Noe Valley Voice September 2011

Letters to the Editor

Noe Valley Resident Kit the Cattle-dog writes that she is a big fan of the Voice. She says she scoops up the paper early in the month, before her pet—local real estate broker and attorney Misha Weidman—can get his paws on it.

September 2011

The Voice welcomes your letters to the editor. Write the Noe Valley Voice, P.O. Box 460249, S.F., CA 94146. Or e­mail Please in­clude your name and contact information. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) Be aware that letters may be edited for brevity or clarity. We look forward to hearing from you.

Bar Whole Foods’ Liquor License


I’m writing to you to let you know that Whole Foods Market in Noe Valley is in the process of obtaining a liquor license. This is a bad idea. There are enough liquor stores to satisfy the needs of Noe Valley. Whole Foods is already hurting many businesses along 24th Street. Urban Cellars and J&J Market have already closed their doors since Whole Foods opened [in September 2009]. If Whole Foods gets a liquor license, it will hurt many more businesses, such as St. Clair’s, Shufat Market, and PlumpJack.

Whole Foods Noe Valley is a very busy store. Their parking lot is small and always full, and cars at times are overflowing onto 24th Street between Sanchez and Noe streets, creating a traffic mess for Noe Valley residents and customers of other local merchants. I’m concerned that if Whole Foods sells liquor it will attract even more shoppers. Whole Foods doesn’t have room to increase its parking capacity. That will force the extra shoppers to park in the neighborhood and in 24th Street’s metered parking spaces. This will take away parking spots that otherwise would be used by shoppers at other local stores, which will eventually hurt all businesses in Noe Valley.

The increase in traffic and noise and in the lack of parking will have a negative effect on residents and merchants alike. Unless Whole Foods addresses the parking issue, we must stop them from obtaining a liquor license.

Name withheld by request


Mystery Disappearance


I was sad to see in the June Noe Valley Voice that the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore has closed. I visited it twice on trips from England. A few weeks before my first visit I dreamed I was in a shop with shelves of Maigret paperbacks. Imagine my delight when I walked into the Mystery Bookstore and found—shelves of Maigret paperbacks. The store felt like a great Noe Valley institution, and it’s disappointing to think it won’t be there when I make my next visit.

Harry Harmer 
Lewes, East Sussex 



Now Going to the Castro


Regarding the July/August letter from Gwen Sanderson about “Cars vs. Pedestrians”: I live in outer Noe Valley and must drive to get my errands done (grocery shopping, banking, pharmacy, etc.). I now avoid, like the plague, 24th Street, because (a) no parking—some critical parking has been taken away with these “parklets”—and (b) pedestrians. There is an endless, almost rude stream of pedestrians who never—ever—allow cars to cross. They saunter across the intersections as if they are on a stroll and they are the only ones around. They have no respect for anyone else’s time. Sure, drivers need to be safe and careful—I am not arguing that.

The bottom line is this. I have taken my business to the Castro, where it is easy to park (way easier than Noe Valley), the pedestrians actually stay on the sidewalk to wait for the cars, and the parking enforcement folks are not out in force like they are in Noe Valley.

If the strategy is to have less cars in Noe Valley, which also means less money flowing into local businesses, you all have succeeded. I have friends all over the city and they have voiced the same concern and no longer shop or visit Noe Valley. They are spending their dollars in neighborhoods that are fair to everyone. I have to chuckle when people debate why storefronts are vacant on 24th Street. Maybe no one wants to say this, but people with cars are more likely the ones with higher disposable incomes and would be spending considerable dollars that are much needed to keep small independent stores open.

Jon Bouffard

Cars Are Not People


In regards to letter-writer Michael Laflamme’s comment that “Nothing frustrates city residents more than being cited for a blocked-sidewalk violation” [July/ August Voice], well actually, there is something that frustrates good city residents even more. And that is cars blocking the sidewalk!

No one I know wants to live in and walk in a neighborhood that resembles a parking lot. Cars and roads and parking already take up the bulk of all public spaces in cities, and these sidewalks need to be protected for the people use they are intended for. Pedestrians, kids, strollers, and people walking their dogs might be able to maneuver around a parked car, but they shouldn’t have to! Sidewalks are for people, whether they are narrow sidewalks or wide ones like on Dolores Street. Parking your car on any part of the sidewalk shows no respect for other users and the beauty of the street. It just says that you and your car are more important than the rest of us. I say thank goodness for DPT for enforcing the laws to keep cars completely off the sidewalk.

And Civics 101: Just because I as a homeowner need to take care of the sidewalk in front of my home for the public good, it doesn’t mean that I can do whatever I want with that sidewalk. I am opposed to Mr. Laflamme’s suggestion of redefining a sidewalk as four feet, so a wide sidewalk can be encroached on even more. We all know there are too many cars looking for very limited parking spaces, but such is life in the city. The answer is not to infringe on the last bits of space reserved for pedestrians and create blight in the neighborhood. If people really must park their vehicles wherever they go, perhaps they should consider moving to a suburb where they could have the liberty to park their extra cars (and campers and boats) in front of their homes, where sidewalks are probably nonexistent anyway.

Paul Svedersky 
14th Street


Slow Down, Officer


Today, Saturday, Aug. 13, at 11:20 a.m., a police officer with siren blaring sped down 24th Street at a speed in excess of 60 mph. There was a party atmosphere on the street. It was sunny and there were more than 100 people about, families with young children especially. At any moment as the officer sped down the street, children and moms could have been crossing or a car could have pulled out of a parking space or a hundred other scenarios, and a terrible accident could have occurred.

