May 12, 2010

Noe Valley Plaza: NVMPA Unanimous In Support

In a letter to the Editor of the Noe Valley Voice ostensibly to be printed next month the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association unanimously endorses a full plaza at 24th and Noe Streets:
Today, the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association has gone on record of supporting the proposed trial of the Noe Valley Plaza.

The vote taken was one hundred percent in favor of the proposed trial.

Enclosed find a certified copy of the Resolution presented and approved. Please, publish this letter and the enclosed Resolution in their entirety.

We are whole heartily in support of the proposal and believe that once a trial is underway the community will be in favor, including those adjacent as well; that a neighborhood center where neighborhood activities can be conducted and presented will benefit the entire community; and that the Noe Valley Plaza will be a model for future urban design and the corner stone of the Mayor's Pavement to Park program.

The Noe Valley Plaza is beneficial to our community, our neighbors, our customers and our fellow merchants.

Thank you,

Robert T. Roddick
Noe Valley Merchant and
Professionals Association.

A Nonprofit Corporation
P.O. Box 460574
San Francisco, CA 94146


WHEREAS the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association believes that the Noe Valley Plaza would serve the community as a whole by providing an open space to be used as a neighborhood center;

WHEREAS the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association believes that the location at the South side of Noe Street at 24th Street is the ideal location for such a community center because it is the center of the 24th Street Commercial Corridor and has the recommendation of the San Francisco Planning Department;

WHEREAS the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association believes that the installation of the Noe Valley Plaza will boost business along the 24th Street Commercial Corridor which has been confirmed by past studies. One such study was reported in the San Francisco's Chronicle Parade, "...outdoor seating areas boost foot traffic by 20%, leading to 10% more retail sales. Local property values also increase by 7%. In San Francisco four new plazas will be open this summer."

WHEREAS the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association believes that the installation of the Noe Valley Plaza will add to the community, making Noe Valley a destination location for tourists and visitors;

WHEREAS the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association believes that once the trial installation of the plaza is established that the community as a whole will find it beneficial and prefer that it become permanent; and

WHEREAS the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association believes that with the proper study that the trial will afford a well designed plan balancing the needs of the pedestrians, drivers, customs and merchants; and

WHEREAS the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association believes that the Noe Valley Plaza is on the cutting edge of urban design for better living and will be an inspiration for other neighborhoods. This summer San Francisco is opening four new plazas;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association goes on record of supporting the installation of the temporary plaza on the Southside of Noe Street at 24th Street on a trial basis to determine the benefits and the detriments in accordance with the Mayor's Pavement to Parks program.


Thanks to a reader for passing this on.


Carrie said...

Yet another excuse from the "no" side has been shot down ("it will hurt the merchants!").

It's getting tougher and tougher to justify opposition to a 90 day TRIAL Plaza.

kwk said...

Maybe should check this study before turning Noe St into a cul-de-sac:
Myth of Suburbia.
"Residents in areas with interconnected streets travel 26% fewer miles by automobile than those in areas with lots of cul-de-sacs."

Or check out the similar "Urban Oasis" at 28th/Guerrero. Note how most days there is no one in the lovely park, note how the Trial Program will probably become permanent and the park will decay to an eyesore because the City will do like they always do with these "trials," claim there is no money to reverse it. It will remain and slowly become an "Urban Toilet".

lukewho said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This so called "Resolution", trying to look very official and legal is nothing more than an OPINION as to the results of installing a trial plaza. It is nothing more than a cleverly written opinion, full of "whereas's" and "therefores" designed to look official and a completed deal.

Who actually approved this document? Are there legitimate signatures attached signed by ALL merchants on 24th St. or just members of the NVMPA? Big difference.

It is mostly filled with a lot of B.S. and lofty ideals. There are no legal studies attached addressing increased traffic concerns, congestion and traffic re-routing issues. The SF Planning Dept. has , in fact, NOT recommended this one solution of full street closure.The addition of parklets while keeping Noe St. open to traffic is ALSO being studied by the Planning Dept. Based on information and numerous emails by Andres Power.

This document does not address or even mention the large amount of RESIDENTS and homeowners on Jersy St. and Elizabeth St. who completely oppose the plaza. Witness all of the Dont Close Noe signs on those streets.

Keep in mind that the NVMPA is one small group that does NOT represent a large majority opinion of other merchants and residents of Noe Valley. They merely represent their own, tightly defined membership. This unofficial, but cleverly official looking letter is another example of how a small, but vocal group of individuals will attempt to bully and coerce the larger community to accept this poorly developed and inadequately studied plaza.

lukewho said...

Hi kwk. The 'study' you cite says "Residents in areas with interconnected streets travel 26% fewer miles by automobile than those in areas with lots of cul-de-sacs."

(I wonder how these scientists define "lots of"...)

Still, that suburban cul-de-sac model obviously doesn't apply here.

The Noe plan doesn't turn Noe Street into a cul-de-sac. An urban pedestrian plaza is only a dead-end from a car's point of view. Indeed, for the vast majority of street users (peds, cyclists, strollers, skaters, etc) the plaza IMPROVES circulation through Noe.

Anonymous said...

The fourteen houses with "NO" signs in the windows is a far better representation of a "small but vocal group of individuals who attempt to bully and coerce the larger community" to accept their poorly developed and inadequately designed opposition to a TRIAL.

You might think about how flawed your logic is when you bitch about something being inadequately studied and then do everything you can to prevent the study from going forward...

-your friendly neighbor

Anonymous said...

Me and my neighbors are still planning to strongly oppose this. 24th Street already has too much traffic and it gets harder and harder to drive anywhere in Noe Valley. Adding this obstacle will only create more traffic and more confusion. This is OUR neighborhood not the city's.

Anonymous said...

There are also NO signs on streets other than just Jersey and Elizabeth. And there are far more than just 14 signs.

No one is "bitching" about our opposition to the plaza. We are expressing our opinion, just as the NVMPA are expressing theirs. Is that so hard for you to understand?

And yes, I am doing what I can as a single voice to prevent the plaza from going forward. Just to be clear, very clear, there is no STUDY out at this time. The so called study is, in fact,the proposal to actually put in place the temporary closing of Noe St. This is a defined action, not a mere study, as you say.

And, as you can see, there are already other comments posted here who also oppose the plaza, just as I and many others do.

You do not have to agree with us, but please don't call our opinions "bitching".. That's not cool, nor civil.

Anonymous said...

"That's not cool, nor civil." - cuz ya know, I'm being very civil!

murphstahoe said...

kwk writes... "Residents in areas with interconnected streets travel 26% fewer miles by automobile than those in areas with lots of cul-de-sacs."

This isn't related at all. Noe would no longer be a through street, but Castro still is. Church still is. Sanchez, Vicksburg, and Diamond traverse 24th. The lack of Noe being through costs at most 3 blocks of detour.

The suburban model entails entire subdivisions being a cul-de-sac with few outlets. My brother-in-law lives 200 yards from a Target store as the crow flies. As the car drives, it is three miles.

3 blocks. 3 miles.

Anonymous said...

And yes, murph: If Noe were to be closed off to vehicle traffic, all that traffic: cars, trucks and emergency vehicles in order to get to Castro, Sanchez, Church and Diamond will have to do what?

Clog up and congest the minor cross streets such as Jersey and Elizabeth to get there. Looks to me like a suburban model, indeed. Cul-de-sac at Noe and 24th.

Guess what? We are a CITY. We are not a SUBURB.

cr said...

I keep hearing about this emergency vehicle thing. It's been debunked as red herring. City planning talked to the emergency services. None of them have any concerns about closing Noe St.

