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We Deserve a Good Grocery
I am responding to two letters published in the October 2005 Voice ["A Housing Project--That's the Ticket!" by James Keefer; "Mollie Stone's Too Expensive" by John Hirschberger]. Both concerned the proposed sale of Bell Market.
I think Mr. Keefer's idea of converting the store to low-cost housing is absurd and would be a great disservice to the community. How can a neighborhood survive without a grocery store? Where does he propose we shop for food in Noe Valley?
We deserve a good place to shop for good-quality food. As it is, I drive to the Whole Foods store on Fourth Street once a week. (I also go to Drewes on Church for meat and fish, and I buy as much as I can from the farmers' market on 24th.)
Mr. Hirschberger, who wants an Albertsons or a Safeway because he thinks they have reasonable prices, might be interested to know that Whole Foods' prices on many things are better than or at least competitive with Bell Market's. And the fact that Whole Foods treats its employees well should appeal to his socially responsible side.
Who Is Peter Gabel?
I would like to ask a few questions and make a few points regarding the two-year-old comedic saga surrounding Real Food Company. First of all, I know I am not the only local wondering about the relationship between Peter Gabel, his comrades, and the Voice editorial staff. Who is Peter Gabel? Why has his narrow view on this subject been treated as gospel by Voice staff? Local friends and I have a running bet as to whether he is (a) a union organizer or (b) a trust fund baby or (c) whether he lives in a tent in someone's back yard. It is obvious he does not work for a business entity, because there is no company in existence that could withstand his moral/ political scrutiny or purity of thought and purpose.
Gabel remarks, regarding the Allens' living in Marin County, that they are "absentee landlords." Gee, Peter, should they live in the store, or would it be okay if they lived above it, on the roof?
He describes the sale of the Real Food property to Nutraceutical Corporation as a "bizarre turn of events." No doubt, Peter, it probably means they are not going to run out on the lease and leave the property for you and your buddies.
It would be enlightening to reprint Voice articles on this subject so as to dissect the mongering (journalism would be a far too generous term) that has gone on over the past two-plus years. Every article is completely without balance and the laziest kind of reporting. The piece by Liz Highleyman in the December issue is just the latest example.
The second-to-last paragraph in Highleyman's story is most disturbing. It infers that some kind of closed-door meeting is about to happen with a small group of local citizens, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, and the Noe Valley Merchants Association. Let me be clear on this, Peter Gabel does not represent a majority of the people who live in this neighborhood, and he sure as hell does not represent me. As far as I can tell, he has not been elected to anything. It is obvious he has absolutely no interest in what is best for the business community here--unless keeping receipts in an old sock under the counter instead of a cash register would be considered a good thing. Or perhaps a good thing would be a 24th Street that resembles San Pablo Avenue.
Regarding any communication the merchants association wants to undertake with Nutraceutical, the opening question probably wants to be something like, "What can we do as a group to facilitate you reopening your store on 24th Street?"
Dufty might want to reinforce that conversation with one where he asks, "What can the city of San Francisco do to help facilitate you reopening your store on 24th Street?"
Weird Dog Owners Abound
I can completely relate to Mary McFadden's letter about the tied-up dogs on 24th Street ["You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Chains," December 2005]. One day I decided to ride my bike to Walgreen's, and I locked my bicycle to a bike rack. When I came back, there was a fairly good-sized dog tied to the bike rack. He decided to get temperamental and not let me unlock my bike. Finally, this woman with two kids and a stroller came out and got the dog.
I don't know what she was thinking. Of all places to tie up a dog. She did not even care that she inconvenienced me, much less scared me with her dog.
So there are weird dog owners in downtown San Jose, too.
San Jose resident
For the Record Books
Thanks for the article that appeared in the Noe Valley Voice in the November 2005 issue, "The Longest Running Football Game in Noe," by Bob Oaks. I worked with Bob on much of the information and past history of the A-Bowl, played at Alvarado School since 1947. It brought back memories of the time when many of us resided in the Noe Valley.
By mistake I left out two players who have been regular participants. Ted Hayes has been involved since 1951, and John Leonard since 1958. I have been getting a lot of ribbing regarding my omission.
Hey, If It Works for Alaska
Regarding your story in the March 2005 issue, "Diagonal Parking on Castro Likely to Have a Trial Run": I have been in the city of Seward, Alaska, for 22 years, and we have always had diagonal parking on both sides of the street in our downtown. It is a three-block area. It is a great way to go as long as the street is wide enough.
In the December 2005 issue, your Rumors columnist reported on the woes of a certain block of Sanchez Street: "They call themselves 'the lost block,' since public works projects over the years that included the 800 block of Sanchez only provided improvements to the 800 to 850 block, between 21st Street and Hill, and not to the second part of the block, with addresses 851 to 899, from Hill to 22nd Street." This statement contains errors that may mislead your readers.
Neither the 800850 nor 850900 blocks of Sanchez Street ever had petitions filed to request utility undergrounding, and thus were never covered in legislation that earmarked funds roughly eight years ago. The current utility undergrounding project includes Hill Street but not Sanchez 800. That block--mine--has a truly unique set of circumstances.
Sanchez 800 is sandwiched between 21st Street, which was undergrounded years ago, and Hill Street, which is currently being undergrounded. PG&E's design for clearing the above-ground wires from Hill Street calls for trenching and burying the wires on the east side of Sanchez 800 up to the mid-block pole.
Since Sanchez 800 is short and because there are no overhead connections to the residences on the west side, only two overhead poles, with one span of wire, will remain. Further, these two wooden poles will be "orphaned" above ground, since utilities in all directions--north, south, east, and west--will be underground. (And this ugly sight is directly across from the spectacular viewpoint bench enjoyed by so many.)
At the same time, gas pipe replacement--planned separately by PG&E--requires the utility to extend the trench on the east side of Sanchez 800 another 50 feet or so north. Thus, the trench passes by all the residences on the east side of Sanchez 800. To underground the poles and wires on this block will require no additional sidewalk or street trenching. In the entire city, that attribute is unique to this block.
I have worked on this issue for 21/2 years--circulating petitions, writing letters, speaking with PG&E engineers, and working with Bevan Dufty's office. We finally have all the major parties in agreement: to allow the residents on the east side of Sanchez 800 to connect to the new underground wires, remove the overhead wires, and replace the two large wooden poles with graceful new streetlamps. The residents will pay somewhat more to connect their own homes to the trench than those officially included in the project, but it will be worth it.
Unfortunately, since this extended area of work is not part of the previously legislated area, the participation of the residents must be voluntary. And in that, I am sad to report, one homeowner refuses to participate. The rest of the block has volunteered to pay all the connection costs for this person, but he is still holding out. The city is about to cancel the agreement, and a wonderful opportunity to beautify the area--at almost no cost to the city or ratepayers--will be lost.
It is sad and ironic that one difficult homeowner can cause so much damage. Meanwhile, the residents of the 850 block of Sanchez remain desperate to gain this same beautification.
It Was Such a Treat
Dear 24th Street Merchants:
On behalf of all the St. Philip's School teachers and staff, I would like to thank you for opening your stores to our students on Halloween. Halloween is such an exciting day for the children, and we are grateful for your continuing support of our trick-or-treating parade. Each year, the students look forward to their trip down 24th Street.
Thanks again for keeping this tradition alive for our students. See you next year.
St. Philip's School
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 e-mail editor@noevalley voice.com. Please include your name, address, and phone number. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) Be aware that letters may be edited for brevity or clarity. We look forward to hearing from you.