Original Transcripts San Bruno Mountain Oral Histories Project
- Lu Drake
- Paul Goerke
- Bette Higgins
- David Schooley
- Sherman Eubanks
- Frank Calton
- Elisabeth McClintock
- Robin Crabill
- Jim Keegan
Luman Drake and his talk about the garbage dumping in Brisbane and the Formation of The Brisbane Citizens for Civic Progress
Sometime after the second month I’d moved to Brisbane, in the spring of 1968 or 9, there was an article, in the Chronicle, that they were going to chop off the top of San Bruno Mountain and fill the bay and I go, “What? They’re gonna chop off the top? This, this lovely, sweet, mountain I just discovered?” And then I met a couple people in Brisbane, Mike Kaiser and Helen Sullivan and they gave me some more information about how they were gonna chop of the mountain and fill the bay and all that kinda stuff. And I said, “What? What does this mean and what can ya do?” And I heard about Luman, the king and hero of Brisbane in those days, the fighters and the politics. I didn’t meet him I heard about him. He was the king, geez, those were the powerful people. In those days I didn’t know anything. I was just comin into a little town and there was other people, but we’ll talk about that more, we’ll go on...
Luman was writing letters like mad and he would send copies to everybody, to the governor, to the mayor of New York and I mean he just flooded the area with his letters of complaint. And this had a lot to do with the garbage. And saving the mountain had a lot to do with saving the bay. In 1967 we got very involved with Save the Bay—as Brisbane citizens.
Luman C. Drake
I was the sparkplug for the “Citizens.” But the one who really founded the Brisbane Citizens For Civic Progress, the BCCP, was Richard Burr, who was John Burr’s father. Richard and Fred Schmidt were the ones who led the opposition. Fred lives in Brisbane, he was the director of maintenance for San Francisco airport and he just retired.
Brisbane was incorporated by the Sanitary Fill Company and Southern Pacific Railroad in November 1961. The midwife for our city was the garbage company. They were the ones who put all the deals together that made incorporation of Brisbane possible. I came to Brisbane in October of ‘63, I moved in on Sierra Point Road. The first city council had been elected, it was Salmon, Turner, Williams, Schwendeloff and Conway.
As a condition of getting Brisbane incorporated the original council made a deal with the Sanitary Fill Company that they would sign a 25 year agreement beginning in 1962 to fill our waterfront with garbage. The Scavenger’s lawyer was Hamilton Budge from Brobeck, Fledger and Harrison. The Fledgers are big shots down the Peninsula. In that agreement the city agreed to take as much garbage as Sanitary Fill Company could give them.
Sanitary Fill was the burial agent for the two garbage collection agencies Golden Gate Disposal which covers downtown and Sunset Scavengers which covers the Avenues. Just take Market Street and it divides. The garbage companies own Sanitary Fill. Sanitary Fill’s lawyer was Budge and he divised this agreement for Brisbane to take all the garbage for the next 25 years, plus there was a 10 year renewal option and Brisbane was supposed to get 25 cents a ton for all of San Francisco’s garbage for 25 or possibly 35 years. The city council had to approve this. So they (garbage company) needed three votes. It came to a vote and the three who voted yes were Salmon, Turner and Williams. Conway and Schwendeloff voted no.
Lu Drake—Page 1
Soon after the vote, Salmon got a new boat and he took it Mexico, Williams, who was kicked out by his first wife got a new house on Alvarado St. and he married Lona, she’s his second wife. John Turner who was the first mayor, got a nice chunk of waterfront property up in Clearlake and he moved out of Brisbane after they had ratified the contract.
We knew that contract was going to be ratified by the city, so we formed a little group called the Brisbane Citizens For Civic Progress (BCCP). The ones who were fighting the garbage, who first got started were Richard Burr and Frank King who had a photography shop on Visitation Avenue. In those days Brisbane had an art festival, believe it or not, and Frank was the leading light in the art festival. Well, Frank came to me one night and he said “We’re going to form a citizens group to fight this bringing the garbage here permanently.” So we went through a whole bunch of formative meetings and we finally established the BCCP and that didn’t happen until 1965.
We weren’t incorporated until 1965. I was the one who got us incorporated. I went to Save San Francisco Bay Association, because at that time in 1965 it was coming up in the legislature to quote “Save The Bay” and we were fighting the dumping of garbage in it. Save The Bay had a little lawyer and his name was Henry M. Segal. His office was down on Polk Street in San Francisco and he restored furniture. I went to Henry when he was drawing up the Articles Of Incorporation for Save The Bay and I said, “Henry, give us a copy of those and we’ll use the same rules for the BCCP.” And I think we got a grant of about 300 bucks from Save The Bay, to incorporate. Cause everybody said they’d sue the pants off of us and that we had better have a non-profit group if we were considering legal action. So we got Save The Bay and I opened P.O. Box 602 for the BCCP. We still have it.
The first chairman of the BCCP was Lou Walker who lived up on Humboldt and Lou never did a thing. He would study everything until it was cold. We found out he was in the real estate business and Lou wasn’t working for us, but it took us a while to find out. So we finally got rid of Lou as chairman and about this time we also had two other people, one was Walter Bednar, the soon to be city manager and the other was Chuck Moran who lived up on Trinity. Chuck and Irene Moran, now they both worked for the IRS and there was this big rumor about the BCCP containing gays. When I first came to Brisbane all the gays lived up on Kings Road, they use to call it Queens Road and of course Paul Goercke was in it and I was in it and that scared Moran to death. Moran was a nervous nellie. To be associated with the gays was like coming from hell.
When Paul became the chairman of the BCCP that was the time that we did things. Richard Burr was on the planning commission. Before the garbage contract went to the city council for approval, it had to be approved by the planning commission. Well the planning commission voted no on it. So, in order for the city council to approve the contract, they had to overturn the planning commission.
Richard Burr had access to the contract and all the papers that the Scavengers were feeding the city and Richard Burr asked for a copy of the contract and he got a note back from the city manager which was Len Brady. Brady was the first city manager for Brisbane and before he came to Brisbane he managed a Piggly Wiggly in Stockton.
Lu Drake—Page 2
So Richard Burr got Brady to send him a note that all signed copies of the contract were not in the city safe, but they had been taken by Hamilton W. Budge for safe keeping and this was before the public hearing with the planning commission. Richard came to me and we published a little memo saying that all the garbage contracts had been signed sealed and delivered to the Scavengers before the first public meeting with the planning commission. So then the battle was on. We went to the public. This was the city council, they were supposed to be going to approve this contract. Well the Scavengers had all signed copies before the planning commission process and they denied it.
Then they had hearings before the city council. Well at that time I had just bought a Norelco tape recorder but it wasn’t a minature one, it was a big one and ya needed a long cord. We use to take the Norelco to the city council and record the meetings and there was no place to plug it in. We needed a long cord, so we use to ask Brady if he had any extensions. We had extensions but we always asked the council if they had extensions because it drove them right through the roof when they’d see us walk in with the tape recorder. And of course all the Scavengers were there and we were putting the whole thing on tape and our first city attorney’s name was Conrad Reische. Richard Burr use to call him the third Reische.
The contract got approved, needless to say it was signed sealed and delivered before the process began. So then the next question, what were we going to do about it? Then we had an election and the people didn’t approve it. That meant litigation—we had to go to court. Just before the election, three of the city councilmembers, Salmon, Turner and Williams put out this little half page circular and it said, “Don’t queer our city.” That did it. That’s what won us the election. It was the best thing that ever happened. When the voters saw “Don’t queer our city” they voted on our behalf.
Then we had to take legal action and it became the city’s official policy and responsibility to overturn the garbage agreement. So the city had to worry about who was gonna be the laywer to quote “defend us.” So we (the BCCP) wanted Vincent Hallinan (VH). I went to see VH who had just filed a lawsuit on behalf of Little Hollywood. The Scavengers, in order to cover the garbage, had a hill behind the garbage palace and they had to blast it to get it down, to loosen all the dirt, before they could put it in a truck to cover the garbage. So the citizens at Little Hollywood had engaged VH to sue Sanitary Fill for the blasting.
The city of Brisbane hired Secretary of Defense Caspard Willard Weinberger. He use to book reviews on Channel 9 and he lived on Forest View Ave. in Hillsborough. So they decided they get would Cap Weinberger to be the city’s lawyer to defend us against the Scavengers. At that time, he was working as full and general legal council for Bechtel Corporation, downtown. So you see the class of legal advice we had. Well, the first thing Cap did—Cap went into Superior Court and got his own judge. He got all the local judges to disqualify themselves on the grounds that San Francisco and San Mateo County politicians wanted to turn Brisbane into a garbage dump. So he brought in a little judge from Trinity County, Harold Underwood. And sure enough we won the case. Cap had lots of political clout, it wasn’t legal, it was political.
Lu Drake—Page 3
We had won the case in court. Now what was the Brisbane city council gonna do? So what did they do? They held another election and they said, “This will cause a crisis for the city and county of San Francisco. We’ll up the price, they can keep dumping, it will cost them more.” The Scavengers campaigned, they poured their money in. We had free drinks. My sister Peggy was here from Colorado and I use to take her down to the Brisbane Inn. They had an open bar for everybody and the tab was picked up by the Sanitary Fill Company. Anybody could have free drinks in Brisbane. All ya had to do is vote yes on the garbage and the town voted yes. Money prevails. Money works, try it. It’s as simple as that.
The plan was that the dumping would cease when the garbage lot on the outside of the freeway was full. But we wanted them to stop the dumping on the inside of the freeway, to conclude it then. The garbage companies were working like mad to close the lands around Sierra Point because the Acts to “Save The Bay” was coming up and anything subject to tidal action on May 31, 1965 was going to have to be quote “saved.” So they had to get the dikes closed on the land outside the freeway before May 31, 1965. Well they worked day and night to close those dikes. They got the land over there from Candlestick Hill and those trucks went down the road, on the inside of the freeway there, day and night, nonstop. The lights were on at all hours of the day and night. The truck traffic there was just like ants going to a chocolate box and they had a hell of a time closing those dikes. They had to bring in wire fencing to hold everything together, so it wouldn’t all slump into the mud. Well they got the dikes closed so therefore they beat the BCDC deadline and they could fill it with garbage once it was not subject to tidal action.
So the Brisbane City Council went to the voters and got out the hankerchiefs (boohoo) and the voters reversed our court victory. And then we were stuck with the garbage until they filled Sierra Point. Our opposition began in 1965 but the dumping didn’t stop until 1970. They never filled the lagoon with garbage because it was in multiple little teensy ownerships, in 20 foot lots under the bay.
The lagoon wasn’t all claimed by the railroad like the part north of the Tunnel Avenue was. When Brisbane was incorporated, the railroad put everything in the hands of Sanitary Fill. Southern Pacific said, “If you can get Brisbane to approve the dumping of the garbage, it fills our tidelands at no cost.” The Refuse Act of 1899 commissions the Core of Engineers to keep refuse out of navigable waterways. Here you come to San Francisco, all of their garbage went into a navigible waterway, but it happened to be across the San Francisco County line. San Francisco was disposing of their garbage in San Mateo County. So all this water here was filled with the public credit.
In 1932 the Scavengers got an initiative ordinance passed that they had the right to collect all of the garbage in the city and county of San Francisco and they had the right to enforce payment. The city enforces garbage collection. In other words you must use those two companies and you must pay them. Well that’s just like taxes. So the Sanitary Fill was the disposal end of those two garbage companies. And those two garbage companies were mostly Italian. They were Italian street vendors. You know they use to go around dragging those little carts. Then one of the ladies there filed an equal opportunities suit. She worked for the Scavengers for years and they gave her beans. She filed a federal suit against them and she prevailed. She broke the Scavengers Protective Association because they didn’t include her. So she broke it up in federal court because they screwed her.
Lu Drake—Page 4
Prior to her lawsuit, the only ones who could get jobs on the garbage trucks were Italians and they all hung together and that was kinda like a little Italian mafia that had control of all the garbage collection. They had nice retirement funds and nice pensions and they took care of one another. But she broke all that up and made em hire Mexicans and Blacks and the usual ceremony. Well that totally destroyed the Scavengers Protective Association. With a court order she destroyed the whole company. She stuck it to them and they deserved it.
Then Norcal, which is a big national company, came in and bought the Scavengers Protective Association. Norcal takes its instructions from New York or something, so the local control is gone. She really stuck it to em. Cause all their pensions are gone, all their protection of each other is gone and the whole thing went national. And now Norcal writes all the solid waste legislation and they do what they need to, to keep control of the city and county of San Francisco. Norcal has control of the solid wastes, the garbage and the refuse. And they have control of the toxics. The toxics are where the big bucks are. It’s all coming to Brisbane for processing along Tunnel Road. Now if you don’t think there’s gonna be barrels of stuff left in the railroad yard there, let me clue ya. There’s gonna be barrels of toxics and then they’re gonna put in highrises. It’ll happen probably in your lifetime (within 40 years).
They stopped the filling of the bay in 65. But the garbage dumping went on till 1970 or later, cause even though they had the lands diked, they weren’t filled. The major dike in the bay was of course, the freeway, and that went in in 1959. So the Sanitary Fill Company had the right to fill in all of the inside of the Bay plus there were 140 acres outside the freeway at Sierra Point where Hitachi and the Good Guys are now. That was all filled land. The bay mud in that place is 60 feet deep so anything that goes down there has to have piles that are at least 60 feet underground and highrises are the only kind of building that’s feasible out there or it’ll topple.
At Sierra Point, which is on the outside of the freeway, they had to put the dikes around the dump to stop the tidal action. There’s good fill around the edges because they needed access to go out to close those dikes and there’s good fill in the middle where they wanted a place to put utilities in. So there’s a solid portion at Sierra Point made of dirt from Candlestick Hill and all the rest is filled with garbage. All the little buildings on Brisbane harbor—the Brisbane Marina—are subject to toppling.
When we did the research on the agreement to fill the bay full of garbage for 25 years, that was recorded in San Mateo County. These are all a matter of public record. You can go down there and get a copy of that agreement. That will lead you to another agreement that Crocker had negotiated...
Lu Drake—Page 5
The Mountain and the Bay
They were gonna put a second bridge across the bay and Crocker wasn’t sure where it was gonna land and so they had reserved easements. Crocker owned the land under the bay on the outside of the freeway. Southern Pacific (SP) owned the land on the inside of the freeway. When Crocker sold the land to the Sanitary Fill Company for the garbage—to fill it full of garbage—they reserved an easement across it for a conveyor belt because they were in a deal with David Rockefeller and Ideal Cement to create this new fill south of the airport around Coyote Point. They wanted to build a big airport industrial park and they were gonna blow the top 60 acres of San Bruno Mountain off, put it across the freeway on a conveyor belt, go across the dump and barge it down to Coyote Point, south of the airport.
We found this out and we publicized it. One day I went to Sacramento with two ladies from Alameda, one was Helen Freeman, a member of the Alameda City Council, and the other was Eleanor Kaufman. And Eleanor was up there looking in the draws and she saw where Sherman Eubanks, the leader of Crocker, had gone to the State Lands Division and he wanted to get them to swap lands in the middle of the bay in exchange for the lands at the edge of the bay so that they could take the mountain down and use it as fill. So Eleanor made a xerox copy of all the memos and then she said, “Now you go up front and ask for permission to get a copy of this.” So we went up and that section was closed and they wouldn’t give us any copy. But Eleanor had a copy in her pocketbook. So I brought it home and I went to the Busy Bee Letter Shop in San Bruno and sent a copy to every city council I could think of. And they saw what was happening. They saw the deal. And the whole thing was called off when that deal was cancelled. The State Lands Commission cancelled the deal. Ideal Cement didn’t have clear rights to the land they were gonna swap. They were probably just making this up, this ownership in the bay.
I went to see Leo J. Ryan, our U.S. Congressman. He was the federal official whose district the Westbay Project was happening in. He had an office on Linden Avenue in South San Francisco and his office overlooked the mountain. I showed him the memos and he said, “This project will happen over my dead body.”
The only thing that stopped Crocker was the fact that we went to the State Lands Division and Eleanor Kaufman pulled those memos out of the draw and we published em. Otherwise nobody would have known until it was signed sealed and delivered. That’s what did it, was us.
Crocker had to the get state approval for a land swap. Crocker didn’t have any title to the lands. There were three corporations involved and they were collectively called Westbay Associates. There was the Crocker Land Company which owned San Bruno Mountain, there was Ideal Cement Company which owned or claimed the oyster beds that they wanted to fill and there was David Rockefeller, who was gonna put up the money.
Lu Drake—Page 6
So Rockerfeller was gonna put up the money, Ideal Cement was gonna put up the tide lands and Crocker Land Company was gonna put up the mountain. And the whole thing was supposed to move into the Bay. Well, Ideal Cement Company, when we published those memos in San Mateo County, the state, the swap of lands in the Bay was off. And, therefore they couldn’t get clear title to the bay in front of Coyote Point. And that killed the plan to bring the mountain down. They didn’t have clear title to the land to fill it, because those are all tidelands, Section 15, Articles 1,2 and 3, is the section of the California Constitution of 1879 which prohibits the sale of tidelands. And the tidelands still exist in front of Coyote Point because we got the swap called off.
Ideal Cement claimed they owned a little section of bay in the middle and they also had a little section along the shoreline and they wanted to swap their claim for the middle of the bay in exchange for the tidelands along the edge of the bay. And that was what was in the memos that Eleanor Kaufman pulled out of the draw and I took to the Busy Bee Letter Shop. They were doing this to put an industrial park for the three of them. They wanted a great big industrial park in front of Coyote Point, south of the airport. They were gonna enlarge the airport and they were gonna put all the development south of it. The conveyer belt for San Bruno Mountain was going go across Brisbane’s, Sierra Point garbage dump and the Bayshore Freeway. Then they were gonna put the dirt from the top of the mountain in barges and send it south in barges, south of the airport, it would have been quite a ride. They’d go back and forth, just like they came back and forth with the trucks to fill our marina. It was an enormous project.
Save The Bay takes the credit for saving the bay and who did it? We’re the ones who saved the bay, not them. It was that old mimeograph down at the Busy Bee in San Bruno that stopped the whole thing. It was the exposure. It’s always the exposure that stops it. It’s sunshine. You know what the sunshine was? You get the truth out. You put the truth out. And that’s what stops the backroom deals. The memos were there in Sacramento and Robert G. Nady was the guy who met with Crocker, put it all in a memo to the State Lands Commission and those memos which we published are what stopped that project. Eleanor Kaufman knew what she was doing when she put that thing in her pocketbook. It was the finger of fate. Eleanor Kaufman and Helen Freeman knew the history of the tidelands and they knew these deals were going on. Save The Bay was making the deals. Save The Bay was making all that, see it was all arranged from the beginning.
Lu Drake—Page 7
Lu Drake: Let me tell you about what happened on Bair Island
I know all about it. On February 1st, 1968 Governer Ronald Reagan issued Quick Claim Patterns to the Leslie Salt Company on 30,000 acres of salt ponds in the South Bay. The Quick Claims said the State has no right, title or interest to any of those lands. Those salt ponds are all below the line of high tide. They need dikes to keep the ocean out. And they are the frontage San Mateo County, the frontage of Santa Clara County and the frontage of Alameda County up to the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. Reagan issued that on a swap. He said,“We will give you Quick Claim Patterns to all 30,000 acres of salt ponds, in exchange for clear title to 1600 acres of sloughs among them.”
This was Leslie Salt coming in quieting title to the whole South Bay. They needed Leslie Salt in order to sell the lands to T. Jack Foster and get clear title. They had to get the State to sign off on it and we filed suit. Helen Freeman filed suit. Helen Freeman was a member of the Alameda City Council. We had a little lawyer and his name was James W. Funston. He was at 235 Montgomery Street on the fourth floor and we filed suit. The grounds were that the Governer had no right to give away tidelands, which is what these saltponds were in their undiked condition. And Helen owned a house in Alameda that was right on the line of high tide. She opened her garage door and could put a boat in the water simply by pushing it out her garage door. So she was what you called a riparian owner on the bay.
There were four or five people named in the suit along with Helen. James W. Funston said the State came back and said we had no right to sue. But the Federal Court judge down on 450 Golden Gate, held that Helen had the right to sue because she was a riparian owner on the bay. And so we got the right to sue. In other words we had standing to bring the action to prohibit the Governer doing this, but we would need a trial on the facts and that meant we needed money. We put up the initial money for the lawsuit ourselves but we didn’t have enough money to continue it. So Helen went to Save The Bay Association and asked for the money for a trial on the issue. And William L. Seary from Save The Bay, sent us this insulting letter saying “The Association does not pay for lawsuits it didn’t file.” We brought the action; Save The Bay didn’t, and we get this insulting letter. So we had to dismiss with prejudice. The lawsuit went and all the lands in the South Bay, including Bair Island, were sold into private ownership by Governer Reagan in 1968.
Leslie wanted to get out of the salt business. There were two factions in Leslie Salt Company. The old guard wanted to stay in the salt business and the new ones wanted to go into the land development business. And there was a fight between the two factions. Needless to say the land developers won.
Leslie owned all those hayfields and they owned all those salt ponds in Foster City. When they sold Foster City to T. Jack Foster, they had another parcel called the Redwood Shores Improvement District 1-64. That was in Redwood City. And where all those big tall glass buildings are now, that was Redwood Shores. It’s all gonna be developed. Bair Island was supposed to be saved and Leslie sold it to the Japs. They stole all the shorelines and sold them off to developers and that was the “Acts to save the South Bay.”
There was 8.5 million dollars of Federal money that was supposed to be used by the Secretary of the Interior to buy Bair Island. It was spent in Alameda for another chunk of lands that were Quick Claimed under that same deal. The Congressman in Alameda got the money used over there. Now all of the money’s gone. But the Japs are unwilling to sell Bair Island, anyway. Bair Island and all those salt ponds are all gonna be developed. They’ll do it a little piece here, a little piece there. It’s divide and conquer. All that damage was done back in 1968 and Helen Freeman tried to stop it.
Let me clue ya the battle to save Bair Island was lost when the Governer patented all those salt ponds to Leslie Salt back on February 1st, 1968. Reagan was a movie star. He did what he was told. Somebody wrote the script and Reagan goes out and reads it and ya need to get ya hankerchief out. He’d wrap himself in the flag and ya’d get a lump in ya throat. But he was selling ya down the river. It’s all those kipper movies he made. Hollywood, it’s all Hollywood. He dyes his hair and goes on camera and people just get a lump in their throat and swallow whatever he’s doin.
If you want to know more about Bair Island ask Florence LaRiviere. I know Florence. Florence is the only decent one down there. Oh, Florence is a sweetheart. I love Florence. Florence and Phil; she’s the one who puts that newsletter together. She lives on Tennessee Lane in Palo Alto. Florence is just pickin up pieces that are dropped from what we did. It’s hopeless, the Japs have the land now. They’ve got title to the land. That land never should have been quieted in Leslie.
And there’s another scandal, about using old bay dredgings to restore tidal marshes. All it is is a dump. They dump all the toxics out of the boats at night in the shipping channels. And then that’s the portion of the bay they dredge. They dredge up the toxics. Then they take this over to a little marsh and say were gonna take all of this stuff and create a marsh out of it and really what it is is toxics. It’s laced with toxics. They intend to destroy the marsh and they call this “mitigation.” This is one of the central doctrines of the BCDC, “Let us mitigate, we’ll give you this, if you give us that.” Its a swapping, everything is a swap, every good thing has an evil part attached to it, it’s a swap, it’s a sale, in other words it’s a sale.
The money that was supposed to buy Bair Island, it was 8 and a half million bucks was spent in Alameda, so there’s no appropriations to buy it. And they have to buy it cause the State signed off on ownership of the lands. Those lands were all in the bay. That’s all bay lands. So they take it, piece by piece by piece and it goes gradually. Bair Island is doomed. It’s a miracle if it makes it, a miracle. See, it’s Friends of the Sloughs. Were down to the sloughs. You know how big the sloughs are? Not very big, about as wide as LenningWay.
Paul Goerke former Mayor of Brisbane and member of the Brisbane Citizens for Civic Progress formed to fight the garbage dumping Baylands in front of Brisbane.
When Paul became the Chairman of the BCCP that was the time that we did things.
I bought property in Brisbane in 1962 and I built in 1964 and 5. And Richard Burr, bless his heart, came by to visit me. Richard was an ex-planning commissioner. He and two others had been thrown off the Planning Commission because they voted against a 20 year contract that would have a 10 year optional extension, making it a 30 year contract. That 10 year extension was at the option of the Scavengers. It was gonna be their decision whether to continue or not.
