February 16, 2019

This Week in Noe Valley: History on Church St., Rare Device Closing and Other Rainy Day Happenings

The latest news from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Cat love via bbeforsunset

February 10, 2019

This Week in Noe Valley: Snow Daze, 27th St. Standoff and Our Beautiful Neighborhood

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[Photo: That's some gargoyle via juandelreal

NVV February 2019: We Read It So You Don't Have

The Noe Valley Voice is published ten times a year and has been a neighborhood fixture since 1977. Here are notable highlights from the latest issue. Links are to stories we've covered here on NVSF or other resources. Follow the NVV link at the bottom for full articles and all the ads.

February 2019

Front Page: A roundup of how to eat vegan in Noe Valley; a profile of local resident Steven Pressman who shines a light on untold Holocaust stories in film.

Letters: Memories from a neighbor reminiscing about 24th St in the 1970s.

Cost of Living in Noe Valley: The market appears to be cooling slightly - the 10 homes that sold in December averaged just $2.2 million. And yet: The most expensive house sold last year was a $6.6 million home on Duncan between Castro and Diamond.

Store Trek: Sultan's Kebab, 3915 24th St. at Sanchez

Features: Sadness: Local resident John Knox on Cesar Chavez found a barn owl that died when it ingested rat poison - he urges neighbors to please not use the toxic stuff. City okays permit for The Agency on 24th St. to operate a real estate business in a former retail space. Friends of Noe Valley Garden Tour will be on May 4 this year.

Rumors and Tidbits: The members-only boutique Doggy Style plans to open February 2019 and has garnered lots of press. The Real Food spot downtown is turning into 3 retail spaces rumored to be renting for $10,000 a month each. Lots of vacancies along 24th St for retail stores and not many takers (although lots of cannabis dispensaries have expressed interest according to realtors and building owners up and down the commercial corridor). Vive La Tarte is open in the old Bliss Bar space and serving jewel-like dishes and artisan coffee. The old La Panotiq space is slated to get a locally-owned Mediterranean restaurant soon. Noe's Cantina is open and serving Mexican food from 5-10 pm. Azalina is moving into the former Contigo space. The Noe Valley library is looking for space to house back issues of the print edition of the Noe Valley Voice.

[The Noe Valley Voice]

February 2, 2019

Doggy Style Gets Spanked By Planning Department For Bad Behavior

As soon as it was announced Doggy Style was ridiculed on social media ("It looks like a computer AI churned out the most San Francisco garbage it could come up with, and someone decided that was a a good business plan."). It was deemed so ridiculous that The Guardian and The Daily Mail got in on the fun. SF Gate was more kind with their profile.

Turns out, though, that owner (and the Noe Valley Merchants and Professional Association President) Rachel Swann and her partner neglected to get a conditional use permit for outdoor space they've already excavated and taken from the tenants of the building. The City is not happy:
Our records indicate that the subject property is currently authorized for One-Family Dwelling above a ground floor Retail Use. It has been reported that the above property is will be the site of a new business (DBA Doggy Style, Inc) with an anticipated opening date in February 2019. It is understood that the new business will be utilizing the rear yard as an Outdoor Activity Area without such authorization. Pursuant to Planning Code Section 728, a Conditional Use Authorization is required for the use of an Outdoor Activity Area in the Noe Valley Neighborhood Commercial Zoning District where the subject property is located.  
Furthermore, pursuant to Planning Code Section 728, one hundred (100) square feet of open space is required per unit if private open space, or one hundred thirty-three (133) square feet per unit if the area is common open space. It has been reported that access and use of the required residential open space 1 Planning Code Section 201 defines Outdoor Activity Area as a, “Commercial Use characteristic defined as an area associated with a legally established use, not including primary circulation space or any public street, located outside of a building or in a courtyard, which is provided for the use or convenience of patrons of a commercial establishment including, but not limited to, sitting, eating, drinking, dancing, and food-service activities.” is being encroached upon by the unpermitted Outdoor Activity Area for use by Doggy Style, Inc. A Variance approval is required to legalize the reduction of required residential open space. 
So what of it?
The Planning Department requires that you immediately proceed to abate the violation by ceasing the proposed operation of Doggy Style, Inc. until such time that additional information has been provided to the Planning Department and all appropriate permits and entitlements have been obtained. 
The full Notice of Enforcement is here [PDF].

This isn't the first time that Rachel Swann has operated in Noe Valley without appropriate permits. Just last month she received Conditional Use authorization for her business The Agency at 3848 24th St that she opened in 2017.

Is this the sort of person we want in charge of the NVMPA?

