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Posts Tagged 'park'

Visitacion Valley Greenway

IMG_7561The family happened to take a trip out to Visitacion Valley today on a quest for a DVD for my daughter and happened to arrive a few minutes before the library there opened so we decided to walk around. Once again we found a little gem in San Francisco.

I don’t know too much about this little urban park, but it runs for three blocks between houses and the beginning can be found at Leland St. and Peabody St. It was a cool little walk that while you’re in an area that’s very urban and a bit on the industrial side has very little inviting in the area. This part of VV is mostly single family homes, but you won’t even find much greenery around there other than a weed growing out of the cracks in the concrete so this was a pretty nice place for the people who live there.

As you can see from the quick shots I took there are places for people to sit and relax. It’s a nice bit of respite from all the concrete and asphalt in the area and because it’s a bit inland on the warmer side of the City the streets are a bit dirty due to a lack of rain. True you could go up a couple miles to Crocker Amazon Park, but for some of the older residents which we saw walking around and sitting in the little urban parquet that might have been too much trouble.

If you’re ever over in the area I think you should check it out. It’s not Golden Gate Park, but for those who are probably the farthest away from Golden Gate Park I think it was nice that the City gave them some nature to relax in. In the central park there’s a community garden where they’re growing vegetables and fruits. I couldn’t make out any of the plants and trees other than lettuce and a few artichokes, but since this is a warmer part of the city you could grow much more tropical produce than in other parts of the City.

Things I’ve Learned About San Francisco: The Mission

The Mission DistrictThe Mission was a place I called home about 25 years ago and back then it was nothing like it is today. Back then there was hardly anything to do except get a burrito or go to the El Rio bar because it wasn’t really a spot for nightlife for the non-Hispanic community.

Today, the Mission has changed and the people who have moved there have ended up turning the place into something that almost doesn’t belong as a part of San Francisco anymore and let me explain. The people of the Mission today, stay in the Mission. They really don’t know about anything outside the Mission other than if they have to make a trip downtown to go to a work related meeting. Nothing else exists for them.

For New Mission residents today they don’t seem to understand that you don’t have to wait in line for over an hour to get an ice cream cone or that you can get a slice of pizza for under $10. Most of the time when I’m driving through the Mission to give people a ride you can tell the people who live there. It’s never more than an $8 ride because that’s pretty much how much it costs to go from one end of the Mission to the other even though most of them stay within the area of 16th Street and 24th Street and usually between Dolores and maybe Bryant.

These aren’t the residents from 10-15 years ago or even the residents for 20-30 years ago, but the new techies that everyone complains about because it’s their fault that the rents are going up. I might be wrong here, but last time I checked I never heard a renter who said, no that’s really far to little for me to pay every month to live here, let me give you more. I sincerely believe that it is the landlords who are raising the prices on the real estate here more than the techies. Most who I meet are living with 3-5 other roommates when renting a house or at least more people than there are naturally occurring bedrooms. They have to cram themselves in to be able to afford the rents out there that they didn’t set in the first place.

Because of this it gets pretty crowded. Weekends can be extremely ridiculous because you have not only the Mission street residents, but also people from all over San Francisco that now have a reason to go there on a weekend evening other than to buy drugs. [Remember I lived there 25 years ago. It was way easy to buy drugs without having to walk more than a block.]

Buying a burrito will take you a long time now even though there are many taquerias there because there’s even more people drawn there. On a weekend night the crowds from the restaurants and bars are spilling over into the streets on Valencia and it is not a street to try and drive down. My old roommate and I used to split a two bedroom house with a full living room, dining room [which would be two other bedrooms now] and kitchen for $800 a month. We had the chance to buy the house for $209,000 and thought it was too much in 1995. Guess what…it sold for less and would now sell for around a million dollars. That’s a pretty good increase in value and yes, I’m still kicking myself about that today.

Something I learned about the area that I hadn’t noticed at first is that there are a lot of homes and apartments that have been gutted and rebuilt. Because they have done this and it is after 1979 these places aren’t linked to rent control so anyone renting them doesn’t have any protection. In my book this is wrong. Even the places that aren’t being rebuilt have been pulled off the market so that they could come back at a vastly increased price.

The techies moving into the Mission aren’t millionaires. The largest bracket for income is in the $35k-75k range pretty much like every other area in San Francisco [except for SoMA in the 94105 zip code which is the richest]. There really isn’t much reason to raise the prices so high that someone has to spend $30k/year just on their portion of the rent, but seriously, these new residents don’t know any better. The insiders say things like, well I don’t stand in line for ice cream at the Bi-Rite. I go across the street and buy a pint. OK, buy you’re spending $6-$8 for a pint of ice cream. Wife and I happened to be in the area during the week when everyone was gone and there was no line. We stopped in at the Bi-Rite and I have to say we loved the ice cream.  It was worth the $3 cone…no everyday, but once in awhile and it certainly wouldn’t have been worth it if he had to wait an hour and half for it. To be fair, Mitchell’s ice cream is just as good, but the same rules apply. Just go when no one is in line or buy some at a grocery store that carries it. We also stopped in at a taqueria and there was no line during the week. The prices were pretty fair, but if we had to wait in line we would have fixed something to eat at home that would have been close enough for about a fifth of the cost.

