September 30, 2008

Signs of the Times

Have economic woes hit Noe Valley -- or is this just a normal trend this time of year? It seems we saw more SALE signs than usual on Church St this evening. Here's a few:

Sales aren't the only indicator. Want to buy a neon beer sign? For only $65 you can complete that basement rec room you've always wanted.

Deep Sushi has added a Happy Hour:

But a sure sign of a business in distress? Deep Sushi has also added a generic ATM.

How Did They Figure This Out....?

The fire and police call boxes seem like a throwback to another time, but we've always been comforted by them. After all, in an emergency, our cell phones aren't guaranteed to work. And then we came across this today:

29th & Sanchez

How did they figure this one is out of order? Did a house burn down because the box didn't work? Is everyone ok? Do we need to call 911 to tell them the box is broken?

Hiding in Plain Sight

4033 26th St has been an eyesore for years, so it's no surprise that there's caution tape across the stairway. It sold in January for $935k, and has been working through the Planning Department since March. On September 11, the neighbors were given 311 notification by mail and signs were sent to the project sponsor to post on the property.

Apparently, no one explained to the sponsor that signs need to be posted where people can read them.

In case you didn't get the mailer and still want to know what's going on, here's what permit application #200803177283 states:
(And because we're always amazed by estimates...."Cost: $450,000." Right.)

311 Notification expires on October 11. Contact Planning staffer Sophie Middlebrook at (415) 558-6377 with comments.

[SocketSite: There's Always One on Every Block]

Crime Beat

Information is from Mission and Ingleside District San Francisco Police Station newsletters.
September 26
Residential Burglary - 600 block of 29th St. Occurred between 9/22 & 9/25. Entry via unlocked rear bedroom door. Jewelry, computers, electronic gear and cash taken.

September 27
Residential Burglary - 300 block of Day St. Occurred between 9/24 & 9/25. Entry via unlock garage door. Bicycle taken.

September 28, 2008

St. Philip Festival 2008: Food, Fun & Free Beer

It was a bright sunny day Saturday at the 70th Annual St. Philip Festival. People of all ages gathered to eat, drink, play and hang on a velcro wall.

The Velcro Wall

September 27, 2008

Update: "High End Vietnamese Fusion"

The old barbershop at 1298 Church St is slowly transforming into "high end Vietnamese fusion." Word on the street is that its owned by the same people as Regent Thai, a Noe Valley hot spot, so it should prove exciting. We spoke to the contractor today and he said it should be open "by the end of the year." Possible, but the inside is still bare studs and no one has pulled an electrical permit. Neither have the owners filed for an alcohol permit (the Conditional Use permit as a full-service restaurant was approved March 13, 2008).

There has been considerable progress, though. The exterior is nearly buttoned up (complete with paint swatches), and the interior framing looks completed. The plumbing also looks complete. Also, last week they took a delivery of sheetrock (presumably for the upstairs unit).

[Previously on Eater]

Scenes from the Noe Valley Mural Inauguration

"It's great to see a community come together for art!" That's how the festivities kicked off today. The gathering at the Mural Inauguration Party was one part Burning Man, one part Academy of Art and one part Mission Hipster. (The Noe Valley stroller set scurried past on 24th St wondering what was invading their neighborhood.) Here's a collection of pictures from the event.
Invoking the spirits with a conch.

Mark Growden playing ... bicycle handlebars.


Missed the puppets. Damnit!

Also of note: Gavin Newsom declared today Mona Caron Day in San Francisco.

[Mona Caron]
[NVSF: Farmer's Market Murals Inauguration Party]

September 26, 2008

Fun with Video: I Spy

You'll have to follow the link to this Guide to Noe Valley, as there's no code to embed it here. Let's play I Spy - how many errors can you find? Our favorite bit? Describing Noe as "a nice sunny spot" while dressed for a gray winter day.

Crime Beat

Information is from Mission and Ingleside District San Francisco Police Station newsletters.
September 15
Burglary, Safe4100 block of 24th St. The suspect entered a rear window of the business btwn. 2100-0800hrs , took a CD player, several compact discs, and $3,000 from a safe. No arrests have been made at this time.

September 23
Robbery, Attempted with Force, Area of Jersey St and Noe St- Suspect approached a victim and demanded her purse. The victim began to yell as the suspect grabbed her purse and a struggle caused her to fall. Neighbors called police as suspect fled in a vehicle. No arrests were made at this time.

Free Smart Car with Purchase of TIC

That's right! The newly-renovated middle TIC of the old flop house on Church St is offering a free Smart car with purchase of the unit. The top unit (1282) comes with a great roof deck; the bottom unit (1278) gets the yard all to itself. The middle unit (1280 Church St) gets neither, so the seller has added the Smart car as an incentive.

