 2550 Van Ness at Filbert is slated for a 150ft condo project. The Cala Market at California and Hyde has been sold. The current owners reportedly have a lease on the building until 2010 and plan to keep it open at least until then. There are plans for a mixed-use development on the site which may include the market. The area is zoned for development up to 65 ft tall.

Michael Skoolnick reported that the planning commission voted to support approval of landmark status for 1601 Larkin. The developer has been seeking approval for a 26 unit luxury condo development replacing the existing church structure. The item moves on to the Board of Supervisors for further consideration.

Also at issue is the 1601 Larkin developer's plan to remove 6 mature trees. Arborists have determined that 2 of the trees are diseased and 4 are healthy. After a Sept. 6 DPW hearing, the DPW Director issued a decision that all 6 trees could be removed, and are to be replaced with 8 new trees, but did not specify any date by which the trees must be replaced, leaving the MPNA concerned that the trees may never be replaced. It was suggested that since the previous incarnation of the MPNA paid for the planting of the trees, that they have an additional interest in the matter.

The possibility of the tree removal proceeding when the proposed development is in limbo, pending landmark decision, does not make much sense. Deputy Director of the DPW, Mohammed Nuru promised to look into the conundrum.

Kimberly Bryant reported on the Pacific Terrace development at Polk and Pacific. The committee met with Michael Lee of the Planning Commission on Oct 2 to discuss neighborhood concerns about the height, 65 ft, and girth of the building being out of character for the neighborhood and obstruction of the view corridor. Additionally, the committee is concerned that the developers want to put below market rate housing off-site, which is a housing policy that does not fit with the economic diversity of the neighborhood. It will be 3-4 months before the next public hearing. In the meantime, they are meeting with other community groups.

John Faust reported on 1645 Pacific, a proposed 65 ft, 50 unit luxury condo project, again with off-site affordable units. His committee met with members of the planning commission to walk them through the neighborhood.

Developers have three options for fulfilling their affordable housing quota. They can build the units on-site (which the MPNA fully supports), off-site in some other parcel and even neighborhood, or they can pay an in-lieu fee. The in-lieu fee goes into a pool that has no timing on it - the units will be built sometime in the future.

Judy Junghans and Steve Kendrick of the Russian Hill Neighbors presented details on the "Greening the Broadway Tunnel" project. The RHN put together a proposal for a city grant to plant trees on the ramp up to the tunnel, trees flanking the retaining walls and vines to drape from the top of the retaining walls for cover. The work will start in January and take about 9 months. There is a general meeting November 7 in the Clubhouse at Alamo Park at 6:30 pm to discuss the project.

Mohammed Nuru, Deputy Deputy Director of DPW announced that as a result of the All-Star Game being hosted in San Francisco, the Giants will support the planting of 800 trees in existing empty planting basins. Additonally, the City is planting 1500 trees.

The DPW has been considering a proposal to clean the alley streets from Franklin to Larkin 3 times a week. Due largely to objection by the Senior Housing on Myrtle and Van Ness, the proposal has been altered and will only cover alleys to Van Ness. The DPW has had a difficult time getting a clear answer from the effected neighborhoods about whether they would prefer an afternoon or late evening cleaning.

Hopefully you saw my earlier posting about Lights Out and Polk Street Clean up, both events took place yesterday.

Save the date - December 17th the MPNA will hold a fund raising holiday party at Amelie. The MPNA leadership has been spending about $100/ month from personal funds to keep the MPNA going and could use some help.

Next Meeting is November 19th, 7pm at Its a Grind.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lights Out; Trash Out

Besides being a big art weekend, we also have a couple of great ways to contribute to the community.

Turn off Your Lights is a citwide energy conservation event on Saturday, Oct 20. From 8 to 9 pm everyone in the city is invited to turn off all non-essential lighting and install one energy efficient compact fluorescent bulb.

The goal of this event is to conserve 15% of the energy consumed in an average night in San Francisco and to raise awareness of our ability to reduce the city's appetite for energy and protect out planet from the effects of the climate crisis.

To celebrate this event, Lights Out is hosting an evening of dancing to DJs and live music in Dolores Park.

See for more info.

Clean up on Polk

All of the neighborhood associations for the Polk Street Corridor are coordinating a clean up day this Saturday. I have participated in this event and had a surprisingly good time. It felt great to clean up the street and I met some of our great neighbors.

The Middle Polk Neighbors will be meeting at Its a Grind, 1800 Polk Street @Washington, 9:45 am, Sat, Oct 20. All equipment is provided by the DPW.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Art Show Openings on Polk

Three art shows open this week on Polk Street.

At Studio Gallery we have "Curious Travels" with paintings and scuplture by two of Studio's regular artists - Dave Higgins and Ayu Tomikawa. Opening today, Wednesday, Oct 17 through Nov 4. Opening reception Sat, Oct 20 4-8pm. 1718 Polk.
Jennifer, of Studio Gallery writes fanciful description of the show - this direct from website:

"Two of our most popular artists, Ayu Tomikawa & Dave Higgins, have teamed up for Curious Travels, which depicts the recent adventures of their well-loved characters. The show includes new sculptures and paintings from Dave, as well as Ayu's woodblock prints starring Hato, everyone's favorite space alien. Whether it's Hato traveling to the moon, or the Birdhouse Blend Birds zipping around in their new cars, you are sure to enjoy the trip. And the best part: there's even a bit of cross-pollinization, with Hato appearing in Dave's sculptures and Ayu using bird costumes in her prints."


Ayu Tomikawa_____________________ Dave Higgins

"Hato in Red Bird Suit" ____________"Curious Meeting You Here"

VELVET DA VINCI presents "The Earring Show" celebrating the publication of 500 Earrings, by Lark Books and an Artist Showcase: Diane Komater. This show also opened today and will run through Nov 25. The artists' reception is Friday, Oct 19, 6-8 pm.

VELVET DA VINCI is at 2015 Polk Street.
Space Gallery presents "Footsteps with Ink Filled Dreams", paintings, drawings and installations by Ako/ Akayo. This show opens Oct 20 with a reception from 6 pm to 2 am and runs through October 28.
I found out about this opening from . I have no idea what to expect, but I am intrigued and will be there. Space Gallery - 1141 Polk Street at Sutter.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Grove Street Closure 10/13-10/17

Grove Street will be closed from Polk to Larkin 8 a.m., Saturday Oct. 13 through Noon, Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Polk Corridor Community Meeting Oct 10

Wednesday, October 10, The Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development will be holding a Polk Corridor Community Meeting from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Cathedral Hill Hotel, 4th Floor, 1101 Van Ness.

This meeting is part of the Neighborhood Marketplace Initiative from the Mayor's Office with a mandate "to develop economically viable neighborhood business districts where existing businesses can grow and expand and new businesses can locate; increase the potential of commercial districts to provide jobs, services and entrepreneurial opportunities for community/local residents; attract public and private investment to improve the appearance of commercial corridors; address quality of life issues such as the perception and/or reality of crime, safety and cleanliness; and build neighborhood-based collaborations between merchants, property owners, residents and community groups that have the capacity to be the stewards of vibrant commercial districts over the long term, " according to the Mayor's Office website.

This meeting will address tree planting, business attraction, cleanliness and safety programs among other topics.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

MUNI Transportation Effectiveness Hearing 10/23

MUNI has three planning initiatives underway that directly affect the Polk Neighborhoods. The Geary Rapid Transit project is well under way. The Van Ness Rapid Transit project is in the middle stages of hearings as is the Transit Effectiveness Project.

