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ROBBIN' HOOD: Downtown Noe Valley's serenity was broken at about 2:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday, Jan. 24, when a hooded man walked into our local Bank of America, pulled out a gun, and asked a teller to hand over the cash. She complied. The robber calmly went out the door, and the teller looked up and mouthed the words to the co-worker across from her: "I've been robbed!"
According to witnesses, the robber then walked over to a bicycle he had parked by the ATM. He mounted his bike and headed down 24th Street to Sanchez, where he turned right and rode down the hill to Jersey Street. He attempted to make a left turn there, but lost control of his bicycle and crashed into a tree.
However, he got up and started running toward Church Street, just as the police were arriving at his fallen bike. It seemed like everyone from Mission Station showed up at the scene at once--kinda like a Nash Bridges episode, if you know what I mean.
Then the SFPD fanned out and began their hot pursuit. Apparently, the robber stopped at a corner grocery store on Church, where he bought some beer (with his own money!) and enjoyed his beverage until the J-Church arrived. After he hopped on the streetcar, he was apprehended by the cops, who chauffeured him down to the Hall of Justice, where he was booked.
According to BofA Branch Manager Becky Feijoo, everyone is safe and sound, all the stolen money was recovered by the police on the streetcar, and the robber was put behind bars.
Word of the caper rapidly spread through the Valley and around the Internet.
"The next morning," says Feijoo, "Noe Valley Bakery sent over some pies and hot chocolate. People were checking in on us, and even Supervisor Bevan Dufty called to see if everything was okay."
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SAFETY FIRST: Meanwhile, law enforcement-minded local merchants have banded together to retain the services of the San Francisco Patrol Special Police. And two officers from the force, Jane Warner and Brian Wong, have been walking the 24th Street beat (from Church to Castro) since Thanksgiving.
As some of you might know, the SFPSP is a separately chartered law enforcement group (in operation since 1847) that works under the supervision of the SFPD. Officers are appointed and governed by the San Francisco Police Commission, but the group is not funded by tax dollars. This non-profit group of 52 officers receives its financial support from the neighborhoods it serves. (Some of the other areas with SFPSP patrols are Polk Street, Mission Street, Lower 24th, and the Castro and Market Community Business District.)
The group was hired by the Noe Valley Association-Community Benefit District (NVA-CBD) to do foot patrols on 24th Street during the shopping season. "We were met with an overwhelming response," says Officer Warner, who also happens to be SFPSP's current president. "I feel that we can make a difference in the safety and security of the neighborhood."
In mid-December, letters from the SFPSP went out to 93 Downtown Noe Valley businesses, informing them that due to the support the patrollers were getting from merchants, the program would be continued.
Each merchant was asked for a monthly contribution of $50, which "is purely elective, and does not replace your already existing city services, but instead augments those services already in place," Warner explains.
She says that in order to sustain the program, 40 local merchants must sign up to pay for the service. Noe Valley has at least that many participating, she says. "However, we keep our membership lists confidential."
In an aside, Warner says, "I came over from the Castro patrol to Noe Valley, and now I will continue to cover this beat. I was reading the B.A.R . [Bay Area Reporter] before, and now I read the Voice!" Some of you might recognize Warner as the Police Beat columnist in the B.A.R. FYI, our neighborhood SFPSP, which is based at Mission Police Station under the command of Captain Goldberg, is already assisting in the current SFPD investigation of a recent rash of backdoor break-ins at some Downtown Noe Valley stores.
Of interest to all you car parkers, the Department of Parking and Traffic has given a tentative nod to a deal made between the merchants and residents about the metering of the diagonal parking slots created on the east side of Castro from Jersey to 25th Street. Originally, the merchants along that block wanted 19 to be metered, and the residents wanted a number closer to zero.
In a compromise reached with the help of Supervisor Dufty, nine meters will be installed in the first nine slots south of Jersey Street. All will be two-hour meters, to allow drivers enough time to do their DNV business.
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NOE VALLEY BEAUTIFUL: The 24th Street beat will be the subject of the Noe Valley Association's third of three community meetings on the future look of our quaint urban village. Mark your calendars for 7 p.m. on March 6, at St. Philip's Community Hall.
The NVA, Voice readers will recall, contracted with a design firm, Urban Ecology, and they've conducted two community meetings to explore how our main street can be "a complete street for all," maybe even jaywalkers.
"The final meeting with the community will be to determine traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures, consider street furnishings such as planters, benches, and news racks, and sustainable streetscapes such as sidewalk landscaping, and permeable sidewalks," promises NVA chief Debra Niemann.
By the way, those very popular permeable recycling racks on the top of street garbage cans that were creatively turned into planters by the NVA after they became obsolete (when the city started sorting the recyclables from all the trash at the processing plant) are now being inexplicably removed by the Department of Public Works.
According to Niemann, the DPW said the recycling bins would be replaced by hanging baskets, but "I am worried that the city won't have the money anytime soon, and we will lose our flowers."
If you share Niemann's concerns, you might want to let Mohammed Nuru, deputy director of operations for DPW, know.
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VEGETABLE ART: All the local folks responsible for our popular Saturday morning Farmers' Market, started at 24th and Sanchez in January 2004, have commissioned an award-winning muralist, Mona Caron, to paint a large "farmers' market themed" muralscape on both sides of the Noe Valley Ministry's parking lot on 24th between Haystack Pizza and Pete's Cleaners.
According to Joel Pomerantz, who is working on obtaining a $70,000 Community Challenge Grant from the city, both Haystack and Pete's have given consent to the project--in other words, a major hurdle has been passed. Pomerantz is looking forward to the mid-February announcements of grants. Once the funds are okayed, the two-sided mural should take about a year to complete.