Seriously though, if anyone from the Mission who’s a new resident reads this can I suggest you check out the ice cream from a couple of friends of mine called Ben & Jerry. It’s a little cheaper and you can get it at pretty much any grocery store in the City. Hell, liquor stores even have it. There’s also some things called tortillas and Mexican cheese you can get at those same stores and toss in a pan for an instant quesadilla. I won’t tell everyone that you like to put Sriracha sauce on your quesadillas though. No really I won’t.

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I Can Be An A-hole Sometimes…

Yep, I'm an asshole too.I finally got to do something the other day that I never thought I’d have to do. Have a car towed from in front of my house. Apparently not everyone in San Francisco knows the parking rules in the City.

You cannot park with your car overhanging even a little bit into a driveway or you can be towed. There is no 1″ or 3″ is OK. You just can’t do it. Luckily for me there was no question about it as you can see from the picture. I had never had to do this before so I called the police. As it turns out while the police will take your information they rarely do anything about it. I found this out after driving home and having to bounce up over the curb at around 10:30pm because my driveway was blocked.

When I called the next day and the car was still there I was told to call the SFMTA. They didn’t hesitate and immediately told me they’d be out to tow the car shortly. I went about my business around the house trying to figure out how to back the car out of the driveway with Wife and daughter in the car only to find the following when I opened the front door…

I didn't even need Cris Angel to make her disappear!They came, they saw they towed. I would have been nice and asked the owner to move their car if the owner had ever made themselves know to me. I’m not even sure if they live on the block, but I have seen the car parked [usually in front of my house] on numerous occasions. While I can say that new people in the neighborhood have been nice and introducing themselves and/or at least saying hi we do have a new neighbor who I think this car might possibly belong to. If so she also has a dog that she walks that chooses those two plots of dirt that used to be lawn before the gophers destroyed them to take a dump on a daily basis. Wife has seen this, but not taken a picture. Me being an a-hole sometimes would be running out and filming the whole event in high def to share here and you tube, and Facebook, and twitter and where else can you publicly shame people?

Now I never really advocated this type of behavior, but the way it used to be was that you knew your neighbors and you’d knock on their door and ask them to move the car. It wasn’t a big deal if it was 8am because, well, they were blocking your driveway and that’s a lot more neighborly than a $500 tow charge right?

I honestly would have contacted the owner if they had said hello to me when I was out in front of the house so I’d know who they were, but from all I can remember from seeing them blocking my driveway previously [while they were in the car with the engine running] is that I think they are a woman. I at least have proof now of why I had their car towed if they ever introduce themselves to me and ask. Now if I can just get pictures of the woman and her dog taking a dump and leaving it behind.

Oh yeah, we’re in the process of doing something to the cemetery plots in front of our house. I’ve just been a little busy lately driving people around.

 

A View Of San Francisco: 1955

Thanks to a friend on FaceBook, I found this great video of San Francisco from 1955. It’s a travelog sort of film that makes San Francisco look like Disneyland in many ways. If you think you know the City, see how many places you’ll find that are different today than they were then. I honestly got all of them even though Sutro Baths was closed just after I was born. I’d like to do a remake of this film using the same voice over and locations, but with today’s scenes. Sounds like fun anyone in on it with me?

Golden Gate Park Gone Wrong

While everyone seems to be focused on the West end of GGP nobody has noticed what they’ve done to the Eastern side. It turns out that they’ve moved the parking to where the bike lane is and the bike lane to where the parking is. This is bad for a couple of reasons.

First, the bike lane isn’t used that much so leaving it next to area where the cars drive makes sense. If a person on a bike is riding by and the driver of the car opens the door to get out without noticing the bike the rider can move a little to the left to get out of the way. Now with the bike lane blocked in by cars and the curb, if a passenger opens the door without noticing the bike you will have two injured people.

Also pushing the parked cars out makes driving more difficult. I find myself not being able to drive the speed limit in the Eastern part of the park now, because I now have to drive very close to the cars. So far this only affects JFK Drive East of Transverse Drive, but if they think of moving it to other parts of the park it will be a disaster.

I used to enjoy my drives through the park as they were always pretty peaceful, now even driving slow I have to be aware of hitting cars. As you can see from the picture in front of me [that I took after I came to a full stop next to the Rose Garden] The car in front of me is not centered in the lane and veering to the left, practically driving on the divider line to avoid hitting the parked cars on the right. I suspect we will be seeing more car accidents in the future along this part of the park because of the dumb idea they’ve put in place.

The other thing that is puzzling me is how packed with cars the park is now. I took the picture above in the middle of the week at somewhere around 2pm. Why are all those cars there or were they there before, but I just didn’t realize them because they were farther away from me? From Transverse Drive all the way up to the Conservatory of Flowers was completely packed with cars and I have no idea why.

Sigmund Stern Grove

Since my daughter’s off from school now we have to find things to entertain her so we took her for a trip to Sigmund Stern Grove the other day. It’s really come a long way from when I was a kid and it’s a definitely good place to take a walk.

