Noe Valley Voice October 2002

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 email to 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. Letters may be edited for brevity or clarity.

Graffiti Vandals Are Not 'Artists'


A small but important correction to your September 2002 article titled "The Typical Tagger": In the final paragraph, you quote SFPD Graffiti Abatement Officer Christopher Putz, with reference to ways merchants can discourage graffiti vandalism, as saying, "The less trash around, the better chance that the graffiti artist will go somewhere else." Please, Officer Putz most certainly would not utter the term "graffiti" and "artist" in the same breath, nor would anyone else who is familiar with the extent of damage and neighborhood demoralization these vandals wreak.

While this may seem like an innocent mistake, using the term "graffiti artist" only perpetuates the notion held by some, in particular many young people, that taggers are artists. While some do indeed have artistic ability, graffiti scrawled on property without the owner's permission is vandalism, period. Let's stop glamorizing or obfuscating the true nature of this blight on our city and call it by its real name: graffiti vandalism.

Gideon Kramer

North Mission Beautification Project

Better Living Through Chemistry


Your story on Noe Valley's acid-etching vandal in the September Voice ("'ROC' Strikes 24th Street Shops Again") reports that vandals "use chemical creams purchased through art supply sites on the Internet or at arts and crafts stores."

I created one of those Internet sites that sells a glass-etching cream. It's unfortunate when an article about vandalism seems to place blame for the deed with the tools or media that vandals use, and with the individuals and companies that supply them.

Please don't blame the art supplier. Vandals will always find destructive ways to use the materials that other people use to create. And don't blame the artist. Glass etching is a subtle way to add depth and dimension to decorative glass. Some of California's best decorative glass work is done right on 24th Street, at Cradle of the Sun, which also sells glass-etching cream.

The active ingredient in glass-etching creams, hydrofluoric acid, can be purchased from industrial chemical suppliers. It is used in many manufacturing processes and lab applications, notably to etch silicon semiconductors, and by glaziers to create frosted glass. ROC or one of his associates could easily have brought acid etching cream home from work.

Or, with an elementary knowledge of chemistry, perhaps from a single high school chemistry class, ROC could have made acid etching cream himself. He could have bought all the ingredients at Tuggey's Hardware, Real Foods, or Rite Aid Pharmacy. But don't blame Tuggey's Hardware, and don't blame the grocer or pharmacist! Those ingredients are part of toothpastes and plumbing degreasers that have been used for generations.

And don't blame high school chemistry teachers. If you want children to become doctors, scientists, and engineers, you have to help them appreciate the chemistry of ordinary life. Whatever you do, don't try making hydrofluoric acid at home. Even when it is used in light concentrations, hydrofluoric acid requires protective gloves and good ventilation. A concentrated spill of hydrofluoric acid to even a small area of skin can be fatal. But don't be afraid to clean up after one of ROC's attacks. The hydrofluoric acid in ROC's acid etching cream is so reactive that by the time an attack is discovered, the cream has long since reacted with the silicon in the glass behind it and the carbon dioxide in the air in front of it, leaving behind only a residue of salts.

Howard Metzenberg

Church Street

'Too Many Rats in the Cage'


In this day of terrorism, global warming, species extinction, genetically modified food, and radioactive waste, not to mention overpopulation, I have one question for those Noe Valley women who chose to become pregnant after Sept. 11 ["Is Noe Valley Seeing a Post-9/11 Baby Boom?" July/August 2002 Voice]: What the hell were you thinking?

A good indication of just how clueless these folks must be is the pediatrician's suggestion that some may have "lost their jobs and decided that now was a good time to start a family." I can just hear their reasoning: "Oh no, I have no money, and they've crashed two planes into the Twin Towers! Whatever shall I do? Um, wait, I know! I'll make a baby!"

Another person's comparison to rats is appropriate. As someone said long ago when it was already true, "There are too many rats in the cage." I know it's too late, but grow some brains, ladies.

Carl Hoffman

Peralta Avenue

Support for Mortuary Project


I am compelled to comment concerning your recent article on the attempt to construct housing at Reilly's Mortuary, the old funeral home at Dolores and 29th streets ["Rumors Behind the News," July/August 2002 Voice].

