Jul 20

Free concerts in McLaren Park, Aug and Oct

Once again the Portola is going to be treated to some superb free music by way of the Saturday in the Park series of concerts. These will be held in the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater which is easily accessible by foot from the Cambridge St entrance. The first concert is “Acoustic Soul” on August 22nd at 1pm. It will feature the following acts.

To give you an idea of the artists, here are a few videos from YouTube. We are looking forward to hearing San Francisco native Martin Luther McCoy team up with Mississippi born Faye Carol! Wow, imagine these two on stage blasting out some tunes together!


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2015/07/free-concerts-in-mclaren-park-aug-and-oct/

Jul 19

Beautiful mosaic completed at the McNab Lake in McLaren Park

A few weeks ago many neighborhood volunteers completed the new mosaic that now curves around the back of McNab Lake in McLaren Park. The project was born from the Help McLaren Park community group who are constantly working to bring improvements and public art to the second largest park in San Francisco. The artwork was designed and created by Rachel Rodi Mosaics in Oakland. You may also be familiar with her work over at Balboa Park.


We took a walk down to the late and playground today and saw what a huge improvement this mosaic has made over the previous wall of concrete. The mosaic is made of glass and it covers the entire 160 feet length of the wall.

It started with some rough sketches and then over several weekends of work, was completed in June 2015. Initially there we plans to incorporate flowers into the design, but artist direction taken at the time of creating the piece, it was decided to just use colored glass to represent the variety of colors of flowers in the park.

Early sketches of ideas for the mosaic

The Planet got in touch with that artist, Rachel Rodi, and asked her why the snakes were the inspiration for the piece. She told us that the snake is a rendition of the San Francisco garter snake which used to thrive in McLaren park but is now an endangered species. The artwork is therefore not only about bringing beauty to the park, but also in honor of this snake and bringing awareness to it’s decline. There are many organizations (National Park Service, Center for Biological Diversity) actively working to help save this what is often called “the most beautiful serpent in North America”.

Close up of McNab Lake mosaic

Close up of McNab Lake mosaic

Rachel also told us that she was so proud of the enormous effort from the whole Portola community. Chuck Farrugia, who is part of the Help McLaren Park group, used to play with these snakes in McLaren park as a small boy. He helped get the project off the ground and a mass of around 80-100 volunteers become involved, helping create the piece.

SONY DSCSo next time you are taking a walk through McLaren. Pay a visit to the McNab Lake and please if you are lucky enough to spot a garter snake, enjoy viewing them in their natural habit but leave them in peace. As the San Francisco Parks Conservancy will tell you, “…they are not to be approached upon sighting. When threatened, they excrete foul smells from their anal glands and often empty their bowels on unsuspecting captors.”

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2015/07/beautiful-mosaic-completed-at-the-mcnab-lake-in-mclaren-park/

Jul 19

Easy way to be informed of street construction projects in the Portola

Are you sick of the construction going on down Silver Ave over the past year? Wish you knew when the city was going to be repaving the street outside your house? Well, wait no longer. The city has a website where you can view all existing and up coming construction projects for the next 6 months.

Head over to https://envista-citizensview.appspot.com/sanfran.jsp and put in your zip code. Then you can click on the colorful lines on the map and see the detail on the projects. It’s not 100% accurate, for example the date for the completion of the work on Silver Ave shows 25th May, which we all know wasn’t met. However it does give a contact name, which when clicked, allows you to send an email directly to the person responsible and ask them when they expect the work to finally complete.


But before you fire off a round of emails, Silver Ave repaving is expected to be completed around the end of Aug.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2015/07/easy-way-to-be-informed-of-street-construction-projects-in-the-portola/

Mar 29

Still here, still busy, still accepting help!

Ahh yes. Where did the Planet go? So i’m afraid I would love to post at least once a month and update everyone on what’s happening. But unfortunately my new job downtown means i’m far less in and around the Portola and simply just too busy with family and work. But, I did get this fantastic video from a realtor who loves to big up the Portola whenever she can. I thought it was worth sharing.

