Aug 19

ferment drink repeat comes to the Portola!


Ok, ok. It’s been a LONG while since we last updated the Planet. It has been a very busy year for the editor. But something just popped up on our radar which could not go unmentioned.

Yip. Currently ferment.drink.repeat is working on securing a space on San Bruno Avenue to bring us all local beer! This is excellent news and you can read about their campaign to raise money for this at their website, The Planet has reached out to the owners and hopes to find out more in due course…

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Dec 30

Portola in the finals for the SF Curbed Cup!


Game on! The Portola is in the final of the Curbed SF neighborhood of the year competition. In round one we easily defeated North Beach and then the Lower Haight in round 2. Amazingly we squeaked past our district 9 neighbors, Bernal Heights (and Bernalwood was lacking a post, we can only assume Todd was on vacation!) to move into the finals.

So the Planet would like to ask all our Portolan citizens to head over to SF Curbed and vote for their wonderful ‘hood. Such a worthy trophy is sure to bring much needed funding into our neighborhood which will result in a brand new commercial corridor, a new BART station, a theme park in McLaren park and of course three or four more Four Barrell coffee shops sprinkled across our fair land. But in all seriousness, this is just a bit of fun and if anything proves that many Portola residents are online and focused on making people aware that we are on the map.

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Dec 26

Portola in the top eight of the SF Curbed neighborhood popularity contest


We at the Portola Planet love, we love Sally Kuchar and best of all we love pitching the Portola against other less worthy San Francisco ‘hoods. So we are delighted at the news that the Portola has made it through into the top 8 in a Curbed Cup neighborhood popularity contest, the winner of which will be crowned the San Francisco neighborhood of the year!

So we are asking all the loyal Planet followers to cast their vote. Click on this link and make sure we get through to the next round. Looking at the bracket above, it seems that we are likely to meet the popular Bernal Heights in the next round, a hard match to win. So it would be terrible, and very unfair if we suggested that people vote for the Tendernob in an attempt to avoid a district 9 showdown. We would never ask people to do such a thing, but if you did, well, on your own conscience be it.

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Dec 22

A technacular Christmas in Portola

Who needs to go all the way to Noe Valley or downtown, when you have the house with the most extravagant Christmas decoration right in your neighborhood and in my case right next door?

Yes folks, I am talking about the house with Giant Santa on Felton St, and to be precise, a 16 foot tall Giant Santa, tied down by 8 cables. Last Sunday I walked over to 12 year old, David Gohstand’s house to talk to him about his masterpiece. David has been designing and decorating his families house on Felton street for the past few years.

David with his Dad- It all started with the reindeer by the lawn

David with his Dad- It all started with the reindeer by the lawn

It all started when his grandma took him to Big Lots and bought him a small motorized reindeer that was quickly installed in the lawn outside. He was hooked! Ever since he has been slowly adding to his Christmas collection resulting in the stunning display that captivates the interest of kids and adults alike and single-handedly amps up the Christmas spirit in the neighborhood.

If you have not made your way up on Felton street, you should, bring your camera along, cause this is a picture you will want to take and perhaps even post on your Facebook page.

Circuit Board that David built..

Circuit Board that David built..

What made my jaw drop is not the spectacular decoration or the mind-blowing size of Santa; it is the technology that controls these giant blow-ups. Yes, you read it right, it is the “Technology”. Each of those giant blow-ups are controlled using a circuit board that David built with the help of his father and it can be controlled from anywhere in the word via the internet. So let’s say that David travels to the North Pole to try and convince real Santa to show up for next year and he wants “Giant Santa” back home to deflate, all he has to do is get on the computer, execute some commands, and magic!

David at the computer explaining how the system works via the internet- it took him and his father 3 months to write the program.

David at the computer explaining how the system works via the internet- it took him and his father 3 months to write the program.

I think if there were ever a Bay area Santa, this is how he would like to be controlled, via the Internet. And what if there is a hurricane (aka many an evening in the Portola), what if Santa is in danger of being uprooted? Don’t worry y’all, David has that covered. He has a meter running that measures wind speed, and if the wind speed crosses a certain threshold, motors get cut-off and Santa just becomes a pile of nylon.

I know there are several houses around San Francisco with tons of Christmas decoration and even really exquisite ones like the one in Noe Valley (21st street), but I doubt that they have a wind meter, a homemade circuit board and a 12-year-old boy writing code behind the scene.

I asked David about his plans for next Christmas, and he told me it is a secret, but the one thing he did say was that he is going to use every inch of space left to launch his new decorations. As his neighbor, I know the only space left for decoration is his roof. So watch out, maybe you will see a giant space shuttle with a futuristic looking Santa landing on David’s roof next year!

