March 30, 2009

Two New & Notable Noe Valley Blogs

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has set up a blog for Districts 8 and 9 to keep residents informed of water, sewer and power projects in the area. Today's post details what's going on at the corner of Noe and Hill Streets.

"The tiniest farm in all of Noe Valley. Maybe." Fans of seasonal, local produce can't get it any better than this. The Noe Farm Report hopes "to keep you entertained by the miracle of (plant) life."

[SFPUC: Districts 8 & 9]
[The Noe Farm Report]

March 28, 2009

Another Noe Valley Restaurant/Cafe For Sale

Sure sounds like the recently opened City Grill:
A very strong location in Noe Valley with a glass frontage, display kitchen, wood floors, outdoor seating and a comfortable dining room including counter seats, booth seating and tables and chairs. Some of the equipment includes as follows: coffee maker, ice machine, 3 door glass under counter refrigerator, 2 compartment sink + rinse hose, walk-in refrigerator, 2 microwaves, mop sink, 1 door under counter wine refrigerator, washer & dryer machines, 4' display refrigerator, counter mixer, 2 full door refrigerator, double fryer, 2' x 3' char grill, 3'6" flat grill over oven, 3' -in freezer, 3 door under counter refrigerator + sandwich station, 8 burners over oven, 11' type 1 hood with fire suppression system, 2 hand sinks, 2 group espresso machine and coffee grinder, etc. There are also 2 restrooms, an office area and storage areas. There is upside for increased hours and increased meal periods.

General Information:
Organization: Corporation
Seating: 49 + 16 outside
Square Foot/Size: 1,400 + outdoor seating
Parking: Street
License(s) Required: Business, ABC Type 41 (Beer & Wine)
Days Open/Hours: 6 / Tu-Fr 5:30p - 9:30p, Sa-Su 9:00a-3:00p
[Listing: Noe Valley / Castro Restaurant]
[NVSF: Opening: City Grill]


Closing: Simply Chic. And it's for real this time - there's a big sign out front announcing up to 80% off. Guess the agreement with the landlord fell through.

Another retailer fighting a landlord is Mabel Chong. We stopped in to talk with partner Mark Welte last week when we noticed a For Rent sign in the window. The upshot? Their lease is up, and the owner wants to raise the rent. If someone is willing to pay the higher advertised rate, then Mabel Chong will hunker down at the Sacremento St location. We'll be watching to see if this works out better than another jewelry store that fought with its landlord.

Washington Mutual is now Chase in more than name - the signs are up on the building. Senior account rep Russell Chang told us that the most annoying aspect of the change is the requirement that he wear a tie. Noe Valley is going corporate. This morning we saw him standing in front of the entrance to the Farmer's Market handing out cards. In the hot sun. In formal dress. Bummer.

Speaking of the Farmer's Market, there's now a mushroom vendor who will try and be there every other weekend. We forgot to ask, but we think it might be Far West Fungi. Can anyone confirm that?

Also at the Farmer's Market: advertisements for the Whole Foods shuttle. The presence of the signs tells us that Whole Foods is continuing to work with the neighborhood.

And finally, Andrew Calabrese has posted a sign in front of the future Whole Foods with his email so the whole neighborhood (and not just those searching online) can ask questions and express concerns.

[NVSF: 24th St Rumors: Simply Chic Not Closing]
[NVSF: Opening: The Jewelry Box]
[NVSF: Whole Foods: Senior Shuttle]
[NVSF: Approved: Whole Foods in Noe Valley]

March 26, 2009

Growing Pains: ESB Ale

The recent press and success of Elizabeth Street Brewery has apparently ticked off a neighbor who filed a formal (and anonymous) complaint. Rather than stopping by to talk about their issues over a cold pint of free beer, said neighbor called the police. "As some of you already know by now, my wife returned home on Tuesday afternoon to be greeted by Officer Miguel Granados and Deputy City Attorney Michael Weiss."

Find out how it all turned out on ESB's blog.

[NVV: The Elizabeth Street Brewery: From Chocolate Milk to Firecracker Red]
[NVSF: Operation ESB Super Bowl]

Reminder: Shuttle Bus Community Meeting

Community Meeting: tonight at the Upper Noe Rec Center starting at 7:30pm and hosted by Upper Noe Neighbors.

To add more background to the reason the SFCTA may be considering regulation, reader Yoyo did some digging and left this comment regarding the legal issues of shuttle buses:
California V.C. section 35400(10)(A) states that buses up to 45 feet (that's the length of the Setras) can have reasonable access between highways and "points of loading and unloading for motor carriers of passengers". So the size itself isn't in violation, and these buses do travel to Noe Valley and other neighborhoods to load and unload passengers. The question remains: what is reasonable access?

