Jan 17

Check Out This Video of McLaren’s Cool New Bike Park

The bike park on opening day, photo courtesy of MPB Facebook page

We Have a Bike Park?

Yep, in November the ribbon was cut on the very first bike park in San Francisco. Located on the southwest side of the park near Gleneagles golf course, the park is the baby of a group of San Francisco mountain bikers that wanted a place to ride in the city. Years of fundraising by the group has paid off in the form of phase 1, a half-acre track shown in the map below and video.  Wasting no time, the group is already working towards phase 2 of the project which you can learn more about on their webpage or Facebook Page..  Check our more about this park and the history of its creation in this article.

Map of phase 1, now open

The Basics

Address2050 Sunnydale Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134
Hours: 9am-5:30pm Daily

Contact[email protected]

The Best Way To Explain It

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2018/01/check-video-mclarens-cool-new-bike-park/

Jan 13

The California Gold Drag Pageant Sashays into the Portola Sunday! (Updated…)

The Essential Info

Reality television favorites and Drag Queen royalty flood the Portola District this Sunday! The Ninth-Annual California Gold Pageant comes to El Toro Nightclub, 4-8pm, on Jan. 14.

What To Expect

This year seven contestants crossing gender, sexuality and age spectrums compete for the crown and to raise money for worthy Bay Area nonprofits. The winner will be chosen by a panel of celebrity judges, many from television favorites like Survivor and Project Runway All Stars.

“Drag queens and reality TV stars have plenty in common,” said Pollo Del Mar, co-producer of the all-ages charity event. “Both know what it’s like to be competitive — and few are afraid of a little drama! It’s a perfect combination.”

Tai Trang, a San Francisco beekeeper who became multi-platinum recording artist Sia’s favorite on TV’s Survivor, is a first time judge. So is Oakland’s Dexter Simmons, a contestant on Project Runway and the Rihanna-produced competition series Rock the Style.

Returning once again to the panel are Project Runway All-Stars contestant Emily Payne and Alison Kenyon, the Season 3 runner-up on TV’s Skin Wars. Bicoastal photographer-to-the-stars José A. Gúzman-Colón rounds out the decision-makers.

Contestants are judged in standard pageant fare like talent and evening wear. Categories unique to the California Gold Pageant include “Social Media” and “Creative Dress,” where this year’s hopefuls have been tasked with creating a costume from dollar store finds!

Since its launch in 2008, the California Gold Pageant has raised nearly $25,000 for Bay Area causes. Net proceeds from this year’s contest will benefit the winner’s charity of choice under the auspices of the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco, a nearly 50-year-old nonprofit rooted in the local LGBTQ community.

The California Gold Pageant 2018 kicks off at 5pm; doors are at 4pm. It is an all-ages event. Tickets are $12 at the door.

El Toro Nightclub is located at 2470 San Bruno Ave., in San Francisco’s Portola District.

Something to Help Get into the Mood

Updated: Event Draws Several Hundred Guests!

A big thanks to Portola’s Pollo Del Mar who hosted and brought the event to the neighborhood. Over 200 guests flocked to the pageant and crowded into El Toro Night Club. The event even received coverage in The Bay Area Reporter with a full page spread of photos from the vent.  Looking forward to next year!

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2018/01/california-gold-drag-pageant-sashays-portola-sunday/

Jan 11

160 Free Sidewalk Trees Planted in the Portola During 2017, More to Come!

Nearly 15% of all the sidewalk trees planted in S.F. last year, we planted in the Portola!

The Garden District Is Embracing Street Trees

The streets of the Garden District are getting greener with some help from Friends of the Urban Forest and the city. With the passage of Prop E, the city has directed funding and asked F.U.F. to focus their efforts on the treeless streets of San Francisco’s outer neighborhoods.

Portola appears to be embracing a greener neighborhood now that maintenance, liability and potential sidewalk cracking issues are all the city’s responsibility. In the years before free trees and Prop E, only 30 to 50 trees were planted in the neighborhood annually.  The demand last year was so great that 160 were planted in three separate planting events, a definite record for the Portola. 2018 is also off to a solid start with F.U.F. reporting over 30 individual tree requests for their April planting before promotion of the event has even begun….wow.

