Nov 25

Prime resturant space in the Portola opens up! (Old Breakfast at Tiffany’s space)


A month ago we reported the 35 year old Portola business, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, had closed due to the sad passing of owner and head chef Gerald Adan. The owner of the building, which also houses a dental practice on the floor above, has decided to sell.

In the heart of San Bruno Ave. corridor with concentration of shops, markets, bakeries, fruit stands, restaurants and banks. This Portola district’s select neighborhood destination includes easy access to highway #101 and #280, Silver Ave., Alemany Blvd. with high corner visibility. Offered at $895,000.

Many of us in the neighborhood would love a wonderful new restaurant to open in the previous space occupied by Breakfast at Tiffany’s. With around 1,800 square feet to play with and an already warm and traditional feel to the inside, this has a lot of potential. We are told it’s going to be well sought after and with Four Barrel doing well in it’s new location, who knows what will be opening on San Bruno Ave in 2014? What are your thoughts fellow Portolans? What would you like to see occupy this 2499 San Bruno Ave?

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Nov 21

Second Upper Yosemite Creek Daylighting public meeting


A few weeks ago we reported on the Upper Yosemite Creek Daylighting project. Well we’ve just found out about the second public outreach meeting that will take place in a few weeks. Join the SFPUC to view design concepts based on your initial input for the periphery of McLaren Park. Provide feedback on proposed alternatives, learn more about green infrastructure and tell them what else you’d like to see!

What: Community open house – Upper Yosemite Creek Daylighting

When: Saturday, December 7, 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Where: All Nations Lutheran Church, 465 Woosley Street

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Nov 19

12th Annual Portola Neighbors Holiday Dinner


We’ve just received word about this years Portola festive feast. The very much loved local, Joan Loeffler, just sent us the following invite.


Mark your calendar for a festive evening of hearty food, holiday music and good cheer! PORTOLA & all neighbors who want to come. It is always fun. Larry Zabo will delight you on the piano, sing if you like, bring a dessert if you wish. The cost covers the room, the food, the tax and tip. COME ONE, COME ALL.


Friday, December 6th. 6:00 – 7:00 pm Social Hour (Cash Bar) and 7:00 – 9:00 pm for the buffet dinner


Italian-American Social Club, 25 Russia Ave. (at Mission St., free parking across the


  • Salad
  • Antipasti Plate
  • Entrée
  • Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Coffee and Tea

Select your entrée in advance from roast chicken rosemary, sirloin tips in wine sauce or pasta pesto. As in past years, we request that some of you bring desserts to share. If you wish to bring wine, there is a $9.00 corkage fee. The evening ends with a sing-along of holiday songs around the piano.


$28 for Adults and Children over 10

$16 for Kids 5–10

(Tip and taxes included; no charge for kids under five.)

The hall seats 80, and reservations will be accepted on a first-come basis until Wednesday, Dec. 4th. Payment must be made in cash in advance.

Make a reservation

Choose a menu preference, put cash or check made out to Joan Loeffler in an envelope with your name and phone number- drop it in one of our mailboxes, details below. Call us to let us know you are putting it there.

Joan Loeffler (415-816-1335) 1718 Burrows St.(Harvard)

Jay Eggers (415-812-1459) 781 Brussels (Olmstead)

The Portola Neighbors Dinner was organized by Rebecca Richards, who has moved away from the Bay Area. We want to see that this happy tradition continues by reaching out to every neighborhood group. You can help by spreading the word to your Portola neighbors. Bring the JOY!!



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Nov 19

The Incredible San Francisco Artists’ Soapbox Derby


McLaren Park is an awesome place. But it’s awesomeness just increased significantly after the Planet watched the video below. In 1975, San Francisco artists built cars for a soap box derby in McLaren Park. They were given money ($250, probably around $1000 by today’s standards) to build their artistic creations which included one car featuring tens of vibrators and an all male pit crew! As the title sequence of the movie states…

In the spring of 1975, 104 Bay Area artists shared their imagination with the community in a new and public way.

