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Archives for October 29, 2013

Master gardener offers 6 autumn gardening tips

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As October comes to a close, Minnesota gardeners should be out putting the final touches on their properties to ensure they survive the harshest winter months, said master gardener Julie Weisenhorn on The Daily Circuit.

It’s important to review what survived in your garden in the last year and make plans for next year for better results. Weisenhorn also said it’s important to empty rain barrels to prevent ice from cracking them and to clean out other water elements in your garden.

Weisenhorn offered some other tips for late-autumn gardeners.


• Don’t forget to keep watering your plants in the fall.
“They have to make it through the winter and we have such dry, cold winters that you have to really be sure you’re setting those plants up as best as possible going into that winter,” she said.

Keep watering trees and plants as long as the water is draining freely. If you reach into the soil, you should go about palm-deep and still find wet soil. If the soil is dry the next day, give it more water.

• If your bulbs didn’t bloom this year, blame the squirrels.
“Squirrels are notorious for eating those bulbs,” she said.

Weisenhorn said it’s important to bury the bulbs at least 6 inches into the soil and water them well before the ground freezes.

• It’s too late to prune.
“Pruning will sometimes kick a plant into production and it will start to put out leaves and small branches,” she said. “You really want to just let the plant go dormant now for the winter and then prune it later next year.”

Fruit trees should be pruned when they are dormant, usually in late winter or March.

“When you open up a wound on a plant, you invite all sorts of pathogens and pests,” Weisenhorn said. “Right now, we’re recommending you wait to prune when the plant is dormant and then the plant can heal over before the pests become active in the spring.”

• If your sugar maple didn’t change color this year, try watering more in the next year.
Weisenhorn said leaves with a brown edge suffered from drought stress. If the leaves are still green, there’s a chance they could still change this season.

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• Considering a new tree for your yard next spring? Look into beech trees.
“It’s a native tree to Minnesota, very underused,” she said. The tree has a nice smooth bark and produces strong fall colors.

• Plant evergreens away from roads.
Evergreens have a tough time withstanding the winter spray of salt from vehicles and plows, Weisenhorn said. She recommends planting them at least 10 feet from a property line.


Protecting Your Garden From Winter Weather
Advice for gardeners on protecting plants, winterizing roses, and making leaf mold. (Better Homes and Gardens)

Preparing Your Vegetable Garden for Winter
One thing that most gardeners will agree upon is that it’s worth the effort to clean out all the old annual plants. (Mother Earth News)

20 Tips to Prepare Your Garden for Winter
If you have winter crops such as leeks, kale, parsnips, or Brussels sprouts, put a generous amount of mulch around them to help protect them from the cooler temperatures until they are ready to harvest. (Yahoo)

Preparing Your Garden for Winter Wildlife
Most people tend to tidy their gardens in autumn, but often take this to the extreme. They blitz them, removing most of the shelter for wildlife and leaving overwintering invertebrates homeless in the process. You can help wildlife by leaving as much tidying up as possible until the end of winter, and doing so can make your garden look more attractive, too. (Discover Wildlife)

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Home & Garden briefs: Succulents, seeds and more


Sardar, Jennings, Oliver in panel discussion on design: Cornerstone in Sonoma will host a panel discussion Oct. 17 featuring author and design critic Zahid Sardar, Bay Area arts patron Steve Oliver and noted San Francisco architect Jim Jennings.

Jennings collaborated with Oliver on a visiting artist’s studio at Oliver’s Geyserville Ranch that has been widely acclaimed in the design world and is featured in Sardar’s new book, “West Coast Modern Architecture, Interiors Design.”

The two-hour talk begins at 5:30 p.m. at Artefact Design Salvage within the Cornerstone complex. But ticket holders who arrive at 4:30 p.m. can take a guided tour of the installation gardens. Cost is $20. Seating is limited. To purchase tickets visit For information, 933-3010. 23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma.


Advice on caring for oaks: Do you know how to care for the oak trees in your yard? Forester Bruce Hagen and oak ecologist Steve Barnhart will show you how during a class Oct. 19 at Pepperwood Preserve in Santa Rosa.