Join the Movement, Claim Your Free Tree

Join your neighbors in the Portola greening movement by signing up for a free tree(s) by visiting the F.U.F. Portola planting page HERE and signing up. The deadline is February 21st for the April 7th planting. Once signed up, F.U.F.will take care of all permits, coordination with utilities and the actual planting of the tree.

10 beautiful new Brisbane Box trees being planted along the once barren stretch of Goettingen St. The trees will provide shade for M.L.K.’s school yard,

Bonus Video Featuring The Portola

To learn a bit more about F.U.F., take a look at this promo video that was filmed mostly in the Portola during last year’s successful planting.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2018/01/160-free-sidewalk-trees-planted-portola-2017-come/

Jan 04

McLaren Park Receives $12 Million Christmas Gift from City Hall

McLaren Park’s years of neglect by the city will start to be reversed after a large cash infusion was approved by the Rec & Park Board of Commissioners late last year. The $12 million funding was approved along with the McLaren Park Vision Plan which was created over the past year through a series of public meetings and workshops. The green lighted vision plan will provide a road map for park project spending and a tool for the pursuit of more funding because lets face it, $12 million doesn’t go very far in a 312 acre park.. Despite that sobering fiscal reality, Chuck Farrugia of Help McLaren Park, is pretty excited about the funding that his group (among others) fought so long to get, summing up its importance in an e-blast to group members:


The McLaren Park Vision Plan passes the final hurdle at yesterdays commission meeting.  12 MILLION dollars is coming your way!  New paths, new playground, a new bike park, a new community garden, a new tai chi court, massive improvements to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, new pedestrian crosswalks and walkways on Shelley Drive, new signage, improved trails,  etc.  This is the first ever cash infusion into McLaren Park since the days it was created and yes, it was waaay overdue.

Its a amazing start to only better things yet to come. McLaren will be well positioned to be on the 2019 bond after these improvements begin. Like Glen Park, who double dipped and received over 30 million in a second attempt, we too will be positioned perfectly.


Despite this windfall of cash, much work still needs to be done before shovels hit the dirt.  The vision plan is only a guide at this point and will require more development and public input to iron out all the details of each area of work before construction can begin.  Visit to the project website HERE to get looped into the process as news and public comment opportunities are announced.

You can peruse the full McLaren Park Vision Plan by clicking HERE.  We’ve pulled out the areas of the plan with the greatest impact for the Portola and posted below for some easier viewing.

Revitalized Park Gateways

Proposed plan for Oxford St. entrance includes upgraded landscaping, walking paths and signage to better engage the park with the adjacent neighborhood:

Proposed plan for Woolsey St. entrance includes upgraded athletic fields, playgrounds and parking lot.  No official word on what’s to become of the horse stables an any upgrades to the murky duck pond yet:

Proposed plan for Mansell St. entrance looks to have the most dramatic changes with dedicated Tai Chi courts, mew open spaces and better connections to the adjacent neighborhood:

Reimagined Group Picnic Area

In addition to upgrades to seating, pathways and BBQ’s. a new nature themed playground will be built into the hillside with a giant slide!  Permanent and often cleaned bathrooms would be nice too…

Upgraded Jerry Garcia Amphitheater

Better accessibility for events lawn improvements and concession areas for food trucks are just a few of the proposed upgrades:  Infrastructure for fencing and ticket booths are in the proposal as well which is interesting.  bigger name ticketed shows or perhaps even for alcohol sales?

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2018/01/mclaren-park-receives-12-million-christmas-gift-city-hall/

Dec 06

Bike Share Coming To The Portola, Give Your Feedback On Station Locations

You’ve probably noticed the bright blue Ford GoBikes rolling down city streets lately.  The popular bike share system which has been operating mostly in the downtown core of the city for several years now, is expanding to the Portola. Starting in the summer of 2018, three new stations will appear on the less hilly, eastern side of the neighborhood. Giving able-bodied residents a new cheap and easy transit option for getting around the city or just the neighborhood.

Portola’s proximity to major bike routes and the flat southern waterfront poises the neighborhood as a natural expansion spot for the bike share system.  Also Included will be other southern neighborhoods located between here and downtown, fully linking us to the larger system of pick up and drop off stations.  Perfect for commenting, a trip to AT&T park on a nice day or just over to 3rd street for dinner.