They built 75 ‘cars’ and 32 trophies for an artists’ soapbox derby, raised $20,000 for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and created an event which lightened the city with its humor and creative energy.

The whole movie is below. Those at the Planet, one of whom was born in 1975, would very, very much like to ask if anyone would be interesting in resurrecting the idea of a soap box derby in McLaren Park for next year? If so, please get in touch and we’ll see how many like minded people can get together to make it happen.

The Incredible San Fancisco Artists’ Soapbox Derby, 1975. from Mike Haeg on Vimeo.

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Nov 18

Palega Recreation Center Opening a Success!

Well we had an absolute blast at the park this weekend. There was a massive turn out and lots of activities and the park has been busy over the weekend since. Thanks to everyone who turned up and also those who worked very hard to put on the events for the opening ceremony.


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Nov 18

Youth Tennis Advantage Scholar Athlete Program


In the southwest corner of the Portola (intersection of Mansell and University) there are three sets of tennis courts in McLaren Park.  There you will find adults engaged in competitive tennis matches, older Chinese people practicing Tai Chi, and even people training their dogs.  But on Monday through Friday from 4-6 pm (or 3:30 until dark during daylight savings time) on the upper and lower courts you will see kids ranging in age from 7-18 being introduced to tennis (and for those more experienced, getting help perfecting their game) through the Youth Tennis Advantage Scholar Athlete Program or YTA.

When we moved to the Portola one of the things I was most excited about was our proximity to McLaren park.  Not having been a city person prior to life in San Francisco, the hikes through the park were a fresh breath to my soul.  On one of these hikes we stumbled across kids playing tennis at McLaren, and I paused to carefully read the surrounding signs about this program.  In reading the signs, I learned about YTA, which I’ve come to regard as a secret treasure of our city.  The program officially starts at age seven, but my son was six at the time, so we spent the next few months anxiously counting down days before he could join.

YTA has four Bay area locations, and Portola is lucky enough to have one of them directed by Wing-Yan So, who is also the academic director, while the kids are coached by Coaches John Savoy and Carl Mendoza.  Wing-Yan purposely knows each of the kids and their level of play and accordingly offers opportunities for further growth through tournaments and leagues throughout the year.  There is no pressure, though.  If kids just want to practice, that’s just fine.

Did you notice the Scholar part of the title?  YTA wants kids of all economic backgrounds to have access to tennis, but also helps any kids who need help with homework during that 2 hour time period.  Wing-Yan, as the academic director, provides tutoring during this time free of charge.


Coach John, who has been with YTA since the early 90s, is the coach for the beginners.  His personality is caring and quirky, and the kids love him!  In fact, my son was invited to move up to the upper level of the tennis program, but he held off for months, because he enjoyed Coach John’s leadership so much.  Though now thriving in the upper level, he still on occasion mentions missing Coach John, and my 7 year old daughter giggles endlessly at his jokes and silliness.

Coach Carl, who leads the upper level, has been coaching tennis for over 25 years in different organizations.  He is a wealth of knowledge of the San Francisco tennis scene and tells me that YTA has had the top youth tennis players coming out of their program for years.  Even Lowell High School sends their tennis players to YTA during their off season.  One of the things I love about the upper level tennis program is the culture of scaling.  My son is the youngest kid out there, so at a nine years old he is a novice compared to the high schoolers he plays with.  Yet, the more experienced kids seem to naturally scale their level of play to a level that challenges their younger counterparts but doesn’t crush them.

While YTA has been around since the early 2000’s, the program’s history is much older.  It came out of a merger of Youth Tennis Foundation, which goes back to the 1950‘s, and National Junior Tennis League of San Francisco (NJTL), which goes back to the 1970’s.

