The New Mission

The Sunset VillageI think everyone [well almost everyone] will agree that the Mission District is sooooo 10 minutes ago now. It’s filled with tons of entitled techies who have nothing better to do than move out the long time residents. Well that’s what everyone is saying at least.

The down side is that now people are going to be looking for the that new cool in spot to live and I think I know where that is and I’ve been seeing it happening for a couple of years, but well, it’s starting to take hold now.

It’s the Sunset District.

Yes, you heard me right. The suburbs of San Francisco, the Sunset District that two years ago people who say was too far away to live in has suddenly become the place everyone is saying they love. I think a majority of this has to do with the fact that it was the last affordable place to live in San Francisco. That’s changing quickly though and here’s why this is a problem.

The Sunset District is different than the Mission District. There’s a three story height limit that rarely gets approval to build higher and when it does it’s usually along a major thorough fare or commercial section. The rest of the time it’s just houses, mostly two story with a few three story thrown in, but very few apartments and those are only again along the commercial parts which are few and far between.

The Sunset District is the largest of all districts in San Francisco to the point that it’s broken up into the Inner/Central/Outer Sunset and the Inner/Outer Parkside, but everyone refers to all of it as the Sunset District for the most part. Technically I live in the Inner Parkside area, which is odd because it’s further away from Golden Gate Park than the Sunset, but I’m not a real estate guru, so I don’t understand the naming conventions.

Here’s where the problem is. Since San Francisco can’t spread out any more so it can only go up, but with a three story limit in the Sunset District proper you can’t go up. It would also be very rare to find several home owners willing to sell their houses together so that they could be torn down and have an apartment building replace it. This means that rents and home values will increase exponentially because there is a finite amount of space available and if everyone wants to move here because of all the room, well that’s going to be like trying to fit a square boulder into a round keyhole — it ain’t going to happen. So the only way to limit those who get to live here is by raising the price.

I’m not sure how I feel about this as I’m in a lucky spot that most other people aren’t. The houses aren’t rent controlled unless they’ve been split into two or more units [which Mayor Lee and Supervisor Tang are trying to get illegal in-laws approved] and I’m sure someone will buy the few apartment buildings and tear them down and rebuild them so they won’t be covered under rent control either. This will leave the Sunset in a weird place. My former next door neighbors were 6-8 [I never could tell how many] college students that were splitting the 4 bedroom house along with turning the dining room and living room into places for someone to live. In the near future you could see the same thing, but it wouldn’t be college kids, but well financed workers [I won’t say techies, because there are a lot that aren’t in tech] living like college kids. That’s just weird to me. I guess because I’m old I can’t see a rich couple spending multi-millions of dollars on what I would consider a not so big standard 3-4 bedroom home.

Ye Olde Tiled StepsThe neighborhood itself is changing which I don’t think is a bad thing overall. There were lots of businesses that you’d drive by all the time, but you’d never have a reason to go into them, or if you did it would only be once in maybe five years. There are restaurants that you can’t figure out why they’re still in business when you never see anyone go in or out of them. Clothing stores that are tiny and you can’t imagine paying five times what you would pay online for their t-shirts. We’re starting to get people to notice that there’s a beach that’s kind of cool to visit more than the few sunny days out of the year and the area at the foot of Judah Street has evolved into a new area being called La Playa. While that area has been around for awhile and was a bit alone and to itself there are a few other places that have little things that make gentri-sense tingle:

