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

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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.


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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

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)…




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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

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Nov 07

Brighter White L.E.D. Street Lights Arriving In The Portola Now


In the foreground are the new L.E.D street lights casting light down on the street. In the background are the old orange sodium vapor lights on Bernal, casting their light out in a wider spread. Which do you like better?

The nighttime cityscape is in the beginning stages of a complete transformation as the S.F.P.U.C. and P.G.&E. switch their street lamps over to higher efficiency L.E.D. bulbs.

Start saying your goodbyes to the ubiquitous sodium vapor bulbs that have washed cities in an orange glow for decades. The new L.E.D.s selected for San Francisco’s streetlights are a soft white 3000k color temperature bulb that creates a warmer light as opposed to a cold blueish light that many other cities are installing in their street lights. The new bulbs also do a better job of focusing light on the street which helps darken the sky while still providing a brighter, more evenly lit street. Better for safety and also better on the environment as the new lights in California alone, will save enough energy to power 500,000 homes a year according to PG&E.

Top: Dimmer sodium vapor lights on Brussels St. Bottom: Brighter L.E.D. lights on Burrows St.  (In person the old is much dinner, I think my phone adjusts for the light.) 

We reached out to PG&E about the project and learned that D-10 and a portion of the Portola will be the first to receive the lights in the pilot program. Installation of the first phase has already begun and will be complete by Thanksgiving at which time discussions will begin with the city on the next areas to be upgraded. Last we heard though, P.G.&E. has no timeline to change over the entire city or finish the Portola, but given that the new bulbs are saving them money, we assume that it will occur fairly rapidly.

If you hand any questions about the program or lights, you can reach out to PG&E here.

Courtesy of PG&E, map of Portola showing locations of new L.E.D. street lights in pilot upgrade program.


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Nov 03

The G.O. Annual Wine Sale & Portola Store Update

Attention Neighborhood Winos

If you enjoy wine and haven’t checked out the deals and variety at the Grocery Outlet (1390 Silver Ave), you are missing out. As we have reported in the past, their wine following is so strong that someone has dedicated a blog to reviewing their selections .

For any newbies or dedicated G.O. sommeliers out there, the big annual wine sale is going on now at all G.O. locations including Portola.  20% off all bottles through Tuesday means deep discounts on already well priced bottles.

How Is The Portola Store Doing?

Glad you asked, in short, they are doing phenomenally one year into the new location. After a series of markers in the Silver Ave. location have come and gone, it appears this one will stick. We spoke to Ray, the life long Portolan and owner of the Silver Ave store, who informed us that this location has had the strongest opening in the local chain’s recent expansion. The Portola store also has the most sales of organic and specialty items at 19% of total sales versus s 14% at other S.F. G.O. stores.  Good news because this means G.O. will continue to stock more of those items in the Portola store as the brand expands its offerings.

As you may have heard, the Berkeley based Grocery Outlet chain is in the midst of a giant expansion program, adding more locations all over the western U.S.  This should give the chain more buying power with high quality brands. Ray also shared that store owners are pushing the company to also use this expansion opportunity to begin featuring items such as fresh-baked local breads commonly found at other specialty markets. As he joked, the brand hopes to be recognized as the Nordstrom Rack of foods, not the Ross.  We think that’s music to everyone’s ears here in the Portola.

If you have any suggestions for the store, Ray is committed to making his location a market for the community. You can email or call with any feedback or specific product requests that you would like to see stocked.

Contact Information

(415) 825-5678

[email protected]

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Nov 02

Wrestling For Charity With A Very S.F. Twist

So here is a new event for the Portola, a wrestling tournament that will take place at El Toro on San Bruno Ave, aired live on YouTube and will all benefit a good cause. Oh and the emcee for the event is Portola’s very own drag queen Pollo Del Mar – only in S.F.! We have no idea what to expect with tonight’s event but we have a feeling that it will be memorable either way. All the details below:

Wrestling For Charity Debuts in San Francisco! See WFC champion “Metalhead Maniac” Sledge, WFC Sapphire division champion Thunder Rosa (aka Kobra Moon), Jeckles, Jheri Gigalow, Chicano Flame, Mantiz Lee, “Wrestling Personified” Rik Luxury, Rock Lobster, The Honor Society, WFC GM “The Voice” Donovan Troi, WFC Assistant GM and San Francisco’s own Pollo Del Mar & much more! A portion of the proceeds benefits the Portola Neighborhood Association. All-ages event! 21-and-over to drink.

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Nov 01

The Portola Is Getting A Flag, Submit Your Design By November 15th!

Our little urban enclave tucked between the hills of McLaren Park and the freeways is getting a flag. The folks at the Portola Urban Greening (P.U.G.) community group are hosting a competition in which neighbors can create and submit their design for a flag that represents the community. P.U.G. will be hosting a free workshop open to everyone for those who would like to design in the company of others or for anyone who isn’t feeling confident in their artistic skills but has an idea. The winning design will fly at Burrows Pocket park as well as businesses and homes throughout the neighborhood.  All the details including submission dates and how to get templates in the release from P.U.G. below.

All The Details & How To Enter Your Design

The Portola’s Getting a Neighborhood Flag!
The Portola neighborhood is hosting an open competition for all residents to create a Portola Garden District flag. The flag will hang proudly in Burrows Pocket Park, along San Bruno Ave, and in local businesses and residences.
We Stand Together
As a diverse neighborhood, recently united after years of being split into different supervisor districts, we’re excited to build upon the city’s recent recognition of the Portola’s identity as San Francisco’s Garden District.
But I’m Not an Artist…
Don’t worry! This Thursday, 11/2 from 5:30-8:30, there’ll be professional designers to help advise and workshop your flag ideas. This competition is about highlighting the Portola’s values through a shared visual symbol – if you bring the inspiration, they’ll bring the artistry.
Let’s Do It!
You can find more details about the design competition HERE and download a PDF with specific instructions and a template to either draw, collage, or digitally paste your design. Completed designs can be turned in to the Portola Branch Library or submitted online.
Design Workshop Info:
When? This Thursday November 2nd from 5:30-8:30pm
Where? Ferment Drink Repeat’s upstairs community space (because who’s not more artistic after a few brews) at 2636 San Bruno Ave
Who? You + professional designers who love making flags
What? Learn about how to make the best flag (it is a competition…), meet your neighbors, and enjoy some snacks and beer.
Key Dates: 
Submission Period Opens: 10/26
Workshop: 11/2
Submission Deadline: 12pm on 11/15
Voting Period: 11/16-11/30

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