| October 2010
RETURN TO HOME PAGE
The Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association conducted a “Parklet Survey” of Noe Valley businesses in early September. Here are the results, announced by Merchants president Robert Roddick on Sept. 14. The number of respondents to the survey was 30.
Are you in favor of the trial parklet concept?
Yes 72% No 28%
Would the elimination of two parking spaces on your block interfere with your business?
Yes 32% No 68%
Would the creation of a parklet be beneficial to your business?
Yes 64% No 36%
In the design of a parklet, which of the following do you find more acceptable?
Stand-up Bar 12%
Bicycle security post 40%
Trash/recyclable container 36%
Locations in order of popularity (the survey asked for two suggestions):
Martha & Bros.–Holey Bagel
Real Food Company
Just for Fun
Ministry parking lot
PARKLET PLACE: When we left you last month, the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association was getting ready to poll businesses in Noe Valley as to their views on “parklets.” Those are the platforms with seating and potted plants that the city’s Pavement to Parks program (P2P) wants to try out instead of parking places in a couple of locations on 24th Street.
Well, the results are in, and it’s clear that the majority of shops think parklets would be beneficial.
The Merchants emailed the survey to its 88 members and also canvassed about 50 non-member businesses along the 24th Street strip. However, only 30 businesses responded to the poll, the Noe Valley Bureau of Weights and Measures has been sorry to learn.
Of those eager beavers, about three-quarters said they were in favor of the parklet concept, and two-thirds said the parklets would not interfere with their businesses. (See box at right.)
Their choices for best location for the parklets were no surprise. They ranked Martha’s coffee shop and Holey Bagel first, then Real Food’s old storefront, and then the Toast/Starbucks corner. Next came Just for Fun, La Boulange, and the Noe Valley Ministry parking lot at 24th and Vicksburg.
The spots eventually chosen will depend not so much on the survey, but on the businesses’ willingness to share responsibility—with the city and our community benefit district, the Noe Valley Association—for the upkeep of the parklets.
Real Food is not in business—it’s been vacant for seven years—so that’s out as a location. Toast and Starbucks, at the corner of 24th and Noe streets, are on the ground floor of the Elvira Building, owned by the McFadden family. FYI, Elvira resident Mary McFadden confirmed the rumor that when P2P asked the family’s opinion, the 10 McFadden siblings took a vote: two were for parklets and eight against.
The survey results, according to Merchants president Bob Roddick, were emailed to the city (and to Roddick’s email list) the second week in September. A week later, Roddick informed the members of his association that Andres Power, head of Pavement to Parks, had told him the sites settled upon by the Planning Department were Martha’s and Just for Fun.
As for confirmation of these sites, Power is keeping his lips sealed—to the Voice anyway. And our agents in the field haven’t been able to nail down the timetable for installation.
We’ve been told to look for a “Dear Noe Valleyan” letter from P2P when all the parties (property owners, business owners, P2P, and the NVA) have signed the papers formalizing the parklet locations. Then we’ll know when the parklets will be parked.
* * *
PARKING FOR CARS (not enough) is always an issue for the shops in Downtown Noe Valley. So the Merchants Association and the NVA took the loss of four parking spaces to the parklets as an opportunity to renew their 13-year effort to win more angled parking spots on Castro between 24th and Clipper. They already managed to get diagonal parking installed on one block: the east side of Castro between Jersey and 25th streets (see Voice March 2005).
In August, NVA chief Debra Niemann went to a meeting of the Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to make a pitch for more stripes, specifically the block of Castro Street from 24th to Jersey.
The SFMTA put the request on the docket for a public hearing Sept. 17. Merchants past president Carol Yenne gladly attended the hearing and spoke in support of the NVA/Merchants’ plan.
Well, the SFMTA listened, and has tentatively agreed to create diagonal parking on Castro’s east side between 24th and Jersey, while keeping one parallel parking spot nearest to the bus stop. The net gain in parking spots after the reconfiguration will be two spaces.
MTA project engineer Manito Velasco confirms that the proposal with be presented at the next SFMTA’s meeting on Oct. 19, when he anticipates it will be approved. Velasco thinks that once approved, a work order will go out and the job could start 30 to 60 days after that. “It could be a little longer,” he warns, “since we are currently in the middle of a 1,300 meter-expansion throughout the city.”
* * *
PLAYING THE SLOTS: Meanwhile, neighborhood busy-bee Todd David asked Supervisor Bevan Dufty to request that the MTA provide information regarding the number of parking spaces in Downtown Noe Valley. (David is a leader of the group seeking to turn the Ministry parking lot into a public square. He’s also a Friend of Noe Valley who’s been very active of late—see next page.)