The Scavengers appealed to the Brisbane City Council right away. The council voted 4 to1 and over-rode the planning commission. They went ahead with the contract and that started the big big fight. Richard Burr was let go and I’m not sure what happened to the other two commissioners, but Richard was the Chairman. They let him go because the Planning Commission serves at the pleasure of the Council.
The only councilmember who voted in Richard Burr’s favor was Ernie Conway who lived on Kings Rd. In 1965 Ed Schwenderlauf joined Ernie Conway, both were in opposition to the dumping. So now there’s a 3 to 2 council. The city attorney was Conrad Reische and he had been brought over from Bayshore Sanitary District, that’s right next to the Scavengers, and he was our city attorney and he kept ruling in favor of the Scavengers. So it seemed as if we had a plant here to keep things correct for the Scavengers. And so he said, “This is a legal and a binding contract so forget it, don’t raise hell.” Well we did anyway and that’s when Luman and I met through the Brisbane Citizens for Civic Progress. BCCP, the worst four letter word that the Scavengers could ever think of. The BCCP was already started and I became president of the BCCP and that’s when things really started in this town. During that year we were on television seven different times because of the different issues that were coming up. The city kept fighting the citizens in putting the garbage dumping issue on the ballot. After it was on the ballot, the irony was that they then had to defend the city against the Scavengers who filed a lawsuit. And this happened all during the late 60’s. Whenever the Scavengers lost an election they would take us to court and whenever they would lose in court they would come back to the city with another election. There was this constant, constant uproar going on here.
The first election, in 1965, was to vote on keeping the garbage dump from jumping over on the other side of James Lick freeway (Highway 101). The Scavengers were building dikes in the bay and they were just about getting ready to close the dikes. I think it was the Army Core of Engineers who went after them for not getting a permit to reduce the bay size. And their excuse was that they didn’t know they had to ask for a permit. But they went ahead anyway and they were given an ok.
Paul Goercke—Page 1
The night before the first election in Brisbane the three councilman who were in favor of the garbage dumping, did something you couldn’t do in this day and age because it’s illegal to make a decision outside of the city meeting—they set out a slip of paper the night before the election that said “Don’t queer our city, vote no on this garbage thing.” and I was over at the Schwenderlauf’s that night and we got phone calls “Well that did it, I was on the fence until now, but now I’m with you guys.” And we won the election.
Now the irony was that, because of the election, the Scavengers sued the city and then the city council had to get a lawyer. They had to hire another attorney, because Conrad Reische had already told the Scavengers that everything was perfect with their contract and the city would never upset it. So Reische was now on the outside. And the city had to get special council and they brought in Caspar Weinberger.
Casper Weinberger became the defense attorney for the City of Brisbane to fight the San Francisco Scavengers who wanted to make the bay a giant garbage can. They wanted to fill the bay from Hunters Point to Sierra Point—that whole thing. The idea was to take down Candlestick Hill, the whole hill, which is still scarred, and fill the bay up all the way. And if you look at the 1965 general plan, there it is.
So anyway the net result was that we were in a horrible battle, every time the Scavengers lost an election they sued the city. And every time they lost in court, because Caspar Weinberger won that case for the city of Brisbane, they did several things, they appealed to the upper courts and they filed another election in Brisbane and they upped the ante from $20,000 to $100,000 a year.
By 1970 the Scavengers threw in the towel, they decided this wasn’t worth fighting over. So they just simply took the little knob on the end of Sierra Point that’s in the city of South San Francisco. And they made a deal with South San Francisco to fill that up completely, 29 acres, Sierra Point is about 105 acres and they had only done one lift and a half. They usually do a lift, cover with dirt, another lift cover with dirt, another lift cover with dirt, three lifts. And they only did one and a half. So it was a half finished dump.
Oh I have a really funny story about the dump. It’s these funny times that made all the environmental struggles worthwhile. There was a big big fire at the Sierra Point dump in 1969 or ‘70. I have an eight millimeter silent film that Ed Schwenderlauf made. All that methane and garbage burning. Anyway, Mrs. Burr called the Brisbane Fire Department and used a fake name. She told them there was a fire and they said they were too busy to go and put it out. And so she said, “Oh please, please save the dump, the dump is really important too me, please, please, I care about that dump.” She went on and on. And she sounded really sincere. We laughed and laughed. And I have another funny one for ya...
When we were having all these fights with the garbage company, it was getting rougher and rougher on them cause they were really put on the defensive so much of the time. One time there were two gals from Brisbane that went to Pyrolese Restaurant in North Beach to help as maids at a special party. There was Laura Johnson and I forget the name of the other one, but it was a pal, and the two of them went in as maids. And at this party, they were drinking more and more, and getting a loose with the tongue.
Paul Goercke—Page 2
Pretty soon it turned out that what they were in was a private gathering of judges, of state senators and state officials, and San Francisco officials and Scavengers. These officials got a little loaded up with liquor and they started a conversation with each other. And these gals were helping with the drinks and hearing all this stuff coming from these guys. So they came back to Brisbane after the party and Laura Johnson called up Luman to tell him all about the party and it turns out they had said things like “You know San Francisco has the best judges money can buy. Why aren’t you guys doing more for us?” That’s the Scavengers talking. “And we worked so hard, we put so much money into that place down there to keep it safe for us and to get all mixed up with that crazy village down there with all those idiots and queers.” So Laura Johnson and her friend remembered those phrases from hearing them there. Isn’t this absolutely unbelievable, bazaare? Well they thought, how can we use this against the Scavengers? So we put out a letter and we quoted them as having a meeting there at Pyrolees and getting angry and saying things they would never have said if they had known that they were going to be quoted. We said they referred to Brisbanians as those idiots and hillbillies. We used one of their words and a substitute of another word. So then the next thing came out in writing from the Scavengers and put all over town in a pamphlett or something and it said “We never never called Brisbane people hillbillies.” Which is true, you see. They called us idiots and queers. And we put out that they called us idiots and hillbillies.
The Mountain and the Bay
Tuntex owns all of Sierra Point and they own all of the fill, all the Southern Pacific lands and why this is so important, this garbage story, in connection with the mountain, is that it all ties together.
During 1965 we had a visit from Warren Cramner from City Bank, in New York, owned by the Rockefellers and he told the council that they had a little plan to give San Bruno Mountain a haircut. They called it a haircut. They were gonna take 50 feet, they said, off part of the mountain. Now before dear old Bruce Brugman became owner of the Bay Guardian, he worked for the Redwood City Tribune as a photographer. And he saw this machinery going on, on the mountain up here, so he went and took pictures of it.
Westbay Associates had dug an area the size of a football field, on the southern slopes of the mountain. And that’s when Bruce began to contact Luman and the Brisbane Citizens for Civic Progress and others. And he said, “Look you guys, this is a giant thing they’re planning up here, this is no little thing.” So it turns out they had a little plan—the largest earthmoving job since the China Wall. The Great Wall of China, you know, you can photograph it from the moon, you can see it. And this was going to be a little thing they were doing here. Gonna give the mountain a haircut. It turns out they were gonna take the mountain down and it was just gonna be a giant flat area up to the antennas—that little part up there, Radio Ridge, was gonna be left.
They weren’t going to take the Saddle down but they were going to develop the whole Saddle Area. The plan was to take down the mountain, by conveyor belt, over the freeway and over the Sierra Point dump. This is why saving the bay was important to saving the mountain, and vice-versa—it all fits together.
Paul Goercke—Page 3
The barges were gonna come in there and take away all that earth and fill up 10,000 acres of San Francisco Bay down there at Redwood City—Burlingame all the way down to Redwood City—10,000 acres of the bay. And just think what this project’s effect would have on the weather. The whole ecosystem of the Bay Area would be totally different. And what was left of the mountain they were gonna put 100,000 people on that. There would have been nothing left. And all the fog from Daly City would roll right on over.
Luman began writing letters like mad and he would send copies to everybody, to the governor, to the mayor of New York and I mean he just flooded the area with his letters of complaint. And this had a lot to do with stopping the garbage. And saving the mountain had a lot to do with saving the bay. In 1967 we got very involved with Save The Bay, as Brisbane citizens. So it was a combination of things, and forces, that ended up with saving the bay first of all.
Now this is interesting. Ronald Reagan was governor at the time and he had hired Caspar Weinberger as his press agent in Sacramento. Lucy Conway and I went up there with 27,000 signatures to save San Francisco Bay, gathered by Save The Bay. So Lucy and I had 27,000 signatures, which is a pile of paper, to present to Governer Reagan. And we went to his office and they wouldn’t let us see him. They said, “No, you can leave them here but you can’t see him.” So we said, “Well, we’ll come back this afternoon,” because that’s when Reagan was gonna be in his office and we wanted to present the signatures to him personally. And they said we probably wouldn’t be able to do that, but we could come back anyway. So we left and we were walking down the hallway and all of a sudden I saw a whole bunch of people coming up the way led by Caspar Weinberger. Now Caspar Weinberger knew us cold by now, cause he was our defense attorney. So Caspar saw Lucy and me and he said “Hi Paul” and the governor was right behind him, and he said “It’s nice to see you here.” So Lucy takes the 27,000 signatures and says “Here Governor Reagan.” So we waylayed Reagan and handed him the signatures for the Save The Bay.
That’s all involved with the mountain because by saving the bay we’re also stopping the mountain’s destruction because that was gonna be the bayfill. You see how it all ties together? So it was a combination of things. And then about 1968, Dianne Feinstein was President of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco and Jean Fassler was President of the Board of Supervisors in San Mateo County. We got the two of them to get together for a lunch down at Coyote Point. We had a big luncheon at the Polynesian Restaurant with the two of them. And the idea was to discuss, how does all of this effect San Francisco? And the beautiful thing that happened was that Burlingame and Brisbane joined forces and started holding city hearings about this bayfill and Burlingame said NO. They were the first city to join Brisbane in saying, “NO mountain cutting. NO filling in front of our city.”
Burlingame had just had that bayfill and development along the freeway. You know all those big hotels from Burlingame down to Coyote Point, that stretch of 101, and they didn’t like it. It made them mad and they didn’t want more development on the other side of all that. Burlingame had OK’d it originally but when they saw it they didn’t like it. They said, “This isn’t right and we don’t want more fill on the other side of that.”
Paul Goercke—Page 4
When Burlingame joined Brisbane in opposing the bayfill, the first thing you know, San Mateo began to say “Not so good, not so good.” And when we got San Francisco and San Mateo County politicians together, then San Francisco agreed. This was at the point where they were talking about the big development up on the Saddle. Crocker was gonna build those high rises and all those new residents were gonna pour down into San Francisco. The San Francisco Supervisors voted 11 to 0 that they did not want that Saddle developed. All those people would be messing up the whole Mission and Geneva Area. There would be overcrowding. San Francisco would have to provide services for all these people jamming their streets and they just didn’t want it. These events were surprizes.
In those years we were lucky, the environmental movement was just blossoming, it was in its adolescence. Oh my goodness, the word ecology wasn’t invented yet, when we were in all these fights. So the movement built up and built up and in the county here, of course, we had two supervisors who were very much with us in wanting to stop the bayfill. The third one was Baccioccio and he was on the fence. Well we had this business about the mountain and something about changing it into a park. It was a proposition and the county held hearings about whether to hold this election or not. It was a county election, because we had all these parks down in the southern part but no big parks in the north county. So that went through and Baccioccio took a stand with us and for this he received a great deal of persecution particularly from the developers. They took cement trucks and ran ‘em around city hall while they were holding the hearings. They had a demonstration going on out there all during this meeting, showing that the unions and particularly builders unions were death against this idea of saving the mountain, of saving San Bruno Mountain. I mean 100,000 people, that’s a lot of housing, that’s a lot of bucks, that’s a lot of earth moving, that’s a lot of cement.
Paul Goercke—Page 5
Bette Higgins the Great Leader of the
Original Committee To Save San Bruno Mountain
Who’s Bette Higgins?
Jim Keegan, South San Francisco Citizens for our Mountain
If you’re gonna talk about who first got the it started. Bette Higgins was the one who first got it started. Because she put a sign on her lawn “Save Our Mountain.” And then, just out of curiosity I asked, “What do you mean?—Save Our Mountain” and she was out in front of her house and she said, “Well haven’t you heard? and I said “Well no.” She said “We oughta have a meeting.” And I met David at the meeting.
Bette and David were both diamonds in the rough that had different talents. Bette had this facility for getting in close to the politicians and the people from the other side. She was very good at the public meetings and Daly City used to have a lot of those public meetings. Bette could get in there on a one to one basis with any of the politicians or Visitacion Associates people and she was on a first name basis. David was good at writing.
Bette would have been great as an elected official. But people like that don’t get elected. Nobody recognizes their talent—that’s the problem. They listened to her but you’ve only got a small minority who even know who Bette Higgins is. And unless your on the inside of this movement and see how she operates and the talent she has...you know you can’t advertise talents like that. People run for office and they put out brochures and they have people write endorsements and people send “Dear Friend” cards and all that. All you have to do is look around and see the type of people who get elected to office. They don’t get elected because they’re gonna do a good job.
And Bette would have been great as a front person for any kind of business. She had that facility for ingratiating herself with these people, meeting the developers and getting accepted by them. And all at the same time she was trying to cut their legs off. She was their adversary and she was advocating a different position. But she always had the respect of these people. They called us all kind of names. But she was a real diplomat. You could have sent her to talk to Sadam Hussein or anybody.
Paul Goerke, Brisbane Citizens for Civic Progress
Bette Higgins lived on the other side of the mountain across the street from Paradise Valley. She started a group over there, which eventually became the Committee To Save San Bruno Mountain. And so they joined hands with us, with David and Luman and all of us who were interested in this. So we joined forces and we began to agitate. Not only did we hold meetings and have goats there at the rallys, but we did a lot of work behind the scenes. Bette did a lot of work. She got in with some of the county supervisors, with Jean Fassler and began to work with the supervisors that you could talk to. So there was a lot of work going on there. She would be going in to have personal meetings with the supervisors. And Bette had a natural knack for that. She was really good at it. David was kinda left out of politics. David operated on his own vision and I think they figured that they didn’t want to disturb him from doing what he was doing by getting him mixed up with politics. You can’t have everybody doing politics, you got to have people in all areas.
Who’s Bette Higgins?—1
David Schooley, OriginalCommittee to Save
San Bruno Mountain
One day I went over the mountain from Brisbane to South San Francisco to get some groceries from a Mexican store down there. And when I got down into South City and I was walkin along on Hillside Boulevard to go to the store and there on somebody’s front yard in South San Francisco was a big sign, “Let’s Save This Mountain.” And I knew immediately this was it, so I ran to the door and it was Bette Higgins.
And Bette Higgins opened the door and invited me in. She told me the story about the plans for developing the mountain. She told me about the political people involved, the owners: Crocker, Visitation Associates and how Sherman Eubanks has been involved with the owners of San Bruno Mountain, the Crocker Family. Sherman grew up in the Hearst Castle and he had all these contacts with people and setups in San Francisco and all this stuff goin on. And so he was the one in the 1950’s or 60’s that said “What are we gonna do with the mountain?” Because you know, up to that point they had been dumping all of San Francisco’s garbage into the bay, just at the base of San Bruno Mountain. Once they stopped the dumping, in the early 70’s, the stench stopped going over the mountain and stopped going over Brisbane. And that’s when the idea is for growth, came forward. When the garbage dumping stopped, the development proposals began.
So I was renting this little place in Brisbane when I met Bette Higgins and she was startin to work real hard about the possibilities of saving the mountain. And the big development pushes were coming in Daly City and South City, not so much Brisbane because who cares about Brisbane, it’s too small. There were meetings and activities about the new highrise power trip that Visitacion Associates wanted to build on San Bruno Mountain.
I’d known Bette for a couple of weeks when she was planning to have a big important meeting and she had me help. You know we were putting chairs all around. And Jim Keegan went to that too. And what I remember was her husband’s jug of wine. Bette was afraid her husband would get drunk so she would leave a big jug sitting right in front of their bedroom to make him think not to use it.
There was gonna be a park on the mountain but it was a puny little park. They were giving us only the real sharp steep ridges that go down toward South City and above Brisbane. The developers had no intention of giving us the Saddle or Buckeye and Owl or any of those areas. Those were gonna be built on and so we saw the maps, we saw the whole situation and I got so horrified about what they were gonna do.
Bette Higgins was the one who was fightin. The people in Brisbane didn’t seem to be doing that much, so I actually moved from Brisbane to South San Francisco. I moved in a block or so away from Bette Higgins, in the back room of a little house down there on Hillside. And I started gettin real involved in all the efforts and meetings they were having. The place I was renting became the office where we went to discuss the moves we were gonna make to fight the developers.
Who’s Bette Higgins?—2
We started goin down to Redwood City, to all the meetings, to South City and Daly City. Meeting after meeting. I met Mimi Whitney in Brisbane before I left, so she and Bette and I were the people who started makin things happen. We started printing up things and going door to door. I don’t know how many times we went door to door in South City and Brisbane, every door, a million million times and we’d have meetings and people would come together. We’d go for walks up on the mountain, hundreds of people up on the mountain, hikes on the mountain and all that stuff. I was always sending out press releases. So when we had those marches over the mountain, which were overwhelming—they knew. The word was known, to the press and politicians.
We’d go down to Redwood City and Bette’s great vision, she’d take a cake, make a beautiful, big huge cake with a mountain on it, with little candles on it at the most important places and take it to the supervisors and say “We the local low people for San Bruno Mountain have this statement for our future park...” In those days I did all the writing and Bette did the speaking. We would bring the cake to the supervisors and leave it on the secretary’s desk, you know the desk between the supervisors and the people and Bette would be at the microphone speaking and we would be carving up the cake, symbolic of their plans to carve up the mountain. We’d pass them all a piece of cake. They didn’t know what to do with us.
It was efforts like that that were so important. We were comin from the heart. We were grass roots people and that’s for sure and comin out of our hearts and our love and keep it goin and spread the word. Bette Higgins was a really eloquent speaker. And she could stand out and make all the political people feel phoney—cause she was straight forward.
Finally the County of San Mateo actually came for a meeting in South San Francisco. The Park and Rec Commissioners asked what do the people really feel about San Bruno Mountain. So they were sayin this little steep area was gonna be part of the park, that it was the big sacrifice. It had no connections with the canyons that came down to their backyards. We said no no this is not it at all and that’s when we had this big gathering of people and they had a goat and the goat came.
Bette eventually began to think about working on running for South San Francisco city council but that was probably not so likely for various reasons. She was closer to the people, than the political powers that callously vote things down. But Bette probably would have been really good at politics.
The Queen of the Environmental Movement on
San Bruno Mountain
I was never a Sierra Club Member. You know I like green, I like trees, I like flowers, but to be serious, I didnt know that much about the environment. We lived in South San Francisco for about 22 years. And the mountain, to me, very honestly, was where our kids went up and played and ran, and our dog ran.
The mountain; you knew it was there. You may never go to it but you knew you could if you wanted to get away. And there were people who did want to get away. My husband grew up in San Francisco and in those days kids that lived in San Francisco, they may never go to the mountain, but they knew they could go to that mountain. It was a fantasy to them. If Im gonna run away from home I’ll go to that mountain. Its the visual; we knew it was a place.
There wasn’t that much in the way of parks in northern San Mateo County. San Mateo, obviously put their money in the southern end of the county. That’s where all the county parks are. Theres very little up in the northern end of the county for a number of reasons. The number one reason was because the mountain was there. And because the mountain was there nobody was putting heavy demands on the county to do anything.
South San Francisco, like Daly City and Brisbane is a no-mans land, Its all negatives. It’s not San Francisco; its not the Peninsula and most of the people who lived in the north end of the county related more to San Francisco. They could tell you who the mayor of San Francisco was and who the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors were much more readily than they knew the people down in Redwood City. We were all working class. People on the north end of the county got up in the morning and went to work and had their kids, took care of their yard, and didn’t know about the county. They may know something about it but not much. But they knew about San Francisco because thats where they went. San Mateo County tended to center in on the demands of Millbrae, Burlingame, Woodside. These people had a higher level of education and were more demanding.
People get involved because they have an interest. I was a rabble rouser within the South San Francisco school district because I had some interest there with my six children. And through there I worked with some people for the City Council of South San Francisco.
I knew enough to be dangerous, but I knew very little about our county government. The city politics I knew and school politics I knew, so I had some credibility in South San Francisco.
So anyway, how I got into it, I had some credibility through school. Id served on an advisory board at school. I knew enough to be dangerous. Bade Freedenberg was involved and he was over there in Brisbane. He was a liar. And that was my exposure.
I didn’t know anything about the county. I didn’t know what LAFCO meant.
I didn’t know nothin. It was around 1972.
I use to moniter the City Council of South San Francisco, just to keep an eye on them because that was part of this group that I belonged to. I hadn’t met Jim Keegan yet, but he was onto it around the same time I was. One night I was up at the city council meeting. And didn’t know a thing about the mountain; didn’t know who owned it, didnt know where it was; it was just there.
It was just not to be touched.
And this dark haired gentlemen from Foremost McKesson, Frank Calton showed up with a presentation of what they were gonna do on San Bruno Mountain.
I just went ballastic. Youve gotta be kidding.
Our city council was just sitting there and they were playing the game that one of the cities was gonna have to take over the mountain. South San Francisco, well they didn’t like Daly City and they didn’t like Brisbane, so they felt well maybe they should get interested in it. And we just sat there with our mouths open and I said,
You are out of your minds. This is not gonna be.
And I had no background on the mountain, no nothin.
But I knew it wasn’t gonna happen.
I mean who was gonna pay for the school and all that sort of thing. At that time, to build a new school the whole town had to be involved. So anyway, I was sitting there that night and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Foremost Mckesson, Visitacion Associates were controlling all the others involved.
And actually, when they bought San Bruno Mountain, it was a White Elephant. When Foremost McKesson bought primo land up in Vacaville or Vallejo, something like that, San Bruno Mountain came with the package. And they didn’t know what they were gonna do with it either. It wasn’t the primo part of the package that they bought. It’s too steep, the weather wasn’t good, but they had to do something with it. And can you imagine what it would take to put all the utilities in—all the water and everything up on that mountain? It wasn’t like it was a nice flat mesa up there. It wasn’t a pristine area around the mountain. It was garbage dumps and industrial parks and everything like that. Low income people, Daly City, it was the dregs.
The mountain was an impossible piece of property to build. But Foremost McKesson was smart enough to know it was a White Elephant so they went after that New Town Money. At that time the federal government was helping the economy by creating new jobs building completely new towns. Reston Virginia and two or three other towns back east were created using New Town Money. So there was this New Town Money that was available. But in order to get New Town Money you had to have the community involved, otherwise Visitacion Associates wouldn’t have even started their dog and pony show. To qualify, there has to be some low income housing. It was a total concept that the federal government was coming up with—where they would have transportation, they would have schools, they would have low income, medium income, high income and they would have businesses and the whole thing. It was literally to build a new town. That was what Foremost McKesson was going after; New Town Federal Funding. And they didn’t want to be involved with the community. They were only going public because they had to.
The money it would have cost to build on the mountain; it would have been phenomenal. To get the funding you had to have a sizable amount of land. And what the feds would do was put in the network; the roads, the sewer system, the water, electrical and everything up on the mountain. Then they’d parcel it out and say, “Ok this is the low income housing and this is gonna be Happy Haven Housing, and over on this section was going to be middle income housing and that would be Happy Hill Estates and over there would be where the businesses would go, and this would be where the schools would go and this part would be a park.” This was gonna be a town with over 70,000 people.
A big part of the push for this was Frank Pachelli; and Daly City was in it up to their ears. That’s why they built Guadelupe Parkway. And I’m sure San Mateo County was in it up to their ears. Brisbane was kind of there and startin to open out. And South San Francisco didn’t want Daly City to take the mountain over and they didn’t want Brisbane to take it over so they would have to get involved. The idea was that if this project was gonna be done, well atleast we’d do it better than they’d do it. Brisbane wasn’t capable of doing it because it was too small. Daly City, God only knows, that’s the armpit of San Mateo County, you know what they do. So why not have South San Francisco take the mountain because we’d do a good job. I don’t know how they thought that? We hadn’t done anything good up to that time.
