Apr 04

Join The Portola Beautification Movement This Saturday!

Neighborhood volunteers planting the garden this past Saturday.

We reported last month on the installation of the new “Welcome to the Portola” sign, now on the side of Ruth’s Children’s Shoppe at the corner of San Bruno Avenue and Silliman Street.  We noticed that over this past weekend, even more exciting changed have spring up in the area as well. The Portola Urban Greening Committee (P.U.G.) has been busy transforming the formerly weed-ridden and neglected CalTrans plot below the mural into a colorful garden.  Apparently wasting no time between the unveiling ceremony and getting their hands in the dirt.

When complete, the garden design—symmetrical rows of flowering plants—is intended to evoke the historic flower farms of the Portola a century ago. So far, a little over half of the plants are in the ground, and we’re excited to report that it’s already looking fantastic!  With the help of the drip irrigation system that was installed last week and dedicated community volunteers, the plants should fill out nicely and look even better in the months to come.

Portolans getting down to work, just weeks after unveiling the new sign.


There is another planting day scheduled for this Saturday, April 8, from 9am to 1pm, for anyone who would like to be part of this exciting project. P.U.G. says you can just show up anytime during that window and lend a hand for as long as you are able. Hope to see you there and meet new and old neighbors!

You can read more about this project in our past reporting here, here and here.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/04/join-portola-beautification-movement-saturday/

Apr 03

P.N.A. Decluttering San Bruno Ave.

Member;’s of the P.N.A. Safety & Transportation Committee pose next to the new combined boxes.

The Portola Neighborhood Association’s Safety & Transportation Committee’s goal is to improve the functionality of San Bruno Ave. Not a small task by any measure. They achieved a milestone in their efforts to make the sidewalks less visually and physically crowded with the installation of improved news racks. The new racks have replaced the long chains of ugly multicolored boxes in favor of single combined units in a classic green tone. Nothing is ever easy to get done as this relatively simple seeming project has taken three years of negotiations with the city and news publications.  Props should be given to former P.N.A. board members Henni Lara and the late Irene Crescio, who took on the project and the current committee that saw it through to implementation.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/04/p-n-de-cluttering-san-bruno-ave/

Mar 28

Community Comes Together To Celebrate San Francisco’s Garden District

The Portola community turned out in good numbers to show their pride.  All photos by Arthur Koch. 

As we reported several weeks back and as you may have already noticed, a prominent mural has popped up almost over night. The new sign which was created by the Portola Urban Greening Committee (P.U.G.), welcomes visitors and residents to “San Francisco’s Garden District.”  It was publicly unveiled Saturday (3/11) during a well attended dedication event complete with a three piece band playing along with the hum of the freeway. Speeches honoring the Portola’s commitment to  community building and the preservation of history were given by District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen and State Assemblymember David Chiu.   The event became a bit of a Portola social hour as neighbors connected over refreshments while mingling between displays highlighting the agricultural history of the neighborhood.  The mural itself, which dominates the side of Ruth’s Children’s Shoppe (2469 San Bruno Ave.), was designed by Artist Caitlyn Galloway and painted by New Bohemia Signs. Jean Harrell, the owner of Ruth’s, was overjoyed with the end result and large community turn out for the event.  Saying that she has “waited and prayed for over 10 years for this project to happen in one form or another.”  The project, of course, could never have gotten off the ground without Jean’s sign-off and dedication to the community or without the collaborative efforts of the P.U.G. committee who championed the project and pulled the team together.

Community volunteers weeding and clearing the ground for the new garden prior to the event. 

As we noted in a previous post, the sign element is only phase 1 of this project. The second phase is now in the works as community volunteers from P.U.G have been clearing the land below the sign. Over the next several months they will be installing a new garden to compliment the mural and further build the garden district identity. They will once again be helped by Jean from Ruth’s Children’s Shoppe, who has generously donated the use of her water connection to establish and maintain the garden. If you would like to know more about P.U.G. please check their website or email the program manager Lucia Pohlman directly.  lucia@sfgreenhouses.org . There will be upcoming volunteer work days in April that need volunteers and she would love to hear your ideas on how to further green and beautify the Portola.

Community volunteers clearing the ground below the sign for a new garden.

The band plays in the background as neighbors take part in activities and learn about the Garden District’s history.