SFMTA CFO Sonali Bose promptly responded that the “Noe Valley Commercial District” (the area bounded by Elizabeth, Chattanooga, Jersey, and Diamond streets) has 174 on-street meters, 14 off-street meters (at the public lot next to Le Zinc), and 50 paid off-street parking spots, for a total of 238 car spaces. Walgreen’s, which has 21 spaces, minus one for City CarShare, was included in the paid parking.
Merchants president Roddick, for one, takes exception to the MTA’s numbers, especially the paid off-street slots. He points out that the Ministry lot at 3865 24th Street has 29 stalls; however, three are occupied by the Donation Dumpster and 13 have been reserved, leaving only 13 available to the public.
“As to Walgreen’s,” Roddick continues, “the people have the right to park in the Walgreen’s lot free for one hour while shopping or conducting business of any kind anywhere in Noe Valley. This lot is not for the exclusive use of Walgreen’s customers. The Friends of Noe Valley brokered this agreement with the other neighborhood organizations’ and community support.”
Don’t worry, there’s no way we’ll forget that piece of information.
* * *
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: The Friends of Noe Valley had its annual meeting on Tuesday evening, Sept. 28. It was attended by almost 50 neighbors and Friends at James Lick Middle School on Noe Street. Many attendees were quite happy to find that free parking was available on the Lick playground.
The first order of business, after the meeting was called to order by outgoing president Richard May, was the election of officers and directors for the coming year. Todd David was elected president, Gerda Hurter V.P., Beth Daecher treasurer, and Elizabeth Ungar the new secretary. All officers are automatically on the group’s board of directors.
There were 16 people running for the remaining 15 slots on the board, the maximum permitted by the Friends’ bylaws. According to FNV founder and its first president Claire Pilcher, who attended the meeting, that was the largest number of would-be members of the board in the group’s 40-year history (FNV was organized in 1971). “There were some years in the seventies when we had to struggle to have the minimum [seven] on the board,” noted Pilcher.
The 15 elected were Tom Abbott, Phyllis Ball, John Cuneo, Pierre Hurter, Andrew Keeler (incumbent), Yvonne Gimmel Keene, Peggy Klinge, Doug Lockyer, Linda Lockyer, Debbie Meyers, Joel Panzer, Erin Rice, Claudine Ryan, Jacqui Sawyer, and Mary McFadden (who attended the meeting and ran as a “write-in” candidate).
The previous board met only a couple of times this past year, but David says it will be meeting more regularly in the future.
The next FNV meeting, Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m., will be a candidates forum for the District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors. It will be held at the Randall Museum auditorium and co-hosted by Friends, Upper Noe Neighbors, the Corona Heights Neighborhood Association, and the Diamond Heights Community Association.
The forum will be moderated by Channel 7’s Cheryl Jennings and also will be televised on SFGTV cable channel 26.
* * *
TOWN SQUARE DANCE: The second order of business was a presentation by the movers and shakers of a group called Residents for Noe Valley Town Square. This nonprofit, which formed this summer to bring to the neighborhood just what its name says, held its first community meeting on July 15, which was attended by almost 120 people. The front page in the September Voice noted that Todd David, Chris Keene, and members of the Noe Valley Farmers Market were spearheading the campaign.
As most of you know, the goal is to get the city to buy the large parcel of land (80 x 100 feet) at 3865 24th Street which is owned by the Noe Valley Ministry and currently used as a parking lot (and minipark). The Ministry plans to sell the lot to finance the major remodel and seismic upgrade planned next year for its church at 1021 Sanchez.
The city would buy the land using open space funds, which annually accumulate at Rec and Park. By law, the city would have to pay the appraised value of the Ministry lot, and not a penny less.
David, in his capacity as co-chair of RNVTS, informed the Friends that he had been very recently told by Karen Mauney-Brodek, who is project manager of the Planning and Capital Division of the Rec and Park Department, that the property was appraised at “between three and four million dollars.” (That’s quite a big range.)
He then went on to say that the group has three hurdles to jump over to create the public square. First, a plan has to be presented to the Park, Recreation, and Open Space Advisory Committee (PROSAC). If the committee deems the town square a worthy and workable project, the proposal then goes to the Recreation and Park Commission for approval. If they give the green light, then it goes to the Board of Supervisors, who must also give their approval.
