Jan 22

Portolans for Life: Celebrating 50 Years Of Friendship in the Neighborhood they Love

The group of 10 friends from grammar school at St. Elizabeth

Back in 1968, ten girls met in grade school and formed a friendship that is as strong today as it was then. Rosanne Field, formerly Rosie Maffei, reached out to us wanting to share the story of the group’s friendship and their bond with the Portola.  Rosanne, who now resides in Lincoln, CA surrounded by her sisters, son and.new grandson Carsen Anthony, still has a brother and plenty of friends here in the neighborhood.  She recently organized a reunion of the “Portola Girls” to reunite her group of childhood friends and sent us this story of friendship and community in the Portola, enjoy!


The Never-ending Story/Friendship Take 2…

On Friday, November 17th, a handful of friends got together to walk the Portola neighborhood to reminisce and take pictures in front of our childhood homes.  The thought of doing this came to mind when I had come to visit my brother Tom who resides in the home I grew up in on Sweeny Street. My friend Mariana still lives in the neighborhood so her and I decided to take a late night walk through the Portola and in doing so, checked out some of our friend’s homes to see how they fared after all these years.  We thought it would be fun to send random text messages to our tight knit group and see if they recognized their old haunts; this is when the idea was born to do a get together as a whole, walk the neighborhood and then hit the FDR Brewery on San Bruno Avenue to bring a close to what would surely be a perfect day. 


When the day arrived, it began with Lynn, Mariana and I grabbing a bite at Tiffany’s.  My Dad, who attended Commerce High School and grew up both in the Marina and Bayview, was a regular there for many years.  At one point his picture hung on the wall with the name “Rocky” (inside joke).  While the photo is now gone, we are so happy that the restaurant has stood the test of time and continues to promote a community atmosphere; not to mention feel good food.


Taking photos in front of our childhood homes

Once we met up with the rest of the group, parts of our route consisted of checking out the Library, the Avenue Theater, Portola Park (now Palega, but still Portola to us) and McLaren Park. We even weaseled our way into the old St. Elizabeth’s school site where our friendship initially began and shared our stories of Catholic school girl high jinks with the current teachers.  As we strolled past ER Taylor, Lynn yelled out to one of our friends in the school “Judy, come out and play”, but unfortunately, she was busy teaching so she couldn’t slip away. 


Getting back into our old classroom

If you were fortunate to grow up in the Portola District, you can bet that anywhere you go in the city, you will know someone.  Even with the many years that have passed, we couldn’t walk the neighborhood without running into an old friend.  A special shout out to Tony Meeks for indulging his former classmates and letting us bend his ear as we caught him working on his old mustang in his garage.  That pit stop was a great send off to the remainder of our day in the neighborhood filled with old friends and familiar places.


We caught Tony working on his classic Mustang, we always run into an old friend in the neighborhood

Some of us may have since wandered out of the city limits, but we keep a close tab on our neighborhood and find joy that others who have come after us take pride in it as much as we do.   We are all a young 56 years of age and attended St. Elizabeth’s grammar school (class of 1975).  We are third generation San Franciscans and will always be “Portola Girls”.  While not all of us could attend, those who did relived long ago moments in our lives and how lucky we are to have remained so close through thick and thin.  


Ending the day at F.D.R. Brewery

In closing, I’d like to say its friendships such as ours and neighborhoods like this that thrive on positivity and growth, that continue to bring hope and happiness into our lives.   While some of us may have left, we will always have our friendship and a bond with the Portola.

P.S. Go Niners, Go Giants, Go Warriors… yep, thought I wouldn’t *smile*!

– Rosanne Field

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2018/01/portolans-life-celebrating-50-years-friendship-neighborhood-love/

Jan 17

Check Out This Video of McLaren’s Cool New Bike Park

The bike park on opening day, photo courtesy of MPB Facebook page

We Have a Bike Park?