To see artist Caron's style, go to the corner of 22nd and Church, where you can view a large floral mural on the corner walls. Or check out the southwest corner of Church below 15th Street, where there's a fantastic historical one called "The Market Street Railway." Indoors, visit www.monacaron.com for a screen full of her art. (I especially liked the Critical Mass 10-year anniversary poster in September '02.)
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COMMEMORATION DAY: It looks as if the "Blue Church" on the southwest corner of Church and 28th streets will soon be demolished. As reported in our October issue, the plan is to erect a four-story structure, with six residential condominiums and one commercial unit. A representative from J. Branch Developments came to the Jan. 25 meeting of the Upper Noe Neighbors and showed the group the design of a building that will rise 40 feet. They are projecting a start date of April 2007, and a completion date approximately a year later. "It seems that everyone in the neighborhood is happy about the design of this development," reports UNN president Vicki Rosen, "and we even had next-door neighbors come supporting the project, which is rare."
The blue building slated for demolition was built in 1916, and became one of the first motion picture theaters in Noe Valley, the Del Mar. The developers have promised to place a historical plaque on the building in recognition of its history.
A bit older than the Del Mar Theater is local icon Helen Weinschenk, who was feted on her 95th birthday by about 65 of her closest friends and relations on Jan. 13. Festivities began with a 5 p.m. mass at St. Philip the Apostle Church and then a 7 p.m. dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, the Chicken Coop, out in the Sunset. Her younger sisters Josephine, age 85, and Zoe, age 82, came from Chicago for the event.
Noe oldsters will remember Weinschenk when she ran the Wooden Heel shoe repair shop, starting in 1949. She sold it to Patti and Barry Wood almost 20 years ago but continued to work part-time at her trade at the Wooden Heel until she was in her mid-80s.
According to one of the party organizers, Lynn Peterson, there were lovely spiritual bouquets at the mass and many, many gift cards for Helen at the dinner party.
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PLAYING THE MARKET: Those of you looking for organic fruits and vegetables will be happy with the folks who took over the space next to Shufat Market on 24th near Church (formerly Jim and Son's Produce) and renamed it Noe Valley Natural Foods. George Montiel, Francisco Paez, and his wife Armida Paez have brought in a full variety of organic fruits and vegetables as well as organic bulk grains and dairy products.
"We still have conventionally-grown produce, but we have really expanded our organic product far beyond what used to be here," says Armida, "and in less than two months we will have packaged organic meats." They are currently getting permits for a much-needed new freezer.
Noe Valley Natural Foods has already gotten favorable reviews on Yelp.com. "We started kind of slow in December, but gradually people are starting to know we are here and coming in to shop," smiles Armida.
There's one less video market in Noe Valley, now that First Choice at Church and 24th streets has closed. The rumor is the corner site will soon be occupied by a martial arts studio.
In Noe Valley real estate news, the big items are the recent opening of McGuire Real Estate on the corner of Church and Clipper, the impending opening of Hill and Company on the corner of 24th and Sanchez, and the change in ownership of BJ Droubi & Company, doing business for the past 35 years in a wonderful Victorian on 24th just above Castro.
BJ and Terry Lee have sold the business to daughter Lamisse Droubi and her husband Steve Holman, and longtime sales manager Paul Christopher. It will henceforth be called Droubi Real Estate. Bye bye, BJ, and thanks for the memories and all the monetary support you've given the neighborhood over the years.
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REMEMBRANCE OF BREAKFAST PAST: A tribute is due to Kris Weingard, the head cook at Chloe's, the popular eatery at the corner of Church and 26th streets. For the past 17 years, Kris has made me my favorite breakfast of scrambled eggs with avocado and Jarlsberg cheese.
Kris passed away on Dec. 29, at the young age of 48, after a very brief battle with ovarian cancer. Many friends came to a memorial at the restaurant on Jan. 26 to share their fond memories of Kris.
What I will always admire is how Kris somehow got all those orders to the diners so quickly. She was a whiz in Chloe's kitchen, which is the smallest restaurant kitchen in Noe Valley and perhaps the smallest kitchen in Noe Valley, period. We certainly will miss her.
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VOTING NOE VALLEY: Results of the Nov. 7, 2006, general election have been certified by the S.F. Department of Elections, and we now know that out of the 15,117 of us in the neighborhood who registered to vote, 10,421 actually did vote. That's a 68.9 percent turnout.
For some mysterious reason, the Department of Elections has stopped reporting the results by neighborhood--now the votes are sorted by supervisoral district. Maybe the citycrat who make that bonehead decision would consider reversing it so that the NVBI would not have to go from precinct to precinct to count our neighborhood's vote, dadgummit!
In the supervisor's race, for our District 8, which includes Noe Valley, the Castro, etc., Bevan Dufty was easily re-elected. Dufty garnered almost 67 percent of the vote, Alix Rosenthal 29 percent, and Starchild picked up the remainder.
In the governor's race, Democrat Phil Angelides got 21,678 votes, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger got 6,301 votes, and the Green Party's Peter Camejo got 2,007. The Nancy Pelosi landslide in the district gave her 21,771 votes to Republican Mike Denunzio's 1,404 and Green Party Krissy Keefer's 2,233.
In the U.S. Senate race, Dianne Feinstein gathered 24,336 votes to 3,242 votes for the Greens' Todd Chretien. Repub Richard Mountjoy came in third with a measly 1,294 votes.
By the way, District 8 voted to impeach George Bush (Measure J) by a vote of 10,147 to 8,932.
On that vote, I will bid you adieu until next time.