| December-January 2011
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DESSERT STORM: A sugar-dough war has broken out in Downtown Noe Valley between Martha & Bros. Coffee, a Noe Valley institution since 1987, and a food truck called Cookie Time, which rolled into a spot in the parking lot directly across 24th Street from the popular coffee shop.
The truck’s operator, Marina Snetkova, who lives in Noe Valley, bought the used taco truck, installed a convection oven, and had a “grand opening” on Black Friday (Nov. 25) in her newly rented stall in the Noe Valley Ministry parking lot off Vicksburg Street.
She immediately began baking her organic cookies and muffins and serving them fresh, with the Bicycle Coffee that she brewed onboard.
Snetkova’s DPW permit lets her operate up to 12 hours a day, six days a week. But she plans to concentrate on weekday afternoons and weekends, and would like to become a vendor at the Saturday Noe Valley Farmers’ Market.
“I am so excited to open today,” said Snetkova on her first official day. “I put up my life savings for this business, got the truck, got all my permits with the city, and rented a stall in this parking lot in my neighborhood,” from the operator of the Ministry’s parking lot.
She said her business would have “zero waste, since all of our serving dishes and utensils are compostable.”
As you Martha’s fans know, there are two parking stalls in that lot that are free for Martha’s customers, for a 10- to 15-minute stay. (Some of you might remember the late 1980s when you could park for 90 seconds free at Dan’s Gas Station and run over to Martha’s for a shot of espresso.)
What upset Martha’s owner, Martha Monroy, was the placement of the new food truck, which was right next to the stalls in the lot reserved for her customers. Those customers told her they were being tantalized by Cookie Time’s baked goods as they got out of their cars. But another thing that got Monroy really steamed was “when [Snetkova or someone] put her grand-opening sign on the sidewalk in front [of my store],” she said.
Fueling the controversy was an article by Stacy Finz in the Chronicle on Nov. 27, headlined “Restaurants want to put brakes on food trucks.” Finz described the friction that’s occurring in neighborhoods when food trucks occupy the public right-of-way in and around commercial business districts.
Our man at City Hall, Supervisor Scott Wiener, wrote in a recent newsletter that he had “convened a working group—consisting of brick-and-mortar restaurants, commercial building owners, food truck operators, and the relevant city departments—to examine current legislation and regulations and determine if they can be improved.”
Wiener’s spokesperson, Gillian Gillett, pointed out that the Cookie Time truck might not be subject to the existing ordinance, since it was not parked in the public right-of-way but on private property.
Richard Hildreth, speaking for the Farmers’ Market, noted that the Cookie Time truck had been permitted to stay in the Farmers’ Market space on the Saturday before the business opened because at the time, it had a broken transmission. But whether Cookie Time will get to be a regular vendor at the weekly farmers’ market is still up in the air.
Hildreth said Snetkova has been invited to the market’s next board meeting, where her request will be discussed and voted upon. Until that time, it looks as if the Cookie Time truck will have to move out during Saturday market hours, he said.
As for the dispute between Martha and Marina, there are neighbors who have agreed to mediate in an effort to bring about a peaceful resolution.
Of course, the Farmers’ Market parking lot may not stay a parking lot forever. Its owner, the Noe Valley Ministry, plans to sell it to fund a restoration and remodeling of its church building at 1021 Sanchez St. There’s a chance the city will buy the lot through its open space funds and turn it into a town square maintained by Noe Valley groups. Or, the lot could be sold to a private developer who might put up a big building in that space.
I’d vote for the town square, and as soon as possible. But maybe it would be more feasible to close off a block of 24th Street to traffic, and the Farmers’ Market could then occupy a section of the street on Saturday mornings—much like the Castro Farmers’ Market’s regular Wednesday closing of Noe Street from Beaver to Market.
Asked whether he liked that idea, Hildreth said, “More space for the market? Uh yeah, I’d like to work on that one.”
HALF ASLEEP: The Noe Valley Department of Elections reports that 51 percent of the 20,031 of us registered to vote in Noe Valley actually did vote. Citywide voter turnout was 42 percent of those registered, which means that maybe 21 percent of San Francisco voters decided matters for us all. To compare: Noe voter turnout in the 2008 general election was 89 percent of the 18,434 then registered.
The Noe votes in the mayoral race gave John Avalos 2,326 votes, Ed Lee 1,916, Dennis Herrera 1,860, Bevan Dufty 1,202, David Chiu 974, Jeff Adachi 622, Leland Yee 400, Michela Alioto-Pier 234, Tony Hall 217, and Terry Joan Baum 115 votes.
In the DA race, Noe apportioned George Gascon 4,157, David Onek 3,064, Sharmin Bock 1,584, and Bill Fazio 711. For sheriff: Ross Mirkarimi 4,319, Chris Cunnie 3,527, and Paul Miyamoto 1,662.
Measure A (School Bonds) passed in Noe Valley 7,624 to 2,305. And B (Road Bonds) passed 7,281 to 2,648. We said yes to Prop. C (City Pensions), 9,138 to 3,215, and no to Prop. D (Adachi’s City Pensions), 7,025 to 2,725. Noe Valley even supported a city sales tax increase, voting 5,049 yes and 4,719 no.On the school district student assignment measure, we were not impressed, voting 3,839 yes and 5,711 no.
PIXILATED: Good things are happening at Pixie Hall Studios, the art studio for kids located on the corner of Elizabeth and Diamond. “We officially are licensed as a preschool! Our alternative preschool program for two to four years runs Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and currently [is] full,” says Pixie’s Kristin Scagliotti, who was raised here in Noe Valley. She has hosted many art workshops at Pixie the past two years, and is planning to offer observation dates at the preschool in January.