One of the best things about the program is that it is only $25 per year.  Yep, you read that correctly!  Craziness, right?!  Even if your child only participates once a month, it is totally worth that price.  In addition, they are very laid back.  Kids are welcome to come try out the program before ever paying for it.  Also, while officially the program is open to kids starting at age 7, they do allow kids younger to participate at the coaches’ discretion.  It is also not uncommon for some parents to get out there and learn with their kids.

I’m a bit nosy, so of course I was wondering who pays for all this being that this isn’t a program out of Parks and Rec.  I asked Wing-Yan and she said, “We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Our funds to run this program comes from grants, donations, and from fund-raising events we have throughout the years. One of our major fund-raisers is our annual Bank of West Dinner, and this is where we raise a good amount of our funds to run our programs. Furthermore, most of the equipment we have such as tennis balls, racquets, etc. were donated by various tennis clubs, local businesses, individuals, and coaches from the YTA such as Carl Mendoza and Thomas White.”

If you have kids, I recommend trying it out and seeing if this “secret treasure” is a good fit for your family!

If you want more information, check out their website at

Mary Carter Keel lives with her husband Brad and two kids on an absurdly steep hill in a part of Portola she affectionately calls Portola Heights.  As a mom who educates her kids at home and runs a small business, she loves YTA mostly for tennis, but also a little for the two hours a day of alone time it gives her.

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Nov 05

Palega Recreation Center Opening Ceremony Update

PalegaOpeningFlyerTwo weeks left! Saturday 16th November and we will finally have our wonderful park and recreation center back in the hands of our local citizens. The Portola Planet HQ was host this weekend to a meeting of the Parks and Rec public relations team, the staff people who will be running the new center, the Portola Neighborhood Association and the newly formed Community Recreation Council who are working with the Parks and Rec department to address the needs and concerns of the neighborhood in relation to the park.

The meeting discussed the agenda for the opening ceremony, who’s going to be there, what activities will be planned. Parks and Rec told us they will have demonstrations of the basketball, martial arts and other sporting programs they intend to run at the center. There is also going to be music and we are hoping that a local breakdance group will be putting on a show.

The whole event is going to kick off at 11am and the organized activities will run through to 1pm. However the park will remain open till at least 4pm to let people have fun exploring all the new areas. So please, tell your neighbors and turn up on Saturday. The Planet will be there kicking some soccer balls around with our younger members of staff!

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The meeting ended with a tour around the new center, and boy does it look fantastic. We spoke to Dwayne Watts, the manager of the center, and he commented how much more light was in the center and how less depressing it looks. The interior was so worn and old before, the new gym floor and the fresh paint all over has brought a wonderful new positive air.

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Nov 04

DPW wants to help bring sidewalk landscaping to the Portola

The Portola Garden Tour is an annual event in our neighborhood that show cases some of the wonderful private and public gardens that exist in our neighborhood. Take a look at the beautiful pictures the Planet captured from this years event. Inspired by some of these gardens, the HQ for the Planet decided to improve the garden space that existed at the front of our property and in doing some research we stumbled upon a really great city project to bring garden landscapes to the sidewalks of San Francisco.

The idea is that the city helps people through the permit process, the creating and maintaining of simple sidewalk gardens. The benefits are improved aesthetic to our city and also it aids with the ongoing challenge of diverting storm water away from our aging sewer system. If any neighborhood in the city should have well landscaped sidewalks, it’s the one with a history of gardening like ours. We contacted DPW for more information and found that a great example of this project, over in Noe Valley, was actually installed and is maintained by one of our own Portolans, Rae Van Heirseele. You can see pictures of her creation below.


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The San Francisco School in the Portola have also demonstrated this program can have some superb results. Just look at the attractive results along the front of their school.


Image copyright Google Maps/Street View

There are also 5 really good videos on YouTube which we’ve embedded for you below to view. We think this is an excellent idea and it would be great to see our green fingered neighbors to spill their talents onto the street. You can find more about the program at the DPW website.

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