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and now for the Rumors Behind the News
NOTING THE VOTE: For Noe Valley voters, the California presidential primary election marks the last time they will vote before the November 2004 presidential election. Elections have kept neighborhood voters very busy these past several months--the October recall, the Nov. 7 municipal election, and the Dec. 9 runoff. Just make one more trip to the polling place March 2, and you can rest up until the big ballot next November.
The Noe Valley neighborhood results of the Dec. 9 mayoral and district attorney runoff election released by the San Francisco Department of Elections (DOE) show our voter turnout jumped from 55 percent in November to a respectable 65.6 percent of our 16,524 registered voters (over 80 percent registered Democrats). Citywide, the turnout was 54.5 percent.
Diamond Heights beat Noe Valley by 1 percentage point (the turnout there was 66.5 percent). But in the neighborhood sweepstakes, the Upper Market/Eureka Valley precincts posted the highest runoff turnout, with more than 68 percent voting. According to the DOE, Noe's northern boundary is 24th Street, so all you folks up in Noe Heights, or even on Elizabeth Street, are counted as Eureka Valleons.
It also might interest you to know that Green candidate Matt Gonzalez, who was vying against Gavin Newsom to fill Willie Brown's shoes (rather, hat), got 55 percent of both the Noe Valley and Eureka Valley votes. Gonzalez also won 74 percent of hearts and minds in the Mission District. However, he only got 30 percent of the Diamond Heights vote, and a mere 31 percent of Newsom's West of Twin Peaks stronghold.
Kamala Harris, who defeated Terence Hallinan in the DA's race, got 54 percent of the Noe vote, and about the same in Eureka Valley.
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DEMOS WIN DERBY: This runoff election gained world press as a contest between the old-guard Democrats and the upstart Green Party. Local Democrats went to bat for Newsom. Our city supervisor, Bevan Dufty, and our State Assembly representative, Noe Valleon Mark Leno, made many neighborhood appearances and participated in events that brought out former Vice President Al Gore and exCommander in Chief Bill Clinton, to emphasize how important it was for a Democrat to win.
As we all know ("we" being the 80 percent of Noe Valleons who have traditionally registered as Democrats), Newsom prevailed in the runoff, and the Democrats heaved a sigh of relief--although quite obviously, many of them voted for Gonzalez.
"I am proud that our neighborhood had many precincts with the highest voter turnout. It doesn't surprise me," said Mark Leno post-election. "And I think that party affiliation was not an issue, especially in our neighborhood. However, having said that, to have [potentially] lost to a non-Democrat was a concern that could have had not only local but also state and national implications. For example, it could have hindered the way our district's representative in the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, would have had to [deal with] colleagues in Washington, D.C.
"Newsom is good for Noe Valley," Leno continued. "He has a good relationship with your supervisor, Bevan Dufty, and from what I hear from colleagues who were not supportive of Newsom, recent meetings have been very positive and productive. He has scored very high marks for his early appointments to fire chief, interim police chief, and his successor on the Board of Supervisors."
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SAY 'MOVE ON': Noe Valley activist and Friends of Noe Valley past president Jeannene Przyblyski (say "Shu-bill-ski") also thinks Newsom will be good for Noe Valley, and for the rest of San Francisco. Przyblyski volunteered to work on Newsom's campaign and became a leader in what she describes as "the Art and Culture Policy work group, which helped formulate his formal policy statement." Since the election, Przyblyski has been working as a member of Newsom's transition team and trying to implement art and culture, which is especially needed in these redneck times.
Asked about Gavin's victory citywide (and Matt's victory in Noe Valley), Przyblyski had a positive spin. "I thought the whole process was a great thing for all of us because it mobilized a lot of people in a lot of neighborhoods into participation. That is what we're going to need in the November election if we have any chance of defeating George W. Bush. I thought it was kind of funny that there seemed to be two kinds of voters [in the runoff]: those who had deeply held views for Gavin or Matt, and those who thought it was fashionable to opt for one or the other as a kind of statement about your own personal style."
Przyblyski is an art history teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute and currently teaches a class in anarchist art. "Most of my students who supported Gonzalez thought that I was, of course, in style with the trend, which I was not," she said. "I am a progressive like Gavin and Matt. I just think that Newsom's policies are more practically progressive and much better for all our neighborhoods."
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WHOLE LOTTA LOT: Everybody wants to know when the new parking lot where Dan's Gas once stood will open for business. Since December, the local Farmers' Market has been setting up there every Saturday morning, and on Sundays the Noe Valley Ministry congregation can park there during services. But the rest of the week, chains have barred the entrance.
You will recall that the lot was purchased (for over $3 mil) more than two years ago by an anonymous group of Presbyterian donors, who wanted to encourage church attendance and help the Ministry support itself with parking lot revenues. The 29-space lot and "mini-park" were completed last October--just in time for the holidays.