You see Foremost McKesson would get this all laid out and then they wouldn’t develop it, they would sell it all to different developers. They would lay it out politically and get the New Town Money. It was a mammoth project and they dumped a lot of money into it. But they were told this was a White Elephant. They didn’t know what in the heck they were gonna do with it.
So I went home from the meeting that night and I couldn’t believe what I had heard. These idiots were gonna to try and get involved in something that was bigger than South San Francisco was at the time. They couldn’t run their own town, let alone take on a mountain.
I didn’t know anybody else that was involved in this, didn’t know a soul. And I sat down and wrote a letter to the editor at the Advanced Star, which was down in Burlingame. It doesn’t exist any more. The letter was explaining to people what going on and if there was anybody out there was interested in the impact that this was going to have, please contact me, and I put my address. Then we took a 4 by 6 piece of plywood and we put a big sign in the front yard, and we were right on Hillside Boulevard,
“Save Our Mountain”
and the phone number and all hell broke loose. The local paper came down and did an interview and somebody else did an interview and somebody else took a picture; I think it might of been Bruce Brugman. I had a friend in the planning commission and he was the head planner and he said the word was out they were going to cite me for having the sign. It was like a political sign, an oversized political sign. They were trying to do anything to get that dam sign down. They didn’t want that sign up. But they decided that because I’m too mouthy and because I had some credibility, that sometimes it’s better not to touch a hot potato.
Well I still didn’t know anything but I met David one day when he came to my door. He said there was some people in Brisbane. And that was when I called up and met Mimi Whitney, Helen Sullivan, and a couple of other people. Then they all came over to the house and we started talking and there was some people in South San Francisco. That was what started the whole thing. And it became a matter of doing a crash course in knowing just what was going on, what to do and how to do it. Meanwhile letters were coming in, from the letters to the editor at the Advanced Star. There was a lady who was very active over in San Bruno, Sylvia Gregory, and she was with the Sierra Club. I think the Sierra Club sent Sylvia to check us out because we were raising a lot of hell. All those Sierra Club type people down in the southern part of the county were thinking, “What in the hell is going on?”
I’ve always said fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
I spent 7 years on that mountain from the time that we started.
I don’t know if I’d have done it if I had known what I was getting into. It just kept going. And it was sheer innocence. In fact Mimi and I called the President of Foremost McKesson. At that time they didn’t know who we were and what we were, but we were to be dealt with, and why not diffuse us. Kill’em with kindness and just see what we were. The President of Foremost McKesson was down on Market Street and Mimi and I went to his office. He gave us an appointment. And we went up and he said “What can I do for you ladies?” And I said “You can give us San Bruno Mountain.”
And if I’d known what I was doing I probably wouldn’t have done it.
And he said well, he really couldn’t do that. And I was being facetious. And I said “There’s just no way it’s going to happen. Let’s all save ourselves a lot of time and trouble. Because we cannot tolerate that. We are in the north end of the county and we have no open space;” other than, one of the comments Sherman Eubanks made, we have the cemetaries and the bay. Our comment was “Dammit San Mateo County, you’ve got all the parks down at south end. We have nothing, once this goes.” And Sherman Eubanks said “You’ve got plenty of open space at the cemetaries.”
We were mouthy enough and we were good press. We were exciting interesting refreshing good press. And we were credible enough to make comments like “Number one, we don’t want to go over in the cemetaries and have picnics with our children, and until we learn to walk on water...the bay is fine, but that ain’t a park. And WE deserve a park in the north end of the county. We pay taxes, where’s our park?”
So we went on with these different problems. Where’s our open space? The mountain is the last of the open space. And we just kept doing things. Then the Sierra Club joined in, and the Committee for Green Foothills joined in and then they got the Unions in. The Sierra Club was taking the whole thing to a different level, which was good. They were letting us do the trenchwork. The Sierra Club and those other groups are fine, because they’re more technical. But they don’t get down in the ditches. They can’t, I guess.
And so the first thing we had to do was educate ourselves and educate the people. Because people do not get involved until they feel they’re being hurt. Most people in the northern county did not even know about the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. And it’s probably still that way. And so, they don’t even know what they can do.
We were grassroots and we started to have lots of walks and we were bringing cars up on the mountain, up to their mountain. Other than the roads there was no trespassing onto San Bruno Mountain. But we were not afraid because we were not conventional. We were respectable people, but we were not conventional. We were getting hundreds of people to go on walks. And so the developers were reacting to us. We had marches on the mountain and they could have kicked us out very easily because we were up there on their property.
David was always busy writing press releases and we always had the press. One time Frank Calton invited everybody who was on the walk to see the plans for the mountain. We thought it was excellent and we said everyone should get down there because the more people saw what they were planning do to the mountain, the more they went ballastic. But we kept our credibility. We kept people in line. And we tried to work the system, to a point. We made appointments. We went down and talked to people in the county and then we learned about LAFCO. And we said “Tell us about this, teach us. What do we have to do?” And they knew we were ok people. And in a way they helped us. We forced them to bring this out into the community, because we would go to a school PTA or something like that, and have a speaker. We would invite us and invite Visitacion Associates. Well that’s the last thing the developers wanted to do was let people see what in the heck was going on. We kept getting speaking engagements of telling people what was gonna happen on the mountain. We’d ask to speak at various public events and then we’d ask them to ask Frank Calton from Foremost McKesson.
We had a lot of audacity but we didn’t think of it that way. I just thought “We can’t let this happen to the mountain.” And we got people aware. We had meetings and the developers didn’t want people to know. They wanted to go to city officials and just work with them. But we forced them out. We made them come out.
I spoke at the Catholic Church in Sunshine Gardens and I’d never done anything like this before. They had a men’s meeting and every group needs to have speakers. We would ask “Would you be interested in hearing about the plans on San Bruno Mountain and how it’s going to impact you. And we would say to them, “In fairness, we think not only should you have us, but we know Foremost McKesson and here’s the phone number and here’s who to contact. And they’d be delighted to come and share their plans.” Of course, it was the last thing they wanted to do.
So I was at this men’s meeting and Frank Calton was there and he was very nice. He was a nice guy I liked Frank. And he’d make his pitch and we’d make our pitch and I’d sit back. And you know all we were trying to do was get it out. Because anyone who saw the development plans for the mountain...well the comment was “Well maybe this little lady has something there.”
I’d come out and say, “This is how this is gonna impact the roads...This is how it’s gonna impact your living...This is how it’s gonna impact your taxes...” And then when I was all through, they’d say “Well maybe this little lady has something there. We better look in to this a little bit more.”
And I’ll never forget that night. I never laughed so much. When we got all through with our speeches, the Chairman of the Catholic Men’s Club, he saddled up to me and Frank and handed us a brown bag and it was a fifth of booze. “Here’s a little appreciation gift.” And that’s what we were worth to them. But see, the more we could get this out the better.
There were other things going on. We were getting the schoolkids involved. In the seven years of fighting to save the mountain, I don’t know how many college thesis were done. I mean, I talked to millions of college students. Anything to get this out. And the kids were writing papers. Many term papers, elementary, junior highschool, senior highschool, colleges, everything. Because the more they had to come out the more appalled people were. And we wouldn’t say “Invite just us.” We forced Foremost McKesson to come out, we had to.
We were running on the seat of our pants. We didn’t know what we were doing, but using our intuition, you know, we thought we would go up to the Homeowners Associations, like Westborough Homeowners Association. Well Brisbane had people, Brisbane was pretty sharp. Daly City, we didn’t have much to do with them. They were hopeless, but that was ok. We forced them out. Then on other levels, through the Sierra Club and some of these people, that had higher connections in other areas, we eventually got San Francisco involved. All those new residents, moving into the new development, were gonna be crowding San Francisco’s roads and their trains and stuff.
And I don’t know to this day what group I spoke to, but it was down in the financial district, and I was there at a luncheon. I think Ellie Larsen dragged me to that one. I’ll never forget, I was never so scared in my life because these were high mucky-mucks that I was talking to. Still don’t know who in the hell they were. There was some poor guy and I was just standing there giving my speech and I’m not professional—I’m just off the cuff. “What it’s gonna do to us and what it’s gonna do to you.”
And eventually we learned more and more. Meanwhile, the secret was to get people informed and keep them informed but not to call them out too often. You know people are busy. But when you did need them they’d come. And our first step was to work on the county and county parks.
Part of that Saddle Area was gonna be in the Daly City school district which was different in the city and county lines. So the developers were manipulating with the School Board. And we had people at the Daly City School Board following them around. And we kept going to the press and doing a lot of things. They were doing a tour on the mountain. Daly City had areas that were slated for a school, sometime, millions of years later, if the mountain ever got developed. But Visitacion didn’t want them to have that land so they were talking about doing a Polynesian-style school on the mountain. Kind of a Polynesian, beautiful school, with the bridges. And I’ll never forget this guy says “That’s all we need is a POLYneeeesiiiaaaan.”
There was a few of us and we kept track of them constantly. We were bird-dogging them constantly. And the word got out through somebody that we had a couple of friends on the Planning Commission. Then we got a call. There was a meeting in San Francisco at the Western Hotel on Market Street in the Foremost-McKesson Building, with the School Board. It was Dave from San Bruno, and Mimi Whitney and I got dressed real fast and went. Any school meeting was a public meeting. We walked into this restaurant, and here sits the School Board and they were serving them cocktails, hors douvres, and we walked in and said “Excuse me, is this the Daly City School Board meeting?” There was some people from the county there too, and all the School Boards, because they were going to make a presentation. The guy from LAFCO was there. And they were going hysterical, “Oh God, here they are again.” And we said “Excuse us is this the Daly City School Board Meeting?” They said, “Would you like a drink?” Hmmm. “Yes, that would be nice.” And then they invited us for dinner and we sat and listened to them. That’s the last thing they wanted to do was have us in there. We would ask a lot of questions. And they couldn’t make decisions knowing that we knew that they knew... And we’d be doing all these press releases.
And then there was this meeting at the Villa in San Mateo with all of the city council members from San Mateo County. Sherman Eubanks was there and all the developers were there. The city council had a monthly dinner meeting and they probably still have them every month. Well we found out they were having a presentation at that dinner meeting from Foremost McKesson. And of course, the city officials, their dinners were payed for by the city because they sit on that committee. Five or six of us walked into that meeting. We each had bagged lunches and we went in and said “Excuse me, is this such and such a meeting?” And finally they said yes and it’s a public meeting. So we sat down and somebody said “Are you having dinner?” And we said “No we can’t afford this. We got our own.” And we sat down with our bag lunches and amused ourselves. Meanwhile all these bigshots are sitting there. I mean we hassled them because they knew. They didn’t know what we knew, but they knew. We were like the bad penny that was always showing up. And we asked to do a presentation too. This was a public meeting. It just happened to be a dinner meeting. And so we would do things like that. Now the Sierra Club couldn’t do things like that. They should sometimes. But they couldn’t. This was the kind of energy it took. And we didn’t get everybody and their dog involved because people would wear out. You only ask people to do things they can do. You only get them involved to as much as they can handle.
The County was going to do a park on the mountain, but it was nothing. We worked very hard to show them it was nothing. It was just the steep areas. And we brought this cake shaped like a mountain, that Mimi made and it had monopoly houses, hotels and trees all over. And we said, “Who wants dessert? Who’s gonna be the first one to cut up this mountain?” After we did our speeches we said, “We brought dessert but we decided not to let anyone cut up this mountain.” And we took the cake home and put it in the refrigerator to use at the LAFCO Meeting.
There was the time we brought a goat to a meeting. The South San Francisco Planning Commission had left it to our discretion to set up a public meeting. And we got over 400 people into the hall that night. That was the night we did the Farcical Park Show. We entertained them with all kinds of different stuff. And somebody brought a goat in and it walked halfway down the aisle in the middle of the hall and did a poop. The janitor was not too thrilled. He cleaned it up right away, but we got a good laugh out of it.
We handed out programs at the door and all the people on our side got an arm band to show their interest in saving the mountain. On the literature we handed out we told our people to be peaceful and not to demonstrate. We handed everybody candles and at the end of the performance we said to the Planning Commission, who had been laughing at our skits, enjoying themselves, “We’ve done everything to make you see that we don’t want San Bruno Mountain destroyed.” and “We give up, we are taking this to the county.”
In other words, we give up and now were going over your heads. Then the school kids marched out of the room and then all 400 of us got up and marched out of the room.
And then San Mateo County had a Measure A on the ballot, to raise funds to the park. And they had finally put San Bruno Mountain on the list that this is where San Mateo County would spend some of their money, that they would get from the state. Measure A was a bond issue for all of California. And somebody from the state came to my house and took a helicopter ride over the mountain, and that was when we started getting San Francisco involved. We campaigned to get Measure A passed too. We took sacks of lime and went up on the mountain where it’s visible from the freeway and we made a huge sign, “Yes on Measure A.” For three or four years afterwards, when it rained you could still see it. And we put all those wooden cows all around, so people driving 101 couldn’t help but notice.
Moscone was alive at that time. And we went to see him and show him how all the people in San Francisco were gonna be effected. And we said “You gotta get involved because this is gonna impact you as much as it does us. People living up on that mountain are gonna be working in San Francisco and living in San Mateo County. They’ll be using all of San Francisco’s roads and everything, but not paying taxes. I mean, that was important.
I remember one time David and I were invited to UC Berkeley by the Department of Social Sciences or something like that. We were to give a speech on community activism. We had gotten a reputation by that time that we were legitimate. I mean we didn’t go stoning anybody or doing anything bad. We cared, and the people trusted us when we said “If you want to keep up with what’s going on in your community, get your rear to a city council meeting.” And we only called the people out when we needed them. And we had them speak too. We didn’t shut other people out. And everybody was supportive of us.
We got a lawyer too, Tom Adams. And he did some good things for us. His best thing was his effort for the Citizens Environmental Impact Report—an actual Citizens EIR. So we were doing these logical things too. Meanwhile we were keeping a very high profile and we forced Foremost McKesson to keep a high profile too. And we were teaching the people what was going to happen. There were many people who helped us along the way, they volunteered. When the developers did their EIR they had a list a foot thick and when we did our Citizen’s EIR, we had a list three feet thick.
These were all volunteer people and I mean there was some heavy weight people. We had Elizabeth McClintock from the California Academy of Science. Where these people came from I don’t know. There were people from San Francisco, from Universities at Berkeley, and Stanford. The word was filtering out everywhere because of the press. We kept the mountain in the press. And we educated the people. And we weren’t lieing or anything like that. It was grassroots. And we learned. And we learned. And we learned.
The seven years I spent fighting to save the mountain was like a college education I could have never gotten anywhere else. We learned what LAFCO is and what they could do. I can look in the paper today and know exactly what’s going on. You just learn. And then we got involved in politics. There was a change in the Board of Supervisors and we got two new people on the Board. And we got the 3 to 2 vote in favor of designating the mountain a park. And it was the guy from the Peninsula and we supported his park. He was a mover and shaker for the Committee for Green Foothills down there, near Stanford.
And all the time we didn’t have a park on San Bruno Mountain in the north county, they were planning for another park in the south county, down in Portola. They had to hold a meeting in the north county about this park. So there was a meeting in San Bruno and there was this girl from Woodside who got up to do a speech about mucking her horses. So we from San Bruno Mountain had become kind of a force and we went to the meeting and we supported their park. And we said “Oh we don’t have horses to muck.” In other words, were poor folks up here, but... “We can understand your feelings for a park.” “And we from San Bruno Mountain would not stand in the way of any community, and hopefully, when our time comes and we need help, you will be there to help us on San Bruno Mountain.”
I mean, now they owed us and one of their people became one of the new County Board of Supervisors. I can’t remember his name, but he has a beard and he was around for a while. And our efforts were purely the grassroots and we learned. We never became so sophisticated that we forgot who and what we were doing. But we were not stupid, we plugged the Sierra Club and their fight for the earth and all of those efforts. We kept our efforts all on the grassroots. Deeper than politics, this was real. We taught our people how to stop something, how this impacted their lives. We taught our people to know what the powers are and how to expose manipulation. Meanwhile we made the County Board of Supervisors very visible. We made Foremost McKesson very visible. We made our city councils very visible. And it’s kind of funny because they knew that we were going on a wing and a prayer. But we were smart. You know, not to take anything away from us. And I think the Sierra Club would be like “Oh my god, here we go again.” Here comes the truth. But the Sierra Club played a very important part. You have to remember, why should they jump in? It was our job to do that.
The Sierra Club was on the other side when they discovered all the butterflies on the mountain and created the Habitat Conservation Plan. The Sierra Club is into all that compromising. And as much as I hated to see the development on the South San Francisco side, in a sense maybe the highest and best uses for the South Slopes is for some housing, if it’s controlled.
When we were going for the park we saved the most important part of the mountain. And luckily, that one area that’s up above Sunshine Garden, got added to the park. When I driving up to San Francisco, I noticed the South Slopes. They’ve screwed up that area so badly, anyway, I mean with the bridges and everything like that.
I know the Shellmound is important. And it should be saved. But I don’t know what your battle cry is gonna be. I looked at it as I was going by. It’s a pretty area. And I thought, well what twist do you put on it, to get people to recognize it.
I think you could say “Enough is enough.” You know that would be the only thing you could go after. I mean “How much more? And what is the purpose of this?” “Why destroy something that has some value? Why?” I mean enough is enough, the greed. And I’d play on the corporate greed. The corporate greed and “When is it going to be enough?”
“You’re doing South City a nice job on the housing. What do you need this for?” You know you don’t need it. It’s just another mess.”
Another mess, that would be my angle on it. And appeal to their higher principles. I mean, they’ve screwed up the rest of the South Slopes.
And even though you have to gag...
when you say “You’re doing a good job over there.” “Leave this alone over here.” And “You are to be complimented.”
You play the game.
“Aren’t we getting into the corporate greed? The Shellmound, it’s just another piece of land, and you don’t care. You’re just gonna walk away from it and leave a mess.”
And Fish and Game is under such pressure they better come up with some dam thing. Because, I was listening to C-Span today and the environment is gonna be a big thing in this election. People are becoming more and more aware. The Yuppies are becoming more and more aware. And I’d just play it to the hilt. On South San Francisco you have an opportunity to...Like I said you may have to stand there with all your fingers crossed and say “You’ve done a good job.” You have to learn to play the game. You never back anybody into a corner because they will come after you. You kind of bring them out and give them something “Aren’t you wonderful. And now here you have an opportunity and what is the purpose of destroying the Shellmound? What purpose is that gonna serve? We all know it’s just part of the corporate greed. Another piece of land that you sell off, to put in your pockets.” And here’s a list of signatures from people who want to see the shellmound saved and blah, blah, blah. It’s another twist that you could put on it. I would really throw that to them or get somebody to appeal to their finer instincts. Otherwise, I looked at it as I was going by and it’s pretty but you got all this other crap and how can you justify it and make South San Francisco see it’s just another problem they’re going to run into. “Once it’s destroyed, you’ve destroyed something and you don’t need it. You don’t want it.” You know the problem you’ve had and this is an opportunity to get them...here’s what the Fish & Game has been saying.
Another thing I learned was about card stock and paper weight. And there was that group that came out of the wood work to do that flyer “LA is Coming.” People were always helping us because we were for real. We bought buttons and we handed out flyers and we made presentations. And there was a nucleus of people working for the mountain, about nine people.
Mimi Whitney really changed. You know, she was good when she was working with us on the mountain. I saw her a couple of times. But when we met up at Big Bend for Thanksgiving Dinner three years ago, God, she drove me up the wall. She was gettin looney tunes. She was so impressed with herself. You know, she married and then she moved down to Los Gatos. I had lunch with her one time and we went over their house for dinner one time. That was her third husband and he left her. He was a nice guy but she got so effected. She was living in Fremont and working for the City of Fremont and then she worked for the City of San Jose and I guess she’s still there. But Mimi has gotten too impressed with herself.
Bless her heart. Mimi was very good. She could make a presentation because she had some knowledge and she was wonderful at it. I mean, when she stood up in front of the Planning Commission, they got a speech. She could talk the talk and walk the walk. I think she might still be in Los Gatos. She kept her last name Whitney. You know, she made out with Frank Calton. I just about died but I thought “What the hell? If it’ll keep Frank waltzing around that’s good enough for me. It’ll save the mountain.” I just about died when I heard about it. But it kept Frank off balance, gave us more of a shot at it. I mean you do what you do, but never never never bring that out. I thought that was so funny.
So there was me, Mimi, David, Dave from San Bruno, Jim Keegan and Sylvia Gregory from the Sierra Club was kinda always there. We all had different talents and people were moving in and out. There were rush times and we courted the various city councils and things like that. And people recognized that our core group was not that big. The biggest thing that we did was to educate people. We brought them out to meetings and we never gave anybody a bigger job than they could handle. If it’s addressing envelopes, you don’t give them 500 pieces, you give them 100 and maybe they’ll do another 100. You know it’s organization skills like that. We were fortunate. We had a good project with Foremost McKesson running around—we made them come out. And all people had to do was see their plans, and we were able to bring neighborhood people out and schoolkids, but some real live people out. And from all over the county and we also had the Sierra Club and all these other organizations.
We were sincere. Everybody had their own agenda. And we stayed credible. And the only thing we said that was questionable, and maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but we made a statement, it was “San Bruno Mountain, the largest piece of undeveloped property in a high density urban area, in the United States.” Sounds good doesn’t it? We don’t know if it’s true or not. But we said it. And we kept saying it. Till the final thing when they came out with their EIR. They had that in it, “The largest urban open-space in the country.” We didn’t know if it was true or not but it sure sounded good.
They had a union meeting, on the construction, over in San Bruno. David did a lot of work to prepare for it, cause there was more of them than us. This was the biggy. They were puttin us down “You rabble rousers.” And Frank Calton was there and the whole thing was jobs for the boys, jobs for the boys. And I use to love the guy from the plumbing department, you know Hen, the plumber. And I kept saying “Yeah, but we don’t want plastic pipes do we?” and they’d say “Ya Ya Betty, we’ll support ya on that one, we don’t want no plastic piping.”
But then they use to get on “jobs for the boys” and I said “God dammit, you’d build the ovens to bake the jews if it was jobs for the boys. When does your integrity come in?” They’d say “Ohhh, what are you ashamed of?” They had that circle of trucks driving around the building. And they were putting us down. And I remember standing up and saying to them, “Alright we know who’s going to build this and we agree to jobs for the boys here, but when do you practice your craftsmanship, your trade. This is just gonna be another sleazy sell-off where you guys gonna slam cheap junky houses all over the mountain. Is this gonna be something you’re proud of?”
Are you gonna be proud to take your sons and daughters up there and say “I built that.” I said “Stand up for yourself. Jobs yes. But quality jobs.” And I went on and on, proud of yourself...something you won’t be proud of...And I got applauded. It was something.
And it’s true. Were they proud of those buildings that were falling apart up in Westborough? Is that the kind of jobs you boys do? Is this who you people are?
Those construction union workers do shoddy work. They don’t care about the corners they cut. They’re just making their bucks and where’s the craftsmanship? Where’s the quality? Things that your sons and daughters will be proud of. Where you can proudly say “I built that.” But that’s not what’s gonna be built on San Bruno Mountain. It’s true. Where is the quality building?
It was rewarding. That’s why I can live here in Felton. I think I payed my dues. I thought, “I’ve saved the best part of the mountain, now I can move.” I’m not involved in politics down here. I’ll sign a petition, give some support. But there’s a good group down here. If they need a body out to a meeting, we’ll go and be a body. But we pretty much stay out of it. I knew the Measure A vote was gonna pass. I moved here two weeks before the vote and because I didn’t live there anymore I couldn’t have said anything, anyway. I didn’t want my credibility to be challenged cause it would hurt the cause. But we already knew we had three out of the five county supervisors votes and so it was ok for me to move. The day of the vote I sat here and tried to decide whether I should come back to South San Francisco and go to the meeting. David or somebody called and said I should come to the meeting. I decided not to go since I had no right to say anything.
There were other people left. We’d done the big part. It was a wonderful time in my life but I couldn’t live there. I couldn’t stay there. It was time for me to move on. We had six children and we lived in a very small house on Hillside Boulevard. And we were of that generation that when it was time for us to move our kids didn’t want to. Because most of our kids went all through South San Francisco High School and graduated, except for Kevin. Then my husband was working in San Francisco and his business moved to San Jose, and it was time.
I needed the next year or two to work on the house and I took a kind of hiatus and my son’s health got worse. And things came as they should. I’m not very religious. The most I could say is there’s somebody, it’s Mother Nature. It’s a her...I think things happen for a reason and that was the time I should do what I did.
