Mountain lion observer describes incident / Bay Area concert photo archive unveiled

It's Monday, May 24.

Hey there, San Francisco. 

The city was buzzing last week with the news of a certain, unexpected visitor— a 98-pound mountain lion that had wandered north from his natural habitat in the Los Gatos area. 

And one Bernal Heights resident, Ruth Ferguson, had a front-row seat to it all. 

Ferguson told me today that around 10 pm last Wednesday, her husband went to take out the trash when he heard someone yell from the window of a nearby car: “Sir, there’s a cougar in your tree!” Apparently, the man had seen the mountain lion run up the tree while parking his car. 

Ferguson’s husband promptly hopped back inside the house where the two of them waited for backup to arrive. The police showed up first followed by officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

“We were watching this whole scene unfold… and we were like, ‘Oh, shit. This is real,” Ferguson said. 

The first tranquilizer shot by wildlife officers missed. Ferguson says that the initial dart was never recovered and that she and her husband are still searching for it. 

The second dart connected, causing the cat to jump from the tree and run onto a neighbors’ porch. That’s where the officers captured the drowsy mountain lion and brought it to the Oakland Zoo for overnight monitoring. 

The cat, which the zoo staff named “Mr. Handsome,” was returned on Thursday afternoon to an open space in Santa Clara county that was a “good, natural habitat,” Ken Paglia, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told me today. 

When asked if he thought the cat would make a return trek to San Francisco, Paglia noted that he wasn’t a mountain lion psychologist. Fair enough. But he did say that wildlife officers released the mountain lion in an area that would “minimize the chances of it finding itself in an urban area again.” So there’s that. 

Back in Bernal, Ferguson said the event has been a good chance for her and her husband to meet neighbors since the couple moved to the city from Menlo Park during the pandemic shutdowns. “I was doing some yard work out in front and people came by and were like, ‘Oh, this is the tree,” Ferguson said. “It’s been really fun meeting people and discussing what happened.” 

Ferguson told me she’s “proud” that the mountain lion decided to jump into her tree (“It’s a good tree!” she said) and that she’s considering making a plaque to commemorate the event. 

Even with a good sense of humor, though, it was an unexpected welcome to San Francisco. 

“It’s just funny. You move to the city and people tell you what things are going to be like,” Ferguson said. “Definitely, they would have never guessed that there would be a mountain lion climbing up your tree.” 

And with that… onto some more news… 

Mayor London Breed announced Monday that by way of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package, San Francisco residents are set to receive $90 million in rental assistance. “This rent relief is critical to helping tenants and small property owners get back on their feet as we continue on with our economic recovery,” Breed said in a statement. “It’s absolutely crucial that we keep people in their homes, and this funding will help ensure that happens.”

Eligible residents include those who faced financial hardship during the pandemic and can demonstrate housing instability, like having received a past-due rent notice. According to the Mayor’s office, the city will also prioritize those at “very low” or “extremely low” income levels. Applications open this Friday, May 28th. 

Quick bits: 

  • 🎨 Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey donated $3.5 million to help fund San Francisco’s guaranteed income pilot for local artists. Dorsey’s gift will extend the $1,000 per month stipend a full year (from 6 months to 18 months) and allow the city to accept 50 more artists into the program (180 in total). (SFist

  • 🐺 Seven coyote pups were spotted on Monday in Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Garden. Nearby trailheads were closed as a result, the Chronicle reported, while a San Francisco Recreation and Parks spokesperson said the situation “isn’t unusual. Coyote denning is a yearly occurrence in our parks.” (Chronicle

  • 🏠 A Saturday afternoon rally of some 100 people highlighted the growing tension over a proposed seven-story, 100 unit affordable housing development in the Sunset District that slated to break ground in 2023. Proponents of the building (located at 2550 Irving Street), including Supervisor Gordon Mar, say more affordable housing is needed in the area. Others have raised concerns over the height of the building, as well as its impact on local Muni lines and street parking. (48 Hills

  • 🏢 PG&E announced on Monday that it would be selling its downtown San Francisco headquarters (located at 245 Market Street) for $800 million. The company plans to use $390 million to $420 million of the profits to offset future rate increases. "We've made a commitment to keep customer costs as low as possible, and one way we're following through on that is by selling non-core assets including real estate,” PG&E CEO Patti Poppe said in a statement. (Chronicle

  • 🏀 The Warriors were eliminated from the playoff picture on Friday with a 117-112 overtime loss to the Grizzlies. Coach Steve Kerr said the season-ending loss was, “Obviously a crushing way to go out.” After the game, Klay Thompson, who missed this season due to a torn Achilles, wrote on Instagram: “We ain't done I promise you that.” (ESPN

  • 🙏 Some 200 church-goers attended mass at Grace Cathedral in person on Sunday for the first time since last March. Attendees weren’t permitted to sing, while choir members “wearing masks designed for singing” were allowed. Communion was served outside. (KQED

  • 🚔 The police arrested a 57-year-old San Francisco resident in connection to last week’s hit-and-run on Polk Street that killed one pedestrian. Reportedly, the suspect is the owner of the white Avalanche that allegedly caused the accident by running a red light. According to the SFPD, after fleeing the scene, the suspect "discarded articles of clothing in an apparent effort to conceal his identity and later filed a false police report stating that his Avalanche had been stolen." (SFist

And finally… 

San Francisco photojournalist Greg Gaar recently made his vintage collection of Bay Area concert photos available to view for free online through, the SF Weekly reported this weekend. Here’s a link to the collection, which includes shots of Bob Dylan at Kezar Stadium in 1975 and the Dead Kennedys at Dolores Park in 1983. You can use the right-hand toolbar to search the 1000+ photos by artist or local venue. 

“People are losing their minds,” Nicole Meldahl, executive director of the project, told the SF Weekly. “Deadheads, in particular, they’re going nuts.”

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all and we’ll see you back here tomorrow! - Nick B.

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