Noe Valley Voice December-January 2006

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

'Twas the month before Christmas...
And all through the Valley
Not a creature was stirring except
Carol Yenne

The storefront at Real Food's had been such a blight
Dear Carol was focused on making things right.
So she called Sergio Diaz of the Nutraceutical crowd
And suggested a décor to make us all proud.
What he would say was anybody's guess
But in the spirit of Christmas, the man actually said "yes."

"Isn't that great!" beams Carol Yenne, Small Frys proprietor and past president of the Noe Valley Merchants Association. "If you have a lemon, make lemonade: the Noe Valley Merchants are taking over Real Food and decorating it for the holidays!"

To dress up the empty storefront's facade with lights and greenery, Yenne has enlisted the help of Forbeadin' owner Donna Davis and Church Street resident Tom Mogensen, an art teacher at San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA).

"We are just now putting this together," says Davis, "and it will have a winter wonderland theme. What we really need now are a lot of artificial Christmas trees!" Anyone who has a tree is encouraged to get in contact with Davis immediately. Her number is 641-1414, or leave a message at Forbeadin', 1195 Church, right off 24th Street.

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HOMIE IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS: Long-term plans for 24th Street beautification were the hot topic at a Noe Valley Association (Community Benefit District) meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16, in the community room at St. Philip's Church. NVA director Debra Niemann says there were great ideas spilling out of the 60 or so neighbors who came to discuss three potential "dreams" for the neighborhood's commercial strip.

The discussion about our local urban ecology will continue at a second community meeting, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. Again the location is the St. Philip's community room, which is accessible from 24th Street (and Diamond) through the parking lot, which also will be available for attendees.

The NVA has almost finished the remodel of the front of the city parking lot on 24th Street between the Le Zinc bistro and Radio Shack. Niemann says they are currently selecting appropriate furniture (a new bench, perhaps?) that will fit in the space between the sidewalk and the parking lot.

Another item on the agenda is a report by the neighborhood committee that is overseeing the Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library renovation project. Two members, Bill Yenne and David Brodwin, took a hard-hat tour of the construction project on Nov. 17, and say that everything appears to be on schedule.

According to Yenne, at the time of their tour, the Department of Public Works reported that "over 194 days of the project's 425 allotted days have elapsed [that's 45.64 percent of the time], 31.6 percent of the money has been spent, and 42 percent of the project has been completed."

The library's retrofit has a "substantial completion" date of July 4, 2007, and a "final completion" date set for Sept. 2, 2007. So mark your calendars.

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LET'S GET PHYSICAL: Neighborhood yearnings for toned bodies has resulted in a 900-square-foot expansion of Spring Pilates Studio, which opened at 1414 Castro Street three years ago.

"The additional room will help the studio meet the growing demand from the Noe Valley community," says studio co-owner Ky Carnell Russell, "enabling us to expand into new services, workshops, class schedules, and a selection of retail items."

In January, the studio will begin a new monthly workshop series on such topics as low back pain, healthy knees, and conditioning for specific sports. Co-owner Izabel Loinaz says the workshops are designed for people who want to learn about Pilates but may not be able to commit to weekly classes or sessions.

Curves, which has been open for two and a half years on the corner of Church and 29th Street, has a new owner, Bonnie Farrell. The woman-only fitness studio, part of a nationwide chain, is known for its 30-minute exercise circuit. Farrell says Curves has stretched its hours--now you can work out from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Farrell is also offering a two-week free introduction for new members.

We reported in October that GNC closed its doors in September, which it did. However, as you can see, there has been a "grand re-opening," with a refurbished, fully stocked store open for business. The corporation that operates the national chain of General Nutrition Center (GNC) stores has taken over the Noe Valley outlet, which had been operated by an independent franchisee for more than seven years. "The company bought back the franchise from the proprietor," according to store manager Brian Entler (who resides in Eureka Valley), "and GNC wanted to keep this location and provide the neighborhood with a full range of our products."

The doors reopened Oct. 16, and Entler apologizes to all the gold card members, "who will be entitled to an extra 20 percent discount on all items because of the eight weeks the store was closed." That's a lot of vitamins to make up.

