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HALLOWEEN WAS YESTERDAY, and All Saints Day is today. Tomorrow is the Day of the Dead, and Tuesday is Nov. 4, Election Day.
So the Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation (NVBI) has issued a RED ALERT, knowing the residents of Noe Valley will soon be expressing their passion or pain on Nov. 5, the day after Election Day.
The last NVBI Red Alert was flashed Nov. 8, 2000, the day after the Bush-Gore debacle. But back then, there were no demonstrations, because no one had any idea who'd really won after the votes were cast. The election was determined weeks later, by a microscopic 537 Florida votes. Gore won the popular vote, but the presidency was awarded to Bush by the electoral college and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
By the way, the neighborhood demographics at that time, which we published in a November 2000 Rumors column, have been cited in the "Noe Valley" entry on Wikipedia. We reported that according to a 1999 poll of registered voters by David Binder Research, Noe Valley is (was):
European American: 80%
Age 30-49: 53%
Rent housing (vs. own): 52%
College graduate: 78%
Religious affiliation: 63%
Not religious: 38%
Those numbers have probably changed a lot since then, but they provide the basis for the NVBI opinion that if the McCain-Palin ticket manages to pull off a victory Nov. 4, angry mobs of Noe Valleons (my preferred spelling) will take to the streets, demanding San Francisco secede from the union. They will congregate at ground zero, at the intersection of 24th and Castro streets, and march together to Dolores Park, where 100,000 like-minded people will gather to draft a Declaration of Independence.
On the other hand, if Obama wins, the NVBI will issue a BLUE ALERT, whereby the citizens of Noe Valley will go directly to Dolores Park and stage a rally demanding Alaska secede from the union. Or perhaps Utah.
The NVBI, after exhaustive research, is forecasting a more than 80 percent voter turnout in Noe Valley, with even higher turnouts expected in Eureka Valley and Upper Market (No on Prop. 8, the ban on gay marriage). The NVBI predicts that the Noe vote will be Obama 86 percent, McCain 8 percent, and others 6 percent. Look for the Noe vote tally in the next issue of the Voice.
By the way, the most popular costume at Halloween this year, according to One Stop Party Shop, was none other than Sarah Palin.
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HAY THERE: Speaking of demographics, the NVBI estimates that over 8,000 people showed up for the fourth annual Noe Valley Harvest Festival Oct. 25 on 24th Street. It was family fun for all, with more vendors this year, and the usual pumpkin patch, hayride, and jumpy tent.
According to Noe Valley Association director Debra Niemann, the cost of putting on the fair was about $28,000, including entertainment and city fees. Money received from the sponsors and booth rentals exceeded that by about $4,000, and will be used for next year's festival.
Niemann says the '09 fair will be expanded on 24th Street up to the middle of the 3900 block of 24th Street, where she hopes a newly opened Whole Foods will join in as a sponsor. "We also are going to add another jumpy tent, since that was the festival's most popular event."
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THE HUMAN (POWERED) RACE: More than 50,000 folks, by SFPD estimates, showed up Saturday afternoon Oct. 18 to watch the Red Bull Soapbox Race on Dolores Street from 21st to 19th Street. Techies, greenies, and families with wild-eyed kids braved the traffic to see Team Trash, a group of real-life garbage men, win the race at a flying 38.5 mph.
Large screens were set up at the start and finish, so everybody could get a peek at the outrageous hot rods--we especially liked the tree car driven by Team Hugger (second place).
There were 33 soapbox entries from all over Northern California and at least two teams sponsored by locals--Valley Tavern and Noe's Bar. In addition, Chris Cosentino, chef of Incanto on Church Street, was on the esteemed panel of judges.
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THE REAL RUNAROUND: The folks who own Real Food on 24th Street across from Bell finally did respond to last month's Voice query as to the status of the store, now empty for five years.
On Oct. 1, Sergio Diaz of Nutraceutical Corporation (which owns the building and ran Real Food before it was closed), sent an e-mail to Voice writer Liz Highleyman: "I am sorry it took me this long to answer your e-mail. I appreciate you following up on this issue.