The class will offer a comprehensive foundation for maintaining the health of oak trees via landscaping, irrigation and managing the growing environment. It will conclude with a hike on the preserve to check out some of its many oaks.

Hagen worked as a forester for Cal Fire for 20 years and as an entomologist with the California Department of Food and Agriculture for nearly 10 years. He is a registered professional forester, a certified arborist, and a qualified tree risk assessor. Steve Barnhart taught biology, botany and ecology at Santa Rosa Junior College for 37 years. He currently serves as Pepperwood’s academic director and is a renowned expert on California oaks.

The 3,200-acre Pepperwood Preserve is a community-supported ecological institute that conducts applied research and provides educational programming.

The class will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $30. Register online by searching for “Pepperwood” at

Pepperwood is located at 2130 Pepperwood Preserve Road, midway between Santa Rosa and Calistoga, off Franz Valley Road, and adjacent to Safari West. For more information, or 591-9310 ext. 204.


Think winter for fall flower show: “Winter Wonderland” is the theme of The Graton Community Club’s Fall Flower Show Oct. 11 and 12.

The 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. event features flowers and displays by Community Club members, as well as a plant sale, handmade crafts and gifts and antiques and collectibles. Admission is free. Lunch will be available for $10 and beverages and desserts on sale all day for snacking. Proceeds support the club’s scholarship program. 8996 Graton Road, Graton.


Native plants and more on sale: The Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society will hold its annual fall plant sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building.

Stock up on California native plants suitable to the North Coast climate including trees, shrubs, grasses, perennials, groundcovers, and ferns. There will also be a wide selection of seeds and bulbs, as well as books on gardening with native plants, local flora, posters, notecards and a newly designed T-shirt by Pamela Glasscock.

A special feature of the sale will be a selection of habitat plants that attract birds and butterflies. The display will be staffed by Nancy Bauer, author of “The California Wildlife Habitat Garden.”

Members will be on hand to offer advice on gardening with California natives. For a list of plants available, visit 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa. 578-0595.


Workshop on plant propagation: Garden designer Gail Fanning will demonstrate how to propagate plants during a hands-on workshop Oct. 19 at the Harvest for the Hungry Garden in Santa Rosa.

Fanning will show how to create new plants from perennials and shrubs like rosemary and roses using soft wood cuttings. The free workshop will be from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 1717 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa. 484-3613.


Student nursery offers bargains: Willowside School’s nursery offers good bargains on a wide selection of plants suitable for fall planting.

The student nursery will hold its sale next Saturday, Oct. 19 — rain or shine — featuring perennials, roses, grasses, trees, succulents and more. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 5299 Hall Road at Willowside Road in Santa Rosa. For information, 569-4724.


A nod to region’s Russian heritage: The Russian River Rose Company celebrates the end of the season Oct. 19 and 20 with a Russian Tea Fragrance Festival inspired by the region’s history of Russian settlers and the Russian heritage of owner Mike Tolmasoff.

The festivities include live folk, Slavic and Gypsy music, tea leaf readings, rose tea samplings, rose water-infused nibbles by Chef Jake Martin of Restaurant Charcuterie of Healdsburg and cups of Russian “Sweee-touch-nee Tea” prepared in antique Russian samovars. Visitors are invited to stroll the gardens, still colorful with late blooming roses.

Cost is $5. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1685 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg. 433-7455 or


Last open house at Digging Dog: Digging Dog Nursery co-owner Deborah Whigham will lead a stroll through her impressive demonstration gardens during the Mendocino Coast nursery’s last open house of the season Oct. 12. During the 2 p.m. walkabout, Whigham will also offer her expertise to help visitors with their garden problems. Refreshments will be served as part of the tour, free to nursery guests.

Throughout the weekend of Oct. 12-13, the nursery will also offer 20 percent to 40 percent discounts on plants.

Digging Dog is at 31101 Middle Ridge Road, Albion. It is wheelchair accessible. For information, 937-1130 or

You can direct Home and Garden news to or by calling 521-5204.

