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Letters to The Editor
Read the Fine Print on Library Renovation
Having been, along with numerous colleagues, at some loggerheads with the San Francisco Library Chief of Branches Marcia Schneider since the New Main Library opened in 1996, we can offer some seasoned advice to advocates of the Noe Valley Library on Jersey Street ["Demolish the Library? Not If Local Patrons Have a Say," December/January Voice].
Get the following guarantees in writing and have these documents certified as binding and enforceable by an independent attorney:
1) That Noe Valley residents will see full and complete plans of any proposed renovation -- and a full-scale model -- before a single hammer is put to nail;
2) That a pre-move inventory of the Noe Valley branch holdings (books and periodicals) will be made available prior to closure of the building for renovation; and
3) That a means to check that inventory will be made available once the Noe Valley Library is reopened (so that the collections or catalogs aren't quietly replaced by computers as at the New Main).
If the public had won these guarantees in writing before the New Main Library at the Civic Center was built, the planners and builders would have been held to the standards that voters intended when they passed the initial bonds in 1988 for the New Main and branches. I urge Noe Valley residents and neighbors to learn from our New Main experiences -- so that these tragedies are not, sadly, repeated at your very special Noe Valley branch.
Member, Edith Cedar Group/Library Advocates, San Francisco
Bench Memorial Not a Private Matter
Below are two quotes from the "Rumors" column in the December/January Voice, concerning a memorial to Audrey Rodgers proposed for 21st and Sanchez.
"The memorial bench was supposed to go in the 10-by-30-foot public right of way on the west side of Sanchez near 21st. Voice readers will recall that the now vacant patch of land is actually on property belonging to one of four large houses built by contractor Seamus McGee."
"At year's end, Monte and Louise Zweben purchased the corner house (on whose land the right of way exists)."
Parts of these statements are false. The land in question belongs to the City and County of San Francisco, and is classified as undeveloped sidewalk -- yes, 31.5 feet wide and previously (prior to construction of McGee's houses) about 12 feet above street level at the highest point. From all the prior writings of Mazook about the corner, it appears that the author has never grasped (or accepted) this critical fact, which is the basis for much of the concerns of the neighbors. It is not private property; it is public land. If it is to be accorded the privilege of private property, it must be purchased from the city through a process known as vacating land by the city.
While I support the Dolores Heights Improvement Club, am a member, have served on its board, and believe all in the neighborhood should be members, the truth of the matter is that many of the neighbors in closest proximity to the site are not members of the club.
Additionally, some who are members were not at the meeting when the bench project was endorsed. Further, notes taken at that general meeting on Sept. 25, 1996, reflect that Janice Bracken, Audrey Rodgers' daughter, stated that the space needed for the memorial bench was "a spot -- the size of a bench."
Well, after that meeting, the "spot" grew, but no further proposal was presented to the general membership. The Zwebens were wise to have done their survey of the neighbors.
I very much enjoy the Noe Valley Voice, but your "Rumors" column quite often has misstatements of facts critical to complete understanding of the issues. Because the column looks and feels like real news, I fear that many of your readers may take it all as facts.
Charles Freeman Stamper
People Have to Create Static
Pastor Joan Huff is right: "Everyone would like the uproar to end." [See "Two Sides Are Talking in Cell Phone Antenna Flap" and Letters to the Editor, Noe Valley Voice December 1997/January 1998.]
But it may not end as long as our personal and community rights go to the highest bidder. Today it's about an antenna on a church. Tomorrow it may be about who has the right to use marijuana.
The uproar shoots up again and again over education and health care and a string of issues that could take us all the way to Kyoto and back again. It may continue until we face the fundamental question: Who's in charge? Is it the people or the corporations?
We are preceded by many wise men and women who have given us some clues. There was William O. Douglas, professor of law at Columbia and Yale, member of the Supreme Court for many years, and writer of 30 books. Points of Rebellion is a concise little book about the struggle for individual rights. In it he says, "The dissent we witness is a protest against the belittling of man, against his debasement, against a society that makes 'lawful' the exploitation of humans."
It was true then, and it is true today.