Noe Valley Voice November 2001

Letters to the Editor

Halloween Parade Was a Treat Editor:

Once again I would like to thank the many merchants and business people who helped make St. Philip's annual Halloween parade a big success. The generosity they displayed was greatly appreciated by our "trick-or-treaters." Thanks are also due to the San Francisco police officers who escorted us and ensured that our parade would be a safe one.

Mary Ann Collins

St. Philip School

Elizabeth Street

That Wacky Wild Parrot Film


Kim Bullis, Clipper Street resident and "parrot angel" to my documentary-film-in-progress, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," suggested I send Voice readers an update, since so many donors to the nonprofit movie are Noe Valley residents.

The most important recent event is that Mark Bittner, "Friend of the Flock" and human star of the film, landed a book contract with Harmony Books -- an imprint of Random House -- to write a memoir of his six-year relationship with the parrots. I agreed to delay the film's release until the book is published, so that both benefit from each other's publicity. It makes sense to join forces with Random House, even though it means the film won't be on the big screen until 2003 at the earliest. (Mark's deadline to deliver the manuscript is Jan. 1, 2003, and then Harmony has 18 months to publish it.)

I also agreed to title the film the same as the book: "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," instead of "The Wild Parrots of San Francisco." The agent and the publisher thought the former title was more evocative. Rest assured, even with the new title, the canary-winged parakeets of Noe Valley will still appear in a supporting role. I got some wonderful closeups of the little green-and-yellow parrots from my neighbor's living-room window on Sanchez Street at Elizabeth, and some nice flying shots over backyards between San Jose Avenue and Guerrero.

Editing is in progress: I have a rough assembly of over an hour, including six funny "urban legends" about how the flock got started. There are now nearly 1,900 shots logged into the computer editing system. I still need to get some good slow-motion flying shots, which are hard because the birds are so fast and erratic. I've experimented with rooftops, decks, and the top turret of Julius' Castle. The parrots always do their greatest aerial acrobatics after I've taken the camera off the tripod and am heading home!

Thanks again for your support.

Judy Irving

IDG Films

Greetings from a Theater Buff


I manage to locate and read most of the neighborhood newspapers published in San Francisco because they publish the kind of stuff that doesn't stress me out. Sometimes I even find articles I really enjoy, such as "Starting School, 1926" by Florence Holub in your October issue.

I never lived in Noe Valley myself, but my father and mother and a couple of my siblings lived on Duncan Street before 1920. My father had a very small cheese factory in the basement of the house.

By the time I was born in 1920, they lived in Daly City and he had his cheese factory and soda fountain (Abbey Creamery) at 1033 Valencia Street. I remember well riding in my father's old Studebaker up and down Dolores Street on the way to and from his factory. I don't think it would be possible for me to ride or drive on Dolores Street without being reminded of those times many years ago.

I have been a theater buff for most of my life and recall going to the Noe Theater on 24th Street a time or two with friends. I vaguely remember the Diamond Theater too, but it had been closed for some time. I suspect it chose not to upgrade to talkies.

Part of the reason I am writing to you is that I am hoping there are some "old-timers" around who remember the Noe and even the Diamond Theater, and who can provide me with some anecdotes or photos (on loan, of course) of those movie houses. I have a San Francisco ­ oriented web site (, which features San Francisco theaters, and I would like to add the Noe and the Diamond. I can be reached by mail at 2 Townsend Street, 2-213, San Francisco, CA 94107. Or by phone at 415-284-0127, or by e-mail at

Bernard C. Winn

Bike Stolen on 24th Street


My bike was stolen from the inside second-floor landing of my apartment house at 4079 24th Street on Sunday, Aug. 12, between noon and 7 p.m. It was not visible from the front door, so someone must have seen me bring it in before noon. It was seen at the Noe Valley Post Office, which is right next to my apartment, the second day after the theft. That suggests that whoever has it may not be the thief.

The bike is an unusual one: a Japanese-made, collapsible model, which I understand was designed to be stowed aboard seagoing sailboats. If anyone has seen it or knows who might now have it, I'd appreciate their contacting Tom or Diane at 826-8243.

Tom Conlon

24th Street

Help S.F. Be No. 1 in Solar Power


It is not every day that you get a chance to do something serious about global warming. And it will never be as easy and as painless as on Nov. 6, when San Francisco will have the opportunity to vote for a tax-free clean energy source.

There are at least three good reasons to vote for Proposition B, the Solar Revenue Bond: the environment, the city's coffers, and the pleasure that comes from being able to say, "I told you so."

The idea behind Prop. B, in a nutshell, is this: Issue a $100 million bond to buy solar panels (some money will also go for wind turbines and energy conservation technologies). Slap the solar panels on city-owned facilities. The electricity goes to power city government, and the cost savings go to pay back the bond. San Francisco gets its own source of 40 megawatts of renewable power, the environment gets cleaner, and as the project pays for itself, we taxpayers are not out a dime.

The environmental argument is this. Global warming is clearly one of the most significant challenges of this century, and energy generation is its single largest cause. In contrast to other sources, solar-generated power creates no toxic waste or climate-changing gases.

The fiscal point is that the project will pay for itself. Before making it to the ballot as a revenue bond (as opposed to a general obligation bond, which is paid for through taxes), worst-possible scenario numbers were crunched by the brightest minds in the business, including Ed Smeloff, the city's new energy czar. The city budget analyst, the city controller, and the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee certified the project as paying for itself well within the warrantied life of the equipment. And after the bond is paid down, all subsequent electricity is gravy: a freebie for the foresighted.

But there is actually more to it, economically speaking. In fiscal year 1998-1999, the City of San Francisco spent $7 million purchasing electricity. In fiscal year 2000­2001, the figure was $39 million. Clearly, the city would do well to guard against the volatility of the energy market. This project would diversify San Francisco's energy sources as well as increase its energy self-reliance.

Prop. B, if passed, would be the single largest purchase of photovoltaics in history, and San Francisco will become the most solarized city in the country. Which brings us to the third point: the joy of being the first to do it right.

By passing this initiative, San Francisco has the opportunity to model an enlightened, environmentally sound, and cost-effective response to our country's energy woes and to global warming. Other cities are likely to follow suit, and the environmental benefits will multiply.

San Francisco has always been a city of pioneers. Now you can help light the path to a more sustainable future -- vote yes on B.

Adam Browning

David Hochschild

Via e-mail


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