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Virtual Mayoral Forum – Part 4: Walkable/Bikeable Neighborhoods and Public …

cropped-bikepedlane_by_waferboard_1000x272Welcome to Day 4 of the SDFP Virtual Mayoral Forum. (See Day 1, Asking about managed competition, here , Day 2, Looking back on the Plaza de Panama controversy, here, Day 3, The Building Permit Process is a Hot Mess and Plans for the Planning Department, here.)

With input from our many contributors, editors put together a series of eight questions we felt were unique, not too open ended and not trite. We’re publishing one response from the candidates per day (Monday-Friday) so readers can see the verbatim responses side by side.

We emailed the questions to the addresses listed with the City Clerk’s office as contact points, knowing most of the minor candidates wouldn’t respond. Kevin Faulconer’s campaign is refusing to participate. We can only assume–and, believe me we’ve tried to get them involved– their non-response sends a message about their openness to the citizens in this city. You can decide what that message is.

Editor’s note: According to his campaign staff, Nathan Fletcher did not receive our questions until after we began publishing this virtual forum. His responses have since been added.

The complete questionnaire can be found here.

Today’s topic is about non-automotive modes of transportation in our community.  SDFP editor Anna Daniels put together an introduction to the issue so readers can see our thinking behind asking the question.


mts trolleyToday’s candidate question about alternative transportation/mobility is one of the most complex ones that we are asking in this virtual forum.

Any meaningful discussion of safe, liveable neighborhoods and the broader urban planning concept of smart growth must address mobility issues on the neighborhood level.  This is a particularly important issue, beyond the mayoral campaign, because SANDAG is developing a Regional Transportation Plan through 2050.  The City of San Diego has seats and a weighted vote on the SANDAG board of directors.  Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilwoman Marti Emerald currently represent the City.

The terms “neighborhoods” and “livable neighborhoods” figured prominently last year in then candidate Bob Filner’s campaign. The neighborhood agenda that he campaigned on reflected both a broad policy vision and specific applications at the community level. This agenda was clearly a significant element of his electoral success.

Bob Filner, as the champion of this neighborhood agenda is gone, but the momentum to carry that agenda forward has not dissipated, particularly from  those neighborhoods that began to see some positive outcomes after decades of neglect despite tireless advocacy. The current mayoral candidates in this year’s special election to replace Filner have been quick to pick up the mantle of neighborhood champion if for no other reason than it is politically expedient to do so.

While automobile drivers advocate for street repairs and maintenance, more parking options and reduced commute times, residents who walk, bike and take public transit have a different set of priorities.  There is less concern about sexy streets and more concern for maintained sidewalks and in some areas of the city, the installation of sidewalks.  Street lights take on added significance as well as the placement and number of traffic signal lights around major corridors.  Transit riders need public transit to accommodate the schedules of working people, reduce their commute times and be affordable.

There are important granular distinctions that must be taken into account when discussing mobility issues.  Residents who rely on electric wheel chairs may need places to recharge their chairs; an elderly woman who walks to the local grocery store in the early morning may have concerns about personal safety; a thirty-year old biking from North Park to work in Old Town has different issues than a high school sophomore biking four miles to school in the urban core.  One of the most pressing issues is the availability of affordable housing in  proximity of good schools, employment and quality grocery stores.

The City of San Diego is a huge city geographically speaking, encompassing 372.40 sq mi.  and containing over 100 neighborhoods  and communities.  A great deal of the discussion about mobility and liveable neighborhoods focuses on the densely populated urban core and communities south of Route 8, where more infill is anticipated. Yet urbanization (infill) will continue in a northward corridor from the Mexican border toward Camp Pendleton.  How are these issues defined, then,  in Clairemont, Rancho Bernardo, Del Mar Heights and Mira Mesa?  The question of course is to what degree the mayoral candidates are aware, truly care and have an agenda.


4.  Alternative Transportation/Mobility

What is the importance of walkable/bikeable neighborhoods and public transit in San Diego?

Mike Aguirre____________________________

SDFP Aguirre  LogoToo many of San Diego’s communities lack the basic amenities that make walking and biking safe, comfortable, and convenient. For the past fifty years, development has focused on automobile-friendly suburban communities. These communities are marked by wide roads meant to maximize car volume and speed, narrow or absent sidewalks and hazardous street crossings, few or discontinuous bicycle routes, and long distances separating destinations such as home, work, shops and schools.

