Miraloma Life: November 2014


  • MPIC Holiday Party and Pot-Luck Cook-Off
  • Blight and What We Do About It
  • A ‘City in Itself’ Has a Very Happy 15th Birthday
  • Resilient Miraloma Park Resilient Action Plan Release Event/ Community Celebration
  • Airbnb Legislation Update
  • Orchids
  • From Cornerstone Trinity Baptist Church: Celebrating Thanksgiving, Giving Back to the Community
  • Keep Cool by Dressing Up

MPIC Holiday Party and Pot-Luck Cook-Off

Save the date!
Date: Sunday, December 7
Time: 5:00 – 8:00 PM
Cook-Off: Please bring your dish by 6:30 PM to be included in the contest.
Admission: $10. Free with a dish serving 6 or more. Free for children 7 or under.

Blight and What We Do About It

Narcotics activity at 124 Molimo has been a problem throughout the last nine years. To our knowledge, the August 7, 2014 SFPD raid was the 3rd police raid due to narcotics-related activity at this address. A narcotics raid occurred in 2005, and hearing no reports to the contrary, we thought that the illegal activity had ended. Not so. On December 6, 2013, police found a substantial marijuana cultivation operation with an illegal electricity meter bypass. No one was present at the residence at the time of this raid, so there were no arrests, and as far as we have been able to learn, the theft of utilities (CA Penal Code Sec. 498) was not prosecuted.

The 3rd police raid of 124 Molimo occurred August 7, 2014; MPIC learned of the illegal activity and raid that evening. Two residents of the house were arrested. SFGate.com reported that officers “found a ‘honey oil’ lab, where butane is used to turn marijuana byproducts such as leaves, stems and trimmings into a concentrated hash oil. The process can be dangerous, police said, as it takes only a spark to ignite the highly flammable butane. Also discovered at the home were 84 marijuana plants, 10 pounds of dried and processed marijuana and 82 containers of hash oil, police said. http://blog.sfgate.com/crime/2014/08/08/s-f-couple-busted-for-allegedly-running-hash-oil-lab/.

(At the suspects’ 9/12/14 pre-trial hearing, the case was continued pending further investigation.) Illegal activities at the property are the subject of a multi-agency investigation.

Utilities theft creates fire danger and, in a neighborhood with attached buildings, the risk of conflagration. Illegal use of hazardous chemicals compounds the danger. When discovering an electricity bypass, police immediately advise PG&E which, in turn, terminates electricity to the affected residence. A licensed contractor then must restore code compliant wiring which then must be inspected and approved by DBI before power is restored to the residence. Subsequent to the December 2013 raid, power at 124 that had been terminated was restored by PG&E, but the online DBI permits and complaint tracking page shows no record of any electrical permits being issued to 124. Residents and MPIC are currently working with DBI to ensure that appropriate legal processes are followed in restoring power to this residence.

In past years, working with concerned neighbors and City agencies, MPIC brought about permanent abatement of a “shooting gallery” in 2001 and a grow operation in 2008. Both houses were sold and rehabilitated and are now the homes of good neighbors. We are fortunate in this instance that group of determined, vigilant, and active neighbors are carefully monitoring, recording, and reporting suspicious activity at 124. We are working with the SFPD, City Attorney’s Code Enforcement Division, the District Attorney, and the office of Supervisor Norman Yee to bring all enforcement processes to bear on the property and its owner. Continuing advocacy for Code enforcement with the Department of Building Inspection has also been necessary.

Public nuisance abatement is not easy, and criminal activity occurs in every neighborhood. But our residents refuse to tolerate illegal activity and neighborhood blight, and MPIC has the capability to support their efforts and sustain the high community standard for safety and quality of life that our residents demand and for which the Club was founded in 1935.