Yep, in November the ribbon was cut on the very first bike park in San Francisco. Located on the southwest side of the park near Gleneagles golf course, the park is the baby of a group of San Francisco mountain bikers that wanted a place to ride in the city. Years of fundraising by the group has paid off in the form of phase 1, a half-acre track shown in the map below and video.  Wasting no time, the group is already working towards phase 2 of the project which you can learn more about on their webpage or Facebook Page..  Check our more about this park and the history of its creation in this article.

Map of phase 1, now open

The Basics

Address2050 Sunnydale Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134
Hours: 9am-5:30pm Daily

Contact[email protected]

The Best Way To Explain It

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2018/01/check-video-mclarens-cool-new-bike-park/

Jan 13

The California Gold Drag Pageant Sashays into the Portola Sunday! (Updated…)

The Essential Info

Reality television favorites and Drag Queen royalty flood the Portola District this Sunday! The Ninth-Annual California Gold Pageant comes to El Toro Nightclub, 4-8pm, on Jan. 14.

What To Expect

This year seven contestants crossing gender, sexuality and age spectrums compete for the crown and to raise money for worthy Bay Area nonprofits. The winner will be chosen by a panel of celebrity judges, many from television favorites like Survivor and Project Runway All Stars.

“Drag queens and reality TV stars have plenty in common,” said Pollo Del Mar, co-producer of the all-ages charity event. “Both know what it’s like to be competitive — and few are afraid of a little drama! It’s a perfect combination.”

Tai Trang, a San Francisco beekeeper who became multi-platinum recording artist Sia’s favorite on TV’s Survivor, is a first time judge. So is Oakland’s Dexter Simmons, a contestant on Project Runway and the Rihanna-produced competition series Rock the Style.

Returning once again to the panel are Project Runway All-Stars contestant Emily Payne and Alison Kenyon, the Season 3 runner-up on TV’s Skin Wars. Bicoastal photographer-to-the-stars José A. Gúzman-Colón rounds out the decision-makers.

Contestants are judged in standard pageant fare like talent and evening wear. Categories unique to the California Gold Pageant include “Social Media” and “Creative Dress,” where this year’s hopefuls have been tasked with creating a costume from dollar store finds!

Since its launch in 2008, the California Gold Pageant has raised nearly $25,000 for Bay Area causes. Net proceeds from this year’s contest will benefit the winner’s charity of choice under the auspices of the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco, a nearly 50-year-old nonprofit rooted in the local LGBTQ community.

The California Gold Pageant 2018 kicks off at 5pm; doors are at 4pm. It is an all-ages event. Tickets are $12 at the door.

El Toro Nightclub is located at 2470 San Bruno Ave., in San Francisco’s Portola District.

Something to Help Get into the Mood

Updated: Event Draws Several Hundred Guests!

A big thanks to Portola’s Pollo Del Mar who hosted and brought the event to the neighborhood. Over 200 guests flocked to the pageant and crowded into El Toro Night Club. The event even received coverage in The Bay Area Reporter with a full page spread of photos from the vent.  Looking forward to next year!

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2018/01/california-gold-drag-pageant-sashays-portola-sunday/

Jan 11

160 Free Sidewalk Trees Planted in the Portola During 2017, More to Come!

Nearly 15% of all the sidewalk trees planted in S.F. last year, we planted in the Portola!

The Garden District Is Embracing Street Trees

The streets of the Garden District are getting greener with some help from Friends of the Urban Forest and the city. With the passage of Prop E, the city has directed funding and asked F.U.F. to focus their efforts on the treeless streets of San Francisco’s outer neighborhoods.

Portola appears to be embracing a greener neighborhood now that maintenance, liability and potential sidewalk cracking issues are all the city’s responsibility. In the years before free trees and Prop E, only 30 to 50 trees were planted in the neighborhood annually.  The demand last year was so great that 160 were planted in three separate planting events, a definite record for the Portola. 2018 is also off to a solid start with F.U.F. reporting over 30 individual tree requests for their April planting before promotion of the event has even begun….wow.

