Noe Valley Voice September 2012

And Now For The Rumors Behind The News

Whole Lotta Parking Going On

By Mazook

NO PARKING IN NOE is the rap around town, but in my experience it’s just not true. Oft I drive the Mazookmobile into Downtown Noe Valley, and it usually takes only a circle of a block or two before I find something.

My fail-safe is the Walgreen’s parking lot on Castro, where I can park free for one hour. That is a bargain, friend. And I can thank the Friends of Noe Valley and the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association (NVMPA) for that because when Walgreen’s took over that space in 1998, the drugstore agreed to support local residents and merchants by allowing shoppers to go anywhere they wanted, as long as they were back in an hour.

When NVMPA President Bob Roddick learned over the summer that Muni was planning to extend the inbound 24-Divisadero bus stop on Castro at 24th Street by 40 feet and thereby eliminate three (two diagonal and one parallel) parking spots on Castro, he initiated a parking petition to the SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency), protesting the planned extension of the stop (from 90 to 130 feet) and saying the merchants needed more parking rather than less. He sent it out to his and other neighborhood groups on Aug. 1.

The petition proposed another idea too, such as: Muni could change the bus zones on 24th near Noe Street “to pole or bar stops, [which could add] at least five to seven public metered parking spaces for the community.” Also, it requested (again) that the MTA allow diagonal parking along the east side of Castro between 25th and Clipper streets, to “enhance the parking opportunities for the entire neighborhood, and especially for the teachers and staff at James Lick Middle School.”

By Aug. 17, Roddick was able to report to the association membership, “I have wonderful news.” He had been advised by the SFMTA that it was withdrawing its plans to extend the inbound bus zone on Castro.

He also learned that the MTA is looking to make the outbound 24-Divisadero stop a bulbout, which would widen the entire sidewalk on the west side of Castro Street.

In his argument pro parking, Roddick points out that the Noe Valley Ministry’s 24th Street parking lot near Vicksburg Street is likely to vanish in the near future. It will either be a town square or a commercial space with apartments above, “which will eliminate almost 30 public parking spaces.”

The final count on the petition, which was tabulated by Roddick and presented at the NVMPA meeting on Aug. 29, was 816 signatures.

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JAM NEAR TOAST: Parking at Whole Foods became a big problem for WF shoppers, as well as 24th Street drivers, in August. Beginning Aug. 7, the parking lot was resurfaced and upgraded for disabled access; a new parking stall was added; and the lines were repainted, creating better defined pedestrian walkways.

WF warned their customers of the impending project and posted public notices on 24th Street and online. They even made arrangements to offer their customers valet parking at the Ministry/Noe Valley Farmers’ Market parking lot a block away.

For two weeks (on weekdays), the Whole Foods lot had only 12 spaces available, which resulted in some traffic jams in front of the market, even with extra parking lot attendants actively engaged in directing traffic. By the way, all of WF’s parking is managed independently by a Novato-based valet service, Certified Parking Attendants (CPA).

“Everything went pretty smoothly during the construction,” said CPA Operations Manager Corey Coburn, “and all the drivers were very cooperative.” Coburn said he and the WF leadership team were quite surprised that very few customers took advantage of the free valet parking, “but on the last day of the construction, we had almost 25 cars at the Farmers’ Market lot.”

During the Downtown Noe Valley rush hour (5 to 7 p.m.), when I was driving the Mazookmobile up or down 24th, I would make a quick turn on either Elizabeth or Jersey to detour away from the traffic snarls. I’m sure the residents of those blocks loved that.

The WF leadership teams may well want to consider offering parking for its patrons at the Farmers’ Market lot during the upcoming holiday season, which starts with the wild and crazy week before Halloween and finally ends Jan. 1, 2013.

There is a great music video you might enjoy called “Whole Foods Parking Lot” at the following url:

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PLEDGE-A-RAMA: Let’s move on down to the Farmers’ Market lot, which the group Residents for Noe Valley Town Square (RNVTS) is trying hard to save. According to Todd David, who is spearheading the fundraising efforts with Chris Keene, RNVTS has received pledges exceeding $410,000 and has set its sights on reaching $500,000 by November and $1 million by the end of the year.

“We think that if those efforts are successful, then we will have enough pledged as ‘earnest money’ to move forward with the project,” David declares.