Remember, I might be super busy, but you might not. If you want to write something up for the blog. Feel free to contact me at tips@portolaplanet.com and let’s have at it!


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2015/03/still-here-still-busy-still-accepting-help/

Sep 17

Charity and the JAMBand hits McLaren park this month

McLaren Park is awesome. Period. It’s the second largest park in the city of San Francisco and in the middle it has the most amazing outdoor stage for music and theater events. For the past few years there have been a range of free music concerts run under the title “Saturday in the Park“. On the 27th of September there will be yet another free music event. Charity and the JAMBand are playing from 1pm. They perform award winning concerts for children and their families. Chuck Farrugia, from Help McLaren Park, just sent the flyer below to the Planet. Chuck told us that;

We are trying to get the words out to the schools too so if you happen to be a school teacher, work for a school or have kids in a school please spread the word! This show has proven to be a huge hit for kids and adults.  Please come again to support our park or if you have never seen Charity, come and enjoy the show for the very first time.  You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

And Chuck is always spot on, so come on down in a few weeks and join in the fun…


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2014/09/charity-jamband-hits-mclaren-park-month/

Sep 17

Nano brewery, Ferment.Drink.Repeat opens in the Portola next year!

Kevin and Shae, bringing a unique beer experience to the Portola

Kevin and Shae, bringing a unique beer experience to the Portola

The Portola Planet has been slow for many months due to a busy family schedule and a crazy new day job. But while we’ve been quiet, a lot of things have been going on in the Portola. We’ve seen superb progress at the Burrows pocket park, great free live music in McLaren Park this summer and news of some exciting new business along San Bruno.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is due to reopen with new owners and they plan to maintain the theme of the popular local restaurant but update the menu with some newer ideas. The Portola Planet will get a chance to speak with the new owners in a few weeks and report back here.

But this article is all about another great new business that’s planning to open on San Bruno Ave. After months of looking for a location, Kevin and Shae Inglin were pleased to secure a large space previously occupied by Innovative Windows Inc. (in between Imperial Garden Restaurant and the old Avenue Theatre). Their mission? To open Ferment.Drink.Repeat – a Nano Brewery with Tap Room co-located with the largest homebrew supply shop in the city. As an Englishman who has a passion for ales, I had to find out more and had the chance to have lunch with Kevin and Shae.


As we entered the large space, Kevin immediately threw down on the floor the plans for the whole space. They are still in the process of deciding on minor changes, but the format was clear. At the front, there will be a bar with plenty of seating and tables. This is absolutely a place to have a pint or two. Walk past the bar and to the right will be a cooler where the beer is stored, but behind that will be where the magic happens. Kevin has been involved in the home brewing scene for the past 18 years and has previously served as the Vice President of the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild and is currently an active member of the board.

As you enter FDR, you’ll walk right into the tap room. Where you can drink a full pint of any one of the beers on tap. Initially the beers will be of Kevin’s own creation, but the idea is that he will select home brewers, who have proven their mastery of the craft by winning an award, to come and brew their recipe at FDR. 2-3 weeks later, you’ll be able to drink the beer onsite. Like what you are drinking? Then head upstairs to their retail store where you can purchase all the equipment and ingredients you need to make your own. Although, as Shae reminded me, just because you can follow a Martha Stewart cake recipe, doesn’t mean you are making Martha Stewart cakes!

Bridgetown fermenters under construction

Bridgetown fermenters under construction

The equipment for FDR is being constructed specially for them and the fermenters above are now finished and ready for delivery. It’s impressive looking stuff, but Kevin assures me that it’s not going to scare your average home brewer. His fermenting room is essentially large scale versions of what most home brewers already use, so it’s going to be familiar territory. Is he expecting anyone to wander in and brew? No, he is going to be selecting those who are well versed in the craft.  But, for those who want to start learning, you can buy everything you need for your first brew from FDR for somewhere between $100 to $150. If you want to learn more about the whole home brewing scene and start reading up before you try it yourself, Kevin recommends the How To’s on the American Homebrewers Association website.