This Week in Noe Valley: Vive la Tarte Open, Lucca Closing and Firefly Still Delights

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[Photo: Beautiful house on the hill via marytheveryberry

December 31, 2018

This Year in Noe Valley: The Biggest Stories of 2018

2018 we hardly knew you. But boy did you flood the news headlines. Nationally this was the year of presidential lies (and felonies), tragic mass shootings, climate-change induced disasters, heartless immigration separations and epic Supreme Court battles. In California we saw impossibly sad firestorms. And in San Francisco, we saw history made with the first African-American woman mayor, a new transbay terminal that opened and then abruptly closed, plus outrage over a snarl of homelessness, a lack of new homes, and gentrification. In other words, this year was beyond exhausting.

Things in Noe Valley were a little less depressing but still a mirror of the world around us. Here were the biggest stories of 2018 in Noe Valley that preoccupied us, made us smile and that sometimes drove us crazy.

California Is Burning 
Climate change is real y’all. We mourned with our fellow Californians in August when the Carr fire broke out and we choked on smoke and cried more for the people of Paradise and surrounding areas in November. Here’s hoping this is not the new abnormal.

Endings, Beginnings and Coming Soon 
Lots and lots and lots of retail stores and restaurants closed this year in Noe Valley (and all of SF) and previously empty storefronts remained empty. Yes, there were new and welcome stores and restaurants in our little village this year (welcome Douglas, Seokyo, Sultan’s Kebab, Hi-Way Burger and Fry). But there were far more places that closed down or moved away (Podolls, Noe Valley Cyclery, Pete’s Cleaners, Hamlet, Mill, Contigo, Le Cupboard again… and the list goes on), and many more that vacated last year that are still empty (Pasta Gina, La Panotiq, Radio Shack, Fattoush…. and on and on). On a more upbeat note, Omnivore turned 10, Firefly turned 25 and the amazing Noe Valley Farmer’s Market turned 15. We’re also looking forward to the new Noe’s Cantina, a new Malaysian restaurant called Azalina and some new murals on 24th St. We are so lucky to have amazing local shops and restaurants – let’s keep it that way. #shoplocal

Housing Is (Still) Nuts 
It’s insanely expensive to live here, and maybe with good reason: If you own a house in SF, it’s earning an average of $60/hour – or $125K per year – with no effort on your part. These crazy prices led one landlord to ask $19,500 a month for a 4 bedroom house on 26th St. Meanwhile, historic homes are being illegally demolished around the city, and one Noe entrepreneur decided to rent out a van to people (like Google employees) who are desperate to live here. The average cost of a home in Noe Valley was $2.5 million this year. Which makes this next item even more ridiculous...

Real Foods Is Finally, Maybe, Going to Become … Something 
No, it’s not going to be housing. And it’s not going to become a Real Foods again either. 15 years on, the Real Foods building has new owners who are renovating the existing space and carving it into four small retail spaces of which we already have too many vacancies for on 24th St. #housingfail

People Behaving Badly 
Noe Valley had its share of people behaving badly in other ways too. There was a drive-by shooting that injured 2 people (no suspects found), a road-rage bat attack that sent a man to the hospital, kids who got sick on edibles at James Lick and had to go to the hospital, and a mother was attacked with her baby at 28th St and Sanchez and endured a skull fracture. Scary. We also learned that one of the priests accused of sexually abusing children worked at St. Paul Catholic Parish and School in Noe Valley from 2006 to 2011. Yikes. But then there are the self-inflicted wounds – like the way the head of the NVMPA Rachel Swann is bringing ridicule to 24th St across from Whole Foods by opening Doggy Style: “a boutique, with unique dog furnishings and accessories. Members of the private club can relax in the owner’s lounge, mingle with other doggy moms and dads, drink Bernie’s coffee, all while the dogs play outside...” Ugh.

So Much Greatness 
That said, there was still so much to be grateful for in 2018. Magnolias were gorgeous this year, we saw rainbows and double rainbows, a meteor shower, and the super blood moon. New ultra quiet MUNI trains started rolling on the J Church line and the colorful historic trains are back too. And our neighborhood is so photogenic. With all the craziness in the world, we’re so lucky to live here where we can fight for a better neighborhood with vibrant retail and restaurants, better housing options and all that good stuff.

Phew. We made it. Happy New Year, Noe Valley! Here's to a safe, fun and prosperous 2019.

This blog turned 10 this year too (whoa - how did that happen?!). Thanks for reading both here and on Twitter @NoeValleySF.

Yearning for simpler times? Here were the top stories of 20172016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

(Photos: Noe vista via travismonsonsf and sfgate, smoke skies via bats1234, Noe Cantina via liammayclam, over-the-top Hill Street house via Ruth Krishnan, Real Foods via NVSF, crime photo via KPIX, and steps via geoff.welch)

December 9, 2018

This Week in Noe Valley: New Malaysian Restaurant Coming Soon, Doggy Style and the Wishing Tree Returns

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[Photo: Home via jphamelin