As for the ongoing traffic debate, it's time to move forward in good faith:

Dear Anonymouses, if your primary objection to closing Noe St. is increased traffic on Jersey, Elizabeth, and the side streets, will you please allow a short, carefully limited test trial? Years of traffic engineering science suggest that traffic will adjust smoothly with no increase in congestion. The traffic engineers among us will attest to that. However, there's no way to know for sure unless we have a trial plaza with traffic counts before and after. I promise you -- and many other plaza supporters will promise you -- that we will work on your behalf to end the trial and remove the plaza if the result is traffic congestion. Will you take that good faith promise and support a trial so we can come together as a neighborhood?

murphstahoe said...

You are not a traffic engineer. Neither am I.

This AM on Caltrain, a man said "Hmm... normally coming from Alvarado to Caltrain, I take Noe to Jersey, then drive down Jersey, because I hate 24th". This person would no longer be able to use Jersey.

There are similar anecdotes of people coming from the South who will now detour on Jersey where they have not earlier. There are anecdotes of people from the West who drive down 24th looking for parking, and if they haven't found it by Noe, turn right on Noe and right on Jersey to go to the Walgreens parking lot.

It is impossible to sum up the net effect of all the individual anecdotes. To try to claim otherwise, especially when one is a chip designer like myself, or say one is maybe an architect - is disingenuous.

The city is measuring traffic now. We can measure traffic later. And then we'll know for sure. Are you afraid that your predictions won't come true?

Maybe what we'll find out is that people LOVE the plaza, but people HATE the traffic. Then we'll know that we need more public space but this isn't the right space. Then we have a strong case to make to the city to invest in another space. As it is, the city is willing to give us $38,000, but maybe not a couple of million.

Maybe we'll find out that the traffic wasn't that big a deal, but the plaza was underutilized.

There has been talk of spending multiple millions of dollars on buying the Noe Valley Ministry lot. It would be a real shame to do that and find out after investing 3 million bucks that nobody would use it, when we can find that out for $38,000.

I think the problems will not be a big deal, and I think the plaza will be well utilized. I know that I will be the first to admit it if I am wrong. If the trial goes through, and the problems do not manifest themselves, will you admit you were wrong?

Anonymous said...

Sorry murph: I don't buy your arguments. And to CR: by the way, you are just as anonymous as any of the other "anonymouses" here.

Back to murph: It really is not about you being right or wrong, or me being right or wrong. I have never felt or expressed my opinions that way. To me, this is what it's about:

1. A public street is just that: A STREET. For vehicles, or bikes. A street is not something to SIT in.

2. There have always been other alternative on the table beside FULLY CLOSING off the street. The planning dept. has shown the alternate concept sketch of parklets installed to each side of Noe, with the street cut down to 2 simple lanes of traffic. Let's try THIS solution for a while. See if it works. The street stays open. You get your sitting areas. This idea could satisfy both sides of the issue very well, and very cost effectively.

3. Whether the plaza is well utilized is irrelevant, and no way to know. The parklets may or may not be well utilized.

4. Re: the long term possibility of purchasing the Noe V ministry parking lot: Yes, a big deal, yes, costly. But then you jump up and say "nobody would use it".. Are you SERIOUS> Ever go to the saturday morning farmers market?? It's packed! Stop spreading fear, ok?

5. Architect, urban designer, or chip designer? Doesn't matter as to valid opinions, but I bet a lot of people would go with the architect/urban planner to propose the best solution for the community. Just saying.

cr said...

"Whether the plaza is well utilized is irrelevant, and no way to know."

I can think of a way.

cr said...

By the way, totally agreed on the urban planner being the one with the best solution.

murphstahoe said...

but I bet a lot of people would go with the architect/urban planner to propose the best solution for the community.

Andres Power’s Education
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MCP , Urban Planning , 2004 — 2006

Evan said...

Someone said:

"1. A public street is just that: A STREET. For vehicles, or bikes. A street is not something to SIT in."

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. Almost all of every street in this entire city is devoted to the automobile. On 24th, you have two skinny sidewalks, followed by 2 lanes for parked cars and 2 lanes for cars/buses driving down the street.

No space for bikes, and little relative space for pedestrians. How is it fair that almost every street is devoted to cars? Well, I'd say it's not — and this project is a step in the right direction of taking (just a few) streets back for people. People.

I'll be spending much more time outside in Noe once this happens. You're right about one thing — streets are for everyone, and it's time that people and bikes got a few more streets.

Anonymous said...

@murph: you don't seem to read very well: anon @2:13 just said that the urban planner would propose the best solution for the community. And one of the solutions ON THE TABLE is the parklet idea, keeping the street OPEN.

As opposed to your idea that the ONLY solution is street closure. So much for your open mindedness gone wrong.

@Evan: excuse me, but what exactly are you disagreeing with? Anon's statement just said that a street is for vehicles. You just said the same thing. You might want to re-think your own statement. Your logic is a little bit wacky.

How does a plaza ON NOE create more space for bikes on 24th? And how does a plaza create more space for pedestrians on 24th? Guess what? You don't make sense.

And don't even try the ridiculous notion of proposing designated bike lanes on 24th, by giving up important parking spaces. Never, ever gonna happen.

Guess what? streets are part of every great city. and yes, they are for vehicles. People use vehicles every single day.

But streets are not designed to be "taken back" by the people, just to sit in.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous -- at least the anonymous trying to channel Harry Aleo -- that we all have an opinion and they carry equal weight. The difference is that anonymous is also an idiot. Sorry for being blunt.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. All of the anons have opinions. Of course some are better than others.

Yea, some are even idiots.

But I'm just a NV housewife with 7 kids, 6 dogs, 4 strollers, a husband who designs potato chips, 4 bikes, and 3 cars. We just want the damn plaza to drop off our rug rats and dogs each afternoon.

Sorry if I'm so blunt.

Leigh said...

I can't believe that with all of the parks in the city, that people are still discussing this. We don't need anymore parks we need PARKING. I can't tell you how many times I have driven to Whole Foods and there are no places to park. So I have to circle the blocks for 30 minutes to find a vacant and sizable space. If we want to keep Noe Valley the way it is and attract the right residents, we need to focus on where we're going to park our vehicles. Not only at our residences but for shopping. Fortunately, for me an my husband (yes, we both drive because we both WORK), we have a two car garage at our house. But if we had to park on the street, we would never find a place on Jersey. Come on people, let's focus on the real needs of the city instead of some experiment.

rocky's dad said...

Thanks Leigh. Great comments.

Anonymous said...

Let's tear down all the nail salons and put in parking garages.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping it's safe to say that any post that includes "attract the right residents" is a troll.

If not, may I recommend Maricopa County? I hear they do a good job chasing off the wrong residents.

rocky's dad said...

Well, I live in Noe and live near a troll. He's really not that bad. Stays under an old deck most of the time.

Occasionally, I invite him over and he washes my SUV.

kitchen bitch said...

I disagree with Leigh's comment on parking. I live in the building on the corner of Noe/24th and have NO parking. I use my car daily and come home at the same time as all other professional working people. I never have issues with parking. At most I drive around the block once maybe twice and no further than a one block radius from 24th Street from Sanchez to Castro. parking is a breeze. I have been doing this for 6 years with no problem. I have a neighbor in the same situation as me and they too have no problem parking.

Be happy I am moving from Noe Valley in a month you will now have one more space available for your jaunts to Whole Foods. Quite honestly I think that Whole Foods or not that parking lot in front should just go away and people who go to WF will be local individuals only.

Why not petition to get rid of the WF parking lot all together? Then you won't have to worry about outside residents coming to NV to shop at WF they will to to Potrero or continue to go to the Safeway. And they will also not go to Bernies/ Savor/ Just For fun to name a few? That would really be great for neighborhood business.

