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Rumors Behind the News
NOE VALLEY CELEBRATED the summer solstice June 21 while in the midst of a fog wave. The record heat the week before marked the end of the Noe Valley spring. As all real Noe Valleons know, the summer solstice marks the first day of our 75-day fog season. Just in time for the tourists. If it's heat you want, go east. We can all look forward to mid-September when summer will finally arrive in Noe Valley.
The heat wave was fun. Temperatures soared above 100 degrees. As Twin Peaks held back the ocean breezes, barbecue scents wafted through the air and Giants games reverberated between houses. Iced-coffee drinkers filled the benches of 24th Street and watched the promenade of locals clad in shorts and sandals. Everyone was happy -- except for those who couldn't find a seat.
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WE NEED MORE BENCHES. Especially for older people to sit on. So early this spring, the kind and generous East & West of Castro Street Improvement Club set out to donate a few to 24th Street.
At its May meeting, the East & West heard a presentation by member Carol Yenne on the kind of benches that would be best to buy. Carol, who is the owner of Small Frys on 24th Street and a v.p. in the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association, has had a nice bench in front of her shop for over a decade.
She told the group, which had already set aside money to purchase two benches, that the ideal street furniture would be Webcor Steel PVC (plastic-coated) benches with arms. "They are comfortable and basically indestructible at a cost of about $500 each," said Carol.
She also restated the club's goals: "We want to improve the quality of life on 24th Street and to have at least one bench on every block, and try to place them near benchless bus stops, if possible."
But nothing is easy. East & West President Paul Kantus says the group has since learned that special arrangements must be made for placement of benches on the sidewalk, and that merchants must step forward who will adopt and take care of each bench and, most importantly, assume the liability and have insurance for any claims arising out of the use of the benches. "Our members are concerned that if something goes wrong, our club will be sued," says Paul.
For now, the bench donation plan has been tabled.
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A NEW ANGLE ON PARKING: Meanwhile, the Merchants' plan to create more parking in Downtown Noe Valley is on a roll at Silly Hall (as Herb Caen used to say).
Over the past few months, Carol Y. and M&P president Bob Roddick have been accelerating their drive for diagonal parking on Castro between 24th and Clipper streets. They drafted a petition and got it signed by well over half of the residents on those three blocks.
And now they've gotten a boost from the supes. Supervisors Mark Leno and Sue Bierman introduced a resolution on June 12 "urging the Department of Parking and Traffic to expedite the process of creating diagonal parking on both sides of the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Castro Street and the eastern side of the 1500 block of Castro Street." The board passed it unanimously.
Leno was impressed with the Merchants' preparation. "They did all their homework on this one."
By combing city records, Bob and Carol had found out that there used to be diagonal parking on these blocks, and, further, in the 1930s the federal government widened Castro Street by about 10 feet to facilitate the diagonal parking.
Leno says that unless the mayor vetoes the resolution, which he thinks is very doubtful, "we'll have Department of Parking and Traffic working with us, and hopefully we [can get over] the Muni concerns." Muni is worried about traffic delays and rider safety on the 24-Divis.
Carol Yenne is crossing her fingers. "For years, the only thing the city has done is take parking spaces away from us," she says. "This is the first time that anything has been done since the '60s to help our commercial district add public parking, and that was when the old Noe Valley Merchants Association bought the lot between [what is now] Hopwell's and Radio Shack and got the city to accept it as a gift and make it a parking lot."
I say make those three blocks of Castro a "slow zone" and put the parking diagonally in the middle of the street, with the bus traffic closest to the sidewalk. Oh, and add a stop sign on Castro at Jersey while you're at it.
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MARKET QUOTES: Say goodbye to Tom Maravilla and Mike Meishke. The two partners have sold their popular Mikeytom Market on the corner of Church and Day to Noushin Jiwani. The new owner will take over at the end of July.
"I've been working seven days a week for seven years, and I just had to stop," explains Tom. "It was not an easy decision. I am really going to miss the daily contact with so many great people."
He also cited the rise in cost of living for his employees. "I'll tell you, it is really hard to get people to help in the store because of the economy and high rents. We couldn't afford to pay the money it now takes for people to be able to live in this city."