Meredith Thomas, who is the executive director of the nonprofit Neighborhood Parks Council (which has been instrumental in helping residents improve existing parks all over the city) informed the group that there was about $8 million currently in the open space fund.
RNVTS co-chair Chris Keene, speaking for the Noe Valley Ministry (which originally acquired the property to keep the space open for the neighborhood), explained that the project would need the open space money to purchase the land, to fund the renovation into a town square, and to pay for maintenance and operation of the park.
According to Keene, the Ministry would be a willing seller to the city for a price within the appraisal range, and he believed the Noe Valley Association would be able to provide maintenance for the park. The only thing Noe Valley has to do is come up with the bucks needed to construct our “vision” of the new town square. He estimates that number to be about $500,000.
Keene said quite optimistically that the RNVTS will be looking for and finding Noe Valley residents who can pledge donations now or pay annually over the next five years. He hopes the town square group can go to the PROSAC meeting in November with enough money in pledges to show the community’s commitment.
If any of you want to pledge some bucks to this project, today’s the day in a major way. Assuming there are 16,000 registered voters in Noe Valley, if each voter wrote a check or pledge for $31.25, the $500K would be covered. Folks, that’s less than one month’s cable TV. Google Noe Valley Town Square to find out more.
* * *
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: Omnivore Books on Food, the little cookbook store on Cesar Chavez Street, is achieving national recognition. Writes Reyhan Harmanci in the Sept. 11 New York Times: “Tucked in a corner of San Francisco ’s quiet Noe Valley, Omnivore Books is an unlikely prospect for a small-business success story.” But it sure is one, the newspaper goes on to say.
In August, cookware giant Williams Sonoma asked Omnivore founder and owner Celia Sack to pick a book each month for its 260 stores nationwide. The store signs will say “Omnivore Recommends.” Sack, along with store manager Samantha Tackeff, will also be sending the chain 250 vintage cookbooks, each with personal handwritten recommendations. Those will go on sale at William-Sonoma’s 30 top stores.
Soon to be shipped out is the 1963 classic Candy Hits by Zazu Pitts, as well as James Beard’s 1960 edition of Treasury of Outdoor Cooking, and Duncan Hines’ classic Food Odyssey (1955).
Sack is currently doing some culinary research in Turkey. “She’s having a fantastic time,” says Tackeff, “especially because many of us think that Turkey has the best food in the world. It is just fantastic!”
As all you foodies know, Omnivore hosts many authors’ visits and book signings—food icon Alice Waters appeared recently—and the October schedule is quite impressive, with 14 events.
When asked what the store’s most popular item was these days, Tackeff replied, “Actually, that would be our fresh eggs,” pointing to a space on the counter with just two dozen eggs left.
In other food news, a new sushi restaurant should be opening Oct. 2 on Church Street at Day (where Deep Sushi used to be).
The folks who two years ago opened Tataki Sushi & Sake Bar on California Street (near Divisadero) decided last spring to open a second venue in Noe Valley. Since then, they’ve been wending their way through the permit process. “Now we are ready to go,” says co-owner and chef Kin Lui, “and we are looking forward to working in that great neighborhood.” The restaurant will be called Tataki Sushi & Sake Bar South.
Lui and co-chef/owner Raymond Ho have become famous for what they describe as “a menu that celebrates the flavors of the ocean while ensuring that every item is caught in an environmentally sound manner.” Lui says an example of this philosophy is they serve no bluefin tuna, which is endangered and full of mercury, but instead serve albacore tuna caught using hand lines. They will use only wild Alaskan salmon or arctic char, and never farmed Atlantic salmon, which he says “is notorious for parasites and pollutants.”
Lui says Tataki’s most popular sushi roll is called “The Extinguisher” and consists of albacore and cucumber wrapped with avocado, spicy aioli, habanero, and fish eggs. Lui says his personal favorite is the “Russian Roulette Roll.” Don’t try it alone.
* * *
KUDOS GO OUT to hair salon Green Twig, which moved recently to 1299 Church Street, at 25th. It was voted the fifth most popular hair salon in the city in SFGate.com’s 2010 Best of the Bay contest.
Also, Noe Valley phenom the Elizabeth Street Brewery was selected as Microbrewery of the Year by SF Weekly. This despite the fact that ESB has never actually sold a beer, but rather hosts open houses from time to time where the beer-tasting is “on the house.” ESB teamed up earlier this year with another San Francisco microbrewery, 21st Amendment Brewery, and won the gold medal in the World Beer Cup in the “Other Strong Beers” category.
* * *
THAT’S 30 for this month. Make sure you all vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2.