Noe Valley Voice September 2010

And Now for the Rumors Behind the News

Pick a Peck of Parklets

By Mazook

PARKING THE PARKLETS became the top agenda item for the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association (NVMPA), after the head of the city’s Pavement to Parks (P2P) program, Andres Power, wrote a “Dear Noe Valleyans” letter July 15, telling us the plaza was out and that parklets were what the neighborhood wanted. (For more on that story, see page 1 of this issue.)

Power’s letter promised that P2P “will be working with the merchant community to identify the [two] most suitable locations” for parklets on 24th Street.

Word on the street was that P2P planned to base its choices on written comments made by those who participated in a June 30 workshop at St. Philip’s (now immortalized on YouTube).

According to the rumor mill, P2P determined from the meeting—and from electronic and other mail—that the three most popular locations were (1) in front of Martha & Bros. Coffee near Sanchez, (2) in front of Ambiance and Toast near the corner of Noe, and (3) in the two parking stalls in front of Noe Bagel.

Shopkeepers later learned the city was targeting spots only on 24th Street between Noe and Vicksburg, and was not considering putting parklets in any bus (red) or yellow zones.

It was at that point that the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association said hold on just a minute—perhaps the merchants would like to give their input before the locations are set in stone (or in wood and recycled materials, as the case may be).

At the July meeting of the group, members put the parklets at the top of their New Business. After all, four parking spots were at stake. They discussed what impact the parklets might have, and how the stores might make up for lost parking, should they need it. Then they voted to hold a special meeting in August (even though that was their official vacation month).

At the August meeting, the group decided to conduct an online survey of their 84 members, asking them where they thought the two parklets should be parked, if at all. (You will be happy to know that the NVMPA, founded in 1923, has gone digital and now has a website: The survey will be posted online, for those who’d like to take it.)

The three-person committee handling the survey task is David Eiland from Just for Fun, Tom Norwick from Herth Realty, and Stephanie Smith (Skoufos) of Barbers and Bears.

“We want all Noe Valley merchants to weigh in on the location, and nobody should say any location on our commercial corridor is ďout,’” says Eiland.

According to Norwick, the committee will also be going door to door in Downtown Noe Valley with hard copies of the survey to remind members to complete it, as well as to ask non-member merchants to take the poll and return it to the NVMPA. They hope to have the survey results compiled by the association’s next meeting, on Sept. 29.

Association President Bob Roddick thinks the parklet issue deserves serious attention. He says he’s concerned about the safety of any location, and the viability of the business that will have to maintain it. He also hopes the final location

choices won’t favor one business over another.

Roddick said he was glad there were no bars in the P2P zone (Noe to Vicksburg). “It would be interesting if [survey takers] voted for a parklet in front of the Dubliner,” he joked.

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PARK IT ELSEWHERE: Several 24th Street merchants (who have requested they not be named) told the Voice that if they were asked to partner with P2P, they would respectfully decline. One retail merchant stated that if they put a parklet in front of his business, he would have to close.

Some said P2P had already made plans to meet in early September with the business/property owners at certain locations to see if they would be interested in a parklet in front of their store. But that could not be confirmed by the Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation.

For his part, Roddick said he was somewhat surprised that he, as president of the NVMPA, had not yet been contacted by P2P. “We are hoping to present him [Power] with some results of our survey as soon as possible.”

Power did return phone calls from the Voice, just as this column was going to press. He confirmed that P2P would be considering parklets in front of Martha’s, Noe Bagel, and Toast, and also a spot in front of the Noe Valley Ministry parking lot near Vicksburg. Power emphasized that P2P “would do nothing until it received input from the business community.”

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THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR: The next general meeting of the Friends of Noe Valley should be very special. It will be held in the spacious James Lick Middle School auditorium (25th and Noe) on Tuesday night, Sept. 28.

This is the residents group’s annual meeting, where the membership votes on officers and members of the board of directors. A slate of officers has been set, but a slate of directors has not yet been set, since it appears that for the first time in modern history all 15 slots on the board will be filled. Recent years have seen the board dwindle to around seven.

