Noe Valley Voice April 1998

Rumors Behind the News: Gripes of Wrath

By Mazook

WHY ARE SO MANY drivers hanging midblock U-turns in Downtown Noe Valley so they can zoom into that empty parking spot across the street? This maneuver is arrogant and dangerous for everybody. It'll get you a costly ticket, too.

Those Muni and other buses and trucks belching noxious exhaust on 24th Street drive me crazy. Are they exempt from the emission standards -- not to mention common decency?

Too many people are still turning left out of the Bell Market parking lot, despite two signs warning them not to. This creates a big hazard for the jaywalking pedestrians and crossing traffic. Hello!

It gripes me no end that the bathrooms at Douglass Park are locked at 4 p.m. on the weekends, when the Park and Rec staff go home. Many Noe Valleons are still grazing on the playground and might need to use the facilities. Can't Park and Schmark arrange for someone to come by Douglass and lock up at sundown, especially now that the days are getting longer? Hello!

And then there are the three new high-tech checkout stands recently installed at the Real Food Company on 24th Street. The new setup prompted management to abandon its "one line, next available cashier" system in favor of three separate lines, causing us to become queue-surfers trying to find the one that will go the fastest. Can't we go back to the old "next in line" method to reduce customer anxiety? Hey, a real anxiety reducer would be lower prices!

I'll never understand why the handicapped ramps on Church Street had to be so big. Sure, these are the best structures to ensure disabled access, but I've seen some built at other locations that are half the size of ours. How'd we get so lucky?

I'd also like some better street signs installed at the 24th and Church intersection. Can drivers turn left from either lane on Church? Nobody seems to know.

My last gripe for this April Fool's edition of the Voice is that crass commercialism has arrived in Downtown Noe Valley (no fooling). Evidently, 24th Street has become a target of the big guns in the corporate sector. Many of our longtime merchants feel threatened because their landlords can be lured into selling out to the highest bidder -- often a chain. When the rents go up, so does the need for better cash flow. And guess who gets to pay the higher prices?!

I had better stop now before I raise my voice.

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THOSE OF YOU who are not outraged by Proposition 227 are not paying attention. The June 2 ballot measure, put forth by conservative Republican Ron Unz, seeks to eliminate bilingual education in our state's public schools.

Recent statewide polls indicate that 7 out of 10 registered voters favor the initiative. This has the 140 families whose children are now enrolled in Alvarado School's Spanish-immersion program very nervous.

"If this measure [227] passes, I think our immersion program will be eliminated," says a distraught Alvarado principal Phyllis Matsuno. "And bilingual education as we know it will no longer exist.

"Because we [will not be able to] use Spanish as a primary language anymore, we are going backwards, and it's kinda scary!" says Matsuno, who was one of the founders of the Japanese bilingual program at Clarendon School.

She explains that Alvarado's program, begun four years ago when today's third-graders were in kindergarten, is a "two-way" immersion program. Roughly half of the class speaks Spanish as a first language. The rest are native English speakers. The class is taught in Spanish (by a bilingual teacher).

"This two-way model allows each group to learn from each other. By the third grade, we are seeing the kids becoming bilingual and biliterate," Matsuno says. Researchers from Washington State have even visited Alvarado to try to imitate its success.

Noe Valleon Laurie Baker-Flynn, who is an Alvarado kindergarten teacher (English only), is very upset about the state proposition. Her own kindergartner is in the immersion program. "They will take away a great program and my choice for what I think is best for my child," she says.

Eureka Valley's Nina Berg, who has both of her kids in the immersion program (second grade and kindergarten), also feels anxious. "I can't believe people would vote to eliminate something that brings the school together."

And Noe Valleon Charles Hill, who has his already quite bilingual twins in the Alvarado Spanish-immersion kindergarten, is outraged. "If they eliminate a program that we fought so hard to get into because we wanted our kids to grow up bilingual, then I will have no choice but to find a private school for my kids."

Matsuno urges everyone to read 227 carefully. In her view, it takes education out of the hands of the educators "and will be very chaotic for all public schools in this state. It will change the way education is supposed to be delivered, and then it will be fought out in the courts."

