December 31, 2010

Noe Valley 2010: Year in Review

2010 was a busy year in our quiet village. Lots of community meetings, retail change-ups, civic improvements and local activism. Here's a look at some highlights and themes from 2010.

More Restaurants

In January the planning commission lifted the restaurant ban in 24th St commercial district. Although we didn’t see that ruling turn into new permits in 2010, it did send a message that Noe is restaurant-friendly again. New additions food-wise this year included Patxi's and Little Chihuahua. Tataki South also opened for sushi on outer Church. Not a restaurant but happy news for foodies, Blue Bottle Coffee also debuted at Spin City.

More Green

Pocket Parks, Parklets and Plazas were big items this year. Not everyone liked the plaza idea, but the tea party fillibuster and ensuing kerfuffle did pave the way for 2 parklets and discussion of a possible town square.

Quieter Trains

The J-Church rail at 30th got an upgrade and neighbors rejoiced: “Just as I was thinking it, a neighbor nearby noted with happiness, 'Hey, it doesn’t make noise anymore.'”

Orange Wins

Noe resident Matt Cain helped take the Giants to a World Series victory. And Scott Weiner – whose campaign color was orange – replaced Bevan Dufty as disctrict 8 Supervisor. Noe Valley was also voted # 1 for Halloween trick-or-treating, and the orange-themed Harvest Fest was a hit.

Crime Files

Sadly, it was also a busy year for crime in Noe including vehicle thefts, stolen iPhones, a homicide, identity scavengers, and a Wells Fargo bank robbery (which may explain the armed guard in front of BofA these days).

Storefront Changes

We lost some retail stores this year on and near 24th St. including Cooks Boulevard, Lisa Violetto, Urban Cellars, and Apple Blossom (and the genie went back into the bottle). We also lost useful retail space to Circle Bank, Alain Pinel and the soon-to-open Noe Valley Smiles. New shops in the area include: When Modern Was (via Church), Sway in the old Streetlight Records space, Heliotrope, Design Quarter, Re:Construction Salon, and Joseph Andrade Floral in the old Artsake space.

Lively Debates

Finally, it was a year of lively debates. We all got exercised about lots of things besides plazas. Favorite topics were passive aggressive parking, shuttle buses, dogs, pedestrians, strollers, a new mayor, and local color.

Here's to more fun in 2011. Happy New Year, Noe Valley!


Anonymous said...

Nice wrap up. There were a lot more activities in Noe Valley too, thanks to the merchants and NVCBD, including Easter Egg hunt, Summer Solstice Event, & 24 days on 24th Street in December. Also St. Philips celebrated 100 years. B of A was also robbed a couple weeks after Wells Fargo, explaining their guard since November.

Ace said...

Noe residents should consider what's more detrimental to our neighborhood over the long haul...shuttered storefronts or another bank, real-estate agent, dentist, etc...

Shuttered storefronts are temporary and cyclical...but the damage to our neighborhood if it's taken over by banks & real-estate agents (and other "professionals") is irreversible! Instead of whining about having to drive an extra block because of a parklet we should be up in arms at the negative impact these "boutique" financial institutions will leave behind...a cold, sterile and characterless community.

We, albeit foolishly, stopped restaurants for years (decades?) We can surely stop this latest over-saturation and abuse within our neighborhood!

noelover said...

Well said, Ace. I couldn't agree more! Our once-charming neighborhood is fast becoming bland and boring. Why would anyone want to shop here now, with the dwindling retail base? And why does a children's orthodontist need to be on 24th Street? This is a destination. It's not as though they're going to get street traffic. Although we're thankful for Paxti's, Modern Was and a few others, the newly opened businesses are mostly a major disappointment, cutting the heart out of Noe. And Sue Bowie's sell-out (Alain Pinel) is at the top of the list of 24th St. disasters.

Tom said...

Can Ace & Noelover please explain or outline exactly where they would like to see these professional type businesses go? There are a couple tax & law offices on 24th, too - the horror!

I think it is unwise and impossible to control the dynamics of local economics by banning certain business types. Instead, there should be incentives through the local association to encourage desired businesses.

