Tule Elk Park, Cow Hollow

This past Tuesday tour I had a few minutes to spare during the 10am block, which covers the Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, Presidio Heights, and Marina district neighborhoods (district 7 on a SFAR map).

I stumbled across the sign you see below for Tule Elk Park, and delighted by the toy soldier gracefully guarding the top of the sign, I had to snap a quick picture. And blog about it. Because that’s just how we roll here at Team JacksonFuller.

Tule Elk Park in the Cow Hollow neighborhood

Tule Elk Park is an early education school/child development center that is operated by the SFUSD. And while all that is interesting, what I really liked was that Tule Elk Park has played an important role in the greening of San Francisco school. Tule Elk Park (TEP) is an original member of the Green Schoolyard Alliance here in San Francisco. In fact, so much has been learned about greening schools at TEP that a few books can trace their origins back to the site: How to Grow a School Garden by Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel K. Pringle, and Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation by Sharon Danks.

In September of 2011, Tule Elk Park was also on the green schools tour for Engaging our Grounds: The 2011 International Green Schoolyard Conference.

Have you visited? What are your thoughts about greening schools in San Francisco to provide kids with more access to nature and outdoor play? We’d love to hear your thoughts, and while you’re at it, could someone please explain if it is just a coincidence that we pronounce both the “e” in Tule and the “e” in Noe? Inquiring minds want to know. Or at least want to start conspiracy theories…

Where Exactly is Cow Hollow?

Not to get too existential on everyone, but where, exactly, is Cow Hollow? This might sound like the dumbest question in the world, but even dumb questions can lead to interesting answers. The reason I bring it up is that our fair city has about as many neighborhood definitions as it does neighborhoods, and the groups defining the boundaries rarely speak to each other… Take, for example, Cow Hollow!

According to the San Francisco Association of Realtors, the Cow Hollow neighborhood is defined as:

The north side of Green street, north to Lombard (including the homes on the south side of Lombard, but not the north side). The east/west boundaries are Van Ness and Lyon. Below is a picture of the SFAR map for Cow Hollow, showing the boundaries with the Marina district to the north and Pacific Heights to the south.

SFAR Cow Hollow Map and Boundaries
SFAR Cow Hollow Map and Boundaries


The Cow Hollow Association, though, has completely different neighborhood boundaries, which are shown below:

As you can see, the Cow Hollow Association neighborhood boundaries begin further to the south than the SFAR, but do not run as far north. The Cow Hollow Association also uses Lyon as the western neighborhood boundary, but uses Pierce Street (instead of Van Ness) as the western boundary for the neighborhood.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 10.19.57 AM
Cow Hollow Neighborhood Association – Different Cow Hollow boundaries

And while all this might seem to be just some guy with too much time pointing out how two maps don’t match, the reality is that the mis-match has some implications for homeowners, buyers, and sellers.

The Cow Hollow neighborhood is subject to neighborhood design guidelines,  which means that you could buy a house that is marketed as being in Pacific Heights only to discover that the property is part of the Cow Hollow neighborhood design guidelines. What are your thoughts on neighborhood boundaries and definitions in San Francisco?

Lombard St: Cow Hollow or Marina?

Boundaries are arbitrary, but does it make sense for two different sides of the same street to belong to different neighborhoods?

District 7 SFAR Map
District 7 SFAR Map

For example, in District 7 of San Francisco, there are four neighborhoods (according to SFAR):

The north/south diving line between The Marina and Cow Hollow is Lombard St., which makes perfect sense. Does it make sense, though, that homes on the north side of Lombard are in the Marina while homes on the south side are in Cow Hollow? Given what a busy street Lombard is, I kind of have to agree with the boundary.

What about the north/south dividing line between Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights, though? The north/south boundary between the two neighborhoods is Green St., which means that homes on the north side of Green St. have a Cow Hollow MLS designation, while homes on the south side of the street have a Pacific Heights designation in the MLS. This one seems a little less obvious to me, since Green St. isn’t a particularly busy or commercial St. (that would belong to Union St., one to the north).

California St.
California St. serves as the north/south boundary between Pacific Heights (District 7) and Lower Pacific Heights (District 6). However, when the boundary line was drawn they (they being SFAR) put both sides of California St. in Pacific Heights, which means on the south side of the street the boundary runs along the fences in the backyard, not the street out front.

However, as soon as we get west of Presidio St., the north/south boundary goes back to the front side of California St., with homes on the north side belonging to Presidio Heights and homes on the south side belonging to Laurel Village/Jordan Park.

Clear as mud, right?

What are your thoughts about the SFAR map boundaries? I’ve only highlighted a few neighborhoods, but the list could go on and on…

Divisadero Street – from Zero to Infinity

One of the things I love about San Francisco neighborhoods are how wildly they vary. Say what you will about San Francisco, our neighborhoods each have a unique character, charm, and style. And while The Marina might feel like it is a thousand miles away from the Western Addition, they both have Divisadero Street in common. I’ve been wanting to drive some San Francisco streets from start to finish (or finish to start) to give you a sense of how much things can change along one street in just a few blocks.

This morning I tackled Divisadero Street, which starts in the Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights neighborhood – that’s district 5F if you are playing along at home with a SFAR MLS map – and ends at Marina Boulevard in the Marina District.


Divisadero Street runs through or touches the border of all of the following neighborhoods (I’m going to go in the order you see in the video, which actually starts at the end of Divisadero and works back to the zero block). If you are curious about learning more about any of the neighborhoods, follow the link, I’ve made videos for many (but not all) of them:

I really enjoyed making this first video of a street in San Francisco from start to finish. What other streets would you be interested in seeing from beginning to end? I’ve definitely got Folsom street on the list, but I’m sure there are plenty of other streets that would make for a fun video. I hope you enjoy watching the video, feel free to leave your comments, critiques, and suggestions below.

Do these Light Fixtures Look Familiar?

A few weeks back I wrote about the North End Police Station at 2475 Greenwich. It was the police station built for the Panama Pacific International Exposition that was eventually turned into a private residence. The building is considered to be an exceptional example of  Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture. One of the most notable items (to me, at least) on that building are the spiky lanterns that adorn the building on either side of the main entrance doors.

Spiky Lantern at 2150 Washington in Pacific Heights

 A few weeks after taking those pictures, I was taking some pictues of the AppleGarth designed Speckels mansion in the 2100 block of Washington when I happened upon some more… spiky lanterns!

2475 Greenwich was designed by Frederick H. Meyer and John Reid, Jr., while 2150 Washington was designed by Charles Peter Weeks, a San Francisco architect that designed numerous buildings of note, including this Pacific Heights home. Weeks designed the home for Mary Phelan, the sister of legendary San Francisco Mayor James Phelan.

Spiky Lantern at 2150 Washington

According to current tax records, the spiky lanterns at 2150 Washington are currently owned by the Dharma Realm Buddhist Assn Inc. The tax records also report that the home has eight bedrooms, and 10 full bathrooms with a total square footage of 16,506 square feet. There is no mention of 2150 Washington on the association’s website, although the organization is headquartered in nearby Burlingame, CA.

Hmmmm…. a religious organization with a quirky name and a mansion. Nothing could ever go wrong with a setup like that, right?

Anyway, hope you enjoy the two pics. If you’ve got other great pictures of spiky lanterns, spanish colonial revival architecture, or scoop about the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, be sure to leave a comment below.