Coyotes Clash with Presidio Residents

The Presidio of San Francisco is home to not only people, but also wildlife, including coyotes who have been known to come into contact with humans and their pets.

Residents, visitors, and local dog-walkers have sent in reports about their encounters with coyotes, from sightings to attacks from the animals. During pupping season, attacks are usually on the rise as coyotes will protect their territory by acting aggressively towards any other animal or human that they see as a threat. The Presidio Trust has closed off some trails from people walking their dogs and they inform everyone to not feed the animals. There are currently six coyotes living in the Presidio Area; four of them were born this year, and two were breeding, according to Jonathan Young, an ecologist for the Presidio Trust.

“Typically attacks on humans or their pets happens during pupping season. A dog can come too close to a den, and the coyotes will act aggressively to tell that animal to get away,” says Young. It’s normal behavior for a coyote to patrol its den site, and when it senses a threat, it will try to escort any threats out of the area. Encounters near dens usually spike around pupping season, which runs between the spring and fall seasons. Feeding the animals is one of the actions that will cause a coyote to act in a non-normal way. Coyotes that aggress on people are usually fed by humans, and that causes them to think of humans as a food source according to Young. Young’s goal is to reduce conflict between humans and coyotes. “A fed coyote is a dead coyote,” says Young, as the only option for a coyote who has become food conditioned is to put it down. It is illegal in the state of California to relocate coyotes, so moving them around is not an option.

Conserving natural resources while also keeping the public safe is one of the main goals for Young and the Trust.

David Gruber is a San Francisco resident who had an encounter with a couple coyotes in April of this year. Gruber was walking his dog near a golf course when two coyotes confronted them at around 6 p.m. that evening. “They were probably 10 or 15 feet away from me, then they got to each side of me and started to probe me after they bit my dog,” says Gruber. The coyotes soon ran off, and Gruber says that he finished up his walk with his dog before contacting park police. Gruber says that he and his dog were okay after the attack, and that park police documented the encounter.

Desiree Munoz, a park ranger for Golden Gate National Recreation Area, says that she loves the coyotes and loves their presence in the park. Her advice for people in the area is to always keep their dogs on a leash. “Personally I want to see the animals here, but as an employee in a ranger outfit, I have to make sure that people feel welcome to the park. We need a balance between humans and wildlife,” says Munoz.

Another park ranger named Marcus Combs says that coyotes weren’t always the problem around the area. “Quails used to be a problem for the trust until they banded them to help keep better track of them,” says combs. He mentions that there are a couple tagged coyotes with gps collars on since around June of this year.

“The coyotes are here to stay. They’re not being captured. They’re not being shot. They’re not being relocated,” says Linda Guittard, an employee of the Presidio Trust.

Guittard explains that people just need to be more responsible, “Keep your dog on a leash, don’t feed the wildlife, and please follow warning signs.”

“You’re looking at Pacific Heights. You’re looking at most wealthy community in San Francisco bordering on the Presidio. These are people that feel like they own the Presidio,” Guittard says as she laughs a bit to herself. Guittard says that wildlife belongs in the Presidio first, “This is their property more than it is ours. The bottom line is that this is a national park.”

Marcus Hoffman, a San Francisco resident who frequents the Presidio to skate says that he has seen coyotes around the area, but they did not bother him at all. “I saw them walking along a trail while I was skating, but that’s about it. I heard of people being aggressed on by coyotes, but they seem pretty tame.”

“The concept that people who live in a national park believing that they should not have to deal with wild animals is kind of dumb,” says Hoffman.

“Honestly, I have no problems with coyotes here. But they seem to not be afraid of people at all,” says John Hogan, a museum curator of the Society of California Pioneers.

“People come out here for the nature. Coyotes are a part of that, and we shouldn’t try to change a place that we came to be a part of,” says Hogan.

Any and all encounters or sightings with coyotes are encouraged to be shared on the iNaturalist website. Sightings from the public will help the Trust understand the animals more, and it will help improve their management strategies.

 

121212121Photo courtesy of http://www.presidio.gov/presidio-trust/planning/Coyotes-in-the-Presidio

This map shows trails where coyote activity is located. Red trails are closed to dogs, and yellow trails require caution.

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Profile: Ian Christie

With dozens of climbers clinging onto the rocks at Planet Granite, Ian Christie chalks up his hands and begins his own climb up the structure in front of him.
Christie is a software engineer at Google who has taken up climbing as a hobby. He comes to Planet Granite to hone his skills as a climber, and to have fun.