Here, the SF transportation code has something to say. Section 501 lists a whole host of streets on which heavy vehicles (over 6000 lbs.) are forbidden; a number of these are in Noe Valley west of Church, but Sanchez is not included. Section 7.2.87 also forbids commercial passenger vehicles (capacity 8 or more) from the streets listed in Section 501 (the code says 503, which doesn't exist; 501 appears to be the correct referenced section, from an old version of the code).
[NVSF: Shuttle Buses: Useful or Menace?]

March 23, 2009

Community Meeting: Open Space SF

What: Open Space Framework Community Workshop: Mission Dolores Park/Noe Valley
When: Tuesday March 24, 6-8pm
Where: Upper Noe Rec Center
Hosts: Friends of Upper Noe Rec Center, Friends of Noe Valley

Vision and Goals from the website:

The Vision Plan provides a broad outline of what San Francisco's ideal open space network would look like in a 100-year time frame.

The 6 Components of the Vision
  • An Active, Accessible and Connected Waterfront Open Space System
  • An Eco-Corridor that Allows for Both Human and Wildlife Movement Across the City
  • A System of Linear Parks and Daylighted Creeks
  • A Network of Livable Streets in High-Density Neighborhoods
  • Revitalized and Activated Destination Open Spaces
  • Connectivity – A System of Public Transit + Green Streets Connecting People to Open Space
  • Every San Franciscan is within a 10-minute walk from an open space greater than one acre.
  • Every San Franciscan has access to a network of high-performing open spaces.
Want to get involved but annoyed that we posted this at such late notice? (Can't blame you--it slipped under our radar.) Take the survey and/or send comments to Minutes from past meetings are available here.

[Open Space SF: 2100]

March 20, 2009

Real Foods Blight: Blighted

Can't give an exact date, but the broken window and boards appeared at least 2 weeks ago. Any guesses how long it will be until Noe Valley's most famous blight returns to its former inglorious state?

Update (3/24): A reader let us know that "I walked by Real Foods this morning and they were fixing the windows. I guess that's a start..." Indeed.

[NVSF: Blight: Real Foods]
[NVSF: NVDC Town Forum: SFPD, Whole Foods & More]

Appeal? Lost. Budget? Intact. Trees? Gone.

Apparently appeals or budget woes can't stop a chainsaw if trees are deemed unsafe. The plan is for replacement trees, but this stretch of 24th St is going to look empty for some time. No Parking signs for this Monday suggest these tall eucalyptus trees will disappear then. Let's see how long it takes to replace them.

[NVSF: Update: 24th Street Trees]
[NVSF: PSA: Public Hearing - Tree Removal]

March 19, 2009

Shuttle Buses: Useful or Menace?

Sanchez St. / Day St.

In 2007 Google bowed to Noe Valley concerns and agreed to stop using streets west of Church St for its popular employee shuttles. Apparently that didn't last long (see above photo from October 2008) Not all companies are following suit (see comments) and the City is now looking to regulation.

The SFCTA is conducting a Strategic Analysis Report (SAR) to determine what steps, if any, the City needs to take. Here's an outtake from the Resolution [PDF] authorizing the SAR:
An important consideration in looking at shuttles, is whether their place in the spectrum of San Francisco transit services is clearly defined in existing policy and planning documents. We anticipate that some of the policy decisions that will be highlighted by the SAR will deal with regulation and oversight, support for shuttles as part of San Francisco’s Transit First Policy, and whether there should be efforts to recapture into regular fixed-route transit some of the ridership currently on shuttles.
The study will look at vans, mini-buses and full-sized coaches; the study is not looking at airport shuttles or MUNI. In other words, this study could effect everything from Google buses to Whole Foods shuttles to BART to senior mobility services.

How can you make your voice heard? One way is to attend the next Upper Noe Neighbors meeting on March 26th, 7:30pm, at the Upper Noe Rec Center:
Here's [part of] the agenda:

Private shuttle services--the S.F County Transportation Authority is looking into neighborhood issues associated with these buses. Representatives from the SFCTA will be at this meeting. This is your chance to let them know how they affect our neighborhood and discuss ways to mitigate problems. This is bound to be a lively discussion as residents have been voicing complaints about this for quite a while.
Can't make the meeting? The SFCTA is accepting comments by mail or email. Please address the following questions:
  • Have you observed shuttles operating or stopping in your neighborhood? Where and how often?
  • What trip purpose(s) do the shuttles serve (e.g. work, school, recreation or other needs)?
  • What benefits and/or impacts have you observed from shuttles in your neighborhood?
  • What role do you see shuttles playing in your neighborhood?
Direct comments to Margaret Cortes,, San Francisco Transportation Authority, 100 Van Ness Avenue, 26th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94102.

