Potrero Hill Neighborhood House
953 De Haro St. (at Southern Heights)
7:00 PM Business Meeting
7:45 PM SF LAN wireless Internet on Potrero Hill
8:15 PM Build, Inc. – Esprit Building development
9:00 PM Adjourn
by Tony Kelly, President
This month, the Boosters are all about communication, in some newfangled and one or two old-fangled ways.
SFLAN Wireless Internet on Potrero Hill
At our July meeting Ralf Muehlen of the SF LAN Project will be presenting a plan to get all of Potrero Hill and San Francisco connected to the Internet without wires. Melanie Kim of TechTV wrote about the project in December 2003:
"Some think wireless Internet should be for sharing, and Tim Pozar is a socially minded techie who’s using his Wi-Fi know-how to do just that. But he’s not sharing just with his neighborhood, but with dozens of neighborhoods. The whole project is perfectly legal and within FCC limits, and in most cases only costs a few hundred bucks to build.
"What we’re doing is lighting up a number of blocks," he says of the Wi-Fi signal while rifling through some boxes of tech junk. "What I’m doing is what we call a neighborhood area network, or NAN."
The former DJ, radio engineer, and founding member of the Bay Area Wireless Users Group, has dedicated himself to the project. It’s part of the Bay Area Research Wireless Network, which is dedicated to extending technology for social, educational, and public safety concerns.
Wi-Fi is a generic term that covers any device that is interoperable with the 802.11 networking standard. Wi-Fi has been done in houses, neighborhoods, and Starbucks everywhere, but this is a whole Wi-Fi network that stretches for miles, not just several feet. Antennas and a friendly Internet service provider–in this case United Layer–are the keys.
It all starts with United Layer, which provides the bandwidth from a location in downtown San Francisco.
"So we have a radio link up to San Bruno (Mountain)," he says, referring to the 1,314-foot-tall hill that rises just south of the San Francisco city limits. The signal is transmitted to a dish that’s on a building filled with other towers and dishes, most belonging to radio stations. That building is atop the mountain, where there’s a 360-degree, unobstructed view of the city–exposure that’s critical for Pozar’s wireless network.
"There's a little computer that’s connected to that dish. It transmits to that omni-directional antenna," he says, pointing to another antenna. It looks like a foot-long piece of white PVC pipe, with a cap on top.
The dish, computer–encased inside a metal box along with several Wi-Fi cards–and the antenna, are all connected by metal piping to form one unit, which Pozar built himself. He gets to keep that unit on top of the mountain by providing a local radio station with Net access.
That antenna is key to the network. It sends a Wi-Fi or 802.11 signal to 29 other "access points," as Tim calls them, including one on his own rooftop far below and several miles away in San Francisco’s Sunset District. There, Pozar showed what’s inside the access-point boxes.
"There are the radios that will rebroadcast the bandwidth out to the neighborhood as well as connect back to the mountain top," he says, pointing to the Wi-Fi cards inside another metal box."
Now, thanks to Pozar’s work, almost anyone in the neighborhood with a laptop and Wi-Fi card can get free, high-speed Internet access.
Tim says he set up the network because he wants to give Internet access to people who can’t afford or access it, especially people living in Third World countries or depressed areas of other countries.
"Those are the places that need it," he says. "Unfortunately that digital divide is becoming larger and larger."
Pozar explains that you can't build a network like this anywhere. It would be tough, for instance, in flat areas. San Francisco was ideal, he says, because of the nearby mountains and a technically savvy population. For now, Pozar is consulting with neighboring Marin County to help it set up a similar network.
If you want to connect to Pozar’s network, you’ll need some gear, and you’ll need to live within a quarter-mile of one of the 30 access points that make up the network. If you do, a Wi-Fi card in a computer or laptop will allow you to connect to an access point.
If you live within eight miles of San Bruno Mountain and have a place–a rooftop often does well–that provides a direct line of sight to the mountaintop, you can buy and build your own access point. Most of the equipment you’ll need is available at computer and electronics stores, or through online retailers.