Now I was available. I’d been working constantly up until that time. The mountain was a consuming job. I use to be up making phone calls at six in the morning. And I’d be thinking all the time, “How do you do this? How do ya do that? What direction do we go? How do we do that?”
For seven years we were focused on saving that mountain. I mean, you have your family and everything like that. I took up bridge and every Tuesday I would play Duplicate Bridge with Dan Pass, that council member from South City, you know that hairy fella, he was somethin else. So from 1 o’clock in the afternoon until 3:30 in the afternoon, every Tuesday, I could go to this place and nobody knew who I was. I was just another bridge player.
I mean, I couldn’t talk to people. People would look at me and say “What’s happening on the mountain?” They’d never ask, “How ya been today? or Hows the garden?” I was San Bruno Mountain. People identified me as the mountain. People, if they had questions, would go to David or go to me, and that’s who we were.
We lost our identity to the mountain.
I think it was David Packard who just died. He said it very well. He said, he and his partner accomplished much. He’s done much; the Childrens Hospital. They’re great men, but he said you can do these things but you can’t stay there. You have to go on. Because there may be other things.
The seven years I spent on that mountain I got an education I couldn’t have gotten with a Doctorate Degree. I learned about paperweights and printing. I learned about honorariums at colleges, cause I spoke at colleges. I learned about public relations. And you learn about what people can’t do, can do and will do. We had to educate people. You know I didn’t know a daffodil from an iris. I know what I like. But I didn’t know about the plants.
All I knew of the mountain was the Hillside in front of my house. And that was my mountain. And the man down the street, that part of the mountain, that was his mountain.
But you have to have a variety of viewpoints and people who speak about different things. It wouldn’t have worked if everyone had gone to a city council meeting and all said the same thing. It was more entertaining and attention-getting for the city councils to hear a lot of different ideas from a lot of different people.
Mr. San Bruno Mountain
David Schooley’s Story of San Bruno Mountain
In 1968 or 69 I was living in San Francisco. It was after I’d come from the University of Seattle and I was exploring around the Haight-Ashbury. I got a job for AAA on the radio to handle all the problems on freeways down the Peninsula. I was in charge of between 12 and 17 trucks.
I was with a group called the Murky Brothers and we made a pact never to drive. We grew up in Berkeley and San Pablo during the time they were building the freeway that goes from Bay Area to Sacramento—the Carquinez Freeway. And on those hills where I grew up, there were oaks and creeks, and they got destroyed. Caltrans was destroying those beautiful hills and it killed us to watch them die. I still don’t drive.
So me and my friends started a group and became the Murky Brothers. We were murky from the modern age that is so precise, clear, TV, growing, into computers, precision. We wanted to get back down to the earth.
And here I was, in San Francisco, on the radio for all these commuters going to work in the morning and coming back in the evening. And there’d be accidents, people shot, people killed, people die’in and ya had to handle all this stuff together and boy was this really intense. I lived at a place on Ashbury Street and there was too many cars parked on Ashbury—cars everywhere.
I thought I’d find a more quiet place to spend the weekends and I started exploring and that’s when I discovered the peaceful, small town of Brisbane in those days. I just bumped into it. I saw a little hill up in that small town and what was that? And so I found a place to stay in Brisbane.
I went home the next weekend to see what the town was and I saw Buckeye Canyon and an oak forest. I bumped right into Buckeye Canyon and wildlife and a running creek and a shellmound—shells on the ground. I was studying at the university so I knew about shellmounds. And I just couldn’t believe it. Why I had been given this miracle, why had heaven come to me, for me to be in all this stuff? I started exploring more and I just happened to call SF State. Do they have this marked down? That there’s a shellmound down here? I never heard about that. They said, “We don’t know. What does this mean? We have no idea.”
Somewhere after the second month I was there, in the spring, there was an article in the Chronicle, that they were going to chop off the top of San Bruno Mountain and use it to fill the bay. And I go, “What? They’re gonna chop off the top of this mountain? This miracle I just discovered?” Then I met a couple of people in Brisbane, Mike Kaiser and Helen Sullivan and they gave me some more information about how they were gonna chop the top off the mountain and fill the bay.
Mr. San Bruno Mountain—1
And I said, “What does this mean and what can ya do?” And I heard about Luman, the king and hero of Brisbane in those days, the fighters and the politics. I didn’t meet him I heard about him. He was the king, geez, those were the powerful people. In those days I didn’t know anything, I was just comin into a small little town and there was other people, but we’ll talk about more, we’ll go on...
I was just horrified that this lovely thing I’d just dicovered was gonna die. Maybe God moved me here so he could stick me in the worst nightmare that was about to happen and why? This was so lovely and so sweet.
I discovered South City and the grasslands of San Bruno Mountain and that was really special to me. Paradise. One day I went over the mountain from Brisbane to South San Francisco to get some groceries from a Mexican store down there. And when I got down into South City, I was walkin along Hillside Boulevard and there on somebody’s front yard in South San Francisco was a big sign, “Lets save this mountain.” And I knew immediately this is it, so I ran to the door and it was Bette Higgins.
And Bette Higgins opened the door and invited me in. She told me the story about the plans for developing the mountain. She told me about the political people involved, the owners: Crocker, Visitation Associates and how Sherman Eubanks has been involved with the owners of San Bruno Mountain, the Crocker Family. Sherman grew up in the Hearst Castle and he had all these contacts with people and setups in San Francisco and all this stuff goin on. He was the developer in the 1950’s or 60’s that said, “What are we gonna do with this land?” Because up to that point they were dumping all of San Francisco’s garbage into the bay, just at the base of San Bruno Mountain.
And it was the late 60’s when some people from UC Berkeley started Save the Bay. And so San Francisco had to stop dumping garbage in the bay in front of San Bruno Mountain. So the stench stopped going over San Bruno Mountain and stopped going over Brisbane. That’s when they idea is for growth came forward. It was time to chop off the top of San Bruno Mountain and fill the garbage deeper so it would be safe to build on. And they were gonna fill the rest of the bay too. I have maps showing even the names of the streets that would go all the way out from Candlestick. There would be roads going way out into the bay and houses and the whole thing. The idea began in 1920. San Mateo County already had maps showing the plans.
San Francisco, an island, a surrounded area, a growing most beautiful place, they have to make future dreams as to where they can build. I was being introduced to all this stuff and all the people in Brisbane. I started meeting the people who worked and cared. Richard Burr said, “You oughta come down to our political meetings here in Brisbane cause we need help from people who really care.” I met him at a meeting and he’s the one who told me about the truth of Brisbane. This was the heart of people, the local folks, it’s not political power, it wasn’t growth, and it wasn’t all these political games and big companies pushing around.
Mr. San Bruno Mountain—2
The garbage issue was part of the soul of Brisbane and I got involved with the Brisbane Citizens For Civic Progress, but I was comin from a different point of view. My interest was always, the mountain. I got a feeling that Richard Burr and the others cared for the mountain but they didn’t know about it that much. They didn’t know there was shellmounds; they didn’t know indian people once lived in the canyons; they didn’t know about Owl Canyon; they didn’t know Firth Canyon. They didn’t pay enough attention to the mountain. It was springtime and I’d see all these wildflowers and I’d been at the university and studied California native life. My God it was a miracle here, it was all native.
Then I met Byron Jensen. She’s one of the originals in Brisbane; she knew the mountain and she told me even more about the histories of Brisbane and what’s goin on. And Milton, her husband, was a rather quiet fellow. He was the eye of Brisbane but most people didn’t know about that too much. He was the looker and the watcher, but he didn’t get into politics.
He built the house up there, among the oak and bay trees. He was born in the city of San Bruno, that’s where he grew up sometime in the late1800’s. The last I knew about the Jensens was that their son, Pentfield Jensen, was in Oakland. And when I first got involved with the fight to save San Bruno Mountain he was printing an environmental magazine in San Francisco. Environmental magazines were a new and great idea that was just starting in those days. So Pentfield was working in the Bay Area and he was one of the creators and the beginners.
The Jensen family was the heart of Brisbane for me. Byron Jensen would get flowers from San Bruno Mountain and put them in pots. She’d collect seeds from the mountain and plant them in her yard. She’d pick elderberries and make elderberry wine. She and the others were taking care of Costanos Canyon and now there’s now a plaque up there, in remembrance of Byron Jensen.
Costanos Canyon has shells on the ground. It’s a shellmound and the city of Brisbane wanted to put a road through there. I had to make speeches and really push to stop them. You know they also wanted to cut down all the buckeye trees in Brisbane because they’re deciduous. All the leaves fall off, so the city wanted evergreens and I had to go to all these city council meetings to explain the significance of buckeye trees. You know, that the indians ate the acorns.
Bette was beginning to make an effort to try to save the mountain. By this time the plan to chop the top off was already shot down. So now the idea was highrises and a new city. And this was after they already built Guadelupe Canyon Parkway over the mountain which was Daly City’s big effort. The Saddle was gonna be highrise city and Daly City was pushing. They had gone ahead and pushed for Guadelupe. And that freeway was gonna provide access for a new highrise city for Daly City.
Daly City, you know, they think they’re pretty small, they’re not big enough, and tight. The big city of San Francisco has highrises so Daly City was gonna have highrises and powerful as San Francisco. So that was the idea for Guadelupe, so they destroyed that beautiful canyon.
Mr. San Bruno Mountain—3
Nobody knew that much about what was goin on. Daly City was a power. The environmental movement hadn’t begun and San Bruno Mountain was still a secret. The secret was for Brisbane. Daly City didn’t care, but Brisbane did care. It was Pentfield Jensen that told me about it. He knew, he told me after they put in Guadelupe that he’d known about the highrises. But most of the people in Brisbane didn’t know the connection.
I was renting this little place in Brisbane and I met Bette Higgins and she was startin to work real hard about the possibilities to save the mountain and the big pushes were coming from Daly City and South City. But not so much from Brisbane because who cares about Brisbane, it’s too small.
There were meetings and activities about the new highrise power on San Bruno Mountain. Frank Pacelli was behind the big push for highrises. He was known as the godfather of Daly City. There was gonna be a park but it was a puny little park. They were taking only the real sharp steep ridges that go down in South City and above Brisbane. And nothing to do with the the Saddle or Buckeye and Owl or any of those areas. Those were gonna be built on and so we saw the maps, we saw the whole situation and I got so horrified about what they were gonna do.
Bette Higgins was the one who was fightin and the city of Brisbane didn’t have much to say or do. So I actually moved from Brisbane to South San Francisco a block or so away from Bette Higgins. I lived in the back room of a little house down there on Hillside and I started gettin real involved in all the efforts and meetings that they were having.
The place I was renting became the office for all the meetings to discuss what we were gonna do to fight the developers. And we started goin down to Redwood City, to all the meetings, and to South City and Daly City. Meeting after meeting. I met Mimi Whitney in Brisbane before I left, so she and Bette and I were the people who started makin things happen. We started printing up things and going door to door. I don’t know how many times we went door to door in South City and Brisbane, every door, a million million times and we’d have meetings and people would come together and go for walks up on the mountain, hundreds of people up on the mountain, hikes on the mountain and all that stuff.
And we’d go down to Redwood City and Bette’s great vision, she’d take a cake. A beautiful, big huge cake with a mountain on it, with little candles on it in all the most important places. And she’d take it to the supervisors and say, “We the local low people for San Bruno Mountain have this statement for our future park...” In those days I did all the writing and Betty did the speaking. We would bring the cake to the supervisors and leave it on the secretary’s desk, you know, the desk between the supervisors and the people. And Bette would be at the microphone speaking and we would be carving up the cake, symbolic of their plans to carve up the mountain. We’d pass them all a piece of cake. They didn’t know what to do with us.
It was efforts like that that were so important, we were comin from the heart, we were grass roots people and that’s for sure and comin out of our hearts and our love and keep it goin, spread the word, and we had those marches that went over the mountain, which were overwhelming and they knew. The word was known, to the press and politicians.
Mr. San Bruno Mountain—4
Bette Higgins was pretty good, she could stand out and make all the political people feel phoney, cause she was straight forward and finally the county of San Mateo actually came for a meeting in South San Francisco, the Park and Rec Commissioners to ask how the people really feel about San Bruno Mountain. So they were sayin this little steep area was gonna be part of the park, that it was the big sacrifice. It had no connections with the canyons that came down to their backyards. We said no no this is not it at all and that’s when we had this big gathering of people and they had a goat and the goat came.
Before I went to Tom Adams the supervisors were questioning, “Who is the power up here?” And they were so amazed because they’d never heard anybody from Daly City, South City, or Brisbane getting involved in county politics. Nobody had made any effort. The supervisors thought, “Who cares about those people over there? They’re poor people, they’re the dregs of San Francisco, they’re nothin real, we down here in Redwood City and Palo Alto are the powers.” Brisbane is negative, they’re dirty, oakey people. And to this day, they still feel that trhe northern end of San Mateo County is the dregs.
The powers down the peninsula think this area is all negatives. It’s poor people, it’s nothin, it’s trash, it’s a kickout, it’s a toilet of San Francisco, which obviously was what it was. You know the bay out there was where they dumped all of San Francisco’s garbage from the 20’s to the 60’s and the stench. The dumping began with the 1906 earthquake. They were throwin stuff off the sides of Southern Pacific trains and the idea caught on.
So finally the powers came up to Daly City. Daly City was growing. It’s their favorite thing to do. They had these sets of meetings in Daly City to see who is the power in the north peninsula. And the whole idea was sent out, “What’s gonna happen on San Bruno Mountain?” We brought all our people to those meetings. The people from the building trades were there and people from Pacifica and Daly City along the ocean. So the county was tryin to find out who was the power. And the meetings went for, I think, three evenings and every single evening it was crowded up with all these people who cared to save the mountain, but there was only a puny bunch of idiots from the building trades. There were a lot of em too, but it was so clear, the majority of the people at the meetings were from Daly City, South City and Brisbane. And that these people cared to save the mountain.
We cared about the mountain. And it wasn’t just comin from a desire for power. So therefore they had to think twice about what they were gonna do for a park on San Bruno Mountain. And that opened the door for the possibilities of saving the Saddle and that’s when the state became interested. Governer Brown came over to see San Bruno Mountain and he came to meeting in South City. And then there were a number of meetings on San Bruno Mountain with people from Gregorio. Mr. Gregorio he was a California state representative who came from San Mateo County. He came to some of the meetings and that was real important too.
Mr. San Bruno Mountain—5
And our group, our powerful group, in those days, it was really impressive, we had all these hikes and hundreds of people goin up on the mountain. It was everybody, it was a big thing, up and down the peninsula, in San Francisco, the whole thing. This was the people, it went beyond local politics and that brought up the effort to save the saddle, the saddle was gonna be highrises, and we pushed and pulled and the state moved in and that’s when the saddle was purchased by the state. The state’s measure A bond act.
Tom Adams? It was desperate, we could feel the powers in Daly City and down the Peninsula. Are they gonna listen to us? We were getting knocked around and looked down on. They thought we had no value. The powers could just push us out of the way. The city councils in South City and Brisbane didn’t care about us. Daly City obviously didn’t care. So how were we gonna make a real dent on what they’re doing? And what really hit me was, when I saw their EIR’s. Their written material, their studies, they didn’t even make sense. I could see, it was very clear that they weren’t even looking at the mountain. They didn’t know about he shellmounds, they didn’t know about the critical canyons that I knew were native areas. It was so clear that their EIR was not real. They had no understanding of the mountain whatsoever and so that’s when I started to find out if there would be a lawyer or somebody, a legal fight that could question that. And all of us were poor, I was poor, I was working, I had a couple jobs here and there, I quit AAA and I was building stuff, just doing whatever job I could. This was before my accident. And a lot of other people involved were poor folks in South City and Brisbane.
The Legal Aid Society was right there on El Cimino Real in Daly City and I thought I would ask, could something like that help a desperate group that has done all these efforts for all these meetings and all these hikes on the mountain and still were getting kicked out by all politicians. And I said, “They not listening to us. They’re just pushing us over.”
Bette Higgins was working on running for South San Francisco city council and possibilities for winning the election didn’t seem to be looking to good, for various reasons. She was closer to the people than the political powers that callously vote things down. But Bette Higgins would have made a great politician.
I talked to Tom Adams one afternoon and he asked me to send him more material. Then he sent me a letter saying the Legal Aid Society would like to help for what the future of your children and friends will be in South San Francisco and Daly City. It was a nice letter.
So we had a second meeting and he wanted full information and we gave him everything, and this is the point we came up to my question about the EIR, the written material and all that and it was visibly wrong and that was my main idea with Tom Adams—that we do an EIR ourselves, a people’s EIR that would show that that the developers EIR was not right.
We all got together at my place in South City on 15 Kearny Street. And we went step by step through their EIR and told more than they had anywhere in their material. We knew more than they knew and if they’re just gonna go ahead and build, they had better know more than we did. It was obvious they had not done a careful EIR. And the Citizens EIR went to the county and the county had to respond because it was by a lawyer and all of us. It makes a big difference with a lawyer. And that made a major change.
Mr. San Bruno Mountain—6
The Story Of The Breakup of the Committee To Save San Bruno Mountain CSSBM And the Evolution Of the Habitat Conservation Plan HCP
After my accident, around 1978, the Committee To Save San Bruno Mountain (CSSBM) was being pushed forward politically. There was a party across the street from the old City Hall in South San Francisco at the Lyons Club. I was so vague I didn’t understand what was really going on, or the problems of the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and that our group was working in that direction. Things were rising to make the CSSBM famous—as the great savers of the mountain.
Anja Miller was on the Brisbane City Council and she did a lot of work for the party. She got the dinner, food, speakers and on and on—for the great CSSBM—how large we were. We had all the city councils and mayors from the towns surrounding the mountain and we had politicians from Redwood City. The Sierra Club mushroom man was there. I can’t remember his name, but he was a Kaiser doctor for a thousand years. He wrote an article for the Sierra Club and took a photograph of all of us. Everybody was there; Fred Smith, me, and all the people who soon created the phoney CSSBM. That picture was in the Sierra Club Loma Prietan newsletter—all of us smiling. Bette and Mimi were wearing the Save San Bruno Mountain Shirt we had just printed for the first time. And there I was smiling away. It was just after my accident. I was so happy we were all doing such good things. I was shining away with peace.
It was after that party that everything started fumbling away and dieing out. We started really fighting and having all these meetings and trying to get more contact, response and battles about the HCP.
It was after I moved back to Brisbane that the discovery of the Mission blue became an issue. There was questions as to what to do about the areas of the mountain that were still owned by developers and threatened with destruction. The state bond act bought only the Saddle Area. Now the plan was that the developers were gonna start building everywhere else. One day Larry Orsak, from the Xerxes Society, contacted some woman in Brisbane who heard about me and then Larry brought me closer to the butterflies; the Elfin and the Mission blue. I’d also received a letter from Dick Arnold. And then Larry took me, for the first time, to see the Mission blue and Elfin caterpillars and plants. It was just amazing. Here I’d been around the mountain for 10 years and never looked at a sedum.
Dick Arnold had discovered the Mission blue a few years before this, and Larry became very interested. Larry worked in the university studying butterflies. He’s from L.A. and he’s done a lot of research on butterflies along the coast. Larry is the creator of the Xerxes Society which now has chapters across the United States. He heard about the Mission blue on San Bruno Mountain and how it had just been declared rare and endangered.
We started going to fairs and telling people. In those days nobody really knew about rare and endangered butterflies—you know, in the Bay Area it’s houses and cities and all that kind of stuff. Nobody was aware of the consequences of growth and power and how it detracts from people’s ability to enjoy nature.
Then we started having meetings in Brisbane more frequently because the butterflies habitat was in areas where they were planning to build. And everybody was wondering what do we do with rare and endangered butterflies on private property—on the grasslands of the Northeast Ridge (NER) and South Slopes (SS)—areas we’d all been working so hard to save.
Tom Adams was still working as our lawyer for free. He had also begun to question, “What do you do for rare and endangered on private property?” He was aware of the 1973 Endangered Species Act and Tellico Dam Snail darter and all those worries. I thought we should be testing everything. But what kept coming up was the idea of a compromise. We’d worked so hard and saved the Saddle Area. Now the NER and SS were private property with rare and endangered and what do we do about this?
So our meetings involved Tom Adams, Fred Smith, Sylvia Gregory and Jim Keegan came sometimes, but not always. The idea of compromising was worrying Larry Orsak, me and a few others. How do you compromise rare and endangered? I was learning more from Larry Orsak about the butterflies and rare plants which I hadn’t been previously aware of. He showed me the first list of rare and endangered plants cataloged the California Native Plant Society (CNPS).
The whole feeling kept leaning toward compromise. For Larry and I it seemed quite wrong. It means allowing to kill. Allowing to destroy rare and endangered habitat because it’s private. The stronger feeling for me was that we should make a greater effort to have those areas purchased by cities, states, counties, governments and the Trust for Public Land. But by now there was contact with the lawyer from the enemy side, Lindell Marsh, and the politicians. Tom Adams was going to Washington DC. So the formation of this so-called the Habitat Conservation Plan began quietly. We didn’t know about the HCP, us local folks, until it was more formed.
After my accident, it was a vague time for me. There was a meeting down the Peninsula with the Sierra Club about the the Habitat Conservation Plan, what should the Sierra Club do? Larry, Tom, Fred Smith and Sylvia Gregory were there. Reid Associates was there. Thomas Reid came up to me, all sugary and friendly. He had already been hired by Visitacion Associates. They were deciding who, from the county, was gonna be involved with the HCP. Craig Dremann, a native plant seed collector, who later wrote the the Habitat Conservation Scam, was at the meeting. He was hurt by the whole thing. Tom Adams was being so sweet at that meeting. He was already in good contact with the county.
Larry Orsak and I sat together at that meeting and the Sierra Club’s final decision was that they’re not gonna say yes or no to the Habitat Conservation Plan. Which means they’re letting the whole thing happen. That was their decision. Then they followed Tom Adams phoney stuff and followed the whole agreeing with the HCP. It’s illegal. That’s when I knew they were goin in the wrong direction.
I had hoped that the Sierra Club would question the HCP that Tom Adams had created. Then the meetings went on but the question became stronger and harder between all of us. Larry Orsak got even more involved because he was really concerned about the whole effect on the United States with this big loophole they were creating in the ESA.
Development on the SS and NER was the first plan for destruction of endangered species habitat since the ESA came into effect. It’s allowing to destroy any rare and endangered habitat and attempting to recreate those things. I was questioning. Where would the butterflies go? Where would Thomas Reid Associates recreate rare and endangered habitat? What kind of a dangerous precedent are we setting with this HCP stuff?
I knew that the Mission blue habitat would not work in the Saddle area? The Saddle area is naturally scrubland habitat and the butterflies need open grassland. So how are we gonna remove gorse from the Saddle and create Mission blue habitat? It makes no sense.
Eventually the HCP formed itself between Tom Adams, his phoney CSSBM, the county and Visitacion Associates. Around that time I was hired by the City of Brisbane for the Public Works. I wanted to work for the City because I had the opportunity to remove broom from the canyons and do garden work in the parks. The public works fellow, Emile, he died. He was a nice guy, a huge guy. I’d see him in the rain lying down on the street, cleaning out the gutters. He was an original Brisbanian. Emile knew the mountain.
This was at the same time Reid Associates was hired to study the Mission blue. I’d be in the park planting some shrubs and Tom Reid would come with his group and stand right next to me. And he would have around 10 students from the university with nets to catch butterflies. They’d go off over the mountain to catch the butterflies and try to identify the males from the females. Then they’d mark butterflies and a week later they’d come back to see where the butterflies went and how long they last.
At this time I still had some hope. I was thinking maybe something could be done. Maybe it’s possible to recreate butterfly habitat. I hadn’t yet comprehended what a horror the HCP was.
Around 1982, I became even more worried about the phoney data Reid created. And as he was creating this sham, we sent out information to groups that were studying butterflies at universities in England and all over the world. It became more and more clear that this was as phoney as it could be. And I still thought the CSSBM was legitimate cause some of us kept doing the important stuff. We were leading hikes, having meetings and making checks on the mountain. And we were watching the formation of the HCP and the moves of the county and Reid and Visitacion Associates.
In 84 or 85 it became clear something had to be done. We were still having meetings, fighting and questioning. And then everything became a fight. The whole flow was not clear to me. Tom Adams and Fred Smith were moving away from us. They were not as open to us. We had a meeting at Fred Smith’s house and Tom was there. Dan Marlin was with me and Arden Tevestoff, she died.
