Noe Valley Voice March 2013

And Now for the Rumors Behind the News

Noe News to Use, Muse, Peruse, Amuse

By Mazook

Visiting Dignitary: Mayor Edwin Lee paid a visit to Noe Valley on Feb. 11, to personally thank neighborhood leaders for their efforts to maintain a vibrant community benefit district along 24th Street. He said the CBD, as well as the flowering parklets along 24th Street, had become a model for other residential-commercial areas in the city.    Photo by Sally Smith


OPEN SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER: Neighborhood support for preserving the open space on 24th Street that is currently the Noe Valley Ministry parking lot is drawing quite a bit of attention, as the group Residents for Noe Valley Town Square (RNVTS) moves closer and closer to acquiring the $4 million needed to seal the deal. The source for much of the funding would be the city’s Open Space Fund. Another big share of the money is that pledged by local residents and merchants, thanks to three years of fundraising and lobbying by the RNVTS.

Very recently, the group was presented with a Certificate of Honor from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors sponsored by our supervisor, Scott Wiener. Present to accept the award were RNVTS activists Todd David, Peter Gabel, Leslie Crawford, Chris Keene, Kate Sherwood, and Nisha Pillai. (See photo in this month’s Letters.)

In his commendation, Wiener wrote, “This project is a great example of people in a neighborhood coming together to preserve open space and working with city government to accomplish that goal.”

Neighborhood pledges are now nearing $500,000. You might want to make a smallish pledge, say 20 or 50 bucks, to show continued support. The group has a table at the Farmers’ Market (24th and Vicksburg) every Saturday morning. You know the drill: pledge now, pay later.

The project also has caught the attention of other members of the Board of Supervisors. So says RNVTS spokesperson Todd David. “We have the support of David Chiu [District 3], who made the announcement at the Noe Valley Democratic Club get-together.” (More on that later.)

David says he has also been contacted by Supervisors Eric Mar and Jane Kim, “and they seem very excited by our efforts and the public/private partnership we have created, and want to discuss our efforts that could then be adapted to their districts.”

Next for the RNVTS will be a presentation to the city’s Rec and Park Commission, most likely at the commission’s April meeting. If all goes well there, the plan for the city to buy the parking lot—and the dream of a town square in the heart of Noe Valley—will look for a stamp of approval from the Board of Supervisors, possibly this spring.

Ah, the efficacy of an idea.

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DON’T DELETE THE COOKIES: By the way, the Noe Valley Ministry has taken over management of the parking lot, which is now—and has been for over a year—for private use only. Ministry spokesperson Chris Keene reports that the managerial change was made at the beginning of February. The lot had been run by a professional parking lot manager, APN, and public parking was allowed.

“That was not profitable for them,” says Keene, “and 20 of the 27 spots are rented, by about eight businesses who have spots for their customers and two handicap spots, but those two will remain available to the public.”

Missing from the lot will be the CookieTime truck. It looks like baker Marina Snetkova has sold it to Omi Yamamoto and is headed back to her former home, New York. Yamamoto, who lives in the Excelsior District and formerly worked for a business called Creative Pastries, is going out on her own. She says she’ll continue to make Snetkova’s cookie recipes, which rated almost five stars on Yelp, at various locations around the city and at Off the Grid’s mobile food gatherings.

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FOR ME AND MY GALA: Noe Valley Democratic Club members and prospective members had a grand time at a party hosted by NVDC President Hunter Stern in January.

Stern, a Noe Valleon since 1993, says the club received 60 RSVPs but “about a hundred attended, which was just great.” Stern says regulars paid the club’s $30 annual dues and several new members joined the group.

“And this was actually the first time we had ever done this kind of event, since the club was formed in 1995, so we will definitely do it again.”

Supe Wiener spoke to those assembled and shared the optimism he now has for the aforementioned Town Square project. And, of course, Supervisor Chiu gave his support for the square in his greetings.

There was an interesting twist during the gala, when apparently two registered Green Party members inquired about joining the club. Stern had to tell them sorry, membership and the right to vote on club endorsements were for registered Democrats only.

Seems there are hundreds of Democratic clubs in the city. That’s because those running for public office seek the clubs’ endorsements at election time. Very San Francisco. Very Balkanized. But I digress.

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MONDAY IN THE PARKLET WITH ED: Mayor Ed Lee came to Noe Valley on a sunny Monday in February, and at a press conference held in the parklet in front of Just for Fun, thanked the Noe Valley Association for its beautification efforts and praised the local residents, property owners, and merchants for creating a model neighborhood commercial district (CBD). Special thanks went to Debra Niemann (NVA director) and David Eiland (Just for Fun owner) and other local merchants for their willingness to endorse new ideas like parklets, which the mayor deemed a sterling success.

There was a large crowd of media people for the event, most of them eager to ask the mayor about other subjects.