Ultimate success will be judged by how much the neighborhoods utilize the bikes  and if they can make a dent in our growing congestion issues.  Being the eternal optimist that we are here at the Planet, we can envision an emerging biking culture here in the flat sections of S/E SF, especially as development continues along the waterfront and Bayview.  Bringing more to do and see within a 20 minute biking radius of the Portola – Chase Arena, Pier 70, The Ship Yards and Candlestick all come to mind but time will tell.

Enlarged map of S/E SF proposed bike share station locations

Feedback on Proposed Portola Locations

I’m the meantime, now is the time to help plan for Portola’s bike share future by commenting on the three proposed sites in the Portola, numbers 68, 85 & 92 on the map above. CLICK HERE to fill in your comments.

Is there a station site not listed in the neighborhood that you would like to see? Propose alternate locations in the comments section for consideration by the planners.  More details about the expansion program are HERE.

Visit the official Ford GoBike’s website to learn more about pricing, how bike share works and how to sign up by clicking HERE.

Full proposed bike share system map

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/12/bike-share-coming-portola-give-feedback-station-locations/

Nov 28

Join The Neighborhood At The 2017 Portola Holiday Party December 13th

‘Tis the season for the annual Portola Holiday Party.  Organized by our neighbors Joan Loeffler and Don Roberts as an opportunity for the community to gather around the table and share a meal together.  All the details are in the write-up and flyer below but please make your reservations ahead of time (see flyer).  Hope to see many of you there!

From Joan & Don:


There are always questions and concerns, so I hope what follows addresses at least most of them. If there are others, please let us (Joan Loeffler and Don Roberts) know.

Who’s invited? Everyone from the Portola neighborhood, as well as our friends in Silver Terrace and Portola Place. If you’re new to the neighborhood or haven’t attended before, the holiday party is sure to put you in closer touch with the Portola community. And this year, seating will be at round tables for easier conversation.

Why is it held outside the neighborhood? The search for a venue closer to home always leads us back to the Italian-American Social Club just over the hill on Russia at Mission. It’s the only space that can accommodate the 100+ neighbors who attend each year and offers a bar for the social hour and is reasonably priced (still $28 for adults).

What about the food? Limited to the Social Club’s selections, we’ve come up with an all-new menu this year. In addition to Beef Tri-Tips and Curry Chicken, there are Pasta Primavera, salad and antipasti for those who dine vegetarian. Always plenty of food. Neighbors are encouraged to bring a favorite dessert to share, and you’re welcome to bring your own wine.

What about the kids? During the social hour, Lisa Magruder of Frame Art Studio keeps our younger neighbors busy making holiday ornaments, and the highlight of the evening is the appearance of Santa Claus with a gift for each of them. For kids aged 5 to 10, the dinner price is $16.

Is this a Christmas party? This is a celebration of the entire holiday season, coinciding this year with the first night of Hanukkah. For those who enjoy singing, the evening traditionally ends with a sing-along of holiday songs and carols around the piano.

Why must I pay in advance? Our agreement with the Social Club requires payment based on the number of reservations. If people make a reservation without paying, then fail to show up, the organizers must personally make up the difference. Payments are made by dropping off an envelope with cash or check at three home addresses in the neighborhood. We wish there were a more convenient way of handling this.


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/11/join-neighborhood-2017-portola-holiday-party-december-13th/

Nov 16

Flowery Fruit & Cake Creations At New(ish) Bakery

Our first taste of Fancy Wheat Field’s beautiful and yummy cakes

It’s Cheap, It’s Nice & Most Importantly, It’s Good!

