Growing up in Brisbane certain things are woven into the fabric of my childhood. I only realized recently these experiences are uniquely Brisbanian, for I doubt I’d have them if I were raised elsewhere. On hot summer days my brother and I loved to pick blackberries, thankfully we had quite the bush across the street from my house. When left to our own devices, we’d pick a handful, eat some, and draw on our faces with the juices from the rest. We discovered pretty quickly blackberry juice is surprisingly pigmented and hard to wash off. I learned about Uncle Sam on another hot summer day. He lived in the form of a fire hydrant down the street and my mom and I would paint him each year. I remember growing quite disappointed realizing hydrants in other cities weren’t painted, I couldn’t imagine them any other way but transformed into little people and animals. However, romping through Costaños “Raccoon” Canyon may be some of my fondest memories. We lived just a few doors up the street and after dinner we would beg my mom to take us down to play. We knew many an arm broke on account of a rope swing installed there but that just made us all the more excited to swing if she’d let us. Sometimes we met friends and we’d climb trees and play in the dirt and of course we’d try and climb the raccoon statue. We particularly loved when enough rain had fallen to form a stream running through the canyon. I grew incredibly excited for canyon clean up days. Mostly because this meant I got a giant Costco muffin for helping pick up trash. Nevertheless, all of these experiences instilled in me a love for our canyons and a sense of stewardship for our mountain and community. Having passed this canyon daily for the majority of my life, I grew devastated in 2008 when I realized someone stole my beloved raccoon. This raccoon represented my connection with this canyon and San Bruno Mountain, along with so many childhood memories for myself and undoubtedly many others. Installed in 1989, the bronze statue paid homage to our mountain’s natural heritage and the late Byron Jensen, a Parks and Recreation Commissioner and president of the Garden Club, who had a deep love of Brisbane and raccoons. Spearheaded by former Mayor Anja Miller, a committee raised funds and commissioned renowned local sculptor, Spero Anargyros to create the piece. Along with honoring Byron, the statue was intended to inspire the children of Brisbane to appreciate our local wildlife and clearly it did just that.
On February 23rd at 10am I have the pleasure of welcoming our raccoon back to his rightful place. Thanks to the city council who approved a replacement and our Park and Recreation staff who tracked down the artist’s widow and original mold, we will now have an exact replica of our raccoon friend. I hope you will join me during this unveiling and welcome him home for future children to enjoy. There might even be muffins!
Returning the raccoon is just one step in an effort to bring our canyons back to life. Due to the commitment of our city council, Open Space and Ecology Committee, and San Bruno Mountain Watch, the health of our canyons has improved considerably. In 2017 the council funded an ivy removal effort in Firth and Costaños canyons. Then in 2018, the Park and Recreation Commission and OSEC worked together with Ariel Cherbowsky of San Bruno Mountain Watch to hold a native planting day in Costaños Canyon with plants sourced by Mission Blue Nursery. This year, I invite you to participate in another planting day on February 9th at Owl Canyon. Rain or shine, sign-in begins at 9:45am with planting to start at 10am. San Bruno Mountain Watch will provide host and nectar plants for the Mission Blue and Callippe Silverspot butterflies including Silver Lupine, California Horkelia, Yarrow, California Phacelia, Franciscan Wallflower, California Dandelion, Coast Buckwheat, California Sheepburr, and a number of native grasses.
To ensure San Bruno Mountain and other habitats in California stay free of harmful invasive species, OSEC and city staff have drafted an application for State Senator Jerry Hill’s annual “There Oughta Be a Law” contest. The proposed law bans the sale of invasive species as identified by the California Invasive Plant Council and Plant Right’s “Priority Invasive Garden Plants” list at all nurseries.
Although completely unrelated to the rest of this article, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to extend my support to furloughed government employees. Thank you for your service and dedication. In partnership with the Brisbane Lion’s Club, the city will be hosting a drive for families in need of food and essentials during this time. If you are able to help our furloughed residents, please drop off any non-perishable food items along with personal hygiene products and essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, etc. to city hall or the senior center. Item distribution date, time, and location are still to be determined but will be publicized.
I am so thankful to live in and serve a community that cares so deeply. Each of your contributions makes Brisbane an even better place to live and strengthens our famous volunteer spirit. Though we be but little, we are fierce. Keep up the good work!
Last but not least, I love a good fun fact. Each month I will end my article with a Brisbane fact, here’s this month’s: Brisbane once appeared in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” for the “world’s smallest store” which consisted of a tiny structure on a hill above Inyo street, owned by Mamie Burns.
If you have a question, concern, compliment, or feedback I invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 415-706-5276.