Noe Valley Voice November 2008

Letters to the Editor

A Father Found


Today, on Oct. 14, 2008, my father, Steve Hebert, would have turned 57 years young. It is on this day, that I want to celebrate his life and to give thanks to many individuals.

First, I want to thank Voice contributor Kathy Dalle-Molle, who returned my call and gave me my father's voice. I'd also like to thank Voice editor Sally Smith for taking an interest in my story and writer Lorraine Sanders for finding some of the answers to my questions.

After the Noe Valley Voice printed my story ["Steve Hebert: A Father Lost and Found," July-August 2008], I heard from many individuals who either knew my father briefly or walked in my shoes, searching for a parent. I would like to send my heartfelt thanks to one local in particular: Coral Reiff.

Coral sent me the printed article and shared with me precious memories and thoughts of my father. I have high regard for Coral because she not only spared her change for my homeless father but took the time to speak with him (and others like him). She wrote, "Your dad...was a soft-spoken, kind, and intelligent middle-aged man.... He liked to wear flannel shirts and overalls. He was bearded and wore glasses." To others this may seem like trivial information, but to me it was like finding another piece of the puzzle in my yearning to know "Who was my father?"

I'd also like to thank the director of the Pacific Bay Inn, Kevin Sharps, for sending me my father's handwritten signature on an old driver's license from the state of Oregon, and Pacific Bay Inn property manager Georgetta Lovett, for sharing with me that my father had a favorite red baseball cap and a habit of sharing candy with the PBI staff. For a man who had so little, he still found a way to give.

Through my search, I was also able to find a couple of my father's childhood friends: Jeff and Jim. They painted the picture of my father as a young man who had an eye for beautiful women and a spirit for adventure: sledding, ice skating, camping, shooting, fishing and hiking. I don't believe in coincidences and so it was meant to be that I would also connect with one of Steve's cousins, Valerie. Thank you, Valerie, for sending me photographs of the Hebert family and revealing where my son inherited his ears. I'd also like to thank my Uncle Skeeter, my father's half-brother, for his unwavering support in my search and for giving me the roots of my family tree.

Lastly, I would like to thank my father's sister, Donna, for building brick walls. Without her, I probably would not have found the determination to keep searching. I have always known my father had other children other than me and my brother, Jake. Upon learning of Steve's death, I found myself more determined than ever to find them. I didn't know their names or even how many there were, but that all changed on Aug. 21.

Upon receiving marriage certificates from the state of New Hampshire and making many phone calls, I learned the names and locations of my siblings: Jennifer, Eric, and Shannon. Out of respect for them, their mothers, and their families, I will not say anything else other than this quote from Ruth E. Renkel: "Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance."

My life is filled with abundance, and my father unknowingly gave me the best of himself: kindness, intelligence, optimism, humor, and compassion. My search is complete. Happy birthday, Dad! Love,

Tamara Cocchiarella

Plymouth, N.H.

Places in the Heart


Small independent business took another hit recently, one closer to home than most, when the folks at Noe Valley Video announced they were closing their doors after 10 years in business. [See story, page 1.]

Popular owners Brian and Marlene Dunleavy have been struggling of late, not only with tough competition from the likes of Netflix, plus a sagging economy, but with a growing lack of customer support despite their constant and inventive attempts to attract new business. They not only have continued to offer a wide selection of DVDs, but have consistently offered creative and money-saving promotions for their clientele, a professional staff to assist patrons, and a friendly and engaging store environment.

I will miss all of these features, but I'll especially miss the nearly daily conversations I've had with Brian and Marlene -- two of the nicest and hardest-working people you could hope to meet--and with many other staff members over the years.

While the familiar mantra of "Support the community and its merchants" is often heard, in this case it seems to be more talkin' the talk than walkin' the walk.

Thank you, Brian and Marlene, for your 10 years in Noe Valley.

Bruce Dettman

30th Street

Street Etiquette


On Wednesday, Oct. 15, the students, teachers, parents, and I walked from St. Philip School on Elizabeth Street down 24th Street to Church Street and back. This was our fourth annual Walk for Fitness to promote the importance of good nutrition, exercise, and safety awareness.

We would like to extend our thanks, again, to anyone who happened to be walking by our "large" group and may have had to stop to let us pass. Also, we hope we did not inconvenience the traffic as we were crossing the streets.

Mrs. Remy Everett, Principal

St. Philip School

665 Elizabeth Street

Parking Woes on 22nd Street


The lights had barely dimmed on the presidential debate stage when the residents of the 3800 block of 22nd Street gathered Oct. 7 to debate an admittedly more local topic--street parking in Noe Valley. On the agenda were two items: whether to petition the city for restricted parking on the block, and what to do about residents being ticketed by the city for parking in their own driveways.

Not surprisingly, the driveway-parking issue engendered the most passionate debate. A California law, on the books for many years, states that it is illegal to block sidewalks. However, longtime residents (who have lived here 20 to 30 years) could not remember the law ever being strictly enforced, until recently. Over the past few months, a group of 22nd Street residents have paid more than $1,100 in fines for parking in their driveways. (At $100 a pop, this ticket is no mere slap on the bumper.) To many it appears that the city is selectively enforcing the law and that 22nd Street has been unfairly targeted.

The driveway-parking problem is, of course, tremendously exacerbated by the lack of street parking on our block (22nd between Noe and Castro streets). As surrounding blocks have joined restricted parking zones--which impose two-hour limits on cars without residential stickers--drivers looking for parking have moved to our stretch of 22nd Street. No one says that living in an urban area like San Francisco doesn't have its challenges, but no one should have to choose between getting ticketed for parking at the curb on street-cleaning day, and getting ticketed for parking in one's own driveway because there are no parking places to be had on the street.

Those attending the meeting voted overwhelmingly to circulate a petition to seek restricted parking on the block. Moreover, they were confident that a majority of residents would support such a petition and that the city would approve it. The process, however, could take weeks or months.

Finding a possible solution for the driveway issue was more challenging. Everyone agreed that the city and state have a legitimate responsibility to keep cars from blocking sidewalks, especially when it comes to wheelchair and stroller access. However, the law as currently enforced by the city is unreasonably restrictive. A car owner can be ticketed if any part of the car extends into the sidewalk, even if there is more than enough room for wheelchairs, strollers, and people to pass.

Everyone at the meeting felt there was room for compromise. For instance, the rule could be: No ticket will be issued if the driver leaves enough room for a wheelchair to use the sidewalk without encountering obstacles or going into the street.

With a driveway parking accommodation in mind, the good neighbors of 22nd Street invited Supervisor Bevan Dufty and other potential players in this game to our annual block party at the end of October. We hoped they would listen to local residents' frustrations and help us find an acceptable and reasonable solution to the parking squeeze. By working together, perhaps we can craft a solution that not only meets the needs of local residents, but others enjoying our Noe Valley neighborhood.

--Jim Acker

22nd Street resident