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THE LIGHT FANTASTIC: Behold, the shops of Noe Valley are going green with their lighting decorations this holiday season. The Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association has struck a deal with PG&E whereby each merchant is eligible for three free strands of energy-saving long-lasting LED Christmas lights to use in their stores on 24th and Castro streets.
"Our goal is to have every merchant have a LED light display in the front of their store or office, from Douglass all the way down to Church Street," says M&P coordinator Gwen Sanderson, owner of Video Wave. The LED lights are available for pickup at Cooks Boulevard, the kitchen store at 1309 Castro.
PG&E spokesman David Gutierrez says the utility told the M&P it is willing to provide as many strands as are needed to make sure there is maximum merchant participation. Each strand is 12 feet long and has 35 LED (light-emitting-diode) bulbs. A diode is a semiconductor chip that does not break, burn out, or get hot, he says. It has no mercury (like fluorescent lights), beams more light per watt than incandescent bulbs (up to a 90 percent savings), and has an extremely long life span.
FYI, LED lights are strung on the Christmas trees in NYC's Rockefeller Center, and in D.C. at, of all places, the White House.
It would really be a miracle if all Noe Valley shops participated and strung their strands creatively to light up our downtown with the glow of the future.
And don't forget, PG&E will also be giving out a free strand of LED lights to local residents at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market (24th and Sanchez) on Saturday morning, Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., "while supplies last," says Gutierrez.
Though he says he's bringing "a lot of lights," you might want to camp out the night before.
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YULE LOG-IN: The M&P also had plans to have Santa Claus appear on Dec. 8 at the Bank of America for free photos with the kids. However, according to Sanderson, "Santa seems to be up in the air." Apparently, the North Pole informed the association that Santa had a scheduling conflict and would be visiting Noe Valley a week later on Dec. 15 (see below). Of course on Dec. 25, he'll be sliding down neighborhood chimneys.
In the meantime, the Merchants Association will hold its annual holiday bash on Dec. 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the B of A (24th and Castro). Says Sanderson, awards will be given to the three shops in Noe Valley chosen by judges to have the Best Christmas Windows Display. She welcomes your suggestions.
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THE NORTH POLE did confirm Santa's plans to visit Zephyr Real Estate on Dec. 15, so mark your calendars. It looks like this will be Santa's only public appearance in Noe Valley this year.
According to Zephyr's office manager, Karen Harvey, Santa will appear at 4040 24th Street from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. along with Rudolph the Red-Nosed (and very real) Reindeer. "We will be serving hot cider and cookies," promises Harvey, "and also taking pictures of Santa and Rudolph with the kids.
"We are really looking forward to this event. This is the tenth year we have done this, and we are hoping for a large turnout," smiles Harvey.
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DECK THE HALLS: Many Church Street merchants have joined together to create a display of white lights on the trees in front of their businesses from 25th Street down to 30th.
Celia Sack and Paula Harris of Noe Valley Pet Company helped organize the displays of 20 members of the Church Street Professionals group.
"We all got together and hired an outfit called Christmas Light Pros to come out to participating merchants and hang white lights in the trees going down Church," says Sack. "We got a group rate [$170 per tree] to install, maintain, and then remove the lights after the holidays.
"I got to tell you," says Sack, "it was truly a pleasure having them come out here and do it all, and doesn't it look great!"
Yes it does.
We can also thank the Noe Valley Association, the community benefit district on 24th Street, for all the greens and ornaments adorning 200 Downtown Noe Valley parking meters. In addition, the NVA has erected two more flower pots in each of the mini-parks in 24th Street's parking lots.
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YOU SAY HANNUKAH: The annual Menorah Lighting for Chanukah (or is that Hanukkah?) will be celebrated on the corner of 24th and Noe on Sunday, Dec. 9, at sundown. This is the ninth year Rabbi Gedalia Potash of Noe Valley Chabad has presided over the festivities and led the ceremony.
Chocolate gelt and hot latke pancakes will be served starting at 3 p.m. At 5:00, five of the eight candles of the menorah will be lit in a brief ceremony remembering the miracle 21 centuries ago of a light burning in a temple for eight days from oil that was supposed to last but one day. Kind of the LED of the times.
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NEON MONSTER is the name of a new store that opened at the beginning of November on the corner of Castro and 22nd streets. It sells an eclectic mix of comic books, vinyl records, and toys.
Kristy Klinck, who is the marketing manager, says Neon Monster has "both new and back-issue comic books which go back to the 'golden age' of comic books in the 1940s and '50s." It also carries "not only the 33-1/3-speed record albums, but also the older 45s, and we may even have a couple 78s," says Klinck. They're even considering selling record players with needles that glide across the vinyl. The designer toys are from S.F.-based Kidrobot.