From the left, Luke Spray (San Bruno Ave. Corridor Manager, Hillary Ronen (San Francisco District 9 Supervisor & Portola Resident), Lucia Pohlman (Portola Urban Greening Coordinator), State Assemblymember David Chiu.

On the right, Jean Harrell, the owner of Ruth’s Children’s Shoppe, smiles on as the project she has dreamed about, finally becomes a reality.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/03/community-comes-together-celebrate-san-franciscos-garden-district/

Mar 20

Yosemite Creek Daylight Plans To Be Revealed At Thursday Meeting

Rendering of the proposed daylighted creek along Wayland Street.

It’s been a long time coming but we will finally get to see the plans for the daylighting of the Upper Yosemite Creek.  On Thursday night (3/23) representatives from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (P.U.C.) will present the plans at a community meeting.  Here are the meeting details:

What:  Upper Yosemite Creek Daylighting Final Concept Open House

Where:  Christ for All Nations Lutheran Church  Downstairs Hall  465 Woolsey Street

When:  Thursday, March 23, 2017  5:00pm to 7:00pm

If you missed the initial planning meetings, you can learn more about the project in our past reporting here or check out the project website here.  In a nutshell though, the Yosemite Creek originates from a natural spring in McLaren Park but most of it has been covered up.  It now flows through the neighborhood and out to the bay by means of a covered pipe under the streets.  The project aims to daylight a portion of the creek along the park boundary with the Portola.  The project has practical benefits such as rain waiter collection but judging from the rendering above, it might be a big visual upgrade for the neighborhood as well.  But you can judge for yourself and give your feedback at the open house this Thursday!

Upper Yosemite Creek Daylighting Project Map

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/03/yosemite-creek-daylight-plans-revealed-thursday-meeting/

Mar 17

Happy St. Patty’s Day, Music & Food Pop-Up Tonight At F.D.R.

Looking for somewhere local to wear your green tonight? F.D.R. is having a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration today starting at 3pm and going to 11 pm.  Here are the details:


We’ll be tapping our delicious Irish Red Ale to kick off our Saint Patrick’s Day festivities, then you can get your Corned Beef and Cabbage from Sugarfoot pop-up starting at 6pm and enjoy traditional Irish music with folk-rock flavor performed courtesy of The Irish Newsboys starting at 7pm. So come on out, you Lads and Lassies, and getch’yer Irish on for a fun night of shenanigans!

As reported the other day, F.D.R. has received their liver performance license from the city so there will also be an Irish Band performing for the crowd.  Music starts at 7pm and goes until 10 pm.  See you at F.D.R. tonight, 2636 San Bruno Ave, Slainte Portola!

No St. Patrick’s Day Celebration would be complete without a good ol’ Irish Band! Well … hold onto your knickers because we have booked the Irish News Boys to make our St. Paddy’s Day Celebration hoppin’!


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/03/happy-st-pattys-day-music-food-pop-tonight-f-d-r/

Mar 15

Live Music Thursdays Comes To The Brewery

With arts and performance spaces disappearing around the city, a new one has just bucked that trend by arriving in the Portola  After a long wait, F.D.R. has finally received their live performance license from the city and with that, the neighborhood just got a little more interesting.  Starting tomorrow night (3/16) and every Thursday going forward, there will be live music at the Brewery down on “the road”.  Below is this month’s schedule which you can also follow on F.D.R.’s events page here.  We will post the monthly line up here on the Planet as well so everyone is in the know. 

Live Music Thursdays At Ferment Drink Repeat, 2636 San Bruno Ave. 

Los Pomelos, Thursday March 16th, 7pm-10pm:

As part of our LIVE MUSIC THURSDAYS, “Los Pomelos” will be playing from 7pm-10pm. Los Pomelos is an Acoustic Latin/Folk – Live Acoustic Jazz, Reggae and rumba-pop with a spanish flavor band that is sure to get you on your feet.

Lost Comet, Thursday March 23rd, 7pm-10pm:

Sharon Pucci and Marc Neilson have been in the Bay Area music scene since the late 60’s. Although their backgrounds differ, they have blended their styles to create their own sound. They sing a variety of material from funky fusion to jazzy, operatic folk. Call it “Space Folk” if you like. It is possible to make music with both intelligence AND beauty. If anything describes their mission statement, it would be to elevate the discussion, and sonically make the world a better place. Sounds like a trip … come and check them out.