A ‘City in Itself’ Has a Very Happy 15th Birthday

by Jacquie Proctor

Miraloma Park was featured in The Home section of the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle on April 20, 1941 with this happy birthday article, perhaps written by the Meyer Brothers, about the progress in building the neighborhood. The developers and neighborhood had survived the Great Depression and San Franciscans did not know that the bombing of Pearl Harbor later that year would launch the country into World War II. Tower Market had just opened and residents would soon be buying food there with ration cards. Is our neighborhood all they said it was and is it now?

      With Miraloma Park’s development rapidly approaching its half-way point, Meyer Bros. are this month observing the fifteenth anniversary of the launching of this home center, which already has a population of nearly 800 families and which will eventually be one of the largest individual home developments in Northern California.


      Taking stock of the progress they have made during 15 years by checking projects completed against the master plan by which the firm outlined the entire development at the time the property was purchased, Meyer Bros. yesterday announced that Miraloma Park will be half completed within the next few months and that the original development plan has been adhered to without a single exception.There will be approximately 2000 homes in the development when it is completed, it was said yesterday. Value of homes and improvements will represent at least $11,800,000.


What the article didn’t say was that, unlike the other neighboring residence parks, more recently built homes in Miraloma Park were no longer detached and were on smaller lots as seen in this brochure from 1940:

      G. H. Winter, Secretary of Meyer Bros. yesterday traced the history of the development and outlined the major development plans. Back in 1925, Meyer Bros. believed there was a need for a suburban home center wherein they could put into force the economics of mass production, outlined the major development plans. Back in 1925, Meyer Bros. believed there was a need for a suburban home center wherein they could put into force the economics of mass production, thus bringing home ownership within the average means. Up until that time only the most expensive home districts were what might be called ‘self-contained.’ Most builders were simply buying a row of homes and moving on. Another builder, with entirely different ideas as to design might build the homes across the street.


      The Community Plan
      Meyer Bros felt there was a need for a home center planned as a community development, wherein homes could be sold at a moderate cost. They realized the importance of location in such an undertaking and after considerable study bought a piece of acreage situated along Portola Drive adjacent to St. Francis Wood [well, not quite adjacent, but it sounds good] which was then as now recognized as one of the finest home centers of the nation.


      Shortly after, they acquired additional property, adjacent to their first purchase and encircling Mt. Davidson on the east and southeast. Historically, the 218 acres comprising Miraloma Park, has a rich background – one that goes back to the days of the Spanish exploration. It was owned by the Spanish Royal family, afterwards by the Mexican government, who granted it in 1846 to Don Jose de Jesus Noe, San Francisco pioneer. Part of the original Noe grant became Adolph Sutro’s famous San Miguel Rancho. From the Sutro estate Meyer Bros. purchased 350 sites. The remaining 1650 sites were purchased from the Wells Fargo and Company and from individual owners as far away as France.


In her book Rancho San Miguel, Mae Silver notes that Jose Noe migrated from Puebla, Mexico with his family to what is now California in 1834. By 1840, they were settled on a six-acre land grant along Mission Street. In 1845, Silver writes, Noe petitioned Mexican Governor Pio Pico for a larger land grant and was given 4444 acres on what he called Rancho San Miguel. After California became part of the U.S., parts of the rancho were owned by Francois Pioche and Leland Stanford. Stanford planned a Stanford Heights subdivision in 1894 (bottom left), on what is now most of Miraloma Park, with extension of 28th and other Noe Valley streets up the hill to where Tower Market is now. The Sutro estate map of 1914 (bottom right) shows how Sutro’s land and Stanford Heights bordered at the top of Mt. Davidson (bottom right).

SutroEstate1 SutroEstate2
      The master plan of the development outlined in detail specifications for what the firm believed to be the essentials of a suburban home center. The entire tract, for example, was to be developed in units with improvements going into each unit just in advance of the building. Streets were to be wide and curved to take full advantage of the contours of the property. Easements were planned to go along the rear of each home so there would be no unsightly power poles on the streets.