He says he is very encouraged. “Gee, we started this whole campaign in the beginning of May, and raised almost a half a million dollars from hundreds of Noe Valley residents who want to see this happen.”

You might be interested to know that according to David, there have been several recent pledges by Noe Valley merchants and professionals of $2,400 each. Donors include the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market board of directors, lawyer Bob Roddick, and realtor B.J. Droubi, as well as soon-to-open DAVIDsTEA. The tea emporium earmarked its $2,400 for the RNVTS to use to pay for posters, pins, and badges. Longtime residents Bill and Carol Yenne, who owns Small Frys, made their own $1,200 challenge.

In other challenge grants, four pledges of $12,000 each were made by Josh and Katy Mogal (Eco+Historical Homes), Rodrigo Santos (San Francisco Community College trustee), the Russell-Shapiro Family (owners of Hayes Valley standouts Absinthe Restaurant and The Boxing Room), and a friendly neighbor who chooses to remain anonymous. You might also recall a five-figure pledge by First Republic Bank, which is looking to open a branch in Noe Valley.

Patxi’s Pizza has challenged the neighborhood to match a $12,000 pledge (and is keeping the option to double that number to $24,000). And at the end of August, Patxi’s was joined on the $24,000 challenge list by the Real Management Company family, Joel and Janet Panzer and J.J. and Michelle Panzer. As most of you know, Joel and Janet Panzer moved to Noe Valley in 1983 and opened their real estate company on Castro just above 24th Street.

David says, “People are starting to take us seriously,” and that the group will be looking into applying for a grant from the state of California for Prop. 84 funds, which were created by the voters especially for “urban greening.”

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MILLING ABOUT: Welcome to Mill, which opened its doors on the corner of 24th and Chattanooga on Aug. 23. “We just opened the doors at 11 a.m. that morning,” says the store’s manager Michele Janezic, “and we are really happy to get the store open. It is very exciting.”

The store features primarily women’s clothing and is, according to Janezic, the female counterpart to the very successful Eureka Valley store Unionmade, which was opened over three years ago by Todd Barket and Carl Chiara.

Janezic, who lives in Diamond Heights (and who also has her designs at Dish in Hayes Valley and McMullen in Oakland), says the Unionmade store had many women shoppers going “for the tomboy look. Many were asking for women’s sizes, which were not carried by the store, so Todd and Carl decided to open a sister store in their sister valley, which we all think is a great neighborhood, and very close to our brother store, and we have seen many customers who were referred to us by our Unionmade store.”

Mill carries womenswear labels such as Gitman Sisters, Raleigh Denim, Saint James, Janezic’s own eponymous brand, Cinq jewelry, and perfumes and balms by Julie Elliot’s apothecary brand In Fiore. There is also a line of Japanese homewares, which includes porcelain dishes, bowls, mugs, linens, and teapots.

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SPEAKING OF TEAPOTS, mark your calendars for Sept. 22. That’s the day DAVIDsTEA will hold its grand opening in Ladybug Ladybug’s former spot on 24th Street directly across from the Farmers’ Market lot. The staff will serve free cups of tea all day. Owner David Segal, who hopes to appear at the event, started his first tea store in Toronto in 2008 and has since opened 70 more in Canada, two in New York last year, one in Burlingame (next month), and now two in San Francisco (the first store in SF opened at the end of August on Polk Street at Broadway).

Segal, 31, will soon set up his U.S. headquarters in Boston. He says he will be opening tea stores nationwide, so he currently has a very heavy travel schedule. “September is very very tight for me!”

With 150 blends of tea to choose from in the Noe Valley store, it could be a long afternoon of tea-tasting. I am going exotic and sipping samples of “Movie Night,” which is popcorn green tea sweetened with maple and apple; “Read My Lips,” which is Chinese black tea with candy red lips mixed with peppermint and dark chocolate; and “Root Beer Float,” which is a blend of black tea, vanilla, cinnamon, and white chocolate. Oooo-long.

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ITEMS GALORE: After a three-and-a-half-year renovation, Bethany United Methodist Church at Clipper and Sanchez Streets joyfully welcomed back its congregation for Sunday morning worship on Aug. 26. The church invites all neighbors and friends to an open house on Sept. 15, from noon to 4 p.m., where there will be music, refreshments, and tours of the building. Be sure to check out the beautiful stained glass in the sanctuary, which was originally built in 1908.