Over the past year, the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) has been looking at ways to make Muni more efficient and attractive to riders. Everyone is invited to attend an upcoming community meeting to learn about the TEP's key findings and ideas and help shape the City's plans to improve Muni service.

In early 2008, there will be another series of meetings to present final recommendations.

The next community meeting in the Polk area will be: Tuesday, October 23, 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St. at Polk St..

For more information, e-mail, or call (415) 701-4599. Spanish and Chinese speakers may call (415) 226-1313.

The meeting sites are wheelchair accessible. Assistive listening devices and materials in large print will be available at the meeting. To request real time captioning, a sign language interpreter or other accommodations, please call (415) 226-1313. Providing at least 72 hours advance notice will help to ensure availability.

The TEP Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) generally meets on the second Thursday of the month from 5 to 7 pm at One South Van Ness, Room 3074. The meetings are open to the public. See the schedule for advisory committee meetings for dates of all upcoming meetings. Agendas, summaries, and information about TEP advisory committees are posted underMeetings .

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Studio Gallery - People, Places and Things

The newest show from Studio Gallery is
People, Places & Things
Wed, Sep 26th - Sun, Oct 14th
reception: Saturday, Sep 29th, 4-8 pm

The new show covers a wide range of subjects and media by a number of artists.
This piece to the left from the show is "The Bell Tower" by Elizabeth Ashcroft.
So, I'm going to leave it to Jennifer of Studio to give you a taste of the show:

"Once in a while we like to do a show of beautiful pieces from some of our favorite artists: no overarching theme except talent. We'll have new paintings from Brandon Smith, Brian Behnke, Scott Grabowski, Chiami Sekine, Brett Amory, Scott Pettersen, Lola, Jeremy Mann, Greg Gandy, Michael-Che Swisher, Jumeen Kim, Samantha Zaza, Mike Dutton and Christine Susilo. We have lots of new ceramics from Joanna Mendicino, sculpture from Richard Benbrook, jewelry from Brook Jasmine, and prints from Elizabeth Ashcroft. We're especially happy to welcome Gage Opdenbrouw, Chris Curtis, Michael Chamberlain and Tammy Stellanova, who will all be showing in the gallery for the first time. Work in the show ranges from the very serious--Gage Opdenbrouw's "Faces of War" series--to the seriously wacky--Brian Behnke's "A Bat in the Budweiser"--something, we hope, for every taste and outlook."
Studio Gallery is located at 1718A Polk Street, between Washington and Clay. Hours are 11-8 Wed-Fri, 11-6 Sat and Sun. Closed Mon and Tues.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lower Polk Neighborhood Meeting Oct. 2

The next Lower Polk Neighbor meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 2nd, at Café Ya-Bon, 1201 Sutter Street @ Polk. The meeting will begin at 6:30 pm with Happy Hour (with refreshments), and the General Meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

The agenda will include the following:
--An update from the Department of Public Works on the Community Corridors Program, which is focusing street-cleaning efforts on several corridors within our neighborhood;
--A briefing from the San Francisco City Attorney's office on how code enforcement occurs, particularly with regards to liquor licenses and neighborhood nuisances;
--Proposed amendments to our association's bylaws, to allow Lower Polk Neighbors to be run more effectively;
--A special thank you to San Francisco Police Captain Kevin Dillon, who recently left the command of Northern Station.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Landmark Nomination Hearing - St. John's

There will be a Planning Commission hearing tomorrow, Thursday, Sept 20, regarding the landmark nomination of St. John's First United Methodist Church, located at 1601 Larkin.

Show up for comment and support.

Day: Thursday, 9/20
Time: 1:30pm
Place: City Hall, Commission Chambers, Room 400

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bus Rapid Transit Planning Meetings for Van Ness Ave

Public Scoping Meetings are being held for the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

The proposed project appears to include a Market Street-like transit corridor of bus-only lanes and center of street bus stops down the center of Van Ness.

The first public scoping meeting will be held Tuesday, October 2 6-8pm at the Holiday Inn, Crystal Room, 1500 Van Ness at Pine.

The second public scoping meeting will be Thursday, October 4, 6-8 pm, 100 Van Ness Ave, 26th Floor at Fell.

The purpose of the scoping meetings is to obtain public input on the project alternatives and potential environmental effects that will be studied.

For more information, visit, e-mail or call 415-593-1423.

The successful implementation of the rapid transit project on Van Ness will be important for everyone who lives in the Polk Street neighborhoods.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Middle Polk Neighborhood Association Meeting Monday

Monday, September 17, It's A Grind will host the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association Meeting at 7:00 pm.

San Francisco's Best Seafood is on Polk Street

In a city famed for it's seafood, Swan Oyster Depot and Pesce were named to City Search San Francisco's top-ten seafood restaurants.

Swan Oyster Depot is at 1517 Polk Street and Pesce is at 2227 Polk street.

I haven't tried Pesce yet, it's on my list. And if I start musing about Swan I will never stop; its a post for another day. Just this, if you haven't been - what are you waiting for? Okay, you don't like fish, that's another story, but if you like fish there is no other experience like Swan anywhere and you don't want to miss it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Polk Real Estate For Sale - Studio in Sutterfield

On my last tour of open houses, I was looking for places under $500,000. I found two in the Polk area and one of those was sold before I could write about it. So here is the studio:

Unit #409 in the Sutterfield, on Sutter between Van Ness and Franklin is a large studio with nice finishes. I like the nook that gives you a feasible option for closing off the bedroom area.

The Sutterfield allows pets and has a gym, sauna, a jacuzzi patio and 24 hour security in a nicely appointed lobby.

The unit includes 1 car deeded parking and is listed for $439,000.
Contact Lisa Roman of Properties Unlimited at 415-602-4428 for further information.

Monthly Polk Street Clean Up

Once a month the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association organizes a neighborhood cleanup day. The next clean up day is this Saturday, 9/15 from 9:45-12. DPW provides equipment.

I won't be out there this month, what with the bum leg, but I thoroughly enjoyed last month's clean up. The work was satisfying and I am getting to know my neighbors.

This Saturday, after cleaning, the crew is going to join the Pacific Avenue Neighbors Association for their block party and bbq for lunch.

Join the cleaning crew at It's A Grind, 1800 Washington @ Polk at 9:45 am.

First Annual Polk Village Fair

This Saturday, September 15th, the Polk Corridor Business Association is hosting the first annual Polk Village Fair. The fair will run from 12 - 7 on Polk Street between Post and Pine.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Fair, please contact John Malloy at

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Polk Real Estate For Sale - Condo 1776 Sacramento, #407

Walking into 1776 Sacramento, # 407, I was blown away by the sheer size. At just over 1700 sq. feet, this unit is a whopper. The entry/ dining/ living room space seems to stretch for miles. My first thought was, wow, you could really entertain here.

Since it sits on a corner, the place gets a ton of light. The unit is pretty much a blank slate, so with a little imagination, this could be quite the showplace.

The master bedroom carves a significant chunk of space for itself.

The unit is 2br/ 2ba, with one car parking and storage and the building is pet friendly. 1776 Sacramento is between Polk and Van Ness. The asking price is $849,000. For more information, you can reach the listing agent, Malcolm Kaufman of McGuire Real Estate at (415) 730-7772.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Venetian Plaster Paintings at Studio Gallery

Rab Terry will be showing his Venetian Plaster Paintings from September 12-23 at Studio Gallery at 1718A Polk Street (between Clay and Washington).

