Photograph by Cris Rys

Photograph by Cris Rys

The 18th Street & San Bruno Avenue Community Garden opened last month. A large number of volunteers pitched-in to place new sod, including, from left to right: John DeNadai, Mario Alfonso Diaz de la Rosa, Joe Treinen, Heguibert Souza (with wheel barrow), Carlos Aguilar, David Paschich, Ralph Migdal, Webb Green, David Adams, April Ellis, Babette Drefke and Malia Cohen.

February 2010

Short Cuts

Potrero Power Plant on Death Watch

With the early completion of the Transbay Cable, a 53-mile long high voltage direct current transmission line originating in the City of Pittsburg, the California Independent System Operator announced last month that it would allow the Potrero Power Plant to close by the end of 2010.   The precise date of the closure will be determined by achievement of intra-city transmission upgrades being undertaken by Pacific Gas and Electric Company.  It’s been a long and windy road, from Mirant Corporation’s original proposal to bulk-up the power plant to 540 megawatts (MW); City efforts to develop its own 150 MW plant; brief attempts to repower Potrero’s back-up units, to, finally, a transmission-dominated solution.  During this ten year period a new, economically viable, solar industry emerged, and steady progress has been made adopting energy efficiency and demand management measures.  We are on the road to a new energy era.

Power Politics Alive and Well

Current supervisor and mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty announced his endorsement of Bay Area Rapid Transit board member Lynette Sweet’s campaign for San Francisco Board of Supervisors, District 10  within weeks of her entry into the race last month. With the support of infamous political strategist Jack Davis, as well as power house politician Willie Brown, Sweet is now the front runner in a race that features upwards of a dozen other candidates.

Consumer Choice

Last month Dogpatch resident and City Attorney Dennis Herrera petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission for tougher regulations to prohibit Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) from engaging in efforts to undermine Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), under which the City and County of San Francisco could offer its residents direct access to renewable energy sources.  Herrera was responding to a PG&E-controlled political committee’s direct mail campaign that called  the City’s consumer choice plan a “risky scheme” that “will establish new bureaucracy,” and enroll unwilling customers “whether you like it or not.”  The San Francisco-based utility emerged last year as the primary financial backer of a statewide measure, which will appear on the June ballot, to impose a two-thirds majority vote requirement to authorize a wide variety of energy services programs, including CCA.

(Don’t) Stop

Both a Muni bus and a pickup truck that collided at 18th and De Haro streets – moderately injuring seven people – after midnight last month ran stop signs.  Video taken on the 19-Polk line’s DriveCam system and an onboard surveillance camera shows the bus rolling past the stop sign heading north on De Haro, with an accompanying sound track of screeching brakes and the sound of a collision.  The pickup can be seen running the stop sign as it traveled west on 18th Street.  The bus driver, 31-year Muni veteran Pete Pon, who was among the injured, has been placed on non-driving status…A marijuana grow house located on the 1400 block of Kansas Street was one of three raided by San Francisco police last month, resulting in the seizure of 5,900 plants…And on January 13, a couple of weeks after the holy day, a pair of teenagers set fire to two Christmas trees located at Carolina at 22nd streets.  Witnesses say that the trees went up in flames quite quickly.  A hot reminder to dispose of those once magnificent plants, now compost, before they become tinderboxes.  Or, better yet, next year rent a tree. 

Crooked Street Needs Straightening

As hill residents know, San Francisco’s crookedest street isn’t Lombard, but Vermont.  Last month NBC aired a story about the windy road surrounding McKinley Square Park, focusing on ongoing problems with homeless encampments, trash and graffiti in the steep wooded hillside along Highway 101 (see story on page 8.)  Effectively addressing the problem has been challenging, not least because of differing government jurisdictions.  The land on the park’s west side is the responsibility of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and California Highway Patrol; while on the east side the San Francisco Recreation and Park, Public Works, and San Francisco Police departments, hold sway.  The McKinley Square Community Association and McKinley Square Park Foundation have convinced the various government agencies to pay more attention to the situation.  Graffiti is being painted, police are on patrol and Caltrans has spent $187,000 in the last six months clearing the property along the freeway.  In addition, the association successfully advocated for a four way stop sign to be installed at Vermont and 19th streets, and Caltrans recently approved the development of the 18th Street & San Bruno Avenue Community Garden, which opened last month.  Kansas Street resident Babette Drefke, who helped create the adjacent The Benches micro-park, prompted the San Bruno Avenue community garden effort with a 2008 proposal that appeared in the “Chronicle Watch, Working for a Better Bay Area.” To reserve a plot at the new garden, or volunteer to help out, email  Things, they’re slowly getting better, thanks to our neighbors... Nature, however, has the last say. Because of saturated soil, the turf at McKinley Square has been temporarily placed off-limits. 