It was purchased by Rosalie Meyer Stern after the original owner George Greene who Trocadero Inn that’s still there, but closed it in 1916 with the oncoming of prohibition he was afraid that that bootleggers would make their way to his hidden hideaway. Rosalie donated the area she named after her late husband to the City of San Francisco in 1931. She was the President of the city’s Playground Commission which would now be SF Parks and Recreation.

When I was a kid it was the place to go on the weekends to drink beer. During the day on the weekends they might have a concert or two. Not the type they have today, but mostly local rock bands nothing as big as they get today. It was always a place for music and in 2005 got a major overhaul by Lawrence Halprin giving it a new stage better natural seating with a sort of bleachers being made out of grass and rock.

The east end where the Trocadero Inn is [I don’t know what it’s called today, but I’m sure it’s had a few renovations and is available for rental for events I still believe] is a heavily wooded area with picnic spots and grills. If you’re lucky and are having a big party you’ll want to get the double bricked in grills up in the northeast end. There’s a pond in the midst of the trees that used to have koi in it, but I didn’t see any this time. It was a great place to have a picnic when I was a kid and we always loved running around the trees.

In the middle is the concert area that’s pretty massive.The stage now has a hangar of lights and there’s lots of lights around the seating area as well for night time concerts. I didn’t get close enough, but there did look like there was a concession stand for those who forgot to bring some food during the concerts. Be careful when you walk around the place because since there’s grass there’s gopher holes. Not as many as in other places and I’ll have to find out what they do to keep it that way.

On the west end you’ll find dogs. Lots of dogs. It’s become an open dog run area and it’s huge so you’ll see lots of big dogs that need the exercise out there. At the far west end is Laguna Puerca [literally pig lake]. It’s one of the few natural lakes in San Francisco and you can tell by all the pond scum and duckweed floating around. I would not suggest you go for a swim there on a warm day. the water is pretty nasty. There’s also a building where they hold the Pine Lake summer camp. Oh, by the way they changed the name from Pig Lake to Pine Lake. Image is everything needless to say.

Up and around the north end there are lots of trails for hikers so there really is something for everyone here. There’s not a whole lot of parking here, but there is an east and west lot that the only connection is a service road that’s not available to the public. I prefer to enter through the west entrance off of Crestlake Avenue as it’s much wider than the road in from 19th Avenue. My daughter enjoyed the trip especially being around all the dogs. The owners will warn you if their dogs aren’t good around kids, but we didn’t find that to be the case. Enjoy the pictures.

Lands End Lookout

The northern end of the beach used to be the go to place for fun. You had Playland, the Cliffhouse, an Oriental Tea Garden [which the owners later moved to Golden Gate Park for the 1894 midwinter exposition] and Sutro Baths. All except the Cliffhouse are gone now and when the Cliffhouse was remodeled the visitor’s center down below it left for good. Luckily though the new Lands End Lookout has done a very good job of taking it’s place.

Expect to see a lot of things for sale there. They do need to make money to keep the doors open for free, but all the proceeds go towards the park service which is a good thing. The best part is that they stuff they have to sell is stuff you actually would want to buy. I thought the reproduction signs from the old Sutro Baths were pretty cool and if I had extra money laying around I would have bought one. There are also products that focus on the area such as locally produced foods and by locally I mean really locally. Many of the books and DVD’s that they have to sell will give you some good insight into the history of the area. I was always bothered by the fact that I was born just a little to late to ever see the Sutro Baths, but the other part of the  Lands End Lookout is a museum. A small museum, but a very well done small museum. They have twin screens with a slideshow on the left of Sutro Park, the Bath’s and Playland and on the right is short footage of activities from around that area. From the hour I stayed there I saw that most of it seemed to be about the Sutro Baths.

They also have extensive information about the Ramaytush tribe of the Ohlone Indians who lived in and around the area. It’s really quite fascinating to see how a windy, foggy, rainy, but occasionally sunny place could be so loved by these people who called it home because of the easy amount of food and water and shelter they could find there. There are also stations in the room covering Sutro Baths, Playland as well as Adolph Sutro and his Mansion in Sutro Park just up the hill.

If you’re in need of a little refreshment there is a cafe next door which made me smile when they had a prominent sign that proclaimed Playland at the Beach It’s-Its. They also offer another San Francisco staple, the bay shrimp cocktail. They also offer a number of soups and sandwiches as well all from local produce and livestock. Don’t worry, my vegan friends, they’ve got a few things for you as well. I’d have to price the food on the inexpensive side, but for me I still think a coke and a hot-dog should run you $2.50 tops.

From the outside the architecture is modern, but with a very Sam Francisco Ocean Beach feel to it. They’ve planted native grasses all around which obviously need some time to get settled and grow up a bit and of course, except to find some sand blowing around. After all you are right up from the beach. On a side note the parking lot for the Lands End Lookout was formerly used for many years on the weekends by teenagers to come and watch the submarine races and if you don’t know what that really means then you aren’t from around these parts.

This is a great place to visit and I enjoyed it so much that I made a little gallery of all the pictures I took so you can see more about it. Now I’d like to see more places move into the area to give more people a reason to go there.

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