Venetian plaster surfaces look so smooth and cool, I always want to rest my cheek on them. Seeing as one of the two series exhibited is based on plums from the farmers' market, I might just bite one. (Forgive me/ they were delicious/ so sweet/ and so cold)

There will be an artists demonstration on Saturday, Sept 15 4-5pm with a reception to follow with yummy snacks.

An extra bonus - On Saturday, September 22, Rab will conduct an Intro to Venetian Plaster class - contact Studio for more info and to sign up.

Studio Gallery - 415-931-3130;

Sunday, September 9, 2007

One Bedroom Condo in the Sutterfield - $549,000

1483 Sutter, Unit 419 is one of the most affordable one-bedrooms with access to Polk Street and sports tons of amenities. The building has 24-hour security, a full gym, sauna and spa.

#419 is a corner unit, just off the shared spa deck.

The space was well planned with an open kitchen/ dining room/ living room and plenty of light.

The bathroom opens onto the hallway and the large bedroom.
There is an in-unit washer/dryer and a deeded parking space.

This property is represented by Karyn Lew, Capital Properties. Cell: 415-254-3780,

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Why no posts in two weeks?

Funny you should ask. I took the most unbelievable spill down exactly one stair and broke my leg so severely that it had to be reconstructed surgically. I am a klutz for the record books.

I am back on line if not on my feet and I have a lot to talk about. Some real estate for sale, upcoming tree planting activities, an interview with Dawn Trennert of the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association, Gallery openings, the recent Guardian proclamation about the death of Polk Street and some Polk Street history.

Should be enough to keep me busy until I can get back on my feet, and get my feet back on Polk.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Victorian Condo at 246 Myrtle

On Tuesday I toured a lovely 2-bedroom, 1-bath Victorian condo. One of eight units, on the quiet Myrtle side street.

Here's a link to the listing agents' site-

The condo offers a lot for the price (listed at 629,500) - beautifully remodeled kitchen and bathroom, hardwood floors, working wood fireplace and in-unit washer and dryer. All convenient to Polk Street amenities. And its no tiny box, at 936 sq. ft. The floor plan is imaginative, with lots of great architectural detail.

The next open house for 246 Myrtle is Sunday, Aug. 24 from 2-4. Listing agents Robb Cushing Fleischer (415-477-2009) and Adeline Segaux (415-971-3033) of AMSI Realty will be happy to answer any questions you have.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Notes on Middle Polk Negiborhood Association Meeting

Michael and Netta Fedor of Its A Grind hosted about 60 neighbors at the August 20 Middle Polk Neighborhood Association Meeting.

Dawn Trennert opened the meeting with an announcement about dialing 911 from cell phones. The highway communications towers often intercept 911 calls dialed from cell phones, resulting in a delay as the call is routed to the CHP emergency center in Sacramento, which often has busy lines , and then re-routed to the local 911 dispatch. The local police emergency number, 553-8090 should be programmed into your cell phone so that you don't have to guess whether 911 is going to get you the most direct connection.

Trash Pick Up on Polk Street turned out 75 residents from the entire length of Polk Street.

Dawn introduced Judge McBride and several Misdemeanor Court Judges who wanted to meet with the neighbors to hear the concerns.

The Misdemeanor court was recently reviewing upcoming cases, and only 2 of 103 cases set for trial was for prostitution. One hypothesis offered for the lack of prostitution cases was DA diversion programs that send 1st or 2nd time offenders to education and treatment programs.

The civic discussion on why more prostitution cases are not brought posits that juries in San Francisco will not bring a guilty verdict on a prostitution case. One judge said that in her 6 months with the Misdemeanor Court she has seen one prostitution case and there was a conviction.

Misdemeanor Court judges see 20-30 cases per week per judge. The City is hiring more police and DAs, but not judges. The case backlog can only worsen in these conditions.

Judge McBride asked what kinds of crimes we would like to see the Community Justice Center handle when it becomes operational. Neighbors suggested the following: red light violations, prostitution related crimes (prostitutes, johns and pimps), car break ins, public intoxication (with any substance), public drug use, public urination and graffiti.

Next we had updates on various proposed neighborhood developments.

All of the Cala Bell stores in San Francisco are slated to be sold or closed. A search is on for a new grocery store to buy the local Cala Bell location.

Kimberly Bryant reported that discussions have begun on the use of the Pacific Terrace Development at Pacific and Polk (the former Brown Jug location). The current proposal calls for a 65 unit condominium complex between 65 and 75 feet tall. You can reach Kimberly Bryant, neighborhood coordinator, at and you can find more information about the project at

Michael Schoolnick reported that administrators from St. John's Methodist on 1601 Larkin at Clay entered into contract with a developer to build a 27 unit condo project on the site. Supervisor Peskin objected, saying that the building is a landmark and we are losing City landmarks at an alarming rate. It has been recommended that the building be designated a landmark. The church has filed suit based on city law that the church retains control over the use of its property.

Additionally, 2 of 5 mature trees in front of the church have been marked for removal, purportedly because of disease. Co-incidentally, these two trees are in the spot of the driveway of the proposed development.

Frank Cannata is working with The Livable Streets Program on their Traffic Calming initiative. They work with neighborhoods on projects defined with the neighborhood to address traffic issues.

Neighborhood Coordinator Jon Faust is leading weekly neighborhood meetings about the progress on the 1645 Pacific Development on Tuesday at 6:30. E-mail Jon at You can find plans for the development at

Frank Cannata reported that the Old Royal Theater Commercial Space is now available for lease. The community would like to see a business with a positive community presence go in and suggested that if anyone knows of such a business looking for a space to contact the leasing company. Here is a link to an earlier posting about the Royal Theater lease opportunity -, complete with a photo.

Dawn introduced the new Police Captain of Northern Station, Captain Al Casciato. Captain Casciato has been making the rounds with his introduction, so I will direct you to an earlier post about this message delivered at the Northern Station Community Meeting earlier this month -

Captain Casciato made some additional points. There are 6 gangs operating in Northern Station. Police arrested a gang of coyotes at Van Ness and Clay who were ransoming immigrants to their relatives. Guns and a significant amount of cash were recovered.

Northern is working with other district stations to make sure that boundary lines are permeable and that the actual district boundaries themselves are covered.

For details about why Captain Dillon was reassigned, see the Chron story and my post

Communication for the Association is expanding with a Yahoo User Group named 94109.

Monday, Sept 17, 7pm will be the next Association meeting at It's a Grind.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Green Home Center on Polk

Walking home from the street cleanup on Saturday, I stopped into the Green Home Center to see what they have to offer. Dietmar Brand, the center's founder, greeted me and I immediately began grilling him. That's what I do now. Here is Dietmar's story about finding his way in business while trying to maintain environmental awareness . . .

Dietmar's awareness of environmental responsibility was sparked by a radio show he listened to in his youth in Austria. The show focused on healthy, sustainable living. Ever since, Dietmar has struggled to integrate green practices in his work. Not always an easy or profitable proposition.

When Dietmar began representing lines of green cabinets he decided he needed a showroom. The showroom evolved into the Green Home Center, where many sustainable, green, home products are available. Offerings include home remodeling and building materials, interior design goodies, baby clothes, and a number of green home services. A green architect, a solar installer, and a green outdoor living firm all have spaces in the Center.