I do not believe that officer had to get where he was going that quickly, but if he did, 24th Street was a poor choice of travel. Many lives were put in danger needlessly as he/she raced down the street. I was very shaken by the incident.

No officer should ever drive down 24th Street in excess of 30 mph, especially on a weekend day when lots of people are about. I would hope that the next time an officer needs to get somewhere quickly he/she would use better judgment. We all want to be safe on our streets even while officers answer calls.

Paula Symonds


Read the Fine Print


I looked in Whole Foods Market today for blueberries. They were advertising a big sale in the store: “Two half-pint containers for $5.” Only problem was they weren’t half-pint containers. The containers were clearly marked as six ounces. (A half-pint is eight ounces.) I pointed it out to a store manager, who replied he thought everyone just referred to six ounces as a half-pint, but he did say he’d speak to the produce department about the problem. Meanwhile, containers were flying off the counter.

Lynn Thompson


Magical Photo


I loved the photo in the July/August issue of the lemonade stand [by Pamela Gerard]. I’m always happy to see Pamela’s work—she has a spot-on feel for the magical world of childhood.

Leslie Lingaas Woodward


Are Guest Rentals Legal?


Two items not addressed in your article about Noe Valley short-term rentals [“NVHOO: Taking the Guess  out of Guesthouses,” July/August 2011] are the legality of these accommodations and the impact these properties can have on long-term neighbors.

I would like to know if these properties are licensed and regulated as businesses by the city. Do they pay typical tourism taxes? Are they subject to laws, or do they operate in some “don’t ask, don’t tell” gray area?

More important would be a discussion of how visitors in town for a good time can negatively impact the lives of neighbors. For example, there is a single-family home that is a permanent short-term rental on 23rd Street. It features a hot tub which I can assure you is used enthusiastically at all hours of the day and night by visitors who don’t have to get up for work the next morning like the rest of us.

What recourse do those of us who live here have against the nuisances of such permanent hotels in our midst and absentee owners who collect income and may live elsewhere?

John Bartleby

Noe Valley


Editor’s Note: The San Francisco Municipal Code (Sections 41A.4 and 41A.5) states that “it shall be unlawful for any owner to offer an apartment unit for rent for tourist or transient use.” It also provides definitions of key terms.

An “apartment unit” is defined as a “room or rooms in any building, or portion thereof, which is designed, built, rented, leased, let, or hired out to be occupied, or which is occupied as the home or residence of four or more households living independently of each other in dwelling units as defined in the San Francisco Housing Code....”

(“Tourist or transient use” is considered the “use of an apartment unit for ­occupancy on less than a 30-day term of tenancy.”)

The law would seem to preclude short-term rental of a room in a house. However, Rachel Donovan of the Noe Vacation Home Owners Association Organization says the “regulations make vacation rentals illegal only in apartment buildings with four or more units.”

Still, she’s asking for clarification from the city. No matter what their status, the vacation rentals are subject to the city’s 14 percent hotel tax, plus a 1 to 1.5 percent “tourist improvement” tax passed in 2009.


This is a sad story.

I was walking on Sanchez Street near Cesar Chavez one morning in July when I saw a momma bird—a small bird, maybe a sparrow—feeding a baby bird on the sidewalk. As I stopped to watch, the baby bird opened its mouth and momma bird put something in, then hopped away. Baby hopped after her—so sweet. Then momma flew across the street. Baby hopped after her into the middle of the street. I thought I should go and shoo baby back under a nearby car, but decided to just leave it alone. Probably it would see the approaching cars and hop back. Not so! Poor baby bird was run over...such a shock, so sad and sudden.

I walked on—feeling terrible, certainly no guardian angel. Then I thought I should go back and pick it up, at least get it out of the street, so I did. Wrapped in newspaper, baby bird was laid to rest in the bottom of someone’s green compost bin. I could hear momma chirping as I walked away to buy my New York Times on 24th Street.

So I thought I would meditate on this on Billy Goat Hill and ponder if I was wrong not to interfere. What did it matter anyway, except perhaps to tell me to jump up the next time I saw danger.

On the hill, I went to the spot where we go to touch the tree that used to shade Mia, our recently deceased 14-year-old doggie. There was a man with two dogs, one of which was rolling around on her back enjoying a good scratch and the sun on her belly. When the dog got up, I could see she was an old dog, a pit bull, a brindle like Mia with a face of white hair from age. She came over to me and gave me some love. It touched me so. The man said the dog, Monkey, was 15 and had recovered from almost dying of kidney failure. She looked very good. It was so nice to meet her and the man and the other dog, Babe.

Little birds chirped as I walked down the hill.

So some bad—some good. That is life, eh?

Linda Ost 
28th Street


P.O. Box 460249

San Francisco, CA 94146

The Noe Valley Voice is an independent newspaper published monthly except in January and August. It is distributed free in Noe Valley and vicinity, on or before the first Friday of the month. Subscriptions are available at $30 per year ($25 for seniors) by writing to the above address.

The Voice welcomes your letters, photos, and stories, particularly on topics relating to Noe Valley. All items should include your name, address, and phone number, and may be edited for brevity or clarity. (Unsigned letters will not be considered for publication.) Unsolicited contributions will be returned only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

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