You live in a city in a popular neighborhood just deal with it or move to the burbs where you have lots of space on your street to park in addition to your garage.

Anonymous said...

this is a bit of a rant but here it goes....It appears to me people are just opposed to change in general. Or maybe afraid that if they try it as an experiment and the majority of people like it but they don't they may have to adapt to something they don't like. We do live in a city and cities change and evolve I am not sure I understand the fierce opposition to a trial. To the person who claims it is their neighborhood not the cities they are very wrong. You are not autonomous you are part of the whole do you want the library only available to local residents or should we not let you have any input on what happens at Crissy Field because you live in Noe Valley, should your tax dollars only be spent in Noe Valley and maybe as a non sunset resident we should charge you an admission fee to use GG park. Your neighborhood is exactly that a neighborhood that is part of the whole. If you want to have "the right residents" move to a gated community if not understand that you are one voice among many and we all deserve the right to be heard and treated with respect. I can't think of a better compromise than to have an experiment and study the impact. If all your fears are correct the experiment will fail and no plaza will be permeant if not than you may have to adjust.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to assume "Leigh" is a troll. There is just no way someone who lives in Noe Valley would bitch about not being able to find parking at Whole Foods when it's easier to WALK there. Also, the "attracting the right residents" thing is too funny.

I also love the idea that PARKING SPACES are the most important thing a city has to offer. Hey, "Leigh," guess what? There's plenty of parking in Antioch! Check it out!


Anonymous said...

I am opposed to change. Which one of you newbies Noe Valley Residents is responsible for the switch from Herb's to Toast? Toast is overpriced and has too many deliveries. The person responsible for that clearly hates Noe Valley.

Bring back Herb's!

Anonymous said...

If you think Toast is overpriced then you are obviously cheap. Herb's saw its day and yes I enjoyed it too but Toast is much cleaner. There are plenty of greasy spoons just take a walk and you may find one.

Anonymous said...

Noe Valleyans, your irony radar needs recalibration.

Janice said...

I happen to agree with Leigh. She may not have communicated her points in the most articulate way but we can all appreciate Noe Valley and also know that we are made up of a certain type of people. We obviously don't want it to turn into the Mission or Bayview so let's focus on how we can address some of the immediate concerns like crime, graffiti, garbage, the homeless, and yes, parking. Leigh probably drives to WF because she buys a lot of groceries. Do any of you lug your groceries on the bus? Most likely no. And I don't know anyone who doesn't complain about the parking situation. When we have gatherings at our home, I dread telling visitors where to park after our drive fills up.

So just because Leigh has a different opinion, as I, of the parklett (I vehemently oppose), aren't we entitled to our opinions and to have our say? I don't need a parklett, I have a nice back yard that my kids and their friends love to play in. If you want a place for your kids to play, maybe you should move to Antioch.

Anonymous said...

The Noe Valley plaza issue has been the hottest topic in the neighborhood since the painting of the crosswalk on Castro and 24th Street. All I can say is if this trial incites this much passion among people in the neighborhood, most of us don't have enough to worry about in life.

Really -- a little perspective is in order here.

Against_Ignorance said...

I live on the corner of Noe & 24th street and I welcome the plaza. For those of you who oppose the plaza and plan on attending the next meeting I request you all bring your Webster dictionary to recite the definition of Grant prior to voicing your opinion. At the last meeting several educated (my assumption) Noe Valley residents voiced their support for the Grant to be used in another way.

rocky's dad said...

Having perspective to issues is fine. So is having an opinion about the Noe Street closure issue.

And my opinion, like many others, is that we are opposed to closing off the street and creating a park.

And we're still keeping our perspective.

murphstahoe said...

I'm still trying to get over how anonymous says "A public street is just that: A STREET. For vehicles, or bikes. A street is not something to SIT in."

Including the word "bikes". Good to see that the anti-plaza folks at least love bikes!

Anonymous said...

"If we want to keep Noe Valley the way it is and attract the right residents, we need to focus on where we're going to park our vehicles."

Bevan Dufty, Gavin Newsom, Rafael Mandelman, Scott Weiner, Rebecca Prozen: What do you say? Do you stand with the right residents? Or with the ruffians?

murphstahoe said...

OK, supporters, time to put your name in the undotted box. Our online support petition is available. Please sign and forward to your friends.

Anonymous said...

i recently moved to noe valley and this whole debate is really turning me off. the anti park people sound elitist on these message boards. i think you should make 24th st a walking street from castro to church. thats my solution.

Anonymous said...

Ok, supporters of KEEPING NOE STREET OPEN... this is the time to ignore that trumped up petition and all of their weak arguments.

We all know that closing off an important public street for use as a stroller parking lot, dog run, and coffee sipping lounge is completely wrong.

We love our street as a street. We would love to see more benches added alongside the already existing planters on Noe at 24th. A great way to add seating at very little cost and disruption to the neighborhood.

Don't be fooled or intimidated by their tactics. Don't be bullied into being called evil just because you also use your vehicle,as you choose to get around, do shopping, and drop your kids off to soccer practice.


Anonymous said...

I for one don't love our street as a street right now. The thought of sitting near strollers, dogs, and coffee as opposed to cars driving by sounds much more attractive.

Thanks for cementing my opinion!

And this isn't just about providing seating. It's about creating a central space for the neighborhood - something that a few more benches will not do. And if it is successful then I think the benefits will far outweigh any negatives.

That said, is Planning Dept. setting parameters for definition of success?

cr said...

It has been hard to get to the "parameters for success" stage because a small group of opponents want to shout down the trial without talking about what success would look like.

However, there are many people who are open to a trial with clear parameters. Supporters of the plaza are trying hard to get Planning to define parameters. We want this to be based on good science as much as the opponents do. The Planning Dept. is receptive to this, and yes, I think they will lay out very clearly how success will be defined.

murphstahoe said...

"That said, is Planning Dept. setting parameters for definition of success?"


Those of us in support of the plaza trial who are closest to the issue have repeatedly stressed that in order for the trial to not be a trial in name only, clear metrics need to be in place and we need to include all concerns as well as measuring actual usage.

This includes reaching out to opponents in order to get them to clarify their concerns.

Andres Power echoed this exact sentiment when we met with him - in a meeting including two notable plaza opponents.

Traffic measurements are already going on in Noe Valley around the plaza site to give a baseline to compare against.

Anonymous said...

I guess by "success" I meant how many people are using the plaza. The only parameter for success shouldn NOT just be based on traffic counts. It should include goals for number of users based on time of day and day of the week. The plaza is only successful if people use it, which I think they will.

murphstahoe said...

Anon - right. That's important.

If all the "negative" impacts that we have discussed ad naseum don't come to fruition, that's not enough to make the trial plaza a permanent plaza.

The Noe Valley Association will incur ongoing costs due to the plaza's presence. They already pay to clean the sidewalks, a plaza means more cleaning. It means paying someone to bring the furniture in and out. etc... Debra Niemann has been very clear that her organization likes very much to get good value for their dollars. If the plaza does not attract "enough" users, then NVA is better off investing that money some other way. Right now, NVA thinks that the investment will return positive benefit.

I don't know what those goals will be or how hard and fast they will be. That's up to Andres.

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, I think others opposed to the plaza,including myself are very mistrustful of the notion that if the temporary plaza doesn't work, they they will accept that fact and remove the plaza back to its' original use as a traffic way.

Say, if increased traffic becomes a major issue for residents on Jersey and Elizabeth Streets, the plaza supporters would CONTINUE to argue that it's not "really that bad".. After all, they have their plaza and their green space. They would argue vehemently that removing this "little public space" would be tantamount to treason. Once a neighborhood gets something, it can become very difficult if not impossible to remove it.