It's good they chose a small car - 1280 can't use the garage either.

Update (9/27): Chip wrote: "I thought at least the bottom unit was in contract, but I'm not so sure now."

Here's a shot of the moving van for the lower unit today. Definitely moving in.

[1278-1282 Church St]

The Church St Apothecary to Reopen

As reported in the Noe Valley Voice and summarized here, The Church St Apothecary closed last month because of a name dispute with the CA Board of Pharmacy. But yesterday news came of a change in plans. The Poop interviewed Owner Kati Kim who loves the neighborhood so much she's decided to change the name and reopen:
I was gonna sell it. And I got nearly a dozen people interested in purchasing! Then the rec center on 30th and Day re-opened and so many families came out to celebrate and enjoy the new park. And I was reminded why I chose the location in the first place. Plus, we have such a great client base already. And our neighbors really like supporting small businesses. And running the business in the neighborhood is a great source of joy.
As to when it will open? "Kim hopes to re-open soon under a new name and with a bigger focus on clothes for kids and adults."

[The Poop]
[The Noe Valley Voice]
[NVV: We Read It So You Don't Have To]
[Upper Noe Valley Rec Center ... Finally!]
[Reader Inquiry: Upper Noe Rec Sandbox is Closed?]

September 25, 2008

NV Natural Foods --> Cary Lane SF

Noe Valley Natural Foods opened in December of 2006 at 3813 24th St @ Church, and then abruptly closed late this spring. Now there is logo paper covering the windows, and a website has been activated (sort of).

So far, all we know is from the logo:

Cary Lane SF: Men's & Women's Apparel

Stay Tuned.

Update (9/26): Here's what owner Cary LaScala has to say:
We are under construction right now, laying down bamboo flooring this weekend, then fitting rooms, then painting, etc. We are going to carry both Men's and Women's designer clothes, shoes, and accessories at a discount. I want to also include Children's items as Noe Valley is such a baby booming market. We get samples and random items from designer brands and retail department stores from around the country. I am expecting to open tentatively at the end of October, early November.

Fun with Flickr

Here are some fun Flickr photos of Noe Valley posted in the last couple years. Click the photo to visit the Flickr user's page. Be sure to tag your photos "Noe Valley" if you'd like them added.

September 24, 2008

This Weekend in Noe Valley

This Saturday is busier than usual around Noe Valley. There's the regular Farmer's Market, followed by the Mural Inauguration Party (2-5pm).

On the fund-raising front is the 70th annual St Philip Festival to benefit the St. Philip school (10am-6pm, Saturday & Sunday).

And if that's not enough, supposedly there's a museum opening in Golden Gate Park.

September 23, 2008

Dumping: Why Here?

What is it about the corner of Noe and 26th that attracts so much trash? Here's a picture of an old TV and a car battery, as well as old paint stains from a previous dumping. The trash can on the left is usually overflowing, and the shelter glass is broken on a regular basis. Can't place all the blame on the James Lick kids waiting for a bus as they probably don't carry a car battery to school.

The City of San Francisco has made it easy to get rid of this stuff, and most items cost nothing to dispose of. But since the people leaving junk on corners probably aren't reading this, here's how you can get it cleaned up: Dial 311 and report illegal dumping. Extra credit if you can provide a license plate of the offender.

[SF Recycling]
[SF 311 - 24x7 Customer Service Center]

The NVMPA Needs Your Help Beautifying the Holidays

The Noe Valley Merchants & Professional Association is seeking volunteers captains to help set up all the holiday lights and decorations along 24th St:
...we need more than the 4 people currently involved. We have created tools in order to easily approach the stores around you and help organize the street into a beautiful holiday affair! There are many more reasons to become a block captain this year, including being the first to know about things!
We don't know what things you can know, but hopefully you can find out whether the NVMPA will use pretty LEDs this year.

What: 2008 Holiday Lighting Block Captain Mixer
When: Tonight, 9/23 @ 6:30pm
Where: Hill & Co, 24th/Sanchez

[Noe Valley Merchants & Professional Association]

New Digs for Noe Bagel?

The owners of 3933 24th St filed a permit application in July to increase the size of the building. Application #200807116509 describes the project as:
Vertical and horizontal addition to existing building. Add 1 additional unit, 2 offices. Reconfigure and remodel all [existing] units. Top units to include 2 floors, 2 bedrooms, study, 2 full bath, 1 half bath. Lower unit: 1 bedroom, 1 bath. 1 office 2nd fl. Gr floor 1 office, 1 retail space.
Status: Awaiting Conditonal Use (and presumably a Discretionary Review at the Planning Commission).

We should note that this block has had its share of drama. There's the 5-Year Blight Formerly Known as Real Foods, and developers also met resistance just a few doors down.