The house decorated for christmas- 1940

The house decorated for Christmas – 1940

His advice for folks who wish to start on this festive adventure is to buy your decorations after Christmas, when they are on sale and also use LED lights to save on electricity. Wise boy. I personally am very inspired and will probably do my share next year to amp up the holiday cheer on Felton Street. You can find this wonderful creation at 1543 Felton Street.

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Nov 25

Prime resturant space in the Portola opens up! (Old Breakfast at Tiffany’s space)


A month ago we reported the 35 year old Portola business, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, had closed due to the sad passing of owner and head chef Gerald Adan. The owner of the building, which also houses a dental practice on the floor above, has decided to sell.

In the heart of San Bruno Ave. corridor with concentration of shops, markets, bakeries, fruit stands, restaurants and banks. This Portola district’s select neighborhood destination includes easy access to highway #101 and #280, Silver Ave., Alemany Blvd. with high corner visibility. Offered at $895,000.

Many of us in the neighborhood would love a wonderful new restaurant to open in the previous space occupied by Breakfast at Tiffany’s. With around 1,800 square feet to play with and an already warm and traditional feel to the inside, this has a lot of potential. We are told it’s going to be well sought after and with Four Barrel doing well in it’s new location, who knows what will be opening on San Bruno Ave in 2014? What are your thoughts fellow Portolans? What would you like to see occupy this 2499 San Bruno Ave?

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Nov 21

Second Upper Yosemite Creek Daylighting public meeting


A few weeks ago we reported on the Upper Yosemite Creek Daylighting project. Well we’ve just found out about the second public outreach meeting that will take place in a few weeks. Join the SFPUC to view design concepts based on your initial input for the periphery of McLaren Park. Provide feedback on proposed alternatives, learn more about green infrastructure and tell them what else you’d like to see!

What: Community open houseUpper Yosemite Creek Daylighting

When: Saturday, December 7, 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Where: All Nations Lutheran Church, 465 Woosley Street

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Nov 19

12th Annual Portola Neighbors Holiday Dinner


We’ve just received word about this years Portola festive feast. The very much loved local, Joan Loeffler, just sent us the following invite.


Mark your calendar for a festive evening of hearty food, holiday music and good cheer! PORTOLA & all neighbors who want to come. It is always fun. Larry Zabo will delight you on the piano, sing if you like, bring a dessert if you wish. The cost covers the room, the food, the tax and tip. COME ONE, COME ALL.


Friday, December 6th. 6:00 – 7:00 pm Social Hour (Cash Bar) and 7:00 – 9:00 pm for the buffet dinner


Italian-American Social Club, 25 Russia Ave. (at Mission St., free parking across the


  • Salad
  • Antipasti Plate
  • Entrée
  • Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Coffee and Tea

Select your entrée in advance from roast chicken rosemary, sirloin tips in wine sauce or pasta pesto. As in past years, we request that some of you bring desserts to share. If you wish to bring wine, there is a $9.00 corkage fee. The evening ends with a sing-along of holiday songs around the piano.


$28 for Adults and Children over 10

$16 for Kids 5–10

(Tip and taxes included; no charge for kids under five.)

The hall seats 80, and reservations will be accepted on a first-come basis until Wednesday, Dec. 4th. Payment must be made in cash in advance.

Make a reservation

Choose a menu preference, put cash or check made out to Joan Loeffler in an envelope with your name and phone number- drop it in one of our mailboxes, details below. Call us to let us know you are putting it there.

Joan Loeffler (415-816-1335) 1718 Burrows St.(Harvard)

Jay Eggers (415-812-1459) 781 Brussels (Olmstead)

The Portola Neighbors Dinner was organized by Rebecca Richards, who has moved away from the Bay Area. We want to see that this happy tradition continues by reaching out to every neighborhood group. You can help by spreading the word to your Portola neighbors. Bring the JOY!!



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Nov 19

The Incredible San Francisco Artists’ Soapbox Derby


McLaren Park is an awesome place. But it’s awesomeness just increased significantly after the Planet watched the video below. In 1975, San Francisco artists built cars for a soap box derby in McLaren Park. They were given money ($250, probably around $1000 by today’s standards) to build their artistic creations which included one car featuring tens of vibrators and an all male pit crew! As the title sequence of the movie states…

In the spring of 1975, 104 Bay Area artists shared their imagination with the community in a new and public way.

They built 75 ‘cars’ and 32 trophies for an artists’ soapbox derby, raised $20,000 for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and created an event which lightened the city with its humor and creative energy.

The whole movie is below. Those at the Planet, one of whom was born in 1975, would very, very much like to ask if anyone would be interesting in resurrecting the idea of a soap box derby in McLaren Park for next year? If so, please get in touch and we’ll see how many like minded people can get together to make it happen.

The Incredible San Fancisco Artists’ Soapbox Derby, 1975. from Mike Haeg on Vimeo.

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