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CBD's Street-Cleaning All Wet
This letter is in reference to the CBD [Community Benefit District, known officially as the Noe Valley Association]. I question who really benefits in Noe Valley, besides the merchants. The property owners are paying for the upgrades, and I believe that some may be paying more than they realize.
On at least seven separate occasions -- twice on 24th Street and five times on Castro Street -- I have seen the CBD employees tapping into faucets on private property to fill the containers they use to water the hanging flower baskets and the planted trees. I am sure these are not isolated cases. Are the owners of these properties aware of what's going on? With all the talk of water rationing, are these people going to be cited for overusage?
Last week, the CBD employees steam-cleaned Castro Street by tapping into Walgreen's faucet and then tapping into a faucet on the corner of Jersey and Castro streets. The cleaning lasted at least one hour for each side of the street. The employees used the water not just to clean in front of these properties but for the entire block. In the beginning, when they steam-cleaned 24th Street, they used the city fire hydrants (something else I think is wrong), but now they are clearly abusing private property owners' rights.
As for the flower baskets, how much was wasted on the ones that were "planted" on top of the public garbage cans? As for the hanging ones, when the original idea was submitted, the baskets were to be supplied by Rock and Rose Landscaping on Cortland Avenue, a San Franciscobased company. However, the CBD contracted with a company in Oregon. How many florists are in the CBD area in Noe Valley? How many nurseries are in San Francisco? The CBD definitely leaves a lot to be desired.
Bell Milking Us?
Generally, I shop at Rainbow Grocery on Folsom, since Real Food Company has closed. However, for convenience, I often buy organic half-and-half at Bell Market, where it costs $3.19. While shopping at Rainbow a few weeks ago, I noticed that the store's identical half-and-half (a pint of Clover organic) was $1.40 cheaper. I thought it was on sale, but no, that's Rainbow's standard price. I was dumbstruck, to say the least.
A few days later, I found myself at Ferry Plaza on the Embarcadero, and for the sake of comparison I went into the Capay Market inside the Ferry Building to price its half-and-half. It was $1.99. The same kind of disparity applied to the quart of Clover organic 2% milk.
I don't buy much else at Bell, so I don't know how the other products compare to those at other stores, but I do know that Bell should be ashamed of itself. Neither Rainbow nor Capay has a central distribution system, nor the benefit of a national corporation behind it, and still both stores manage to offer these products at a reasonable markup.
I e-mailed Bell's parent company, Kroger Corporation, asking for an explanation, and got a generic reply from a company representative who said that the store was concerned with my comments and is in a very competitive market in California. They also apologized and told me that my e-mail had been forwarded to the marketing department for review. In mid-September, I hadn't heard back yet.
People are worried about Whole Foods taking over Bell for fear that prices will be higher. Maybe not.
Reading About Heroes
I loved the four heroes--Loren Schaller is one, too--in the last issue ["Blood Drive Honors Teen's Three Heroes," September 2007 Voice], and I searched the Internet quite a bit for different versions and more details. Then I told my neighbor about it, and her response was: "What happened to the attacker guy?" I had no response, I didn't know.
The short of it is, I found it refreshing that the media and those quoted in the stories didn't care much about what happened to the guy. People liked the good parts: the passersby coming to Loren's rescue, and her neighbors helping by holding a blood drive.
A couple of years ago, our neighborhood had a beautiful 15-year-old girl go off a 100-foot cliff in a car and start a new life after a weeklong coma. She had to relearn every infantile skill, including swallowing. I raised funds for her for a long time. It just felt good.
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