According to FNV outgoing president Richard May, the slate of officers consists of Todd David for president, Gerda Hurter for vice president, and Beth Daicher for treasurer. Secretary is still up for grabs. As for the board of directors, May says there are 19 people running for the 15 slots permitted by the bylaws.

After the election, there will a major presentation by the folks (now called Residents for Noe Valley Town Square) who are trying to turn the Ministry parking lot at 24th and Vicksburg into a town square. (See the town square story on this issue’s front page.)

Friends are also inviting all the candidates for District 8 supervisor to appear on a panel and briefly offer their thoughts to those assembled as to how this deal can be done.

Mark your calendars since this meeting will be far better than anything on television, and could well be a seminal point in the annals of Noe Valley history. Remember: In order to cast a vote, you must be a member of the Friends of Noe Valley. Join now and get involved!

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ELECTION BEETS AND LEEKS: A special meeting was called at the end of August by the members of the board of directors for the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market (NVFM), when supervisorial politics spilled over into the very popular Saturday food bazaar, which is located in the Ministry parking lot.

As all you Farmers’ Market devotees know, around election time the sidewalk in front of the market is usually filled with many people who are running for office or advocating a particular cause or needing you to sign a petition.

It appears that at the Aug. 21 meeting, the NVFM Board requested that a market vendor remove a placard supporting a District 8 supervisor candidate from their stand. Then on Aug. 28, a NVFM volunteer greeter wore a bright T-shirt supporting a rival supervisor candidate.

According to a statement released by the NVFM board, “We do everything in our power to keep the experience of the Farmers Market enjoyable for everyone and ask that petitioners, canvassers, and other advocates within the private space of the market kindly move their activities to the public space on the sidewalk; and similarly that all NVFM volunteers [and vendors] refrain from displaying any political signs while they are representing the market.”

Says board member Rick Hildreth, “[We do] not endorse candidates and do not wish to be perceived as doing so. We simply want to keep the market a communal space devoted solely to healthy foods and sustainable agriculture.”


In other political news, in mid-July supervisor hopeful Rebecca Prozan opened her campaign headquarters in Downtown Noe Valley at 1195 Church Street near 24th, in Forbeadin’s old spot.

 So far, Prozan is the only one of the four top District 8 supervisor contenders to headquarter outside of Eureka Valley, reportedly because she thinks that in order to win she must do well in Noe Valley, Fairmount, Glen Park, and Diamond Heights.

Rival Rafael Mandelman opened his headquarters on Market Street, as did Bill Hemenger. Scott Wiener is at 538 Castro, between 18th and 19th streets.

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NOE VALLEY’S WINDOW-SHOPPER-STOPPER at Twin Peaks Properties is gone. Tweets and text messages were being sent out from Downtown Noe Valley in the afternoon of Aug. 20, informing everyone in cyberspace that the world-famous window display that had been created by Twin Peaks proprietor Harry Aleo (who died two years ago) had been removed from the front windows, and the office gutted.

It was a sad sight.

Gone was the huge poster of Harry standing with his arm around the shoulder of his hero, Ronald Reagan. Never mind that Reagan was actually a life-size picture which Harry was posing with. And gone was the “Army Street” street sign and the picture of the 1955 championship Brooklyn Dodgers. And the 1940s real estate advertisement for a house in Noe Valley available for $32,500. And the posters written by Harry welcoming people to “Looney Valley” and his “island of sanity.” And the pictures of his famous racehorse, Lost in the Fog. Gone are the ancient leaflets of the Merchants Association (of which he was president in the 1960s and early 1970s), promoting the turkey giveaways and the baseball trophies won by association teams in the 1950s City League.

Harry was in a league of his own. He opened Twin Peaks Properties in 1947, where Haystack Pizza is today, and moved up to 4072 24th Street near Castro in 1958, when he bought the building after the owner of Pete’s Grocery retired. If you hurry, you will see the old “Groceries” sign that was revealed when the Twin Peaks sign was removed.

According to the property manager, Stephanie Gordon, Aleo’s family came to the storefront and removed the personal memorabilia they wanted to keep.