There are barriers to walking and bicycling in many urban communities too. In some places, aging infrastructure and maintenance costs have left existing pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation amenities in disrepair, while the suburbanization of many jobs and businesses has required city residents to drive to work. These trends have an influence on our health, economy, environment and overall quality of life.

We need to re-create neighborhoods through urban infill where residents can easily walk or bike to work. We need communities with access to essential services, like public transportation, parks, libraries, and grocery stores. We should expect well-maintained, uninterrupted sidewalks and an accessible network of bicycle facilities, such as bike lanes and trails. Our streets should be clean and attractive, with landscaping, benches, lighting, and other features that make walking, biking, taking the trolley or other means of transportation more pleasant. Parents must feel comfortable allowing children to walk or bike to school.

Communities that benefit from careful planning and enlightened zoning help strengthen the social fabric of communities. For example, studies have shown that residents living in walkable environments are more likely to know their neighbors and get involved in local civic processes. Small businesses also see a benefit, as pedestrians and cyclists are apt to spend more of their dollars locally. Residents who live, work, and play in vibrant, walkable places with easy access to a range of retail and services, public transportation, and jobs enjoy a quantifiably better quality of life.

David Alvarez___________________________

SDFP Alvarez  LogoIncreasing “active transportation” like biking and walking is a top priority. Bicycle and pedestrian-safety initiatives, improving bicycle infrastructure and launching the city’s bike-share program will make it easier to bike and walk to and from work, the grocery store, schools and other destinations. We know that bikeable, walkable neighborhoods are shown to improve local economies, so bike initiatives aren’t just for quality of life and air pollution reduction, they make business sense as well.

As Mayor, I will partner with bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations to improve our neighborhoods. I’ll adopt the “Vision Zero” platform with a goal of zero bike and pedestrian fatalities on San Diego’s streets and will pledge to double the funds resources used to implement the city’s bike plan and increase ridership.

As Mayor and the City’s leading representative on SANDAG, I will work with my colleagues to direct more dollars to active transportation and transit versus just widening freeways. We’ve slowly been on the right track to do that but SANDAG needs to be more accountable to the City of San Diego, as the biggest population source in the county.

Land use and transit are interdependent, but it is the City that determines land use patterns while SANDAG funds transit to serve (or not) those land use patterns. In the past, we have not worked in coordination to the best of either jurisdiction’s ability. I would build a cooperative relationship with SANDAG, so neighborhoods have land use and transit that work together.

Hud Collins____________________________

SDFP Collins  LogoFavor walkable in neighborhoods. Do not favor bikeable on public streets (alone). Public transit important to all areas.




Nathan Fletcher____________________________

SDFP Fletcher Logo

Walkable/bikeable  neighborhoods  and  public  transit  are  vitally  important  to  San  Diego  and  its   long-­‐term vitality.  The  great  cities  of  the  future  will  be  those  with  sustainable  infrastructure   built  around  urban  cores where  people  can  live,  work,  and  play  in  the  same  community  and   travel  between  communities  with  ease.

As  mayor,  I’ll  support  innovative  planning  ideas  and  implement  the  “city  of  villages”  strategy  in   our  general plan.  I’ll  soon  be  releasing  a  plan  to  make  our  city  more  bikeable,  focusing  on   eliminating  major  danger areas.  I  also  believe  we  need  to  get  serious  about  improving  our   public  transit  system,  which  is  not  useful for  many  people  who  would  use  it  because  it’s  not   “competitive”  with  cars.  When  it  takes  several  times  longer  to  get  somewhere  via transit  than   by  car,  those  who  have  the  choice  will  choose  to  travel  by  car.     The  impact  of  having  a  walkable,  bikeable  community  is that  we’ll  be  able  to  recruit  and  keep   the  young,  talented  work  force  that  want  what  cities  like  Portland  offer  –  ease  of  mobility  and   vibrant  neighborhoods.  Our  economic  vitality,  competitiveness  as  a  region  of  innovation  and   quality  of  life  depend  on  our  moving  away from  the  old  suburban-­‐sprawl  model.