The three of us from the legitimate CSSBM, listened to Freddy responding to my questions about the destruction of and the recreation of rare and endangered habitat, and the results of that around us. And the three of us felt that Fred and Tom were not telling us the truth. There was a bad energy, it felt wrong and I knew it.
We had been very carefully looking at and checking things before we agreed on anything. I just got this sense that Fred and Tom were into the HCP all the way. They’d done more than they told us. Arden and Dan and I, we left Freddy’s house and that’s the first time I started saying no. I disagree to this idea of destroying the Mission blue habitat and trying to recreate it. It’s just not working. We sent out a information to 100’s of universities and asked, “What do you think about the so-called Habitat Conservation Plan?” And a 100 universities responded saying that they disagreed with the HCP and disagreed with this change on rare and endangered act. That’s when the battle between Tom and Freddy and me really began.
In the middle of the battle, at the worst part of it, I sent Tom Adams a post card. He wouldn’t talk to me. So I found the postcard in Berkeley. It was a man and woman sitting in the sunshine in those folding chairs they have out by the beach and they were having coffee or wine or something and behind them there was one of those huge blimps crashing to the ground. And my message was think twice. And he’d know what I meant. The whole meaning of the CSSBM and his being the lawyer I had chosen, was dieing. The things that I had worked on and given all my life to, he was not even looking at. He was destroying the mountain, the vision, the rightness, the rare and endangered, the whole thing, collapsing right behind him.
And this is the time Tom Adams began to incorporate, which I didn’t know how to do.
So I rushed down that very day and filed a fictitious business statement. To show that I was the leader of the CSSBM. It was all I could think of, to counteract this phoney incorporation. Then I started to fight back from the powers of Tom and Freddy. I wrote press releases saying that Tom Adams is fired because our group is split in half. They’re going in the wrong direction and we won’t accept it. They’re incorporating what we created under false pretenses and therefore I fired Tom Adams as our lawyer. I was saying the HCP and incorporation stuff—this whole game was a scam.
Then there was that newspaper, The Progress, that no longer exists. and there was that guy Don Shoecraft who got nasty and started doing negative things. He lived in South City or San Bruno and then he moved in right next door to Fred Smith. All the nastiness started when I was saying the HCP was all wrong and that I was firing Tom Adams and I got that to the press. That was about the time Craig Dremann wrote the book about the HCP Scam. He was going work for Reid Associates. And then he was cancelled by the county.
The phoney CSSBM was only four or five people. Then Del Shembari changed his mind. He began to realize that the HCP was not working. In the beginning he followed the HCP because he didn’t understand it that much. He went to the meetings with Tom Adams. Sylvia Gregory made the calls for those meetings. I think they were at Ellie Larsen’s house in San Bruno.
Fred Smith’s 2nd wife went to those meetings. They’re divorced now, of course. At one point Fred’s wife and I ran into each other on the bus. And at the time she was having troubles staying with him. I had a talk with her about the HCP. She felt sympathetic and I had a feeling she was not that happy with Fred or with the HCP, by then. Somewhere in the middle of the HCP stuff, when Fred was the Mayor of Brisbane, they split up. Fred’s first wife separated when they had a son.
When I first met Fred he was living in South San Francisco. His kid was 10 or 11. When he first moved to a place in Brisbane he lived with one of his girlfriends in those brown boxy apartment buildings. Then he bought the house where he is now, behind the library. He’s got a girlfriend from Berkeley now.
Tom had to make sure that the CSSBM, with its legitimate reputation, was in his hands. But with me holloring and questioning everything this would have been a problem. Because of the politics, the HCP needed to be fully accepted on all sides as proper. The meetings for the formation of the HCP were in Redwood City. The first meeting included, Fish & Game, Tom Adams, Visitacion Associates and the county. I tried to go to those meetings, I walked right in and they said I couldn’t stay—the meeting was closed. That meeting was supposed to be open to the public and they shut me out. After the HCP was enacted, they had a few more meetings, and that was the end of the phoney CSSBM.
Then, for a number of years Tom Reid didn’t have even a single public meeting. During that time we were doing our best to spread the word. We did press releases and questioned this change of the ESA and we had meetings in Brisbane with 20 or 30 people. We did bulletins and were still questioning what to do. Alice Howard from UC Berkeley came to some of the meetings with Larry. And this is where the idea of going to court against the HCP was formed. So we created Friends of Endangered Species (FOES).
The HCP was really on its way. We did a legal fight and we needed money. I put in thousands of dollars. Alice Howard mortgaged her house. Larry Orsak got money from the Xerxes Society. So it’s thousands of dollars. The trial went up to the State Appellate, but our lawyer, Michael Freund was not as sharp as Tom Adams and the legal battle against the HCP took a long time. Finally the three judges couldn’t decide whether or not it’s scientifically clear the HCP would not work. So might as well give it a try. And our FOES lawsuit lost.
Tom Adams and Fred Smith ruined everything. And I’d have been in a position of power if I had stayed with them. If I’d agreed with the HCP and gone along with it, I’d probably have a nice, sort of famous situation, somewhere in San Bruno Mountain Park.
Today this group came from San Francisco for the hike and they had no idea about the HCP. So I had to explain it and this makes me think even now, the HCP is spreading all over the United States and nobody knows. The press doesn’t respond. And people think the HCP is legitimate. They think, “The HCP is a very important environmental move.” And you see the destruction of the United States and the ESA.
During the big HCP battle, I went to all the environmental groups in the city, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy. They came to some of our meetings and they wanted to help, but they couldn’t because it was too battley. The Conservancy wants to save land, but if they get into something that’s too battley, they back away.
Sherman Eubanks and I were gonna have dinner, but then he had his stroke and he wasn’t around and I never contacted him. I’d initially found him at a meeting in San Francisco and all the enemies were there. Southwest Diversified was there for the Northeast Ridge. They were all unfriendly and Sherman and I saw each other and he said. “Hi, Oh we’ve known each other for so many years.” We were shaking hands, and everyone else was shocked. But by that time Sherman had sold everything, everybody else owned it. He didn’t have to worry anymore. He’s got lots of money now. It was in the air that he was trying to do things nice about rare and endangered species, the best he could. But he’s probably very angry too, to lose so much money that he could have gotten from developing the Saddle and the mountain above Brisbane. They were gonna put a hotel and restaurant at the summit. Imagine that, a fancy restaurant on the top of San Bruno Mountain. Sherman the bulldozer of the shellmound—who went to UC Berkeley for Engineering. He’s pretty smart. He can chop mountains off for bayfill.
After we lost the Foes suit I started the Bay Area Mountain Watch (BAMW). Then, around 1989, I wanted to get away from being in charge of BAMW so Lorraine Burtzloff and Dana Dillworth took over. And the started moving in another direction. Neither of them ever went up on the mountain. They were more concerned with the flatlands around San Bruno Mountain.
My concern has always been the mountain and we started having big fights and I broke away and started the Bay Area Land Watch. Brian Gaffney incorporated the BAMW as a political organization a 501 (c) (4), which is totally useless. You can’t get grant money since they don’t allow the foundations to write stuff off their taxes if you’re a 501(c) (4)....
The Rescue of Buckeye and Owl Canyons
From Industrial Development
When I was making connections with all these other environmental groups about the HCP I was trying to get help from other lawyer groups in San Francisco cause it was costing us too much money for Freund. And so I was spending a lot of time in the city and that’s where I met the guy from the Trust for Public Land and I took him for a hike. He and this woman who worked with him, got all fascinated by Buckeye and Owl. And that’s when we programmed about the possibility for the purchase of that land from the quarry, through the bond act for the state. The Trust for Public Land also liked to be in-between and not in battle with others, so he suggested that we have a meeting first with the owners of the quarry. So we had a nice sweet meeting with the quarry owner, Mr. Bottoms, about a year before the bond act.
When I started working to save Buckeye and Owl, we were having our meetings in the Brisbane library. It was for free, then. And so we’d have 4 or 5 people, all from Brisbane. Cause the group working to save San Bruno Mountain has flown from people to people to people over the years. Some of em got tired.
We had meetings about the about the HCP, the horrors of it and the continued failure thereof. The City of Brisbane was there and my feeling was that saving Buckeye and Owl was a real critical thing. I had some friends in Sacramento. Merrill, he’s the guy who created this bond act business from his efforts with the State of California. I’d known him for 25 years from hikes on the mountain. He and I got together and there was a woman who got hired by Merrill who came to visit me to go for a hike in Buckeye and Owl Canyon for this possible bond act. She got all excited and interested, and her husband too.
We also had to go to these critical meetings with the California State Park Department. And I took the State Park people for hikes on San Bruno Mountain, which was very important. They were all impressed. I took em all through Buckeye and Owl and they couldn’t believe it. Then we had to go to these meetings and make public statements and agreements with the State.
They gave me all the details on what we’d have to do for the bond act. So the effort was to get a petition done and you have to get several thousand people to do it. We did a big huge effort for the bond act. It took the rest of that year to get signatures. We spent incredible amounts of time and energy going to all the shopping malls and horrible places like that. Spending hours and hours and hours. We were working to get signatures for the whole state. We went to a big fair near the San Francisco Zoo and we had 5 people. And we were always going to Golden Gate Park. Me and a couple other people would spend the whole day standing at the Bart entrance in Berkeley. So we destroyed ourselves and we had a real good number of signatures. It’s the same thing we had to do to save the Saddle Area—the Measure A bond act.
Owl & Buckeye—1
The Trust for Public Land was also involved. There had to be a careful setup with the county agreeing and the quarry owner Mr. Bottoms, who retired, was a nice sweet old man, and his wife. And there was a couple of people from the Trust for Public Land that I took for walks who got all excited. They really went for it. So we had a meeting in their office in San Francisco with the quarry guy Mr. Bottoms and his wife. And they took photographs and printed it out. And it was all in the right direction. It was all in the press. I sent out the press release. We had efforts for press things. Channel 7 came and I never got the tape. It was all lost. But that guy on Channel 7 who does weather, came up on San Bruno Mountain. And we all talked and he saw the shellmound and all the plants.
Then the word spread out and Brisbane got involved. It was the first time since the HCP battle started that the City Council acknowedged San Bruno Mountain Watch existence. I’ve been at the bottom of Brisbane’s barrel for years. Because we were fighting their agreeing with the HCP. And I was and still am enraged at the co-creator—Freddy-poo.
Fred Smith and Tom Adams were the creators of the HCP. They were the ones who came up with the idea and made connection with everyone involved and blossomed out the whole thing. And to think, our Original CSSBM advocated Freddy-poo be elected to the city council. When we did that, we thought we’re really on the move and he was gonna be the right man.
More and more is happening to fight it. We had that meeting down in southern California last year and Leona Klipstein is preparing a whole thing and she sent me a copy. You should read through it. And some people back east are with us.
Owl & Buckeye—2
The Mountain’s Human Inhabitants
Dwight lived on the mountain for 11 years and he was friends with Besh and me. He had been a music teacher in South City and had some trouble with the school. So he quit his job and he was troubled.
Dwight discovered the mountain himself. I saw him one early morning leaping around in his bare feet on the rocks. And he always avoided people. Eventually I met him and he actually said hello. And every now and then we’d see each other and so I finally sat down and talked to him. He was working in a garage in Brisbane and I asked him if I could bring all the kids by to see him. He didn’t seem too happy about that at the time. But I started doing it and it seemed to get better and better as time went by, both for him and the kids. It was good.
His first encampment was up in the woods above the shellmound in Buckeye Canyon. It was elaborate, he had part of an old car on top of him, a tightly assembled rock floor and a thatched hut with a little fire place. Dwight is a good builder. His camp was very intricately put together. He’s an American Indian in spirit and a nice guy.
Then Fred Smith wrote a letter and sent a photograph to the Park and Rec and said to get that guy out of there. He’s disturbing nature. And Freddy-poo was trying to get elected to the Brisbane City Council so he was wanted to make everyone think he cared about the environment. And that’s when Fred was really going off the edge. He was really into power, he was kookoo. All those HCP kooks were into power games.
Dwight went out one day and the park rangers dismantled his camp and when he came back to Buckeye Canyon all his stuff had been confiscated. So he stayed at my apartment in Brisbane for a few days. And the Park and Rec people called and told me his stuff was up at the park entrance. So I had to find somebody with a truck to pick his stuff up. Then he started wandering around in Owl Canyon and tried a few places that didn’t work so well. And he finally found the big oak tree where Besh and Thelma are now. It was perfect, no one could see in from the quarry road.
Dwight dug a burrow under that oak tree. And a couple of years after he moved away he came back and helped Besh and Thelma build their home. Besh found the materials in a dumpster in Crocker Park and Dwight, who’s a natural carpenter, did the construction. That home he built for Besh and Thelma has withstood 120 mile per hour winter storm gusts and torrential rain. It’s got a basement Dwight lived in when he was stayin in Owl Canyon and a fire place and there’s a creek.
I had to look out for Besh and Thelma too. Somebody wrote a letter to the Park and Rec and said somebody was living in the canyon. Get rid of them, get em out of there, they’re disturbing nature. So I wrote a letter to the Park and Rec asking, “Is there a chance you could just forget this?” And the rangers left Besh and Thelma alone. Several months later the rangers dropped in on Besh and Thelma and asked if they could take a photograph of their house. They were so impressed by it.
Dwight went away after he met a dear friend of mine. A teacher I’d brought for hikes, Barbara Kelly. He got cold feet a few times and came back to stay with Besh and Thelma one Christmas. But Barbara came after him and they finally got married and moved to Pacifica. So now he does the cooking and takes care of 76 cats.
Besh was living in San Francisco and visited Dwight frequently. It was after Dwight went off with Barbara, that Besh, who had met Thelma in a soup line at Martin Deporis, a few years earlier, married Thelma. They got married on 7-11-90 and moved into Owl Canyon. What do you want to know about this stuff for? Because you wrote letters to protect them.
I went to a convention with Dwight and Barbara; The California Indian Basket Weaving Group in the foothills of Orroville. These were good indian people. I was trying to get them aware and interested in the shellmound. So I was busy talking to all these indian people and Dwight and Barbara wanted to leave. They got mad at me and went storming off to the hotel. But that was the reason I went there. I went to talk to these indian people but they were not interested. And that was kind of unpleasant on my part. I stayed there with the indian folks till midnight or later and some nice guy gave me a ride to the motel about 10 miles away. Otherwise I would have spent the night inside a hogan, a round mud and wood hut with low ceilings. I could have stayed there and hitched a ride home the next day.
They went away on vacation one time and I was catsitting. I had a seizure in their house. I felt it coming and I called my brother. I said, “The seizures coming, the seizures coming...” and I went mad right there on the telephone so he called the ambulance. I’d probably be dead if he hadn’t. They broke the door down and there I was with blood all over the floor. I almost bit my tongue completely off. And after that Dwight and Barbara have never called me
Besh Talks About Dwight
Dwight was a music teacher over in South San Francisco and he taught for about 10 years. He was down in LA and he applied to teaching jobs and this was the job that he took. When he was a teacher he had a little Volkswagon he drove around. He had never been married before. He would come up here on vacations, come up on the mountain.
While he was teaching in South San Francisco he bought a house up above Visitacion Valley in San Francisco. A little house, little piece of property. And that house he bought for 10 thousand and know it’s worth a hundred thousand. And he rented it out the whole time he was livin here for $400 a month but his mortgage was only $100 and after 10 years the house was pretty much paid off. So his payments were $100 and the rent was $400 so he said “Why should I go back to teaching?” He liked it better on the mountain.
Here’s his budget, he had this woman Marcy, she lived in Brisbane, that was his book keeper, that was his address. So he paid her 50 dollars a month for book keeping and then 50 dollars a month for storin his piano and then the payments on the house, a hundred dollars, plus he had to put a hundred dollars in for repairs, cause about once a month he’d have to go over there and fix the house up. He always had to do a number of things, paint it, fix the roof, plumbing and things like that. So he’d have to save up, you know that’s only a thousand dollars a year for repair of the house. So that left him with 60 dollars a month for rice and oatmeal and margarine. When margarine was on sale for 39 cents, the cheapest brand of margarine, he’d buy a whole backpack full. Boy, he took gobs of margarine in everything, margarine in the oatmeal, margarine in everything. And salt, my God his salt shaker has holes a half inch wide. Holy Mackeral...But he’s a good cook, just salt your own plate. His vegetables were just what David and I would bring up. I never saw him buy a vegetable or piece of fruit. But he would sometimes cook watercress and miners lettuce from the mountain, more than I do. I don’t use that stuff at all. But these blackberries that are out right now, my goodness, these are gorgeous. They look like they cross pollinated, they’re so big this year, real big.
Then he would buy tabacco. And I didn’t smoke by the time I went up on the mountain. And I loved it not smokin. I look stupid with a cigarette anyway. But Dwight would have his pipe. And it was the stupidist thing to see him smokin a cigarette and drivin a car. My God, it looked dumb. But he’d smoke a tabacco pipe when he was up here. But the kids would bring him some cigarettes sometimes. But once he got rid of the habit he went through novena or somethin. Some religious thing. He finally got rid of that, cause I was always goin on about how much better it is not to smoke. Bringin up my bottle. I brought my bottle of rum especially in the beginning. I’d bring my bottle of rum up and tell him it’s better not to smoke. In his life, he only got drunk twice before he met me. When I brought my sister, who’s a music teacher, up, she asked him, “Well how come your’re drinkin with him?” Dwight says, “I figure it’s better if two people both drunk then one really drunk and one not at all.” So then his budget went down to just 30 dollars a month. That’s all he had for rice and oatmeal. He dropped the rent from $450 to $400 cause he really likes the people.
He would write a lot up here. He had these scrolls, he would just write. He was a poet too. The words are good, he’d end up with this big scroll and the person who read it was the lady who was renting his house.
So he taught in South City and then he found this mountain. He just saw this mountain and he checked it out. He liked it and he would come on weekends and holidays. He would bring his pot up here and smoke pot.
In summers he would rent out the house and go to Bisbee, Colorado. He lived in a cave up above Bisbee which was a mining town. Then he realized he didn’t have to go back to teaching. He could just keep renting out the house and move up on the mountain. He was a very popular guy
He and I were both born in February of 44 so I figure he graduated from college probably about 66. Cause I went into the coast guard for four years instead. I was on the east coast in the coast guard. I didn’t go to college. Dwight went to college in Los Angeles. He grew up in Los Angeles. He played the piano and the whole time he was livin up here he had a piano in storage. Paid 50 dollars a month for the whole time. And know he’s got it up in Pacifica. That was his main instrument, but up here he had a guitar and a flute. You know he was good at playin all of em, but the piano was his main instrument. And that a lot of why Dwight wanted to live in Pacifica, cause he plays the piano four hours every day in Pacifica. He always wanted to be good at the piano, so that’s what he did.
Dwight’s parents are severe Pentecostal. Oh they’re really heavy and one of his sisters is still a missionary. He brought em up here, both his sisters. And Dwight knew the bible backwards and forwards. He and JC were into the bible. JC lived up here for a while, he’s a black guy from Chicago, he wore his hair in dredlocks and he was a vegetarian. He ate nothin but uncooked vegetables for 30 years. He died, a couple years ago he quit eating. He just gave up. He and Dwight loved to fast. They both loved it. Dwight loved to fast but he was so skinny he couldn’t. They both really tripped on fasting. I go frantic, I’ve never gone a day without eating, I go nuts. The indians use to fast too. It was intentional. You could tune into nature by fasting. It’s spiritual. I’ve never fasted but I heard it’s like takin LSD or somethin.
Dwight liked mushrooms and he took a lot of marijuana in his earlier ages. He liked to smoke weed. He smoked weed and cigarettes when he was up here, and he wanted to stop. He was not a philosopher and he wouldn’t talk why he was doin things. He liked to meditate. He had all his friends help him move up on the mountain. He first lived way up on the top of Buckeye Canyon. There’s a ledge up there that he lived on. And he had his friends bring all his stuff up there and his first couple week he was like really lonely. So it took him a long time to get over that, but then, once he got livin up here, he liked to be here. And when he’d have to go to town, which he’d wait to the last day just like I do, when he would go he said it would take him about a day to recover. To get back to be feelin just peaceful bein around.
He would do everything nice and careful and just slowly go through things. And he’d always say it would take all day just to take care of business: collect the firewood, get water, cook his oatmeal for breakfast, go up and sit on top of the tree, go out and take a poop. It was like a little schedule. And then dinner was cookin rice. I don’t know it took up his whole day.
And I’d come up here every week for a long time and in the beginning it wasn’t scheduled. It was certain days but it wasn’t known. I’d find him by himself, singing. The day the Challenger blew up I remember I walked up and I said, “What are you doin singin? They just blew up the shuttle and the school teacher and here you are singin up here?” He had a radio so we went and turned on the radio.
He had a radio for a while and then he went and gave it to me. He said it was botherin his birds. So anyway, he was livin up there and he didn’t burn wood, he burned gas. He had a little propane stove. And it was a long way down to water, so he came down and built this hut over in Buckeye. He had a nice little round hut sittin in a flat spot covered with this heavy green cloth. And that was where he slept. There was no door and when it rained he’d get soaked. He slept real out in the open. In fact, when he lived here he slept out under the oak tree.
For his kitchen he would come out of his hut and he built a platform with rocks. He had a patio, all the rocks were solid, there was not even a rattle to it. And that’s where I slept. That thing was amazing, It was just perfect. He loved to make things out of rocks, he had a whole rock path. He was a scavenger he’d go down to Crocker Park and pick up car parts and drag all these pieces up there. The main thing for his kitchen roof was a car hood and then little pieces of this and that. And when it rained it would drip here and there. He squatted there and had his fire. And if you ever go up there you see he did things perfect. He would do things like rubbin that rock for so long that it’s a beautiful flat surface to put his coffee cup on. He’d drink coffee and smoke a pipe.
He was up here for I don’t know how many years before I knew him. He had a lot of voices in his head. And the one social thing that he kept up is that he had this church that he would go to, Good Samaritan Church. It’s been torn down now, it was right there at 24th and Potrero. The earthquake made it unsafe. At the time they tore it down it was a sanctuary for central Americans. But there was not too many people in it. I went a number of times and there wasn’t too many people in the congregation. They’re buildin apartments there now.
One of the people that went to Good Samaritan Church happened to be a friend of mine and she’s the one who brought me up here. She said there’s a fellow livin up there, cause she had been up there to see him, so she brought me up there to meet him. When I knew Dwight he wasn’t goin up to the church so often. But he use to go regular for the choir. He was singin in the choir.
Dwight told me that one time he swept the sidewalk all the way from Good Samaritan Church to Saint John’s Church, cause the voices in his head told him to sweep the sidewalk. He had the voices in his head before I knew him. He said it’s probably from so much LSD. And the voices went away when he went on his excursions. He walked to Los Angeles twice while he was livin up here. It took him a month each time. And on one of those walks the voices went away.
On his walks to Los Angeles he dragged a small cart behind him with all his possessions. The police thought he looked weird and he got stopped in every town. He got so sick of explaining he wouldn’t talk, he’d just hand the cops a piece of paper, “I’m walking to LA.”
I would have met Dwight eventually cause I was living down on the abandoned railroad tracks over by Crocker Park. I had two beautiful little huts. And Dwight use to walk down there and he had long hair and a beard. I woulda stopped him and said, “What are you doin?” Anyway, once I came up and met him I liked him a lot. And I loved the mountain. I’d come once a week. I’d spend a night. We’d go for a hike somewhere on the mountain, every time. Later on we discovered chess. And we’d come back and cook and in the morning I’d go back. I had my bicycle at the bottom of the canyon.
Dwight would meditate for an hour every day. And I’d ask him about it. It didn’t give him nirvana or anything. He just liked to be meditating. He’d tell me the birds would come around him a lot more than they come around me. Sometimes he’d meditate and he’d hear em, the big birds. He didn’t open his eyes though, cause he was real disciplined. He use to talk about a hummingbird flying up to him and then a hawk flyin up to him. And when we’d go on a hike he’d show me, he’d say, “See how these plants are always tryin to block the paths. Even the dead trees are movin over in here.” He kept showin me how their branches are always tryin to move and cover the path up. And then all the special little spots he would show me how it was protected all around there by thorns and bushes and poison oak, but there was always a way in. It’s an art.