An organization in San Francisco called SFLan will build a node for you for $1,000, allowing you to connect to the network and also broadcast a signal that your neighbors can latch onto. The group's website also has a ton of helpful information on how to connect to NANs in San Francisco.
Signups for Community Email Information
In the past few months, dozens of neighborhood residents have started receiving daily updates from Captain Rick Bruce of the SFPD’s Bayview Station about the Police Department’s community work and enforcement activities, and weekly updates from Supervisor Sophie Maxwell’s office about her legislative work at City Hall. Do you want to receive their regular updates in your email? Here's where to send a brief request to sign up:
The Boosters are now posting these regular updates on our new website bulletin board at potreroboosters.org check it out and sign up there! We will soon have more neighborhood information available there, and next month, you might be getting a call or an email from someone on the Boosters Executive Committee asking if you would prefer to receive this newsletter electronically, or in the mail like you do now.
Police Department Quality of Life Cell Phone Numbers
For years now, the Boosters and other residents of Potrero Hill and the Bayview have sought a different way to contact the Police Department for non-emergency crime reports; we don't want to tie up 911, but using the department's office lines led to delays, misinformation, and inefficient service.
Captain Rick Bruce of Bayview Station writes to bring us good news: The SFPD has obtained a number of cell phones, in order to allow residents (and others) with non-emergency police issues the opportunity to contact their assigned officers directly. The names of the officers, their respective assignments, and their phone numbers are listed below.
For abandoned autos and other vehicle-related issues, phone 254-7185. Officer Maurice Edwards will have this phone from Monday to Thursday, from 6:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
For illegal encampments, trash dumping, graffiti, etc., phone 254-7120. Officer Tim Buelow will have this phone from Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
For drug dealing, prostitution, and other related activities, phone 254-7197. This phone will be in the possession of the on-duty plainclothes unit, which changes from day to day and from watch to watch. Sgt. Carl Fabbri and Lt. Charlie Orkes will have this phone from around noon until around 11:00 p.m.
For the Potrero Hill Development, Officers Kelvin Sanders and Luis DeJesus can be reached at 509-1408. Officers Tim Fowlie and Rafael Rockwell can be reached at 987-6389.
Thanks for helping us continue to make the Hill a better place to live!
Compiled by Dick Millet
BUILDING PERMIT APPLICATION #2004.02267216: 2331 19th/San Bruno Streets Proposed partial 2nd floor addition to existing 1-story over garage single family house in an RH-2, 40-X zone. BUILDING ht: 30 ft. Contact: Susan Snyder, Planner, phone: 558-6543.
BUILDING PERMIT APPLICATION #2004.042l 1841: 675 Arkansas/20th Streets Propose to build 2-story rear decks, 15 ft wide with 5 ft side setback on to a single family house in an RH-2, 40-X zone. Contact: Winslow Hastie, Planner, phone: 558-6381.
BUILDING PERMIT APPLICATION #2004.06287474: 350 Texas/18th Streets Proposed 2-story rear addition of 302 sq. ft. to existing single family house in an RH-2 zone, 40-X zone. Remaining rear yard 55 ft. Contact: Julian Banales, Planner, phone: 558-6339.
BUILDING PERMIT APPLICATION #2004.05063204: 11 Fontinella Terrace/De Haro Streets Propose to enclose front recess & add 4x10 ft enclosure of rear deck of a single family house in an RH-1, 40- X zone. Contact: Mat Snyder, Planner, phone: 575-6891.
BUILDING PERMIT APPLICATION #2004.03249497: 695 ARKANSAS/21st Streets Proposed side horizontal & rear horizontal additions to existing single family house in an RH-2, 40-X zone to which a vacated part of 22nd St right of way will be merged. Variance.required. Contact: Mat Snyder, Planner, phone: 575-6891.
ZONING VARIANCE APPLICATION Case 2004. 0270V: 695 ARKANSAS (lot 26) & 21st Streets Public Hearing 9:30am Wed, 28 July 04 Rm 408 City Hall. 13 ft front setback variance, changing setback from 15 feet to 2 feet, required for construction on annexed vacated portion of 22nd St. see Building Permit Application #2004.03249497. Contact: Mat Snyder, Planner, phone: 575-6891.