Kevin Faulconer_____________________________

SDFP Faulconer Logo

 SDFP Chair

Keep informed about the issues concerning the Special Election for San Diego Mayor this November, subscribe to “SDFP Voter Guide Special Election” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!

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Questions For the Candidates: Eric Reed

Downtown development, Ralston Avenue traffic and safety, and the city’s regulatory powers are some of the top concerns of those seeking the seats for a four-year term on the Belmont City Council on Nov. 5.

There are six candidates seeking three open seats. Incumbent Warren Lieberman is running for re-election. Other candidates are Gladwyn d’Souza, Charles Stone, Kristin Mercer, Mike Verdone, and Eric Reed. 

In this six-part series, Patch asks each candidate the same two questions to help voters gain better insight into some of these issues. 

Each candidate’s answers are arranged individually, in reverse alphabetical order by the candidate’s last name. Today’s candidate is Eric Reed.

Eric L Reed 
Occupation: Father / Biotechnology Director
Former Planning Commissioner, City of Belmont, 2008-2013
AYSO Coach
Belmont 4-H Project Leader
MBA, Santa Clara University
Associate Director, Genentech, Inc.
Supervisorial District Lines Advisory Committee, Alternate.

1. What differentiates you from the other candidates?

Each candidate in this race brings with him/her a unique perspective on issues and a desire to improve Belmont.  My perspective has been shaped by my experiences. I’ve lived my whole life in San Mateo County and I’ve seen how proactive economic development strategies can rejuvenate a city and I know we can do that in Belmont.  

Working for a global biotech company for 23 years (Genentech) has helped me understand how innovation drives success and the positive impact that can have on a community.  I have also learned that effective collaboration is the way to solve problems.  

As a Belmont Planning Commissioner (for 5 years), I was able to see the impact that our planning processes and regulations have on homeowners and businesses and I understand that those impacts are not always positive.  Lastly, being a father and a homeowner has helped me understand how critical it is that we continue to support our schools and how important the City-School Board relationship is.

2. How would you improve the downtown area that we already have? Given a limited budget, what ideas do you have to perk things up and make some immediate improvements?

Major improvements to Belmont’s downtown will only come with robust development, but we can improve downtown with a modest investment.  
City-owned properties (e.g. the auto shop on Hill and ECR) could be screened with trees and landscaping.  An underused patch of ground on Ralston across from Flasner Lane could be turned into a pocket park- trees, grass, benches and bike parking would make it an inviting spot to have coffee or eat lunch. The City could increase the incentive for facade improvements.  

We could study the impact of the closure of Emmett to car traffic and make downtown “walkable.”  Beautifying downtown is important, but it should occur alongside efforts to create solid tactics to spur economic development.  I would start by reforming the Economic Development Committee so City and business leaders alongside residents like you can determine the best path forward for Belmont’s downtown.

Next up…Kristin Mercer (Tues. Oct. 29)

[Editor’s note: Biographical information on each candidate, including a list of endorsements can be found at]

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Green crew says dismantle, don’t raze


When a venerable old house must come down, it’s upsetting to see it just crushed and carted away in bits and pieces.

Rob Green of Green Bros. Construction much prefers the approach of dismantling it with care and reusing the materials. And he learned on a recent Port Hope job that he is not alone.

When the owners of a 148-year-old two-storey brick house at 106 Bruton St. made the difficult decision that it must come down, in order to rebuilt a new home and studio on the site, the neighbours were vocal in their displeasure. Once Green prepared a flyer explaining his approach, he encountered a 180-degree shift in attitude. People even came to the work site to show their support and say thank-you.

Green made the winning bid for the demolition job, but found the owners (and their architect Reno Picini) very receptive to his ideas — the job would still be within budget, but would require a couple of weeks instead of the single day it would typically take to raze a building flat.

“I had my guys take it down board by board, brick by brick,” he said.

When visited last week, the site contained any number of piles where recovered materials had been sorted and set aside for specific purposes. The aluminum waste, for example, will go to Wakely Disposals for scrap metal.