And if you think shuttle drivers are dangerous, or if the buses are creating hazardous conditions contact the SFPD and Bevan Dufty. This recent note from Capt. Dennis O'Leary of the Ingleside station to Officer Kathy Pubill suggests they'll act: "Please evaluate and determine what codes are being violated. Contact the bus company with suggestions to stop the complaints."

If this SAR creates law, the SFPD won't have to attack this ad hoc.

Note -- If you go to the meeting on the 26th, please send us minutes to post. Thanks!

[SFCTA: Resolution No. 09-27]
[NVV: Google Shifts Bus Stop to Church Street]

Mark Leno Vs. Pasta Gina

Uh oh.
Apparently state Senator Mark Leno is a major pasta fan, so much so that he can't imagine living in Noe Valley without local pasta shop Pasta Gina.

Or so says the openly gay lawmaker in an ad for the store in the March issue of the Noe Valley Voice. The shop apparently lifted the quote by Leno from an interview he gave the paper nine years ago when he served on the city's Board of Supervisors.

And it did so without the senator's permission, according to his office.

Leno was unaware his reply for where he liked to eat in the neighborhood was being used by the pasta shop to promote its business.

According to his staff, Leno does not typically make endorsements of private businesses, feeling it would be inappropriate to do so as a state senator. He planned to personally speak to shop owner Gene Ginsberg about the ad.
[eBar: Political Notebook]

March 14, 2009


The 24th St Cheese Co is helping to fill the gap while we wait for Whole Foods to open next fall. They've added local farm-fresh eggs and the "best" organic yogurt and cottage cheese. They are also a pick-up point for Fine Foods @ Home.

Win 2 cases of beer: Elizabeth Street Brewery is running a contest for the best photo featuring the ESP logo. Entires are due May 1. Details here.

The Noe Valley Nursery School is celebrating its 40th Anniversary with a party and raffle on Saturday March 21st. A schedule of events, pricing and prizes can be found here.

The old Wells Fargo space at 4023 24th St. has been spruced up and is for rent. Looks much better -- less blighted.

City Grill's website has launched complete with menus.

[NVSF: Bell Market is Closed - Now What?]

March 9, 2009

Update: Glare Re-opens

The Noe Valley Voice reported the closure of Glare in December, and it's been papered over since. But this past weekend the doors re-opened.

The new mini-store is now carrying regular frames in addition to sunglasses. According to the Sprockets-looking dude inside: Yes, they re-opened and have re-imagined themselves as more of an outlet with discount frames and glasses. “We wanted to have something more in line with the recession.” The $300 glasses you wanted? Now just $225. He also said Glare is owned by the same people who own Spectacles for Humans. At Spectacles the friendly Brillen-wearing guy confirmed this – “This store is more of the now. The other store is more discount outlet. Same owners.” Now we dance.

Oh -- they have a blog.

4010 24th St

Spectacles for Humans
3858 24th St

[Spectacles for Humans]
[NVSF: NVV: We Read It So You Don't Have To]
[Photo: Glare, December 2008]

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.

March 12

4024 26th Street
– between Noe and Sanchez Streets, Lot 006 in Assessor's Block 6553 - Request for Discretionary Review of Building Permit Application No. 2008.10.03.3318, proposing to construct a one-story vertical addition, a front horizontal addition, alter the front façade, and enlarge the rear deck of a two-family dwelling, located in a RH-2 (Residential, House, Two-Family) District and a 40-X Height and Bulk District.

Preliminary Recommendation: Do not take Discretionary Review and Approve.

March 6, 2009

NVV: 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 stories we've covered.

March 2009
  • Front page: Noe Valley housing market is slow, Whole Foods offering Tuesday shuttle, City College closing campus at James Lick, Upper Noe Rec Center not offering residents enough time to play, consignment stores busy.
  • Cost of Living in Noe: slow market, slightly cheaper; rents down a little from last year.
  • Letters: Bye-bye Bell; condemnation for evil candle-condemning priest; NVV attracts Fowler witch hunt, too.
  • NVDC: full coverage of last month's meeting.
  • Crime Beat: Capt Tacchini asking for more communication with residents; no Peace Blotter this time.
  • Feature: Elizabeth Street Brewery.
  • Store Trek: Just Awesome!, City Grill.
  • Rumors: suggests the reader reference Google for more information on the Obama candle "debate;" picked up more Fowler info from the Fowler family blogs; Contigo opens; Noe Soup likely not opening due to investor pull-out [Ed.-- Perhaps Tuttimelon can buy their conditional use permit]; CSAA is closing; Cover-to-Cover to offer free delivery; Basso's giving seniors a 15% discount.
  • Bonus: The Voice made it to Dover Castle, India, Thailand and even Florida, and the pictures to prove it are back.
[The Noe Valley Voice]