I found it extremely helpful to find one location to source green materials for a home remodel (my kitchen and bath some-a-day). Surprisingly, my favorite options are less expensive or about the same as the not-so-green alternatives I had been finding in the big box stores.

I watch a LOT of home remodeling TV, so I thought I had seen all the green materials out there, but I was surprised. Some of these materials and services deserve their own posts, so more on these in the days to come. (Hint - Paper Stone)

Notes on the Polk Street Clean Up

I arrived at Its A Grind coffee house at 1800 Polk at about 9:30 am and Kirstin, Dawn, Frank and Wylie were already hard at work getting all the supplies organized.

The San Francisco DPW provided trash bags, brooms, orange vests and work gloves. Its A Grind stored the equipment for the group.

At 9:40 Frank was officially worried that no one was going to show. By 9:45 there were so many folks you couldn't sign them in fast enough.

The Middle Polk Leadership team was thoroughly organized, not just with equipment, but with route cards for each team, contact numbers for the leaders, and Middle Polk Association cards for passersby who might request more information.

Wylie teamed me up with Sri, a very nice young man who has attended three clean up sessions and will soon be leaving the Polk neighborhood due to a job change that will take him south of San Francisco. I said he was nice, yes? He's on his way out and still believes in the importance of supporting this community that he has become a part of.

Our little band of cleaners set out in our orange vests and green DPW-provided t-shirts. The consensus was that half of the trash we picked up was cigarette butts. Sri and I found lots of larger cast off items - a futon, paint and lots of boxes. We called 311 to report the larger items for pick up.

Sri and I collected three bags of garbage by the end of our route and headed back to Its a Grind to turn in our equipment. Volunteers from the whole Polk Clean Up Day met up at a park on Broadway and Larkin for some delicious Vietnamese sandwiches and called it a day.

Meeting the neighbors, cleaning up the street - good use of a fine day.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Polk Street Clean Up

Late notice to be sure, what can I say, I been sick.

Tomorrow, citizens from the Polk Street corridor will be cleaning up Polk Street from stem to stern. All of the neighborhood groups that span the corridor are getting together at several meeting places. I only know two of the meeting places - 1033 Polk & 1800 Polk. I think there is also a meeting place in Aquatic Park.

The Department of Public Works is providing lunch afterwards, and I heard word of t-shirts!

The day's work will not only clean up the neighborhood, but it will give you a chance to meet your neighbors and show criminals that this area is not up for grabs. Citizens of the Polk Street Corridor care about the environment and are working together.

If you miss this month's clean up, you can still catch the next one. There is a clean up scheduled for every third Saturday. And not to fret, I will remind you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cityscapes at Studio Gallery

I dropped by Studio Gallery at 1718A Polk Street for a peek at the City Streets show Jennifer and Rab are hanging for the Wednesday opening.

Here is Jennifer's announcement:

"Time to celebrate the places we call home, the cities of the Bay Area. This year's show is filled with terrific views of San Francisco and beyond, from close-up looks at favorite haunts to panoramic vistas that take in several cities and landmarks.

Work includes paintings by Brandon Smith, Scott Grabowski, Sookyi Lee, Dennis King, Brett Amory, Jeremy Mann, Jennifer Wasson, Nicholas Coley, Zannah Noe and Mike Dutton. Lola has a big mixed media resin piece in the show, Alice Gibbons and Toru Sugita are showing etchings, and Vivena's made lots of "I left my heart" necklaces, so you don't have to go home minus an organ.

And making sure that we have something for every budget, we have new pieces in four of our most popular series: Brian Behnke's "Fear of" phobia encaustics, Beth Ashcroft's North Beach prints, Niana Liu's map prints, and Proehl Studios' photos on canvas.

Finally, we're very happy to welcome Greg Gandy and Jumeen Kim, who are both showing their paintings in the gallery for the first time.

We hope you'll join us at the reception, see the work and meet some of the artists. Click here to see lots of advance photos from the show. "

The last show, Mischief was a huge hit. Art was flying out the door at the reception. Considering how we all love this city, City Streets should be even more successful.

Details: City Streets, urban views of the Bay Area. August 15th - September 9th, 2007, Reception: Saturday, August 18th, 4-8 pm

STUDIO Gallery, 1718A Polk St. (between Washington and Clay); 415-931-3130;; Gallery hours: Wed-Fri 11-8, Sat-Sun 11-6, Mon-Tue by appt.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Notes from Northern Station Community Meeting - August

Captain Casciato now leads Northern Station.

Kicking off his tenure, Captain Casciato is taking inventory of the staff and equipment and re-assigning personnel to sectors headed by day and night sergeants who are responsible for their sectors. Cars and beat officers will be assigned within these sectors.

Casciato is bringing in veteran beat officer John Gallagher to train officers on beat work - how to get to know the neighborhood, etc. Casciato is still getting useful information from folks he met as a beat officer.

Casciato called in eight volunteer reserves to assist with shifts from 6pm to 2am from Geary, north to the Marina.

Casciato favors a "front end plan", being able to hold suspects for five days in prostitution, vagrancy and petty larceny cases. The "front end policy" would require state legislation that has not yet been proposed or sponsored.

In the case of prostitution, the idea is to hold the prostitute for five days to allow time for detox, medical and mental treatment and to sever the economic ties to the pimp. The pimp ostensibly would be reluctant to take back a prostitute who had been held for five days because she might be difficult to handle and might have given police information about the pimp.

Currently, when someone who is homeless is picked up for repeated quality of life violations, they are often intoxicated with drugs and/or alcohol. The five day holding period would allow time for them to detox, receive treatment and transportation to services.

Casciato said the police in his district will continue to investigate crimes and make arrests, but wants to make it clear that an arrest represents a societal failure. He favors education over enforcement.

Casciato asked that the community report crimes, even if they are over and you do not believe the police will get an arrest. Reporting helps establish a pattern and helps the police to get and divert resources to address problems.

For complaints about homeless activity, the Captain asks that we call 311. The 311 staff will provide you with a case number that will help all the agencies working on the situation to coordinate and provides better statistical tracking.

Use the 311 number to report DPW items that need repair for public safety - burnt out lights, trees to be trimmed etc. Good conditions will help deter crime.

Captain Dillon Reassignment Scoop

In case you missed the Chronicle's article about Captain Dillon's reassignment, it is worth a read -

Captain Dillon Replaced for Speaking His Mind

I sure fell asleep on this one! Almost two weeks ago, Captain Dillon of Northern Station was moved to another assignment as the result of his outspoken disagreement with City Hall directives. Maybe they were right to re-assign Captain Dillon, but we need a lot more information to make that call.

Captain Dillon has been outspoken about his displeasure with being told by City Hall to increase foot patrols and to keep a 24-hour detail at the project on Eddy and Laguna that recently experienced several shootings. (see my notes from last month's Northern Station Community Meeting

Dillon's concern was that foot patrols and the round the clock detail provide a visible response to citizen concerns, and are thus politically desirable, but they are not ultimately very effective. Further, these measures represent an inefficient use of limited police resources.

Shootings at the housing project at Eddy and Laguna continued after the 24-hour detail had been in place. Six additional victims were shot in two separate gun incidents. Both incidents occurred within a block of the patrol.

Other officers can confirm that police presence alone does not deter crime. An undercover cop had repeated success purchasing drugs from dealers within 20 feet of uniformed officers.

The point is that police presence not only does not prevent all crimes from happening, it often moves crime to other locations.

