Richmond Roundup

Balboa Theater may close
Gary Meyer, the man behind the curtain at the Balboa Theater, has announced he will cease operations at the theater in August. He is trying to find a new operator for the theater, which was built in 1926 and is one of the last theaters in the district.
According to Meyer, new digital projectors are needed, which cost about $200,000, because movie studios will soon stop making print versions for projectors. He said the investment is too large for a small theater operation.
"I thank the Richmond and Sunset district community for their loyal support during my 10 years of operation. We have tried to be a community resource showing a mix of top-quality Hollywood movies, foreign and independent films, classics and lots of special events, like we are currently featuring," Meyer said. "I hope even more people will realize how essential it is that they really support local businesses and not just talk about it and instead go to chain theaters.
The two-screen Balboa Theater is owned by the Levin family, which ran the theater until Meyer took over in 2001.
Since 1989, when the Loma Prieta Earthquake knocked out the Coliseum Theater on Clement Street, the Richmond District has lost the Coronet and the Alexandria theaters. If the Balboa closes, only the Bridge and the 4 Star theaters will remain.

Radio station sale delayed
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has delayed the sale and transfer of the permit for the University of San Francisco's radio station KUSF (90.3 FM) pending further review.
The university abruptly shut down the station Jan. 18 and sold its over-the-airwaves permit for a reported $3.75 million. The action angered students and supporters of the station, which was in operation for 34 years.
In July, the FCC requested additional documentation, in the form of 15 questions, from the Classical Public Radio Network, LCC, before authorizing the permit transfer to operate on public airwaves.
Through its counsel, USF petitioned the FCC to significantly limit the scope of documents called for in the commission's letter of inquiry. According to USF's latest filing, the motivation for withholding the requested documentation is "not overburdening Commission resources with irrelevant documents."

No more shoring up Ocean Beach
In July, via a unanimous vote, the California Coastal Commission voted to deny the SF Department of Public Work's permit application to expand armoring the coastline at Sloat Boulevard and the Great Highway. For years, the department has been dumping rocks, concrete and other fill to keep the ocean from claiming coastline. Recent storms have eroded a large part of the ocean near the SF Zoo, forcing the closure of some traffic lanes and a parking lot.
The Coastal Commission is calling on the City to come up with a long-term plan that is sensitive to recreation and provides access to the natural habitat. It will no longer allow a solution provided by rock revetments.
Currently, SPUR is working on a new master plan for Ocean Beach.

Historic Columbarium to expand
The historic San Francisco Columbarium is growing to make room for more cremated remains by adding new halls of niches. It is also redoing its exterior gardens.
On July 19, numerous people were on-hand to witness the groundbreaking, including state Sen. Leland Yee, SF Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Jim Lazarus and Neptune Society of Northern California President Mike Miller. The Neptune Society owns the Columbarium, which is located at 1 Loraine Ct., off Anza Street near USF.
Emmitt Watson, a caretaker at the Columbarium, was also on-hand to give a tour of the grounds and speak about the diverse lives of the Columbarium's deceased inhabitants.
The first phase of construction will involve the creation of the Hall of Olympians.

Police chief to attend next forum
The August community-police forums in the Richmond and Sunset districts will be combined with the Park Station's forum so the public can meet new SF Police Chief Greg Suhr.
The combined meeting will be held at the SF County Fair Building, located in Golden Gate Park near Lincoln Way and Ninth Avenue, on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. Community policing is the topic of the forum.

Park's Carousel Plaza gets overhaul
The historic Carousel Plaza adjacent to the Golden Gate Park carousel, children's playground and Sharon Art Studio was reopened July 8 after undergoing a $1.25 million upgrade.
The project included removing the old asphalt at the plaza and replacing it with colored concrete, stone walls and stairs, a screened, secure place to put trash, and new landscaping and irrigation system. Tiles for the new stairs and seat walls were designed and fired by folks at the Sharon Art Studio.
Attending the ceremony were District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar, SF Recreation and Park Department commissioners David Lee and Mark Buell, SF Rec. and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg and dozens of school-age children.
The next phase of renovations will be to the Children's Quarter, pending funding, which will see the replacement of the existing barn structure with a family-friendly recreational space geared for birthday parties and other rentals.
Ginsburg pointed out many of the other improvements that have been facilitated in the park in the recent past, including the rebuilding of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and California Academy of Sciences, and the renovation of the Conservatory of Flowers, bandshell and Music Concourse, projects that have totaled approximately $1 billion.
"The most special park in America is undergoing a Renaissance," Ginsburg said.
After the official comments were logged, the youth in attendance got giddy as the historic carousel was opened for free rides.

Petco hearing postponed
Petco, Inc., which wants to open a new Unleashed pet supply store on Geary Boulevard, postponed its permit hearing before the SF Planning Commission on July 28. A new date has tentatively been identified at the end of August.
Two weeks earlier, legislation proposed by SF Supervisor Eric Mar to prohibit the type of store being proposed by Petco was approved by the Planning Commission on a 4 – 2 vote. The legislation was approved by the SF Board of Supervisors by an 8 – 3 vote at the end of July.

