December 31, 2011

Noe Valley 2011: Year in Review

It was a big year, even in Noe Valley. While nobody occupied the Real Foods space, the Great Blizzard passed us by, and the economy in Noe defied gravity, plenty happened in our little village. Here's a look back at some of the top stories and themes from 2011:

The Town Square Lives
The year kicked off with proposed design concepts for a Town Square in the parking lot that is currently home to the Farmer's Market – and owned by the Noe Valley Ministry. The proposal is still alive but seems to have stalled until funding can be sorted out. Doesn't someone working at Twitter, Facebook or Zynga want a park with their name on it?

Parklets Are Here To Stay
While the town square is in limbo, parklets boomed in 2011. The one in front of Just for Fun was home to concerts, playdates and lots and lots of lights. It's been over a year since the parklets were installed and all signs point to them sticking around. 44 parklets are currently in the application process following the success of extant trials, and the City is moving ahead with other street greening projects such as the nearby Cesar Chavez project.

Noe Is A Foodie Haven
It was a banner year for Noe in food news. Our little hamlet is home to the best fried chicken, the best glazed donut, an amazing (and romantic) foodie bookstore and the best regional Italian food. We also had not one but two wine walks this year. There were a lot of restaurant changes afoot – Joe's is for sale, Fattoush was listed for sale (but the owner decided to stay), Amberjack Sushi turned into Kama Sushi, and the oldest sushi bar in San Francisco closed and is slated to open as Akai Saru soon. There's also a mystery restaurant for sale. For a brief moment this summer we even had an artisan beer mirage and a gluten-free bakery (oops!). Noe is desirable enough that a cookie truck is willing to battle for space in the Farmer's Market.

Fires Bring People Together
In September there was the devastating fire on 24th Street. Fortunately no one was hurt, but plenty of people were displaced and the community rallied to help. This touching and heartfelt letter from a survivor reminds us all how lucky we are to live here.

Crime Hits Noe Too
From plant thefts and curb painting scams, to the attempted carjacking, armed robberies, and horrifying rape – sadly we had them all. Keep your eyes open folks and watch out for your neighbors – we're all in this together.

Change Happens ...
There were plenty of retail changes all around Noe this year. Among the closures: Vivon, Joseph Andrade Floral, San Francisco Mystery Book Store, Cosmic Wizard, Cover to Cover, Bespoke (moved to Pac Heights) and Hot Headz. Openings included Two Birds, K9 Scrub Club, Cliché Noe, First American Title and Walkershaw among others. Coming soon in 2012 are Philz Coffee, Noe Valley Wine Merchants and a new sushi restaurant called Akai Saru. The Lux Condos on outer Church also came to life with the retail spots on the ground floor available soon. On balance it feels like as many places opened as closed in 2011.

... And So Do Lively Debates
The other things that got Noe talking in 2011 were the sidewalk parking crackdowns, the controversial (and not very attractive) AT&T UVerse boxes, shifting school lines, yummy mummies and the signs of the times.

Here's to a safe and prosperous 2012. Happy New Year, Noe Valley!

December 28, 2011

Closed: Hot Headz - And Other 24th St. Updates

The discount hair salon Hot Headz at 4027 24th Street (between Noe and Castro) has clipped it's inventory and closed up shop. The hair products are off the shelves, the hair stations are empty, and the trash bins out front are stuffed with seat cushions. No sign on the door announcing a change, but a call to the phone line reached only a generic answering machine message, not one for Hot Headz.

Other updates on 24th Street:

Mortgage company Opes Advisors is moving into the spot vacated by Joseph Andrade Floral and the sign is up. Next door, 3961A 24th St will soon become the Children's Playhouse at Noe Valley for little ones from birth to age 4. A schedule and fees are posted online, but most of the site is under construction. There's also been activity at Noe Valley Wine Merchants (formerly Urban Cellars) including a coming soon sign in the window, the beginnings what appears to be the tasting bar, and plenty of wine racks inside.

Finally, Akai Saru the sushi restaurant under construction at 3856 24th Street that's replacing Tamasei Sushi is advertising for sushi chef and server so an opening is likely soon there as well.

December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays 2011 in Noe Valley

'Tis the season the for Christmas songs and Santa. Via @gurpreetz on Twitter comes this video of a brass quintet playing last weekend in the parklet in front of Just for Fun. If you walk by tonight, you'll see a giant colorful menorah on display too. Happy Holidays Noe Valley!

December 15, 2011

Sketch And Video Of 24th St Rape Suspect

Person of interest in sexual assaults in the Mission District from San Francisco Police on Vimeo.

The SFPD released a sketch of the man suspected of raping at least two women along the 24th St corridor. The suspect is a black male in his mid 30’s, between 5’9” – 6’00” tall with a medium build last seen wearing a black hoodie and dark pants. According to at least one tweet there's a $25,000 reward for info leading to his arrest.

To contact the SFPD: "Witnesses or persons with information are asked to call the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or “Text-a-Tip” at TIP411 from their cell phones. Please include “SFPD’ in the beginning of the text message."