Once every year we would take a week long hike together. And so on those times occasionally I’d lead. As soon as I’d be leading on these hikes we’d end up in a total snag. But Dwight, you just follow him and it’d work out. And now I’ve got that ability. You just keep finding the way, there’s always a way.
One day David came on this hike with a kindergarten teacher, Barbara. And she chased after him and caught him. She could do it. She had the ability to catch a fella. But a big part of his attraction in making the move was that he was goin play the piano. That was part of the attraction of living in a house. I haven’t seen him in a number of years. But he would do the housework and have his coffee and read the paper and then four hours on the piano every day. He said he was gettin pretty good like he’d always wanted to. But that’s kind of meditative. It’s another sort of meditative thing. That’s what he’s doin over there. He doesn’t socialize. He doesn’t go out and he hasn’t become part of a social life in Pacifica. He put the cap on this house here and he hasn’t been here in years.
For years I would come up here just to chill out from the city. Cause I was flyin around the city on my bicycle livin off the land. I didn’t have an income I just lived out of dumpsters. I had the shelters down on the traintracks for about five years and I’d go into the city to the dumpsters. When I first started livin out in San Francisco there were not homeless people. There was just a few crazy ladies with shopping carts. And the dumpsters were full. It was a bonanza, there were sandwich shops, restaurants, behind all the produce stores. They threw out all kinds of good food and there wasn’t any competition. I mean I ate mangos, steaks, stuff I never bought. I ate like a king.
Thelma and I have been married 6 years and then there was 5 years when I was lookin for Thelma. And then there was the years I was with Chen Hong, that was a Chinese woman in San Francisco and I had two years with her, so that was around twelve years ago when I first started goin out with her. It was 84. I was livin on hilltops and stuff and I went for a bikeride and I saw that hut with a hibachi. That had a front door and windows and it was cute, it was all patchwork and stuff and a guesthouse. It was an adorable place.
You know Dwight didn’t really explain things and all of sudden here’s David comin up with a bunch of people. And who are these people, a hike. And Dwight didn’t know anything about exotic plants. Not once did we ever talk about invading species. I certainly didn’t know about it and I have found places where we he and I hiked where there’s fennel and I’ve even found the pampas grass. I figure we planted it. Cause there was no conciousness of invading species with Dwight. I lived in fennel down there where my house was and I had no idea what it was. I was still in that hut in the earthquake of 1989. The Brisbane cops came along and tore that hut down. A friend of mine was out there cause I had guests come out and he just told me they tore it down. I wasn’t there at the time.
During the 60’s I was all over the east and west coast. I was a hippie in the 60’s
But then I built a really nice one that I took Thelma to. It had a red carpet and solar panels. It was freezing up here when we had that ice. We got married in 1990, 7-11-90. We met around 10 or 12 years ago at the soup line at Martin Deporis and we lost contact for a while. Before Thelma and I got married I would usually stay up here only one night before I would go back down to my hut on the traintracks. I had to make a living. I had to go out and hustle up some stuff, some aluminum cans and cloths to sell and stuff and things to drink and keep goin. I was runnin around and it was livin free. It was livin off the land. When I’d take people out on bicycle it was like bein an indian. It was freedom, I had no papers, no name, no ID, no licenses, no nothin. It was livin off the excess. I built and had five little houses.
It’s not there any more. It’s against the law now. Homeless has become a big thing, but at that time...they’ve locked up most of the dumpsters but they use to be sittin right out. There’s so many homeless people out there and they go into so many dumpsters in San Francisco. Besides, it’s so developed, there isn’t all those weedy places, cause I had a lot of different huts, I had a boat. My name was Bicycle. I was known all over San Francisco. So I was runnin all around and the soup line was my favorite place. They’re given out soup and there’s the most smiles and I really liked that place. And I was the social type, I would go around making people, especially women, feel comfortable. Just remember their names and everything. And here comes Thelma in there and so I go over there and I go, “Hi, my name’s Bicycle.” And she sat down, “I don’t talk to strangers,” she said. And then the next day she came in there and I was talkin to people and I said, “Well everybodies gotta have a name,” so I took this tape and I would write their name on there. And meanwhile I got my hand on Thelma’s shoulder and so I’m gettin familiar. She was comin in there with her little cart with books. She was studyin to be a medical assistant. So she was standin in the soup line and she kept herself adorable. Different from other women comin in there. And she wasn’t easy at all. I thought she was adorable so I said, “Let me help you study for this medical receptionist job.” So she came for lunch and we’d spend an hour studyin and then I asked, “Why don’t you come out and take a ride on my boat? It’s just down by the creek. I’ll give ya lunch down there.” I bought some hamburgers, cooked those, and took her on a boatride and started gettin friendly and this was pretty neat. But then she’s talkin about all this stuff so we didn’t get married because I thought she was too spaced out for me. She had too many things goin on, you know pains over here. For 20 years she was a housekeeper. She’d say she didn’t want to get paid because she wanted to be part of the family. Anyway I remember up at Deloris Park and she was cryin and I wanted to put my arm around her. But I thought if I put my arm around her it would be like bein together and I didn’t want it. I wanted somebody on a bicycle, flying around, a trapeze artist and she can’t ride a bicycle. And besides she was pretty spacey so I said forget it. Buit then when she showed back up again when I was...you see this place was empty when Barbara came and took Dwight away and then I tried to get JC up here. But when Dwight left I said, Oh, this is a beautiful place and I gotta get married.” I actually said kind of a prayer here. That was a Sunday and Thursday she came walkin in the soup line. I hadn’t seen her in about a year and as soon as she walked in I said, “There she is.” And I proposed.
We were gonna live over here. Before, when I knew her Dwight was livin here and my existance was offa bikes. I just really wanted to get married and there she was. I said, “Will you marry me?” All day long. Let’s get married. The thing’s meant to be. That was July 2nd, 1990. And we got married on July 11th. It was the answer to my prayer. The day after I proposed to Thelma I brought her up here. I showed her, I said, “Look, this is where we live.” You know, and she was sittin there, I was sittin here and this is you know, look at this beautiful place, compared to the city. This is where we live, look at this. This is my big selling point, you know, wow, look at what I got. This is Dwight’s place, the thing had been empty. So she said, Well, ok.” And I said, “Why don’t ya come and sit over here next to me.” And she says, “Oh no, we gotta get papers, we gotta get married.” So I said I would get enough money to get married on the 7th, five days from now. It won’t be till Wednesday. I had food stamps. If you don’t have any money you can apply for food stamps. You can 100 bucks a month worth of food stamps. So it costs 50 bucks to get married and you gotta go to city hall. So I had a friend, an old chinese lady, Tang Dong who always gave me cash for my stamps. That was my income, a hundred dollars a month. My drinking money. We got a note from Tang around Christmas time, to come see em our there. She’s moved. The other thing I use to do was take junior out once a week every Saturday. I got a note from him and her to come see em at their school. So they’re still there. But we’re not social. We went out there once while I was drinkin, that was it. And they had moved to some other place.
So every day I would go pick up Thelma at the Episcopal Sanctuary. She didn’t believe this was gonna happen. She was like, “You won’t come and get me.” After, every day I’d be there a 8:00. I’d come back and forth, get this place ready. Back and forth, no money. Pick up cans. And we went and registered. And there was the morning I went and picked her up. And I called my sister and my sister had 200 dollars waitin for us, as soon as we got married, a wedding gift. And we went to Safeway, so when we came up here we came up with that whole backpack full of food. So from people livin in the soup line, all of a sudden we had Feta cheese. You know we had Safeway—with money. So the day we got married turned out to be 7-11. 1990. And we’ve been up here ever since. You know, nobody else would put up with us. A perfect match.
The first Christmas we had Dwight came back. He was up here for a week. Barbara loved to shop and then the third shopping center... They got married a couple years before. That’s why this place was open. So this place was uninhabited for a year or two. Dwight said at the third shopping center he just couldn’t take it anymore. Cause Barbara bought twelve presents for everybody. That was one of the reasons she wanted a guy. And that was one of the great things about Dwight, all he had was rags and he’d start showin up with these fancy jackets and pants and suits and hair cut And Dwight and Barbara, they had their differences, that’s for sure. We had Solstices and things like that before David did. And Dwight, whoever you were, he’d be the perfect match to it. For instance, since I was drinkin, he would drink. And so what Barbara wants for a husband, he’ll just become. And he doesn’t have to go out into the big world. He’s got his rental income. The house is wortha hundred thousand dollars. Any body that bought a house in the 70’s, the house is worth ten times the value. But he hasn’t raised the rent. It’s still the same people. They get a bargain. Dwight gives Barbara money. He helps her out cause she spends more than she’s got. She loves to shop. And Dwight was just like a housewife and she’d come home and have to wind down. He said he liked it much better when she had her vacations. You know, three month vacations. They’d go traveling. And the other was, she had said when they got married that she was gonna retire but she hasn’t retired. She likes to shop, plus she likes teaching. She likes it. I think she’s around 58, she’s a little older than Dwight. He’s 52. Barbara, she’s kinda dingy, cause we use to take junior and she had a little girl from her first husband. It wasn’t her daughter, it was his new daughter from a second marriage. And so we’d take em together and I’d say, “Dwight, she’d kinda from a different reality.” And he’d say, “Ya, that’s probably good, isn’t it.” In other words, he was sayin that it’s better to be crazy than to be sane in this world.
So when he ran away that Christmas, I was all for it. I said, “Dwight, why don’t you just stay here?” Cause I had always talked about that I would find us a woman. Here we are on the mountain and there would be two fellas and one lady. You know that’s the way you do it on the mountain. I think it would’ve worked good with Thelma and me. Cause when he was up here he would notice things that I didn’t know. For instance goin at the outhouse at that time it was a difficult place to get through there and he noticed that she was havin a hard time just to get through there. When he was here I thought boy that guy’s a good husband. Yeah, it woulda been good.
This mountain, everything’s downhill from here. It gets to be noisy and concrete and a lot of people and cars and too much. I like bein here.
I didn’t want to be up here by myself. I wanted to get married and come up here. But I was lookin to get married to a bicycle rider cause it was a good way to live. I had a good time. But now at my age I’m glad to be off a bike. I like goin walkin. It’s fine with me. Thelma did me a favor. I thought I was never gonna get off the bicycle. But it’s much better walkin. Bicycle riden, that was livin in the fast lane. I liked it though. It was magic.
I’m so greatful. It was nice to have someone who was willing to marry me. I didn’t really want to be a medical assistant. Maybe a hair stylist or something like that. I was sleeping at the Sanctuary. It was a knew life for me because I was use to working and living in Hillsborough, which is nice. In Hillsborough, even a person that works for a family gets a room that’s well conditioned. After I was working there for a while I ended up with pains everywhere, in my back. So I had to leave and I was stayin at the Sanctuary at 8th and Market. And you could only stay at the Sanctuary for a month or two. Upstairs is for men and downstairs is for women. Men and women on the same floor, at night, that is not allowed. I came to San Francisco 25 or 26 years ago. My dad gave me 40 dollars and I came here by myself and that was it, it was a little world here. A very small world and it still is. It hasn’t developed that much. I wanted to come here because young people in Honduras have dreams of a home and family. A perhaps if we are not so secure in our profession we want more of a home life. I went to school in Honduras to become a english teacher but there was so many teachers and not many jobs. But in my head I still wanted to get married. And I’m an open person, I make no trouble what-so-ever.
There’s two sides to marriage. There’s getting married and getting divorced. So there’s a fight about being married, keepin the name, keepin the family, keepin the relationship, keepin yourself pretty and neat, keepin the house, keepin this, keepin that. And then about gettin divorced. I ain’t never gonna get divorced.
I pretty much like living here on the mountain. It’s healthy. We still get nervous when people come. We’re use to just being with each other most of the time. When we see David we get some vegetables. Sometimes we get swiss chard and zucchini’s at Lucky’s in South City. We recently bought a radio for Besh. What I think about the mountain anybody would be delighted to live here. The trees are beautiful. The birds are beautiful. When we started here, we had a little general assistance, like thirty dollars.
Thelma stayed up here when I was gone for a month. I got arrested for protestin the war. I went through the whole thing. And I got a great lawyer and everything. They said, “Ok ya gotta do 30 days.” Cause I resisted arrest, which I though everybody should have resisted arrest. And then David got her a place where she was gonna stay while I went to jail to do my 30 days over there in South San Francisco. And then the day I was supposed to go David came over and we all walked up on top of the mountain. Last day of freedom and I’m gonna go do 30 days in jail. So then the next morning we went down there and we were sittin in the court and we’d only been married 6 months. Well I guess it was 9 months by the time that court stuff was over. So I showed her San Bruno jail was, so she could visit. That’s where I was gonna have to go sittin in the jail for 30 days and she started cryin when we were in the court room. And she started cryin and what was this? And I’m sittin there and ya know, the hell with it lets get out of here. So I took off and I told David, “We’re on the run.” We went up to Portland. We were runnin around. We were in Berkeley. David took us over to Berkeley to stay with the lady with the bent over head there. We were makin up all kinds of stories. We were gonna go to the east coast.
Oh, I was paranoid, I thought they were after me. I was afraid to death. They eventually did pick me up about a year later. Then I had to do the 30 days. And that’s when Thelma was up here on her own. They picked me up drunk, down in town and then the cops said, “Oh you got a warrant here for your 30 days.” And then David came up to visit her during the 30 days. I got Thelma on SSI but I still wonder whether it wouldn’t be better just to hustle up some money. Not any more I guess. David got us a job one time workin in a friend of his garage making breadboards, in a furniture shop. It was a good job. We’d just walk over there, work all day and get enough money for the week. But it was runnin this heavy table saw. Thelma laid em out, it was a real neat job he got us. We just did the job sometimes because we didn’t have a need to do it that often. Because what happened was that she had applied for SSI. She has chronic pains. She thought it was infected ovaries and she would go to the hospital, but when she came up here that went away. Really, SSI was retirement, for 20 years of housekeepin. SSI is a legitimate thing cause when I take her down town and we get around a lot of people, she just turns negative. Well be in shoppin and I’ll say, “You want any of this?” And she says, “Naa, I don’t want any, I don’t want any of this.” She gets effected by that stuff down there. But when Thelma was workin as a housekeeper, she would go to Tanforan on her days off and I can’t bein in there. I try for about a half an hour. We go there to the movies, that’s ok. But Thelma didn’t go to the movies when she was single.
This place is the best we can do. It’s paradise. It’s just the two of us hangin around. It’s not like we’re becomin spiritual or monks or nothin.
With all this Northeast Ridge development I think it’s gonna cause a lot of light pollution at night. I’m worried they’ll notice the smoke comin out of our chimney. If there’s all those people living there I would think they’d be sayin, “Oh there’s smoke over on the hill.” Thelma should never get in trouble, she’s well behaved, but she does get in trouble from me and that’s from, I could say a thousand times, “There’s smoke and you can make a fire but you gotta do it right.” You know you can’t go put an old wet thing in the middle. You know and you can’t let it go down to where there’s somethin sittin on the coals. Then they’ll be smoke goin out. I says, “Thelma, there’s smoke goin out.” And I’ll go on and I could say that about a thousand times and there’s no change at all. I say, “Thelma, there’s an airplane.” And it’s funny she doesn’t pay any attention, I says, “Thelma, let’s not make trails, you know when we come from the top.” Never paid any attention to that. The airplanes flyin over and there’s sheets hangin out there every week there’s an airplane that patrols. When Dwight was here they didn’t do that. Now there’s an air patrol every week. That’s how San Mateo County patrols their mountains. They’ll come up here and if they see somethin they’ll go round and round and round. It’s a real distinctive plane, you can hear the engines. If they just find us sittin out there...One time last year they found us sittin out on top of the mountain, in the winter, where it was cold, with my binoculars, just lookin. That plane went around us, it musta been five, six, seven times. And we’re just sittin off the top of the mountain. Another time we were walkin up and we hid under a bush and they God, they went round and round and round. And whenever they see someone growin stuff...Once they see sometin that’s all they got to do. That’s their patrol. There’s somethin on the mountain. There’s somethin just to look at it. They go around to all the mountains in San Mateo County and this is at the end of their route. So we do a laundry and I’ll tell Thelma, “Don’t put that stuff there.” She’ll wash things quite often. And white things, you know, pink, hangin up there and what about that airplane. Even this morning she’s standin ouit there dryin her hair, she took a bath and I’m hearin the little airplane. And I says, Thel, you just don’t pay any attention to those airplanes, do ya?”
Dwight use to that. I remember takin the kids for a hike on top of the mountain and all the kids would look down the canyon and ask, “What’s that?” And Dwight would have all his cloths strewn all over the place. I went to check down there about how clear it is to see smoke goin. My brother was here and I had him keep a fire goin with smoke comin up and I went all the way down to the road to see. It’s kinda hard to see. You have to really look and I think if you’re further across way it’s even safer.
In the morning, a fire a the breakfast meal, that not good, it’s a dead calm. But as long as you pay attention you can do fine. No problem. The way this hut is laid out is perfect. There’s no windows that tree blocks the light, the chimney’s behind the trees. This is magical, but if you don’t pay attention. But ya know the thing is that’s nobodies ever bothered us. Here I’ve been goin nuts the whole time. And Thelma’s just not payin any attention. And in fact she said, “Well just don’t say anything and it won’t happen.” I was constantly makin problems for us and nothin has happened to us. All it takes is a complaint. And we’ve already found that out cause that’s what happened to Dwight. Well they did come up here once, the two rangers. As soon as I saw em I said, “I knew you were comin because David told me you’re comin.” They said, “How did David know?”
I said, David knows everything.” Cause David had come up the day before and said, “The rangers are comin tomorrow.” So when I saw em I said, Come up, don’t worry about it. David told us you’re comin, don’t worry about it.” And they liked it and everything. We had all nice conversations and I told them we’re leaving because we were leaving. As soon as they started all that bulldozing it was drivin me nuts. There done with it now. The housebuilding is not near as noisy. So just before the rangers left the fella asked, “Well, when are you planning to leave?” That’s the only thing he said. I said we were goin by Friday, I guess. They’ve have come back up here because I’ve seen some things that have changed cause we were gone for a year and a half. We went up to Sacramento and from San Francisco to Santa Rosa, the Russian River. We kept lookin for a place to go. We wentup to Fort Bragg and all around the mountains around there. We went all kinds a different places and there was no place like this. Only one paradise. So after a year and a half we came tiptoeing back and we slept up on Dwight’s original place. It was kinda hard with just the blankets. And I thought lets go down and just see what the place is like. And we come over here and here David was sweeping. I couldn’t believe it. And when I would call em he would say, “Come on back, they want you back.” The rangers were sayin this. They were sayin, “Don’t worry about it.” They took Dwight’s first place down but they didn’t take this one down. They tore out all of Dwight’s beautiful rock work. He had rock paths and they didn’t have to knock that down. I could see em takin away his kitchen. His carhood. He was such a packrat they had to haul out so much stuff. And the other thing is that we haul all our trash out. Sometimes I’ll bury just garbage, if I get too much fruit, melon rinds and things like that. But I haul out all the hard trash, but Dwight didn’t, you go up there and you’ll find bottles, cans. He didn’t carry a backpack that often. He carried stuff in his hands. He was like really paranoid, just like I am.
I was cleanin the place up for them. I knew they were comin. It was all neat and happy.
When Dwight was first startin up here. When he first got into Buckeye Canyon and started burning wood instead of gas. Every time he’d hear the fire department he’d think, “Oh no, they’re comin to get me.” He was like paranoid of people comin and gettin him. Every little sound he’d run out. People made him nervous. And that’s the way I was. I was really ridiculously worried about 30 days.
She stayed up here. And the fox came and visited. They come runnin right up to her. There’s a little bunny rabbit that’s hoppin around here now. It goes right up to her. A little cute cotton tail bunny rabbit. The birds go right up to her. They’re not afraid of her at all. Cause she won’t even swat a mosquito. The first month we were here I didn’t know Thelma had general assistance. She even had money saved up. You know, we were goin out collectin cans and goin to the soup line and bringin food back and things like that.
So there’s just nothin left to do. You know I ask her, “Well, what should we do? Do you want to get married again? Do you want to get a boat? What can we do? Can we make a boat? Is there somethin we can do?” Cause then she qualified for the regular 700 dollar a month check. You know, we don’t need near that much, so the money builds up. We’ve already been on a trip to Honduras. And I can’t see anything I want to do cause mankind, I’ve become disgusted with mankind. And I can’t find anywhere where they’re not. I liked Honduras. I liked the Aljua River. But she don’t want to go to Honduras. They’re puttin concrete there. It breaks your heart. It’s really bad there to see the developing. I listen to the radio. Honduras is a big 33 cents an hour workplace. There’s so many sad stories there. They’re so poor they’re just wreakin the place with all these businesses that are leavin the United States. They’re goin down there and they don’t pay em anything. God, there fenced in compounds and there’s trucks and it breaks your heart cause you could still see the original river. The river is still there. It doesn’t have dikes on it. Big river, bigger than the Sacramento River and it’s in it’s original flow. I mean, I cried down there.
You know I tell Thelma, “There’s just makin a total wreak.” That’s what happened to me during the five years I been here. I had hoped that the magic of that soup line, there was a lot of magic happenin. The love and just giving things. There just given soup and off a that a lot of neat things were happenin. And I had feelings, naiive, that uh...and besides the lady that was runnin the soup line said there was a UFO that was gonna land. She kept tellin us a UFO’s gonna land and change everything. And I’ve been waitin for a UFO. It was gonna make everything right. We got married right out of that soup line. We were famous in there. We only go there once every six months. Thelma doesn’t want to go there. It’s changed too. That speed has really messed them up. All them people taken speed.You know here they are given stuff away and these monsters come in there. You know there was guys got shot and killed out front after we left. Shot right in the forehead. The whole city got really bad. So I just sit here and listen to the radio and think, man now look what they’ve done. And I don’t have hope for the future. Just kinda hangin out and watch what happens. Mostly we just stay here. It’s nice to be here. It’s pleasant to be here and so that’s why were here. Cause every time we go out of here it’s down hill. You know I can hear it on the radio, you know people are finally sayin, “My goodness, things are a wreak.” There’s a lot of people losin hope. You can hear it on the radio. You know I had hopes, but know I think man is a disaster because of machinery. I don’t think it’s gonna get better. I don’t have hope. Whats gonna happen to poor Thelma? Cause without hope my health is goin down fast. I’m getting old. But if you got hope and spirit, boy, you can stay young. It’s in the mind. My teeth are bad and I can’t even bend over and touch my toes. I’m not gonna last for near as long as she’s gonna last. And I think, “What’s gonna go happen to Thelma?” I got a hernia and I’m not gonna go to the doctor. Thelma asks me every day to go for a walk and sometimes I don’t wanna go so she just goes off by herself. You see how everything is all hand done. Everything is all swept up and everything. She does that by hand, all the little rocks and everything by hand. Just to keep stretchin. She keeps herself goin. Usually I just sit around, listen to the radio, do crossword puzzles.
David come with his groups and some of em are so nuts. There’s a whole bunch of strangers. I like people to come who we already know Sylvia was a fun guest. she was startin to come regularly before they moved. But when you have a whole bunch of people that are strangers asking you questions, “How long ya been here?” The best question is when that little kid asked, “Is this real?”
What I found out livin out here, you know I started out, I didn’t know anything about plants and know sittin up here, since I see another couple of invading plants every year, two new ones. I realize that those are taken over the world. When David went down to Chili the broom was all over down in Chili. I didn’t know anything about these invading plants. They don’t hardly ever talk about it. Occasionally on the radio, but they’re taken over the whole world. These strong invasive species are just taken over.
Developer Sherman Eubanks of Visitacion Associates who wants to build on San Bruno Mountain...talking to David Schooley in a phone interview
Sherm & Dave Have A Chat
I was born in the little town of Cambria and that’s near San Simeon which is owned by the Hearst Family. I was born in the same room my father was born in 26 years earlier. My mother came to Cambria to teach and all the single school teachers stayed at the Eubanks home in Cambria—that’s my grandparents. We all lived in San Simeon for the first 23 years of my life. I grew up in the castle from day one. My sister was fatally burned when she was three years old and she died, so I grew up as an only child. I was born in 1923 and the castle started in 1919. My dad was an electrician and plumber involved in everything up to the time the castle was almost finished. It was never finished. Hearst kept building on it most of his life.