Your assertion that the neighbors oppose the project would lead one to believe that all or most of the nearby residents are opposed. Based on the "noise" coming from the opposition, I can see how you might arrive at that conclusion. In fact, I live just across the street on Dolores, and I and most of the nearby residents are in favor of the current compromise. If you pay attention only to the ranters -- the "I have to have my say at any cost" and the "not in my neighborhood" types--you will never get the story straight. We cannot allow each construction project to become developers versus self-appointed neighborhood spokespersons, or urgently needed city housing will never be built.

The part the Board of Supervisors-- especially Supervisor Mark Leno--has played in this project has been despicable. As a group, the supervisors have caused unnecessary delays, ignored the facts, and in general screwed up the process. Clearly, seven members of the board have been prejudiced in favor of the so-called neighborhood spokespersons, I guess in an attempt to curry votes. It's time to remove these obstructionist supervisors from the government.

Charles K. Humbert

Dolores Street

A Candidate with Vision


We're fortunate to have decent candidates to choose from for our vacant Board of Supervisors seat. With her experience, dedication, and knowledge of issues, Eileen Hansen stands above the rest.

There are many reasons to support her, such as doubling the number of women on the board, or her decades of community leadership. So far, she is the only candidate to articulate a substantive vision for the city and our neighborhoods.

She recognizes we need solutions, not slogans, for housing and the homeless. We need a real plan to get people off the streets; we also need the innovative housing options she supports for people (like me) who want to be homeowners. She understands that sensible budget priorities could preserve funding for our fragile neighborhood parks, for our public health system, and for family support. In a $5 billion budget, there is surely room for such essentials -- the real "neighborhood services" -- and she's worked extensively on city budget issues.

In the years I've lived in Noe Valley, I've witnessed battles between various constituencies as the profile of the city has changed, loss of neighborhood businesses and character, dislocation of arts groups, more homelessness, and inappropriate development. As Eileen engaged in such discussions in our area--shelters, redevelopment, parks usage--she saw that getting people to listen to each other was a critical step. We need her skills as a mediator to get us past our differences.

I knew Eileen before she ran (and almost won) in 2000. I saw that her ambition was not for personal advancement but rather from her hopes for our neighborhoods and city. As she walks our neighborhoods, I hope you'll give her the chance to listen to you.

John Lehnert

Chattanooga Street

Prop. R Is Risky


Proposition R, Tony Hall's condo-conversion measure, promises both home ownership and tenant protection. It will deliver neither. It is a poorly drafted ordinance that provides no means to enforce its provisions.

Not only does Prop. R allow 3,400 condo conversions a year and offer questionable tenant protections in the form of lifetime leases (which were put into serious legal question in a recent court challenge of Jake McGoldrick's tenants-in-common legislation), but it also permits, in many cases, a mere 25 percent of tenants to decide whether or not a building will condo-convert. Prop. R has been tried twice before, once in San Francisco and once in Santa Monica, and failed miserably each time. Both attempts resulted in few tenants (8 percent in Santa Monica) becoming homeowners and large numbers being evicted. Prop. R disregards all of the seismic standards currently in place for buildings that condo-convert, so that buildings converted via this measure will not be safe. There's also no affordable housing requirement nor neighborhood approval needed.

While proponents of this initiative say that condos will be affordable, the asking price for the average San Francisco condo is more than $500,000 right now. Who can afford that? In Noe Valley, the average condo price is even higher.

All around, Prop. R is bad news. As more buildings convert, housing will become scarcer and rents will go up. The diversity we've all come to love will disappear. Those few who manage to afford condos will find themselves at the mercy of condo associations that could ban pets or rainbow flags and limit overnight guests. Prop. R is too risky for San Francisco.

Scott Weaver

Noe Valley resident

J. Winchester

Castro resident

Looking for a Friend


Hello! I am writing to you from Stockholm, Sweden, in an attempt to find a lost friend, Marigrace Bannon. I came across a piece she had written for your paper about the earthquake of 1989. Marigrace and I worked together in France a few years ago, and I would so much like to say hello to her again.

So I am wondering if perhaps you have an address for her or can pass my address and wishes along. I know she went back to the Bay Area after France. I would be most grateful for your help. Thank you and best wishes to Noe Valley.

Annika Salomonsson

Stångjärnsvägen 5

168 68 Bromma, Sweden

Editor's Note: We obviously lost track of Marigrace also, so we hope this message will reunite old friends.