  1. Twisted Doughnuts: OK, it’s a doughnut shop, but it sells maple-bacon doughnuts for $2.75 each. Bacon and doughnuts is a true sign of hipsters.
  2. Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company: Yes, we have a brew pub in the Sunset now. I actually like the idea that I don’t have to leave the Sunset to go to a brew pub, but now the parking along Noriega is nonexistent.
  3. Lou’s & Grubbin’: These are two gourmet sandwich shops. They’re both good, but they have lines out the door most days and I’m not sure where the lines are coming from.
  4. $4 Toast: Trouble Coffee seems kind of like a veteran now because it’s been there for a few years and they were one of the businesses that started people talking about how ridiculous SF has gotten. Maybe it’s all their fault that this started, but I doubt that.
  5. The Tiled Steps: There’s a few of them in the Sunset and someone’s redone them and now it’s a thing to take pictures of them and have your picture taken by them. Oh, did I mention that they’re in heavily residential areas?
  6. Taco Tuesdays: Once a thing of Nick’s Crispy Tacos and the Blue Light bars in Polk Gulch and the Marina we’ve had The Taco Shop at Underdogs attracting crowds now. They’re so packed on Tuesdays that they’re flowing out into the streets.
  7. The Poor Man’s Marina: I actually heard someone use this term to describe the Inner Sunset and I realized it’s kind of true. If you condensed down Union and Chestnut streets to 4 blocks you’d pretty much have the Inner Sunset. It’s been that way for a long time, but it’s gotten bigger and denser since 2010. More restaurants and bars per square foot than you can imagine. It’s a nice place to visit, but I can’t imagine living there now.

Now when I tell people from outside the Sunset that I live here it’s not that’s so far away, but I love the Sunset! It will be interesting to see what happens. I’m already seeing homes selling for past the million dollar mark out here and I suspect unless there’s a significant event that doesn’t make people want to love San Francisco the prices won’t go down any time soon. There are things I like about the changes, but the increase in traffic I’m already seeing I’m not liking very much. Hopefully someone will come up with an answer to that. You will notice I’ve left out the links I love to pepper my articles with and there’s a reason. I don’t want to make it easier to visit for you. 😉

You Don’t Know The Sunset…

This is fog.I haven’t been getting out as much as I’d like lately, but that will be changing soon. Because I haven’t been getting out that much I’ve been pretty much restricted to the Sunset District where I live. It’s one of the largest districts in San Francisco that also includes the Parkside, but no one really knows or cares where the barriers are. It’s easy figuring out where the Sunset stops and Richmond starts because you’ve got this big divider called Golden Gate Park in between. Something I’ve notice recently in reading about how other people describe the Sunset district is that they don’t really know anything about it. I’m here to change that.

Apparently people who like to tell other people what the Sunset district is like tend not to be from the Sunset district or have usually only lived here for around 6 months [usually November to May]. Because of this they don’t get a good understanding of this part of San Francisco and it’s a shame because more people would love it if it wasn’t just a place they drove through on a hot day to go to the beach.