Staffing the 24-hour detail at the project required the services of 16 full-time officers. This left 2 patrol cars available in the Northern District to respond to calls.

Captain Dillon's beef seems to be that City Hall is mandating specific police activities as a quick fix to popular outcry with insufficient understanding of the underlying complexities.

I would like to understand more about the City Hall side of things. I, too, like the idea of street patrols. It is reassuring to get to know the officers and feel that you have someone who will listen and act if there is a problem. Yet, if in the bigger picture the foot patrols are not the most effective way to reduce and respond to crime, then I would gladly support another strategy.

If you know how we can learn more about the effectiveness of foot patrols, let me know.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Notes from the Kamala Harris Visit

Lower Polk Neighbors and Middle Polk Neighborhood Association hosted San Francisco DA Kamala Harris at a joint meeting at the Holiday Inn on Van Ness yesterday. The meeting was attended by about 170 community members, three police officers and members of Kamala's staff, including Chief Assistant DA Russ Giuntini, and 2 Assistant DAs and community liaisons for Polk - Sanaz Nikaein and Nathan Quigley.

Neighborhood's Top Concerns - Ms. Harris focused her opening remarks on the three top concerns she has heard from these groups in previous meetings: prostitution, drug dealing and violent crime. Regarding prostitution she said, "Where it occurs we also see neighborhoods being victimized by other crimes." The lowest level of crimes may not be the most serious, but they impact the most people and need to be addressed as a priority.

Ms. Harris praised the community for turning out, saying that she was there to listen because the community had organized and is making itself heard.

New Surveillance Equipment - In response to communications with theses groups, Ms. Harris had members of the DA's Office walking the neighborhoods and working with police to find solutions. The Chief Assistant DA and police representatives went to the Justice Department for assistance and received high-tech surveillance equipment to help them gather better evidence and attain more convictions.

Stay Away Orders Strengthened - When someone is convicted of a crime, the DA can ask for a stay away order that prohibits the person from returning to the neighborhood where they committed the crime. These orders have new teeth. Violators now face mandatory jail time for violating the order - 30 days for the first violation, 60 for the second, and 90 days for the third. Additionally, Sheriff Mike Hennesy has agreed that these violations will no longer be "cited out" (taken to booking and released.) Further, these orders used to be for particular corners and have been expanded to cover as much as a ten block radius.

Changes to Drug Court - Drug dealers are no longer routed to drug court. Drug court is reserved for addicts, who committed crimes to support their habit, with an eye toward relieving their dependency and reducing crime.

Dealer Convictions Up from 56%- 74%.

Increase in Gun Use in Homicides from 60% in 2001 to 85% in 2006

When Ms. Harris began as DA there was no gun policy in San Francisco. She established mandatory minimum jail time for convictions of crimes that involved the use of a gun.

When the DA's office gets an arrest with witnesses, they have an excellent conviction rate - 90% for gun crimes. However, witnesses aren't coming forward. There is a no-snitching social phenomenon whereby witnesses are not directly threatened by the criminal, but there is a social stigma associated with cooperating with law enforcement.

Ms. Harris opened up the floor for questions.

Homeless and Crime - Community members had the following to relate or ask about problems with the Homeless.

  • In the last two weeks there has been a large influx of homeless who were cleared out of Golden Gate Park.
  • The Homeless often work for drug dealers as look outs or carriers.

Ms. Harris responded that homelessness is not a crime, but that someone who is homeless who commits a crime will be treated like any other criminal. The Community Justice Center should help. The Center, scheduled to be functioning by January, is modeled on the Manhattan Community Court that helped alleviate homelessness in New York by combining social services with criminal justice.

Other community members expressed their exasperation with crime and city responsiveness -

  • The City is experiencing a crack epidemic as critical as the aids epidemic and needs to be addressed by all City departments working together instead of blaming one another.
  • A number of instances of slow police response were reported.

Ms. Harris responded that there are subsets of the epidemic that require different solutions. Not to excuse the police response, but we are short 600 police officers.

The DA had to leave to attend a memorial. Chief Assistant DA Russ Giuntini took over the remaining question and answer period. Mr. Jenkins worked with Ms. Harris in Alameda.

Coming into the job he knew that San Francisco's drug policy was laughable. It was policy to allow criminals to plead to an accessory offense which would have no impact on subsequent drug offenses. They now have to plead to the offense they committed, and with the second offense they will do jail time.

A law Mr. Giuntini introduced in Oakland regarding taking away the cars of drug and prostitution clients was recently thrown out, but the ruling suggested that legislative option to pursue the same end is still open. He is looking at impounding the clients cars for 30 days instead, making it an expensive proposition to buy or solicit. Mr. Giuntini wants to change the perception among drug dealers in other cities that San Francisco is the place to do business.

A man related how he had been trying to get an arrest made in a violent assault that had been video taped and had witnesses, but so far had not had any success. Mr. Giuntini gave the man his phone number and said he would help get attention for the case.

A few audience members wanted to know why can't police use force like the police in New York and make the criminals more afraid of them. Mr. Giuntini replied that concern for civil rights, and not the DA, was keeping the police from using strong-arm tactics. We have to enable officers to make good cases and ask the community to come forward as witnesses.

The DA's office is starting a program similar to citizen ride-along programs occasionally operated by the police. Citizens will follow a case through the DA's office from receipt through prosecution.

Two people said that since they are transgendered they are not taken seriously by the police, that there was sensitivity training about two years ago for the force and things were much better for six months, but have gotten worse since.

A man asked what kind of confidentiality we have if we phone in a report of a crime. Mr. Giuntini said that your information is on a report that the defense may see. There is not a great deal of retaliation against witnesses, it is more of a problem in other neighborhoods.

Muggings are up - Mr. Giuntini confirmed that it does seem that robberies are up. When narcotics are in short supply, muggings go up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Commercial Spaces for Rent on Polk - Old Royal Theater Spot

The old Royal Theater building in the 1500 block of Polk was replaced with apartments and a ground-level commercial space some time ago. The apartments are all rented, but the commercial space was left empty while work on the marquee facade was completed. Well, the work is just about finished, and even with the scaffolding still up, the building looks pretty great.

Anyone interested in this 2,500 sq. ft. space should contact David Tudor of the Tudor Group at 415-563-4803. One tenant parking space is included in the lease.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

SNOB Wine Tasting - 3 Spanish Wines

SNOB at 1327 Polk Street is hosting a tasting event tomorrow night, Wednesday, August 8, from 7-9pm. The event is $10 which includes a tasting of three Spanish wines and an appetizer spread. Word on the appetizer spread - it's first come, first served and if you come after the locusts, no serve at all. Well, you can still buy a cheese plate, and ten bucks is a deal for a three- wine tasting.

Who Moved?

Plant Warehouse moved from Pine at Polk to 1630 California at Polk.

Buy, Sell Trade moved from 1200 block of Polk to 1446 Polk.

Skates on Haight, well, they didn't move so much as closed their Polk Street location. You can still find them at 1818 Haight.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Kamala Harris to Talk With Polk Street Groups

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris will meet with Polk Street neighborhood groups this Wednesday, August 8, 6:30-8:00 pm at the Holiday Inn at 1500 Van Ness.

The meeting is open to the public.

The DA's website is at

Love's Cafe now Hank's

Walking by the new Hank's on Polk, I noticed that the paper had come down from the windows and was hoping we might soon find out what the owner, Steve (also owner of the Lush Lounge) has in mind for the place. Steve caught me peeking in the glass and came to the door to talk.

