October 3, 2010

Interview: Friends of Noe Valley Board of Directors Member Erin Rice

Newly-elected member of Friends of Noe Valley's Board of Directors Erin Rice offered us an interview and we jumped at the chance.

"Founded in 1971, Friends of Noe Valley actively supports neighborhood improvement projects and gives Noe Valley residents a strong collective voice in matters that affect our community." The group works with the NV Merchant's Association and is focused on revitalizing 24th street, improving public space, and organizing neighborhood events.

Tell us a bit about you.

I've lived in Noe Valley for two years, on Church and 23rd, and am the assistant manager of Firefly. I'm a recent graduate from SFSU in Urban Studies and Planning where I focused on sustainability, transportation and civic engagement.

Why did you run for the FoNV board? What do you hope to accomplish?

I'm in love with Noe Valley, but I feel that we are lacking a sense of community empowerment. Neighborhood associations are one of the best ways to inspire local participation and I think that if we are organized, we can quickly make large strides. The bottom line is that I'd like to get more Noe Valley residents interested and involved in the decision making process.

The biggest battle in Noe this year has been the use of public space. What's your take on the recent plaza/parklet controversy and the upcoming town square?

This was the biggest indicator for me that we're lacking reasonable public discourse in Noe Valley. We all definitely learned that any neighborhood changes need to be thoroughly discussed first, I just hope that now we'll have more civilized forums in which to do that. Parklets are a great compromise, and I look forward to them clearing up some of our pedestrian bottlenecks.

Using the parking lot for a town square is a fantastic idea that came out of this dialog, but an expensive one. If the Neighborhood Parks Council decides to allocate the $3 million or so needed to buy the land, I will be excited to continue the planning process for our new public space.

FoNV hasn't updated its website since 2006 and information about what FoNV does is hard to find. What do you hope FoNV tackles in the next 12-24 months and what should we expect to see the group get done?

It feels like FoNV is actually discouraging participation with that ancient website, and one of the new board members specifically mentioned their goal to revamp it (to much applause). That's a top priority, and it will be a good exercise in visioning and organization. I think membership outreach and much more regular meetings should be the next steps.

Longer term, I'd like to see more community events, coordination with the NVA and NVMPA to promote local shopping (maybe a local currency like Bernal Bucks?), a discussion around emergency preparedness and resiliency, and maybe someday a large community garden, if we can ever find any open land.

Corporate shuttle buses … good or bad for the neighborhood?

Mostly good. It's definitely better than all of those people driving down the peninsula, but it's a shame they can't rely on Caltrain. I welcome companies providing a convenient, cleaner form of transportation for their employees and our residents. Although I'm not ok with people driving here, parking, and then catching these buses, I believe that the new parking restrictions, brought on democratically by our citizens, have already discouraged that.

Bernie's, Martha's or Starbucks?


Anything else you want people to know?

I believe that every resident should have a voice and be involved in what happens in our neighborhood. With this in mind, consensus is ideal, but not always realistic. A simple majority is good enough for me and I'll be the first to suggest that we put it to a vote, no matter what the issue is. Otherwise, we'll never get anything done.

NVSF welcomes the opportunity to interview any and all community leaders. Please contact us if interested.


cr said...

Thanks for this feature! Keep 'em coming.

Anonymous said...

Who is the "us" and the "we"????

rocky's dad said...

As a longer time resident here than Erin, I welcome new voices and ideas in our community, for the most part.

But I strongly disagree with some of her comments. And yes, who is the "us" and "we"?

The Friends of Noe Vally often speak as a one sided voice on issues and prefers that all members agree. Dissent is not well liked.

And I don't like someone telling us we should "rely on Caltrain"..That may not work for many people and the right to drive to the peninsula should be respected. Please don't push the agenda "live just like me", cause that will piss a lot of us off. Respect many ways of living, please.

And as for the "majority vote" support. Ridiculous. If we ran our country that way, the majority would have voted to keep schools segregated, not allowed interracial marriage, stopped legal abortion...and even now would attempt to keep gay people second class citizens, just to name a few worst cases using the "majority vote" concept. That's why we have legislators and the court system in place.

I would suggest you re-think some of your statements. They offend me.

murphstahoe said...

rocky's dad -

Hyperbolize much?

Things in this country are decided by the majority - (let's pretend for a second we don't have a filibuster rule in the Senate, or Prop 13).

Your counter examples are situations where the majority pre-empted the Constitution. I think it's pretty safe to say that the Friends of Noe Valley won't be treading into the scary waters of violating the US Constitution.

I can just see it now - the Noe Valley Merchants will vote to have all red flowers in the planter boxes and rocky's dad will call this an oppression of the lovers of blue flowers.

And duh - "us" and "we" are the owners of this blog - the evil cabal that are trying to suppress things like colored flags.

Anonymous said...

Duh, Mr. Duh.....exactly who are the "owners" of this blog? You? Your friends? Is that why you are such a BIG contributor to all these threads. Its all about accountablility. Why don't "they" tell us who they are?

murphstahoe said...

Dude - It's just a blog.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you do, folks. Please don't have an opinion. You might offend Rocky and his dad. Don't attack his way of life and push your agenda on him. Instead, please have no opinion and no spine. Thanks for playing.


Chiming said...

I've been in Noe for over four years and have been appreciating the neighborhood more and more each day. People who say hi to each other while passing on the street, general "neighborly" feel. From all the sniping on each and every blog post, you would think people would be flipping each other off instead?!? Seriously, some people have to ease off the gas pedal a little. Life is too short.

Carol said...

My thanks and good wishes to Erin Rice for getting involved in the community. It is wonderful that someone like her, who both lives and works in Noe Valley, has stepped forward to be on the board.

paigeali said...

thanks for your service, Erin. I look forward to seeing how FoNV evolves.

rocky's dad - I think she said it's "too bad" you can't take CalTrain - she didn't say "you should take CalTrain, what's wrong with you?" I think that CalTrain doesn't service the peninsula well for some people's needs, and connects to the city at one remote-for-some spot. I believe that's a reason it's not better utilized, and I can agree with Erin that it's too bad more people can't take it.

Your comments reflect how easily offended you are - how silly on a blog comment section!