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.