Killer Caribou, Thursday March 30th, 7pm-10pm:

Killer Caribou is a 5 member Alternative Rock band based in the East San Francisco Bay Area.


As an added bonus, for those who don’t drink but want to enjoy the show, F.D.R. has non alcoholic soft drinks on tap as well as locally brewed Kombucha.  Brewed locally on Treasure Island by Lev’s Kombucha, F.D.R. carries two flavors on tap: Ginger Berry and Black Currant. I recommend the shandy, half IPA and half Kombucha, it’s better than you think and keeps us light weights off the floor.


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/03/live-music-thursdays-comes-brewery/

Mar 12

NPR’s KALW sends a love letter to the Portola

A few months back we were contacted by one of the country’s oldest FM radio stations, KALW, about a series of stories they were running on the Portola. In Sept 1941, the San Francisco Unified School District created the station in the Mission after acquiring equipment from the 1940 Worlds Fair on Treasure Island. Then in 1996 they moved the studios to their current location in the Portola, Philip and Sala Burton High School. They reached out to us to share news of 9 stories they will be airing all about the Portola as a result of their Audio Academy, a nine-month long radio journalism training program. The first assignment for the new Audio Academy fellows was to publish a report on something related to the neighborhood.

The resulting journalism has resulted in short pieces about the Portola broadcast on KALW’s Crosscurrents program. Three segments (Linked below) brought to NPR listeners stories about how to pronounce the neighborhood name, the growing trend of trading card gaming and the Portola library book club helping developmentally disabled adolescents.

There will be three more new stories airing this coming Wednesday at 5pm, they will be about the Avenue Theater, history of the reservoir and The Wilderness Arts and Literacy Collaborative in McLaren Park.

I took the opportunity one Friday afternoon to meet with Olivia Henry, KALW engagement manager, and some of the editorial staff at the station to find out more. I was warmly welcomed to their new offices, recently created in part of the school’s main buildings. I was surprised to see a fully functional and very active crew and had the chance to briefly meet with managing producer, Julie Caine. She informed me on how KALW was one of the first stations to introduce National Public Radio to listeners. While their funding might be dwarfed by the “other” (and non Portola located) NPR station KQED (who hasn’t sent us any love letters…) they do also rely very much on public donations to keep their superb quality programming alive. So before you click to listen on the shows below, throw some money their way so we can hear more about our wonderful neighborhood.


No seriously, stop here and go donate… now. I’ll pause for a moment to give you time.


I also got to meet two of the journalists who are reporting on the Portola. Cari Spivack and Jeremy Jue who told me a little about why they had joined the academy. Jeremy for example is a video editor who was looking to gain more understanding and skills around the art of storytelling. I’m really looking forward to hearing the shows on Wednesday and see what else these budding journalists are going to uncover about our quiet corner of San Francisco! But for now, have a listen to the following and remember to tune in to 91.7 FM on Wednesday next week at 5pm!


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Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/03/kalw-sends-a-love-letter-to-the-portola/

Mar 09

The Slow Reveal Has Begun!

Crews has begun installation of the new mural.

The big, bold and beautiful “Welcome To The Portola” mural has begun its slow reveal. It appears that the mural will pretty much cover the entire side of Ruth’s Children’s Shoppe. See the completed work and celebrate Portola’s designation as “San Francisco’s Garden District” this Saturday at 1:30 pm! Detail here if you missed it in the last post:

The Greenhouse Project and the Portola Urban Greening committee are unveiling a big, beautiful sign to celebrate the Portola’s recognition as the Garden District. Our state and local elected officials will be joining, and this is our opportunity to show just how strong and proud this community is. Live music, historic photos, activities and fun for the whole family. Link for more info here.

This unveiling is a unique opportunity to give thanks for all of the support the Portola has received from the City and its elected officials to date, to celebrate our shared progress, and to advocate for continued and increased investment in the Portola and its Garden District identity. In order to take advantage of this occasion, we need you to stand up as a leader, invite your family, neighbors and friends, and rep your Portola pride.

The Caltrans Easement just north of Ruth’s Children’s Shoppe located at 2469 San Bruno Avenue.

Saturday, March 11th at 1:30pm. The event will officially span one hour.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/03/slow-reveal-begun/

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