And why are the plaza supports not discussing AT ALL the alternate solution shown in drawings and sketches of adding small, portable parklets on each side of Noe St.? That is a viable solution that could satisfy both sides of the issue. The pro plaza people remain staunchly rigid and defiant in their ONE solution approach.

So what if there's an increase in traffic? So what if it becomes more inconvenient for those planet killers who own cars? So what? You wouldn't dare take away our little green space.

And I think the Planning Staff would suck up that argument immediately. I maintain a healthy mistrust of the Planning Dept.

Do you trust a planning department who has paid staff members watching internet porn during work hours?

These are the same people conducting traffic studies now for this proposed plaza. You be the judge.

Unknown said...

"Quite frankly, I think others opposed to the plaza,including myself are very mistrustful of the notion that if the temporary plaza doesn't work, they they will accept that fact and remove the plaza back to its' original use as a traffic way."

I completely understand! It's not a big stretch to think that it will be popular, and as such that the local residents will get run over. Please! Work WITH Andres Power to set the metrics, like we are. Let's put in place clear metrics, and if they aren't met, I will volunteer to drive the front end loaded to tear the thing out.

"And why are the plaza supports not discussing AT ALL the alternate solution shown in drawings and sketches of adding small, portable parklets on each side of Noe St.? That is a viable solution that could satisfy both sides of the issue. The pro plaza people remain staunchly rigid and defiant in their ONE solution approach."

Because the Plaza concept is bigger and provides a space that would be really useful - especially for this neighborhood. The parklets, not so much. But what if we put in parklets and what we find out is that they are overrun and people want - and demand - more space? Walk down to Bernie's right now - we already know there are people here who like to sit outside. What we don't know is whether a change in traffic patterns is manageable.

Anonymous said...

Yea, like the people who sit in front of Bernies or Martha Bros. is going to be so called metric by which we measure how many will use the plaza..

Wow, those are great statistics.

Anonymous said...

Some of you feel that you have to comment on every comment. Murph and Rocky and Or, to name a few, should get a life other than reading this blog and commenting all day, every day, on every thought that is posted. You are not the center of this neighborhood.


We all know your thoughts on any subject, and have to wade through your garbage to find others with something new and different to say.

I wish my popup blocker could filter out all your diatribe....

Anonymous said...

LOL..I'm so glad you appointed yourself king or queen of the comments here.

At least Murph and Rockysdad and a few others are taking time to comment and challenge solutions and ideas. We need that here. You certainly don't have to agree with them, but, I for one appreciate their commentary. They do care deeply about Noe Valley, and I think they both only want the best for the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Yup LOL: that's what we need in Noe Valley: a monarchy

Anonymous said...

Well. it's got quite a few queens already.

Anonymous said...

Yup, but in a monarchy, we can have only one. I vote for Kitchen Bitch.

TA said...

Can anyone tell me why other streets like Vicksburg weren't considered? That's a small (~6 blocks?) street with relatively low traffic levels so less traffic would be diverted onto neighboring streets.

For the record, I'm still against closing any major street like Noe, but am not opposed to open/community spaces that will have less of an impact on traffic.

murphstahoe said...

I wasn't involved - but my knowledge is that streets like Vicksburg *were* considered, and rejected.

My knowledge is that Sanchez was rejected because the gradient was too steep (Noe has a gradient as well, but is manageable for construction). I don't know if there was logistical issues with Vicksburg, the preference for Noe is that Noe and 24th are the business and retail "center" of Noe Valley.

For example - Phoenix Books was at 24th and Vicksburg. They moved. To 24th between Sanchez and Noe. Their old location - now a realtor, less reliant on foot traffic.

If we can have a plaza in the central location without causing "enough" disruption, that's the right choice, from a high level perspective. How much disruption is "enough" and how to measure it, is for planning to determine.

rocky's dad said...

Again, I would challenge the very weak and insubstantial responses from the Close Off Noe group. I really wonder also why other streets have not been considered or even mentioned by the Planning Dept.

I think the pro-plaza group often quickly has zeroed in on just ONE idea and one location. I'd call that very small minded.

There is no substantive reason why a plaza space HAS to be centrally located. Who defines central? There are many plazas and open spaces in European towns that are asymmetrical or off center to the perceived center of town. The farmers market on Saturday is really located "way off center" and yet, look at the success of it. Central location really means little.

Closing off a major cross town street like Noe, in fact, does mean a LOT. By doing so will cause a large amount of disruption, mainly increased traffic congestion on 24th as well as the smaller east-west streets.

Anonymous said...

SF planning selected the site. It needs to be on a flat gradient, and they want it in the center of the neighborhood so that it will be well utilized and define the heart of the business district. Central location means a lot for this type of space that gets casual use. No other blocks meet the criteria, except 24th & Castro, which was not selected because it carries a higher volume of car traffic and Bus 24.

If you have questions about site selection, why not ask the Planning Department or the Noe Valley Association instead of "challenging the weak and insubstantial responses" of neighbors who weren't involved in the initial planning but who HAVE taken the time to educate themselves about the project. It's not the pro-plaza group that zeroed in on one location. It was SF Planning, and with good reason.

I will admit that Planning has not done a good job of communicating the reasons for site selection. But can you blame them? They didn't have much of a chance at the meeting with everyone yelling epithets at them and groaning and moaning theatrically.

rocky's dad said...

Thanks for the advice. I disagree with you however. "Central" location is not important to success or failure.

murphstahoe said...

Speaking of major thoroughfares...

TA said...

Regarding the Embarcadero, I moved here after it was torn down and it was hideous. But the writer would rather sit in traffic for an hour every day that see that? And the traffic there is miserable many times since I go there often, Muni transportation is an nightmare with only the F Market serving the area... good tradeoff? Probably, but not for everyone.

Regarding other locations: Instead of telling us to go to City Planning, maybe the NVMPA & CBD & City Planning should have asked the community for ideas first instead of selected a site and forcing people to be For or Against. In fact not maybe, definitely. Phoenix books moved because it was a bigger space, not due to low foot traffic. Saying that cars will adapt to a street closure and people won't adapt to a plaza two blocks over is absurd. If its a nice place, they will come. Plus it will be much better for Bernie's & Martha's vs. Starbucks!

I agree Sanchez is unworkable on the south side but north of 24th on Sanchez looks no worse than south of the 24th on Noe. Sanchez also is not a through street since it ends at 21st (?) with much less traffic (from my experience). Vicksburg is even flatter with even less traffic either north or south. Not as central? Yes. Is it something that would generate less opposition? Yes.

How about backing an alternate street closure that more of the "community" could support?

Anonymous said...


Here are a couple of reasons why I support Noe St. rather than Sanchez:

- Plazas get the most use in areas with the highest pedestrian traffic. It is a fact that 24th & Noe has significantly higher pedestrian traffic than 24th & Sanchez. This is SF Planning's point. Planning science says public space will get the most use if you put it where the people are. (Rocky's Dad seems to think a central location is not important to success or failure; by that logic, let's put it 28th & Diamond.)

2) Go to Google Maps and look the distribution of merchants, along 24th from Diamond to Church, and up Castro from 25th to 23th. Noe & 24th is the closest to the center of all merchants. Honestly, I don't want it to be a boon to Starbucks either, which is why I oppose the parklet alternative. The plaza will benefit Starbucks, sure, but it will also benefit Bernie's & Martha's, by virtue of overall increased pedestrian and business activity. (Part of the trial could asking Bernie & Martha whether their business goes up or down.) It will also benefit more businesses west of Noe St., like Subs Inc.