  • You want sun? We got sun and it's by the beach too!It’s always foggy here. Well, we do have fog. Hell I’m almost certain that the twitter account @KarlTheFog was started here. The Sunset district has been known for it’s fog for years. The thing is that we have lots of fog compared to downtown, the Mission, Potrero Hill. It’s kind of like a friend who was here from San Diego on a foggy night and said, oh crap it’s raining. No, that’s called fog. That’s the way fog is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be thick and wet. People who say it’s foggy when they have to look up and see clouds in the sky don’t know what fog is. It’s also not like that all year round. Usually it starts in the mornings when you leave the house to go to work. Once you’ve gotten on the bus and are on your way up past 25th avenue then @KarlTheFog decides to take a nap and it clears up.
    We actually have some sunny days out here as well. Actually we have a lot more since that whole global warming/climate change happened. June-August is when you run into the most fog, but it’s usually more overcast than fog. Wife and I took our daughter out to the zoo this morning and it was actually pretty sunny. I actually had to wear a hat and sunglasses. Summertime for the Sunset district and the rest of the city starts in late August where you’ve got sun almost every day and believe it or not it’s warm which leads me to…
  • It’s always cold in the Sunset district. Not true. November to February is the worst and we might get a couple of mornings where the temperature is in the 30’s, but it’s usually in the upper 40’s during that time. Now that we’re into June and it’s warming up our lows are in the 50’s and we’ve been getting quite a few days where the highs are in the 70’s. Later on in the year during our summer you’ll definitely get weather in the 80’s & 90’s and if you’re invited over to someone’s house here who has a deck in back you’ll find in the afternoon that the concrete backing radiates the heat onto the deck and you’ll be experiencing quite a few days with heat that breaks 100°. The nice part is because we get the fog [real fog] people enjoy the sun more. Like I mentioned earlier on hot days people come out to the beach. Why would they come out to the beach if the weather is always in the 50’s like they say?
  • Riptide Chilled GreezeWe’re boring and uncool. This usually comes from people who aren’t from here. The them boring is a lack of a thriving night life or as I like to call it, gunfire and crime. San Francisco isn’t a place you go to and expect to live it up 24/7. As many people say we roll up the streets at 10pm, but that’s also because we tend to be more morning types out here because once the early morning fog burns off when we get it it’s actually a very nice place to walk around. We’re uncool because we don’t have hipsters. That’s fine with me if what you’re referring to are Mission St. Hipsters, but we’ve got lots of people in retro clothes sitting behind laptops at just about any coffee shop you walk by. One of the distinctive things people use to describe hipsters is the sort of retro shabby chic look which if you really want to find you need to come to the Sunset district. We’ve got places to shop here that have been here since WWII.
  • There’s no cool places to eat. What? Do you mean eat or sit around and sip overpriced coffee and nosh on overpriced tidbits? We’ve got better burrito and taco shops than the Mission, better pizza than, well SF isn’t really known for pizza, but you’ll find a couple of the best plaOuterlandsces out here if you know where to look and the prices are less than most other parts of town. As you get out towards the beach on Judah, Noriega, Sloat and parts of Taraval you’ll find a thriving food scene that’s building up speed. We have all the fancy coffee you can drink in several places and you haven’t lived to be a real San Franciscan until you’ve done a proper pub crawl of dive bars out here that are hipper than the hipster dive bars [personal pick is the Riptide and Blackthorn]. If that’s not edgy enough for you how about a mobile BBQ joint that operates on a bicycle that you tweet for your food?

I could go on and on, but let me just say that if I was stuck here for six months I would be able to live comfortably without having to drive more than five minutes to find what I’m looking for. Oh yeah you can drive out here and even park. If more startups knew about how nice it was to be out here I’d only have to walk five minutes to work or could bike to work without having to worry about being run over by drivers.

Stay Away From The Beach…For Now

Great HighwayI wrote about the makeover Great Highway was going to get a few months ago and I’m glad, in a way that it’s finally started. That being said, the beach is not the best place to go right now.

My wife [hear after known as wife because she doesn’t like public attention like I do] and I like to shop at the beach Safeway because it’s bigger and the lines are smaller. We took our once a week trip out there as opposed to our trips to the worst Safeway in San Francisco, but we were in for a rude awakening this day.

Construction workers were everywhere. The road was torn up all over the place and our usual trip of driving out Lincoln Way and making a right had to be re-routed due to the construction. On the upside, there are a lot of construction workers there so that means that the job will usually be quick. The down side is that it’s not a pleasant place to be right now which is a bit of a shame with the warm weather starting to grace our coastline and giving us sunnier days [side note: wife hates sunnier days. I think she was given up for adoption by a young Viking girl because the foggier and more unpleasant it is the happier she is.]

Go to the beach he said. You'll love it he said....

Right now if you need to cross the park down by the beach do it at 45th and Lincoln Way and drive through to 43rd and Fulton. It will be a much easier drive for you than having to go all the way to the end and then having to snake around the west end until you can find the exit at 47th and Fulton.  Just give the workers some time to finish off the job they’ve started and I’m hoping it’ll become a nicer place.

All this being said, I am hoping that this makeover will bring back a little of the beach area we once had. You have to be a very stalwart type of person to love Ocean Beach, but there was no reason for it to be left as a Russian industrial park looking place. I would like to see some food trucks out here on weekends and it would be nice if there was a way to have some craftspeople to set up shop on the large walkway on the sunny days that we do get out here. The first thing that needs to happen is a good marketing game played by the city to make people want to come out here. It’s a great place to relax and watch the surfers if you’re not going to surf yourself.

