Noe Valley Voice February 2000

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

NINETEEN-NINETY-TEN somehow has a better ring to it than 2000, for those of us who are steeped in the 19th century but ready for the 21st. Well, one of our neighborhood parks is finally springing into the 20th century.

Noe Courts has replaced last century's water fountain with a brand-new model that is not only wheelchair-friendly and vandal-resistant but has a dog dish at its base. For this innovation, we can thank the members of the Noe Valley Neighborhood Parks Improvement Association (called "PIA" for short), who worked with the Friends of Recreation and Parks for more than a year to make this public trough a reality.

We can also thank the Noe Courts Coalition, a dog-friendly group that is sponsoring a cleanup at the park (located on the corner of 24th and Douglass streets) on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon. Coalition chief Tom Mills says bags, brooms, and refreshments will be provided. Just wear old clothes and bring your work gloves. Call 675-0110 if you have ideas for other park improvements.

Meanwhile, PIA spokesperson Krista Keegan says she is delighted that the fountain has been installed and grateful to all those who contributed hard-earned cash toward the cause. The sum collected by the locals was matched by city funds.

Krista's next mission is to get the city's Rec and Park Department to install a new double-bowled fountain up the hill at Douglass Park. "We paid for the fountain last May and it was supposed to be installed last July, but they [Rec and Park] installed the wrong fountain at Douglass. Ours is still sitting in some Rec and Park warehouse somewhere."

Let's start emailing like crazy to get the city off its duff. Hopefully, Douglass will have its fountain before the year 3000.

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THE YEAR 2000 will hopefully be a good one for the Noe Valley Chamber Music Series. It was the recent recipient of a $4,500 grant from the city's Voluntary Arts Contribution Fund.

Right now the Sunday afternoon concert series is in the middle of its eighth season at the Noe Valley Ministry. (The next concert -- Feb. 27 at 4 p.m. -- is the New Millennium Ensemble, performing Shostakovich's 10th Quartet.)

A very grateful series founder and artistic director Karen Heather says the $4,500 will be used as "seed money to kick off our campaign to raise the $40,000 to $50,000 we need to buy a good piano."

Karen, who is a pianist herself, says the classical series -- with the help of folks from the Noe Valley Ministry and the Noe Valley Music Series -- will pull out all the stops in the fundraising campaign. "The forty to fifty thousand dollars will get you a Steinway," explains Karen, "but the really good ones like a Bosendorfer can cost $90,000 or more."

The last performance of the year, on May 27, will be a benefit strictly for the piano fund, with San Francisco Symphony pianist Robin Sutherland. You will definitely want to tune in on that one, which will probably sell out early. The Ministry only holds about 200 people.

If you want to host a benefit yourself, let someone at 1021 Sanchez know right away (call 282-2317).

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SPEAKING OF BENEFITS, the fate of Wind in the Willows preschool, which has been serving Greater Noe Valley since 1973 on the corner of Church and Army (now Cesar Chavez), seems to have been settled beneficially.

As Voice readers know, this very popular school was losing its lease with a landlord who has other plans for the property. The kids and teachers had until June 30 of this year to vacate the premises.

According to Director Pat O'Connor, the nonprofit school is now in the process of buying (for $650K) a building of its own.It's not in Noe Valley, but it's a larger storefront and back yard on Monterey Boulevard, just about where Glen Park becomes the Sunnyside neighborhood. "We are now 99 percent sure [of the purchase] and are so happy we will be just eight minutes away from here," says Pat. "We will also be able to increase our capacity from 18 to 23 children."

She considers the move a huge achievement by the school's nine board directors, led by Janie Havemyer and Tamra Marshall. "Their tireless efforts in dealing with the financing, attending building and planning meetings, and dealing with the fire and licensing agencies, have made it all happen," says Pat. "By being frugal for the past 10 years, we were able to save $101,000 and have gotten financial help from our teachers, parents, and alumni -- it's just great."

The preschool plans to open in their new digs in September 2000.

As for the Noe Valley storefront they will leave behind, Pat says she's been told that the bulldozer will arrive on July 1 to clear out the children's play yard. But there's no word yet on what will happen to the building.

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BUILDING UP 24TH STREET another 10 feet is not what Mark Leno wants to do, says the supervisor himself, in response to our nagging phone calls last month.

Leno, who lives on Clipper Street, has been trying to calm the various Noe Valley groups that have spoken out against his proposed ordinance to raise the building height limits and reduce the parking requirements along some commercial strips in the city.

"This plan has been misinterpreted by many," says the supervisor, "and if approved, would apply only to certain transit-intensive corridors, namely Upper Market Street, Geary Boulevard, Mission, and Third streets ... not 24th Street."

Leno goes on, "I am of the 'smart growth' school of thought, where transportation and housing intersect. I would like to see us have a regional smart growth summit, like the ones they've had in Seattle and San Diego, so we can achieve dense housing in transportation hubs."

