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Letters to the Editor
"Neighbors Look Over Sketches for Dan's Site," from the April 2001 Voice, was absolutely right in voicing the grievances people have with the new development in the Noe Valley area. While developers promise that they will do what they can to preserve the character of the neighborhood, and blend buildings in the existing style of 24th Street, who knows what they will really do once the project is approved? Both residents and visitors can tell when things have been changed.
I think that developers are trying to skirt the issue and sweet-talk their way into a deal without addressing the real issues. People are concerned about sunlight, traffic, and keeping the beauty and community of 24th Street intact.
Sure, some may say that we need to think more forwardly, and that development is a good thing for a busy area like Noe Valley. To them I ask: Is a congested, dark, traffic-clogged street with four-story fronts looming on either side also a good thing? Sure, maybe I am exaggerating a little bit, but once you start the ball rolling, you never know what may come next. In the case of the Dan's site, the would-be developer appears to be dodging the real issues.
We can only hope that the rest of 24th Street will have the same luck dodging the wrecking ball and not being replaced by the "monster buildings" taking over our city.
The Noisy Skies
What is going on?! Why has our city and some of our neighborhoods, Noe Valley and the Mission in particular, been inundated with airport traffic? Airliners are flying much lower and far more frequently away from the airport and right over our neighborhoods. The thunderous monsters are invading our homes. These airliners belong at the airport, not rattling the walls of our homes and waking us up every night. They need to be pushed back to where they belong -- the airport.
Fair Oaks Street
Thanks so much for printing the "More Mouths to Feed" feature on my family ["Mario King Morris," April 2001 Voice]. A couple of folks noticed that I organize bike tours, and wondered about the details. Here's the information, if you'd like to pass it on. I appreciate it.
VeloAsia Cycling Adventures (www.veloasia.com)
1465 Church Street, S.F., CA 94131
43 Bui Vien St., District 1, HCMC
Keykubat Cad. No. 3, 07400 Alanya
Tel: +90 242 511 47 84
Fax: +90 242 513 85 61
Cell: +90 532 520 30 66
Yada Tenmangu, Higashi-Kakiuchi
Tel/fax: (81771) 25-4886
We're Better Off Without Edison
Thank you for a thoughtful look at for-profit Edison Charter Academy in "Local Parents Steer Clear of Edison" [May 2001 Voice]. One neighbor you quoted was misinformed in believing that San Francisco's school board is moving to revoke Edison's charter "solely because it's a for-profit school." Your article listed some of the many problems with Edison, from coercion and corruption in the initial deal, to charges of dumping challenging students on other schools.
A number of school districts nationwide have complaints about Edison. Its contracts weren't renewed in San Antonio and Sherman, Texas, because of high costs, low achievement, and other problems. Currently, districts in Pontiac, Mich., and Goldsboro, N.C., are discussing revoking Edison contracts.
Local and international media -- heavily influenced by Edison's slick PR operation and by the high-level media contacts of flamboyant Edison founder Chris Whittle, who once ran Esquire magazine -- have assailed San Francisco school officials with old-fashioned commie/lefty/ "land-of-fruits-and-nuts" baiting. But Pontiac, Goldsboro, Sherman, and San Antonio are hardly hotbeds of leftist ideology. Like San Francisco, these school districts found serious problems with a company that puts profits ahead of pupils.
It was startling that a former Edison PTA president said she had been able to look at Edison's books, because the company has been closed and furtive about providing financial information to school district officials and even to Edison's most fervent media cheerleaders. School districts around the nation have the same complaint.
Now Edison has vowed to force itself on San Francisco against the will of our school district, turning to the courts and the state Board of Education (to which Edison investor/donor Don Fisher has just been appointed) to compel district officials to let it stay. Noe Valley/Mission neighbors with concerns about dot-coms and "big box" chain stores are familiar with businesses that force themselves on an unwilling community.
Here's what business columnist Chris-topher Byron of TheStreet.com has written about Edison: "It claims to be one thing (an educational system), but it is, in fact, something else (a system for raking off the unrealized profit that is presumed to lurk in the inefficient delivery of educational services to the public)."
This is not the kind of outfit Noe Valley wants in its midst.
San Francisco public school parent
Don't Follow Loss Leaders
I look upon privatization of public services, such as schools, as an insidious way for corporations to take control of our public lives.
As we know, many stores have what they call "loss leaders," items that are sold at or below cost just to get a person to shop in a particular store. At the same time, the store may raise the price of other items or hope to get one hooked to patronize their store.
Edison School is just one example of how we are being manipulated to allow corporations to take over our lives and tamper with our ability to control our destinies in a democratic society.
Sidewalk Parkers Are Blind to the Disabled
Recently I was walking my bicycle down a busy city street. For some reason, cars were parked horizontally, bumper to bumper, on the sidewalk. When I walked my bike out into the street, I noticed an elderly woman bent over a walker beyond the cars. I approached her and asked if she had had to maneuver around the cars. She had, but I don't know how she did so, considering the tight squeeze in back of us. I was furious and called the Department of Parking and Traffic. Within minutes, an officer was there.
"The mayor is serious!" he barked. The car owners moved their cars. They circled the blocks -- and then one slid his truck back onto the sidewalk when the officer had left. After all, the fine for sidewalk parking is only $25 -- a joke when you compare that to jaywalking ($77); blocking a driveway ($189); a Muni proof-of-purchase violation ($76); or eating on BART ($76).
The Parking and Traffic Commission has recently voted to recommend that the sidewalk-parking fine be raised to $50. Because DPT cannot adequately enforce the sidewalk parking laws (the California Vehicle Code states that parking "on any portion of the sidewalk, or with the body of the vehicle extending over any portion of the sidewalk" is illegal), Walk San Francisco, the pedestrian-advocacy organization, recommends that the mayor and the Board of Supervisors raise the fine immediately to $50, and to $100, the maximum permitted by state law, over a two-year period.
This will give people time to clean out their garages or find other legal places to park their cars. In addition, the recent 32 vote by members of the commission to recommend that the supervisors seek waivers from the state for vertical sidewalk parking was an unwise move. A blind person with a white cane that taps beneath car bumpers without touching any car part will walk into cars repeatedly.
Member, Walk San Francisco
Big and Little Heroes in 1906
I enjoyed the photo of the gold-painted fire hydrant at 20th and Church [on the May 2001 web edition at www.noevalleyvoice.com]. My aunt told me that it is recorded officially in a San Francisco history source that Jeremiah Mahony was the one who led the Fire Department to the hydrant, which pumped water to help fight the Fire of 1906. At the time, he lived at Liberty and Guerrero Streets. He was my great-grandfather.
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