Noe Valley Voice June 1999

Voice Mail

The Voice welcomes your letters to the editor. Write the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez St., San Francisco, CA 94114. Or send e-mail to Please include your name, address, and phone number. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) You can also send us mail via our web site: There you'll find current stories and Class Ads, and archives of past issues dating from December 1996.

Praise for Gallant Street Sweeper


I am writing this letter to thank the gentleman who identified himself as "Paul the street sweeper," a true gallant if ever there was one.

On May 3, my car was towed illegally from the vicinity of 22nd and Church. It seems that someone had posted the space where I had parked for a moving van. The signs were admittedly (by the postee) torn down earlier, but Officer #0201 chose to have my car towed anyway. I walked to Noe's Bar at Church and 24th to call a cab, which never showed up.

Paul, wearing a street sweeper's vest, noticed my distress, and I explained what had happened. A true gentleman, he offered and I accepted a ride to the Hall of Justice, where I ransomed my Toyota from durance vile in the impound lot.

His conduct lifted my spirits in what was a very dismaying situation.

Three cheers for Paul the street sweeper!

Joanne D. Rush

Prospect Street

An Open-and-Shut Car Break-In


I hope many readers will be as appalled as I am, regarding the outcome of a car break-in reported by Officer Lois Perillo in her informative Police Beat column (May 1999 Voice).

The item mentions a person being spotted inside a vandalized vehicle by both witnesses and police officers. Apparently, the police were alerted by an observant neighbor's calls. The car's radio, stripped from the dash, identified by the owner, along with burglary tools, were found in a bag, still in possession of the suspect. The perpetrator was charged with both felony and misdemeanor offenses.

An open-and-shut case? Not quite!

The charges were thrown out because the car owner had returned to Minnesota. Am I missing something here?

Presumably, the vehicle owner made a statement regarding ownership. Is it possible the inept criminal pled not guilty?

What is the message this scenario sends to civic-minded people who report a crime in progress?

And is there a hidden message to auto break-in artists: Always make sure the vehicle has out-of-state license plates?

I am keeping my fingers crossed that the thief will not sue for wrongful arrest or defamation of character.

Ron Maberley

Alma Street

Stench Has a Long History


In a story printed in your last issue ["Hahn's Hibachi's Neighbors Are Breathing Easier," May 1999 Voice], you wrote that I "spearheaded" the opposition against Hahn's. I did not! Neighbors on Jersey Street did. They are the ones who suffered 31/2 years of that stench. I joined the fight when I could not walk down 24th Street without getting an attack of asthma and said enough was enough.

Lorraine Sherrill

The Voice apologizes for the error.

Condo Prices Are Obscene


Am I the only reader who was taken aback by the 25th Street condo sellers who unabashedly raised their asking prices due to strong buyer demand? ["Neighborhood House Prices Hit the Roof," May 1999 Voice]

If all potential buyers would refuse to pay these obscene prices, perhaps we could put a stop to their escalation. Sadly, Noe Valley has turned from its working-class origins to an exclusive enclave where property values rule the roost (with a little boost from the realtors).

If we truly are concerned about school teachers, janitors, bus drivers, and those who make our city a special place in which to live, we should act to obtain more low- and moderate-income hous-ing -- and not let the developers call the shots. Large apartment buildings should contain a mix of higher-priced and less expensive units.

We must make room for all income groups in all neighborhoods, or we perpetuate the division of the haves and have-nots.

Marge Harburg

Winfield Street

A 1-Bedroom Was $60 in the '60s


I lived in Noe Valley many years ago and enjoy reading your publication on the Internet. During the mid- and late '60s, I resided at one time or another on Sanchez, upper Castro, Elizabeth, and 24th streets. As I recall, I paid about $60 a month for my one-bedroom apartment on Castro, which looked out the rear window to a great view of the city.

It's been a long time since I lived in San Francisco (1977), but Noe Valley was always my favorite neighborhood. I hope to visit there again someday. Many thanks for your informative and entertaining newspaper.

Mike Mitchell

Las Cruces, New Mexico

P.S. For no reason in particular, I've enclosed a xeroxed photo of myself outside 1643 Castro St. I was on my way to the Nutcracker. That was 1965 -- quite a while ago!

You look great, Mike. Thanks for writing. --Eds.

Bring Back Argyle Socks


I rather like the Noe Valley comfortable and casual clothes look ["Is There a Noe Valley Look?" May 1999 Voice].

However, some men and women confuse casual with sloppy. The look can degenerate into slovenly, dirty, and unshaven, particularly for men. That Noe Valley look is unappealing and appalling.

Thanks to the real estate crowd, we do see some beautifully dressed men and women, usually in a hurry, gracing 24th Street. My brother and sister clergy wear clerical collars from time to time. Sadly, even clerical dress has fallen out of fashion in some circles. Our Roman Catholic clergy should be seen in clericals more often. I think we look rather spiffy when dressed up a bit.

