December 2002 - January 2003
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Letters to the Editor
The Voice welcomes your letters to the editor. Write the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address, and phone number. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) You may also send us mail via our web site: www.noevalleyvoice.com. Letters may be edited for brevity or clarity.
License the Dog Walkers
Today (Oct. 30, 2002), I found myself in the unfortunate position of having to defend myself and my daughter from a pair of abusive dog walkers. We were eating lunch in Alta Plaza Park, sitting on a bench on one of the paths. A group of dogs, accompanied by a walker, approached. As my daughter is nervous around dogs, and several of them were very interested in our lunches, I asked the walker to control them. Her response was basically that I was in a dog run area (it sure looked like a public path to me), and if I didn't like dogs, I and my daughter had better move somewhere else. As she delivered this ultimatum, she moved in closer, bringing the rest of the dogs closer, and was shortly joined by another walker and his set of dogs. After an extended argument, they finally withdrew. Our quiet lunch in the park was, of course, ruined.
My immediate gut response was that dogs should not be allowed off-leash except in fenced-in areas in the city. If someone had asked me to vote for such a proposition right then, I certainly would have.
Having had some time to cool down since, and reflecting on lots of previous experience with off-leash dogs in Upper Douglass Park, where I take tai chi lessons each week, I have a somewhat different view: the dog walkers (not the dogs) should not be allowed off-leash in the city.
Okay, okay. Even that is too strong. However, what I have observed over nearly two years in Douglass Park is that 99 percent of dog owners and 90 percent of dog walkers are just great: they're aware of other people in the park, and if their dogs get too zealous, they say sorry and get them under control. (Though some do seem to think that saying "he's friendly" is somehow enough to calm a frightened child.) But a few dog walkers, like the ones my daughter and I encountered, seem actively belligerent. When asked to control the dogs under their care, they take it not as a reasonable request, but as a personal insult and invitation to confrontation. These are often the same walkers that have eight or nine dogs, rather than the legal six.
I don't know what the right answer is here. I have friends with dogs, and I like dogs myself; I don't want to force them to be on-leash all the time. I believe the current moves in that direction may be driven by those few bad walkers (owners or not) that I've encountered from time to time. These few are ruining it for everyone else, dogs and people alike.
Maybe more stringent licensing of professional dog walkers is the answer. I certainly would have liked to ask for a license number and then filed a complaint after today's lunch. Unfortunately, one bad confrontation packs far more emotion than a hundred pleasant ones.
Leashes a Must on 24th Street
While there's been a bit of a tussle over whether canine residents of Noe Valley should be allowed to run free in our local parks, there should be no disagreement that they must be on leashes on 24th Street and in other pedestrian sidewalk areas. A surprisingly high number of large dogs appear to live here, and at least half the time I see them wandering by themselves, with their masters close and not so close by.
This is illegal and, especially to those of us with small children, unnerving. We don't know the demeanor of these dogs! We can't tell by looking whether a dog is friendly or fierce. If the dog bounds up to my child in his stroller, it scares him. How does the dog react? Is it startled? Does it shy away? Does it get angry and bite? How am I supposed to know?
Bottom line: Dog owners, keep your dogs on their leashes, and keep a tight rein on them. After what happened last year in Pacific Heights, you should know better.
Speaking for Himself
Thank you for your thorough coverage of my debate over Prop. N with Supervisor Gavin Newsom ["The Play-by-Play for Noe Valley Candidates Night," November 2002 Voice]. However, I would like to clarify that while I am employed by Community Vocational Enterprises, they are in no way involved with my work on homelessness, and I was not representing the agency in any capacity. Unfortunately, the article gave that impression by using my work title, and I just wanted to set the record straight.
A Different World
I am sending you a photo (see above) taken during the 1930s on the corner of Noe and Day streets, looking east on Day towards Bernal Heights. Notice a couple of things. There are still buildings where the Upper Noe Park now is on Sanchez Street, and note the lack of homes on Bernal Heights. It also appears that the house on the corner of Noe and Day was under construction at the time.
I grew up in Noe Valley during the 1950s and '60s and have many wonderful memories of the area. It sometimes saddens me to see so many changes, such as the Star Bakery closing and Reilly's mortuary being replaced by condos.
I remember things like going to the "Egg Lady" on 29th Street next door to St. Paul's High School and buying fresh eggs for my mom. I remember when St. Paul's used to close down 29th Street for its festivals. We kids would stay outside all weekend enjoying the rides put up in the middle of the street. I also have fond memories of Lam's Market at 29th and Noe, Tomasoni's Variety Store on 29th Street, and T&M Variety on Church, all of which are gone. It was a different time and a different world.
I now live in a small town outside of Sacramento but think about Noe Valley often and a way of life that is now a wonderful memory. Your paper brings back a lot of good memories, and I enjoy reading it every month. Keep up the great work.
Granite Bay, Calif.
Plagued by Mosquitoes
As residents of Noe Valley for the better part of a decade, my partner and I have been plagued, on a nearly constant basis, by the presence of mosquitoes. I had always thought that these nasty critters were, by and large, summer invaders, but for some reason this particular strain seems impervious to the seasons and goes about its bloodsucking business unaffected by season or temperature.
I have called the city and made inquiries that resulted in the examination of the nearest sewers and drains, but this has not cured or even curbed the problem. I have also made the rounds of several of my neighbors to ascertain whether they have ponds or standing water that might contribute to or be totally responsible for the problem, but so far this also has failed to produce results.
While this may seem a minor dilemma, the fact is that being bitten so often during the night tends to interfere with much needed shuteye (we have to rise for work at 5 a.m.) and has therefore been quite frustrating for us (wearing pith helmets and mosquito netting to bed is about the only recourse we have not tried).
Now with the specter of the West Nile virus on the horizon--even given some media exaggeration regarding its potential dangers--I am wondering if any other local residents have experienced similar problems with mosquitoes or have suggestions for solutions. Thank you.