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LIKE • COMMENT • SHARE: Folks from Facebook seem to be moving into our very social neighborhood. Last December, we reported the rumor wafting from that Mr. Facebook himself, Mark Zuckerberg, had bought “a pied-à-terre” in the neighborhood. The Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation confirmed the rumor was true: at least that a home was purchased “on the southeast border between Noe Valley and Liberty Heights.” Now we know it’s in the 3600 block of 21st Street. By the way, the public records for that sale indicate that a California LLC (limited liability company) actually holds title to the property and that the LLC is based in Palo Alto. It also appears that the purchase price was $3 mil (not $4 mil, as reported here in November).

Well, it appears that the pied-à-terre was just one property purchased by the people at Facebook. The NVBI has discovered that the social media giant also purchased a much larger house down the hill on 21st Street, in an area some people have nicknamed “Baja Noe.”

The purchase price extrapolated from the county transfer tax records translates into exactly $9,999,000, which may be the new record price for single-family dwellings in these parts, and definitely not “Baja” in terms of the price. By the way, the property was never listed for sale. Looks like an offer that couldn’t be refused.

The house has 14 rooms with over five thousand square feet, and sits on one of the larger lots in the neighborhood, a 9,800-square-foot lot (that’s .225 acres). Zuckerberg’s name is not on this house either, but rather a different LLC with a San Francisco address.

However, the NVBI has received reports of Zuckerberg sightings in Downtown Noe Valley, most recently on a Saturday morning at the Farmers’ Market.

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A SAUNA OF ONE’S OWN: News came from, a commercial real estate website, that Elisa’s Health Spa, a 24th Street institution, is for sale for “key money” of $48,000 and a lease for a monthly rent of $3,500. The spa, which offers hot tubs and massage, was first opened at 4028 24th back in 1975. At the time, building owner Elisa Ining opened a women’s clothing store too, in the spot where Easy Breezy Frozen Yogurt is now. (The clothing store didn’t last too long.) She also operated a bar next door, and called it the First Ining (where Bliss Bar is, uh, was).

According to Mike Onufer, the agent from Vandermade Commercial Leasing, there have been inquiries by four groups who are interested in the space, “and two of them are currently running health spas.” Onufer says Elisa, who is over 80,  is “not anxious to sell the business.” There is no health or other emergency, he says.

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ITEMS GALORE: Don’t hunt for eggs in Noe Valley this year. The Noe Valley Association has called off its annual egg hunt in Noe Courts park in light of the Easter holiday’s early date this year (March 31). “We have learned from years past that early Easter means bad weather,” says the association’s news release. The festival was normally held on the Saturday before Easter.

The Farmers’ Market has a very eclectic musical show every Saturday and in past weeks has featured a musician, Yacouba Diarra, from Burkina Faso, a West African country south of Mali. He plays a n’goni, a stringed instrument made from a large gourd.

Umpqua Bank is inviting neighbors to nominate Noe Valley non-profit organizations and projects to receive grants ranging from $500 to $2,000. According to DNV Umpqua Bank Manager Erick Tenorio, the bank has received over 20 applications for grants, with almost half of them coming from neighborhood groups. Looks like there will be nearly $10,000 awarded this spring. If you want to nominate a group or a cause, go visit Tenorio at 3938 24th St.

Opes Advisors, a mortgage broker and asset manager located on 24th Street directly across from Whole Foods, is expanding into the adjoining storefront. The space was most recently occupied by the Children’s Playhouse at Noe Valley, which closed last year. The renovations should be finished very soon. Opes spokesman John Ebner, who has lived on Vicksburg Street since 1997, opened the Noe Valley branch in late 2011 and already needs to expand. “Many of our clients live right here in the neighborhood, and we get a lot of referrals from the real estate firms in the neighborhood.”

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ALL HANDS ON TECH: Twenty-four teams entered this year’s Noe Valley Tech Search Party. The scavenger hunt started at the 25th Street entrance to James Lick Middle School, where the teams each got a map and the clues leading to 10 answers found in various locations in the neighborhood. Once the clues were found, the teams took pix and emailed them back to home base. The finish line was at the Valley Tavern, where the entrants hoisted beers and toasted the prize-winners.

Two teams with eight correct answers tied for first place: ADIDAS (All Day I Dream About Science) and Dewey Defeats Truman. Second place, with seven right, went to the First Republic Search Team; third to Indomitable Immersion Mamas, who got six correct.

Think you’re so smart? Clue number seven had three pics: Babe Ruth, Dave Cowens, and Buster Posey. Need a hint? Think uniform numbers: Babe Ruth wore #3, Dave Cowens wore #18, and Buster #28. That’s easy: 318 28th St.

Okay, how about clue three, “Where water dances and splendor is silken.” Dancing Water and Silken Splendor are coffee flavors at Philz Coffee at 4298 24th St.

One of the hardest clues had to be “Latitude 37º 45’ 13.4562—Longitude 122º 26’ 27.7656,” which if you got it right would have sent you to the top of the stairs where Diamond and 22nd streets meet.

The Tech Search Party reports that almost $12,000 was raised to support James Lick Middle and Alvarado and Marshall elementary schools.

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THAT’S ALL, FOLKS. I am looking forward to April Fool’s and plan to pop a quiz on you. The first question will be: Where in Noe Valley was Fat Ron’s Deli? If you have any tricky questions (and answers) about our neighborhood, email them to me care of

Ciao for now.