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.