Noe Valley Voice July 2011

Short Takes


Bethany in Bits and Pieces

With its stripped-down facade and see-through office building next door, Bethany United Methodist Church seemed barely recognizable in June during renovations and seismic upgrades. The work is about a third completed, though, and church members anticipate returning by the end of the year to their home at Clipper and Sanchez streets. “We have been delighted that as they have demolished things, they have not found horrible messes underneath,” says Pastor Kristen Sachen. “So we’ve had very few surprises, and we’re very grateful for that.” The former apartment building adjacent to the church will be converted into office space, and worshipers will enter the sanctuary through a courtyard instead of the old street access. Churchgoers have been attending services at Bethany Center on Capp Street since the $3 million renovation got under way in January.   

Photo and text by Corrie M. Anders



Muni Boss Speaks to Demo Club

Municipal Transit Director John ­Haley and BART Board Director Tom Radulovich will tackle the issue “Making Muni Better” at a panel discussion at the Noe Valley Demo­cratic Club, Wednesday, July 20, at St. Philip’s Church.

The two public transit experts will also give updates on the progress of their respective agencies.

Appointed by the city’s SFMTA in February, Haley is responsible for the overall direction and management of Muni service in San Francisco. Before taking the job here, he worked for the Metropolitan Transit Authority in Houston. He also held positions at the Port Authority of New York, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), and BART in San Francisco.

Radulovich, in addition to helping direct BART, runs the nonprofit Livable City, which advocates for improved public transit and reduced reliance on cars. A Noe Valley resident, he is a past candidate for the Board of Supervisors.

The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m., at the church hall at 725 Diamond St. Enter through the parking lot on the north side of 24th Street near Diamond. For information about the Dem­ocratic Club, contact Molly Fleischman at

—Sally Smith



Plant a Tree, Make Some Friends

Wonder why that tree-hugging neighbor keeps knocking on your door? Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) has asked neighborhood ambassadors to help find homes for new trees on the sidewalks of Noe Valley, says Doug Lybeck, the group’s outreach manager.

Noe Valley’s team of seven has already found 13 willing planters in the past six months, which means they are halfway to the goal of finding 25 new tree parents needed to move forward and set a planting date, Lybeck said.

Interested residents get to choose their own trees, most of which cost $75 because FUF subsidizes the expense. The property owner must sign the planting authorization forms, though tenants can sign on as “caretakers.”

Once the homeowner gives the okay, FUF handles the bureaucracy by obtaining permits, identifying underground utilities, removing concrete, providing tools, and ordering trees and supplies. Then the residents, aided by FUF staff and volunteers, pitch in to plant the trees, usually on a Saturday morning. Trees come with an owner’s manual, and the group’s arborists return for two post-planting visits.

Lybeck notes that most streets have a list of recommended trees, but Noe Valley’s mild warm weather means there are plenty of options. Victorian box trees, magnolias, and a variety of ornamental fruit trees do particularly well in the neighborhood. For the full scoop, email or call 415-268-0773.

—Heather World



Public Comment Knows No Bounds

Noe Valleyans who felt slighted by new public school attendance boundaries will have a chance to suggest new ones ahead of a school board meeting on the matter Aug. 8.

Last year, the San Francisco Unified School District changed its lottery admission system for elementary schools to give more weight to school proximity. At the same time, it set up attendance areas in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Alvarado Elementary School on Douglass Street is considered the local public school for Noe Valley, so many Noe Valley parents at the north and south ends of the neighborhood were surprised to find their homes in the Harvey Milk Academy and Glen Park Elementary attendance areas, respectively. (See the February 2011 Voice.)

The district has now asked for feedback in the form of specific suggestions for tweaking school boundaries, including the ones that ended Noe Valley’s northern border at 22nd Street and its southern border at 29th Street.

“The traditional Noe Valley boundary is 30th Street in all historic and real estate data,” says Olga Milan-Howells, treasurer for Upper Noe Neighbors and a Valley Street resident. In her view, the line at 29th Street made little sense and should at least be extended south to both sides of 30th Street.

According to Milan-Howells, the reason the school district is considering redrawing the borders is that the number of area applicants to Alvarado was lower than anticipated. “They thought there would be all these requests from Noe Valley into Alvarado,” Milan-Howells says.

For more information, visit www.sfusd. edu and search for “attendance boundary maps.” Feedback to the district can be emailed to

—Heather World



Corner Rep. Nancy Pelosi!

On Friday, July 8, you can put a word in with one of Washington’s most influential politicians. U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who represents California’s 8th District encompassing most of Noe Valley, will hold office hours at the Glen Park Library from 2 to 5 p.m. The event is the former speaker’s third and final “Congress on Your Corner” in San Francisco this summer. As with her earlier visits to the Excelsior and Main Library branches, Pelosi and her staff will be available to help resolve constituent issues with federal agencies, from Interior to Immigration to the IRS. Those having problems obtaining Social Security, Medicare, student loans, or veterans and other federal benefits are invited to come for guidance. The congresswoman will also address questions and concerns about policies and programs.

The Glen Park Branch is located at 2825 Diamond St. near Bosworth. For more information, call the library at 415-355-2858 or Pelosi’s San Francisco office at 415-556-4862.

—Heather World