This Place It Is A Changin’…

For some reason there’s a cafe on Taraval Street between 27th and 28th that can’t seem to stay in business for more than about three months. It’s not in that bad a location, but the awning and the name every few months with very little changing on the inside. The free wifi even has the same name as went it first opened about 5 years ago.

The name kept changing from Mocha 101 to Green Cafe to now Rolling Out. The names have changed so much that I can’t even remember most of them now. There’s always a few people in there, but not like some of the other cafes that have people lined up and sitting outside. The staff stayed the same for awhile but now I’ve noticed different people at the register. The inside is almost exactly the same as when it open so all this just seems funny to me.

I don’t know if the place changes hands or if the owner is just very into redecorating. The menu has changed a little bit, now focusing on sweeter treats and sandwiches made with homemade bread. At $4.75 a pop that’s not too bad a price considering I’ve seen sandwiches going for $6.50 closer down to me.

I’m not sure what it is in general with Taraval street, but there’s always a high turnover in businesses on the street unless you get farther out towards the beach where little changes. Unless you’re a gas station or 7-11 or El Burrito Express you can’t expect to stay in business very long on Taraval.

I just wonder why that is?


Urban Wildlife: It’s More Than Rats and Roaches

A lot of people don’t realize that just because we live in a city that there isn’t some real wildlife you can find here. Sure, we’ve got raccoons and skunks and the occasional possum or opossum where the “O” is silent, but we also have a few other beasts that make our way into San Francisco.

Well, there are feral cats, tons of them. No matter where you go you well see stray cats running around, but we also have some nice pristine areas that urban dwellers haven’t taken over that have become home to some even more wildlife. In the East Bay a few years ago there was a jogger who was attacked by a mountain lion. San Francisco, luckily free of mountain lions does have its share of coyotes now. You usually see them in the Richmond district making their way through the park to Sunset Boulevard in the Sunset district. The biologists in the know say they are coming from Marin and are actually crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at night to venture into better feeding grounds in the Presidio.

I read a story yesterday though that shows that apparently our coyote population isn’t just made up of immigrants from Marin. There are several coyotes living in Glen Park Canyon and people who have been watching them have noticed that one of the cubs, term used loosely because he/she is a couple of years old, has moved on to greener pastures. I used to live near the canyon and if I was a wild animal living in an urban area I’m not sure where I would go. They could go up the hill from Glen Park, but that would be navigating along asphalt walkways until you get to the top and hit the mini-mall like shopping area and juvenile hall. Not sure how long a coyote would last in juvenile hall, but I wouldn’t want to test the theory.

If the coyote went east you’d be smack in the middle of the Mission District 94112, again, not a nice place to be a wild animal with the 14 Mission buses to avoid along with all the people cruising down Mission street. The Norteño/Sureño gang’s aren’t as big there anymore so you wouldn’t have to worry about being shot, but Jeez, it’s kind of tough to be a wild animal in an urban setting when the people are more wild than you are.

I will give you a word of advice though. If you do run into a coyote in San Francisco keep in mind that they aren’t dogs. They’re a little more confusing than the foxes that you rarely see anymore except by the beach, but coyotes can be easily mistaken for dogs so don’t walk up and put your hand out for it to sniff or you might be making a quick trip to the hospital to have your hand put back together. While they don’t bite with as much force as a wolf or a pit bull their faces are built to tear flesh and as someone who once went through the wind shield of Caddy from the outside in, having your flesh torn from your body is not a fun thing to have happen.

I had one walk by my car when I was driving through the Presidio and I stopped thinking it might be a lost dog. Luckily I realized when it was a couple feet from my window that it wasn’t a dog. We stopped and looked at it safely from inside the car until it got bored with us and started to walk away. Coyotes are seen by the Native Americans as tricksters and I wanted him to leave first. If I decided to drive he might have done something stupid like jump in front of my car since they’re fast and having to explain to my friends in SF that I hit a coyote with my car in San Francisco is just something that might be a little difficult for some people to understand.

Coyotes, they’re here and they’re not going away. Just keep that in mind.

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Local News

No, I mean REALLY local news. Not what the local TV stations or newspapers who are owned by large out of town companies [anyone else noticed that the Examiner always suggest that San Franciscans vote for the Republican candidates in the elections?] I’m talking about those little free newspapers like the Westside Observer, Sunset Beacon, West Portal Monthly or Richmond Review that talk about what’s really happening in your neighborhood.

I don’t know if the Mission District, Financial District, Nob Hill or Pacific Heights have their own papers but if they don’t they should. When I want to find out what really makes people tick I turn to these papers. I was eating my lunch while looking over a copy of the Westside Observer only to find out that the Recreation and Parks Department got $185 million dollars to upgrade and refurbish all the playgrounds in the city then Mayor Newsom told RPD they had to cut their budget after updating and upgrading all the playgrounds so what did they do? They fired all the people who run the playgrounds and locked up the club houses. They’re even thinking of leasing out the clubhouse of the J.P. Murphy park to a private client who will have more access to the club house and playground than the people who live in the neighborhood.

These newspapers tell you what the city isn’t doing right and while I’d like to think we’re perfect, when you start reading through a copy of one of these papers you realize we aren’t. There’s a medical marijuana dispensary that wants to open up a few blocks from my house on Taraval street. Sunset Beacon had that one covered with the pros and cons. I have to admit most of the cons came from people who didn’t seem to have any experience with drugs or drug related crime, but that’s just my opinion.

As far as I can tell, none of the writers get paid for what they do. Several have former supervisors, politicians or famous locals writing for them and in most cases they give a pretty good perspective on the neighborhoods. These are the newspapers where I find out when the Mayor or our local Supervisor Carmen Chu is have a meet up where people can talk about the problems they’re having in the neighborhood. I’ve been to a couple of them and found them very interesting. I wouldn’t have found out about them if I went to the Chronicle or Examiner. I also get to find out about local businesses in my neighborhood because they’re the people who are covering the costs to keep the free papers free. If you’re not from SF, but visiting here these are the newspapers you should check out. It’ll definitely give you more info about what’s going on in San Francisco than the bigger papers. The best place to find them is at one of the local libraries.