Does anyone know of a successful neighborhood program that was set up to encourage the establishment of new businesses?

noelover said...

Tom, as far as I know, the law offices are on the 2nd floor and the tax offices are not in the retail area of 24th St. That makes a big difference. No one is disputing their right to exist, and to my knowledge, no one wants to "ban" or exclude them from Noe. They're necessary and part of a vibrant community. It's just unfortunate that realtors and financial institutions have hi-jacked the retail locations. I think Ace was spot-on when he or she said we have to consider the effect on the neighborhood over the long haul. Are we going to wake up one day and find our retail shops have evaporated? Do we want to evolve into a neighborhood where we can choose from among over a dozen realtors but will have to go elsewhere to actually buy something we need? Will folks from other neighborhoods no longer come here unless they need a realtor? I love our neighborhood and hate to have to get in the car and drive elsewhere when I need to shop. I would rather keep my money here, and I do support the wonderful shops we're lucky to still have, but it's getting precious hard to find what I need in Noe Valley anymore. Sad.

Tom said...

OK, that's all fine but when you and Ace rail against banks and realtors it suggests you want to ban new ones from opening. But without an outright ban how do you suggest changing the course of the neighborhood. I hear a lot of complaints but no solutions.

And what exactly do you have to leave the neighborhood to shop for? What type of retail store do people feel the neighborhood is missing? Personally, I think a general store is needed, kind of like Cliff's Variety but minus a hardware & tool overlap with Tuggey's. Seems like Walgreens fills this role somewhat, but their selection of office & home items is limited.

Anonymous said...

The zoning restrictions put in place in the 1970's and 1980's stopped expansion of business use to 2nd floor commercial in the 24th Street Noe Valley Commercial District.
The rationale was to keep the district mixed use, residential + commercial. The unintended consequences is that dentists and title companies that might otherwise be happy in a 2nd floor office space above a commercial tenant have no choice except to look for ground floor retail.
This economy has been hard on retail businesses who seem to come and go more frequently than realtors and dentists who seem to survive no matter what. So, it is not surprising that landlords are opting to rent to the tenant that is most likely to stay if they have a choice.
The good news is that these business so far seem to be great supporters of events and promotions for the retail community like the 24 days. I'm sure those events have helped the mom/pop retailers. Exception...Alain Pinel who seems to be MIA on everything so far.

Ace said...

Make no mistake... I would support the absolute ban of additional banks, real-estate and other CURB SIDE "professional" service businesses on 24th Street in Noe Valley! Where should they go? There are countless places for them...and you know that's NOT the problem. We have (at last count) 6 banks & 7 real-estate agencies on 4 blocks of 24th Street (and I'm sure I'm overlooking some).

What will kill (IS killing) our neighborhood is the rapid and completely unchecked proliferation of these types of businesses on our main pedestrian/SHOPPING corridor. People may come to Noe Valley to shop for a house once or twice in their lifetimes...and that's just great! But residents here chose this neighborhood for its charm, among other things... and though 0.01% of us may enjoy walking to our real-estate office so we can sell more houses the other 99.99% of us get NOTHING from their over-presence along our street.

It may not be easy but it IS the role of local government and commercial associations to fight to preserve communities and their character...

I wasn't here (at least politically) when we banned restaurants so I have no idea how it's done..but tell me how to block these professional services and the next dozen nail salons ;-) and I'll sign right up!!

murphstahoe said...

You know, I might think this argument might have some merit if there were retail establishments fighting tooth and nail to fill the empty storefronts on 24th. But they aren't. Cook's Boulevard has been empty for how long?

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of complainers and whiners.

Most of the comments, esp by noelover and ace are fear based and narrow minded. Who are you to tell a children's orthodontist they don't belong on 24th. WTF?

You may not like the realtors or the banks, but they have a right to lease a space and create a business. Those businesses bring in car and foot traffic. People who buy houses in Noe have to eventually shop and spend money in Noe.

You sound like some of the worst nimby's of Noe. If you don't like the empty storefronts, then create a business yourself and lease a store and go make some money.

Otherwise, calm down. The sky is not falling.

Tom said...

This is a bigger issue for local retail scene than more banks and nail salons: