Lots of controversy in Richmond in 2011

by Paul Kozakiewicz

As 2010 came to an end, state Sen. Leland Yee announced his candidacy to become the mayor of San Francisco; the PUC gathered feedback for a proposed treatment plant for recycled water in Golden Gate Park; the George Washington High School football team won the city championship; Safeway showed the public revised plans for its housing and supermarket plan at Ocean Beach; and Richmond Station Capt. Richard Corriea reported that injury automobile accidents were up 10 percent from the previous year.

The New Year came in with a bang, with the Richmond Review reporting in January that the HANC recycling center in Golden Gate Park had just gotten an eviction notice. Despite the city's intention to remove the center, legal wrangling and a mayoral election delayed any action throughout the year. A judge is expected to decide the fate of the center in early 2012.

The New Year also brought some significant business closures, with the Video Cafe, Movie Crazzzz, Thidwick Books and DeLano's market closing. Also closed was a methamphetamine lab on Manzanita Avenue in the Laurel Heights.

And the SF Board of Supervisors also recognized a local hero when Theresa Shanley was recognized for rescuing a kidnapped 12-year-old child from Virginia at the Ocean Beach Safeway.

Highlights from the past year include:

January - representatives from Petco met with neighborhood residents to announce plans to open a Petco store at a closed Walgreens site at 17th Avenue and Geary Boulevard. When local residents and the owners of several small pet supplies stores protested, District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar stepped in and passed legislation at the SF Board of Supervisors prohibiting chain stores like Petco from operating on a short stretch of Geary in the Outer Richmond. Petco would withdraw its application in October.
Students and loyal listeners of the University of San Francisco's radio station, KUSF, were shocked Jan. 18 when the university suddenly shut down the station and sold it to KDFC for $3.75 million. The university claimed the radio station no longer served its students and that the station would continue to broadcast - on the Internet only.
Also announced in January were PG&E's plan to install "smart meters" in the Richmond; and the SF Historic Preservation Commission's consideration to turn Golden Gate Park into a landmark.

February - SF Supervisor John Avalos proposed reducing a new admission fee for non-San Franciscans at the Botanical Garden at Golden Gate Park. His effort was defeated; On Feb. 1, the SF Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a new contract with Ortega Enterprises to run the Stow Lake Boathouse in Golden Gate Park. As well, St. Peter's Episcopal Church on 29th Avenue started a lottery for disabled adults interested in living in the new 19-unit development the church constructed on the site of its old church, which was badly damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Also in February, the Richmond and Sunset district Lions clubs merged to create the Park Presidio - Sunset Lions Club; local band Califia celebrated the release of its first CD; the newly-refurbished Polo Fields were delayed from opening due to bad weather; the Board of Supervisors recognized two residents, Nino Parker and Major Kurt Lee, for exemplary duty to the community; activist and city commissioner Carolene Marks passed away; and a new effort to increase the butterfly population at Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park was announced.

March - a new group, the Friends of Mountain Lake Park, was formed to help renovate the park, located at 12th Avenue and Lake Street; the Presidio Branch Library re-opened after undergoing extensive renovations; hundreds of volunteers worked in the district planting trees, removing litter and sweeping sidewalks for Arbor Day; a new cancer center opened at St. Mary's Hospital; Assemblywoman Fiona Ma named Celine Kennelly her "woman of the year;" Mar recognized Leticia Alcantar in honor of Women's History Month; the George Washington High School basketball team won its first citywide title since 1982; and local authors Kiku Funabiki and Michiko Tashiro published a book documenting their trials and tribulations after the U.S. government interned the women, and their families, in camps during World War II.

April - the $30 million new home for the Institute on Aging opened at 3575 Geary Blvd.; new census numbers released by U.S. Census Bureau showed the Richmond District's population changed little in the past 10 years, with slightly fewer Caucasians and Asians and more Hispanics; a gift of $50,000 was made by Richard Blum to provide the bison paddock in Golden Gate Park with a new fence, corral and chute; more than 40 swimmers from the Manta Rays at Rossi Pool swam laps to raise money for Japan in the aftermath of a large tsunami; and the Recreation and Park Department announced that Cabrillo Playground would get a $4.5 million overhaul in 2012.

May - ground was broken for a new visitors' center at Lands End, just above the Cliff House Restaurant; The George Washington boys baseball team won the city championship at AT&T Park, their second title in the past three years; a fight broke out over the size of a proposed rebuild of the Booker T. Washington Community Center on Presidio Avenue; Richmond Station Capt. Richard Corriea was promoted to commander and Capt. Keith Sanford assumed command of the local police station; Cinderella Russian Bakery was honored by Mar for Small Business Week; Golden Gate Park volunteer Robert Bakewell was honored by the Rec. and Park Commission for his efforts leading volunteers at the Oak Woodland; and Zion Lutheran Church opened a new play area at its school at Ninth Avenue and Anza Street;

June - the Anza Branch Library reopened to much fanfare after getting a major rebuild; the SF Municipal Transportation Agency held its first meeting about a proposed bicycle lane on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park; and Richmond resident Joanna Rees explained her reasons for running for mayor.

July - CVS Pharmacy opened at 32nd Avenue and Clement Street in the space originally occupied by Safeway; the Great Highway was closed July 10 as part of the city's Sunday Streets program; Target got the OK to open a new store at Geary and Masonic Avenue; Golden Gate Park's Carousel Plaza got a $1.25 million overhaul; the California Coastal Commission told the City that it can no longer shore up Ocean Beach to prevent erosion; and the historic Columbarium broke ground on a major expansion project.

August - a $4.5 million upgrade for Cabrillo Playground was announced; Richmond resident Rachael Smith pled guilty for scamming potential renters of her rented apartment out of deposit money; and the University of San Francisco purchased a large building downtown to expand its academic mission.

September - the Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park got "topped off" with a 64-ton dome; the Richmond YMCA leased Argonne Playground to expand its programs; and SF Mayor Ed Lee opened a campaign headquarters on Arguello Boulevard.

October - the Balboa Theater announced it was "saved" by signing a long-term lease and hooking up with the non-profit SF Neighborhood Theater Foundation; the 23rd annual Jimmy's Old Car Picnic was held in Golden Gate Park to raise money for charity; bicycle lanes were OK'd for JFK Drive; and a Draft Environmental Impact Report was issued for a proposal to convert the soccer fields at Ocean Beach to synthetic turf and add lights.

November - the task force created to redraw the city's supervisorial districts held its first meeting in the Richmond; and local voters voted for SF Mayor Ed Lee, who won, Paul Miyamoto for sheriff, who lost, and City Attorney George Gascon, who won. Voters also voted by 59 percent to support neighborhood schools, a measure that narrowly lost citywide.

For more details about these and other stories from the past year, go to the website at www.sfrichmondreview.com.