Ocean Beach BBQ

Ocean Beach BBQRarely something crosses my path that makes me raise an eyebrow and take notice. I happened to see something come across my twitter feed the other day about a guy running Ocean Beach BBQ that I had to look into a little farther and I have to say that I wasn’t sorry that I did.

Ocean Beach BBQ is a rogue food vendor. Not like some of the non-permit street food sales that you might find in the mission, but he is essentially a food truck without the truck, fully licensed by the city of San Francisco to sell food that he cooks. I have to say I was impressed when I met him. The pit master who runs Ocean Beach BBQ is an enigma clouded in smoke. A man of mystery who’s barbecue is located somewhere on the dunes of Ocean Beach wrapped in the fog. The pit master travels along 46th Avenue selling his food to people along the way to people who’ve reserved a plate based on the day’s menu via Twitter. He usually ends his daily, seven day a week trips at the Riptide bar which deserves it’s own article that will be coming soon.

I found him Friday night sitting right inside the front door and our conversation was interrupted frequently by people coming by to purchase more food. I do have to say that after talking about to him about his philosophy behind the Q for 15 minutes that I was offered to taste test some of the food. How could I say no? Friday night he brought with him chicken and goat [yes, I said goat]. I got to sample his chicken since knowing that chicken while being something every one can cook, not everyone can cook it right. He got it right. The meat was tender and juicy with a chewy outer char that wasn’t black and uninviting. This was definitely put down the fork and dig in with your hands type of food. It came with a side of coleslaw and potato which after sitting on the barbecue the potato was finished off with the marinate from the goat. You could definitely taste the earthiness of the goat all over the potato without it tasting like dirt which I’ve found in a few places I’ve actually had goat in the past.

While places like this you can find downtown easily, out by the beach it’s not so easy. I have personally been tweeting the food trucks to tell them when we have sun at the beach so they should get out there, but it is very rare to see them out there. Here is a guy that will be there to feed you even when it’s not sunny and we’re hit with a fogged in cold evening. We need more people like this.

Why would someone start a business like this? It turns out not only does he like food, but selling the food opens door for him to talk about carcinoid cancer which is a really horrible disease that struck a member of his family. He gets to raise people’s awareness of the disease and keep them fed all at the same time. To find out more you can follow the sport he started to help bring awareness to carcinoid cancer by following @fieldfootball or visiting fieldfootball.com.

Currently if you want to find out where he is you’ll have to follow his twitter account since that’s the rogue way he operates. His choice of foods changes daily, but there’s usually chicken, pulled pork or ribs and the occasional goat or even quail. Send him a tweet of what you want to order and he’ll wait for you at the agreed spot along 46th Avenue in the Sunset. He also uses Square so credit cards are easily accepted along with cash. He’ll be there until he runs out of food seven nights a week. I was told that there might be an expansion to serving lunch as well in the future now that he’s a new dad and is getting up earlier. That sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Katy Tang In The Polarized Sunset

Katy TangDistrict Four has a new Supervisor — Katy Tang and it is my belief that she has a hard road ahead of her. As I’ve been reading the neighborhood newspapers recently I’ve noticed something about the Sunset District that while I’ve known it, I’ve never really thought much about it. It seems like this is something that needs to be talked about.

The Sunset has a very hard delineation between the Chinese populace and the non-Chinese populace [what other people call white, but in reality is just  more homogenized American in that people don’t notice skin color and everyone speaks English.] The cut off lines are 19th Avenue and Sunset Blvd. In between these two streets you will find a large section of the Sunset District that is predominantly Chinese [I would be politically correct and say Asian, but when even the Japanese restaurants are run by Chinese you have to face facts.]

Above and below this are the other people. Yes, there are Chinese that live above and below the section, but they speak Cantonese and Mandarin much less so than in the Central Sunset. There has been a lot in the papers about her being a safe choice to be in charge of the predominantly Chinese neighborhood, but that isn’t really true of the Sunset. The Sunset over all is a place where it is going to be difficult to please everyone. The Central Sunset is very densely packed and Chinese, but there is a large number of non-Chinese who live in the Inner and Outer Sunset. This is something that can’t be ignored.