The paving stones from the patio will be used at an appropriate future landscaping job. The stone that made up the foundation is set aside for foundation repairs on other jobs, and perhaps future landscaping.

The roof rafters and roof boards will be reused in another building they are working on, as will the decorative Victorian front door. The pine floorboards were salvaged, cleaned and de-nailed on site, and will go into another heritage project of theirs.

“The floor joists will be remilled in our window-and-sash shop, to be remanufactured into window frames for historic windows,” Green added.

As he explained in a recent Northumberland Today story about a schoolhouse he was renovating west of Centreton, his company treats these old windows to make them more up-to-date. The old paint and stain are completely stripped, the single-pane glass and old weather-stripping are replaced with thermal windows. The old rope-and-pulley mechanism is replaced with a modern spring balance.

In the end, the old window looks the same, but opens and closes as smoothly as one could wish and more effectively keeps the elements at bay.

Some of the old wood, which he refers to as scrap wood or garbage wood, is not of sufficient quality to reuse.

“We are cutting it up for firewood, and grinding it up into wood chips to be used to heat our shop in the wood-chip boiler,” he said.

One thing that especially pleased Green was when he saw that the brick on the home was the rare Port Hope brick that was popular in the 19th century but is no longer manufactured in North America.

As he explained when interviewed about the Centreton job, this material was probably made in a Port Hope-area brick yard. It would have been good quality, though not the best, and it was used in a number of heritage buildings that still stand.

Having a new supply of Port Hope brick is a bonus, augmenting the Port Hope brick he managed to find earlier this year from a derelict drive shed west of Welcome. The owner had wanted it dismantled, and Green did the job free in exchange for the brick.

With his men carefully dismantling and cleaning each brick, the Bruton Street job has added 100,000 lb. of Port Hope brick to his inventory. About 60% of it is headed for a Toronto company called Historic Restorations to go into finishing up the one of the buildings in the historic Distillery District.

The other 40% will stay in Green’s inventory. About 1,500 of the bricks are bound for a project his company has been awarded, rebuilding the front of an historic Walton Street building, which won the approval of the municipality’s Architectural Conservancy of Ontario president Phil Carter

Even the brick and concrete rubble salvaged will go into another project as the base for a driveway — a good solid base to put gravel on top, he said.

The owners insisted on keeping a magnificent spreading 100-year-old chestnut tree. And though another tree was found to be dying and was taken down, the chestnut tree remains in place. And a number of cedar trees, which would typically be dug up and thrown out, have been replanted to fill in gaps in the hedgerow.

“The only thing we couldn’t salvage was the shingles. They went to the dump,” Green said.

But then, that one ton of shingles in the landfill is far preferable to the materials from an entire demolition project.

In the end, it was a three-week job. And thanks to the good work of site supervisor Russ Wright and his thorough safety training, Green is proud to say that his workers sustained not so much as a cut finger despite the hands-on nature of the work.

Green’s biggest hope is that his work will signal to others that this is a sound approach.

“It’s been a really pleasant experience from start to finish,” he said.

“What we are doing, I believe, pays a level of respect to the craftsmen who originally built the house. They put a lot of love and energy into building it. To come and crush it would be like crushing up a valuable painting.”

The neighbours obviously agreed, and showed their approval by helping in various ways like lending a hose to water the tree and allowing them to tap into their hydro supply.

“The whole neighbourhood was extremely co-operative, extremely helpful. In their eyes, we are doing the right thing,” he stated.

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Sunset Greenway project aims to ease rain’s impact on sewer

Sunset Greenway conceptual drawing

One concept for the Sunset Greenway plan would install new landscaping to capture rainwater in several areas along the green strips parallel to Sunset Boulevard. Screenshot via SFPUC website.

By Jennie Butler

During wet days of the approaching winter and spring, rainwater will flow along the slopes of Sunset Boulevard with no place to go. While some of the water is absorbed by the green spaces that span all the way from Lincoln Way to Sloat Boulevard, most of the rainwater flows into the drains at the end of each block.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission plans to change this through a new green infrastructure project: the Sunset Boulevard Greenway. The project aims to create alternative harbors for rainwater, to prevent it from entering the sewer system. These “rain gardens” will be placed throughout Sunset Boulevard’s east and west landscaped borders, and will absorb runoff that would otherwise overwhelm the City sewer system.