The plan is hot dogs. Imagine, you start feeling peckish at the Lush Lounge and want a bite. Now you will be able to amble accross the street for a dog. Maybe they will even deliver.

Steve plans to have Hank's open for business in about a week.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Crafty Workout

The Craft Gym, 1452 Bush Street between Polk and Van Ness, provides a haven for the space- constrained city crafter. Craft Gym offers worktables, tools and equipment for loads of crafts - jewelry, sewing, pottery, quilting, weaving, soap and candle making, metal and wood working, and fabric coloring.

Lessons, parties and gym memberships are all available. A gym membership gives you access to the tools and equipment; and what is a gym without your very own locker? If you have a project you just want to drop in and work on, you can get a day pass.

I love classes for craft projects. You show up, all the materials are ready to go, and there's someone to step in and help you resolve the inevitable mistakes and problems. You leave with a finished product and some new friends.

Check out membership options and class schedules at or call 415-441-6223.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Side of Politics with your eggs at New Village Diner

I have walked by the New Village Diner and have never stopped in. According to sfbulldog, they have the best breakfast in town and the lunches pack them in too.

Check out the review and a run-down of the political discussion of the day, including a run down on the tidal power giveaway PG&E is engineering.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I will be in soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mischief at Studio Gallery

This e-mail just in from Jennifer at Studio Gallery:

characters, critters & cartoons, under $400
July 18th - August 12th, 2007
reception: Saturday, July 21st, 4-8 pm

STUDIO Gallery
1718A Polk St. (between Washington and Clay)
San Francisco, CA 94109
Gallery hours: Wed-Fri 11-8, Sat-Sun 11-6, Mon-Tue by appt.

Time for a walk on the wackier side...Mischief is our 3rd annual show of character-based art: yahoo! This year we have work from over 40 artists, including gallery favorites Brian Behnke and Ayu Tomikawa (who were the sole artists in the first Mischief show), Lark Pien, Dave Higgins, Chiami Sekine, Joanna Mendicino, Michael Loomis and Josh Coffy. We're also happy to welcome over a dozen new artists, including Josh Ellingson and Jeremy Mann, who are showing in the gallery for the first time. Work in the show includes painting, prints, ceramics, drawings, mixed media pieces and even some jewelry, plus lots of bird sculptures. Best of all, everything in the show is under $400.

We hope you'll join us at the reception, see the work and meet some of the artists. Click
here to see a complete list of participating artists, and here to see lots of advance photos from the show.

I, for one, am looking forward to this show. Lark Pien writes and draws my favorite comic - Long Tail Kitty, and has pieces in the show. I highly recommend attending the reception; Rab and Jennifer put out a nice spread and its fun to meet the artists.

Reply with your thoughts if you attend the show.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Istoria Eats Her Way Down Polk

I have a Google alert that shows me other people's blog posts about Polk Street. I found this one interesting because it shows you how a visitor engaged with Polk Street.

Istoria stayed at the Heritage Marina Hotel on Van Ness, and she had 7 meals on Polk (of 16 meals over 7 days, or 43%). She ate at Lemongrass, Boulange on Polk, The Crepe House, Cheese Plus and the Bagelry. That's a pretty good share of dining opportunites spent on Polk.

Who should care about this? Any restaurant owner on Polk should be looking for promotion opportunities at the nearby hotels. A regular delivery of goodies to the front desk would go a long way to getting you referrals. Then, who knows, maybe you get to leave menus in the rooms?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Northern Station Police Update

I attended the Northern Station Community Meeting on Thursday, July 12. The main topics of conversation were the gang violence at Eddy and Laguna and a series of muggings.

Gang Violence

Northern Station has officers stationed around the clock at the public housing on Eddy and Laguna. I am sure the folks who live in the area feel better with police presence, unless they were unnerved by the two further shootings of six additional victims within a block or less of the stationed patrol.

The stationary detail requires the full time work of 16 officers. This leaves ONE patrol car to respond to emergency calls.

The only success of this detail has been a reduction in the number of vehicles broken into. Seems the bad guys can leave the complex, but returning with the goods poses a problem. This minor win is offset by the fact that while the crimes are down in the immediate vicinity, a good deal of the activity has been moved outward.

So, when can we expect this detail to end? There are no clear answers on this point. The detail was at the behest of City Hall. It appears they would rather look like they were doing something, as long as that something is not failing more visibly that doing nothing.

I suggest you get in contact with your Supervisor and the Mayors Office and ask for some more detail on this one. I, for one, would like to see more patrol cars available for emergency response.

Item Two - Muggings

There are two teams of muggers working. Northrn Staion has a good bead on them and is working to catch them, but gave the following reminders about staying safe:
  • Don't carry computers in an obvious computer bag - they are targets
  • Be aware as you are getting in and out of your vehicle
  • Drunks make good targets
  • If approached, just give them the stuff, your life can't be replaced.

One last word - you can leave a copy of your registration in the car instead of the original. One less hassle if your car is broken into.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mysterious Disappearing Trashcans

You aren't crazy. Trash cans are disappearing off San Francisco streets. Mayor Newsom adopted this measure so there would be less trash on the streets. Ay, yi, yi.

Thanks to Wyatt Buchanan at the Chron for getting to the bottom of the mystery:

Let your supervisor and your Mayors Office of Neighborhood Services representative know what you think. Is the trash can removal campaign making the streets cleaner? FInd your rep with the links in the post :

VOLCOM comix art exhibit...OPEN BAR...this Sat

This e-mail just in from Space Gallery:

Space Gallery1141 Polk Street (at Sutter)

In May, Volcom launched a worldwide artshow tour and 60-page comic book in support of the biggest Volcom Featured Artist Series line ever.The exhibit travels from NY to LA, London to Tokyo and ends here in San Francisco at Space Gallery...And to celebrate, the drinks are on them!Invite your friends and check out the last stop on this historic tour of counter-culture comix.For more info:

Saturday, July 14th 8pm - late

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Chow Hound - Relaxed Restaurants on Polk or Filmore and the Search for Buble Tea

Relaxed Reccomendations

Chow Hound has this thread on an inquiry looking for relaxed mid-price restaurants on Polk and Filmore:

Added bonus - there's a Twins-spotting tip in one of the suggestions.

Tajine, among others, gets a mention. I have to say, I love Tajine. I never made it to their first location, and hear the prices have gone up a bit in the Polk Street location. However, their slow-cooked food with delicately layered flavors seems like a good deal to me.

Bubble Tea

The tapioca tea phenomenon holds no allure for me, but our very own Chai Yo gets a nod on another Chow Hound discussion thread. Chai Yo' s delivery number is on my speed-dial for those must-eat-Thai-food-in moments. Read on for the best in Bubble Tea:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Frank Norris - Literary Polk St.

Frank Norris Place (see yesterday's blog post) was named for Benjamin Franklin Norris, who
published novels and short stories under the name Frank Norris. One of his most famous novels, McTeague, is set on our very own Polk Street.