3) The status quo at 24th & Noe is not good. Pedestrian/car conflicts are the norm. Traffic backs up on 24th. It slows down the bus. It aggravates impatient drivers. This plaza will help fix some of those problems. By contrast, the status quo at 24th & Sanchez is better.

For these reasons, I think 24th & Noe just makes sense. I respect your opinion about 24th & Sanchez. I think SF Planning and the NVA would be open to that if they thought we could have a serious conversation about it, but judging by the behavior of the crowd at the St. Philips hootenanny, it's hard to have these kinds of conversations with 300 people at once. So Planning and the NVA have to make some educated decisions about what would be best for the neighborhood, with the input of the rest of us.

rocky's dad said...

@ TA: well thought out comments. Thank you for bringing up some good points.

I have been essentially expressing similar sentiments all along.

1. The NVMPA has been fixated on ONE solution only; that of fully closing off Noe St. at 24th. to all traffic. To them the ONLY solution has been the plaza. Myself and many others have supported other ideas, including widening the sidewalks at each side of Noe and adding trees, benches and landscaping.

2. And of course, when I suggest that central location will not determine the success or failure of a plaza, the opposition wildly throws out the idea of a plaza at 28th and Diamond. Joking or not, it adds no value to the conversation.

3. Pedestrian/car conflicts are, in fact, NOT the norm all the time. Yes, absolutely Saturday mornings it can be tough to drive across 24th St. Guess what? that's normal; the street if full of people, shoppers and cars..Other days its very normal and easy to cross 24th in your car. Wait till traffic starts backing up when drivers are forced to turn left or right on 24th when they just want to continue south on Noe. Serious congestion will occur.

4. The parklet or sidewalk widening on Noe will no positive or negative boon to Starbucks. That so called "parklet" idea will benefit whoever walks by. There are no defined hard and fast statistics that would define the Noe/24th location the BEST location for a plaza. The plaza supporters have been fixated on that one location from day one, without any other data or vision to suggest other less obstructive locations.

I continue to support keeping Noe St. open to vehicles and bikes, and believe other solutions can be very successful for this retail shopping district.

Anonymous said...

Why 24th & Noe? So Starbucks can get free spill-over space? Why not try this out on 24th & Vicksburg?

rocky's dad said...

I keep asking the same question: why JUST that one intersection?

As an architect, we always look at multiple solutions with various iterations before recommending the best one for the client. That's called design process and it always results in better projects.

24th and Vicksburg has possibilities, but I suspect that many neighbors on Vicks would object. I tend to agree. I think the better solution is developing a location that does not close off any public street. Widening sidewalks with great street side planting and additional benches makes a lot of sense and is far less costly.

Anonymous said...

I must be part of a very small minority: a Noe Valley resident who honestly could not care less about the plaza or where it goes. I've been watching this debate with some level of bemusement, since I have no emotional stake in it like so many others do. The one conclusion I can draw from the whole thing is that you cannot do anything, ever, in San Francisco without someone getting upset about it. For being one of the most liberal cities in the US, SF is unbelievably conservative.

I'll let you get back to your fight over the mini-park now.

Anonymous said...

You are sooooo right anon 1:21 How did we ever agree to let them build the Golden Gate Bridge, ruining our coastline????

rocky's dad said...

Well, anon@1:21. It's quite alright that you don't care much about the plaza issue. That's certainly your right.

But many others do, on both sides of the issue. It really has nothing to do with being liberal, conservative, tolerant or any other belief.

I think it has to do with people caring about The City to be involved, and caring about our neighborhood. Being involved in some issue, any issue can be a good thing. There are plenty of NV residents who do, in fact, just sit back and do nothing about the community. If we all acted like that, there would probably far fewer trees being planted around here, no benches or planters on 24th St., etc.

I think you're wrong when you call it a "fight". It's about having a say in how we want to shape our neighborhood. Both sides of the issue have valid points and opinions. And that means being involved and caring.

Anonymous said...

>>It's about having a say in how we want to shape our neighborhood.

How should we measure everyone's "say" about this public plaza opportunity?

Anonymous said...

Obviously, the loudest and craziest win. Duh! ;)

Chiming said...

I attended the meeting on April 8 and look forward to the next one (June?). Pretty evenly split in terms of for/against at least at the meeting.

Let's not kick the ball down the street (literally) to discuss other locations in our neighborhood. I'm voting against ALL P2P projects in Noe as I'm not impressed with the looks of either the Castro or Guerrero Park locations. As I've said before, once a park is installed, it will be as hard as a stop sign to remove and then 38 grand just went for nothing.

Whomever put the "Keep Noe Open" postcards under my door this weekend thank you. I've mailed mine in already.

rocky's dad said...

I agree Chiming: I think the P2P program is too quick just to spent grant money, without considering options or good design solutions.

The Guerrero park comes off as looking like a bunch of leftover trash from Golden Gate Park. I've walked there on several occasions, including sunny saturday mornings and have seen at the most 2 people sitting the wind, and right next to traffic flying by.

I've sent in my Let's Keep Noe postcards in as well. We continue to oppose closing off a major crosstown public street for use as a plaza. Thanks for your support.

Chiming said...

I agree rocky's dad: This project makes no sense. It is in the wind and at most 2 people would use it.

Anonymous said...

So, is that to suggest at least some of us are satisfied using a proximal count of those standing in line at a community meeting to determine the outcome of the public plaza opportunity?

Please help me arrive at some specific measure here, that seems most equitable to you...

murphstahoe said...

"Please help me arrive at some specific measure here, that seems most equitable to you..."

The specific measure we have, in my opinion, is this. We have elected a Mayor, a Supervisor, and they have hired/appointed a planning department. They will need to do their jobs and lead. They are getting vast amounts of feedback, and will need to make the decisions.

I don't say this because this measure favors my position on the issue. Mayor Newsom has been absent, and as of the public meeting Supervisor Dufty was in "listening mode". I say this because that's how our government is supposed to work - at least circa my High School Civics classes.

Chiming said...

I still think we need to decide either way as a "trial" is another way of saying "yes" as pulling a park out would be political suicide for someone.

For any highly-charged issue, I would think that a heavy majority, on either side, be appropriate? Like 66%-75% support for either side. I just don't think we have such a consensus now as the neighborhood seems divided. Maybe some additional stats push people from the middle.

murphstahoe said...

"Like 66%-75% support for either side."

Who is eligible to "vote" ;)

rocky's dad said...

I still keep looking at essentially one larger single issue, as I view it. And it's this:

The pro-plaza side has always seen Noe Street as "an obstacle" in the way of "livability" and bringing a community "together". Hold on: This is a STREET, for vehicles and bikes. It has been used as a major cross-town street from Noe Valley for probably at least 100 years. You can't just arbitrarily close a public street because it's in the way of your plaza, benches and trees.

Turning a portion of a street into a public sitting area is no small matter. That act involves fundamentally changing the primary traffic grid and access grid for many many people. This particular street is not just some side alley, or secondary passage. It's an important street, period. That's my larger view of the issue.

If, and that's a HUGE if Noe St. at 24th were to be blocked off and turned into a pedestrian plaza, I think the decision would involve any and all San Francisco residents. After all, it's not just Noe Valley's street. The blocking off of a part of the City's infrastructure should involved a long process of EIR, city wide hearings, notifications and other aspects of the public due process.

I remain committed to opposing ANY closing of the street, temporary or permanent. There are many other viable solutions to creating min-park areas, additional seating, landscaping, etc. Those other ideas must remain on the table and part of the discussion.

cr said...

"Maybe some additional stats push people from the middle."

Exactly. But that's why we need a trial. We can't gather additional stats without it. We're all missing a lot of information here: Will people use the plaza, at what times, on what days? How will it affect traffic? How will it affect business revenues? Most importantly, do neighborhood residents like it? Do they feel more connected to their community? We can't learn any of that without a trial.

