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Rumors Behind the News
I KNEW SPRING HAD SPRUNG when I got on the J-Church for my first trip to Willie Mays Plaza to see the Giants and encountered several other Noe Valleons boarding the streetcar with me , all with Giants hats on and ready to cheer the home team. To my surprise, there were even more baseball fans packed inside the car.
The ride to the park was a piece of cake. Muni was meant for baseball. It looks like Church Street will be crowded with locals on game days, with everybody waiting for the train and singing, "Take me out to the ball game, and take me home again."
By the way, we beat the Milwaukee Brewers, which was great, even if it was an exhibition game.
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"MAY DAYS" are spouting from the Upper Noe Neighbors about the rampant upscaling -- and I mean up --of the neighborhood. UNN President Vicki Rosen said she expected the group's April 27 meeting to be hot enough to raise the rafters. "We're going to talk about all the demolition and megaconstruction crap that's been going on everywhere these days. We've been contacted by neighbors with terrible situations on their blocks, [with] construction totally out of character with the neighborhood."
Claims Vicki, " City Planning is acting like Prop. M doesn't have any standing, and the attitude is, Build as much as you can for as much money as you can."
She worries that "if we build to accommodate all the people who want to live here, we will destroy why people came here to live in the first place."
Upper Noe Neighbors' next meeting will be on the last Thursday of the month (May 25) at the Upper Noe Recreation Center. By the way, the group has recently changed its bylaws, so you have to be a member for 60 days before you can vote.
Meanwhile, Friends of Noe Valley is also getting hot under the collar about the alleged "Manhattanization" of the neighborhood. Their May 11 meeting at the library will feature a discussion of our new skyscrapers, plus a preview of the Mission YMCA's plans to open a new Y on Clipper Street. (Now there's a megaconstruction even I could get behind.)
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EAST & WEST OF CASTRO STREET Improvement Club President Paul Kantus says his group is talking about putting more benches on 24th Street. "I think it's a good idea to have places for people to sit on our commercial strip that aren't tied to the food-service businesses," says Paul. "We have enough money in our treasury to buy new benches for the street."
The group (along with Friends of Noe Valley) is also backing Supervisor Leland Yee's blockbuster proposal to beef up zoning rules for new video stores in 16 shopping areas across the city, including 24th Street. The measure was just adopted by the Planning Commission and is on its way to the Board of Supes. The new rules require any video store that wants to open up in these highly trafficked areas to apply for a special permit and undergo a public hearing. Paul likes this law because it gives neighborhood groups more control over things like signs, hours, modes of dropoff, parking, whatever.
He's a tad worried, however, about the lack of traffic at East & West meetings. "Our membership has dropped from about 450 a few years ago to around 300 now, and our meetings have fallen in attendance." That's too bad, because the East & West'ers are the best street-sweepers and graffiti-eradicators in the neighborhood. And don't forget those benches.
If you'd like to check out Noe Valley's longest-running residents' group (since 1904), East & West meets at the Noe Valley Sally Brunn Library on the first Wednesday of the month, 7:30 p.m.
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THE PERENNIAL PARKING PROBLEM in Downtown Noe Valley has the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association looking very hard for solutions.
The group has circulated petitions to create diagonal parking on the 1300, 1400 and 1500 blocks of Castro Street (from 24th to Clipper). According to NVMPA President Bob Roddick, more than 50 percent of the residents of those blocks have signed the petitions, which would create angled parking on both sides of the 1300 and 1400 block and on the James Lick Middle School side of the 1500 block.
The petitions have been sent to the city's Traffic Engineer in the hope that they will get the hearing process rolling.
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FRIENDS OF NOE VALLEY Co-President ("I prefer to be called newsletter editor") Harry Stern has been named by Supervisor Mark Leno to the 15-member Citizens Advisory Council, set up to advise the Municipal Transit Agency (our new Muni caretaker). Harry, who's lived on 25th Street for 15 years, is a member of both Rescue Muni and SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research). He also chairs the transportation committee of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods.
A retired engineer -- he's originally from New York -- Harry views his appointment as an opportunity "to both implement the necessary performance changes and turn around the public perception of Muni from negative to positive. Though some people are planning tunnels under the city, I think that's premature and misguided. All that does is enhance the attractiveness of the automobile. Our first priority should be to enhance the attractiveness of public transit, which is the only way to get people out of their cars."