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SURREAL ESTATE: The market price index for Noe real estate saw an interesting range over the last couple of months. Sheila Ash put the former site of her Noe's Nest bed-and-breakfast up for sale after she spent two years remodeling it. The asking price for the single-family dwelling, located at 3973 23rd Street, was $2.8 million, and it reportedly sold in less than 10 days last month. Nobody's talking yet, because escrow hasn't closed. FYI, Noe's Nest is open for business at 1257 Guerrero between 24th and 25th, its location for the past two years.

At the other end of the spectrum was the list price of $316,167 for a three-bedroom condo at 1594 Dolores Street, the former site of Reilly's Funeral Home.

This unit was the one "low-income" unit promised by the developers of that 13-unit condo on the corner of Dolores and 29th streets, built roughly three years ago. The "affordable" condo was one of the concessions that were being made to neighbors when the project was winding its way through the permit process. It was designated as one of the Mayor's Office of Housing "below-market-rate" (BMR) units to be made "available at affordable prices to low- and moderate-income households." The eligibility guidelines allow first-time buyers to have incomes up to $63,850 for one person, up to $91,200 for a family of four. The buyer was picked by lottery on Nov. 22.

The winner of the unit should thank his/her neighbors for the windfall. In October of 2004, the developers offered to pay $200 million to the Housing Office, in exchange for removing the condo from the BMR list. The Upper Noe Neighbors and our supervisor, Bevan Dufty, opposed the deal and prevailed, despite pressure from the developers for two years. "Finally!" said Upper Noe Neighbors president Vicki Rosen when asked for a comment.

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MY BRILLIANT CAREEN: Upper Noe Valley was the scene of a runaway bus just before 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 6, when an electric 24-Divisadero trolley rolled backwards down Noe Street between Valley and 29th. It wiped out eight motor vehicles and the side of an apartment house. Fortunately, no one was injured.

By all accounts, it appears that the northbound bus could not get around a garbage truck that was double-parked on the steep hill. The Muni driver tried to go around, but the bus stalled when the rabbit ears that connect the bus to the power line came off the track. Then the woman bus driver couldn't reconnect them. At this point, all the passengers were put on another bus. While the driver waited for help, she put a block behind the disabled bus' back wheel, but the block slipped, and gravity prevailed.

Muni says it was Sunset Scavenger's fault for not moving the truck, and Sunset Scavenger says it was Muni's fault. The pigeons are staying out of sight.

By the way, how many of you out there know the physical boundaries of "Upper Noe Valley"? Where does Upper Noe turn into Fairmount, or become Diamond Heights? E-mail me your answers:

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FILM CLIP-CLOPS: Lost in the Fog, the eponymous documentary about our famous local racehorse and its owner, Harry J. Aleo, a Downtown Noe Valley realtor for the past 60 years, is in its final stages of production. The film will be appearing at the Sundance Film Festival, which runs from Jan. 18 to 28, 2007, in Park City, Utah.

This film is being produced by filmmaker John Corey, who has lived on Elizabeth Street for most of his 39 years. Corey was a producer for KPIX's Evening Magazine until last summer, when he decided to devote all his time to his independent production company, Doctored Pictures.

"We have finished the rough cut, which is about an hour and forty minutes," says Corey, "and we will be trying to get it down to a little over 90 minutes for Sundance, so I have a busy month ahead of me."

Corey started working on the film in February 2005, when Lost in the Fog was setting speed records with Russell Baze in the saddle. By summer of that year the Fog had become a national sprint star.

"I think Harry and I got along so well because we both were born and raised in this neighborhood and felt a kindred spirit, so I was able to follow the horse around the country," says Corey. "I was there near the beginning, and I was in his office doing an interview with him when he heard the news that Lost in the Fog had cancer."

Corey says that he would like to show the documentary at a Noe Valley venue this spring. "Maybe we can make arrangements with the Noe Valley Ministry or use the James Lick Middle School auditorium and do it as a benefit."

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THAT'S THIRTY for 2006. Let's hope that peace will come in 2007. Have a hippity-hoppity holiday.