Christie has been climbing seriously since November of last year, and outside of Planet Granite he climbs with his girlfriend on rock climbing trips throughout many states.
“Me and my girlfriend, we did a rock climbing road trip over the summer recently. It was from all of June to August, and we saw a pretty large part of the west coast.” Christie and his girlfriend climbed in Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana and Texas.
“Before climbing, I was a pretty big biker. I done a cross-country cycling trip, and a couple other touring trips that were a thousand plus miles,” says Christie as he wipes off some climbing chalk off his palms. So what got this biker into the world of climbing into the first place?
“My girlfriend actually. She started about three years ago, and I started dating her in November, and she immediately got me into climbing.” Christie explains that climbing was something that he always wanted to do, but he never really had that person to push him into doing it.

Prop 56: A Tax Increase on Tobacco

A ballot measure that would increase the tax on cigarettes by $2 per pack has Californians wondering if it will pass or not.

Proposition 56 would increase the tobacco tax by $2, which would bring the total tax to $2.87 per pack of cigarettes. This also applies to products containing nicotine that is derived from tobacco, which includes the rising e-cigarette market. Higher tobacco taxes are proven to reduce smoking among teenagers. California currently has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the nation.
In September 2016, a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) showed that support for the proposition was 59%, with 36% of people opposed.

Abe Camarillo of Hollister, Calif., expresses his concern over the tax affecting those with lower incomes. “I don’t support the extra tax increase. I think it would cause more problems. . . I think it’s robbing the American people of what little money we have on average. We are struggling as is,” says Camarillo.

Ronald Hayduk, a Political Science professor at San Francisco State University, calls the proposed tax a regressive tax. “Taxes on tobacco and alcohol are regressive taxes. They tax people who have lower incomes, and it is a great burden. It should conform to people’s capacity to pay.” While he does not express approval of this tax, he does believe that funding Medi-Cal, and preventing underaged smoking are good ways to spend the money if proposition 56 ends up passing. “That would be a worthwhile use

of money if it was going to pass,” says Hayduk.

Marcus Hoffman, a resident of San Francisco, believes that the proposition is a poorly written measure. “Prop 56 is one of the stupidest, and most transparently self-supporting measures ever to go on the ballot. It is clearly written only to funnel money away from working class Californians, and back into lobbyists pockets to continue to fund more legislation for the same purpose,” says Hoffman.

Lawrence Bocage of Hayward, Calif., says that while he normally supports measures that oppose smoking, however, he expresses his concerns about where the money is going. “I don’t support this particular proposition because I feel as though the money generated will not be used for the best of intentions,” says Bocage. He also explains that he would like a larger percentage going to schools. Currently, only 2% of the funds will go towards school programs focused on tobacco-use prevention.
“It will be money that will be used to stop smoking for good, and it will help enforce tobacco laws. It also gives money towards healthcare, which I strongly believe in,” says Roger Abellan, another Hayward resident who says that he supports proposition 56. “While I feel for the people who are so addicted to nicotine that they have to take a hit to their wallets, I believe that they would not be in this position if cigarettes were out of their reach.”

Interestingly enough, opinions of Californian residents seem to be in sharp contrast to the PPIC poll. That poll reported almost twice as many people supporting it as opposing it, however, a majority of those interviewed were against the measure regardless of their stance on smoking.

Off the Grid: Bringing a Community Together

Off the Grid is a company that was founded 5 years ago with the goal of bringing the community of the Bay Area together through local food, music and culture.

Rows of tents from local vendors line the border of the Main Parade Ground in the Presidio, blankets cover the field as families, tourists and groups of friends spend their Sunday listening to music and enjoying the warm San Francisco sun as Off the Grid hosts the Presidio Picnic event. A line of over 30 food trucks sit end to end going all the way across the field, as some of the most popular local vendors are busy serving the many families that came out to enjoy the event. People bring their dogs to play around in the grass, friends enjoy a drink together along with each other’s company, music can be heard playing from the dj booth, the scents of freshly made food mix and mingle with each other and even with all these people attending, there has yet to be a single piece of trash blemishing the beauty of the Presidio park itself. Old, historical, military buildings outline the space that the event is being held as the Golden Gate Bridge is clearly visible in the bright, luminous sunshine;  it’s metal body stretches over the bay while the ships sail in the sky blue waters below it.

The idea of Off the Grid is to bring local communities together by providing outdoor music, food from local street vendors and a space to enjoy their time together. They host events throughout the Bay Area, and they have since become a staple entertainment business for San Franciscans throughout the Bay Area. This event is hosted every sunday from May to October.

