Noe Valley Voice May 2006

Letters to the Editor

A Plea for Pedestrian Responsibility


I must speak regarding the state of 24th Street traffic, on weekends and at other times. It's a pedestrian mecca, with its mix of shops, fresh produce, and all sorts of necessities. But last summer, I watched a boy of about 9 at Noe and 24th streets, struggling to figure out how to get across the intersection. His face was a mixture of helplessness and determination.

The mix of cars and people on 24th Street is a disconcerting reality. The more I experience it, the more I think two things: First, wouldn't it be great if this street could become a pedestrian mall, with no cars? And second, the behavior of pedestrians here is going to cause an accident.

I believe the current trend of pedestrians not bothering to interact with cars at intersections causes a great deal of stress for drivers. Now, I know the law. Cars have to yield. But when they have to yield for an indefinite amount of time--and depending on whether they are driving on 24th Street or trying to cross it, possibly a quite lengthy amount of time--it creates a feeling of desperation for drivers. I know this feeling. I use City CarShare, and occasionally I have to be a driver on or across 24th Street.

The pedestrian sense of entitlement often leads to chaos at our intersections. Drivers can't keep track of who has stopped first at an intersection and have to focus on when or if they can ever get across--especially if it has been their turn for 10 minutes. Often, they try to dash across at the next available moment, which many times is at the same time as another car. Meanwhile, oblivious pedestrians are stepping off every curb.

The worst thing I see is when a car has left the stop sign and is stranded in the middle of the intersection while people continue to stroll into the crosswalks in front and in back of the car. This delays up to three other vehicles and creates mass confusion at every block all the way down the street.

Seeing the boy hesitating on that beautiful summer day put the fear of God into me. Crossing the street safely shouldn't be that difficult for a kid. We can't control the traffic and we can't control the drivers. But we can alter our behavior to create a better situation.

We have to accept that we don't yet have a pedestrian mall. We as pedestrians need to communicate with drivers, assess the intersection as we approach it, and share responsibility for keeping the traffic moving smoothly. This summer, let's create a new standard for being a pedestrian in Noe Valley, which addresses our unique situation. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Gwen Sanderson

Via e-mail

Old and New Fingerprints on Liberty Street


Thanks for your March repeat of the Florence Holub column about 450 Liberty Street and Audrey Rodgers' heroic efforts resulting in the protection of Dolores Heights ["Footprints and Fingerprints," Florence's Family Album, March 2006]. Now I see why she and Mrs. Pena used to tease me about trading their houses for mine at 450 Liberty.

Actually, the old mansion [known today as the Joseph Scheerer mansion] fronted on 20th Street. The 450 Liberty side had a 150-foot-long white picket fence with an opening for horses and carriages to enter the back of the block-long property. The stables there became a fire victim years before the present-day brick and shingle houses went up, and the stables were replaced with a small private park.

The two Norfolk Island pines referred to in the article are now over 100 feet tall, and we almost lost one to a beetle attack in the drought of the mid-1980s. At the last minute, it was saved by the U.C. Forestry School.

Now that I know what Audrey and friends went through 40 years ago to ensure that the architecture of my house and grounds would be unique, I'll never sell.

Elliott Pisor

Liberty Street

Editor's Note: A reader mailed the Voice the following tribute to Albert Monferrato, written by family and friends. We thank them and encourage others who have lost someone in Noe Valley to feel free to send us their reminiscences or short obituary (fewer than 500 words). We will try our best to print it in an upcoming issue. Please include your name and phone number, so we may contact you if we have questions. E-mail or write Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114.

Albert Monferrato, A Painter With Passion

Noe Valley resident Albert Carmen Monferrato passed away suddenly and reluctantly in his home on Feb. 1. He was 62. Monferrato is survived by his sister Angela, of Colorado; his stepmother Anna Maria, of Philadelphia; and hundreds of admirers of his oil paintings.

A master of plein-air and trompe l'oeil painting, he beautifully and effectively captured the hilltop vistas of San Francisco neighborhoods where the sunshine radiated year-round. He studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia and the Academia di Belle Arti in Florence, Italy, before graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1994. A printmaker for many years, his work has appeared in galleries throughout the U.S., including those in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and Santa Fe. His most recent exhibit of paintings was at the Atrium Gallery in San Francisco.

His prolific work ethic and passion for life inspired others to be as vivacious and focused as he was. Asked why he had no patience for a nine-to-five career, he replied: "Just look around you. I don't have time for that. Do you see this beauty? There's something great here, and I need to paint it. And I'm just getting started."

A celebration commemorating Monferrato's life was held in February at the Valley Tavern on 24th Street.


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 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.