However, according to construction project manager Tim Leistico, who spoke to the Voice in late January, the owners are still in negotiations with the property management group that will run the parking lot. When the group signs a contract, Leistico says, "that will clear the way for the lot to be open to the public. Basically my work is done, and it's now in the hands of the lawyers."
Leistico had no comment on who exactly was negotiating, or on what the parking rates would be.
As for what we can expect to pay, the only comparison we have in the neighborhood are the rates at the Walgreen's parking lot on Castro. There, parking is free for the first hour, and each hour thereafter costs $15. So two hours will run you about $2.50 every 20 minutes; in the third hour, the rate goes up to $3.33 per 20 minutes. Of course, Walgreen's wants a high turnover for their customers, so the charge is a strong disincentive to park for more than an hour. And it's strictly enforced.
In other Downtown Noe Valley news, I'm sure you've noticed the Darwinian test going on in the 3900 block of 24th Street. If not, read our front-page story this month and learn that Tien Fu, Dharma, and maybe Colorcrane have all succumbed to three years of recession (and five months of no Real Food). Meanwhile, Ambiance and Just for Fun win the local game of Survivor.
Out on Church Street, everyone is sorry to see the unique gift shop Willa close its doors. Owner Elena Duggan says she is moving the store to Burlingame after two years at the corner of Church and 27th. "We found a larger place--almost double the space--with a lot more foot traffic, and I wanted to expand the business, which has been going very well for us."
Duggan was born and raised and still lives at Church and 29th. "I'm really going to miss my loyal customers, but hopefully I will see them at our new store [1402 Burlingame Avenue]." Her family started and still owns and operates Original Joe's on Taylor Street.
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BACK TO THE GARDEN: The fight over the 23,000 square feet of open space and community garden at the top of Clipper Street now being threatened by a proposed 34-unit housing development has spilled over to the Board of Supervisors, with Bevan Dufty leading the neighborhood's opposition to the project. About 400 neighbors have signed a petition to stop the plans. The city had traded this property for another property on Edgehill in West Portal, owned by the same developer, Spiers Construction. The swap was approved in November by the Board of Supervisors, with nay votes coming only from Dufty and Chris Daly.
More than 100 neighbors attended a community meeting in January at the Diamond Heights Police Academy attended by Dufty and Larry Badiner from the City Planning Department. The city reps got an earful from those assembled, primarily for failing to give adequate notice to the residents about the deal.
Since the meeting, Dufty has been actively campaigning to get other members of the Board of Supes to help nix the proposed development. He is currently in negotiations with the developer and various city agencies to find some other piece of property the city owns that can be exchanged with Spiers. "They [Spiers] have a two-year window for approval of their plans for this site," said Dufty, "and I believe that we can all work together to reach some kind of settlement."
Meanwhile, the neighbors are well organized and have created a web site, www.portolapark.com, that will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about their fight to "Save Portola Park." The site also can serve as a blueprint for how to mobilize a neighborhood and get action down at City Hall.
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A CENTURY OF PROGRESS: The East & West of Castro Street Improvement Club is celebrating its 100th year of being "dedicated to the safety, cleanliness, and well-being of our community." Back in the day, Noe Valley's oldest neighborhood group (which was first called the West of Castro Improvement Club) was instrumental in getting the city to pave our streets and add streetcar lines. In the early 1920s, the club convinced the city to buy an old rock quarry and turn it into Douglass Park.
Said Club President Paul Kantus, who was born in Noe Valley in 1926, "The club's monthly meetings in the early years were attended by Noe Valley residents with their entire families at Willopi Hall [now the location of the public parking lot on 24th Street between Le Zinc and Radio Shack]. Club meetings were well attended by the neighborhood, and local and state politicians as well. They would listen to the local concerns and promise to do something about them," recalled Paul, "and they usually would, because when election time rolled around, the club would support those candidates who pitched in and got things done."
Kantus remembers that the meetings in the '30s and '40s "started with the Color Guard marching in, then a call to order and the roll call of officers, including a Master-at-Arms, who would serve as a bouncer should someone become unruly."
That spirit still exists in this neighborhood, what with the Lenos and Duftys coming to our group meetings. Fortunately, we rarely need a bouncer.
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REVELRY IN THE STACKS: Over $3,000 was raised in December for the Noe ValleySally Brunn Library Renovation at the holiday party held by the Friends of Noe Valley and the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association at the Noe Valley Ministry. There was a lot of cheer and a live auction to boot. Supervisor Dufty served as auctioneer at the gala, which was well attended by neighborhood residents and their families. A very long list of neighborhood businesses and residents pitched in to sponsor the event.
A special thanks goes out to Friends vice president Debra Niemann, who was instrumental (for the second year in a row) in making everything happen and spelled f-u-n for all.
Many thanks also to Noe Valley author and historian Bill Yenne, who has agreed to store the Noe Valley Archives at his office just down the street during the two-year library renovation, which should be starting in late 2004 or early 2005.
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THAT'S ALL, YOU ALL. Make sure everyone in your house, on your block, and on your e-mail list is registered to vote and actually does so in the March 2 primary. m