      A business district sufficiently large to supply the needs of 2000 families was laid out. Transportation, a school, and a community clubhouse were scheduled for such periods as population warranted. Permanent restrictions as to race and values were put in force and rigid standards as to architectural design were mapped out.


The Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions for Miraloma Park did not actually include architectural design standards or mandatory membership, as was the case in St. Francis Wood, but the Miraloma Park Improvement Club has since worked to get residential design guidelines adopted for the neighborhood. Race [and religious] restrictions were, unfortunately, common in residential neighborhoods constructed in the early 1900s across the U.S. until the Supreme Court ruled in 1948 that racially restrictive covenants in real estate were unenforceable in court. Rosalie Kuwatch noted in her 1984 history of Miraloma Park, that the Improvement Club listed the organization in the Registry of Private Fair Housing Groups to respond to any complaints of discrimination in real estate sales and rentals.

The Meyer Brothers statement continues:

      According to Plan
      Looking back over the fifteen years we have been operating in Miraloma Park we are happy to say that there has been no major change in our original development plan: And time seems to us to have proved the wisdom of our choice in selecting this particular property for development. In addition to Miraloma Park school located in the tract, other elementary and high schools are within easy access of the tract, and the San Francisco Junior College is only a short distance away. Transportation facilities offer fast and frequent transportation to the heart of the development. Portola Drive and Market street offer a direct and fast route downtown. In connection with the sale of Miraloma Park homes we adopted a policy of having a continuous furnished home show in the property’s 15 years. We have had more than 100 varied furnished homes visited by an excess of 600,000 patrons.


Looking back eighty-eight years later, Miraloma Park has weathered many more historic and economic events. Stararchitect Robert A.M. Stern has recently published a celebratory history of the residence park phenomenon in his book, Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City. In it, he argues that residence parks like ours have been, and will continue to be, necessary for cities to thrive in the future because they allow people to thrive in a dense urban environment and yet enjoy the restorative powers of living amidst nature and community.

Resilient Miraloma Park Resilient Action Plan Release Event/ Community Celebration

Greetings Neighbors,

Our next Resilient Miraloma Park meeting takes place November 5 and it will be an historic one. The Miraloma Park Improvement Club, with the support of the Neighborhood Empowerment Network and MIT Urban Risk Lab and with active participation from more than 100 neighbors has drafted a neighborhood-specific plan for strengthening Miraloma Park in times of stress. At this meeting, we will review of the first draft of this important document.

And to celebrate the community spirit of Miraloma Park, we decided at the October meeting to make our November meeting a potluck! To sign up to bring a dish to our meeting, contact resilientmiralomapark@gmail.com by October 30.

To learn about the amazing ideas we have developed to date, visit the Neighborland website: https://neighborland.com/miraloma.

Meeting #5
Date: Wednesday, November 5th Time: 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Location: Cornerstone Trinity Baptist Church, 480 Teresita Boulevard

Airbnb Legislation Update

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Supervisor Chiu and six of his colleagues (Tang, Farrell, Weiner, Cohen, Breed, Kim) passed the Chiu legislation that would allow short-term rentals to tourists in every residence in the city in every neighborhood of San Francisco. That group (with the exception of Kim) voted down every amendment offered by other Supervisors to try to limit this destructive practice by shortening periods for allowable short term renting or by exempting RH-1 neighborhoods. The link below to the story in 48 Hills gives an accurate description of the Board meeting.  (http://48hillsonline.org/2014/10/08/supes-side-airbnbwill-wind-ballot/)

While our coalition was somewhat successful in forcing Chiu to adopt some sensible requirements for hosts intending to do short-term rentals (insurance, notification to landlords and HOAs, obtaining business licenses) and was able to improve some enforcement procedures (requiring registration number in the listing, thus making listing without registration a violation), the bottom line is that the political forces behind the Mayor and the money behind the tech titans in San Francisco have steamrolled the Board to approve a law that will significantly exacerbate the housing crisis and undermine the residential character in every neighborhood of the city.