His theory is that by allowing 10-foot taller buildings and fewer parking spaces on some Muni thoroughfares, San Francisco will attract more builders of affordable housing, and more autoless residents who will rely on the public transportation outside their door.

The housing shortage is so critical, says Mark, "we have to do something in the entire Bay Area, and soon!"

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WE WERE TOO DENSE TO SEE IT: There is only one reason the artsy gift shop on 24th Street, 17 Reasons, will not be continuing into the next century: motherhood. Très Noe Valley, eh?

Owner Sarah Compton says, "I'm pregnant, so that's why I'm closing the store -- not economics. I decided I wanted to be a fulltime mom."

Sarah, who shut her store and gallery doors on Jan. 22, wants "to thank everyone for their loyal support and good wishes. I've really enjoyed meeting my customers and working with my artists and getting their work in the public eye."

Neighborhood artists and shoppers are happy about her news, but sad to see the 31/2-year-old store go. Two years ago we saw the closing of Out of Hand, another popular emporium for arts and crafts.

What will take 17 Reasons' place on 24th Street? Only landlord Joel Coopersmith knows. But Sarah says she has urged Twig, a Union Street crafts store, to apply.

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ADVENTURES OF STORE TREK: The former Rat and Raven bar on 24th Street, now owned by a tavern mogul named Sparkie (he owns two other bars, both called Lucky 13), reopened in January with a yellow and green paint job and '50s western motifs. A Pabst Blue Ribbon banner on the building reads, "Welcome, Hunters," and the bar's new name is the Coyote Club. Plus, it has a framed portrait of the Roadrunner just inside the door. Well, the new theme seems to be working -- lots of critters are hanging out.

The hot store news on Church Street last month was that the new owners of Star Bakery, at the corner of 29th, have applied to the ABC for a liquor license. A menu change must be in the offing.

Meanwhile, Cafe J, the nearby coffeehouse that's been packing in the brunch crowd, will start serving dinner on March 1. Owner Eric Alexanderson says he has a new chef, Eliscio Soto, who will be introducing his own special brand of French and American cuisine, "including lots of seafood -- mussels, clams, and oysters." Cafe J already has a beer and wine license.

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OUR MENU OF VOTING CHOICES will be expanding too. The California Primary, with lots of big fish in the presidential pool, will take place on Tuesday, March 7. For the first time, voters will be able to cast ballots for anyone -- regardless of their (our) party affiliation. Democrats can vote for Green Party, Reform, or Republican candidates, and vice-a-versa.

If the past is any indication, Noe Valleons will vote for the most liberal straight-talker in the crowd.

The 1999 mayoral elections produced some interesting tallies for Greater Noe Valley. The San Francisco Department of Elections reports that in the Nov. 2 general election Mayor Willie Brown won 2,448 votes (in Noe Valley proper), former mayor Frank Jordan got 1,062, and political pro Clint Reilly garnered 750. However, none of that mattered in our precincts because 3,503 Noe Valleons wrote in Tom Ammiano's name.

In the Dec. 14 runoff, a 56.4 percent voter turnout in N.V. gave Ammiano 5,475 votes to Brown's 4,392. Eureka Valley handed Ammiano a landslide, with a vote of 7,134 to 3,901 for Brown. But in Diamond Heights, Willie vanquished Tom 2,535 to 1,792.

However, Brown won the election, because in places like West of Twin Peaks and the Excelsior District, he swamped Ammiano, by votes of 12,271 to 4,382, and 12,363 to 3,914, respectively.

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NOE VALLEY-BASED Lemon Custard Comics has linked up with Dark Horse Entertainment to serialize Lemon Custard's animated comic strip, "The Haunted Man," on the web site. The strip appears three times a week.

Says Lemon Custard writer and Noe Street resident Gerard Jones, "The series is an action comedy, a romp through a millennium that we're sick of before it has really started." Artist Mark Badger describes it as "Batman meets the Road Runner" (a popular character, lately).

As for the connection with Dark Horse, "we are really excited about this," says Gerard. Dark Horse is the movie producer responsible for The Mask, Barb Wire, and Mystery Men, and it has promised to start developing the "Haunted Man" series for TV or film.

Gerard adds that Lemon Custard's team includes writers and artists who have contributed to comics from Pokémon to X-Men, as well as cybergurus who've been doing animation on the web since the early 1990s. Congrats, gang.

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SOMBER NEWS: At press time, the Voice learned that a much-loved Noe Valley resident, Juan Marquez, was on the ill-fated Alaska Airlines flight that perished off the coast of Santa Barbara Jan. 31. The Voice is planning an obituary next month. But for now, we'd like to express our sympathy to Juan's family and friends. Many people have called the paper to say how shocked and sad they are at his loss.

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THAT'S ALL, you all. Live each day to the fullest, and write us about your adventures. (And turn those holiday photos in ASAP.)