I went to school in San Simeon. There were five kids in the whole school. My mother was the school teacher and that included 8th grade to grammar school. I went to high school in Cambria; it was the only highschool between Carmel and San Luis Obispo. And then I went to the University of California and then World War II broke out and I went into the army for three years and then came back and finished at Cal and graduated as a Civil Engineer in June 1, 1948 and on July 1, 1948 (almost 50 years ago) I went to work for a man who owned San Bruno Mountain and a lot of other land in California, Crocker Estate Company. It had a lot of subsidiary companies, the best known was Crocker Land Company. I’ve been involved in everything that happened on San Bruno Mountain for the last 48 years.
My 3 children have been on San Bruno Mountain but my grandchildren haven’t. I have two daughters and a son and both daughters are married. One daughter and her husband own some service stations and the other daughter married a doctor and they live in Fairfield. And my son lives in the East Bay and works for Chevron. My wife’s still alive and were all doing well. I’m 73 and quite active; I played 6 rounds of tennis a few days ago. Incidently, my horse voice comes from paralyzed vocal cords. So that’s why I’m sounding so funny.
My first job was to build a road from the Saddle area of San Bruno Mountain to the top of the mountain to put television antennas on top of the mountain. I supervised the construction of that road. There was already a dirt road from Daly City to Brisbane; Colma to Cross Ranch Road. We built a road from the intersection of Cross Ranch Road up to the towers; Radio Road. That was about 1949. The purpose of that was television was just coming into its being and so we had to find the highest point which was the summit area,1350 feet above sea level. So we built some towers up there and leased it to KRON TV, KTVU, and some others. We had 8 or 9 towers up there in no time, really.
We had a rancher by the name of Hansen who ran dairy cattle on the mountain and there was some gardening up there. You can check with Vince Marselli on that. I think one of his brothers did some farming up there, in the Saddle. Those were the only activities. The quarrying there by Brisbane started, I think, in the early 1900’s. It coulda been earlier than that, I’m not sure.
Charles Crocker aquired the property in about 1884 or prior to that. Volume I of the HCP has a historical review and it talks about when Crocker acquired the mountain and the title. The dates when it passed to Crocker Land Company and then to McKesson. And then it talks about the various developments that were proposed. It’s a good resource.
When I first came to work for the company in 1948 we didn’t have a good topography of the mountain and photogrammarty was just coming into its own. They needed a control place for physical and horizontal control on the mountain and so I established those. So when the aerial photographer came over they could identify brush points and trail crossings and things. And I could tell em the elevation and the coordinates of those points, so they could be converted into a topographic map. In the process of doin that I carried a transit over almost every square inch of San Bruno Mountain in about 1949.
The mountain was so big, it was natural that it should get annexed into three or four towns. On the south side of the mountain it was oriented toward South San Francisco and that’s where the development lands finally went. On the Guadelupe side, the watershed lands, it seemed to me that everything in the watershed should go into Brisbane. But Brisbane wasn’t even a city in those days.
We started the Crocker Industrial Park in about 1960 before Brisbane became incorporated. We built a sewage treatment plant because we knew we had to have one for the Park. Brisbane was discharging raw sewage into the bay. And so we got together with the Brisbane sewer maintenance district and said, “We Crocker will build you a sewage treatment plant and take your sewage for a fee as well as the projected sewage from Crocker Industrial Park,” and that’s what we did. It worked out fine. And then as the years went by the water pollution control board established higher treatment for the sewage. It was cheaper for us to build a line to San Francisco to the Southeast treatment plant in San Francisco, than it was to add on an additional facility to our sewage treatment plant. So that’s what happened and that’s what’s being done today.
We always wanted our industrial park to be something we could really be proud of. In those days the Crockers owned all the land and buildings; everything in the industrial park was leased to various users. Crocker’s thrust was that it made more sense to sell. So as of today Crocker doesn’t own anything.
February 1, 1973 Visitacion Associates opened and was a joint venture with Crocker Land Company and Amfac of Hawaii. We portioned out 1400 acres out of the 3600 acres of San Bruno Mountain and the purpose was to provide a partnership that would develop some of the developable land that was owned by the Crockers. And those 1400 acres have all been transferred into Visitacion Associates. Almost all of those acres have been sold to various builders. The Saddle was donated by Visitacion Associates, not Crocker Land Company. So anyway does that answer your question?
Amfac is no longer involved. They became interested in the early 70’s. We had put Amfac buildings in Crocker Industrial Park and I became quite well aquainted and heard of their desire to develop lands in the Bay Area and I thought they’d be good partners. We had the land and they had the know how. And so we formed a joint venture.
Around 1965 Amfac decided they didn’t want to be involved anymore and in 1986 another developer bought Amfac’s interest and so since that time we’re still Visitacion Associates but Amfac is no longer involved and of course McKesson bought Crocker Land Company in 1970 and so McKesson became the other partner for Visitacion Associates.
My feelings for Brisbane blew hot and cold for different reasons. We always thought Brisbane should incorporate and then we would annex. Things got started off and things were going good and we agreed to annexation of the industrial park. And then there came a period of time in which the City didn’t want any development on the mountain.
“You were among those who didn’t want any development.” And so, “We were very displeased by that Dave. I think you know that.”
The plan for shaving off the top of the mountain and filling the bay, that was another development that Crocker was in with David Rockefeller and his brother and sister, and Ideal Cement Company. We’d fill in maybe a thousand acres of tidelands south of the airport using material from San Bruno Mountain. South of the airport is where Ideal Cement Company owned their land.
We had marvelous plans where I think around 20 miles of shoreline would be easily accessed by the public where only half a mile existed.
We were gonna take material from the Southeast Ridge—the area above Brisbane between Brisbane and South San Francisco. We weren’t taking the whole mountain down. We were taking 250 million yards which would have lowered the elevation by several hundred feet up above 600 acres. It was on our own property, you see Brisbane doesn’t go all the way to the top of the mountain. We were gonna take that area above Brisbane almost over to the quarry. That’s what we had in mind. The name of the flagship we had was Westbay Community Associates. That was 1/3 Crocker, 1/3 Rockefeller and 1/3 Ideal Cement, the ownership. And so that area was in mind for a source of fill for the tidelands development. The BCDC came in and that plan was scrapped. Ultimately we dedicated the land on which we had planned the borrow site, at no cost, to the public domain, that’s roughly 600 acres.
I’ve always heard stories of a shellmound but never actually knew that there was anything in there and I still don’t.
I’ve been with some of the people from SF State and drilled down and they found the shells to be about 6 or 7 feet, which means about 5000 years of use. We’ve found a mortar and pestle, arrowheads and some bones.
Oh that’s interesting. “I’m kind of a frustrated archeologist myself, Dave.” I have a big collection of arrowheads I picked up on the Hearst Ranch in San Simeon. And as you can expect, there were thousands of indians out there. I got em buried in the attic. They haven’t seen the light of day for forty years.
I knew that the top of the mountain, that’s now the county park, was always in the minds of a lot of you people for the park. And that we probably couldn’t move ahead with development until we satisfied all of you environmentalists with a park. So I negotiated the sale and gift of San Bruno Mountain County Park, to the county. And that went ahead. But that was with the understanding that there be a development on the area north of Guadelupe Canyon Parkway.
That’s when the environmentalists got involved and we went through hearings with San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. And they decided the Saddle should be in open space. But they did say we could build on the Northeast Ridge and South San Francisco. But the open space designation killed the heart of the development which was to be on the Saddle Area. The big development would have been the Saddle, but that wasn’t to be.
So we donated 25 or 30 million dollars worth of land to the State of California for a State Park and we sold about 5 million dollars worth to the state. So the state park is roughly 300 acres and that was done March 8th, 1980. And then 10 days later we were informed that the federal government was gonna establish an endangered species habitat for the Mission blue and Callippe Silverspot. That was a shock and that was on the Northeast Ridge and the South San Francisco properties on which the county said we could build.
We thought you guys were up to some skullduggery. We were very unhappy about it. But that set in motion what to do about it. Which was to comply with the Endangered Species Act.
We thought we would get together with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and come up with a plan that made them happy and the environmentalists happy. A plan we could all live with. And that’s what we did. In 1983 we signed the San Bruno Mountain Habitat Conservation Plan. And that’s enforced today. I think the ESA had been relied on unfairly by the environmentalists to do nothing more than stop development.
“I don’t enforce or reccommend you should do the dam HCP funding for the endangered species that your trying to save. I really don’t think so Dave.”
Most of you don’t either. You know it doesn’t work. And as far as endangered species, have you ever seen a San Francisco Garter Snake?
Yes, it’s almost 23 years ago, up at the base of Devil’s Arroyo, near the back end of the industrial park, down at the base of the little canyon, in some moisty area where it’s wet all year long—riparian habitat.
Well you’re the only person alive to see one. The HCP? I think it’s doing what it’s intended to do and that is they’re taking an allowance from the landowners and using it to eradicate gorse or something like that. So it’s going the way it was intended to go. It’s a good plan from everybody elses point of view. What do you think of it?
Well, I have serious worries about Reid Associates and efforts that have not been properly done. We’re in contact with some of his employees at all times. We’ll see what happens. But our group has been carefully taking photographs of his attempts to remove gorse. Were still having doubts about his removal of gorse and his attempts to recreate Mission blue habitat.
Almost all the gorse is in the Saddle, isn’t it? There’s not too many Mission blue in the Saddle anyway. Mission blue habitat was on the Northeast Ridge and South Slopes. I know Tom Reid quite well. I know Victoria Harrison too. I’m good friends with all of em.
Chat # II
Dave’s trip with the mountain
I’ve been here for almost 30 years and I remember some of the canyons that did not have trees or heavy scrub. It was grassland and it’s worrisome, now they’re like forests.
I explored the canyons so that I could locate verticle and horizontal control for aerial photographs and so to the extent that I had to find certain trees or shrubs or paths or so on to show in the photographs. I explored it from that point of view. I’d have the aerial photographs in hand and I had to determine the elevation of the horizontal and verticle control of them so we could get topography on the whole mountain. That’s almost 50 years ago now. I wouldn’t remember rocks or foliage or that sort of thing cause I was never in one place long enough.
Most of the people I knew who were familiar with the mountain lived in Brisbane. You know Dick Schroder use to own the hardware store and Frank Walsh. Vince Marselli would be very knowledgable about the mountain. I use to work with Vince and Guido Marselli, Vince’s brother, was very knowledgable, particularly about Guadelupe Valley Sewage Treatment Plant. Guido and Vince both visited city hall almost daily.
We were involved with the people from Daly City and San Francisco when we built and developed Serramonte Shopping Center, but most of them passed away also. You know, like Clyde Gellert and his brother Fred. Volume 1 paragraph number 2 of the San Bruno Mountain Habitat Conservation Plan, there’s a historical review. There’s quite a bit of language on the history of the mountain.
Radio Road, when you made that, that was being done for the radio? The Nike Base?
That was being done for television and radio. There was TV there until we built a road to the top of the mountain. Channel 2 and 4 were the first ones up on the mountain and one of my first projects when I was a young engineer out at Cal was to design a road and supervise it’s contruction to go from the Cross Ranch Road which is through the Saddle from Daly City to Brisbane, and to take it from that point on up to the top of the mountain, which we did. And then they were gonna build the towers on the top of the mountain. That was done in 1948 and 1949. That was my first work on San Bruno Mountain.
The Nike Base? I think that was the early 50’s when Nike was a big thing with the army. They were gonna condemn a lot of land for Nike Base and we got into a deal with them for a dollar a year with the understanding that when Nike was no longer needed the land would revert to us, which is what it did. So Nike went out of style, it was obsolete not too long after it was created. We no longer own the sites, of course.
Did you ever camp out on the mountain? Were you ever into camping in other places? Did you like hunting? How do you feel about wildlife? The Endangered Species Act?
I had my fill of camping the three years I was in the army. I did some hunting down home on the Hearst Ranch but there really wasn’t that much wild game on San Bruno Mountain.
The thing that bothers me is the Endangered Species Act takes in micro-organisms and everything else that are no earthly good to anybody. I don’t enjoy those kinds of species but I do like deer, wild turkey, boars and stuff like that. We don’t have those on the mountain though.
I lived on the Hearst Ranch and there was a lot of wildlife so I just grew up with a lot of wildlife, ducks and deer and turkeys and rattlesnakes. There use to be a bounty on mountain lions of 25 dollars. This goes back maybe 65 years and for that reason I never did shoot a mountain lion but I saw em brought into the ranch headquarters, a half a dozen or so.
Tell me more about your feelings about the Endangered Species Act; about the worry over endangered species; about the destruction of the rainforests and habitats around the world? A lot of fragile areas are disappearing. Endangered species are an indicator that whole ancient ecosystems are coming apart and that’s something science is very worried about.
I guess it serves a purpose but it goes far beyond what it ever intended to do in the first place. I know you use the ESA as a reason to stop development but that goes far beyond the intent of the federal government in the first place, I believe.
I don’t have any worry about endangered species. I’m not concerned about rainforest destruction and all that. That belongs to generations many years from now. The Endangered Species Act takes care of most of the important animals. I think losing some of the species isn’t gonna make a difference one way or the other to future generations.
Ya know Dave there’s atleast 2000 acres of publicly owned land on the mountain, that we use to own and that’s gonna stay in perpetuity. And in addition to that there’s a lot of acreage in the subdivided lands that is going into conserved habitat in perpetuity. In respect to the whole mountain I think the public has benefited tremendously by with the Habitat Conservation Plan and our philanthropy.
You know we gave away most of that Saddle worth almost 30 million dollars. And people seem to forget those things. There’s in-excess of 2000 acres up there and I think the plants and wildlife indigenous to San Bruno Mountain will not only remain but thrive because of the work of the Habitat Conservation Plan. And we committed thousands of dollars to help maintain those things in perpetuity, but I don’t think anybody knows that.
If you get on an airplane within five minutes you get out of the Bay Area and you hit a lot of open space that’s remained that way for thousands of years. And San Bruno Mountain’s 2000 acres are gonna cultivate all those things that you like.
About the shellmound, you know this supposed study by Miley Holman? Who has that study?
WW Dean, they’re the ones who had the copy. South City didn’t get one and I was not given one. I even called up and asked. They said no, they were gonna keep it. It’s been very secret and South City has been very angry that they haven’t even heard about the study.
We owned the property and I never did get one either. You know that site number 40 that’s over in Terrabay Commercial property, didn’t you say that you or somebody had put down auger holes tryin to see what they could find, what did they find?
Well that has not been made public but apparently it does involve bones, human bones, the indians bones and other things, indications of how deep the site is, of the use of man and places of fire. But I’ve still not received a copy of Miley Holman’s study.
Call the owners, SunChase. SunChase G. A. California I, Inc. that’s the title to the commercial property. If SunChase said you can go dig into that, you could dig it all up and give it to a university or something. Is that something you would do?
I would leave it as it is. The idea is to maintain a place where indian people lived for thousands of years for people to understand the place and the way they lived in a certain area.
Well how would you maintain it?
Well it would have to be carefully worked with as best you can to make sure that native plants are there. And there’s a creek there, a year long flow of water and it’s right next to the bay and the native things are right there. There are Buckeye trees and so people would get the ideas about how the indians lived in San Francisco and the Peninsula. Would you have interest in that as part of a park?
Not me, because weve already given 2000 acres to the park service. They could carefully have archeologists dig it up and put it in some local museum. That way somebody could see the stuff. You’re sayin it’s there, somebody else is sayin it’s there. But you can’t see the bones or the arrowheads or anything. I think the same native plants are a hundred feet away on conserved habitat land. I don’t even know who Miley Holman is.
He use to work at the university, at SF State and now he’s a private archeological worker.
What steps do you want to take to see that it’s preserved?
There’ll be a careful study and you can even find out what kinds of plants or trees use to be there and we could carefully replace the native plants right along the creek and right around the shellmound. And in other areas were removing non-native things, plants from all over the world to maintain native things on San Bruno Mountain. So that would be done on the shellmound.
Would it take into account the Habitat Conservation Plan?
Well they talk about it but they don’t do it very well. Do you remember Bette Higgins? What did you think of her?
Bette was an environmentalist and she had another girl working with her, Mimi Whitney. They were well intentioned, well meaning environmentalists who met with us in the early years, in the early 70’s I think. I think one of em lived in Brisbane and one in South City. And I met with them a number of times about the park on San Bruno. They came around and said, “I don’t want you to build, put your development some place else, we don’t want it on the mountain.” Bette and Mimi came in to see me.
Frank Calton worked for me at Crocker Land Company, he’s a good man Dave. He’s retired now, he’s a civil engineer from Cal also and a very capable guy and he was in charge of the mountain for a while. He came to work as a civil engineer for Crocker Land Company and we put him in charge of marketing our industrial parks, you know we had them all around the Bay Area, we had two in Hayward, one in Fremont, one in Vacaville, we had so much work going on that we needed some very capable people to design it market it and build it. And he was the guy.
Chat # III
Sherm’s trip with development
When Charles Crocker died in 1888 they formed a company, called Crocker Estate Company, to administer his estate. After that we started a number of subsidiary companies for various functions. For example in Merced, we owned a big cattle ranch. So in Merced City Water System, there was Crocker Land and Water Company.
San Francisco Universal Land Company had our buildings and we had a few other companies like Crocker Aetna Company which owned the 38 story highrise we have here and where I am right now.
Crocker Land Company got it’s name by a name change from Crocker Huffman Land and Water Company. We changed to Crocker Land Company for the purpose of developing our industrial parks like the one in Brisbane and others. And holding for our lands to be developed like San Bruno Mountain and Merced properties. Crocker Land Company got its name sometime in the 1950’s or 60’s. I was here at that time and suggested the name change, so I know that was done somewhere between 1948 and now.
I love the outdoors just as you do. I graduated from highschool in 1941 and that’s when World War II started. I chose civil engineering and went to University of California, at Berkeley. In 1942, I went into the United States Army and stayed there until January of 1946. Then I came home, went back to Cal and finished up.
I took all the mandatory classes for a degree in civil engineering. And engineering at Cal is tough. It’s one of the best schools in the United States for civil engineering. There was a lot of work involved with it, surveying, materials testing, mathematics, physics and chemistry. And I worked throughout college as a janitor in some private doctors offices, near the university. I worked after hours and on weekends.
I was entitled to the GI bill. That was pretty nice, it was about 70 dollars a month which would just cover the room and board at Delta Epsilon Fraternity where I joined. I got a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. I didn’t go for a Masters, I was anxious to get out and get started, because I was already 25 years old when I graduated. I married a girl from Stockton who went to Cal the same time I did. I got out of Cal in June of 48 and got married in September of 48.
In highschool I dreamed of building things, dams and highways and bridges and large scale projects. And that turned out to be what I did really. After I graduated from Cal I went to work for Crocker Estate Company. At that time, engineers were in short supply because during World War II there was a stoppage of all development.
Then development started up in a big way and so there was a big need for civil engineers and there was lots of opportunities. The job that looked the best and turned out to be the best was with the Crocker Estate which had a lot of land, a lot of money and the desire to proceed with development of some of its properties. I’ve never been sorry that I made that choice. I’ve been with Crocker Land, and now McKesson who bought Crocker Land, since I graduated from college.
After I got out of the service in 1946, I worked at the Hearst Castle. There was always a lot of construction going on there. Then the Hearst Family wanted to build a new airport, so I became the field engineer for that, at San Simeon, and worked on that until I went back to Cal in September of 46. So that was my biggest job other than the one I’m in now.
My interest in development began at the Hearst Castle and continued on through the university. My hobbies? Tennis and water skiing and boating.
We’ve sold all our property on San Bruno Mountain except a ten acre commercial property down near the northwest corner of Bayshore and Guadelupe Canyon Parkway. So I’m presently just working on that and on a cleanup of all the various parcels that have to be conveyed under the Habitat Conservation Plan. I’m still working just on San Bruno Mountain. I’m also on several Boards of Directors for companies that have land in Reno Nevada. But that’s just as a director rather than as somebody working on development.
I looked for Frank Calton’s address last nite Dave, and I couldn’t find it. I think they moved to this place and I told you I thought the name Quaker was associated with it. I don’t know whether it’s Quaker Bay or Quaker City or somethin like that, near the town of Folsome, up in Sacramento County.
I hired Frank. He went to Cal too and graduated in civil engineering. He’s a lot younger than I am. He came to work for us as a civil engineer and he possessed a lot of fine qualities. And he became in charge of industrial parks and in charge of our Vacaville purchase and development up there. Did you know that we owned about 2000 acres up by the Nut Tree in Vacaville? We sold that to Chevron about 15 years ago. Frank was in charge of that operation for us.
Then there came a time when Crocker Land Company was absorbed into McKesson. For about 8 or 10 years McKesson decided they didn’t want to be in the land business any more. Crocker Land people left, Frank left. And we’re involved in the residue, you might say, of San Bruno Mountain, that is, getting rid of our last parcels of property there. But I’m just here two days a week.
I remember Elizabeth McClintock from 30 or 40 years ago. I’m kinda past history. The current people you should be talkin to are Straussburger, SunChase, John Oshner who use to be with WW Dean is now with Centex Homes of Concord. They’re the biggest home builders in the United States.
Your worried about growth? What would you do with these new people coming on Dave? Do you have any children?
I think we need to be more careful and concerned about population growth. And move things in a right direction. I don’t have any kids of my own. I have all the kids I take for walks on San Bruno Mountain. And that’s hundreds of em.
I bet. I read about you all the time. This last time I read about you, was this little article that came out about the South San Francisco SunChase holdings and the possible shell middens on the Terrabay property. It said that you want SunChase to donate the shell midden to the park.
That’s probably not likely. But at least we can start with that as a chance.
Well Dave, instead of goin to the newspapers, you ought to go to talk to the developers.
We talked to the Committee to Save San Bruno Mountain to make sure they were happy and we thought you were involved there as well. Well it turns out you splintered off from them I think, into Bay Area Mountain Watch. One of the problems the developers have with environmentalists, is not knowing who to talk to, cause there’s so many environmentalists with different feelings.
This is why I’m suggesting you talk to Straussburger about that South San Francisco indian shell mound, if that’s what it is, to see what they might want to do about it. I have some thoughts on it. When you talk to him you might suggest that he give me a call and we can chat a bit about it and I can bring him up to speed on the environmental groups and that sort of thing, probably better than you can. We’ve corresponded quite a number of times and met in person a number of times.
I suggested John Oshner and I don’t know whether you’ve talked to him at all. Their office is in Concord, I’d look up Centex Homes. They’re familiar with all of the things that you’re concerned about. Centex’s purchase of property in South City involved that particular site that you’re interested in. You know that shellmound 40 or whatever it is. Anyway it’s just a suggestion. Talk to the landowners instead of the newspapers and I think you’d get a lot more satisfaction that way.
Oh, and some constructive comments I have about the papers that you sent me is that it should be dated. Most of the articles aren’t dated and secondly the articles should be attributed to somebody. It just says it’s by Bay Area Land Watch and you don’t know who that is whether that’s Schooley or Arnold or whoever it is. So I don’t know the background of the writer and I’m usually inclined to throw that kind of stuff away. Your articles should have information that shows who wrote it and the date it was written. See, some of this stuff is 15 or 20 years old.
Frank Calton, Developer with Visitacion Associates
I hired on with Crocker Land Company in 1960 as a civil engineer working on doing site planning in Crocker Industrial Park (Brisbane). The development of the industrial park had started a year earlier and the first buildings were under construction when I went to work at Crocker. The streets were in for the first unit and I was doing engineering and site layout for building.
When I was intensely involved in San Bruno Mountain it was for about a year when Foremost McKesson bought the Crocker Land Company. So for about a year before Amfac got involved Foremost McKesson was wondering what that asset was worth and what could be done with it. My position was manager of land development.
I was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and we lived in different places and I graduated from high school in San Jose and from there I went to UC Berkeley. I graduated in 1956, 40 years ago. I was always interested in community planning and local government and why things developed as they were.
In those early days there was no land planning discipline. It was part of civil engineering, so that’s what I took at Berkeley. My emphasis was on the sanitary engineering part of it.
I was interested in water works and sanitary sewage treatment.
Then we moved to Richmond where we lived for 35 years, up until very recently. Around 1963 I got a paid position on the Richmond planning commission. I spent two years there from 1963 to 65, while I was working for Crocker Land Company. I got familiar with general plan legislation and why that was being done. It was for environmental impact reports.
So when I was on the planning commission and we were making plans I thought that everything should be in balance. If you had a community you had to have open space, you had to have provision for jobs, you had to have adequate infrastructure to service what you were doing. At that stage of the game, I didn’t know a whole lot about endangered species, but I did have a sense that there had to be open space. One of the woman on the planning commission, who I got to know pretty well, was one of the initial people in the Save The Bay Association. So we use to talk about these kinds of things, you know, quite apart from my work at Crocker Land Company.
