Spare the air

 I’ve noticed in recent years that Spare the Air Alerts are happening a lot more often-that’s when air quality is poor and people are encouraged to stay indoors and reduce poluting activities such as driving and burning fires in the fireplace.

Rather than wait til it comes on the news, you can find out in advance by signing up for Spare the Air Alerts via email or phone.

Go to  to sign up and find out when not to use fireplaces, when your car should be left at home. Winter Spare the Air season runs from Nov. 1 to the end of February, although, occasionally, a Spare the Air event can occur outside those dates.

The best solution is to be thoughtful about air polluting activities everyday, by cutting down on car trips, carpooling, taking public transit and reducing the use of fireplaces.

West Portal Fire Stirs memories

 The fire at 1 West Portal a few weeks ago stirred some strong memories for me.  My very first ‘grown up apartment’ was at 330 West Portal back in 1987. My landlady was Demitra (Demi) Georgas, who also owned 1 West Portal-which has remained in her family.

The Avenue was totally new to me even though I had already lived in the city for two years.  It was much different back then; there was no Starbucks, Café for all Seasons was the hot ticket and Sylvanus Upholstery was at 199 WP.  A friend went with me to look at the apartment and although Demi’s property manager showed me the property, Demi dropped in to check me out-we hit it off immediately.

I loved my first apartment.  Built in the 1920’s, the Spanish Mediterranean flavor had me hooked.  Although it was a studio, I had my own fireplace, a balcony, a vintage purple tile bathroom and hardwood floors- all for $500 a month.  I was working in an architectural firm at the time and she had a soft spot for architects, because one of her nephews was studying architecture.  Instead of raising my rent, she asked me to change the burned out light bulbs in the hall ways; when my car got broken into on 14th Ave., she rented me a parking place in the building for $25 a month and when I was ready to buy my first place, she offered to help me out.

Demi and I stayed in touch over the years and occasionally ran into each other on the Avenue.  When I found out that she had passed away some years ago, I went to her funeral. This phenomenal woman made a huge impact on my life.  To a large extent, she introduced me to West Portal and I’ve considered it my neighborhood ever since.

How to avoid parking scams

I have to say I’ve never really thought about getting scammed with parking, until  I read this.  I’m usually a hold out for street or a self-park garage anyway, but on the rare occasion, I’ll use a valet.

It seems pretty simple really.  Someone that shouldn’t drive your car, but looks like they should, parks it where it shouldn’t.  I guess it’s good that you even get the car back!

From NBC Bay Area News

And then, even more elaborate, if you get a ticket-make sure it’s really from DPT?  Who knew?  Or, make sure it’s really your ticket; it may be someone else’s who is pawning it off on you.

A few things to watch for from NBC Bay Area News

Here’s a place to get the book ‘Finding the Sweetspot, The Insiders Guide to Parking in San Francisco’ (who can live without that?!)

Make sure you go to this website and sign up for the monthly parking secret…

What happened to my car?

According to the parking guru, there is a little known law in San Francisco that cars parked for over 72 hours in one spot on the street, even if it is parked legally with a neighborhood sticker, is considered abandoned.  Worse yet, the car won’t just sit in the impound lot indefinitely, it will get auctioned off!

Perhaps you’ve gotten lucky and not been towed and impounded after having parked for more than 3 days.  This is generally because DPT doesn’t always enforce it unless the car stands out in some way; being stripped, burned, or stolen.  A disgruntled neighbor can also report the car, so be careful not to block those driveways!

If you are going to leave your car for more than three days in a row, make sure you park it off street, or have a friend watch out for it and/or move it to avoid that nasty surprize!

When to buy new technology

Here’s a pretty cool website geared to helping you decide whether to bite the bullet and buy that new TV, laptop or camera. home screen

You can also vote for new upcoming categories.  It will let you know whether you should buy now, if prices are going up, or whether not to, if a new model is coming out soon.  Check it out, it’s pretty neat.

Converting Garages into homes

A little ‘garage porn’.  I have to admit, I have fantasies about taking some poor, tired, neglected garage and making into a sexy living space.  There are so many really cool, architecturally interesting buildings that need a little love.  The folks at Curbed National came up with some really great shots.  I particularly like the first one.  Very barn looking, converted into a neat little living space.  I was surprized to read that it is in Oakland, CA.  I expected it to be on the East Coast.  Enjoy.

Oakland, CA Garage from Curbed National

Curbed National-‘garage porn’

Better Cell Phone Service-It’s going to cost you

AT&T is working to make it’s internet signal strength stronger.  No one that has AT&T service would stop them in their quest.

Here’s how they want to do it.  A box similar to the one at the right installed on sidewalks around the city.  AT&T is working on a categorical exemption from Environmental Review.  That means they can do it without your input, so if they want to put one on the public sidewalk in front of your home, they can-and you can’t do anything.

Here’s what they could look like-graffiti not included initially


There must be a better solution!

Post from Curbed.

Former Hearst estate on the market-only $95 Million

A Beverly Hills, CA home formerly owned by William Randolph Heart is on the market for a mere $95 million dollars.  Owned by financier Leonard Ross, the home started out on the market at $165 million three years ago.

Former Hearst Mansion from Curbed

Since then, Mr. Ross has declared bankrupcy and needs to get it sold.

Does anyone really live like this anymore?  Fantastic, but looks more like a destination for a tour, like Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

The story from Curbed