Street Art: Good Morning

September 22, 2008

Crime Beat

We will regularly report crimes in Noe Valley. Information is from Mission and Ingleside District Station newsletters.
September 15
1300 block of Noe St. Attempted Residential Burglary.
Occurred between 9/14 & 9/15. Attempted forced entry via front door. No loss reported.
Assuming it's not a duplicate report, this makes two on the same block in a week.

Dirtier Streets, Confusion to Ensue

Click through to PDF on sfgov.orgClick for larger PDF on

Starting this week, the Department of Public Works will save some money by cleaning the streets every other week instead of every week in certain neighborhoods (including Noe Valley). If you live on one of the streets outlined in blue or yellow above, you can expect confusion about which day you risk a parking ticket (it's the 2nd and 4th week of each month). No change for the streets in red.

The City's grimier neighborhoods will continue to get regular scrubbings. As they get cleaner and we get dirtier, the City will have a more uniform sparkle. Or something like that.

Update (Sep 22): Street signs are being altered as of now.

[Mechanical Sweeping "Improvements"]

Dwelling Unit Mergers

This isn't specific to Noe Valley, but because of the type of construction (and investment) in District 5C this comes up regularly. Regarding unit mergers, a commenter asked: "Was the house originally built as a single family dwelling, and if so, why would it matter if they owner wanted to 'merge' it back?"

This question gets at the heart of why we have planning codes. On the one side there are people who say "you should be able to do what ever you want with the property you own." On the other: "I don't like what those people are doing with their property." We can probably all agree that some oversight is a good thing, but this particular issue strikes a nerve with a lot of people because it provides/restricts access to housing.

In 2005, the Planning Commission took the following stance:
Housing in San Francisco is a valuable resource that requires protection;

and The Planning Commission supports the conservation of existing housing and although certain special circumstances may arise in which the removal of a dwelling unit may be necessary to further the Objectives and Policies of the General Plan, the Commission maintains a strong objective to mitigate the loss of relatively affordable market rate housing. [PDF]
In the same Resolution (adopted June 15, 2006), the Planning Commission set forth requirements for unit-mergers. Most significant is "that Discretionary Review is required for all building permit application that would result in the removal of a legal dwelling unit through merger with another unit or its complete elimination."

There are five major criteria that planning staff consider before making recommendations to the Commission:
  1. Does it eliminate only owner-occupied housing?
  2. Is the merger intended for owner occupancy?
  3. Does the merger bring the building in line with prevailing density in the area?
  4. Does the merger bring the building closer into conformance with prescribed zoning?
  5. Does the merger correct functional deficiencies that could not be corrected with interior modifications?
If four or five of the requirements are met, the Planning Department can approve the plan. If not, a hearing before the Planning Commission is scheduled and the neighborhood is notified. The Commission reserves the right to approve or disapprove regardless the recommendation from staff. If disapproved, the applicant can file an appeal.

Notice that there's nothing in the requirements about historical use - the Commission doesn't care if it was a single-family residence (SFR) 100 years ago.

All this is in flux, and there is an updated policy in the works. The hearing on this has been continued (again) and is now scheduled for October 23rd.

[Dwelling Unit Merger Policy]
[Dwelling Unit Merger Policy - Motion 17264 PDF]

September 21, 2008

Noe Valley Cafe For Sale ... Which One?

The listing reads: "Charming Cafe In Noe Valley: approximately 1,300 Square Feet (1,000 Ground Floor, 300 Basement); Loyal Customer Base; Class 1 And Class 2 Hoods; Attractive Lease And Term; Outdoor Seating; Beautiful Corner Location."

So which cafe is it? The "corner location" and "outdoor seating" narrows it to Cafe Ponte, Chloe's Cafe, or Toast (Church St). That is... assuming Noe Valley is District 5C (not any of the other interpretations we've posted about). And the hood? Class 1: grease laden air; class 2: vapor.

Given that, our money is on Chloe's. But who knows? Send us your guesses or leave a comment.

This Week at the Planning Commission

A weekly look at Noe Valley projects in front of the Planning Commission. Information is provided by the Planning Commission, and taken from its published agenda. All hearings begin at 1:30pm, Room 400 in City Hall.

September 25, 2008

437 HOFFMAN AVENUE - east side between 24th and 25th Streets, Lots 024, in Assessor’s Block 6503 - Mandatory Discretionary Review, pursuant to Planning Code Section 317, of Building Permit Application No. 2008.06.27.5494 proposing the dwelling unit merger from two dwelling units into one single-family home. The property is located within a RH-2 (Residential House, Two-Family) District and a 40-X Height and Bulk District.

Preliminary Recommendation: Take Discretionary Review and disapprove.