Sadly, the bankers have gone the way of casual-to-sloppy. Can we trust a banker-man without a coat and tie or a banker-woman without a jacket? I prefer to use the automatic teller machines so I do not have to worry about the rectitude of my bankers.

Your fashion reporter, Anne Sengès, cited the muted colors and lack of turquoise in our neighborhood. Nevertheless, I love the bright, passionate colors, which I assume are in reserve only until the next fashion trend, when they'll be trotted out again. I love brightly colored argyle socks. But I am fast running out of them since no one peddles them any longer.

It is too bad there are so few special occasions on 24th Street when folks dress up. We go to the opera and the symphony, and out to dinner, and some of us dress up. But even in those sacred places of music and food, the casual-to-sloppy look reigns. Maybe an Easter Parade or Fall Festival could be held where we can strut our finery. My darling wife, Ann, dresses to the nines with a splendid hat each Sunday she attends Trinity.

Casual and comfortable is fine, but showing off the beautiful, colorful, and glorious is wonderful, too.

Robert Warren Cromey

Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church

Resident of 20th Street

Be Wary of Reese Cup Guy


My name is Paul Abrams, and I am the Department of Public Works street sweep-
er here in Noe Valley. Some of you may have seen me working at one time or another. I would like to share with you one of my experiences in the neighborhood.

While cleaning at Noe and 24th streets, I observed a man and woman talking. At first I thought they were together. Then I noticed her open her wallet and hand him a $10 bill. In exchange, he gave her a king-size Reese's peanut butter cup. (Any real fundraiser would have charged only $1 for this item.)

As he left, I made an inquiry of the woman as I made a note of his departing direction. She said he had told her he represented an AIDS charity and had asked if she would like to volunteer; if not, would she contribute $10 to the cause.

I followed the man up the block, where he was accosting two young women. An exchange (cash -- candy) had already occurred. I asked him to produce his identification. He acted as if he had it, but could not produce it. He then offered the women their money back if they did not feel comfortable contributing, since he did not have his charity I.D. As money and candy were being returned, I noticed a patrol car rolling by. I whistled for the police, and this man took off running up Sanchez, never to return (so far as I know) to Noe Valley.

I wish to enlighten the members of our community to some important facts:

* Legitimate charities rarely solicit on the street.

* Representatives always have a picture I.D., with the title, address, and phone number of their organization on it.

* Opening your wallet or furnishing your address to anyone on the street is potentially dangerous and costly.

* Contributing on the street encourages more beggars to make a living from the generosity and vulnerability of the Noe Valley community.

Please understand my total commitment to my job and our neighborhood. At your service always,

Paul Abrams

A Group of Parents for Public Schools


Some of you may know that a local chapter of the national organization Parents for Public Schools is forming in San Francisco. (Check out the national web site at

As a parent with a child in the public schools, I (Sandra) attended their national convention recently and was very impressed with the group, the resources they have to offer, and their board members -- they draw support from well-respected organizations like the Kettering Foundation and the Institute for Responsive Education ( The initial work of the chapter will be to focus on providing families of preschoolers with information and resources on school selection and enrollment.

We hope to reach out to constituencies in the city who are unfamiliar with the fact that they have a voice as to where their children go to school. In addition, we want to encourage families to look at "less well-known" schools, and to work with schools to ensure that the public schools are a viable option for all families in the community. We will be working on a public perception campaign as well as site capacity issues at the schools.

Obviously, we cannot change the world overnight, and so we will start small, and as our membership grows, we will tackle other issues such as "Building the Bridge to Middle School." We also hope to have a voice in the selection of the new superintendent and the new enrollment process.

We are looking for a core group of members to help us get this off the ground, who are advocates for public education and who would rather "light candles than curse the darkness," as Adlai Stevenson said of Eleanor Roosevelt. We are working with a local foundation on start-up costs and looking for links to other foundations that would like to fund this type of group. We are also looking for contacts in an ad agency who would like to work with us on a pro bono basis.

Give us a call if you can help.

Sandra Halladey


Deena Zacharin


Search for the Causes of Breast Cancer


I read with interest Suzanne Herel's article in the April issue regarding the high sales of the breast cancer stamp in Noe Valley. I think it's wonderful that our neighborhood is showing so much support for breast cancer research. But exactly what kind of research is funded by the stamp funds?

The stamp itself says: "Fund the fight. Find a cure." The search for a cure is undoubtedly an important effort, but so is the search for the causes of this disease.

As the article pointed out, 70 percent of the funds raised will go to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which, in turn, is directing it to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The NCI has largely focused its research on genetics, chemotherapy treatments, and so-called "prevention" pills. Yet, true prevention can only come through finding the causes of breast cancer and eradicating them.

