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Rumors Behind the News
THE NOE VALLEY BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION is sending out urgent pleas for all valiant Noe Valleons to attend the community meeting to plan the future of the Noe Valley-Sally Brunn Library. Circle it on your calendar: Thursday, March 14, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Get up, get out, get involved!
The Friends of Noe Valley is sponsoring this meeting to give the neighborhood a voice in how the $4.4 million (our share of Prop. A bond money) will be spent to upgrade our local branch.
The Noe Valley Library, which is located at 451 Jersey Street between Castro and Diamond, was one of seven city libraries built from an Andrew Carnegie grant in 1901. Our branch (which has landmark status pending) opened its doors in 1916 -- the architect, John Reid Jr., also designed the Mission Library and Mission High School.
According to Noe Valley Library statistics, our shelves currently hold close to 30,000 books, which were, in the aggregate, circulated over 84,000 times last year. Almost 40 percent of the check-outs were children's books, and the library was visited over 65,000 times last year by us residents. In fact, my aggregated family of four accounts for an aggregate-visit count of roughly 120 times last year.
After exhaustive research, the NVBI has learned that the San Francisco Public Library is sending Deputy City Librarian Paul Underwood; Marilyn Thompson, the program manager for branch renovations; and District Manager Katie Lynds to the meeting. Our own branch manager, Librarian Roberta Greifer, will present the most recent plans and budget for the renovation.
Says longtime Noe Valleon (born here in '26) Paul Kantus, president of the 350-member East & West of Castro Street Improvement Club, "It seems we've done this before!" He recalls that back in October of '97, a group of planners from City Hall, including the chief of branch libraries, came to a joint meeting of East & West, Friends of Noe Valley, and the Noe Valley Merchants Association.
"The planners wanted to tear down our landmark building and erect a square, box-like building in its place because 'it would be cheaper' to do so," Kantus says. "They were told, in no uncertain terms, that Noe Valley residents wanted the present structure to remain, though enlargement at the rear or sides was acceptable."
When asked about this lingering concern, Donna Corbeil, current chief of branches, said she wants to assure everyone in the neighborhood that "we fully intend to respect the historical integrity of the building, inside and out."
Corbeil thinks that the March 14 meeting will be "a great first step, because we are beginning our planning process right now. We need the neighborhood's input and anticipate a construction start in December 2003, with a completion date at the end of 2005." There will be more meetings scheduled during the planning process, she promises, "so everyone will get a chance to be involved."
I'm sure we all have our own ideas about how to make the library more user-friendly. Maybe they could enlarge the downstairs community room to accommodate bigger groups. Or build a movie screening room and coffee bar -- yeah, why not?
Of course, the big issue is, where will we go for our books during the two years of construction? Unless we start lobbying now, Noe Valleons may be forced to leave the neighborhood.
"We don't know exactly what we are going to do during the time the branch is closed," says Thompson, the project manager, "but we have a task force working on that right now. We are considering things like a [neighborhood] bookmobile, extending hours at neighboring branch libraries, and having express windows for check-in and check-outs."
I would suggest a continuous shuttle from 451 Jersey Street either to the newly renovated Mission Branch on lower 24th Street, or a pleasant little walk down there and back. Also, the tiny Glen Park Branch will have quarters in a brand-new building, which should be completed by the end of 2003. Just when we'll be looking for a new nest.
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WE ALL SCREAM: The news in Downtown Noe Valley is that Rory's Twisted Scoop has closed. For many locals, the southwest corner of 24th and Castro had become an ice cream icon. In the 1960s and '70s, rain or shine, there was always a long line for Bud's Ice Cream. (Remember those huge hot fudge sundaes in the giant paper cups?)
At year's end, there was a rumor that a wine-tasting bar would take Rory's place. And since the Fountain of Youth on Church Street had recently melted away, that would have meant no more ice cream shops at all in Noe Valley.
Well, if you've seen the signs on Rory's windows, you know our ice cream tradition has been saved. Isabella's Ice Cream and Dessert Café will open this month if all goes smoothly, says Ray Baluyot, who is launching the new enterprise with his sister Lorraine Espirito.
Isabella's, named for Espirito's daughter, will be their first food business. "I was a family lawyer, and I decided that I didn't want to do that anymore," says Baluyot, "and my sister is an accountant who wanted to be in [another] business. When we were growing up in the Philippines, I always loved dessert-making, and this is a way to express that part of me."
He and Espirito had been looking for a storefront for over a year. "When we saw this location last November, we got very excited, since Lorraine's husband Tim once lived in Noe Valley, and he thought it was a great spot in a great neighborhood."
Baluyot says he will be open every day from 10 in the morning until 10 at night. And to make life perfect, Ray has chosen Double Rainbow as the house ice cream. "They have been very supportive, they're local people, and they once had a store in Noe Valley, so we chose Double Rainbow...and we're going to have some great cakes, brownies, and pastries, coffee drinks, teas, and some sandwiches and salads." So that's the scoop.