Frank Norris wrote McTeague in 1899 and died in 1902 of a ruptured appendix. More info on Frank Norris on Wikipedia:
Here is a link to the text on-line:

Almost the entire novel takes place on Polk Street and Frank Norris wrote a lot of description about the street. Here is his first homage:

"The street never failed to interest him. It was one of those cross
streets peculiar to Western cities, situated in the heart of the
residence quarter, but occupied by small tradespeople who lived in
the rooms above their shops. There were corner drug stores with huge
jars of red, yellow, and green liquids in their windows, very brave
and gay; stationers' stores, where illustrated weeklies were tacked
upon bulletin boards; barber shops with cigar stands in their
vestibules; sad-looking plumbers' offices; cheap restaurants, in
whose windows one saw piles of unopened oysters weighted down by
cubes of ice, and china pigs and cows knee deep in layers of white
beans. At one end of the street McTeague could see the huge power-
house of the cable line. Immediately opposite him was a great
market; while farther on, over the chimney stacks of the intervening
houses, the glass roof of some huge public baths glittered like
crystal in the afternoon sun. Underneath him the branch post-office
was opening its doors, as was its custom between two and three
o'clock on Sunday afternoons. An acrid odor of ink rose upward to
him. Occasionally a cable car passed, trundling heavily, with a
strident whirring of jostled glass windows.

On week days the street was very lively. It woke to its work about
seven o'clock, at the time when the newsboys made their appearance
together with the day laborers. The laborers went trudging past in a
straggling file—plumbers' apprentices, their pockets stuffed with
sections of lead pipe, tweezers, and pliers; carpenters, carrying
nothing but their little pasteboard lunch baskets painted to imitate
leather; gangs of street workers, their overalls soiled with yellow
clay, their picks and long-handled shovels over their shoulders;
plasterers, spotted with lime from head to foot. This little army of
workers, tramping steadily in one direction, met and mingled with
other toilers of a different description—conductors and "swing men"
of the cable company going on duty; heavy-eyed night clerks from the
drug stores on their way home to sleep; roundsmen returning to the
precinct police station to make their night report, and Chinese
market gardeners teetering past under their heavy baskets. The cable
cars began to fill up; all along the street could be seen the
shopkeepers taking down their shutters.

Between seven and eight the street breakfasted. Now and then a
waiter from one of the cheap restaurants crossed from one sidewalk
to the other, balancing on one palm a tray covered with a napkin.
Everywhere was the smell of coffee and of frying steaks. A little
later, following in the path of the day laborers, came the clerks
and shop girls, dressed with a certain cheap smartness, always in a
hurry, glancing apprehensively at the power-house clock. Their
employers followed an hour or so later—on the cable cars for the
most part whiskered gentlemen with huge stomachs, reading the
morning papers with great gravity; bank cashiers and insurance
clerks with flowers in their buttonholes.

At the same time the school children invaded the street, filling the
air with a clamor of shrill voices, stopping at the stationers'
shops, or idling a moment in the doorways of the candy stores. For
over half an hour they held possession of the sidewalks, then
suddenly disappeared, leaving behind one or two stragglers who
hurried along with great strides of their little thin legs, very
anxious and preoccupied.

Towards eleven o'clock the ladies from the great avenue a block
above Polk Street made their appearance, promenading the sidewalks
leisurely, deliberately. They were at their morning's marketing.
They were handsome women, beautifully dressed. They knew by name
their butchers and grocers and vegetable men. From his window
McTeague saw them in front of the stalls, gloved and veiled and
daintily shod, the subservient provision men at their elbows,
scribbling hastily in the order books. They all seemed to know one
another, these grand ladies from the fashionable avenue. Meetings
took place here and there; a conversation was begun; others arrived;
groups were formed; little impromptu receptions were held before the
chopping blocks of butchers' stalls, or on the sidewalk, around
boxes of berries and fruit.

From noon to evening the population of the street was of a mixed
character. The street was busiest at that time; a vast and prolonged
murmur arose—the mingled shuffling of feet, the rattle of wheels,
the heavy trundling of cable cars. At four o'clock the school
children once more swarmed the sidewalks, again disappearing with
surprising suddenness. At six the great homeward march commenced;
the cars were crowded, the laborers thronged the sidewalks, the
newsboys chanted the evening papers. Then all at once the street
fell quiet; hardly a soul was in sight; the sidewalks were deserted.
It was supper hour. Evening began; and one by one a multitude of
lights, from the demoniac glare of the druggists' windows to the
dazzling blue whiteness of the electric globes, grew thick from
street corner to street corner. Once more the street was crowded.
Now there was no thought but for amusement. The cable cars were
loaded with theatre-goers—men in high hats and young girls in furred
opera cloaks. On the sidewalks were groups and couples—the plumbers'
apprentices, the girls of the ribbon counters, the little families
that lived on the second stories over their shops, the dressmakers,
the small doctors, the harness-makers—all the various inhabitants of
the street were abroad, strolling idly from shop window to shop
window, taking the air after the day's work. Groups of girls
collected on the corners, talking and laughing very loud, making
remarks upon the young men that passed them. The tamale men
appeared. A band of Salvationists began to sing before a saloon.

Then, little by little, Polk Street dropped back to solitude. Eleven
o'clock struck from the power-house clock. Lights were extinguished.
At one o'clock the cable stopped, leaving an abrupt silence in the
air. All at once it seemed very still. The ugly noises were the
occasional footfalls of a policeman and the persistent calling of
ducks and geese in the closed market. The street was asleep.

Day after day, McTeague saw the same panorama unroll itself. The bay
window of his "Dental Parlors" was for him a point of vantage from
which he watched the world go past.

On Sundays, however, all was changed. As he stood in the bay window,
after finishing his beer, wiping his lips, and looking out into the
street, McTeague was conscious of the difference. Nearly all the
stores were closed. No wagons passed. A few people hurried up and
down the sidewalks, dressed in cheap Sunday finery. A cable car went
by; on the outside seats were a party of returning picnickers."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Property Watch - 81 Frank Norris Place, Condos for 55+

Frank Norris Place advertises itself as a space "for people who want to live in a community of adults that embrace City life." As Baby Boomers age, how the 55 and over crowd chooses to embrace city life will make for some interesting communities.

Developers in San Francisco are enticed to build these 55+ communities because they are allowed to build more densely on the same site. For instance, without the age restriction, the developer could only have built 16 units at 81 Frank Norris Place, rather than the 32 for which they were approved.

While at least one of the residents of each unit must be 55 or older, there is no age restriction for purchasing a unit. So in addition to owner occupancy, some people will buy the condos for relatives and others will buy as an investment to rent out.

The units are all one bedroom/ one bathroom and some also have a study niche and/or a balcony. There are an in-unit hookups for a stacked washer and dryer. Take a look at the bright rooms and sleek finishes on the website:

Square footage ranges from approximately 482 to 907. Apparently, part of embracing City life is paring down belongings to the essentials (an idea I am in favor conceptually, but to my husband's chagrin, have a hard time engaging). Prices range form $439,000-$619,000.

Common Areas: Nice courtyard on the third floor (three units have direct access), parking for 11 cars (sold separately), deeded storage cage, off-site manager to keep HOA fees low (about $328-$428).

Nine of the 32 condominiums have been sold. Move-ins are expected to begin in 45-60 days.
If you drop by, say hello to Carlos Cabarcos (my friendly tour guide), Frank Nolan and David Clarke of Vanguard Properties.

Check back tomorrow to read more about Frank Norris, the man.

Property Watch - 1635 California St., #65

If I can ever figure out the universal remote, I am going to program it for everything in my life. That's as close as I am going to come to fulfilling my wishes with the snap of my fingers. 1635 California got me thinking on these lines because the gas fireplace has a remote. Click- fire, click - Barry White, click - lights dim, and the city lights come up all on their own.