A key to Scagliotti getting her state child-care license was when St. Philip’s School (across the street from Pixie) agreed to allow playground access to the Pixie kids for their outside time.
Pixie Hall, along with one of Noe Valley’s best eateries, Firefly Restaurant, will co-host a once-a-month “Date Night,” where Pixie will provide babysitting services while parents dine at Firefly. Even better, the diners will receive a 10 percent discount on the bill, to help defray the cost of the kid-sitting service. Everybody wins.
The first Date Night is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 8, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Scagliotti says call Pixie Hall first (400-4846), then Firefly (821-7652), to reserve a spot.
In a non-related item, Firefly hosted 12 kids from Alvarado School’s After School Sandwich Club on Nov. 4. Working in Firefly’s kitchen, the kids, with the help of Chef Luc, made “hot fancy” turkey sandwiches on artisan bread, with cheese and a special spread. Two weeks later, the Sandwich Club went down 24th Street to Patxi’s Pizza. There, they were treated to a lesson in crafting pizzas.
COUSCOUS DECISION: It looks like local chef Abed Amas has decided not to sell Fattoush restaurant (Church and Clipper) after all. Amas says, “I have received a lot of support from people in the neighborhood asking me not to leave, and this is where I have been since October of 1996, so I decided that I don’t want to leave Noe Valley. [My restaurant] is no longer for sale. I changed my mind.”
That is good news for all you Middle Eastern food fans. The most popular dish on his menu, Amas says, is the Mansaf, which is a lamb, rice, and yogurt dish spiced with saffron. People go for the vegan dishes too, he says. Like Firefly, Amas is in a giving mood these days. During December, he says, he will be giving diners free appetizers.
As for the planned Vietnamese/Thai fusion restaurant on the corner of Church and 25th streets—the one that has been four years in the making by the folks down at Regent Thai (29th and Church)—co-owner Jean Son says that “we are not ready yet, and it’s going slow.” She says an opening date could be sometime next year, but she declined to be more specific.
PLUG IT IN: A parking stall in the Walgreens lot at the corner of Castro and Jersey has been installed with a charging station for electric cars.
“Noe Valley was one of the six Walgreens in the Bay Area to have one of these charge points installed in their parking lots” on a trial basis, says Melissa May, Noe Valley Walgreens store manager since 1992.
May says the charging station is being independently operated by 350 Green Company, and she is waiting for the instructions so she can tell customers how to use the dang thing. It was set to go into operation on Dec. 1.
The charging station stall used to be one of two blue zones in the lot dedicated to handicapped parking, and May says that when it’s not recharging an electric car, the spot can still be used for handicapped parking.
Walgreens, a neighborhood fixture for 23 years, sits on the site of an old cable car barn, which was demolished in the late 1940s to make way for a Safeway and later a small grocery called Little Bell.
BELL OF THE WRECKING BALL: The last Cala/Bell Market in town, on California and Hyde streets, is scheduled to close on Dec. 3, 2011, nearly three years after the grocery’s Noe Valley store closed. Trader Joe’s will open a market in the space, along with a CVS drugstore.
All the checkers that moved over there from Noe Valley have now moved on. Manager Josko Lucin and Assistant Manager Hank Dever were the last remaining members of the Noe Valley crew.
“I may go work for the company [Kroger] at their San Francisco Foods Co store, and I’m also looking at Tower Market,” says Lucin. “I am a little nostalgic since I was raised in Noe Valley and started working at Bell in 1987, and have seen it go through all of its changes and mergers [up] to now.”
JOSE, CAN YOU SEE: It was nice seeing you all at the presentation by Noe Valley historian Bill Yenne at the San Francisco History Association’s Nov. 29 meeting at St. Philip’s community hall. The event was also a celebration of Noe Valley’s 165th birthday, sponsored by the Friends of Noe Valley. There was a huge cake frosted with drawings of Downtown Noe Valley, baked by our famous Noe Valley Bakery.
For featured speaker Yenne—who is the author of more than 80 books, including Arcadia Publishing’s San Francisco’s Noe Valley—giving a one-hour spiel on Noe Valley history was a piece of cake. After listening to the talk, all 150 attendees were treated to a piece of cake.
Yenne presented a slide show that displayed many of the photographs from his book. There was even one we had not seen before, a picture of the Standard Gas Station that used to sit on the southeast corner of Diamond and 24th, across from St. Philip’s Church (built in 1925).
As for how Yenne and the Friends of Noe Valley determined that Noe Valley’s birth year was 1846, that was the year Don Jose de Jesus Noe retired as the last alcalde (mayor) of Yerba Buena (which is what San Francisco was called back then).
It was also when Noe began operating his Rancho San Miguel, a vast land grant he’d received a year earlier which encompassed Noe Valley, Eureka Valley, Glen Park, and several other neighborhoods in modern-day San Francisco.
In the early 1850s, developer John Meirs Horner bought 5,000-plus acres of Noe’s land and began mapping out and naming the streets that would crisscross the Noe Valley we know today. As Yenne explained to the many history buffs in attendance, Noe Valley in its pioneer days was really called “Horner’s Addition.” But Horner’s name didn’t stick.
Before long, Horner had sold off the parcels, and the first houses in the neighborhood were built starting in 1868. The first housing boom followed in the 1870s. Early photos of Noe Valley show some of the houses that are still standing now, 125 years later. Mazook Manor, for instance, was built on the Sanchez hill in 1885.
THAT’S ALL, YOU ALL. Have a happy merry and a wonderful New Year, and we will see you all in February 2012. Ciao for now.