"We continue working on renovating the building.... We have created an alternative design that we believe is going to benefit the community in a positive way. The proposed project has been sent to the city for initial review. We also plan to meet neighborhood leaders to gather feedback and incorporate enhancements to the design."
However, a quick check with the San Francisco Planning Department confirmed that the last proposal Nutraceutical sent was in May 2007. That plan included demolition of the existing building and construction of a new three-story building, with the first floor a grocery store, the second floor for commercial use, and the third floor residential.
"But we haven't heard from them since," says Planning's Rick Crawford.
It doesn't appear the Nutra people have made any gestures toward our "neighborhood leaders" either.
If any of you neighborhood leaders have been contacted, please e-mail us.
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IN A CONTIGUOUS ITEM, the Planning Department approved plans to reconstruct the building at 3931-33 24th Street, housing Noe Bagel for the last 15 years. Before that, it was a Double Rainbow ice cream parlor.
The project will include creating a second-floor "personal service" use space, and adding a residential floor above that which would be set back from the street. The façade of the building would be restored to its original look, and city records show it was built some time before 1900. According to city planner Elizabeth Watty, the project went through a historical review before approval.
The fate of Noe Bagel is unclear at this time. Apparently, the bagelry's lease is up for renewal, and the parties have yet to come to terms.
The Planning Department also approved plans to construct a small restaurant in the ground-floor space of what used to be the office of realtor B.J. Droubi. The 350-square-foot space, on 24th up from Castro Street, is slated to become Noe Soup.
"Yes," says co-owner and soup chef Maureen Earl, "we will be serving on average eight to twelve very healthy, exotic, unusual, and very special different choices of soups every day, as well as fresh salads and breads, and all totally organic."
Earl hopes to start ladling by the end of February, and she anticipates seating inside the cafe for eight to ten people, "weather permitting--we will also have some seating outside."
She says she intends to feature "around 25 different soups," which will be rotated into the daily menu, at prices that Earl promises will be affordable.
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IN A CIRCUITUOUS ITEM: Rumors about Kookez Café, located in that same general neighborhood, have been all over the map. But now we can say definitely that the restaurant is closing. The rumor that it had been sold, and the other rumor that the owners had just gone on vacation, were both true. Evidently, escrow closing for the new owner was delayed, so the restaurant reopened briefly but then closed again. The first buyers apparently backed out, so now there are some backup buyers who are applying for transfer of the beer and wine license.
There were initial reports that Stefano Coppola, who owns and chefs at Lupa Italian restaurant next door to Kookez, would be enlarging to the west. "That rumor is not true," says Coppola. "We have no intention of moving or expanding Lupa." Coppola did confirm that he was representing the parties making the offer, but he did not want to comment any further on the pending sale of the restaurant.
Around the corner from Lupa, on Castro, it looks like the final touches are being made to Contigo, and everyone is anticipating a grand opening soon. Owner/chef Brett Emerson had hoped for an October opening, but that was not to be. His website blog laments some electrical and plumbing glitches, which created delays. Hopefully, the stoves will be cooking by Christmas.
Out on Church Street, the word in Upper Noe Valley is that the "World's Best Henry's Hunan" restaurant will be opening in mid- to late-November in the spot where Joey and Eddy's Pescheria was, near 29th Street. The sign has gone up, but it looks like work still needs to be done.
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EATING YOUR WORDS: Say hello to Omnivore Books, a new bookstore that will have its grand opening on Nov. 8. The shop sits at 3885A Cesar Chavez (near Church), in a space once occupied by the garden and antique store Art Garden.
The bookstore will specialize in cookbooks, says cooking enthusiast and owner Celia Sack, who is also co-owner of Noe Valley Pet Company.