In other words, for the people in the middle, the trial IS the compromise position. That's the only we get the information we need to make a decision.

People who want to block the trial do so either because they oppose a plaza that closes Noe St. under any circumstances (even if it works), or because they fear that if it doesn't work it will never be removed.

There's nothing I can say to the first group, but to the second group, I ask again, please help us define standards for a trial and let's push the city to define a clear process by which it will be removed if it doesn't work.

Rest assured, the P2P trials go through an ISCOTT review board with various agencies and constituencies, and that review board is hard to please. If there are traffic problems, or if the plaza is not well utilized, or if the neighborhood doesn't support, the plaza will be removed. It's really quite straightforward.

As further reassurance, many of us who support the plaza have publicly committed that we will help end the trial if it is unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the Noe Valley Association, which will be spending its own money to maintain the plaza is quite adamant that they will not continue to spend money on the plaza if after a couple of months it's clear that the neighborhood doesn't support it. So there's really nothing to be afraid of. It won't be as hard as a stop sign to remove. If the trial doesn't work, it ends. Easy as that.

But we can't get the additional stats you're asking for unless we have a trial. To block a trial plaza without even giving the neighborhood a chance to see if they like it is the true fait accompli.

A carefully defined trial with a clear "end" is the only logical, sensible way to proceed. It will bring the neighborhood together again. We're squabbling now about hypotheticals. Let's have a trial and then we will have some facts to discuss.

rocky's dad said...

No, we're not squabbling about hypotheticals.

Even a so called "trial" of the plaza is not logical, when, in the first place it is NOT logical for a few citizens to think they can take over a public vehicular street and turn it into a park.

That idea is flawed from the very beginning. If you want to add a small park and/or more seating, trees, flowers and landscaping to the 24th St. corridor, there are many other ways to achieve that.

As a sub-note, I do think many of us who oppose the street closure, even for the trial idea, seriously do NOT believe this temporary plaza would be removed, even if it is found by studies, statistics that it does not work. The pro-plaza people would scream and scream and put up a huge fight to keep it. Once something like a temp plaza is in place could become very difficult to close. We don't believe you.

Don't forget to send in your postcards from "Let's Keep Noe Open" to the mayor, the Director of Planning, and the Director or Public Works. thank you.

Tom said...

Wait, who says you cannot arbitrarily close a street to create a plaza? Why not? Because it's been there for 100 years? Really, is that the rule?

What is so sacred about a complete grid? As others have said, it might be great to take Noe all the way to Fell or Geary Street but Duboce Park and Alamo Square get in the way! Can't believe they put trees and benches in the way of our street! I mean Noe is a major cross-town thoroughfare - except that it doesn't actually make it half way across town.

Within the history and evolution of cities there are many instances of 'radical' alterations to street patterns, and this project is very minor in comparison. If this planning department is willing to run a trial in our neighborhood with the goal of creating a successful civic space for residents, I, for one, think we should be thankful.

Chiming said...

cr..appreciate your opinion and normally I'm in the trial camp. I just see a trial in this case as a YES as the plaza goes in. And there are many arguments against that don't have anything to do with a traffic study. Like listening to all the neighbors on Noe who don't want it. Just looking at Guerrero Park is fear enough of such an embarrassment in our neighborhood. I see closing a street as a potentially dangerous precedent for the P2P program.

I would support the Parklet idea and put in what they have on Divisadero. Then, tables, chairs, etc can be put in and see how that goes without closing a busy thoroughfare.

I'm also not buying into the sense of community idea that this proposal would supposedly provide. A couple of people hanging out at Guerrero Park on a Saturday to me isn't community. In my opinion, it's talking to your neighbors, shopping locally, block parties and gathering in "real" parks. I don't think some tables/chairs/portable shrubbery on asphalt will accomplish the same? My two cents.

murphstahoe said...

"I would support the Parklet idea and put in what they have on Divisadero. Then, tables, chairs, etc can be put in and see how that goes without closing a busy thoroughfare."

And then what?

rocky's dad said...

More good points, Chiming: Thank you. I have expressed similar thoughts recently, as well.

I walk by and into the little Guerrero park myself..and even on sunny days, its hardly occupied. And seriously, it looks like a piece of junk. And this is all the P2P program can come up with? Amateur, cheap looking and a waste.

As for "bringing together community": you are absolutely right. If "community" doesn't exist already for some people, then a little plaza, or parklets will not create it. Community is just going to 24th street to do some shopping, it's stopping by the Farmers market on saturday am and seeing your neighbors or making friends with new ones. Community on 24th St. already exists in many ways 24/7.

And to murph: Seriously, you have to ask "what then"? Guess what? people enjoy the little parklet, and the many other existing seating areas on 24th. they have a nice break, enjoy their coffee, get up and move on with their day.

Not terribly hard to understand.

Tom said...

I think that Guerrero Park is pretty hideous as well. But it's not a fair comparison to the proposed Noe plaza.

I don't think anyone said the plaza is going to "create" community. Obviously, Noe Valley has an existing community but the aim of the plaza is to enhance and strengthen bonds within the community by giving residents a place to gather, converse, watch, etc.

Parklets would definitely be an asset to 24th St. and the neighborhood at large, but some of us see the plaza as plaza holding a much higher potential. We see the trial as a worthwhile way of finding out if that is true or not.

rocky's dad said...

Yes, tom: I do agree about the Guerrero park. it is pretty ugly, and hardly ever used..

Nice waste of taxpayer money, huh?

The proposed Noe St. plaza as a temporary so called park will be even more unattractive: Picture a bunch of left over tree stumps, benches and little shrubs in pots, throw in some plywood benches, and all of this just sitting on asphalt paving..

Nice image of a park? Waste of money. Has nothing to do with bringing together a "sense of community"..which we already have in our own individual ways. Let's not "suburbanize" Noe St. into a cute, windy cul-de-sac. Keep the street open, use it safely and properly as a street.

Life will be just fine in Noe Valley.

Tom said...

Wow, Rocky you already know what the plaza is going to look like? Funny, I had a really different image in my head. The design team is extremely talented and I have high expectation and confidence that they will deliver a high quality design.

Guerrero park may not be the most attractive place, but if I lived on those first few block of San Jose I would be very thankful to have that road block preventing cars from speeding past my house. That park was meant more for street calming then creating a place so like I said, it's not a fair comparison.

Creating Noe Plaza is not "suburbanization". I have seen many more plazas in cities around the world than I have in suburbs.

The priority in suburb design is convenient travel ways for motorized vehicles and pedestrian routes are typically after-thoughts. So, if anything, creating a plaza in Noe would be a very UN-suburban venture.

Chiming said...

The only P2P program I think is remotely attractive to the eye is the Parklet on Divisadero and I would guess the other locations in the Castro, Guerrero, etc all had nice designs on paper?

What is so appealing about sitting with a table and a couple of chairs in the middle of a windy street? Some of the greenery is already installed on Noe, which I assume was not done in conjuction with this plaza proposal?

Someone at the April 8 meeting mentioned removing the tax associated with having a bench in front of your business. If we need more seating why not install more of those; the benches on either side of the Whole Foods parking lot are quite nice and not the cheap stuff we see in the Castro.

cr said...

You know who put those benches there by Whole Foods? The Noe Valley Association, the same people responsible for writing the plaza grant, and who will help oversee the trial when it happens. They're making our neighborhood better. The plaza is part of a long-term vision for 24th Street, developed with community input, supported by residents and merchants, which includes everything you describe, greenery, seating, enhanced sidewalk space, as well as a trial plaza "in the middle of the street" to see if people might like it. They think it will help define the heart of the neighborhood, bring more visitors to the street, reduce traffic at a problem intersection, and generally enhance everyone's quality of life. I agree with them.

