Noe Valley Voice December-January 2006

Short Takes

Santa Is a Secret Agent

Kids of all ages are invited to confide their Christmas wishes to Santa in front of the Zephyr Real Estate office at 4040 24th Street from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9. James Romeo Holloway, the Zephyr real estate agent who plays Old St. Nick, says, "I'm not officially trained as a Santa, but I have been doing this with delight for Zephyr for more than seven years." He'll pass out candy and listen to everyone's wish list. As an African-American Santa, Holloway says, he gets big smiles even from the grownups. "I have fun with it and I never grow up," he adds. Parents, don't forget the camera. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is scheduled to co-host the event.

Gift Wrap for Library

Artery and the Noe Valley Library Campaign are wrapping holiday gifts for shoppers on three Saturdays in December to raise funds for the local library branch renovation. Just bring packages by Artery, located at 1311 Church Street at 25th Street, on Dec. 9, 16, and 23 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Artery staff and library volunteers will beautify gifts for a suggested donation of $1 to $5 per gift, with all proceeds benefiting the library's interior renovation. "We have a lot of gorgeous and fun wrapping papers and ribbons to choose from," says Artery owner Paula Benton. She'll also offer recycled and nontraditional wrappings such as maps, Sunday comics, and kids' paintings.

Drop off gifts and pick them up later, or wait and enjoy a cup of hot cider. To volunteer to help wrap, contact Benton at or call Artery at 285-0235.

Stroll Past Holiday Windows

The second annual Noel Stroll on and around 24th Street is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 9, from 5 to 9 p.m. Says Teresa Gay, co-president of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association, "We'll have carolers and musicians on the street, and all the stores will be open with special holiday discounts and refreshments." The hub of the stroll will be the Zephyr Real Estate office at 4040 24th Street, where participants will enjoy a holiday raffle and a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Maps will be posted around the neighborhood for participants, and merchants are decorating their windows for the event. (On Dec. 8, the merchants association will hold a Best Store Window Decorations contest, with prizes totalling $600.)

Noe Valleyans may be surprised to see decorations on the windows of Real Food Company, the deserted former grocery on 24th Street. Donna Davis of Forbeadin' is coordinating that effort, along with Diane Barrett of Indigo V. They've developed a Winter Wonderland theme and plan to recruit students from the School of the Arts to decorate the windows. Davis explains, "Hopefully, it will be complete for the Noel Stroll event, but it's not specifically for that event, it's for the community." The merchants received permission for the display from Nutraceutical Corporation, which owns the building.

New Water Pipes for Church Street

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has announced that it will start replacing water mains along the Noe Valley section of Church Street early next year. According to the PUC, construction on the east side of Church Street between 30th and 21st streets should begin in January and continue through spring. Work on the west side of the street, between 19th and 30th, will wait until June. Weather permitting, crews will work Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

During those hours, there will be some construction noise, and parking space will be temporarily reduced, but residents and businesses will be able to retain access to their garages. Muni routes will not change, but there may be delays in service. The PUC does not expect interruptions in water flow. For more information, call J. Flores Construction, SFPUC's contractor, at 337-2934.

In Search of S.F. Poets

A new literary series sponsored by San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, and the San Francisco Public Library offers an opportunity for poets to share their work. Poets Eleven is a citywide poetry contest in which submissions are made by residents of each of the city's 11 districts. The winning submissions will be read at the new Mission Bay Branch Library in August.

The District 8 contest, which includes Noe Valley, takes place this January. The district reading will be held at the Eureka Valley ­ Harvey Milk Branch Library at 1 José Sarria Court near 16th and Market streets at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23. Presenting poets will be selected by Hirschman, and all poets whose work is chosen will receive $50 for their readings. Submit work by e-mail at by Jan. 1.

For more information on the contest, log on to or visit the Eureka Valley Branch Library.

If This House Could Talk

What do your neighbors think about Noe Valley? From now through February, Neighborhood Public Radio will provide a fun opportunity to find out. The organization is collaborating with San Francisco and Oakland residents to produce an experimental reality radio game called Talking Homes: Bringing Down the Neighborhood. Led by NPR member Jon Brumit, the game attempts to reveal hidden stories by using the technology of a commercial real estate device called the "talking property" transmitter.