When asked about what the company did, Chrissy Curl, a market ambassador for Off the Grid said that, “We’re a company and we try to activate space and bring the community together, primarily through food. I am an ambassador and I make sure everything runs smoothly, and we have a corporate team who does all the logistics and the planning with the vendors and contracting them.”

Jamie Freebury, another market ambassador, said that, “This particular event is our biggest market out of about 45 markets that we have. It’s very popular and a lot of families come out, all different people, and there is dj music.” He also explained that they are partnered with the Presidio, and some of the things they do are to support the Presidio.

JJ Stott and Mackenzie Matheson both work for the Presidio with Stott as a contractor and Matheson is a park programs intern; Stott says that the role the Presidio fills is that, “We’re partnered with Off the Grid. We provide the space for Off the Grid, and they obviously provide the food trucks for the event. This space is provided by the Presidio Trust as it is owned by the Presidio.”

When Matheson was asked about her role in the event she stated that, “I’m the intern for cultural and community events. So we are mainly focused on bringing people to the park, because it’s a national park and a lot of people in San Francisco don’t know about it. It’s gone through a full history of being rehabilitated and then becoming financially self-sufficient; and now we’re in the phase of wanting people to come and experience the park. So events like this were primarily founded to bring people to the park, and make it a part of their lives and the community of San Francisco.”

The day winds down, and everyone packs into their cars warmed by the hot sun; windows are rolled and sweat is brushed off the brows of the visitors. The trucks pack up and everyone heads home ready to return for the next event. Off the Grid has brought the people of the Bay Area together in just 5 years of operation, and hopefully they will continue their success for many more years to come.

San Francisco Becomes First City to Ban City-Funded Travel to States With Anti-LGBT Laws

 

 

A unanimous decision by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has just passed a new ordinance that prohibits city-funded travel to states that have enacted anti-LGBT laws after June 26, 2015.
This ordinance was sponsored by Scott Wiener, David Campos, and Mark Farrell after the first reading. This ban means that San Francisco is the first city in the country to pass legislation that creates economic sanctions against other bodies of government that have passed anti-LGBT laws. This also means that the city will not contract companies who are headquartered in states that have enacted anti-LGBT laws, or any company that performs work in those states. Wiener stated that this ban was to “send a strong message” to those states that would discriminate against a group of people. “This legislation will once again put San Francisco on the cutting-edge of advocating for full equality and acceptance of our diverse LGBT community,” says Wiener.

In recent years, LGBT rights have progressed well; from legalizing gay marriage to the gay community becoming more and more accepted into the mainstream. However, there has been backlash from LGBT victories. With laws being passed that enables businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, and as Wiener explains, “in the case of North Carolina, a law that bans all state or local LGBT civil rights protections, and also requires people to use restroom of the gender assigned to them at birth as opposed to their gender identity.” After these anti-LGBT laws were passed, Mayor Edwin Lee issued an executive order that would ban travel to those states; while this current legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors will serve to reinforce and expand on that ban by also hitting contracting with companies in those states.

The Presidio: A Picture Perfect Fortress

WHAT’S THE PRESIDIO LIKE?

 

The Presidio; probably the first piece of San Francisco you see upon crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. What was once a military base for 219 years before being transferred to the National Park Service in the 90s, it is now a beautiful park characterized by it’s old military buildings, plenty of different places to view the Golden Gate Bridge, wooded areas and hills. The people you would find there are usually residents from other neighborhoods or tourists; both are usually there to enjoy the many different sights and attractions provided there.
Paul Kumli, who is a pro shop staff at the Lincon Park Golf Course, was asked if there has been many changes since he has been working there, he says that “nothing had really changed in the past 15 years.” The Presidio changes at a more natural pace than the rest of San Francisco, which is almost always building a new skyscraper or town house; even the old military buildings are still being rented out to businesses for use. Chris Lane, the owner of Roaring Mouse Cycles says that the building his business operates in an ex-aircraft maintenance building. “The field outside used to be the runway for the aircrafts that were held here,” he says.

At first glance, it is pretty hard to tell who is a resident of San Francisco, and who is the tourist. The racial demographics are pretty diverse; there were plenty of people from different ethnicities, age groups and occupations, a very common Bay Area thing. People’s gazes are set enjoying nature rather than tilting their heads back to see the city skyscrapers; whether you’re a frequent visitor, a resident or even a first time traveler, The Presidio has sights that cannot be ignored. From the underside view of the Golden Gate Bridge as you stand outside of the local bike shop, to the long abandoned Alcatraz Island that can be viewed from a distance, and even the Darth Vader statue that greets you at LucasFilm, The Presidio has something that will catch your attention.