Chiming, it sounds like you would be willing to give it a try if you were convinced that the trial would end if the plaza causes problems. Am I correct? Or are you with Rocky's Dad and the no-way, no-how crowd?

rocky's dad said...

Again, great comments Chiming. thank you again.

But, speaking for Rocky'sdad..that's me; yes, I am extremely skeptical, and somewhat mistrustful of the "trial" plaza in the first place. If the plaza was, in fact, part of the long term "vision" for the 24th St. corridor, why was it sprung upon the general public in such a quick, sneaky way?

To clarify, I do have some good things about the NVA. The benches are nice, well made and placed in great locations. The recent tree plantings are welcome, though still very spotty along 24th. The hanging baskets are pure suburban cuteness..could do without them. If the NVA had anything to do with the landscaped and fenced areas recently installed near Starbucks and Rabat, well..they missed the mark. Hideous design with curbs and cemetery like fencing around a bunch of half alive shrubs, and crappy trees. The solution was not well designed, probably not designed at all by any professionals in urban design or landscaping.

Is this the best they can do? Is this what the trial plaza could look like? Is this what the flimsy parklets will look like?

Again, all of the fuzzy words and Oprah psychobabble about "defining the heart of the neighborhood", "sense of community" and "enhancing everyone's quality of life" will not change the fact that the trial plaza is essentially a mis-guided attempt at one thing:

ClOSING OFF A PUBLIC STREET that is well used by all residents, to create a poorly designed, wind-swept, asphalt paved "plaza", filled with a few flimsy benches and potted plants to sip your latte and park your stroller.

cr said...

Rocky's Dad, It's disingenuous to say NVA's current benches are "nice" but the new ones will be "flimsy" in the same post, but I know that's how you roll.

A few facts to correct for others who may read this:

It won't be the NVA designing the space. It will be designed by professional landscape architects Flora Grubb and Boor Bridges. They have donated their services. I'm sure SF Planning, the Noe Valley Association, and neighborhood residents will have input. The Noe Valley Association will pay to maintain the space. The budget available to purchase furniture, etc., is roughly double that of any previous Pavement to Parks program.

The long-term vision for the 24th St. corridor is Noe Valley's 24th Street: An Urban Village. The plan was prepared by the streetscape planners at Urban Ecology after community workshops. It calls for community hubs along the street but does not envision the plaza specifically. (The Pavement to Parks program did not exist when the plan was created.) The plaza trial -- and yes, it's just a trial, despite what Rocky's Dad would have you believe -- comes from a grant written by the NVA to help them secure funding to move forward toward the goals set out in the Urban Village plan. The plaza is not set in stone. It's a trial that may help move the community benefit district toward its long-term goals.

The Noe Valley Association has said repeatedly to everyone who will listen (not Rocky's Dad, clearly) that they will not devote scarce resources to the plaza unless it is successful. They have zero interest in funding something the neighborhood doesn't like. So if the trial is a flop, the plaza comes out. So be suspicious all you like, Rocky's Dad, but those are the facts.

Tom said...

Great comments again CR! Thank you!

If I am not mistaken the only permanently built P2P project is at Castro & 17th. All the others are temporary trials, which is why they look "flimsy" to some.

The Castro P2P permanent installation is pretty nice with raised concrete planters, upgraded furniture, large glazed pots, and resurfaced asphalt.

The argument about "flimsy" benches, and pots is irrelevant and distracting. If the space created is popular than the design is upgraded, if not then its removed and never seen again.

Chiming said...

cr..I'm in the no-way, no-how crowd. I'd put a Keep Noe Open sign in my window but I don't know how to get one? There are certainly many others displayed though :)

Again, I'm coming from the non traffic angle and sorry to keep bringing up Guerrero Park. As hideous as it looks, and if indeed still temporary, WHO will have the guts to try and pry it away from the fingers of those who love it? And of course some will love it no matter what and the people who want the trial but DON'T like the result will be stuck with it.

Yes, I'm a skeptic like Rocky's Dad but you have to admit it's tough to reverse things like this, no? To quote another poster from earlier in the blog, I'm arguing against the path of another potential "urban toilet." I just see the downside far outweighing the benefits of what I see coming as a silly looking, low-utilized plaza after the initial attraction wears off.

As for Guerrero Park, I especially like the dents on the planters as people try and turn around the cul-de-sac. Would the same happen on Noe...hmm. I don't live on Noe and I can't even imagine how the residents so close to the chairs blowing around will feel. Glazed pots aren't going to make it look much better.

cr said...

"Chairs blowing around." C'mon, really? It's this kind of argument that inflames the discussion, because it's so obviously silly. There will be no flying chairs.

I do agree with you that it's tough to reverse things sometimes. I am confident that will not be the case here. There is a process in place for reviewing the plaza trial, with several opportunities for extension (i.e. several opportunities to end the trial) before it would eventually be made permanent. There needs to be a clear consensus to extend the trial or make the plaza permanent. If the neighborhood doesn't support it strongly, it will disappear. The "no" crowd is very loud and very organized. Y'all may succeed in killing this before we even have a trial. You'll DEFINITELY be able to kill it if there is a trial and it doesn't work. Again, follow the money. The Noe Valley Association will pay to maintain the space, and they will not pay to maintain something the neighborhood doesn't like.

Yes, Tom is right, Guerrero Park is still temporary. If it is approved to be permanent, it will get a redesign, just like the Castro Commons has.

Castro Commons is the only P2P project that is now permanent. And it only succeeded because everyone in the neighborhood rallied around it, including former opponents. It was extended for a year before it was made permanent, so residents could see how it functioned in all seasons at all times "after the initial attraction wears off." You may not like the way it looks, but it is well utilized, and 95% of the people in the Castro love what it's done for the neighborhood. And the Castro Commons is looking better these days after its redesign a month ago. Long term, years from now, the plan is to raise a couple of million dollars and then it will get a world-class design that San Franciscans of the future will be proud of. There will be resources to improve these public spaces over time. But first you have to put in something temporary, just to see if the space works.

I'm a fan of good government, which means democratic process and careful stewardship of city resources. Economically, this is a clear win. Running a plaza trial in space that is already publicly owned is quick and inexpensive. Glazed pots come first because they can be removed and reused elsewhere. They don't break any ground. They don't install anything permanent. There is an ace design team, so it will look pretty good from the start. It won't look amazing, but we wouldn't want it to look amazing, because amazing would cost a lot of money. Neither you nor I wants to spend a lot of money. First we need to know if it works.

Killing this project before a trial is undemocratic. There has been a campaign of fear and misinformation. Opponents have lied to residents about the ramifications of the plaza and have tried to use backdoor connections to city officials to shut this thing down. That bothers me as a citizen.

cr said...

Supporters of the plaza trial:

You can pick up "YES!" window signs at Noe Law, 1330 Castro, or BJ Droubi Real Estate, 4157 24th Street (and sign the petition).

rocky's dad said...

Just for the record, I have read, for months now, the long term plan for the Noe Valley Urban Village Plan: It is well written, and the long term solutions look excellent, led by qualified professional design teams.

Let's be clear: The changes proposed in the Plan are permanent, such as sidewalk widening, bulb0-outs, tree planting and sidewalk enhancements. To my knowledge there is NO MENTION or discussion in that plan about closing off Noe St. to create a plaza, temporary or permanent. That idea was pushed on Noe Valley residents by the Planning Dept, NVA and others without proper notification and hearings.

Despite the heartfelt pleadings of CR, the democratic process has not been followed, regarding the temp plaza issue.