I spent two years in the army from 56 to 58 and then two years working for a small civil engineering consulting firm in Modesto.
I really can’t say that I was interested in camping and nature. In all honesty I was interested in playing ball and I had a paper rout and I went to school. It was pretty routine. During World War II, being into the environment was not encouraged; we had gas stamps.
There was a lot of political actions on San Bruno Mountain, like the marches over the mountain. The people didn’t want Ticky Tacky houses where they all look just the same, as the old song went. The Saddle area together with the ridge lines were the chief areas of contention. At that time nobody had a real focus on what the primary issues were.
It was emotional, at least I thought so. From being on the planning commission, I always believed you can solve problems by talking with people, so any time I was invited by any group, I’d go.
I was pretty young at the time and I always got along well with Sherman on a personal basis. I went to public meetings and had contact with the elected people. We were trying to influence the political process.
I got to know Bette and Mimi and I think we developed a mutual respect. I was at meeting with the political leadership and LAFCO and with the management of Foremost McKesson. Sherm Eubanks was my boss. We assembled a team of professionals to develop a balanced plan, given all the input. We were also trying to understand the nature of San Bruno Mountain and all the other kinds of input that I was receiving. I thought we had a pretty decent professional team, in terms of doing the appropriate land planning.
I thought we were moving ahead in a favorable direction and then one day I heard that Amfac was considering a west coast office. They had their Hawaii company, the ??? motel, they owned I Magnin and a couple other stores. I went down to Los Angeles to meet with them cause we were talking about some office buildings in the Saddle. I wanted to find out whether that was a realistic objective from a marketing point of view. So the next thing I knew they decided to buy 50% of the project and when that happened I moved on and did other things. That’s why I was only involved with the mountain for a year.
I thought that during that year we were making pretty good progress. We were trying to take in a lot of input and still move ahead relatively quickly. Of course this was before the butterflies and all the other kinds of endangered species considerations and we just didn’t know about them at the time.
We did some photographs and brochures and tried to communicate the setting and the beauty of the area. I was already gone when the Citizen’s EIR was done. John Vogly was the landscape architect and he was the one who defined plants and animals and so we tried to consider all those kinds of things. Your complaints about our EIR, that wouldn’t be John Vogly’s fault because he did what we asked him to do. We didn’t have a lot of sensitivity to natural kinds of things. We were on a learning curve, too. I think everybody was.
When I was involved there was no awareness of the shellmounds. The studies must have been done later. I think we knew that indians had been in that area just as we knew that indians had been in just about every place in the Bay Area. But we didn’t have any idea that there had been any habitation. I did hear there was one down in the Colma area or maybe it was Daly City, I’ve kinda forgotten. But in those early days we didn’t worry too much about that and I guess the thought was, well it’s so windy there on San Bruno Mountain, they’ed probably look for a more sheltered place. But that was what you might call novice thinking anyway.
There’s 3 or 4 cross currents. That’s why I was talking to everybody. So I could work through the process to determine balance. There was some opposition. It was not from the leadership of your group (CSSBM) but I think they were affiliated with your group. They were pretty adamant and didn’t think we had any right to do anything on the mountain, as private developers. I don’t remember the names of the individuals but I remember once I went to one of the local highschools, it may have been Jefferson Highschool and it was the first time I had kinda been yelled off. They had some students there who clearly weren’t interested in listening to me.
I had been invited to some festivity like Earth Day or something like that. They just yelled that I was rippen em off. They were not interested in hearing anything. But that was about the only time where I felt that. Mostly with people, we may have had differing points of view but atleast we were willing to listen to one another. And I was always willing to listen to anybody.
I was 12 years on the schoolboard in Richmond where I spent a lot of my spare time working with the Urban Creeks Council. One of the things we did was stop the county flood control from putting a concrete line in where there was a creek next to a school.
The county had the core of engineers and everybody else on their side, but I know just enough about flood control to know that we were being snowed and so we stopped it. It was brought to my attention by the Urban Creeks Council and I thought they had a good point. There didn’t need to be a concrete line channel. It could be restored as a natural creek and it could be a learning experience for the kids. It happened to be right through north Richmond, probably the poorest area economically in the entire Bay Area. That happened maybe 10 years ago. They did a good thing.
I can’t say I’ve been politically active either way, but when it came my turn to do something well then I did it.
Elizabeth McClintock Author of
A Flora Of The San Bruno Mountains
I was born in Los Angeles in Southern California. And I came to the Bay Area around 1949 because I had a job. I’d been at graduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where I got my PhD in botany. My thesis was on a monograph of the genus Hydrangia.
There was a position open at the California Academy of Sciences (CAS). I worked at the Academy until I retired in 1957. There was a director there that was not sympathetic toward women, nor toward the botany department. But I don’t want to be quoted, see. In the early years there was a nice director there, Robert Miller. They don’t recognize me there, anymore. I’m not listed as ever having worked there.
I started going onto San Bruno Mountain probably early in the 1960’s. The book was first published in 1968. Walter Knight and his wife Erie, and I were quite friendly and we just started going on the mountain and I started making these collections of plants. After several years I made quite a collection and had notes. I suppose the collections are still at the Academy but I haven’t looked at them for years. I go there sometimes but I have no connection anymore.
I have a file with some of my notes on San Bruno Mountain. It just seemed like a good idea to do a little flora on the mountain. I’d visited some areas in San Francisco but I didn’t want to duplicate anything that John Thomas Howles was doing. He was working at CAS at the same time I was and he was interested in native plants. I became interested in ornamental plants. But I did some collecting also. I did a few collections around in San Francisco and then I started making these collections on San Bruno Mountain.
I did the native plants of San Bruno Mountain. There’s no ornamentals there. So anyway, I just wrote that up. Walter Knight contributed, he had been with me when I made the collections and then Neil Faye did a couple of early sections in the flora.
My writing a book on the flora had something to do with the fact that Guadelupe Canyon Parkway was going to be built. I knew about that because I just knew about what Crocker Land Company was going to do. I think I had met Sherman Eubanks about that time. I had no animosity at all toward him he was always very friendly. And in fact he joined us once on San Bruno Mountain as I recall, but I’d have to look back and see if I have it in my notes. I’m a little hazy now. You know this was way back in the 1960’s, thirty years ago.
I’m sure I was worried about Guadelupe and all the development planned for the mountain but what could I do? It was Crocker Land Company that owned the land.
There was somebody at the Crocker Land Company that I had talked to before I talked to Sherman Eubanks. I don’t remember his name. I had met Mary Holmans, who was a Crocker. She moved away around 25 years ago. The Rockefellers and the Crockers were related and she was a cousin, I think, of David Rockefeller. Anyway, she knew about San Bruno Mountain and Mary was the one who first interested me in San Bruno Mountain.
She knew about the mountain because it was part of the Crocker Land Company’s properties. I’ve just completely lost track of her and don’t remember any details right now. Really I was just interested in the plants. Any of the people concerned were just incidental.
I met Helen Crocker Russell once. She was a cousin of Mary Holmans. Mary came through her mothers line, but she was a descendent of the Big Charles Crocker. There were two Crocker brothers, I recall. You can get all this information from Sherman Eubanks.
Sometime later the Crocker Land Company dissolved. Mary Holman was a member of the Crocker Land Company. Her husband later died and she left after he died. He was a member of the Crocker Land Company Board because he was married to her. They were not interested in the plants. And being a botanist...plants were my sole interest. I have this vague recollection that they had to dissolve the Crocker Land Company because there were so many Crockers involved, there were conflicts of interest. But don’t quote me on that. I’m very vague.
James Roof made no contributions to the flora. I thank him in the book because we went on the mountain together. He was a friend of Walter Knight’s at that time and later they became unfriendly. James Roof lived, at one time, sort of at the foot of San Bruno Mountain. He looked on the mountain as his mountain. And he was friendly enough in the beginning, we went on two or three trips together. I don’t know that he ever really became unfriendly with me or disliked me for what I did on the mountain.
Jim wanted to write something about San Bruno Mountain but he would never have written flora. He would never have done what I did. He wanted to write, sort of a popular account of San Bruno Mountain. Maybe something like kind that you’re working on. He had lots of photographs and Alice Howard may have them but I haven’t seen Alice for years. I use to know her a long time ago and we were always very friendly but we didn’t keep up with each other. She worked at the University of California Herbarium and that was where I first knew her and was friendly with her. Then she retired quite a number of years ago and I didn’t see her anymore. She was a great friend of Jim Roof and I have a vague recollection that she acquired his many photographs.
Robin Crabill SF Librarian
Bay Area Mountain Watch
Rock collecting juxtaposed against all this political work was really interesting. I was writing, researching HCP’s, getting into using a computer and behind all that was my fascination with crystals.
I moved to San Francisco at the end of 75 and was getting to be more of a rock and mineral collector every year. I was working at the first new age crystal jewelry shop in San Francisco and the owner told me about crystals on San Bruno Mountain. I was living in Glen Park on the hill so I had a direct view of San Bruno Mountain looking south. Here was a place to find free quartz crystals.
Around 1981 I read about the HCP in the Progress and called David and Bay Area Mountain Watch. The article was about the HCP standing up to BAMW’s challenge, beating off the challenge and actually becoming law. Other than the newspaper there wasn’t any way to learn about the mountain. There wasn’t the park display kiosk yet.
After I met David he took me to Devil’s Arroyo. I got poison oak needless to say. We camped up in Owl Canyon and I kept doing these hikes to look for crystals. I went to Serbian Ravine on the west side of the mountain. There’s a little knob south of the radio transmitters and you can’t get to it. Most of it’s grown over.
There was some very wet winters. I would go and see where the landslides were and that was my chance to look at the soil and occasionally I’d find crystals. In 1982, the whole Bay Area washed away and flooded. I was walking down all those ravines on both sides of Radio Road. I’d been going up on the mountain around 6 months, finding quartz crystals, when I met David.
Around 84 or 5, I really started getting tied in and writing for David. The first thing I wrote was a leaflet on the occasion of the official opening of San Bruno Mountain Park. There was a hundred people there, politicians and stuff, and we decided we would bombard them with this leaflet—a piece of writing that was fairly bombastic propaganda.
A little later, I created the $1 billion condo bux. People said if you added up all the developments around the mountain, it was 1 billion dollars at stake. That seems a little low.
I handed condo bux out at some hearings in South City. I gave it to all the council people. We handed a packet of leaflets and the buck was clipped to the top of it. It was a nice little bit of propaganda. I enjoyed creating propaganda. The crazy poem where everything’s lined up down the middle of the page, I wrote that.
Condo bux was done like my first leaflet, on an old manual typewriter, before I had a computer. I took the border from actual bills that were photocopied. The dinosaur is from Calvin and Hobbes. The writing is mine and the typing is from my terrible manual typewriter.
Joe Majer was an interesting guy. He did the topo map of the Buckeye Canyon shellmound. He rented the surveying equipment—the stick and tripod. Several of us helped him lay this out and then he drew it out with the elevations.
He’s a union carpenter and a wanna-be archeologist. He would pay his own way to Egypt and do these studies. He’s sort of an outsider. He was not a grad student then, and I don’t know if he was planning to go to grad school but he did take some courses at S.F. State.
Joe was an outsider and he kept tryin to get all the archeology reports for San Bruno Mountain including reports about the South Slopes shellmound—Phase III of Terrabay. That’s gonna be under a parking lot. The reports were considered highly confidential and nobody could see them. Joe couldn’t even look at them because the state doesn’t want people digging up indian artifacts.
They think we’re gonna all dig up indian burial places. They said, “No access to these archeology documents.” You could ask him about that. I have a copy of his report and we refer to it since then as one of our little archeological studies that we did. It was our only archeological study.
This was 12 years ago, Bay Area Mountain Watch. I was there when we voted in Lorraine Burtzloff. We needed a president and she was one of the most active at the time. David was willing to let someone else have the spotlight, as always, so he says.
It didn’t work out with her. She drove people nuts. She’s a coiled spring. A fritzy, pulling person that drives people nuts. It was her personality. Everybody started quitting.
She chose to go off in a different direction and split off into a new group that goes up and down in membership and interest. Lorraine got into fighting the dumps and fighting the developer planning to build on the former dumpsites.
David felt he had to get the focus back to the mountain. And Lorraine walked off with the BAMW title, so we needed another name. I was aware that Brian Gaffney was incorporating BAMW. On the first incorporation papers they made me sign in as a director and I never wanted to be one.
They were telling David and the new Bay Area Land Watch to go through Earth Island Institute. That would save us from having to do incorporation paperwork and having to file. So we were under Earth Island’s umbrella. We used their tax number and they took 5% off the income from our contributers.
When I first got involved I was looking for a cause and enjoyed the role. I fought against the bulldozers. Usually the bulldozers won, so I would walk along behind em and pick the crystals out of the ground. I found all kinds of nice crystals.
I wrote the first BALW newsletter and Schooley was the co-author. We got an article in Restoration Management Notes, which is a survey. It’s part of Restoration Habitat Industry professional journal.
We were disputing Tom Reid’s early claims of success on San Bruno Mountain’s HCP. Somebody told us about the journal and we put in a response. Schooley always kept huge chaotic files and I started reading everything about HCP’s. If there was an article refering to an earlier document, I would get that and I started making a HCP bibliography. Then I wrote flyers and the first of several articles on HCP’s. I thought we should get this out to environmental press and I’m not sure that exactly happened.
Around 1989, I went back to graduate school to get a masters in library science and didn’t have much to do with Schooley and his group. Then I had a few brief years of relative calm before this baby dropped into my life in 1993. A year ago I moved to Marin.
I was collecting crystals on Sundays, on the sly at Reservoir Hill. That lovely place was very nice mineral collecting ground for quite a while. It was all carved up. They were starting to bulldoze for the Point Pacific development.
I found a crystal hunting place on a road which is presumably paved over now. It had very interesting crystals that I couldn’t find anywhere else. And I do know a fair amount about quartz. These crystals were white on the outside but clear on the inside. I guess you’d call it a phantom crystal in the world of minerals. People who collect minerals knew about this place. They keep track of what’s being paved over and frequently they don’t share the best places with others especially if somebody else is gonna dig up all the good specimans.
My nice friends told me about Pointe Pacific. One guy had a place where he was finding interesting crystals around the west end just down from the reservoir on Tank Hill. It’s still there. He took me there and we found some cool stuff, interesting, big veins, with facing crystals. I found some amythest, not a very deep amythest purple color, near Nine Fern Rock.
There was some amythest on the east side terracing for Pointe Pacific. I could practically see where it was from Guadelupe Canyon Parkway. Then they filled in some of those canyons with cluster houses. I found an intergrown white/purple crystal just east and downhill from the Saddle where it’s been dug into for quite a while. The San Francisco Gem & Mineral Society use to collect there in the 50’s, old timers have told me.
Actually, I’ve kept a folder of just rock info about San Bruno Mountain. The mountain is mentioned in a few state geology publications. There were some prospects for mines up there. A prospect is something that never pans out into a mine. I never found too much metallic minerals up there. Although when they started Village in the Park, east of Pointe Pacific, I went there and found some specimans that looked like pyrite.
That’s also where I found good amythest, as well as just a few pieces of needle quartz. Those crystals are very thin and very long proportionally. So from a mineral point of view Village in the Park’s an interesting kind of place. There’s all kinds of crystal habits, i.e. crystals shapes. There’s a ton of quartz in a lot of unusual forms.
There was the roadcut along Guadelupe Canyon that I found crystals. Why I didn’t go there earlier, I don’t know, but I went there around 81 or 82. It was of those wet landslidey years. I think part of the hill slid out into the road and I went up there and saw all kinds of crystals sitting on the ground bigger and different than I found anywhere else. They have little pockets in clear quartz with water and sometimes an air bubble that moves around.
Way back early in my tenure, they built the road connecting from the Cow Palace to Guadelupe Canyon Parkway, the Carter-Martin Extension. That’s where you see a big slump a little bit uphill towards the saddle.The weeds were coming in and I would take Schooley up there frequently and dig for crystals. He would take his camera, chop fennel, take pictures and get bored.
I don’t know that many native plants but I do know some of the more common ones like lupine, all the gradeschool ones. I collected lupine seeds from all over the mountain. The ones I replanted I started at home in pots. Those plants were from that blue lupine that grows on the corner where they use to have the sign, “Welcome to San Bruno Mountain Park” it used to be further up the hill right around where the road turns. You’d see the sign, and this rocky cliff with a ton of blue lupine.
I was convinced they put the sign there so people would say, “Hey were here. It’s beautiful on San Bruno Mountain.” So what I was sprouting was the offspring of those seeds that are actually growing 200 feet away. I didn’t want to plant something from somewhere else. I wanted the seed to actually be from San Bruno Mountain; as close as possible.
I remember Schooley was trying to find HCP sites to compare before and after, to prove the HCP was bad. And John Hafernak (SFSU Biologist) waffled. Now he’s looking more standoffish. Mike Vasey’s playing political footsy, too. So there were a lot of hearings, a lot of silly things.
I did my first public speaking since high school. Schooley cajoled me to attend hearings and then signed me up, on the speakers list. And I don’t know what I spoke about—the shellmound in Buckeye Canyon or something. There was a fair amount of this.
We got a lot of signatures for the CalPaw state bond initiative around 1990. Lorraine was involved with that too. She was just brutal. She would extract signatures from the people. We use to work the SF Zoo, stand out there in the fog, and Stern Grove and any place where unsuspecting people who presumably liked nature, would sign.
That initiative helped buy Buckeye and Owl Canyon. Nobody ever said, “You, Bay Area Land Watch, You alone saved this.” There were some alliances with other groups. I don’t mean to sell out to all the other groups with their hands out from all the different counties. But there must have been some other alliances. We were talking with the Trust for Public Land about what could we do about this. Could we use you TPL as a front?
I moved about a year ago. I remember there were 6 boxes of eco-stuff and Bruno-stuff. Seems to me I kept 3 of the boxes and took em to Marin. The other 3, I gave to Schooley’s garage, cause all of a sudden I can’t find 3 files I thought I had. Things like those earliest documents and newsletters I wrote.
I talked to people on the phone and didn’t actually meet them in person, periperal scientists like Richard Arnold and all these entomologists. Talked to them when I was doing more with a newsletter, D. Benedictus, and he came out with a study on San Bruno Mountain moths and everybody wrote something then, in the newsletter, about it. And so I talked with him at the time. I did meet with that TPL guy. I was at the meeting. And I didn’t really keep up with most of these people. Bennet Johnston?
Don Schoolcraft wrote the article in the Progress about the HCP. I think it was 83 cause the amendment was 82 and then it went through the courts and then it took through the calender year of 83 to actually stand up. After the lawsuit, about which I know nothing, Mr. What’s His Name from the Biodiversity Legal Fund in Montana said, “That case was winnable.”
That’s not nice to hear at this point—beating my drum here, relentlessly. Then I worked a lot on the database for the mailing list. We were IBM and now were a Mac based organization. I set up some of the filemakers name where you print out the lables and that sort of stuff. And they spun up another list which was kind of an action list. I drove myself nuts with that database. I can tell you that.
Lu Drake, he think’s I was at all these secret meetings and I took all these notes. He know’s all this gobbledy gook details about who owns what mudflat. California is the most blessed with HCP’s of all the states. It, incidently, also has the most endangered species in all the United States. It also has the most different kinds of habitats. The most different sorts of micro climates and eco-type-systems.
So I keep these reading lists, these bibliographies. Like the seed guy Craig Dreman’s Habitat Conservation Scam. You have to order it from him in Redwood City. I’m doin my best to publicize it. Which reminds me, I should add the latest book to the list. Jerome’s book is not on the reading list.
Jim Keegan Paradise Valley South Slopes
South San Francisco Citizens For Our Mountain
The South Slopes of San Bruno Mountain was right down the street from us and all of a sudden we look up at the South Slopes and see that they were gonna put a shopping center and 1000 homes up there, in addition to all the massive development they were gonna put everywhere else on the mountain. The immediate threat to us was development of Paradise Valley. Everybody loved that meadow. And all of a sudden it was announced “Hey we’re gonna build 1000 houses and a shopping center up there. Were gonna cut that place up.” It’s all kind of hazy how we first found out, but we were horrified.
All of it started around 1971 when Visitacion Associates came onto the scene. They had done some was some preliminary work before that but they didn’t go public until around that time. They had started to draw up their Master Plan for the Saddle Area, the Northeast Ridge, and the South Slopes. Visitacion Associates is a corporate name; a joint venture of Foremost Mckesson-Robbins. And the Crocker Land Company that was a subsidiary of Chevron. They called the development Visitacion Rancho. The name was adopted from the original name the Spanish ranchers gave the mountain Rancho Visitacion.
The City of South San Francisco got involved with the developer WW Dean, when we had the election on October 6, 1981. Just three weeks before the election, which was a vote to annex the South Slopes into South San Francisco, Dean promised the City a swimming pool, a fire house and that playing field up next to the Hillside School. He wanted to enhance his chances of winning the election. We opposed his contribution because we knew he was just doing it to win the election. We knew the City would never have built those things anyway. Because the City was gonna get the money from the developer either way. South San Francisco would have just taken the cash value of Dean’s development contributions and stuck it in their pockets for something else. Under a state law called the Quinby Act, it says that developers have to provide money anyway. I think the whole situation was was pretty poorly handled. And so we got involved in all that. And that’s how I got involved in politics.
Doug Butler is another person to talk to. Doug is a very well organized articulate person. He retired as a school teacher in San Francisco and he’s also very active in the baptist church. He was great at making presentations. I had some experience at that but I’m a more confrontive sort of participant. Doug was pure class went he went out there. He was low key, right to the point and he spoke as if he were teaching kids in school. He was our main presenter. I use to spend hours and hours with him getting background material. I still have the transcripts of all his presentations. Another person who was a good speaker was Sidney Barret, “Studies will be made at a future date.” So Doug and I use to get together and brainstorm ideas. We had a great organization. And we’re not even talking about the Committee to Save San Bruno Mountain organization. We’re talking about just South San Francisco. This struggle to save the mountain took the whole county.
Jim Keegan (SS)—1
Around 1984 all this controversy happened. Dean knew dam well that the South Slopes of that mountain were in terrible shape geotechnically. There were slips and slides before Dean’s construction workers ever bulldozed anything. Eppler was the geotechnical engineer hired by WW Dean and he was saying everything was ok. So WW Dean got his Specific Plan and Development Agreement. He got everything he needed in order to do his development. And all this geotechnical stuff went on until WW Dean got the final permits which was the annexation to South San Francisco. That was the final thing he needed.
Then, Bill Cotton, a geotechnical consultant hired by the San Mateo County Supervisors, came in and said there’s big landslide hazards on the South Slopes and that Eppler isn’t doing anything right. Steve Hench, a reporter from The Enterprise Journal, broke the story and some arsonist, probably hired by WW Dean, burned down Cotton’s office. All of a sudden there was a fire that burned all of Cotton’s records. And just when they were getting ready to indite Eppler. They were getting ready to go to court.
Cotton just told the supervisors and city council, “You know this guy did everything wrong. He’s just not making a study of it.” And they didn’t like that. The fired Bill Cotton because he was saying things they didn’t want to hear. The supervisors said they fired him because he didn’t have the right credentials. Then they brought in Dames and Moore. And Dames and Moore told them what they wanted to hear. And so Dean got all the permits. See, it was in November that Dean came out with a big announcement that Cotton had discovered that there was a big slide on the South Slopes. The hill is full of slides and Bill Dean could not do the project on that hill in the condition it was in.
Lu Drake, Brisbane Citizens for Civic Progress
I was at a public hearing on the Northeast Ridge (NER) and Dames and Moore were there. They’re the soils engineers for every big project in the Bay Area. And I said, “What about the soils on the NER, are they gonna slide?” And they said you got nothin to worry about. The people that are gonna have trouble are the residents who move into the South Slopes development. That hillside is gonna slide. Terra Bay is gonna let go because it’s upended shale. The shale here in Brisbane is ok because it’s on a different angle. But on the South City side of the mountain the shale slides toward the ground. It’ll take a while but eventually heavy rains will cause the South Slopes to slide. It’s not earthquakes, it’s heavy rain. Terra Bay is sittin on a slide over there and that’s eventually is gonna let go. But Dames and Moore told me there was no problem on the NER.