Twenty-fourth Street appeared in the “Readers’ Favorites” section of AAA’s September-October Via magazine as one of the West Coast’s best “streets for window-shopping.” Wow. “In the four blocks of the city’s Noe Valley neighborhood, there’s a chocolatier that sells decorative tins, a stationery store, an art glass shop, clothing boutiques, a cozy bookstore, décor shops, bistros, and coffeehouses,” wrote Patricia Corrigan, who later went on to extol the virtues of the Ark toy store.

Everyone knows that Joe’s 24th Street Cafe, on the corner of 24th and Vicksburg, will soon close and owner Joe Eadeh will soon semi-retire. His application to transfer the cafe’s beer and wine license was posted last month, and Eadeh says the purchase and sale is just waiting for final ABC approval. “I have been very busy since the ABC notice went up, and the new owner will have a new concept for the restaurant space,” says Eadeh. After 24 years on 24th Street, “I am really going to miss all my regulars,” he says. “But I will still be involved with Joe’s Café by the Bay in Burlingame [1669 Old Bayshore Blvd.], where I have a great menu.”

Greater Noe Valley, including Upper Noe Valley, Fairmount Heights, Glen Park, and Diamond Heights, took five spots in 7x7magazine’s story titled “The 2012 Big To-Do SF: 100 Things to Do Before You Die.” There was (3) “Go trail running in Glen Canyon Park,” (12) “Drive down one of the steepest streets in town (the 22nd Street hill from Church up to Vicksburg),” (13) “Nosh on some goodies at Noe Valley Bakery, then shop along 24th Street,” (19) “Go on a first date at the Seward Slides” (just west of Douglass), and (73) “See the year-end holiday decorations on houses and yards at the top of 23rd Street.” 

Speaking of Glen Canyon, it looks like there is now a video of the often-spotted Coyote of Glen Canyon. It is on YouTube—look for “Coyote in Glen Park, SF” by Inkarma

Congrats to Chattanooga Street resident Mary Jo McConahay, who received the 2012 Northern California Book Award for creative nonfiction for her 2011 book Maya Roads: One Woman’s Journey Among the People of the Rainforest. We wrote about McConahay in the July 2011 issue of the Voice.

Governor Jerry Brown surprised many people by visiting a sixth-grade class at Noe Valley’s James Lick Middle School on Aug. 22. Afterwards, he held a press conference outside the school and asked the public for support of his Prop. 30 on the November ballot. It would raise the sales tax by .25 percent and increase income tax for those earning $250,000 or more per year.

Best wishes to our SFPD 24th Street beat cop Lorraine Lombardo, who is recovering from an injury on the job. Mission Police Captain Robert Moser advises that he has assigned Officer Lou Barberini to the bike beat, and you probably have seen him already. By the way, Captain Moser says there have been “a lot of car thefts in Noe Valley and Upper Noe Valley, with the thieves looking for 1990s Hondas and Toyotas.” So keep an eye on your Camrys and Accords.

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VALE, DALE, AND YOLO: In researching next month’s Noe Valley History Test, the Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation, while certifying the answer to one particular question, came up with a very interesting tidbit.

A committee formed of Upper Noe Valley and Fairmount Heights residents in 1959 recounted an 1864 journey down the dirt roads of San Francisco going south from downtown San Francisco to Fairmount Heights. “You go out the country road or Mission Street, and then pass Park Street (24th Street), Yolo (25th Street), and Navy (26th Street)…. At New Market (Army, now Cesar Chavez) you would cross a wooden toll bridge that crossed Serpentine Creek and then proceed on the [to?] Vale (28th Street), Dale Street (29th Street), and Grove (30th), and end at Palmer Street (now Randall).”

Hmmmm, a toll bridge. That might solve the parking problem.

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T-T-T-THAT’S ALL, you all. Have a nice autumnal equinox (Sept. 22), and here’s lookin’ at you until we meet again.

P.S. I will leave you with my favorite video of the summer, which had something like 20 million views in five days: It’s on YouTube, of course, and features a daredevil driver zooming around the city. Go to “DC and Ken Block present Gymkhana FIVE: Ultimate Urban Playground; San  Francisco” or click on FLGKkx-4atpdT2kmNJFOOCdA&index=10&feature=plpp_video. Wow!