Aug 27

Free concert in McLaren Park – Flavor of the South Side

Saturday In The Park Header

This Saturday we once again see yet another free concert hosted in McLaren Park! Saturday in the Park – McLaren features free, family-friendly performances that showcase local talent.  Each concert has different themes to cover a wide range of interests and musical tastes.  Flavor of the South Side is a day dedicated to bluegrass, classic rock, folk and jazz music, featuring, Pucci and the Pups, Back Porch Band, and Delmarva.  For a full line up of the 2015 shows, please visit: So block out your afternoon and head down to the park.

When: Saturday, August 29; 1:00 – 4:00 pm

Where: Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre; 40 John Shelley Drive, McLaren Park

Want a sample some of the music? Here are some awesome tracks from the band Delmarva playing this Saturday.

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Aug 26

Help vote the Goettingen Garden Neighbors Group to win $2,500

In the Portola we have many a green thumb, but on some streets there are small communities who tend to public garden spaces. The best example is the Goettingen Neighbors Group. They work tirelessly to improve the small strip of public land that connects Goettingen St as it climbs past Dwight.

They’ve recently made a video to attract attention and win $2,500 as part of the Retale Community Garden Video Contest. After some hard work the video is a top-10 finalist and they need your help to vote it to the finish line. Simply click on this link and scroll down to the Goettingen Cascade and click on Vote! There is no registration required. It will take a few seconds of your time. Each person can vote one time per day until September 4.They will announce the winners on September 7.

Below is a descrption of what they will do with the money, including the video itself. So vote away!

Goettingen Cascade is a community beautification project in the Portola district of San Francisco. The staircase at the intersection of Dwight and Goettingen Streets is the site of our project. We hope to revitalize the area by creating an innovative public art piece using mirrored tiles and industrial grade glow-in-the-dark paint. The result will be a staircase that becomes a glowing waterfall at night that will not only beautify the area and create placemaking, but also serve as illumination for the staircase at night.

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Aug 26

Coyote pupping season begins, be wary in McLaren Park


Janet Kessler, aka the Coyote Lady, has been in touch to ask us to inform our readers about the coyote pupping season which has just begun. She shares the information below and for those of us that spend any time in McLaren Park, please take the time to watch the video and respect the coyotes if you see them.

Coyotes will soon be taking their youngsters — which they have kept hidden and secret until now — on wider and wider treks away from their dens, usually when it’s dark and when we humans aren’t around. However, it is not unusual to see coyotes out during the day — they are not nocturnal animals. There is more potential for dog/coyote encounters and confrontations during pupping season. We can be prepared for and prevent these encounters by knowing about and understanding coyote behavior and by following simple guidelines.

San Francisco has several dozen coyotes living in most of the parks, mostly in nuclear families. Because most folks in San Francisco have dogs or cats, and because it is pupping season, it is a good time to brush up on coyote behavior and the guidelines necessary for peacefully coexisting. Mainly this involves keeping your pets away from coyotes and knowing how to shoo one away which has come too close.

The above video “Coyotes As Neighbors” is an excellent all-in-one YouTube video presentation which explains relevant coyote behavior — including their intense family lives and territoriality towards other canines, be they dogs or other coyotes — and guidelines for keeping us all — humans, pets AND coyotes — safe and worry-free. The video includes a demo on how to effectively shoo off a coyote who has come too close. [Spanish version can be found here:  Mandarin version can be found here:].

For an additional brief written summary on coyote behavior and how to get along with them, visit Bay Nature’s “How to Get Along With Coyotes As Pups Venture Out”,

Please help get the word out by sharing this information with others. Together we can make San Francisco one of the most coyote-savvy urban areas in the US. All it takes is a little bit of knowledge, but that knowledge is crucial.

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Aug 23

Acoustic Soul Fest success in McLaren Park free concert series

Well this weekend the Portola Planet editor had a 7 year old’s birthday party to attend and our senior journalist, Alex Hobbs, is roughing it in Africa. So we were unable to make the wonderful start to the “Saturday in the Park” series of free concerts in McLaren Park. BUT Laura Kemp has been kind enough to be a guest reporter for us tonight and has provided some feedback and photos from the day.

Saturday in the Park McLaren opened its 2015 season on Saturday with the “Acoustic Soul Fest” featuring the Bay Area’s own, Martin Luther McCoy, Jazz vocalist extraordinaire Faye Carol, the incredibly talented girl band YouNique, dynamic vocalist Viveca Hawkins, and The Three Bells. The concert, held at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre, featured extraordinary local talent at a wonderful, if albeit, under-utilised local venue. A big THANK YOU! to the organizers & volunteers who made this event happen. It was the perfect day for an outdoor concert – great weather, dramatic natural location, plus plenty of seating, bathrooms close by, and a friendly community vibe. However, the attendance was low, probably no more than 100 people. The organizers asked that we show our support for free music in the park by attending, contributing our dollars & by getting the word out to the community at large.