I’ll just come right out and admit it, I turned my nose up at Fancy Wheat Field Bakery before it moved into its new location, the cramped old space serving hotdog filled pastries wasn’t calling my name. That all changed several months back when a neighbor brought over a cake from their new space at 2668 San Bruno Ave.  The cake which I would describe as “mango sponge” was not only tasty but arrived  intricately decorated with fresh fruits carved and assembled into a little work of art. Surprisingly, as we later learned, the entire cake was only $26 which is a relative steal compared to any San Francisco bakery, and it even came with candles

Fancy Wheat Field now open in the space once occupied by Lido Pastry, Photo courtesy of FoundSF.com

The new location which opened about a year ago, occupies a space that’s operated as a bakery since the Muni 9 was a streetcar.  The revamped Fancy Wheat Field has brought a fresh look to the old brick building with marble counters and a wood ceiling inside and a new facade that helps spruce up a changing San Bruno Ave.  Popping in any morning, especially weekends, you will typically find a bustling atmosphere of deliveries going out the front door, a line of customers with trays of treats in hand and small groups chatting over coffee around the handful of tables.

The cakes and confections baked fresh daily at Fancy Wheat Field are a twist on familiar classic American style desserts.  Expect assortments of cakes, mousses, breads and all kinds of buns that range in flavor from “blueberry and cheese” to ingredients new to my desert palette like red beans.  Which to my surprise, tastes very much like peanut butter. For those a bit more adventurous, the savory side of the counter features items such as crab salad, sausage or pork baked into a savory bun.  While some of the selections aren’t for everyone, there is definitely something here to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth and it’s great to have this place in the neighborhood when you need a dessert in a pinch that won’e break the bank.

Words aside, we’ll let the gallery below tempt you into stopping by sometime.  Heads up though, it’s cash only and the buns go fast on the weekend.


And Now, Photos Of Delicious Cake (and more)…




Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/11/flowery-fruit-cake-creations-newish-bakery/

Nov 08

Portola Receives Two S.F. Beautiful Awards!

The impressive amount of community work being done in the neighborhood has received some larger citywide recognition at the 2017 S.F. Beautiful Awards. S.F. Beautiful is a non-profit that dates back to 1947 and advocates for beautification and the preservation of S.F.’s character. Over the years the group has managed to save the cable cars from removal and bringing art to Muni buses most recently.

Of the 21 awards handed out in recognition of beautification efforts going on around the city, one was awarded to the Avenue Theater and the other to a very dedicated Portolan.  A third award was also given to a group in neighboring Excelsior for their work transforming a neglected public space. Check out the winners below with a quick write-up from S.F. Beautiful on why these are so deserving. Congratulations to all three and thank you!

Unsung Hero Award: Chuck Farrugia

Chuck Farrugia has, for many years, been a tireless volunteer advocate and promoter for McLaren Park. He has worked to secure donations and has coordinated improvements including the fountain installation on Gambier. – S.F. Beautiful 

Find out more about Chuck’s group, Help McLaren Park here. Join Chuck’s email list to stay in the know on everything happening in the park.

Renovation Award: The Avenue Theater & P.N.A.

The Avenue Theater has been the literal and figurative heart of the Portola for more than 90 years. It sits in the geographical center of the neighborhood’s commercial corridor and is the tallest and most notable building around. Despite that, it has spent the last thirty plus years decaying and in disrepair. Over the past several years the PNA worked with the City and the property owner to form an agreement that would lead to the renovation of the historic facade and the relighting of the theater’s classic neon lights. The PNA fought for and won grant funding for the project, and struck an agreement with the owner that they would fix the facade in exchange for an extremely generous lease on the empty retail space on the ground floor of the theater. Over the past six months, the PNA has worked with electricians, painters, neon benders and many others to create a project that honors the history of the building and has attracted an ice cream shop to the empty retail space. For the first time in more than 30 years, the community can see the theater and the street lit up once more. The Portola Neighborhood Association and its Corridor Manager Luke Spray have revived and activated the facade of the Portola’s Avenue Theater. – S.F. Beautiful

Learn all about the Avenue project here.

Activation Award: Friends Of Kenny Alley

The Kenny Alley Beautification Project is a multi-phased effort to revitalize and beautify the Kenny Alley Stairs, a small, passage located between a car lot and an apartment building on Mission Street in San Francisco’s Excelsior District. Friends of Kenny Alley have made significant improvements to the Kenny Alley stairs over the past 18 months, including neighborhood and community activation, public pathway improvements, working with local artists and students, and beautifying and greening a blighted and neglected public walkway. – S.F. Beautiful 

Learn more about the project and the group behind it here

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/11/portola-receives-two-s-f-beautiful-awards/

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