Golden Gate Park gets major donation
The Coca Cola corporation donated $250,000 in July to the San Francisco Parks Trust for the improvement of Golden Gate Park and other programs.
"We are honored that Coca-Cola chose to make a gift to the San Francisco Parks Trust that will help us to encourage healthy recreation, engage our community, and improve our urban trail system in San Francisco," said San Francisco Parks Trust Executive Director Karen Kidwell. "This generous contribution is a welcome highlight to our 40th anniversary year of supporting parks and will invigorate ongoing community programs, such as the GearUp Fund and Innovator Awards. It will also help launch an exciting new Urban Trails initiative with a project in Golden Gate Park."
The donation will be used for a new trail in Golden Gate Park; the restoration of the horseshoe pits and the Oak Woodlands natural area in the northeast portion of Golden Gate Park; the GearUp Fund, investing in a mobile sports/recreation van that will travel around the City with equipment for new recreation programs, such as mountain biking, kayaking, skateboarding and climbing; and the Innovator Awards, a long-term grant program administered by the San Francisco Parks Trust, which gives seed funds to community groups to encourage stewardship and park activation. In addition, a portion of the funds will be reserved for a special program to be announced in the summer in conjunction with the launch of a new organization to support city parks.
Attending the check-transferring ceremony on July 5, which was held at the Rochambeau Clubhouse in the Richmond District, was Coca Cola's Northwest Regional Vice President Bill O'Brien, SF Mayor Ed Lee and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.Park volunteers honored

Park volunteers honored
The SF Recreation and Park Department honored 20 of its most prolific volunteers at a special ceremony at the Japanese Tea Garden in July.
Two volunteers were cited for their long-term commitments to providing care for Golden Gate Park.
Gordon Cutts has been doing whatever is required, including pulling weeds, planting plants, removing invasive ivy and shearing hedges, for three days a week over the past five years.
John Johnson has also done whatever is required to help keep the park in good working order. He has been at his post for the past three years, working primarily at the Tea Garden, Rhododendron Dell and Botanical Garden.

Local restaurant hosts belly dancers, comic fans
Al-Masri Egyptian Restaurant is hosting the after-party for belly dancers and comic book fans in August.
The annual Carnival of Stars Belly Dance and Comic Book Convention will be held at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium in Richmond, California. It combines professional belly dancers, live musical performances, panel discussions, well-known comic book artists and a costume contest.
Al-Masri is owned and operated by Sausan, a classic Egyptian-style dance teacher and performer who will be performing at the convention. The restaurant, which features belly dancing, is located at 4031 Balboa St.

Local fencers win titles
The fencers at the Coastside Academy of Fencing are cutting up their competition.
According to Maestro Anthony Joslin, women fencers at the academy won most of the titles in Bay Area competition in all age classifications.
As well, fencers competing in the Summer National USA Championships in July garnered four medals, including a silver medal for Caroline Gilchrist in adult women's sabre, in one of the toughest divisions, and a bronze medal for 12-year-old Justine Pascual.
"It feels like our club out here in the Richmond District is a bit of a secret place, people are surprised when they find out about us and what we are doing here," said Joslin. "Nevertheless, we are here and we are producing dramatic results on the national level. I would love to see more locals drop in and check it out for themselves."
Sabre fencing is one of the three fencing disciplines practiced by the fencing community. The other two weapons used are called the foil and the epee, both of which are limited to thrusts and striking with the tip.
Coastside Fencing, which is run by partners Joslin and Tomek Amborski, is located at 3201 Balboa St. For more information, call (415) 518-8869.

Fundraiser supports SPCA
San Francisco Federal Credit Union, which has a branch on Geary Boulevard, held a "family and pet picnic" to raise funds for the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
Thirty-five staff and family members, along with 16 of their four-legged friends, got together on June 12 at Golden Gate Park and raised $500 for the SPCA. The donation will help fund the shelter, which provides care, treatment and adoption for thousands of dogs and cats annually.

New trail opens at Presidio
Presidio bird watchers have long flocked to the sandy dunes behind the former Public Health Service Hospital (now the Presidio Landmark), located near 15th Avenue and Lake Street. Today, their path is made easier by the Presidio's newest trail – a segment of the Mountain Lake Trail that allows visitors to experience the restored dunes.
The new trail wraps itself around the northern edge of the Public Health Service District for a quarter mile, from Battery Caulfield Road east to the Park-Anza trail. The Mountain Lake Trail will ultimately provide a major east-west corridor linking the Broadway Gate with Baker Beach.
A central feature of the new trail is the "Hospital Cemetery Vista," which overlooks a former merchant marine cemetery that honors seamen from around the world who died at the hospital that was once the focal point of the district. Between 1881 and 1912, several hundred sailors from 30 states and 43 countries were buried there. Later this summer, a memorial stone plaque will be installed in tribute to these merchant mariners.

Memorial Mass for police officers, firefighters
The San Francisco police and firefighter departments will sponsor its 64th annual Memorial Mass for those killed in the line of duty on Sunday, Sept. 11.
Recently, two San Francisco fire fighters were killed fighting a fire.
The first memorial mass was held in 1947. It followed a tragic fire at the Herbert Hotel a year earlier, which claimed the lives of four San Francisco firefighters. Numerous firefighters and about 300 people were injured in the downtown blaze.
The mass, which is open to the public, will be held at St. Monica's Church, 470 24th Ave., at Geary Boulevard, at 10:30 a.m. A reception will follow.