Hope to see you next Saturday, August 29th, 1pm-4pm The Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre for the 2nd concert in the series, “Flavors of the South Side”, featuring local musicians, Pucci & the Pups, Back Porch Band, and Delmarva.

Visit the Facebook Page “Saturday in the Park McLaren” for more info and here are a few pictures. Thanks Laura! The Planet will definitely be attending the next event.

Faye Carol Martin Luther McCoy, Faye Carol Martin Luther McCoy YouNique

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Aug 23

Mark your calendar for the 2015 Portola Garden Tour!


Quick heads up Portola residents. We’ve not yet got the final details, but we do know the time and date for the upcoming Portola Garden Tour and keep an eye on their website. So mark your calendars for September 26th, 10am-3pm. Not sure what this is all about? Why not read some of the planets previous reports on the unique San Francisco experience here in the Portola.

Portola Garden Tour 2012 and 2013 (Unfortunately we were unable to make 2014!)


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Aug 19

Hawaiian, Chinese, Latin and Italian music night this Friday at the next Moving Art House event


You cannot think of art in the Portola without thinking of the awesome Kate Connell and Oscar Melara. They both are key contributors to artwork around the neighborhood and are part of many art events through the year. A few weekends ago they kicked off their Moving Art House events with a celebration at the Portola Library. This Friday however they are kicking it up a notch and the party is set to be fantastic!

Before we go into the detail, the Nite Life is the second Moving Art House event celebrating the culture of the Portola, Bayview/Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods. Moving Art House is a mobile cultural space created by Kate Connell and Oscar Melara (Book and Wheel Works) and their third public art project in the Portola. Moving Art House is produced in collaboration with Richard Talavera and The Mexican Bus. The Mexican Bus is a vibrantly painted popular culture icon, filled with small sculpture, decals and Mexican movie posters of the 40s and 50s. The Moving Art House series includes three events with poetry, visual art, music and other performing arts of southeast San Francisco. A culminating exhibition at the Portola Branch Library will open in December 2015.

So this Friday, starting at 6pm at the El Toro night club (2470 San Bruno Avenue) you will be able to hear music float from the stage at El Toro, a site with more than 80 years of musical history, play games, admire the new Nite Life Mural and dance the night away. We offer a kaleidescope of southeast San Francisco’s culture and this is all FREE! Families are absolutely welcome and the Portola Planet intends to send it’s two young reporters to bring back news of the nights event.

The schedule for the night is;

  • 6-7:00 pm: Relax on The Mexican Bus, take in the rich décor of “Lola” the site of our social club for the evening.
  • 7-8:00 pm –3 things to choose from!
    • On board the bus Dr. John Calloway and José Cuellar, PhD (aka Dr. Loco) tell stories of the music heard on San Bruno Avenue over the last century—from Klezmer to Maltese waltzes to Latin Rock to Banda.
    • In the Club: Play the Sweet Note game! Your hosts Homer and Belle handout an array of delectable winners’ prizes.
    • On the street: Help unveil the new Nite Life Mural!* Learn dance steps from La Torera!
  • 8:00-10:00 pm: Hear the premier concert of live music from southeast San Francisco: enjoy Hawaiian, Chinese, Latin and Italian music played by your neighbors. Musicians of the city’s southeast rim reveal the region’s cultural richness with seeds for the future: Adeyemi Demetrius, La Familia Peña-Govea, the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band, Mireya Leon, Shura Taylor, Trio Pizzicato, Dr. Calloway and Dr. Loco.
  • 10:00 pm: El Toro’s house Banda band parades to the stage and invites you to the dance floor!

Follow the links below to read more, at the very bottom of the article are some sample videos of the artists performing and we hope to see you all there this Friday!

Facebook event:
Moving Art House |
The Mexican Bus |

*Nite Life Mural by Book and Wheel Works.

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Aug 13

Jerry Day Concert in McLaren Park a huge success


August 2nd this year was host to the superb Jerry Day event in McLaren Park. Every year there is a free concert at the amphitheater named after the Grateful Dead co-founder and it is always packed out and the sun is always shining. This year was no exception, we’ve never seen as many people attend. The seating was packed and people crammed onto the surrounding hill.