I asked him if he had any ideas for a local Portola beer? He was already one step ahead. He said he has Portola Porter in the works! We cannot wait. When FDR gets closer to opening, keep an eye on the Planet and we’ll bring you up to date.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2014/09/ferment-drink-repeat-open-portola-new-year/

Sep 16

2014 Portola Garden Tour tickets on sale NOW!!


Once again the wonderful event that is the Portola Garden Tour is going to held on the 27th of September. Tickets are now on sale and we at the Portola Planet highly recommend attending. It is a fantastic way to get a feel for our neighborhood, meet some really wonderful neighbors and get some good exercise! All the information you need is in their press release below…



What: The annual Portola Garden Tour featuring 14 private and public gardens

When: Saturday September 27, 2014, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: The Portola neighborhood

Cost: $25 for one ticket; $40 for two – see below for ticket sales locations

Online @ http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/855088 and at the following locations:

Sterling Bank, 2555 San Bruno Ave.; Four Barrel Coffee, 2 Burrows St; Fat Beli Deli, 2598 San Bruno Ave.; Family Connections, 2565 San Bruno Ave.; and Flora Grubb Gardens, 1634 Jerrold Ave

On September 27, 2014 sixteen public and private residential gardens in The Portola will be open to the public for viewing. The annual Portola Garden Tour, a highly anticipated neighborhood event, is now in its eighth year. The tour has become a great way for residents in The Portola to get to know their neighbors, and for people who live in other areas of San Francisco and beyond to discover this wonderful enclave.

Once home to flower-growing enterprises and farms, the Portola is known as San Francisco’s Garden District. Roughly bordered by Silver Avenue to the north, Mansell Street to the south, San Bruno Avenue to the east and McLaren Park to the west, The Portola is one of the last, true blue-collar neighborhoods in San Francisco. It is also one of the few places in the city with enough sun to grow tomatoes. As new businesses open up on San Bruno Avenue, and property values rise, the Portola is redefining itself from undiscovered gem, to real estate hot spot.

The Portola is a diverse neighborhood with a rich history. Maltese, Italian and Jewish immigrant families settled in The Portola in the late-19th century, followed by African-American shipbuilders who moved to San Francisco from the south during World War II. In the decades since, Latinos, Filipinos, Chinese, Vietnamese and others have planted roots in The Portola, a neighborhood that welcomes all.

The Portola Garden Tour began in 2007 as a fund-raiser for the Portola Branch Library at Goettingen and Bacon streets. When the library opened in 2009, the community decided to continue the popular event as a fund- raiser, and created The Portola Garden Scholarship at City College San Francisco for Environmental Horticulture and Floristry Department students. The first scholarship was awarded in 2010 and has grown to two per year. Funds are also used to pay for work projects in The Portola that employ City College students. This year the Portola Branch library will be showing its own beautiful garden on the tour for the first time.

For those who want to know more about what’s in store, check our the Portola Planet’s review of last year

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2014/09/2014-portola-garden-tour-tickets-sale-now/

Aug 19

ferment drink repeat comes to the Portola!


Ok, ok. It’s been a LONG while since we last updated the Planet. It has been a very busy year for the editor. But something just popped up on our radar which could not go unmentioned.

Yip. Currently ferment.drink.repeat is working on securing a space on San Bruno Avenue to bring us all local beer! This is excellent news and you can read about their campaign to raise money for this at their website, https://crowdbrewed.com/rewards/campaigns/ferment-drink-repeat/. The Planet has reached out to the owners and hopes to find out more in due course…

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2014/08/ferment-drink-repeat-comes-portola/

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