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MERCH AND PROF: The results are in, and Kathy Zucchi, of Edward Jones Investments on Diamond near 24th, was elected president of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association at the Feb. 27, 2002, general meeting. Tony Lyau of the Bank of America was re-elected as treasurer, which makes good sense, and Diane Barrett of Indigo V was voted in as secretary. The vice president's spot is still open, for anyone who wants to grab the baton.
Zucchi says her first priority will be to get as many of the 175 members as possible to "show up at the monthly meetings and, hopefully, join a committee and make some kind of positive impact on the neighborhood where we work and many of us live. We also need every member to read the newsletter and contribute to it, and to pay their $75 dues."
Zucchi, who opened her Edward Jones branch about two years ago, wants everyone to know that Fortune magazine ranked the company No. 1 in its annual listing of the 100 best companies to work for. Maybe Zucchi can make the Merchants Association the No. 1 neighborhood group to join, and motivate the 325 businesses in Noe Valley that aren't members to join up, now.
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UPDATING THE UPDATES: Everyone, but everyone, and especially the merchants, wants to know when that parking lot will open in the 24th Street space formerly occupied by Dan's Gas and Diesel.
Well, the latest from Tim Leistico, who is representing the Noe Valley Ministry and the anonymous Presbyterian donors who bought the lot for the church, is that the plans have been modified to please the neighbors. "We're bending over backwards to give the community what it is asking for," he says.
Leistico confirms that the redwood fence around the lot that was proposed initially will be replaced by "sound-attenuation" walls. As far as the lighting goes, small (3-foot) walkway lanterns will be used, instead of the 18-foot light poles originally planned. The minipark, located next to the dry cleaners, will be reconfigured to be more oval-shaped, and will have trees, benches, and a bike rack.
The 29-space lot has been reserved for church use on Sunday mornings and Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. But the public parking fees remain up in the air. "We're still fishing, but it's looking like $5 to $6 an hour, and $15-a-day max."
Leistico says the final plans will be filed and notices sent by the beginning of March, "so we can probably start building the lot in the first week of April, and complete the job six to eight weeks later."
Hardcore skeptics in Downtown N.V. are praying for a Thanksgiving opening.
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AREA Z IS COMING: In the parking and traffic department, program coordinator Kathleen Zierolf gave us the latest schedule for Area Z parking restrictions (two-hour parking permits on certain streets in eastern and southern Noe Valley). In April, letters will go out to all residents in the affected areas, telling them where they can purchase permits and for how much.
The hard-copy permits will be available on and after May 1, 2002; street signs will be put up in May; and the actual enforcement will begin mid-June.
If you have questions, call DPW, not me. The telephone number of the permit office is 415-503-2020, and the permit office manager, Alex Nwosu, can be reached at 503-2024. You can call Kathleen Zierolf of DPT at 554-2339.
If you're waiting for word about whassup with the Merchants and Professionals proposal to install parking meters on 24th Street above Castro to Diamond, be patient -- negotiations are continuing. Shopkeepers and residents of that block are trying to arrive at a number of metered spaces that everyone can live with. With luck some agreement can be reached before the Summer Solstice.
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MAKE ROOM ON YOUR PLATE: The San Francisco Food Bank is teaming up with Terra Mia Ceramic Studio (1314 Castro Street) for a "Create a Plate" contest, whereby adults and kids buy a plate at Terra Mia and paint it for donation to the Food Bank. Terra Mia will provide the paints and glazing. A panel of celebrity judges will select the best adult and kids' plates, and the winners will be announced at a reception at Terra Mia on Earth Day, April 22, at 7 p.m. The winners will each get one month of free studio time at Terra Mia, and the Food Bank will win by getting all the plates. The contest runs from March 1 to April 18, so roll on over and get painting.
Terra Mia has an ongoing Wednesday program benefiting the Food Bank. Patrons who bring in three cans of food to donate to the Food Bank will get their studio time free for that day. Many of you must have been participating, since the dish is that Terra Mia's was the largest donation the Food Bank received from small businesses in San Francisco last year.
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GOOD LUCK to longtime Noe Valley resident Nancy Davis, who is running for S.F. Superior Court Judge in the March 5 election. The seat is being vacated by Judge Joseph Desmond, who is retiring.
Davis was a co-founder in 1974 and later executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, a nonprofit public-interest law firm that worked to establish equal opportunities and economic justice for women. She has been very active for many years in the civil rights movement, and a pioneer in gay and lesbian legal rights.
"This is one of those rare times that the voters have the opportunity to vote for a judicial office, since judges are usually appointed by the governor," says Nancy, "but I am concerned that in recent elections people have not been voting, leaving the election of public officials and important issues to be resolved by a very few, so I would urge everyone to go out on Tuesday, March 5, and VOTE."
Me too, Nancy, me too. Wouldn't it be great if for the first time in our history, Noe Valley had a 100 percent voter turnout?... Okay, do I hear 75 percent?