Participants use the transmitter to record stories and thoughts about their homes and neighbors, and to compete for prizes such as Worst Neighbor. Listeners, meanwhile, compete for other prizes by trying to guess the exact location of the transmitters. Noe Valleyans can listen by bringing a radio over to 23rd Street between Noe and Castro streets and tuning in to 96.9 FM. The audio is broadcast on a continual loop from the home of one of the participants. You can find out more and download a map of Talking Homes at Otherwise, call 510-593-8271.

Help Bethany Help Others

Bethany United Methodist Church, at the corner of Sanchez and Clipper streets, is helping to feed and shelter people this December, and volunteers are needed. The church is adopting families from the local women's shelter La Casa de las Madres and is currently assembling a list of needed items.

Also, the church has volunteered to provide and serve meals for homeless people from Sunday, Dec. 31, through Tuesday, Jan. 2. On an ongoing basis, Sunday worship leaders are needed for duties including lay liturgist, scripture reader, children's time helper, greeter, and coffee hour host.

Bethany's Techniques to Wellness Program is designed to support grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. They need volunteers for homework help, computer training, activities, and games on Tuesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. To volunteer for any of these activities, call the church office at 647-8393 or e-mail

Dan Hoyle Happens at the Marsh

Noe Valley resident Dan Hoyle will perform his latest work of journalistic theater at the Marsh San Francisco at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from Dec. 14 through Jan. 13, 2007. Tings Dey Happen is the culmination of Hoyle's year as a Fulbright scholar studying oil politics in Nigeria. Today, the American government wants that country and its surrounding areas to produce more oil, but Nigerian militants are blowing up pipelines, warlords are threatening rebellion, and oil company workers are being kidnapped. Hoyle's play showcases these characters and more.

The Marsh is located at 1062 Valencia Street between 21st and 22nd streets. Tickets are $15 to $22 sliding scale. For more information, call 826-5750. To order tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit

Sprucing Up Your Sidewalk

The Bureau of Urban Forestry is making it easier for homeowners to beautify their sidewalks by accepting permit requests to convert part of a sidewalk into a landscaped area. Trees, plants, and flowers not only look attractive but can also help reduce flooding.

According to the Department of Public Works, many San Franciscans do not know that private property owners are responsible for the care and maintenance of about two-thirds of the trees in the city, as well as the sidewalks around those trees. When sprucing up the greenery near your property, however, be careful not to cut the top off of a tree. Doing so can result in a fine.

For more information on landscaping permits and tree care, call 554-6700 or visit

Cable Car Caroling Benefits Elders

Tour San Francisco in a motorized cable car, making stops to sing carols to seniors--all while raising money to support the Institute on Aging's Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention. The annual Cable Car Caroling event begins at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10, with a brunch and silent auction at the Lodge room in the Regency Center, located at 2390 Sutter Street at Van Ness. The caroling begins at 1 p.m. and concludes at 3:30 p.m. with coffee, hot cider, and cookies. Children are welcome and those under 12 may participate for free. Tickets for adults are $45 and include brunch, the cable car pass, and after-caroling refreshments. Contact Julie Arvan at 750-4180, ext. 142, for more information or to purchase tickets.

Bold Art by Women

The Hotel Des Arts is sponsoring a festival showcasing women artists on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The evening includes music, drinks, and the opportunity to see the work of more than 25 artists. Although admission is free, the event is a fundraiser for La Casa de las Madres, San Francisco's oldest and largest organization providing services to survivors of domestic violence. Hotel Des Arts is at 447 Bush Street between Grant and Kearny streets in San Francisco. For more information, phone 956-3232 or visit

Pilates Studio Stretches Out

The Spring Pilates Studio has expanded into 900 additional square feet of class and retail space. The business is now occupying both its original studio at 1414 Castro Street, Suite D, and the space across the hall in Suite C. Studio owners Ky Carnell Russell and Izabel Loinaz say they are going to use the new space to expand the studio's services, including adding more classes, new instructors, and a bigger selection of exercise equipment and clothing.

In January 2007, the studio will begin a new monthly workshop series on Pilates-related topics, such as low back pain management, healthy knees, and conditioning for specific sports. 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, and that participants will leave with a repertoire of exercises and stretches they can do on their own. For more information and specific schedules, call 282-8850 or visit

The Short Takes are compiled and written by Erin O'Briant.