Tom says Mikeytom's new owner, who hails from the South Bay, is planning to continue the grocery store and make minimal changes to the product lines.
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AFTER 20 YEARS on the corner of Castro and Jersey, Mylene's Beauty Salon is closing down. Mylene Carol and four other salon workers are taking spots down the street at A Cut Above Castro (at 24th). Five other hairdressers are leaving the neighborhood.
Mylene is wistful about the loss. "I was born right here in Noe Valley, three doors up from the shop, which has been a beauty salon for over 50 years," she says. "It was originally a rooming house called Horner's Corner." It now has one commercial store and three residences upstairs.
The fate of Horner's Corner is presently unknown, as the building is rumored to have been sold at a sheriff's sale to the highest bidder.
Sorry also to say goodbye to Ray Shibata, a longtime Noe Valley resident and owner of Casey Cleaners, a 24th Street institution from the '60s to '80s. Ray died last month at the age of 72. His wife Nancy, son Timothy, and other family and friends paid a loving tribute at a memorial service June 17. Casey Cleaners was where Workwear is now, and where Bakers of Paris was before. So long, Ray.
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SHORT SHRIFTS: Most everyone knows that Java 'n' More at Church and Clipper is now Java 'n' Less. The failing coffeehouse disappeared suddenly a couple of months ago. But the good news is the storefront is going to be occupied by the lemon-fresh Lovejoy's Tea Room, which was set to move July 1 from its former location at Church and 24th.... Star Bakery, a fixture at Church and 29th since 1889, is for sale, along with the building in which it is located.... A sign of the political times is that local Demos have formed a new club, the District 8 Democratic Club. According to founder Robert Ortega, the new club has over 200 members and is headquartered in Eureka Valley.
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ELIZABETH STREET filmmaker Mark Olesko is about to release his first feature-length film, titled Left for Dead. Mark, who teaches "non-linear, computer-based" video editing at the Academy of Art College, wrote, produced, directed, and edited this 94-minute digital work.
Mark filmed his movie in three months using a crew of 12 and at a cost of $4,000. Mark says the movie "is a dark thriller about a family who owns a pharmaceutical company."
Mark urges everyone to check out the very high image quality on the screen of two recent releases that also used digital video, namely Buena Vista Social Club and Celebration. Good luck, Mark.
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THE NUMBERS ARE IN for the Noe Valley Chamber Music's May 21 benefit launching their campaign to raise $70K for a new piano for the Noe Valley Ministry. The Ministry is the venue for the series of Sunday afternoon concerts held once a month from October to May.
The stunning performance of S.F. Symphony pianist Robin Sutherland of Bach's Goldberg Variations raised about $36,000 (after concert expenses), according to Chamber Music maestro Karen Heather. Karen adds that "a $25,000 contribution from Phyllis Wattis, a major patron of the arts in San Francisco, gave the campaign a tremendous boost and has allowed us to seriously begin looking for the perfect piano for the hall at Noe Valley Ministry."
By the way, the Chamber Music Series will start this fall on Oct. 29 (5 p.m.), with world-class pianist Peter Grunberg. Singing with him will be soprano Kristin Clayton, Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera. Karen says, "It will be an all-French concert followed by a champagne reception and silent auction."
Tickets for this gala event are $50 and should be reserved by calling NVCM at (415) 333-9444.
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LONGTIME NOE VALLEON Joe Morehead sent me a picture of himself reading my column in front of the ruins of the lost Inca village of Machu Picchu, located in the Andes Mountains in central Peru.
Joe writes: "I was climbing up Huana Picchu [the mountain behind the lost city], wearing my Thrifty Drug Store bought 'Noe Valley, California' T-shirt, when I was stopped by a man going the other way.... He told me he was living in Venezuela and his son lived in Noe Valley." Joe said that when the fellow wanted to know what was happening in Noe Valley, "I just pulled out my copy of the Voice and gave it to him, for which he expressed his gratitude and which got me several drinks in the old canteen."
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THATS ALL, YOU ALL. Have a great vacation, and take your paper with you. We'll see you back here in September, for our big Indian Summer celebration.