San Francisco’s sewer system, which combines both sewage and rainwater, processes more than 80 million gallons of water per day. On rainy days, this number can reach 575 million gallons, according to the SFPUC. Excess water flow could overpower the the City’s sewage capacity, causing floods in low-elevation areas and potentially causing partly treated water to be released into the water of Ocean Beach.

This system is particularly hazardous for San Francisco as the city’s urban landscape prevents most of the rainwater from being absorbed and filtered through the earth’s natural water cycle.

The Sunset Boulevard Greenway’s rain gardens will alleviate the flow of water into the sewer by capturing and absorbing  an estimated 10 million gallons of runoff per year, according to the SFPUC, which has advertised the project on the Ocean Beach Bulletin. The project will also prevent 5 million gallons of combined sewer discharges from entering the Pacific Ocean along Ocean Beach every year.

The SFPUC either will install rain gardens at the low end of slopes where water naturally collects during rainfall, or they will place several throughout each block. Both options are equal in cost and environmental benefits, and the SFPUC will let the community choose the option they prefer.

The Sunset Boulevard Greenway is one of eight sewer-system improvement projects in the works in San Francisco. All are part of the SFPUC’s plan to move the City out of its outdated and inefficient “gray” infrastructure of pipes and gutters directing water, and into the innovative and earth-friendly green infrastructure.

Lily Madjus, communications manager at the SFPUC, said that the Sunset Boulevard Greenway is a great example of what green infrastructure can do for San Francisco.

“We think Sunset Boulevard is a great area to demonstrate what we can do for storm water management,” Madjus said. “We want to improve storm water management because it is a beautiful area. Sunset Boulevard is one of those rare locations in the city where there is actually green parcels you can drive beside.”

The SFPUC has a rigorous three-year timeline for the Sunset Boulevard Greenway. The project is in the planning and design phase, and the SFPUC is taking suggestions from the public until Oct. 31. Construction will begin in mid-2015, and the project’s completion is planned for summer of 2016.

Until October 31, Sunset and Parkside residents can give their input on the Sunset Boulevard Greenway filling out this survey on SFPUCs website:, or by visiting their Facebook page:

In addition, two community meetings are planned for Monday, Oct. 28 to discuss the Sunset Greenway. One is at 6 p.m. at 2200 Kirkham St. near 26th Avenue. The other is from 7-8 p.m. at 1736 9th Ave., between Moraga and Noriega streets.

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Meet the green thumbs who are beautifying the town’s botanicals


Master Gardener Renee Marsh, part of a team beautifying Monroe’s parks.

Amid an array of colorful and fragrant flowers they planted this summer, Renee Marsh and Robert “Mac” McFarland, placed a variety of bulbs in a flower bed at Great Hollow Lake.

The new gardens are part of a beautification effort for Monroe’s parks and municipal buildings.

“For me, as far as a park is concerned, it has to be a combination of athletics and aesthetics,” said Monroe’s director of parks and recreation, Frank Cooper.

Marsh, a master gardener from Shelton, joined Cooper’s seasonal staff July 1 to help spruce up Monroe’s lakefront property and the exterior of Town Hall. Marsh, certified by the University of Connecticut, is vice president of the Olde Ripton Garden Club in Shelton and responsible for maintaining the club’s herb garden at the Shelton Historical Society. She is also an expert on invasive plants.

Both Marsh and McFarland, a seasonal maintainer for Monroe’s Parks and Recreation Department, are experienced beekeepers.

When the horticulturists began to tackle the flower beds at Great Hollow Lake, they found overgrown junipers and evergreens, said Marsh.

Their first task was to rip out all of the existing plants from the six-foot- by 30-foot beds and amend the soil.

“It took us digging through a lot of rocks to get the soil ready,” Marsh said.


Robert “Mac” McFarland

In mapping out the new garden beds, Marsh took the flowers’ height and colors into consideration. They also had to be “sun-resistant and drought-resistant,” Marsh said.

As they talked about the makeup of the garden, Cooper asked to have roses included for their color.