 

WHAT IS THERE TO DO?

 

The Presidio is home to many different businesses who rent out the buildings through the Presidio Trust, which was created in 1996 by the United States Congress. The Trust was made to oversee and manage the park, and because of the Trust, the Presidio became fully financially self-sufficient. Businesses around the Presidio include the YMCA which has been operating there for about 19 years, The German International School of Silicon Valley which is a k-5 elementary school, Planet Granate which is among the top climbing gyms in the bay area, The Palace of Fine Arts which hosts many different art exhibitions, and so many more.

 

BEST TIME TO VISIT? WHAT DO PEOPLE COME HERE FOR?

 

According to local San Francisco resident, Marcus Hoffman, who frequently comes to the Presidio to skate, the best time to visit the Presidio would be just about anytime you have the chance to be there. “The sights are amazing, the environment is far more natural, and it is just a great way to escape the heavy hustle and bustle of the city,” says Hoffman. Guido Alegria, who works as a Barista at The Transic Cafe, says that he enjoys the YMCA and he is a regular member there. “I really like to go to the YMCA to work out,” he says.

 

DETAILS ON THE BUSINESSES THAT OPERATE HERE?

 

The Presidio Trust was created in 1996 by the United States Congress to oversee and manage the park. They run all of the offices in the Presidio ranging from finance to hospitality to real estate. Katrin M, who declined to provide her full last name, is a teacher at The German International School of Silicon Valley. She says that the school is “a satellite campus of a school of the same name in Mountain View, CA. We are a K-5 elementary school which provides a bilingual education in both German and English, and students will earn dual certifications in German and English when they are done.” Planet Granate is known for being a climbing gym and is known for being one of the top climbing gyms in the Bay Area, but they also offer fitness and yoga classes as well.

 

ANY HISTORICAL FACTS?

 

Linda Guittard, a receptionist at the Presidio Trust who has been working there for four years says that “The Presidio was once a very important military outpost during World War 2, especially with the Japanese being right across the Pacific and Pearl Harbor fresh in people’s minds.” Marissa Morales, a front desk associate at Planet Granate, says that “the building was originally an airplane hangar before it was used to produce the cables for the Golden Gate Bridge, and now it is used for Planet Granate’s operations.” J.T. Wilkinson, a security guard at the Letterman Digital Arts Center says that “before Lucasfilm started operations here, the building was once a hospital called The Letterman Hospital, which was used to treat injured U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War.” George Lucas signed a 99 year lease with the government and built the other buildings; Lucasfilm PR, legal, and production are here; so is ILM (industrial lights and magic) so there’s a lot of animation and post-production too.

 

 

 

Twilight Brings Another Crowd

Off the Grid brings yet another casual culture event called Twilight to the Presidio’s Main Event Ground. The field is lined with rows of food trucks and tents for the dozens of people who turn out to enjoy the cool breeze from the bay and the warm rays of the sun. Every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Twilight brings locals, friends and families together through delicious food, outdoor music and some of the greatest views of Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay and especially the Presidio itself.


The soft lush grass of the Main Event Ground is filled with picnic blankets and various games and activities for all ages to enjoy. There are dozens of local food trucks that offer a variety of fusion and ethnic dishes for everyone to enjoy; the smell from the stacks of the trucks is carried by the breeze from the bay as it fills your nose and revs up your appetite. It almost becomes too tempting to at least try something. Marcus Hoffman, a software engineer for Concentric Advisors, was enjoying a sisig burrito from Senor Sisig, a Mexican-Filipino fusion truck. When asked about what he was eating, Hoffman says, “I go to Senor Sisig pretty often. They usually show up at Off the Grid in Soma, but I had a craving this afternoon. So I looked it up and I figured that I would go listen to music, eat food and catch some Pokemon.”

Willie Wong, a volunteer program coordination intern for Off the Grid says that he also enjoys the event. “My friends invited me a couple of times to hang out, and to hang out with their families and their friends. So it was just a good time to just hang out together,” says Wong.

Matt Lewandowsky, a software engineer for Samsung, was sitting in one of the tents pitched in the field and listening to music with his friends. When asked why he came out here, Lewandowsky says, “I spend too much time in front of a computer at work. And at the end of the week, I usually like to spend time outside for a bit.”

Twilight is held every Thursday from May 12 to October 6.