You’ll notice this the most if you go down to the beach areas around Noriega and Judah. To use the often used misnomer it’s a lot more white [meaning Americanized]. There is a group of people who want to beautify the end of Judah Street to make it an even cooler place to hang out. The people running this group according to the newspaper are two caucasians and two hispanics. You don’t see a single Chinese name included which seemed odd to me. This particular part of the Sunset is beginning to look a lot like Haight Street in that everyone has tattoos and piercings and loves wearing black. When John Avalos was running for Mayor he had a get together at the foot of Noriega and the group of people who showed up were locals of many different colors, but the Chinese contingent was rather slim.

It seems strange that there is such a hard split in the Sunset District and that is something that I believe Katy Tang will have to deal with as Supervisor of District Four. I do think her first move [which is safe, but also necessary] is trying to stop the switchbacks of the N Judah and L Taraval streetcars. I’ve been kind of lucky in that I rarely have to ride them since the 48 Quintara stops near my house, but it seems like whenever I have had to hop on a streetcar out in the Sunset I always have gotten thrown off before I get to my scheduled destination. I know nothing about Katy Tang and I think that will work for her out here as there are no preconceived ideas about who she is or what she should be. I wish her the best of luck and hopefully I’ll see her on the street one day. Oh and last thing Katy, if you get a twitter account be sure to use it to get things done. Carmen Chu would always answer within a couple of days.

SF Surfriders’s Earth Day Party

Yes, I know I haven’t posted anything in a week, but I needed a little vacation. Sunday of last week [not yesterday] I dropped in at the SF Surfrider’s Earth Day celebration out at Ocean Beach at the foot of Taraval. I actually did it twice because like always I don’t tend to make a fashionably late entrance. While there weren’t too many people there in the beginning, when I went back i really got to learn a lot about the group and what they were doing.

Now I’ll admit that at first I thought the SF Surfrider’s hit me kind of like the SF Bike Coalition, but since most people don’t drive on the waves the whole hooligan attitude is missing from them. The whole Earth Day part started at 10am at Ocean Beach with a bunch of people from the group and supporters gathering to clean up the beach. This is always a good thing as there are lots of nasty bits you can find on the beach. I actually saw a picture this morning of someone’s dog who had manage to find a rather large, umm, well, sexual device let’s just say and was bringing it back to his owner like he had a bone in his mouth. While that was one of the rather least offensive things found the beach there have been syringes that people dump into drains or flush down their toilets that don’t properly get processed or someone digs a hole and toss some briquets in to have a beach barbecue and then some one like a cousin of mine sits on the beach and ends up with 3rd degree burns on her feet because old hot coals look like sand.

I have to applaud them for this because they love to surf and why would anyone want to surf in a garbage dump? They are also concerned with the erosion that’s occurring on the south end  of Ocean Beach and I have to say that my wife and i used to like to run out on the weekend and get coffee and danish and then drive out the parking lot by the zoo to have our breakfast. There’s not too much left out there now and the SF Surfrider’s are trying to find a way to fix the problem.

I got to talk to a couple of people from the group and told them that I’d be mentioning them and I really have to say that the party they organized [after I went back for the second run] was a lot of fun. SF Surfrider’s is a very eco-friendly group and they were even using blocks of eco-friendly surfboard wax to hold down their materials and giving out roll up eco-friendly grocery bags made from recycled water bottles. They also were having a raffle for a surfboard, but I decided that I’m a bit out of shape to start up my old surfing days again. Give me a few years and maybe I’ll get back in shape for it though.

While they were the focal point there were also a couple of food trucks, Seoul on Wheels and Cheese Gone Wild as well as well as a beer garden that got bigger as the day went on sponsored by Trumer Pils. I did happen to notice for the celebrity gossip column angle that the ever sexy Nikki Blakk of 107.7 The Bone was there early on, but I couldn’t find her on my second trip down there. She might have been in the RipTide that was packed to the gills while having the Mermen entertain everyone. I was a bit bummed because I was hoping to slide a copy of my CD into Nikki’s hand so that, you know, I might get a mention or something like that on her show. Oh well, things don’t always go my way, but the party at the beach was pretty fun and I salute the SF Surfrider’s for give us a chance to see what they’re all about.

Surfrider Foundation Celebrates Earth Day!

I’m about to head down to the foot of Taraval street to attend the Surfrider Party sponsored by the RipTide. It sounds like a good time to be had and I’m glad my friends over at Ocean Beach Bulletin for letting me know about it. I’ll be taking lots of pictures and will have a story up about what was going on tomorrow. The Taraval party is from noon – 6pm. The block party will have food trucks Cheese Gone Wild, Seoul on Wheels and Doughnut Dolly, beer from Trumer Pils, and children’s activities, with music by local legends The Mermen. A raffle will offer a surfboard, a bicycle and other prizes. Proceeds will benefit the Surfrider Foundation.

If you go look for me. I’ll have my Baghdad by the Bay ID prominently in place and will be handing out cards and talking to people and being a general nuisance.

My First Music Video!

Well it took me 10 years to put out my first hard rock album, so I guess I can be cut a little slack for taking three to get my first music video out. It’s for my song Seaside Strut from I’ve got a guitar and I’m not afraid to use it!

Oddly enough, while I’ve always been a big early adopter, I’ve had to cut back of late being married and having a daughter so I was really happy when HD cameras became available, but I actually didn’t even have to use on for this. I had some friends in Hawaii set me up with some footage of them surfing that they recorded in HD. It was really easy for me to put this all together. Why surfers? Well, when I wrote the song it kind of came to me after watching the surfers one day and San Francisco doesn’t have the nicest beaches for surfers. They’re pretty angry waves even if they’re small so they needed some angry music. Unfortunately filming at Ocean Beach gets kind of rare because I don’t surf anymore and the sunny days are pretty hit or miss. My friends had the waterproof cameras and did a great job on what they shot.

For me what’s the most interesting part is that prior to 2000 this wouldn’t have been so easy. We’re only talking a little over 10 years and now, today you can buy a computer that comes with audio recording software that’s decent, but not the best [it’s still better than what you could do 20 years ago] AND you get video editing software that comes with it. It’s only been a few days, but you’ll probably be able to do all this on the new iPad 2. How good it will be I’m not sure yet, but it’s definitely going to be a new wave for multimedia people. So on that note, enjoy the video and leave me some feedback. I know some of the readers are old friends of mine from college who went through broadcasting just like I did, so I’d like to hear what you think for my first time go around.

For those who want the technical specs, the song was recorded in Digital Performer and I played all the instruments. The drums are actually built in touch sensitive samples that I triggered through an external source [i.e. an old electronic drum kit]. The amp for the guitar & base is a podXT Pro which can replicate pretty much any amp out there. Final mixdown and mastering was also done through Digital Performer and then I brought the music into iMovie and basically tapped along with the song to determine where the cuts will come. Total time for getting the video together: 3 hours and mostly that was because I exported it twice and realized I had made a couple of errors. Enjoy!

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Taking a break…

Hello my friends and readers. I just wanted to let you know that while writing every day doesn’t always take up too much of my time, the researching does and I feel I need to step back a bit so that I’m giving quality and not quantity. I want to make sure I get to fact check anything I put out there unlike some of the modern day journalists. So I’m going to try something…

I’ll write Monday through Friday and keep the weekends to myself. That’ll give me time to travel around San Francisco more and get more pictures of my nefarious deeds and actually have some time to work in audio interviews for the podcast I’m trying to get started. Besides, I need to get out of the house more and moreover, I need to get out of the Sunset District more. Not because I don’t like the fog. It’s one of the things I actually like about the Sunset because I appreciate the sun so much more.

So for now I’m going home early, wait, I’m already home. I guess I’ll go out and take some photos around San Francisco. For today I’ll leave you all with some of my pretty pictures taken at Ocean Beach when we had good weather. Let’s all hope for a nice spring this year! Cheers to my friends at the Ocean Beach Bulletin!