According to Klinck, the Neon Monster will exhibit works of art by both local and national artists, including John Crowe, one of the business's owners (the one who has the passion for the comic books). The other two owners are brothers Jacob and Isaac Pritzker, who specialize in the music end of the business. "We all recently moved to Noe Valley and want to become a part of this totally energetic and very creative Noe Valley community," says Klinck.
More in the arts department is the new art gallery that recently opened on 29th near Church. Rozanoff Art is the creation of Russian expatriates Andre Rozanoff and Anna Efanova, who also is an artist. They are international art dealers who started out in St. Petersburg and arrived in San Francisco two years ago via New York City. Their tiny storefront, at 355 29th Street, is currently exhibiting about 50 artworks by 11 artists, several from Russia. Drop by the show's next reception, 6 to 9 p.m., on Dec. 14.
Congrats to Friends of Noe Valley president Richard May, who recently was given a Friends of Independent Booksellers Award by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. The award recognized him for the wonderful job he did coordinating the first annual Noe Valley Authors Fest, which was held at our three local bookstores last March.
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TO YOUR HEALTH: Neighborhood doctors are in greater supply now that the Noe Valley Clinic has opened on the corner of Sanchez and 23rd streets and a pediatric clinic called GetzWell will be opening in February on the corner of Church and 29th, in the longtime Star Bakery (more recently, Curves) site.
The Noe Valley Clinic, the brainchild of Dr. Tom Lee, has two M.D.s and two N.D.s (naturopathic physicians) on staff. "We practice traditional medicine and provide comprehensive care," says Lee, who started his first clinic on Sutter Street and later opened another in Marin County.
Lee hopes the Noe Valley Clinic will be "kind of like Field of Dreams, since we believe that if we provide basic primary and urgent health care from doctors concerned with health and well-being, people will come, and that has been our experience so far."
GetzWell is the creation of Dr. Julia Getzelman, who according to her web site, "offers an integrative approach to health care based on modern Western medicine and scientifically-grounded alternatives, including nutrition, functional medicine, psychology, and acupuncture."
In other medical news, Drs. Daphne Miller and Avril Swan are relocating their offices on Dec. 7 from 1448 Church (at Cesar Chavez) up a block or two to 1286 Sanchez Street. They too have an integrative family practice.
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WHOLE IN ONE: The latest scoop on Whole Foods comes from the top banana. Jolynn Bibb, the "store development specialist" for Northern California Whole Foods, confirmed in late November that Whole Foods grocery would indeed be taking over the 24th Street space now occupied by Bell Market sometime "in the future" (after April of 2009, when Bell's lease runs out). Currently, Whole Foods "is in the design phase," she stated, and "we are unable to say when the new store will open."
Bibb noted that the Noe Valley store is about half the size of Whole Foods' average store, which could present some design challenges. As the plans progress, Whole Foods will send store representatives to Noe Valley to meet with neighborhood groups, Bibb said.
In other market watch news, kudos go out to Josh and Isaac Epple at Drewes Market, a shop offering us fresh meats and poultry in the same location on Church Street since 1889. The store won an award from the S.F.-based Urban Solutions, which annually honors "small non-formula retail businesses that make a difference in their neighborhoods."
Up at 1320 Castro near 24th, after more than a year's delay, construction has started on the new restaurant being created by Chef Brett Emerson. You might remember it was going to be called "Olallie." But Emerson is now holding a contest on his blog (www.inpraiseofsardines.com) to come up with a different moniker. Evidently, the name game has narrowed down to two: Contigo ("with you" in Spanish) and Ampersand ("&" in English), and the winning name should be announced in the first week of December.
Emerson adds that construction should be finished by next June, when he will start serving "seasonable California cuisine with a Spanish flair."
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NOE VOTES: The Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation attempted to relay to the world the local vote in the Nov. 6 election, but the Department of Elections issued the results on the last day of November, so we have yet to see the Noe Valley or District 8 tabulation. How are we going to have an impact in the presidential primary if it takes over a month to count the votes?
Speaking of zip codes 94114 and 94131, which make up greater Noe Valley, it appears that among the 500 wealthiest zip codes in the U.S. rated by Forbes Magazine (www.forbes.com) in September 2007, 94114 ranks number 103 and 94131 number 214. Zip 94114, which includes Noe Valley north of Cesar Chavez and most of Eureka Valley, had a median house price of $1 million. The 94131-ers had a median house price of $850,000. The number one zip code for house prices in the country was 07620, in Alpine, N.J., with homes averaging $3.4 million. Thanks, but we'll stay here.
That puts a zip on this column and this year. Have a safe and sane holiday, and we will see you all in February 2008.