Unfortunately, about the same time Harry got word of his appointment, he received some tough medical news from his doctor, and he is undergoing treatment right now. "I'll be inactive for a month or two," he says, "and then I'll get back to working on the bunching of streetcars --something near and dear to my heart."
Get better soon, Harry.
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MARKET QUOTES: It is always news when any kind of public notice is posted on a storefront in Downtown Noe Valley. But when it is an application for the transfer of a liquor license pasted on the door of Bell Market, then it is very big news.
The "application for a change of ownership" said the "new" owner would be Ralph's Market. Ralph's, the big Southern California supermarket chain, does own Bell. But that's not news, folks.
According to Terry O'Neil, spokesperson for Ralph's Grocery Company, which assumed ownership of Bell Markets back in '95, "Bell will now receive its liquor directly from a Ralph's warehouse rather than from a direct store delivery supplier." The "Ralph's" label will be popping up on other shelves as well.
O'Neil also let it be known that Ralph's would be upgrading the store over the next year, so we can all look for a better Bell. Just don't change the name, okay?
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NOE VALLEY'S southbound commuters should be wary of a speed trap in and around the intersection of Dolores and 30th streets. Police have posted a 25 mph digital sign from time to time, and have been nailing those in a hurry.
Evidently, there have been a lot of outbound Dolores drivers overanticipating their I-280 commute. Coming the other way are the inbounders, weary and impatient after putting in 12-hour days in the dot-com millionaire derby. Everyone wants to make that dang light at 30th.
An increased police presence has also increased the issuance of parking tickets for cars clogging the center medians along Dolores Street.
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SHORT SHRIFTS: It looks as if the old A&A Market at 25th and Sanchez is about ready to reopen. Not as a corner grocery, but as a laundry.... Construction has started on retrofitting St. Paul's Cathedral, so drive carefully on Church... It's big news in outer Noe Valley that Hungry Joe's is finally handing out printed menus (the place opened in 1979)... That was Dave Monks (Noe Valley Democratic Club prez) on the April 18 edition of KRON's Bay Area Backroads, showing off his map and guide to movie locations in San Francisco. I like the Vertigo stops the best...Tully's coffeehouse on 24th Street was giving out free coffee to any IRS employee or certified public accountant (who produced their ID or business card) from April 12 to 17. That's nice... Lovejoy's Tea Room is under new ownership. I'll let you know the scoop next time.
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TOP OF THE POPS at Streetlight Records is the brand new Elliot Smith CD called Figure Eight. Streetlighter Laura Horsfall says it's "inde-folk-rock" type music. "He writes and performs his own stuff," says Laura.
Down at Aquarius Records, flying out the door is Reggie and the Full Effect, by a band of the same name. Aquarius's Andy Connors says the music is "weird pop," and he thinks this will probably be the Midwestern group's "farewell disc, since the band members play with other groups and this was a side collaboration."
For those of you still reading, Cory Combs of Cover to Cover reports that the store's current bestseller in the fiction category is Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It's available in paperback.
In the nonfiction category, the winner is Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down-- A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collusion of Two Cultures. The title tells it all.
Noe Valley's favorite video at First Choice Video, according to Tony Dalessandro, is Fight Club, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. First Choice is on the corner of Church and 24th Street and used to be known as West Coast Video.
In any event, Tony has owned the place and has been renting out videos at that location since 1984. Do you know the name of the business which occupied that space before then? Clue: The same kind of business was also in the space now filled by Cotton Basics on the corner of 24th and Castro. The name was that of a planet.
Over at Noe Valley Video, your favorite is Boys Don't Cry, starring Academy Award winning Best Actress Hilary Swank and supported by A.A. nominee Chloe Sevigny.
Now you are wondering where Noe Valley Video is located. Well, that is the new name of 21st Century Video, which is located near Ralph's, no, Bell Market in the heart of Downtown Noe Valley.
According to owners Marlene and Brian Dunleavy, "we were forming a company, applied for a trademark, and found that a video producer in New Jersey owned the name, so we changed it to something neighborhood-friendly." Is there a Noe Valley Video in Jersey?
Over at Castro Street's Video Wave, which is not changing its name, The Limey, starring Terence Stamp, is the one that's always out, so reservations are recommended. The best time to show up is when the doors open on Monday.
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IT'S MONDAY MORNING, so I gotta go. Before I depart, the answer to the riddle above is: Mercury Pharmacy. Bye, kids.