[SFPD: SFPD Seeks Publics Help in Identifying Sexual Assault Person Of Interest]
[SFGate: Hundreds gather to discuss Mission sexual assaults]
[NVSF: Community Meeting Regarding Recent Sexual Assaults]

December 13, 2011

Community Meeting Regarding Recent Sexual Assaults

The Fair Oaks Neighborhood Coalition has organized a community meeting. A reader alerted us to this Mission Local article:
Residents near 24th Street and Fair Oaks, where a violent sexual assault took place last week, have asked city and law enforcement officials to meet with the community on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at St. James Church to discuss the investigation.

...the goal of Wednesday’s meeting is threefold: to get an update on how the victims are doing, to set up a fund to help them financially, and to find out how the investigation is going.
We called the Mission Station, but no one was able to confirm SFPD will attend.

Our reader added a few more details:
The first victim, who is a personal friend of ours, is a Noe Valley resident who was walking to the SamTrans bus stop in order to get to work early at the airport to cover a co-worker's shift.

...In addition to these two assaults, the Dec/Jan edition of the Noe Valley Voice listed three other sexual assaults, which according to a police officer that I spoke with may or may not be related to the other two. They were listed as occurring on Jersey, Church and Sanchez during the month of October. The police are considering whether or not all 5 might be related, but the most recent two certainly seem to be. In addition to the surveillance photo that is posted on your site, the first victim did a face/head sketch which has not been widely distributed.

Also, the Fair Oaks residents are apparently trying to set up some sort of fund to help the victims, at least the one attacked near Fair Oaks. If there were any interest in helping out the Noe Valley victim, I would be happy to discuss that further with her and anyone interested in making such a contribution. She will remain off work into January as she is still recovering from her injuries. She lives paycheck to paycheck, and we are providing direct financial support to her so that she doesn't need to worried about rent, etc. on top of everything else.
Stay tuned for more info on how to help the victim. Meanwhile, consider attending the meeting tomorrow night and be safe.

What: Community Meeting Regarding Recent Sexual Assaults
When: Wednesday, December 14, 7:00PM
Where: St James Church, 1086 Guerrero St at Alvarado

Update: More from the Fair Oaks Community Coalition
Dear Neighbors,
In response to the terrible assault that occurred on Fair Oaks at 24th Street on December 8, a public meeting will be held this Wednesday, December 14, at 7:00 PM at St. James Church, Guerrero at 23rd Streets. All neighbors, local schools staff and students, church and community organizations are invited to attend.

  • To assist the survivors of this and another similar attack in November (also on the 24th Street corridor in the Mission), several options will be discussed;
  • City officials and the San Francisco Police Department will provide updates on the investigation;
  • Flyers to warn the public will be available for posting in streets, shops, restaurants, BART and bus stops (or print your own from the attached flyer);
  • An online list-serve is being developed for the neighborhood – get details and sign up! Recommendations on self-defense will be provided;
  • Advice on safeguarding your home will be discussed;

Our neighborhoods can combine strengths to stop these attacks if we heed the guidelines at this SFPD web site.

Please share this invitation with others, and bring your ideas to the meeting on Wednesday. Meanwhile, stay alert and stay safe!
And another update:
Andrew Segal of the Fair Oaks Neighborhood Coalition...confirmed that...Supervisors Weiner and Campos will attend, as well as representatives from SFPD and the DA's office. There are three goals: solving the crimes, identifying some way of supporting the victims, and identifying an avenue for community healing.

[NVSF: Crime Beat: Rape]
[SFPD: Wanted: Sexual Assault Person Of Interest]

December 8, 2011

NVV Dec - Jan 2012: We Read It So You Don't Have to

The Noe Valley Voice is published ten times a year and has been a neighborhood fixture since 1977. Here are highlights from the latest issue. Links are to items we've covered here on NVSF or outside sources as the Voice doesn't post stories online until mid-month.

December / January 2011

Front Page: Noe Courts at Douglas and Elizabeth is set for a much needed upgrade thanks to a $210,000 grant - the new design and upgrades should be realized over 2012; live reindeer and other festivities are planned for 24 HoliDAYs on 24th St - including six visits by Santa; Circle Bank has benefited from local discomfort with big banks ("dozens if not hundreds of neighborhood residents took part in the nationwide protest and switched their money from big banks to smaller instituions."); and up to 11,000 groups and people in Noe Valley may have unclaimed assets (money,stocks, etc.) sitting in a database.  

Letters: None. Weird.

Features: Noe Valley lamp designer Jennifer Slepin plies her craft on Etsy; get your geek on and raise money for local schools at the 3rd annual Tech Search Party on Feb 4; Bevan Dufty clocked in an abysmal 7th place in the mayor's race.

Obits: Former PlumpJack Wines manager Drew Spaulding dies by his own hand after wrestling with depression [Here's a picture of the staff mentioned in the obit; from the left are Josh, Elio, John and Drew.]; Nicky Salan, founder of Cover to Cover dies at 77 after a long illness.

Cost of Living in Noe: 14 single family homes sold in October - all for more than $1 million. Home values were up 12% year over year in the hood.