Local Heroes

Speaking of neighborhood heroes, late last year Bayview resident Leah Pimentel was selected as Good Morning America’s community hero, as well as for the CBS Jefferson Award.  Pimentel received the dual honors for her work as an outreach coordinator for nonprofit GRID Alternatives, which trains low-income families to install solar technology on their homes.  Pimentel previously worked at Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, helping to reduce diesel pollution in Bayview Hunters Point…Bob Moss, who is the father of Brion Moss, a 20th Street resident, and Steven Moss, View publisher and 18th Street resident, was named activist of the year by the Palo Alto Weekly.  The Palo Alto resident was honored for his work to address safety issues prompted by the creation of too narrow streets in private developments.


Last month the Potrero Hill Democratic Club voted to endorse a proposed ballot initiative that would amend the California Constitution to enable the state budget and new revenue sources to be passed by a simple majority of legislators, as opposed to the current two-thirds vote requirement.  The initiative – signatures to place it on the ballot are currently being collected – is aimed at upending the tyranny of the minority, in which just one-third plus one legislators can block changes in fiscal policy…Another ballot initiative that’s being circulated would increase commercial property taxes by .055 percent and direct the estimated $4 billion in additional annual revenue to fund public education…More than 60 ballot initiatives, roughly half oriented towards solving California’s chronic fiscal problems, are wending their way to the ballot box.  Voters, start studying those public finance textbooks…

Sisterly Love

It’s easy to drive right by Gallery 323 on busy Potrero Avenue, but you may want to pull over next time you’re in the area. Judy West, the gallery’s owner, is now selling gourmet sweets in addition to displaying works from local artists. West is the exclusive San Francisco purveyor of her sister’s award-winning chocolates.  Dolce Bella’s confections are handmade by chocolatier Audrey Vaggione using flavors she harvests from her Saratoga garden, including berries, citrus, flowers and herbs. Try a sample, and see the newest exhibition, Love, Art and Chocolate, on February 4th. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Competitive Poets

Poets 11 2010 is sponsoring a contest in which poets can submit up to three poems, with writings that reflect San Francisco’s language and cultural diversity and written in languages other than English encouraged.  Selected poets will win a $50 honorarium, their poems will be published in an anthology, and they’ll be invited to read their work at different branch libraries.  A final event featuring all participating poets will be held at the Main Library’s Koret Auditorium on May 8.  Contestants must be eighteen years or older, San Francisco residents, and include a return address, email or phone number with their submissions.  Submit by email to, drop off at any branch library, or post to Poets 11 Book Bay, Fort Mason, Fort Mason Center, Building C, San Francisco, California 94123.  Submissions will be accepted until March 1.  For more information or to download the submission form, visit or call 626.7500. 

Coke Is

Last month the Coca-Cola Company unveiled its refurbished, environmentally-upgraded iconic sign at 5th and Bryant streets.  The billboard had been disassembled and replaced with an LED display that’s eighty percent more energy efficient than the original.  First erected in 1937, the gigantic lit sign is a tribute to the world’s thirst for sugary, carbonated refreshment…East Palo Alto may have a solution to inadequate access to fresh foods in Bayview-Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley.  Late last year Mi Pueblo Food Center opened in the 34,000-resident city, which for the previous almost quarter century had no supermarket.  At 28,000 square feet the modest-sized market has a lot to offer, including cheerful staff members, fresh prepared foods, and beautifully displayed produce.  The East Palo Alto store is one of fourteen in the chain, which was founded by a Mexican immigrant two decades ago, and now generates $250 million in annual sales.  Better to have ubiquitous markets happily offering tasty, wholesome foods than international saturation of empty calorie beverages.  


“Hire-Ability Connects Employers with a Diverse Job Pool,” which appeared in last month’s View under Lori Higa’s byline was in fact written by Michael Condiff.  The View apologizes to both writers for the mistake.

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