Noe Valley Voice March 2008

Rumors Behind the News: Demo-Graphics

By Mazook

THE NOE VOTES and the yea votes for the Feb. 5 "Super Tuesday" California Presidential Primary have been compiled "unofficially" by the San Francisco Department of Elections. Out of 14,952 of you Noe Valleyans who registered to vote, only 10,107 (68 percent) of you actually cast a ballot. Where on earth were the rest of you?

Anyway, it appears that 88 percent of voting Noe Valleyans were registered Democrats (8,918 to be precise), and only 6 percent were Republicans (exactly 623). There were 184 Greens, 89 American-Independents, 19 Peace and Freedom'ers, and 9 Libertarians.

FYI, records from the Department of Elections show the Noe Valley body politic to be 65.3 percent Democratic and 6.5 percent Republican. Greens make up 3.3 percent, AIP 1.2 percent, Libertarians 0.4 percent, P&F 0.2 percent, and the remaining 22.8 percent are registered non-partisan (independents).

Of the Democrats, 58 percent voted for Barack Obama, 39 percent for Hillary Clinton, and 2.5 percent gave John Edwards the nod, though he'd already dropped out of the race. Dennis Kucinich got a smattering of votes (64), and a few Valleyites voted for Bill Richardson (11 votes), Mike Gravel (10), Joe Biden (6), and Chris Dodd (6).

Of the 623 Noe Republicans who voted, 57 percent went for John McCain, 16 percent for Mitt Romney, 10 percent for Ron Paul, and 6 percent for Rudy Giuliani. Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson brought up the rear, with 3.5 and 1 percent, disrespectively.

Greens voted 40 percent for Cynthia McKinney and 34 percent for Ralph Nader, with 22 percent not casting a presidential ballot at all. Nader and McKinney also ran on the Peace and Freedom ballot, where they each got a third of the 19 votes cast. Notwithstanding his abysmal showing in Noe Valley, Nader informed the nation on Feb. 24 that he was running for president (for the third time). A few days later, he announced that his vice-presidential running mate would be former San Francisco supervisor and 2003 mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez. By the way, back in that election, Gonzalez came in second with 25 percent of the Noe Valley vote (Newsom got 36 percent).

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THAT BLUE CHURCH: After the votes were cast by the jury in a February eviction trial brought by a condo developer against "that blue church" on the corner of Church and 28th streets, the verdict on several counts was: 11 votes for the church (The Church of San Francisco Where Jesus Is Lord, Inc.) and 0 for the developer (1596 Church Street Condominiums, LLC), with one juror abstaining.

Upon hearing the jury's opinion after the six-day trial, the court ruled that "it appears that...defendant church prevailed on its...defense that the LLC acquired title to the property through fraud, and defendant church is entitled to judgment of dismissal...of plaintiff's action."

That meant the LLC can't evict the church, and is not even sure it owns the title to the building. No matter what people claimed last summer (see July Rumors), the developer's plans to bring in the wrecking ball are now on hold.

"Obviously, the church was quite pleased with the result, and the jury affirmed the position we have been taking since July of last year when we brought an action to quiet title [to determine who owns the property] against the LLC and other parties," says Church of San Francisco lawyer Craig Martin.

"I was a little surprised on the first day of trial when I learned that the LLC had gotten permission to post 'no parking' signs in front of the church and started preparing to begin demolition," says Martin, "but the Lord works in strange ways."

As to the future of the church, Martin says, "The building will be demolished and the property developed, as soon as the issues as to title to the property are resolved."

Meanwhile, the verdict left the LLC's attorney, Drexel Bradshaw, in total disbelief. He has filed papers in the eviction proceeding to set aside the verdict, or alternatively to get a new trial, with a hearing set for April 4. The LLC also filed a cross complaint in the title dispute, but no date has been set for that trial.

It looks like it will be '09 before we learn the fate of this building, which first opened its doors in 1916 as the Searchlight Theater and became a church in 1965 named Holiness Temple in Christ.

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A SIGN OF ANOTHER TIME emerged last month when the stucco skin was removed from the building on the northwest corner of the intersection of Church and 25th streets, during a renovation of the building. An ancient and faded advertising sign painted on the wall on the 25th Street side was revealed.

"You could barely read it," says Charley Stern, who is the contractor (Sea Star Construction) making the upgrade on the building. "My daughter Mira filled in the lines with charcoal so we could have a look." (See photo previous page.)

Stern, who lives in Noe Valley, says the sign led him to research the history of the building. It was built in 1907 by one John M. Fischer, "and the city directory shows that he opened up a saloon there with a residence on the second floor, and got a water permit for the building and a horse trough in the back barn."

"Brunswick Rye and Bourbon was made in Cincinnati, and Siebe Brothers and Plagemann was a well-known San Francisco liquor distributor whose embossed bottles are collector's items. Just give them a Google--you will find them listed in the 1898 San Francisco telephone directory. Check it out.

"Apparently the saloon closed down in 1919 with Prohibition, but we found a lot of very old bottles in the basement when we started to replace the foundation," says Stern, "which leads me to believe that during the 1920s it was a speakeasy. Around 1933, it went through a remodel and apparently became a corner grocery store," Stern adds. Curiously, he also found a lot of oyster shells down there.

Many neighbors remember Art's Barber Shop, which opened on the site in the mid-1950s. Art Schembri was the owner.

The new owners of the building, who operate the very popular Regency Thai restaurant on the corner of Church and 29th streets, are planning to open another restaurant, hopefully by the end of this year. "We are currently working on the menu, but it will feature Asian fusion food of Thai and Vietnamese styles," says co-owner Erin Pian. "This will be our second restaurant in the neighborhood, so we are very excited."

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IRISH I HAD SOME ICE CREAM: There are some great photos of old Noe Valley in a new Arcadia book called Irish San Francisco, written by Noe Valley native John Garvey and San Francisco-born Karen Hanning. Their great-grandfathers were brothers, and the great-grandparents settled in Noe Valley in the 1860s. Hanning spent a lot of time as a child visiting her grandmother, who lived on Noe just below Laidley. The book will be released on March 3.

"My grandfather's mother and father, the Mitchell family, had a dairy in what is now being called Noe Valley," says Hanning, "on the south side of 29th bordering Noe Street, from 1860 to 1892." The book has an 1892 photo of their house on 29th Street just above Noe, with Red Rock Hill in the background and the house and two windmills in the foreground. The Mitchell kids are standing in front of the picket fence.

The farm, according to Hanning, consisted of about 16 lots from 29th Street down Noe Street to Day.

One of those little kids in the 1892 picture, John Mitchell, stayed in the Valley and had two sons, Larry and Jack Mitchell. Larry and Jack opened Mitchell's Ice Cream at San Jose and 29th streets in the summer of 1953. According to Hanning, "Uncle Jack is recently deceased, but Larry is still there, and it is now being run by Larry's son Brian, who lives in my grandmother's house, and his daughter Linda Mitchell."

You will have a chance to meet Garvey and Hanning at Just for Fun (3982 24th Street) on St. Patrick's Day, Monday, March 17, where they will have a book signing of Irish San Francisco, starting at 5 p.m. There will be refreshments served, including, we hope, green beer.

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GRASS ACT: Bevan Dufty snipped the ribbon and a crowd of parents cheered at the grand opening of the new Noe Courts children's playground on Feb. 9. Even our new Mission Police Station captain (since Jan. 15), Timothy Hettrich, appeared at the festivities.

However, not all park users are happy, and a petition is being circulated to give more grass space to the kids. Also, some parents have voiced concern that the new low retaining wall on the Douglass Street side of the playground has no barrier to stop toddlers from climbing on the top and falling off and landing in the flower bed about two feet below. Hopefully, Rec and Park will figure out some way to fix this apparent design flaw.

Petitions are also circulating and meetings being called over a proposed remodel of a house adjacent to Billy Goat Hill, which is above 30th and Laidley and runs up to Diamond Heights Boulevard. A group called the Committee to Preserve Billy Goat Hill Adjacent Open Space Greenbelt has organized in response to an application being made to enlarge a single-family home adjacent to the park.

With the support of the Diamond Heights Community Association, the group will hold a meeting on Wednesday, March 12, from 7 to 8 p.m., at St. Aidan's Parish Hall, 101 Gold Mine Drive at Diamond Heights Blvd.

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SHORT SHRIFTS: Les Petits Ninous Urban Babywear has closed after less than two years in the tiny storefront at 1195A Church (at 24th)....

Two long-time local businesses, Back Yards landscapers and Historic Homes, have closed, due to their owners' happy retirement....

Joey and Eddie's Pescheria (on Church at 29th) is putting up a Sunday and Monday menu for "casual seafood dining," where everything is under $10....

Congrats to Noe Valleyan Robert Hite, who was just appointed Vice President of Business Affairs and CFO for Golden Gate University....

One of Noe Valley's most prolific authors, Bill Yenne (who has been doing more personal appearances than Hannah Montana), is set to release a new nonfiction book in April titled Sitting Bull (Westholme Publishing)....

And news flash: Capt. Hettrich announced at the February Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association meeting that he is going to put a regular beat cop back on 24th Street, and it looks like Lorraine Lombardo will get the assignment, to the delight of all. The very popular Lombardo had been policing Downtown Noe Valley for 15 years until May of 2004, when she was injured and then reassigned to the Hall of Justice.

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QUIZ KIDS: I'll leave you with but one question: What are the boundaries of Noe Valley? The Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation put that question to the San Francisco Department of Elections, and you might be surprised at the city's metes and bounds of our neighborhood. Consider that they say the most southeastern point of Noe Valley is the corner of San Jose Avenue and Randall. From there, they go north on Guerrero up to 21st Street, where they take a left and go west all the way to Gardenside Drive in Twin Peaks (above Upper Market). Please e-mail Mazook at with your own definition, and we will put your N-E-W-S in the April Fool's edition.

That's 30! Ciao for now.