We spoke with one of the organizers, Tom Murphy, to ask his thoughts on the day. He told us it was the most successful Jerry Day since it started in 2005. Many Portola residents volunteered to help on the day and the music even attracted district 10 supervisor Malia Cohen. Tom told us some interesting stories. Pianist Melvin Seals, who formed JGB after Jerry’s death, traveled back from Wisconsin and arrived at SFO only two hours before his appearance was set to begin! But he made it in time and delivered a tremendous set.

city proclamation given out by Mayor Rep Joaquin Torres to the Garcia Family (Trixie Garcia / Annabelle Garcia (Jerry's daughters), and Tiff Garcia (Jerry's brother)

City proclamation given out by Mayor Rep Joaquin Torres to the Garcia Family (Trixie Garcia / Annabelle Garcia (Jerry’s daughters), and Tiff Garcia (Jerry’s brother)

Members of Jerry Garcia’s family were also in attendance. His daughters (Trixie and Annabelle) got to see Uncle Tiff Garcia (Jerry’s brother and Excelsior Native) play in a live setting. All three of them were also presented with a proclamation from the mayors office that deemed August 2nd as “Jerry Garcia Amphitheater Day”.

Tom also mentioned $6,000 was raised on the day that goes directly to the San Francisco Parks Alliance which helps sponsor the event and covers most of the expenses.

In addition to the individual donations, Tom learned that the Grateful Dead / Jerry Garcia family raised $25k through ticket sales from the recent Fare Thee Well concerts in Santa Clara / Chicago! More info on that donation should be coming out soon but it’s likely to go towards making improvements to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater.

photo 3

A typical view of the top of the hill above the day’s music activities.

In the future, Jerry Day / Friends of Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, hopes to evolve the locations programming to even more event and they are very interested in branding and promoting the use of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater to the general public / tourist industry. For more info or to help out you can email them at

If you were not able to make it, worry not. Due to the wonders of the internet and the quality and ease of recording and sharing video, here are a few examples of songs from the day. There are many more to be found on YouTube.

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Aug 01

Grocery Outlet to Replace Fresh & Easy

The cat is out of the (Grocery Outlet) bag

The cat is out of the (Grocery Outlet) bag.

The cat appears to be out of the bag when it comes to the fate of the now vacant Fresh & Easy space.  A topic that has gripped the Portola with speculation, debate and prayers for a Trader Joe’s on the various online forums.  Noticed by an eagle-eyed resident, a liquor license permit application sign has been spotted on the property.  The application outs the Grocery Outlet as the proposed new tenant for the space ahead of any official announcement from the city or grocer.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit A.

So what exactly is Grocery Outlet?  Rumors are already circulating that they sell merchandise from other markets that is nearing expiration but thankfully this isn’t the case.  According to their website, Grocery Outlet only buys directly from manufacturers.  The products are excess inventory which can result from issues such as production overruns or packaging changes.  Basic items such as milk and eggs are purchased through conventional distribution channels so that they always stock the basics. These items are not as deeply discounted as the overruns but they claim to check local prices to undercut all nearby competitors.  On the management end of the business, each location is independently owned and operated, the company looks for local residents to own, manage and staff each location so that every store has a “local personality”.  I’ve been told by my sources within the PNA (me, I am a PNA board member) that the store is currently looking for someone within the Portola or S/E San Francisco to own and manage this location.  The Portola location would be the 6th on the Peninsula, joining Geary Blvd in the Richmond, Visitacion Valley, Redwood City, South San Francisco and Palo Alto (fancy!).

Architectural Rendering

Unofficial architectural rendering of proposed store

Despite my desperate pleas to Trader Joe’s HQ, I’m pretty satisfied with this news.  We were turned on to Grocery Outlet while shopping for Burning Man supplies last year and we have been relying somewhat on the Bayshore location since the closing of F&E.  Our experience has been overwhelmingly positive which was a surprise to us as admitted Trader Joe’s and Rainbow Grocery fanatics.  At the Bayshore location, there is an entire aisle dedicated to organic products and produce, a large beer & wine section with local brands such as Anchor Steam and Speakeasy Brewery and household items such as 100′ garden hoses for $15, perfect for the Garden District!

This being San Francisco and all, there will be at least one community meeting where we will all have a chance to dust off our pitch forks and light our torches to demand changes to the building and proposed business.  My secret source at the PNA tells me that an official announcement should be expected soon and this will include community meeting dates.  I plan to suggest they plant trees along the backside of the building to soften the large blank wall that runs along Somerset and perhaps add some murals on the blank Somerset and Silver Ave. facades.

What would you like to see with this new store? Once the grief passes for the TJ’s that never was, share with us in comments.

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