Join the Movement, Claim Your Free Tree

Join your neighbors in the Portola greening movement by signing up for a free tree(s) by visiting the F.U.F. Portola planting page HERE and signing up. The deadline is February 21st for the April 7th planting. Once signed up, F.U.F.will take care of all permits, coordination with utilities and the actual planting of the tree.

10 beautiful new Brisbane Box trees being planted along the once barren stretch of Goettingen St. The trees will provide shade for M.L.K.’s school yard,

Bonus Video Featuring The Portola

To learn a bit more about F.U.F., take a look at this promo video that was filmed mostly in the Portola during last year’s successful planting.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2018/01/160-free-sidewalk-trees-planted-portola-2017-come/

Jan 04

McLaren Park Receives $12 Million Christmas Gift from City Hall

McLaren Park’s years of neglect by the city will start to be reversed after a large cash infusion was approved by the Rec & Park Board of Commissioners late last year. The $12 million funding was approved along with the McLaren Park Vision Plan which was created over the past year through a series of public meetings and workshops. The green lighted vision plan will provide a road map for park project spending and a tool for the pursuit of more funding because lets face it, $12 million doesn’t go very far in a 312 acre park.. Despite that sobering fiscal reality, Chuck Farrugia of Help McLaren Park, is pretty excited about the funding that his group (among others) fought so long to get, summing up its importance in an e-blast to group members:


The McLaren Park Vision Plan passes the final hurdle at yesterdays commission meeting.  12 MILLION dollars is coming your way!  New paths, new playground, a new bike park, a new community garden, a new tai chi court, massive improvements to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, new pedestrian crosswalks and walkways on Shelley Drive, new signage, improved trails,  etc.  This is the first ever cash infusion into McLaren Park since the days it was created and yes, it was waaay overdue.

Its a amazing start to only better things yet to come. McLaren will be well positioned to be on the 2019 bond after these improvements begin. Like Glen Park, who double dipped and received over 30 million in a second attempt, we too will be positioned perfectly.


Despite this windfall of cash, much work still needs to be done before shovels hit the dirt.  The vision plan is only a guide at this point and will require more development and public input to iron out all the details of each area of work before construction can begin.  Visit to the project website HERE to get looped into the process as news and public comment opportunities are announced.

You can peruse the full McLaren Park Vision Plan by clicking HERE.  We’ve pulled out the areas of the plan with the greatest impact for the Portola and posted below for some easier viewing.

Revitalized Park Gateways

Proposed plan for Oxford St. entrance includes upgraded landscaping, walking paths and signage to better engage the park with the adjacent neighborhood:

Proposed plan for Woolsey St. entrance includes upgraded athletic fields, playgrounds and parking lot.  No official word on what’s to become of the horse stables an any upgrades to the murky duck pond yet:

Proposed plan for Mansell St. entrance looks to have the most dramatic changes with dedicated Tai Chi courts, mew open spaces and better connections to the adjacent neighborhood:

Reimagined Group Picnic Area

In addition to upgrades to seating, pathways and BBQ’s. a new nature themed playground will be built into the hillside with a giant slide!  Permanent and often cleaned bathrooms would be nice too…

Upgraded Jerry Garcia Amphitheater

Better accessibility for events lawn improvements and concession areas for food trucks are just a few of the proposed upgrades:  Infrastructure for fencing and ticket booths are in the proposal as well which is interesting.  bigger name ticketed shows or perhaps even for alcohol sales?

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2018/01/mclaren-park-receives-12-million-christmas-gift-city-hall/

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

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/12/bike-share-coming-portola-give-feedback-station-locations/

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.


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/11/join-neighborhood-2017-portola-holiday-party-december-13th/

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 FoundSF.com

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)…




Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2017/11/flowery-fruit-cake-creations-newish-bakery/

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