Rumors: Cookie wars erupt in the Ministry Parking lot [update: whether Cookie Time will be able to be a regular at the Farmer's Market is up in the air - until decided/accepted they will not be part of the market]; Only 51% of the 20,031 registered voters in Noe cast their vote this past Nov. - among those that did cast their vote Avalos was the top vote-getter for Mayor; Pixie Hall Studios is becoming a preschool and will be sponsoring a Date Night (hello, kid sitting) with Firefly; Fattoush has decided not to sell after all; The Vietnamese/Thai fusion restaurant on Church is going slow and may - or may not - open in 2012. A parking stall in the Walgreen's parking lot is now a charging station for electric cars [Ed note - Since a reader sent us this photo before Thanksgiving we've been trying to figure out how it works - apparently nobody knows, including the management at Walgreens which is waiting for instructions so they can "tell the customers how to use the dang thing." It also edges out a handicap spot.]

Also of note: A longtime Noe resident takes out a quarter-page ad looking for a "Woof Friendly Noe Valley Rental." Is it that bad for rentals in Noe?

[The Noe Valley Voice]

Crime Beat: Rape

Via the Fair Oaks Community Coalition:
Dear neighbors:

Today at 6:30 AM, a woman was attacked on 24th Street and raped around the corner on Fair Oaks Street. The woman has been hospitalized and is under care in San Francisco. The SFPD cordoned off the northwest corner during their investigation, and the fire department was later called to wash blood from the sidewalk. [A neighbor] who lives across the street found a bloody undergarment in shrubs near her home and gave it to the police, who have classified this as a “very violent crime,” and are giving it their utmost attention.

There were apparently no witnesses, and are no suspects at present – however, in the event that you may have heard or seen something in this area at that time, PLEASE NOTIFY THE POLICE DIRECTLY. Believe it or not, the preferred contact method is not by phone (which ties up the station’s switchboard), but by email or Twitter:
But if your only contact method is telephone, please call the TIP LINE: (415) 392-2623.

Three Fair Oaks neighbors went to Mission Station late this morning to ask how our community might best offer support and assistance to the woman. Officer Salvador suggested that cards and notes could be forwarded to her from Mission Station. Needless to say, her identity will not (and should not) be made public, but assuming that she’s unable to work for a while, some financial assistance might be welcome, particularly at this time of year. As soon as a fund can be established, contribution information will be provided to this email list.

While the case is under investigation, the police strongly advise all of us neighbors not to discuss any “facts” that we may have heard or believe to be true. The reason is simple: Misinformation made public can prejudice a case, and could provide the perpetrator’s defense attorney grounds for dismissal when it comes to trial.

In the meantime, Officer Salvador recommends that extra attention be paid to the personal safety of our families and our homes in the following ways:
  • Never, ever walk down a public street while talking or texting on your phone! C.W. Nevius’ recent column in the Chronicle explains why. Doubters should note that at Mission Station this morning, two young women walked in to report exactly this sort of attack. One of them had just been mugged from behind while talking on her phone on busy Mission Street at 10:30 AM!
  • Lock the doors and windows of your home! Burglars are looking for holiday gifts, and will be delighted to take yours.
  • Lock your car, and leave nothing of value on view inside. Even a trash bag full of used tissues may prompt a smash-and-grab – especially if it’s a recycled bag with an interesting label. The thief will get nothing for his efforts, but you’ll still have a broken window to replace.
  • When you’re away from home, leave the lights on, inside and out. And always keep your porch lights on when it’s dark outside (morning & evening commute hours). Set them on timers, if possible, and add a radio for sound effects. Like germs, burglars thrive in the dark.
  • If you’re going out of town, cancel mail, package and newspaper deliveries, or ask a neighbor to pick them up from your front steps. Why advertise that no one’s at home?
  • When you see something suspicious – even a little bit suspicious – call 911 immediately! The police will never, ever scold you for giving them the opportunity to stop a crime while it’s happening. And if it’s a false alarm, they’ll still thank you for staying alert.
These are commonsense precautions that should be heeded by all. For more ideas, please check
In the interval since the above email went out a suspect has been identifed: "a black male, mid 30’s, 5’9” – 6’00”, medium build last seen wearing a black hoodie, and dark pants." More info on the SFPD website

Update (12/13): Get involved. Go to the community meeting on December 14.

December 5, 2011

Two Noe Valley ZIP Codes Among America's Most Expensive

File this one under bragging rights (or dubious achievements): Noe Valley is home to two of the 500 most expensive ZIP codes in the U.S. At #242 is 94114 with a median home price of $940,368 and at #460 is 94131 with a median home value of $704,864. The other Noe ZIP, 94110 (aka Baja Noe), didn’t make the list.

[Forbes: America's Most Expensive ZIP Codes]

December 4, 2011

Deck The Parklet

Just For Fun has upped its game. In addition to perennial giant nutcrackers, a giant menorah and mechanized window displays of winter wonderlands, they have added the parklet to the mix. Other parklets around the city are sedate in comparison, as a walk this evening on Valencia and also 22nd St proved (unless you like viewing a football games on tiny bean bags). Murphstahoe agrees.