Incredibly, the Board rejected the Campos amendment to require Airbnb and other hosting platforms to pay their back hotel taxes of $25M owed prior to the legislation becoming effective, basically giving a $10 billion corporation a tax break not offered to any other business in the city. No wonder that Airbnb is quoted in the Business Times as hailing the passage of Chiu’s ordinance as a “great victory.”

Our coalition will soon be meeting to determine what next steps need should be taken to continue the fight. We do have an initiative with 16,000 signatures that when filed will invalidate this legislation if approved by the voters in the November 2015 election, and there are other legal and political avenues that will be considered.

Thank you for your interest and support, and please let us know if you would like to be involved in our future efforts to limit this destructive activity in the City. Please visit our website at www.respectsf.com for more information.

Doug Engmann

San Franciscans for Neighborhoods, Affordable Housing, and Jobs


From an evolutionary point of view, any flower is a group of specialized leaves that contain male and female  reproductive structures. The parts of a flower grow in distinct whorls (leaves that form on the same node). The lowest, outermost or dorsal whorl is comprised of sepals. Next whorl up, or in from or ventral to the sepals is the petals. The stamens, or male parts, arise from the next inner whorl, and hold male sperm inside pollen grains. The pistil (or female part) contains the ovary with unfertilized eggs or if the flower is fertilized, seeds. A perfect flower has both male and female parts. A complete flower has all the standard parts (sepal, petal, stamen, pistil).

Orchids are relatively ancient flowers appearing in the Cretaceous period, about 80 million years ago. They can be terrestrial (living in the ground), epiphytic (living on other plants), and even grow underground, but none are parasitic. They are found on all continents except Antarctica and in all environments except deserts and the snow line. They are the second largest plant family, with over 3,500 species in 800 genera. The Compositae (daisies) are the largest.

Because many orchids interbreed freely, hybridizers have created many varieties. Meristemming or cutting up the growing area of an orchid and dividing the pieces in culture medium to produce thousands of new plants has resulted in flowers that aficionados used to pay thousands of dollars to possess but which you can now buy at Safeway or Trader Joe’s for $10.00.

No single feature defines Orchids. The name—coined  by Theophrastus, the great herbalist of the 4th Century BCE—derives from the Greek word orchis, meaning testicle. It refers to the shape of the underground tubers of the terrestrial orchids of Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa, such as the genera Orchis, Ophrys and Satryium. Following the “Doctrine of Signatures,” orchids have long been considered aphrodisiacs. The Doctrine of Signatures was a pre-scientific belief that the shape of a plant was an indication, or “signature,” of its medical usefulness. Think liverwort, fewerfew, lungwort, etc.

In order to identify a member of the Orchidaceae it is necessary to consider a number of anatomical features together, since many characteristics that define orchids also occur in other families, and not every feature is present in every orchid type.

First, consider the general flower shape. Orchids are zygomorphic, that is, there is only one plane through which they may be cut, so that each side is the mirror image of the other. In other words, like us, they are bilaterally  symmetrical. Second, examine the sepals. There are three sepals: one dorsal and two laterals. The sepals are usually the same shape and color but may vary. In Cypripediums (Paphs), the lateral sepals are fused into a synsepal. Third, examine the petals. There are three petals, one of which is modified into a usually showy labellum or lip. The lip is often involved in pollination as an attractant and as a landing slip. It may be bigger than the other petals, and more elaborately colored and marked than they are. It often has ridges, deep clefts, lobes, hairs and other appendages. Often it displays biological mimicry, that is, is shaped or colored like its pollinator. Coming out of the rear of the lip is often a long spur called a nectary, which usually but not always contains nectar. In some orchids such as Masdevallia and Disa, the petals are reduced (simplified and sometimes not apparent) and the sepals are large and showy. Fourth, examine the position of the lip. In most orchids, the lip points downward. This characteristic arises from the fact that during maturation, the orchid flower bud undergoes a 180 degree rotation, a process known as resupination. However, some orchids, like Encyclia cochleata or some species of Catasetum, do not undergo resupination and are thus supinate. Fifth, check the placement of the ovary. Orchid flowers have an inferior ovary, that is, the sepals and petals are attached at the top of the ovary rather than at its base. Sixth, examine the column (stamens and pistils). The stamens and pistils of the orchid flower are fused into a single structure called the column, which is positioned opposite the lip and ends in the inferior ovary. This is a very important structure. At the top of the column is the anther cap, behind which are two to eight pollinia, lumpy sac-like structures containing pollen grains. The pollinia have a sticky stalk which helps secure them to the pollinator. In some orchids, like Catasetum, the pollinia may be ejected in a spring-like motion onto the pollinator when it touches the flower. The stigma has been reduced to a shallow, sticky depression or stigmatic pit where pollen is deposited. It is from this pit that the pollen tube grows down into the ovary, where fertilization of the eggs takes place. The pollinia and the stigmatic pit are separated by a rostellum, a flap-like structure formed from stigma parts. It prevents self-fertilization.

Seed production. After fertilization, the orchid flower develops into a capsule containing as many as a million powdery seeds, which may take as long as 10 months to mature on the plant. The very fine seeds lack an endosperm, which is found in most seeds and which nourishes the developing embryo. (Think of an egg with only a yolk and no white.) In order to survive, orchid seeds require that there be mycorrhizal fungi in the soil, fungi that attach to the roots and channel nutrients into them from the soil. The majority of orchid flowers are hermaphroditic. That is, both sexes are contained in the same flower. However, some genera, such as Catasetum, have separate male and female flowers. When they are on the same plant, they mature at different times to prevent self-fertilization.

A few words about cultivation. Most Orchids are easy to grow IF you have the right conditions. A greenhouse is best but you can keep some Orchids thriving in your house or on your desk. Cattleyas, Paphiopedilums, and Phalaenopsis should be kept in a south or west window but not in direct sunshine or they will burn. A fine gauze curtain can help. Some people put pebbles under the pot to provide extra humidity but most growers think this does not really work well. Cymbidiums grow well outdoors. Some Odontoglossums or Miltoniopsis will flower in a covered tunnel entrance but it is wise to consult an expert about what will grow where.

Generally, orchids should be watered once a week by holding them over the sink and letting copious amounts of water flow through them. Frequent watering or having orchids sit in water is a sure cause of death. Fertilize with an orchid fertilizer every other watering but use half the amount that the bottle suggests. Repotting is usually in bark chunks or sphagnum moss and, while it can be frightening, needs to be done when the pot becomes crowded or even for some orchids every year. For general information about care, you cannot beat the Internet. Google orchids or the name of your plant and you will be deluged with information or again, ask an expert.

Don’t be too disappointed if you lose an orchid or don’t get new flowers. Often the plants you buy in the grocery store have been forced, are in exhausted potting material, and are not expected to do more than provide a great display. Remember you probably paid about $25 for that Phal with the long spray of gorgeous flowers and it lasted two to three months. Think of how much you would have paid to keep cut flowers in your house all that time. If the orchid bug really bites you, come to the San Francisco Orchid Society meetings on the first Tuesday of each month at the San Francisco County Fair Building, 10th and Lincoln Way. Another great source is to join the American Orchid Society and receive their monthly magazine, which has good articles on care. There are many cheap books on orchid care and most can be helpful. Remember the real secret to a green thumb is to grow what grows well for you and discard what doesn’t work.

Joanne Whitney, PhD. is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden and has been growing orchids and been an American Orchid Society Accredited Judge for over 40 years.

From Cornerstone Trinity Baptist Church: Celebrating Thanksgiving, Giving Back to the Community

As we move into our 3rd year of being a part of the Miraloma Park Community, Cornerstone Trinity Baptist Church would like to express our gratitude to you all for allowing us to be an active participant in our neighborhood. It has been a great blessing for us to be at our church property in an area filled with many great people. We have welcomed fellow neighbors into our doors for our services and will continue to reach out to as many of the nearby residents as possible.

Last Thanksgiving, our church had the privilege of going out into the community and providing assistance to improve the appearance of several neighbors’ homes as well as many public places around the Miraloma Park area. Based on the positive feedback and success that was generated, we would like to continue the tradition of doing our part for the community. We will be hosting our second Miraloma Community Beautification Event on Saturday, November 22, 2014, from 1-5 pm. The new feature for this year is that we would like YOU, the Miraloma community, to be a part of our neighborhood cleanup project as well. We would love for you to join us in our efforts to make the neighborhood a more beautiful place. Please arrive at our church at 480 Teresita Blvd. at 1:00 pm if you would like to volunteer for one of our neighborhood projects. Afterwards, we would like to invite you to be a part of our church’s Thanksgiving dinner that will begin at 5:30 pm.

For those who are unable to help with the cleanup activities but would still like to participate, we would like to be active members in building the community by offering the following clean-up services for your homes: sweeping the exterior of your house, pulling weeds, and/ or mowing the front lawn. Unfortunately, we are not able to extend any services for the backyard or the interior of your home. There is no cost for the service, however, we ask that you provide garbage bags and the equipment for lawn services, and compost any garbage and yard waste. If you are interested in participating in this event, you may contact us via email or through signup genius.

1. Please sign up for your home community service project by emailing us at info@cornerstonetrinity.org with your name, address, and a list of the cleanup services requested, or

2. Use the following link—http://www.signupgenius. com/go/10c0f4baba62ea46-miraloma—and list your clean up service requests in the comments section.

We will try our best to accommodate your requests. If it rains, we will make future arrangements to fulfill these requests. We encourage you to sign up soon as we currently only have 20 service spots available. A confirmation by telephone or email will be given 3-5 days prior to the event. Please feel free to call us at 415.566.5756 with any questions or concerns. Finally, we invite you to join us for Worship on Sundays at 11am at 480 Teresita Blvd. Please visit our church website, www.cornerstonetrinity.
org for more information.

Keep Cool by Dressing Up

As an addendum to last month’s Miraloma Life article on protecting yourself and your loved ones during a heat wave, we suggest you try clothing designed to cool people during high heat periods. Many of these cooling articles of clothing were designed originally for people with multiple sclerosis who suffer terribly from heat. Now people engaging in sports activities are the greatest consumers. These articles can save lives in heat waves and provide comfort to all of us in hot weather.

Baseball hats, fedoras, headbands, neck scarfs, vests, jackets, pants, dresses, nightgowns, underwear and other articles of clothing are available in fabrics that aid evaporative cooling. One rinses the article in water, wrings it out and puts it on. The cooling effect can last for hours and the material does not wet furniture or other objects you may contact and can be purchased at stores like Lowes, Home Depot and Sports stores. Amazon and other Internet companies can give you an idea of the articles available, the companies that make them and the price range. [Search for Body Cooling Garments.]

The better clothing articles control the core temperature of the wearer by regulating the rate of evaporation. Polyester and nylon fibers with varying yarn characteristics allow sustained low rates of evaporation. No chemicals, crystals or phase change materials are used. Using the different polyester and nylon fibers to manipulate the movement of water back and forth between the person, the clothing and the environment does it all.

So be cool both in temperature and in style and investigate and invest in these remarkable cooling devices. Keep them in a drawer or hung in your closet until the temperature rises. Then drag them out, rinse them in water (it doesn’t have to be freezing cold although some aficionados keep small articles in the freezer), and protect yourself against the discomfort of excess heat or even from life-threating heat stroke.

Joanne Whitney, PhD., Pharm.D.
Clinical Professor, University of California,
San Francisco

Last Updated
October 31, 2017
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Miraloma Park is a community of 2,200 homes on Mount Davidson in San Francisco.