Breast Cancer Action, a nonprofit grassroots education and advocacy organization based in San Francisco, would like to see the stamp legislation amended to specify that the funds allocated to the NIH be directed to the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), where research into the environmental links to cancer is being done.

Voice readers who support this view should write a letter to Harold Varmis, Director, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, and send a copy to Senator Dianne Feinstein, 331 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Let's find the causes and end the epidemic.

Barbara A. Brenner

Executive Director

Breast Cancer Action

Noe Valley Resident

Go Climb a Few More Hills


We read and thoroughly enjoy your paper, particularly those stories about neighborhood walks. [Voicer Jim Christie has written two recent features about hikes: "Go Climb a Hill," in the September 1998 issue, and "Twin Peaks in 20 Minutes...on Foot," April 1999 Voice.]

So we thought your readers might like to try these hikes. Each explores a different part of Noe Valley, and takes a half-hour or so. (They vary in length from 15 to 45 minutes.) They're all scenic by day, and even more so in the evenings when the lights of the city come on.

They vary in difficulty, but most have some uphill sections. The flattest hike is the one on Church Street. "What Goes Up" is a good warm-up, with enough hill work to make your legs feel it.

Two of the walks -- "Sanchez Hill" and "The Harry Steps" -- have steep spots, so get your hiking legs before you tackle them. My personal favorite is "The Harry Steps," which is a guaranteed aerobic workout. All begin at Sanchez and Jersey.

By the way, my wife Patty and I are eight-year residents of Noe Valley. We enjoy the diversity and sense of history this wonderful neighborhood offers. We live with our calico kitty, Molly, on Jersey Street.

Dale Fehringer

Five Scenic Hikes

Field-tested by Dale and
Patty Fehringer

1. What Goes Up

This "warm-up" hike involves some hill work and a long, gradual downhill. It is especially good at twilight. Note the row of Victorians at 22nd and Vicksburg and the view of Diamond Heights on your return from Sanchez Hill.

Start: Sanchez and Jersey.

Route: Jersey 1 block east to Vicksburg.

Left on Vicksburg (uphill) to the end, at 22nd.

Left on 22nd 1 block to Sanchez.

Left on Sanchez to Jersey.

Views: Bay Bridge, Twin Peaks, Diamond Heights

Length: Approx. 15 minutes

2. Church Street

This flat hike follows Church Street and the J-Church streetcar, then returns via Sanchez Street. On Church, notice St. Paul's, where Sister Act was filmed.

Start: Sanchez and Jersey.

Route: Jersey Street east 2 (short) blocks to Church Street.

Right on Church to 30th.

Right on 30th to Sanchez.

Right on Sanchez to Jersey.

Views: Diamond Heights

Length: 20 to 30 minutes

3. Right On

There's a good view of Twin Peaks on this hike, which mixes relatively flat blocks and a stretch of uphill streets. If you hike at dusk, notice the stained-glass windows in Bethany Church at Clipper and Sanchez.

Start: Sanchez and Jersey.

Route: Sanchez south to 26th.

Right on 26th to Douglass.

Right on Douglass to Jersey.

Right on Jersey to Sanchez.

Views: Twin Peaks, Douglass Park

Length: Approx. 20 minutes

4. Sanchez Hill

There is a steep hill at the beginning of this medium-distance hike, and wonderful nighttime views of downtown San Francisco, the Civic Center, the Bay Bridge, and Twin Peaks.

Start: Sanchez and Jersey.

Route: Sanchez north over the hill and around to Liberty Street.

Left on Liberty 2 blocks to Rayburn.

Left on Rayburn 1 block to 21st.

Right on 21st 1 block to Noe.

Left on Noe to Jersey.

Left on Jersey to Sanchez.

Views: Downtown San Francisco, the Civic Center, Bay Bridge, Twin Peaks, and the Mission

Length: 20 to 30 minutes

5. Harry Steps

This is the longest and probably the hardest of the hikes. It guarantees an aerobic workout as you climb up Harry on your way to Diamond Heights. Take rest breaks to enjoy the gardens on both sides of the Harry Steps (a residential "street") and views of the Bay Bridge and Twin Peaks.

Start: Sanchez and Jersey.

Route: Sanchez south past 30th to Randall.

Right on Randall 1 block to Harper.

Left on Harper 1 block to Laidley.

Right on Laidley a few doors to Harry (the steps are on the left/south side of the street, before Noe Street).

Right at the top of the steps (Beacon); down then up the hill and around to Diamond.

Right on Diamond to Jersey.

Right on Jersey to Sanchez.

Views: Panoramas of downtown, Twin Peaks, and Bernal Heights

Length: Approx. 45 minutes