"We will have thousands of titles, both new and collectible," says a very excited Sack, "with normal titles priced anywhere from 15 to 50 dollars. Volumes signed by the authors will range in cost from $60 to $150. Some of the collectibles will cost as high as $600, for example, a 1904 edition of Charcuterie by L.F. Dronne, or a first edition 1935 volume of All about Coffee by William Ukers, which becomes valuable because it is in its original dust jacket."
The space was a butcher shop many years ago, and a lot of the fixtures became part of the store's décor, like the scale, butcher's rack, and refrigerator doors, she says.
Does anyone out there know what the name of that butcher shop was?
The NVBI asked 92-year-old Agnes Farrell, a Noe Valley resident since 1918. She replied it was not Larney's, which was where Fattoosh restaurant is now on Church near Clipper, and it also was not "the very popular Strahles Butcher Shop, which was on the corner of 26th and Sanchez."
"Give me a little time, " says Farrell, "and I'll try to come up with the name."
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CONGRATULATIONS: Kudos go out to Noe Valley author Bill Yenne, whose new biography Sitting Bull has been named one of Amazon's "Top Ten Best Books of the Year."
Cheers also to 26th Street resident Anmarie Mabbutt, who has just published a new children's book, called Tim Takes a Tumble, about a fuzzy tennis ball that goes on a San Francisco adventure after being hit over the tennis court fence.
Mabbutt has lived in Noe Valley for the past 15 years and has been teaching tennis at the courts in Golden Gate Park for 13. A mother of two, she dedicates the book "to the many students I have taught over the years who inspired me to want to publish the book."
The book's illustrations are by Haight resident Saul Levy.
LAST CALL: Say goodbye to Veterans Liquor Store, which has been on Church near 29th since 1948.
"I lost my lease," says Veterans owner Mike Agil, "and the building owners would not renew. I have been here for 18 years and the store has been here for 60 years, so I am sad to leave."
Agil's was the first store to sell Muni Fast Passes in the neighborhood back in 1991, and also brought an ATM to the Upper Noe commercial corridor back in 1996.
"I will be just fine," says Agil. "I am moving up to Healdsburg and have taken over Adel's Restaurant on Dry Creek Road, which serves family-style food." Agil used to be in the food service business with Zim's and Pam Pam East.
Also say goodbye to the two eucalyptus trees that have stood near the front of the Downtown Noe Valley parking lot across from Noe Valley Auto Works for 40 or so years.
According to Carla Short at the Bureau of Urban Forestry, the city has determined that the trees are no longer healthy, "and show structural problems and issues that are a potential hazard" to the area. There will be a hearing on Nov. 19 at City Hall, since "we have received some protests," says Short.
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PRICKLY PARKING: The NVBI is warning the neighborhood that S.F. Parking and Traffic has increased enforcement of laws regarding vehicles parked in driveways.
The $100 tickets have made a group of 22nd Street residents "furious," and now they want to petition for relief for what they perceive to be selective enforcement of their block between Castro and Noe. About 20 residents showed up for an early October meeting on the parking/ticketing problems on their street.
Says spokesperson Jim Acker: "Within the past few months alone, 22nd Street residents have paid more than $2,500 in fines for parking in their own driveways. Longtime residents--20 to 30 years--could not remember this law ever being enforced," says Acker.
Realizing there's little chance they can change the no-parking-on-sidewalks law, which exists to protect people in wheelchairs, etc., the group is busy collecting signatures from more than half the residents on the block to make it an "S" restricted-parking zone. Acker says the petition should be filed with the city soon, and a two-hour zone created by February.
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BEFORE I GO, I want to set the record straight about one of last month's pop quiz questions. The name of the first bank to occupy the space now occupied by WaMu at 24th and Noe was not Coast, but its predecessor, Olympic Savings.
And finally, I'd like to encourage you to STOP whatever you are doing at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, and pause for one minute in remembrance of all the soldiers who have died fighting wars that nobody wins.
Nov. 11 is when we will all observe Armistice Day (now called Veterans Day), when 90 years ago at the 11th hour of that 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the war that was to end all wars ended.