The details: You enter the building through a light-filled courtyard. #65 is a 2 br/ 2ba with a balcony. Hardwood floors, in-unit laundry and reasonable closet space maximized with space dividers. Floor to ceiling windows make the most of a downtown view. The unit includes a storage space and 1-car deeded parking. Asking price is $765,000. HOA dues are $317.77.

For more information, contact Elena Golduber of Vanguard Properties at 415-613-3303.

Aunt Bill's Antiques Closes - 1429 Polk for Rent

After an extended going-out-of-business sale, Aunt Bill's antiques closed its doors.

I spoke to Avariso of A-Plus Painting and Remodeling (phone: 800-997-8354) as he was painting the interior in preparation for the next tenant. He referred me to the owner, David Levy, to find out who might be the next tennant.

Among the many things Mr. Levy told me - no tenant has yet signed a lease. So, maybe YOU are the next tennant? The storefront offers about 1400 square feet of retail space with additional storage. Contact Mr. Levy at: for more details.

Levy nugget #2: Wyatt Earp used to train horses in Hayes Valley and race them on Urbano Drive. Wyatt wasn't racing on public streets; according to Mr. Levy, Urbano Drive was a race track.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Property Watch - Multi Family at 2445 Polk

Trulia just turned up this listing on Polk Street for a Three 1Br/ 1 ba + one 3br/ 2ba multi-family building at 2445 Polk between Filbert and Union:

I can't tell if there are parking spaces or not. Two garage doors are visible in the photo, but the ground level is described as having a laundry and a room that could be attached to one of the units, so I don't know how many parking spaces they house.

The building was built in 1958 and is vacant. The price per square foot looks exceedingly attractive.

If anyone knows more about this building, let me know. At first sniff it looks like a TIC possibility.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Who Speaks for Polk Street?

Whether you vote or not, there are people who influence nearly every aspect of life on Polk. Everything from trash (notice all the disappearing trash cans?) to police patrols. We are going to be looking at the issues that effect life on Polk, so you will want to know who you can contact to help make a difference.

District Supervisors
Polk Street cuts through three San Francisco Supervisorial Districts. Michaela Alioto-Pier represents residents north of Union Street in District 2. South of Union Street and north of Post Street falls into District 3, represented by Aaron Peskin. Chris Daly represents Polk Street south of Post in District 6.

I'm not feeling the love from Michaela and Aaron. It is not that easy to find out what they are up to unless they get a mention in the newspaper or you dig around in the Board records. Compare this to Chris Daly's page which (love him or hate him) connects you to a blog of regular communications.

Office of Neighborhood Services
The Mayor's Office has an Office of Neighborhood Services, and assigns specific representative to each District.
District 2: Summer Graham, 415-554-6148,
District 3: Bernadine Lim, 415-554-6467,
District 6: Jason Chan, 415-554-6253,

Have you worked with the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Servies? Tell us all what your experience has been working with any of our representatives.

Our Metro Police Division is Northern Division, lead by Captain Kevin Dillon. I am going to drop into the monthly community meeting, held every second Thursday of the month at 6:00 pm, 1125 Fillmore St. Just marked my calendar! Check back here Friday, July 13 to hear the scintillating update. Better yet, join me.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Out of Walls? Art to wear or hoard.

Velvet da Vinci is a reasonably serious gallery. Let's just say, they post artists statements. Given that, I sort of expected some gallery attitude, but I was happily relieved of that misconcepton by the gracious Ariel who greeted us, gave us a tour of the gallery and even gave our dog a biscuit. (Say,"Thank you," Chester.)

The gallery specializes in artist jewelry and metalwork. Ariel shared the thought behind the layout - the front half of the gallery usually shows many of the gallery's regular artists and the back half is reserved for larger shows.

Kristin Beeler has the big show to herself in the back half of the gallery from July 18 to August 26. You can get a preview of Beeler's "Beauty and Other Monsters" show on the VDV website:

Velvet da Vinci is at 2015 Polk Street, phone: 415-441-0109, Open Tues - Sat 12-6, Sun 12-4

Monday, July 2, 2007

School of Rock

Ever wonder what the "bird" storefront on Polk houses? All I ever saw was the kraft paper covered windows in a space where some antiques stores used to reside, and the enigmatic message: MUSIC +COMMUNITY+TECHNOLOGY. Maybe a survivor?

In a fit of curiosity; I picked up one of their brochures. Turns out there’s a whole lot going on. There’s the school of rock – band workshops for kids. Ok, and a school of yoga and dance. And recording.

Bird, at 1924 Polk, covers a lot of territory with their musical offerings. Adults can take classes and rent equipment, but at bird, the focus is on kids and young adults. I mentioned recording? I should have said, "complete studio equipped to record a full cd". Kids can learn all about how to run their band – how to run a rehearsal, stage presence, and engineering live and recorded sound. Your kid doesn’t have a band? She can put one together at bird.

Polk is no Noe Valley - not a lot of kid activity. So, it’s nice to have a space that is kid-centered and that takes kids seriously.

All you party planners out there, take note – the bird performance space can be rented for special occasions.

Contact bird at 415-441-3551 or

And yes, its “bird” with a little “b” (for the little birds?).

Property Watch - 2br/ 1.5 ba at 1440 Filbert

San Francisco is a hotbed of property staging. For a prime example take a look at this: . Katherine Holland and Rahul Pathare of Coldwell Banker are representing the sale of a gorgeous 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom TIC. Listed at $899,000.

The shotgun layout runs you past two decent sized bedrooms with good sized closets into an enormous great room where the kitchen, dining room and living room are all allotted full-sized space.

Sweet extras - fireplace, wood floors, in-unit washer and dryer, and parking.

This unit is situated to take advantage of the Upper Polk lifestyle - good restaurants and shopping, plus Fort Mason athletic trails.

I will keep an eye on this listing and let you know when it sells and for how much.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Studio Gallery Defines Polk Community

I have to credit Jennifer Farris and Rab Terry with two things:

1. Selling me nearly every piece of art I own.
2. Welcoming me into the Polk Community, or at least their little corner of it.

Jennifer and Rab own Studio Gallery on Polk. Mike, Chester and I stop in nearly every time we walk down Polk -- on the way to pick up Chester's food at The Animal Connection, after a martini at the Lush Lounge or after a stop at the post office (yes, Chester's been welcome in all three). Chester gets a charlie bear treat and we get to meet whichever artist or neighbor has also stopped by and we check out the latest work.

I have no neat classification for the art at Studio. All the better. From fine art to craft, paintings, jewelery and furniture, everything is tied together by Jenneifer and Rab's sensibilities. There are a few theme shows every year (so far): "Delicious" - the food show, "tiny" - art under 7"x7" and under $200, "Salvaged" and "Mischief" - cartoon and character works. A sense of hilarity abounds.

Maybe this list of items that just arrived will help give you a sense of what I mean

  • Loads of crab & fish plates in new colors by Lorna Newlin
  • Newly restored classic clocks from Jake Wrench
  • Lots of Baby Edddy Heads from 3D-Edddy
  • New Dust Bunny paintings &
  • Lots of "Fear of..." encaustics from Brian Behnke

'Nuff said? The next show is the return of "Mischief", character-based art, everything is under $400, July 18th - August 12th, reception: Saturday, July 21st, 4-8 pm.

Studio Gallery: 1718A Polk Street, between Clay & Washington, 415.931.3130, Hours: Wed - Fri 11am - 8 pm, Sat, Sun - 11 am - 6 pm.