“We also put in some lavender because it smells so nice,” Marsh said.

All of the new plantings were purchased locally. Scott Mason of Mason’s Farm Market in Monroe donated mums for the autumn season.

“Since we’ve initiated this process of beautification, we’ve been called by local vendors looking to be part of the transformation,” Cooper said.

Although there is currently no funding in his budget to work on the new Police Department’s building and the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, Cooper would like to include these municipal areas in future projects.

Cooper said he didn’t realize how much the exterior of Town Hall was in need of gardening until Parks and Recreation was relocated there earlier in the year.

“In my estimation, Town Hall should be a showpiece,” Cooper said. “The whole Town Hall complex now, including the new Police Department and beautiful library, has zero landscaping.”

When she came on board, Marsh agreed.

“Everything around Town Hall was planted willy-nilly,” she said. “It was a hodgepodge of everything.”

She and McFarland began to get the overgrown plants under control and create a sense of unity and order.

“We removed everything but saved it so we could use it elsewhere,” Marsh said. “Mac likes to save every little seedling. We try to throw out as little as possible.”

Their challenge was to plant shrubs and flowers that would be attractive in all climates and require minimal pruning.

In the past couple of months, Marsh and McFarland also helped to beautify Stepney Green. Along with a crew from the Parks and Recreation Department, they assisted in getting the Green ready for last month’s Civil War commemoration sponsored by Save Our Stepney Task Force.

“The beds were overgrown, so we did some weeding,” Marsh said. “We also added some new plantings, some perennials and bulbs. The challenge with that space is that there is no water at the Green.”

Cooper said the Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for maintaining all town properties, not just its parks. Monroe’s park superintendent and crew, with many responsibilities relating to athletic fields and maintaining the town’s lawns and landscaping, do not have the time to spend on beautification projects, he added.

“Russ [Tice] has many talents, but his skills in this area haven’t been able to be recognized given the amount of responsibilities he has with taking care of the parks’ landscaping and athletic fields,” Cooper said.

Monroe’s Great Hollow Lake and Wolfe Park are busy properties and its gardens and shrubs are highly visible.

“I wanted to take the parks and town properties to a new level,” Cooper said.


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City Council To Host Community Gardens Expansion Event

City Council is expected to celebrate the expansion and completion of the 51 new garden plots at the Community Gardens at Central Park on Thursday, Oct. 31 at 10 a.m.

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The ribbon cutting event is planned to celebrate the increased space the Community Gardens is expected to offer to residents.

Currently, the Community Gardens at Central Park features 80 plots open to community residents who utilize organic growing processes to grow organic, pesticide-free food, according to a statement provided by the city.

 “The community garden project in Santa Clarita is expanding to 131 garden plots, offering residents an opportunity to enjoy gardening in a community setting at their local park,” said Gail Ortiz, communications manager at the City of Santa Clarita.

  “Community gardening is a healthy way activity for people of all ages.  The vegetables, herbs and flowers not only add to a healthy lifestyle but also provide residents with a chance to socialize.  Some of the gardeners provide donations of food to the senior center and SCV Food Pantry, helping to expand healthy eating to those in need,” said Ortiz.  

 The new, expanded garden is expected to include 51 new, raised garden beds, three universal use plots, a dozen new fruit trees, a butterfly garden, and landscaping elements.

 “The ribbon cutting expansion event will include a tour of the garden and refreshments. Residents can view the many different gardens and find out more information about the project at the ribbon cutting event,” said Ortiz.

 For more information on the Community Gardens Expansion project or the ribbon cutting, please contact Gail Ortiz at (661) 255-4314 or  

 Central Park is located at 27150 Bouquet Cyn. Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91350.

About the Community Gardens of Santa Clarita

The Community Gardens of Santa Clarita is a non-profit organization and a community facility where residents can come together to harvest and enjoy the benefits of locally grown, organic food that is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and cost effective.  Food grown in the Community Gardens is enjoyed by residents and donated to local organizations, including Help the Children and the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.


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Article: City Council To Host Community Gardens Expansion Event
Source: Santa Clarita News
Author: Luzzei Tsuji

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