The election is 62 days from April Fool's Day, so let's hustle to turn this thing around. Then we can focus on the school district's proposed budget cuts for next year, which will threaten Alvarado's science and reading programs.

Hey, aren't our schools supposed to be getting more money, not less?

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THE 24TH STREET BUZZ is all about what on earth is going to emerge from the caverns of commercial space just created where the Second Spanish Baptist Church once stood next to Bell Market. The spiffy yellow building (with the high-priced apartments on the upper stories) still has the ground-floor storefronts boarded up.

Last I heard, the developer, Joe Cassidy of Cassidy Construction, was asking something like four dollars a square foot for the 5,000 square feet of retail space. On more than one occasion, he's said he'd break the space into three or four units and that none would be a Starbucks or Blockbuster Video. But he's been keeping quiet about exactly what shops are going in.

Last month Cassidy wouldn't return my phone calls, and his office told me simply, "We have no news."

According to Noe Valley Merchants prexie Bob Roddick, Cassidy is merely figuring out how to fit three or more commercially viable stores into that prime piece of real estate. "He promised our association that he would develop it that way, and we supported him." Now all eyes are on Cassidy to do the right thing.

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IN OTHER SHOP TALK: Property owners all along 24th Street received letters last month from a real estate company asking if they had 1,500 to 2,000 square feet of commercial space to rent to a "back east" corporate client who wanted to open a gourmet fish market.

Hello. As you oldtimers and Rumors regulars know, the space being vacated by Allure (on Castro near the corner) used to be a pretty funky fish market before the building was flushed and remodeled.

Until recently, across Castro from Allure was the artistic gift store Out of Hand. That building has been sold. Rumor is that Out of Hand's old space will become (ironically) a fingernail salon operated by Perfect 10, the manicurists on Church near the corner of 24th.

However, Out of Hand's neighbors in the building, Cary and Johanna Friedman at Beyond the Sea, say their tide is in, and they are not moving. That is a relief to the many patrons of this rather unique aromatherapy shop.

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HAPPY DONUTS is happy again, as are all you night owls who supported its plea to reopen as a 24-hour donut shop. Last month the bakery won the right to stay sizzling round the clock (which it had been doing for decades until last year, when city red tape forced it to apply for a special permit). Happy managers said that once they have the actual piece of paper in their hands, they'll start up the 2 to 6 a.m. shift. "It'll be sometime in April."

It might interest you to know that more than 700 locals (including 30 police officers) signed a petition in support of Happy Donuts' all-night quest.

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LITTLE BEAN SPROUTS has been honored by an editorial contributor to San Francisco Focus magazine (January 1998) as the "Best Children's Store in the Bay Area." Little Bean Sprouts has been on 24th Street across from Bell Market for over six years. Focus especially likes the store's layout and its "eclectic mix" of styles of children's clothing.

Theresa and Manya Day have closed Do Dah Days, their eclectic collectibles store at Church and 24th, and moved it to the new S.F. Antique and Design Mall at 701 Bayshore Blvd. Theresa, a longtime Noe Valley resident, says the mall has 115 dealers and is open seven days a week from 10 to 7.

About her store's departure from Church Street, she says, "The construction and intrusion of the disabled ramps, causing the loss of 18 parking spaces, made our business decline 20 percent. Plus, the inability to have an advertising board on 24th Street hurt business, too."

Theresa, by the way, just completed a course at the Missouri Auction School and is offering her services free for charity auctions (647-4775).

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EVERYONE WAS HAPPY to see Andy Kapiniaris return to work at Verona Pizza last month. As many of you found out after reading the March Voice, Andy suffered a heart attack in early January and the restaurant closed for three days.

Quick action in treating Andy's aortic aneurysm saved his life. While he was on the mend, his brother George came over from Greece, and Andy's wife Mimi and daughter Pauline (who has worked there since 1985) kept Verona going full blast.

The place is located on 30th Street (291 30th St.; 821-6900) at the end of a two-block strip of Church Street that is booming these days. A new restaurant--Regent Thai -- and a new coffeehouse, the Cafe J, will be opening soon.

Well, here we go again!

That's all, you all. Roger, Wilco, and out.