Incanto: Foie Gras, Sustainability & Free Choice

Mark Pastore is getting tired of dealing with "guests [who] ask pointedly whether or not a product we serve is 'sustainable,' ready to pounce on the slightest stutter in our response." In Incanto's latest Letter, Mark makes a strong argument for the right to serve (and consume) foie gras without guilt. We particularly like this paragraph:
Reasonable people can disagree over the ethics of one's chosen diet and the various practices of farmers, whether those farmers produce meat, fruits, or vegetables. Fundamentally, we believe that individuals ought to be free to determine how to live their lives, including their diet. If we live in a society that tolerates the death of 40,000 people to die each year for the right to convenient travel, how can we sacrifice our right to taste, to choice, and to dietary self-determinism?
Kudos to Incanto for injecting an adult voice back into the conversation around "sustainable" food. Follow the link below to read the entire article.

[Incanto: Shock & Foie]

March 5, 2009

SFGate: 24th St = Beer, Boutiques & Dogs

The Chronicle's Street Date took a swing through Noe Valley and concluded 24th St is "sunny and friendly, it's where residents take their dogs for a stroll. It's also the kind of place that treats you like one of the neighbors, even if you don't live here." Featured shops? SF Mystery Bookstore, Chocolate Covered, Le Zinc, Bernie's, Cradle of the Sun and The Dubliner. No mention of strollers.

Does that jive with what you shop for in Noe? What would you cross town for? What makes Noe Valley a destination? In the comments, please.

[SFGate: 24th Street, San Francisco]
[Photo: SFGate]

March 2, 2009

Whole Foods: Senior Shuttle

Following up on neighborhood concerns, Whole Foods will begin a weekly shuttle service for seniors and other Noe Valley residents without easy access to a grocery store.
This is an announcement that the shuttle for seniors and/or Noe Valley residents with limited access will be starting on Tuesday March 3rd. The hours will be from 9:30 to 1:00 pm.

The first shuttle will leave 3950 24th St.(site of the future Whole Foods Market Noe Valley) at 9:30 am and travel to Whole Foods Market Potrero Hill on Rhode Island St. The shuttle will make continual loops until approximately 1:00 pm when the last shuttle will depart Whole Foods.

The shuttle will be available every Tuesday morning for this schedule until the Whole Foods Market Noe Valley opens.
Previously, WF has indicated they'll increase service if the demand is there.

[NVSF: NVDC Town Forum: SFPD, Whole Foods & More]

March 1, 2009

Update: Noeteca

The owners of Noeteca sent us such a thorough description of what The Last Laugh is to become we're posting the whole thing. Emphasis is ours.
We plan for Noeteca to continue in the footsteps of The Last Laugh Coffee House and to continue to be a neighborhood focused café. The wine selection will be expanded, and the new menu will feature economical and flavorful comfort food in the style of small European cafes. The breakfast and lunch menu will feature items like Ham and Potato Hash with Poached Eggs, Challah French Toast, Duck Confit Salad, and house made soups and stews including French Onion Gratinèe. Dinners will be simple and wine friendly. The wine list will offer roughly twenty accessible wines from various regions – all will be offered by the glass and half-glass. We also plan to offer a variety of non-alcoholic drinks which will appeal to the younger crowd and those who aren’t in the mood for wine, but still want something unique and satisfying.

Noeteca is being created by Alex Kamprasert and me, Scott McDonald. Residents of Noe Valley may recognize Alex from his years at Chloe’s Café just a few blocks away at Church and 26th. I am providing creative and administrative support. Nathan Nam, of Demigogg Design is producing our logo and visuals. Again, in the tradition of The Last Laugh, the new café/wine bar is a labor of love and will be individually owned and operated. We expect that Noeteca will continue to provide the residents of Noe Valley and San Francisco with a cozy corner to relax with a latte and a bagel, pannini for lunch on the run, and soon, a place to unwind with friends for dinner and a glass of wine. …or two.

We're planning to do some clean-up and simple renovations throughout March and we hope to open (poetically) on April 1st, but one never knows. I'm trying not to jinx things by setting a firm opening day. We're also in the process of launching a small web site. We've spent many years working and relaxing in Noe Valley, so when the Last Laugh became available, we jumped at the opportunity.
1551 Dolores St @ Valley

[NVSF: Announced: Noeteca]
[Photo: Yelp]