Marion Dalere, of Dalere’s Beauty Salon at 660 Chenery Street, caught this photo of a rainbow over Glen Park during her lunch break on Tuesday.
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By Murray Schneider
As we walk through our neighborhood, the inordinate amount of work necessary to keep our streets and bits of greenery as lovely as they are isn’t always apparent. Take, for example, the Greenway that runs parallel to Bosworth Street. Casual strollers don’t see the many hours of work, both physical labor as well as grant-writing, committee-sitting and government dealing-with that make it not just an overgrown nest but an swath of green less than 20 feet from a busy thoroughfare. Here’s a look into some of that behind-the-scenes work.
The physical part
Stephany Wilkes shears sheep from January through July, traveling as far as Nevada, Oregon and Washington to garner as much as eight pounds of wool in 10 minutes from a single ewe.
But on January 14, closer to her Arbor Street home, she turned her attention to weeding hundreds of pounds of Cape ivy in three hours. Her morning work took her between Lippard and Chilton Avenues, along a one block stretch of the proposed Glen Park Greenway.
She wasn’t without assistance.
“Twenty-four people came out,” said Wilkes, sipping a cup of herb tea two weeks later at Destination Bakery. She’d come to the Chenery Street bakery to collect two cakes for a scheduled quarterly Glen Park Association meeting that would honor long serving GPA president, Michael Rice. “Public Works sent help from its Clean and Green Crew, as well as loaning us tools.”
The January 14 work party was a collaborative effort. It included Glen Park Association volunteers, supported by the Street Park Program begun by San Francisco Public Works and the San Francisco Parks Alliance that empowers city residents to oversee unused neighborhood land, often owned by Public Works and can also be on CalTrain, PUC or Caltrans property.
“A week before I did a walk through with a City arborist,” said Wilkes, who chairs the Glen Park Association Health and Environmental Committee. “I obtained guidance about which species were safe to prune or remove.”
Wilkes, who enjoys knitting, which is how she became interested in sheep and wool in the first place, was tapped to organize the January morning event.
Unlike lambs who never are in a hurry to get fleeced and who become anxious when separated from their flock, her volunteers selected gloves, scattered along the path, and set about pulling weeds.
Thirty minutes earlier, Wilkes’ MINI-Cooper had brimmed with loaned Public Works loppers, rakes, shovels burlap bags, gloves and vests.
“Herding and shearing sheep takes much, much, more energy, skill and resources than organizing volunteers,” volunteered Wilkes. “Organizing a clean-up is literally nothing compared to a managing a flock.”
Wilkes has several paying gigs, including writing software and writing as a free-lancer. Her byline is often seen in Hobby Farms magazine. This is one of her ‘just for fun’ activities.
As Wilkes walked along the pathway, her neighbors pitched in. Nicholas Dewar and Michael Rice topped the incline, tackling tendrils woven into the soil. Thickets of Cape ivy cloaked the slope up to Bosworth’s sidewalk edge. After a while, they unfurled a burlap bag, fashioned a hammock of uprooted ivy and descended to the path. Later, Dewar and John Walmsley carried it and additional bags to Lippard Avenue. Adam King attacked the hummock as if he were no stranger to such work. At Lippard’s crest, Killian Murphy worked, his cuffs grazed with thistle while Susanna Russo immersed herself ankle-deep in Cape ivy while jousting with a horizontal tree limb. Ann Edwards and Bonnee Waldstein, didn’t take to the slope, remaining below, filling their own bags.
While not as difficult as shepherding sheep, Wilkes had to overcome her share of logistic hurdles pulling off the morning’s exercise.
“Coordinating this with Public Works and Recology, particularly the date, wasn’t easy,” conceded Wilkes, who on the day of the work party wore brown overalls and a scarf covering her hair.
She smiled when the Recology vehicle braked on schedule. “I plan around the truck’s availability.”
“Lippard to Chilton is a particularly gnarly stretch of the Greenway,” explained Wilkes, formerly the GPA’s recording secretary. “It’s more densely overgrown.”
She’s done this before. Last June, 15 neighbors had cleared ivy and trash, filling 90 bags of compostable material from Brompton Avenue to Lippard Avenue. When you think that the average weekend gardner fills only four or five, it’s a whole lot of weeding going on.
Doing this sort of public clean-up isn’t the same as just getting up on a Sunday morning, seeing it’s clear and thinking “Maybe I’ll tackle that front flower bed this morning.” The morning’s activities actually involved long-term planning.
“First, we require that residents identify the space and lead the visioning process,” Marissa Alexander, Parks Alliance Streets Parks Program Manager, emailed the Glen Park News. “This ensures that the project reflects the needs and wants of the neighbors.”
The Glen Park Greenway project was first envisioned in the Glen Park Community Plan, a process begun in 2003 and adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2012. With an objective of sustaining and improving an informal greenway and pedestrian path on land owned by the City and the Archdiocese, its vision is to connect downtown Glen Park with Glen Canyon Park. Numerous community meetings were held. With various stakeholders on board, the Greenway Project was seeded with a $40,000 grant from a private foundation. Former District 8 supervisor Scott Wiener kicked in another $10,000 while the GPA contributed $5,000.
A lion’s share of the money went to retain Surfacedesign, Inc, a landscape architecture firm engaged to conceptualize a project that would thread its way from Brompton to Burnside Avenues. With community input, particularly from those residents paralleling the path sandwiched between backyards and Bosworth Street, the vision was tweaked and massaged. Sunny meadows and wooded areas, bookended by Brompton and Lippard Avenues, will be paved with decomposed granite, a sturdy and porous material. Interpretive signage, complemented by low wattage overhead-lighting, will be added and refuge and waste bags will punctuate the walk. Between Lippard and Chilton Avenues a wooded area will be added. St. John School came on board, and between Chilton and Burnside Avenues there will be more of the same. West of Burnside the Greenway path continues on Paradise Avenue to Elk Street, ending at Glen Canyon Park.
“I care about the Greenway,” said Wilkes, a native of Detroit. She’s lived in San Francisco for 10 years and in Glen Park for four of those years. “It’s a resource to be stewarded.”
“We want to plant that thought with City agencies,” continued Wilkes. “The GPA can go to City agencies now and be able to say, ‘See, we’re working together as a community to establish a relationship with you.’”
“It was wonderful to see such a strong neighborhood presence that Saturday morning,” said Alexander, who was on site January 14 to see for herself. “The volunteers and the Clean and Green Crew cleared out massive amounts of invasive and over-grown plants to help make the pathway more accessible for neighbors and ensure the health of the flora.”
The meeting part
After 12 years of meetings, minutes, poring over city documents and generally shepherding our neighborhood, Michael Rice last month handed his GPA presidential baton to Scott Stawicki. He engineered one final task before he departed, still paying it forward.
“Jim Edwards, Nicholas Dewar and Adam King are writing a Community Challenge Grant,” Rice told the Glen Park News. “The grant must be submitted by March 24 and can reach up to $100,000. If we receive it, we’ll use monies to plant trees and shrubs and provide irrigation along the Greenway.”
The Challenge Grant is a grant program administered through the City Administrators office at City Hall. The program provides grants to communities to fund beautification projects, mostly centered on greening and art. The Diamond Heights median project is a recent recipient.
“The goals of the CCG are to promote vibrant physical improvements and greening of public spaces, engaging residents and businesses in creating welcoming places for community building,” emailed Marissa Alexander.
All CCG projects require that the community commit a certain amount of volunteer hours to ensure the project’s success. Thankfully, Glen Park does not lack for those willing and able to do such work.
“Community clean-up days like the one on January 14 help to demonstrate that neighbors are invested in the project and will volunteer their time to steward the land during and after the grant period,” Alexander told the Glen Park News.
The volunteers who come out for that work are often stories unto themselves. In Wilke’s case, it would be a fairly safe wager that there’s more Cape ivy in San Francisco than there are sheep shearers.
The evening she collected the Destination Bakery cakes for Michael Rice’s St. John send off, Stephany Wilkes was elected vice president of the Glen Park Association.
Neither of Rice’s cakes was light, but a lot lighter than an average single fleece weight of somewhere between five and fifteen pounds. depending on the breed of sheep she is used to shearing throughout the western United States.
That evening she shed her January 14 overalls, undoubtedly the same ones she’s pulled on countless times deploying half nelsons upon Mendocino and Humboldt County rams.
In exchange, she donned what she calls her “treasured” poncho, a hand woven garment, crafted for her by Robin Lynde of Vacaville, whose flock she often tends. It’s made of Jacob sheep wool from Lynde’s ranch and blended with wool from nearby Timm Ranch. There are three colors used — undyed gray, Jacob; Jacob wool dyed with black walnut; and undyed, white wool.
With every chair taken in the elementary school classroom that evening, several by friends whom she’d directed on January 14, Stephany Wilkes didn’t look at all out of place draped in her sheep herder’s poncho.
After all, earlier in the month she’d knit another stitch in both hers and Glen Park’s fabric, telling the Glen Park News:
“I simply wanted some yarn.”
by Bonnee Waldstein
With the uptick in vehicular crime in Glen Park, particularly breakins, many concerned residents are gathering together to brainstorm the issues and solutions. Captain McFadden of the Ingleside Station holds regular monthly community meetings that alternate between the Ingleside police station near Balboa Park, and neighborhoods within its jurisdiction.
There are about 103 officers on the Ingleside force, including plainclothes, a housing unit and investigators.
On this occasion, Captain McFadden was joined by Lt. Chris Schaffer of the swing watch (4 p.m. to 2 a.m.), and Sgt. David Maron.
On February 15, a neighborhood group, the Fairmount Heights Association, invited Captain McFadden to its meeting at the Police Academy. The association is an area within Glen Park comprised of the historic boundaries of the Fairmount tract. It’s like an inverted triangle, so it’s difficult to characterize: roughly, 30th Street on the north; Dolores Street on the east; Arlington and Miguel Streets on the south; and Beacon Street on the west.
From 2015 to 2016, reported theft from vehicles in Fairmount Heights increased from 35 to 44 incidents; burglary decreased from 17 to 16; auto theft decreased from 28 to 22; other larceny decreased from 12 to 8. There was one robbery incident during this period.
The captain cited Prop 47 as a possible contributing cause of vehicular crime — some felonies were recently reclassified as misdemeanors. Perpetrators can work in teams, each one committing part of the crime, e.g., one smashes the window (car alarms might not be sensored for breaking windows), another steals contents, and a third might drive from the scene. Each component is treated as a misdemeanor rather than one felony crime. If the perpetrators are caught, they are cited and have 30 days to appear in court.
The most “popular” stolen cars are old Toyotas, other Japanese cars, Chevys, and GMC trucks. European cars are less prone to breakins because the keys are hard to duplicate and there’s not much of a market for chopped down models.
It’s then up to the DA or judge whether to prosecute, which may involve jail, restitution, classes, or some other punishment. Victims have the right to request that the thief be prosecuted. They might change their mind about proceeding with it when they learn that a young offender faces jail time.
In advocating for prosecution, it’s helpful if victims join together as a group to push for action. Write to the judge on the case and speak as a victim in court. If a victim is willing to talk, the case gets more priority.
Crime prevention is attempted in large part by patrol cars in the various sectors; another method is the use of plainclothes officers. Police conduct field interviews following reports of suspicious activity and a Station Investigation Team does follow-up interviews after an incident.
Residents can take steps to deter vehicular and other crime. Install security cameras. In the garage, disable the button, add a lockable latch, remove the emergency rope attached to the gear lock, and don’t leave the garage door opener in the car.
Construction sites, of which there are many in Glen Park, can be quite vulnerable since they are unattended during non-work hours, especially weekends. Again, security cameras and motion detectors can be vital.
Helpful phone numbers: To report suspicious activity and people: 415-553-0123. Instead of 911 on cell phone, call 415-553-8090.
Other tips: Put identifiable engraving on bikes and all personal property, even at home. The police will call if they run a serial number on found property. Note that no bicycle lock is 100% effective. Back up all computer files on a separate drive or the cloud.
On the positive side, Captain McFadden said that Glen Park is safer than 99% of the city, noting that Bernal has twenty times the crime. Like Glen Park, it has freeway access for getaways. But Bernal attracts more “commuter” thieves because they’re more familiar with the access points such as Bayshore Boulevard. On the other hand, once they arrive in Glen Park, they face a confusing maze of narrow twisting streets.
There have been many complaints about the Miguel Street “raceway.” The Captain advises to call and be specific: Who is running a stop sign, when, which intersection? Email the captain. If you get no response, do it again — and again. Complaints are tracked through the emails and traffic units can be assigned to troublesome locations.
Google maps is being blamed for some of the dangerous driving through Glen Park. The residential streets become thoroughfares and cars get sideswiped through speed and carelessness.
In order to initiate a car chase, there must be a violent felony. The police won’t chase a car that’s evading a speeding ticket, for example; the threat to public safety is not worth the risk.
email Captain McFadden at Joseph.McFadden@sfgov.org