Noe Valley Voice July 2011

Circle of Friends Grows Wider

By Heather World

Todd David is at the helm of a revitalized Friends of Noe Valley, which hopes to fill the fall with issues forums and social events, such as a pet parade, book festival, and a neighborhood run.    Photo by Pamela Gerard

A newly energized Friends of Noe Valley will gather at St. Philip’s Parish Hall on Wednesday, July 27, 7 p.m., for its first general meeting since new leadership was elected.

The evening is the start of what the group hopes will be regular meetings and social events appealing to Noe Valleyans of all stripes, said Todd David, who was elected president last September.

“We’d like to see it be a forum for neighborhood issues and help neighbors get answers,” David said. “We’re not looking to take sides on issues.”

At a handful of meetings in 2010, the group’s board members and officers amended the bylaws, created committees, and brainstormed events for the next year, David said.

“We made sure the skeleton of Friends of Noe Valley was very strong,” he said.

Future meetings might focus on the influx of trunk-sized AT&T cable boxes, corporate shuttle buses, the parklets on 24th Street, or the renovation of Noe Courts park, said the Eureka Street resident. An August or September mayoral candidates forum is being planned in partnership with Upper Noe Neighbors and the Noe Valley Democratic Club, he said.

Friends co-hosted a similar forum for supervisorial candidates last October. In February of this year, it hosted a meeting to review design proposals for a town square on the site of the Noe Valley Ministry parking lot, on 24th Street between Vickburg and Sanchez streets.

How Does Its Garden Grow?

In recent years, Friends has been best known for holding the popular Noe Valley Garden Tour. Now, a five-member Events Committee is meeting to generate other ideas for a year’s worth of social gatherings, said Peggy Cling, who manages the group’s website. Plans are still in their infancy but include a book festival, a pet parade, a barbeque, and a neighborhood run.

The goal is to pull together local residents, organizations, and merchants, said Cling. Someone suggested a dog costume parade, which got Cling thinking about the chickens she hears in the sea of back yards that surround her house. Why not a pet parade instead, she thought.

“I’d love for those chickens to come walking down the street,” she said. The event could be tied in with the neighborhood’s many pet-related businesses and include larger animal organizations like Rocket Dog Rescue.

The book festival would include children’s books, perhaps as part of a partnership with a local school, but adults might be offered poetry readings at a local pub or author readings at neighborhood bookstores.

Controversy Widens Web

Cling, who has lived in Noe Valley for 35 years, joined Friends in 2010, following the controversy over last summer’s proposal to close Noe Street at 24th Street for a pedestrian plaza. When she searched for Noe Valley’s neighborhood organization to learn more about the proposal, she found a website with out-of-date links and disconnected email addresses.

“That really frustrated me,” she said. (The group had no volunteer webmaster for a number of years, said outgoing president Richard May.)

“We pretty much started from scratch,” said Cling, who enlisted the aid of a volunteer for the initial design. The new site lists neighborhood resources and facts, posts a calendar with local events, and offers contact information for those interested in volunteering, listing an event, or learning more about anything neighborhood-related.

“We’ve already received a few emails from people who went on the garden tour and want to offer their gardens next year,” Cling said. “How cool is that?”

There is also an email list that is slowly coming together. For example, members on it were recently warned about the city’s new policy to crack down on people parked on sidewalks.

All Politics Aside…

The group now boasts four elected officers and 15 very active board members. Linda Lockyer chairs the Events Committee, Phyllis Ball chairs Public Safety, Debbie Meyers chairs Traffic, Parking and Transportation, and John Cuneo chairs the Zoning and Planning Committee.

Cuneo will look into making sure the city has kept its promise regarding engaging the community on the future of the parklets, David said.

Though David attributes the surge of energy to the controversy surrounding both the plaza and shuttle buses that crisscross the neighborhood, the new board is focused on delivering information rather than stating a position, he said.

“There was some concern people were bringing a personal agenda to Friends of Noe Valley, but I have not experienced that at all.”

The board has also discussed changing the organization’s tax status to a 501(c)3. That nonprofit status would make donations tax-deductible but would preclude the kind of advocacy that its present 501(c)4 status allows, David said.

Advocacy was the hallmark of Friends when it was launched almost 40 years ago. Members lobbied against the proliferation of bars and restaurants on 24th Street and in favor of zoning laws to preserve housing and commercial diversity.

“We advocated,” said Claire Pilcher, who helped found the organization in 1971. “We advocated for the parks, for the library, for residential downzoning.”


St. Philip’s Parish Hall is located at 725 Diamond Street near 24th Street. To find out more about the July 27 meeting, visit or call Todd David at 415-401-0625. Want to be listed as a Noe Valley resource? Click on “Resources” on the Friends’ website and send your details to Also note: the Noe Valley mayoral candidates forum has been tentatively set for Aug. 25, 7:30 p.m., James Lick Middle School, 1220 Noe St.