Second pickings went to Noe Valley archivists Bill Yenne and Joel Panzer. According to Yenne, the family left all of Aleo’s handwritten political signs, the storefront window’s ads and posters, and the sign above the door, and all the leaflets and Noe Valley Merchants memorabilia.

Yenne says third choice was given to an estate “picker,” who paid the estate $600 for the office furniture and fixtures.

All of the Merchants Association stuff was given to current president Bob Roddick.

One of the more interesting items, says Roddick, was the collection of Noe Valley Merchants Trading Stamps. These were given out with purchases and then redeemable for prizes from merchants. “It looks like something like that would be popular today,” he says.

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MUSIC AND FLOWERS: Harry Aleo’s windows at 4072 24th Street were papered within a week, with flyers announcing that Russo Music, the new tenant, would be moving into the space. The shop is owned by Dominic Russo and his sister, Nicole Russo.

Dominic most recently taught music at James Lick Middle School. Nicole has a music school in Santa Clara County. They will be teaching both vocal and instrumental music, with Dominic focusing on voice and piano and Nicole teaching the reed instruments (saxophone, clarinet) and flute and guitar.

“We will have other teachers and hope to have a full schedule,” says Dominic, who lives on Vicksburg. The Russos will also sell and rent instruments and have sheet music for sale. In addition, they’ll rent time in the store’s recording studio.

They are looking to open the store in mid-October.

In a related item, the store next door to Russo’s, Accent on Flowers, closed at the end of August after 32 years (most of them with former owners Glen Potter and Steve Bacik at the helm). Owner Julia Labunsky says she is consolidating her business in her floral shop across 24th Street, called Flowers of the Valley. That building, by the way, was also owned by Aleo and is now part of a trust he set up for his children.

“I want to concentrate on just one shop,” says Labunsky, “and business is way down from last year. There’s competition from the other florists on the street as well as Whole Foods’ flowers.”

Property manager Stephanie Gordon says the Accent store is for rent, and promises that “the rent will be reasonable.”

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BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE, a very popular San Francisco micro-roaster, is now being featured at a coffee kiosk in a corner of Spin City Laundromat, at Sanchez and 26th streets.

“We opened on July 10 without any advertisement and with very little startup money at this location because we couldn’t afford the 24th Street rents,” says Mary Maricar, who with Kevin Ratcliffe is running the BB kiosk, offering coffee and pastries to go.

“The response we got was beyond all my expectations. We were able to cover our rent and cost of goods sold for the first month in the first four days we were open.”

Maricar says their kiosk also now offers goodies from another Noe Valley sensation, Black Jet Bakery, famous for its pop tarts, “pies in a jar,” and Oreo, chocolate chip, and lemon poppy cookies.

The kiosk is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 to 5 on weekends.

Also new to Noe Valley is Design Quarter, which took over the space at 1478 Church Street recently vacated by Lynn Antiques.

Design Quarter is a co-op store started by five persons: Debbie Cole, Dan Quinta, Gypsy Beggs, Cathy Sweetman, and Sharon Dunham. According to Cole, each of the five has their own room in the storefront, and is filling it with vintage housewares, art, and antiques. Seven more artists have rented cabinet space and are selling their own artifacts.

Says Cole, “We will have a wide variety of furniture, jewelry, art, collectibles, and kitchenwares╔it’s kind of an emporium of household goods.”

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OVER AND OUT, AMEN: The Noe Valley Ministry Presbyterian Church, in its quest to have followers of three faiths worshipping under one roof—Christians, Jews, and Muslims—is two-thirds of the way to its goal.

According to Ministry Pastor Keenan Kelsey, Jewish temple Or Shalom has voted to partner with the church when it reopens after renovations next year. (The building is closing January 2011, and is expected to reopen a year later.) At that time, Kelsey says, the sanctuary at 1021 Sanchez Street will be renamed “The Abrahamic House of Community.”

There has been no confirmation that a Muslim group is ready to join the cause, but hope springs eternal, and according to Kelsey, “we have several Muslim imams on our planning committee.”

That’s 30, folks. Ciao for now.