And yes, I am part of the no crowd, NO to closing off a public street for a little used space as a "temporary plaza". I am part of the YES group that strongly supports enhancing the urban streetscape of 24th St. That can be accomplished, incrementally, and with appropriate funds to add permanent seating, trees, flowers, paving, etc. by implementing the Urban Village Plan.

And one more thing, CR: no one has lied to anyone about the proposed plaza and other issues. We have expressed our opinions, that's all.

Chiming said...

Killing a trial is not undemocratic. Was Obama voted in on a trial basis? Of course not. He was voted in via a YES OR NO and that's all we're doing here; giving our opinions.

My opinion all along has been that a trial is a YES because the plaza goes in.

cr said...

When people say the plaza will increase emergency response times, that's a lie. SF Planning talked to the emergency departments, and they have no concerns.

(Meanwhile some residents are circulating a letter begging the police and fire departments to oppose the plaza.)

When people say the plaza will put citizens in harm's way from runaway cars, that's a lie.

When people say the only reason we are having community meetings is because neighbors objected, that's a lie. They were always planned. This was always part of the process.

When people say the plaza will discourage shopping by inhibiting access to merchants, that's a lie. The evidence shows otherwise, and the merchants support it.

When people say the plaza will block driveways, that's a lie.

That it will block 24th St., that's a lie.

That it is not a trial but a permanent plaza, that's a lie. (I recognize you guys here on the blog are just representing an opinion that the trial will be difficult to reverse, but there are others out there on the street who are deliberately misleading people into thinking that the plaza is permanent from the beginning.)

And, apologies to RD, saying that Noe Street is a main thoroughfare is a lie. At the very least, let's say it's an opinion that can be proved wrong. It carries a far lower volume of traffic than Castro, Church, Dolores, or Guerrero.

I have heard people say all these things. I have also talked to many people who oppose the plaza because they have heard these false rumors. When they learn the truth, they say, "Then what is all the fuss about?"

There are people projecting hypothetical traffic increases, based on no evidence, and then when SF Planning responds with a plan for traffic counts, they make plans to screw up the couunts (for example, jumping up and down on the traffic counter to show high levels of traffic on Jersey).

Rocky's Dad, of course I have no problem with you expressing your opinion. You obviously care about the neighborhood. But some of your allies out there on the street are misleading people on purpose.

You're right, Chiming, killing a trial is not undemocratic. But killing a trial by injecting fear and misinformation is undemocratic. Using personal connections to ring up the supervisor's office and shut down a trial before the neighborhood has a chance to learn about the plaza is undemocratic. Killing a trial because you think a majority of the neighborhood will hate the plaza is fine. Killing a trial because you think a majority of the neighborhood will like the plaza, but you won't, and you won't be able to stop it if they do, is undemocratic by definition. That's saying you want to block the wishes of the majority.

Democracy depends upon accurate information. Most of the neighborhood supports a trial, if for no other reason than to gain more information. We should have one.

rocky's dad said...

he CR: I think you're starting to go off the deep end, seriously. Relax, chill out.

You really should drop the "lie" rant. Every one of the items YOU mentioned as being lies can also be construed as "opinions" by others.
Perhaps a few of the items, such as blocking 24th St. or driveways is really "misinformation" but no need to lump it with your bullet points of lies.

If we chose, we could call your comment that "most of the neighborhood supports a trial" as a lie. But I won't. It may be your opinion, which is fine, but let's be clear: I doubt that your opinion is based on a written set of data assembled from an accurate poll of MOST of the neighborhood. You're reaching way out there when you say things like that.

You seem quite fearful that a few of these so called "lies" which probably are just poorly spoken rumors are a serious threat to the success or failure of the plaza issue.

Some advice: Stop over-reacting, relax, have a glass of wine and enjoy life.

And, by the way, I have also contacted by phone and email various supervisors and other public officials to express my opinion as a citizen and taxpayer, and asked them to consider NOT allowing the trial to go ahead. And you call that undemocratic???

Please choose your words more carefully, and stop adding needless fuel to the discussion.

cr said...

Fair enough, Rocky's Dad, I don't mean to overheat things. Let's call them false rumors.

As for the democratic process, by all means, contact your public officials.

Let me just ask you one question, though: Do you want to block a trial because you think it will fail (i.e. the neighborhood won't like it and you don't want the city to waste its time) or do you want to block a trial because you think it will succeed (i.e. the neighborhood will like it, but you won't, so better block it now before the neighbors get a chance to see what they think)?

rocky's dad said...

Neither of your questions has anything to do why I do not, as well as many others, want a "trial" of any kind.

I've stated my reason (s) many times; Here it is again:

A street is a street. It's designed for vehicles and cylists to use for getting from one place to another. Noe St. is an important north-south cross town street. I don't support blocking any streets for the use as a plaza, trial or permanent.

There are many other ways to add seating, trees, sidewalk landscape to that Noe/24th corner, without BLOCKING A STREET.

Chiming said... reasons against are purely based on precedent of what I think are poorly executed plazas at the Castro and Guerrero locations. And I'm guessing they had "designers" as well. I will admit the Castro location is coming along from what used to be a bunch of cheap tables and chairs but I still wouldn't want it in my neighborhood. If I want to sit somewhere, it won't be at a busy intersection. I'll sit on one of the benches on 24th or take the pooch to one of our dog parks.

But, to Rocky's Dad's point, this proposed location goes even further as it will close a street for the first time. If this passes, what street gets closed next?

rocky's dad said...

@Chiming: Exactly! well said.

I also basically agree about the Castro plaza. I admire the spirit and the goals of P2P in providing more green space, seating, etc. in various neighborhoods, but the Castro location is so wrong. I've tried sitting there on several occasions, different days and times of day. It is VERY noisy, you can smell car exhaust, usually very windy..I also really felt very vulnerable and unsafe sitting that close to traffic. It's just not the right location for a plaza.

P2P needs to carefully evaluate future locations better, and not just throw down a plaza and benches in the most available location. Better planning, better thinking, better solutions.

Tom said...

So we all end up agreeing to disagree?

I disagree that Noe is an important "cross-town" street. And I disagree that traffic will get worse from blocking it.

I disagree that the plaza will be "poorly executed" in terms of layout and scale but agree it may look temporary or "flimsy" in its trial stage due to limited budget for materials.

From what I've seen the Castro Plaza is very popular. Does that mean its the ideal plaza for a pedestrian area? Probably not, but it was also meant to calm that intersection to make navigating from Castro Street to Market Street much easier and safer and in that regards its a huge success. So you may not want to sit there, and I get that because neither do I, but I love the fact that 17th is closed and I don't have to watch for cars.

So, in my opinion, the P2P has been very successful by creating a pedestrian spaces (albeit not ideal) where none was before and simplifying traffic patterns. It's not all about pedestrian space, and it's not all about traffic - it's about improving the neighborhood overall. And some of us think having a dedicated pedestrian area and simpler traffic patterns at Noe & 24th will be an overall win for the neighborhood.

cr said...

RD, those are your reasons against the plaza. They are not reasons for opposing a two-month trial.

rocky's dad said...

CR you still don't understand my position. You still don't seem to read what I say. You still don't get it.

I am opposed to ANY trial to close off ANY public street for the purposes of turning a portion of that street into a sitting area for people hang out, temporary or permanent.

Can that be more clear?

Tom said...

We get it Rocky - you're opposed to the project, we hear you! We still don't hear any good reasons WHY.

Please explain WHY a street cannot or should not be converted to pedestrian space. It's happened many, many times before, there are no rules or laws that say otherwise. So WHY not? Streets are closed and opened or altered over time - they are not static spaces.

Traffic patterns will be altered, but that's kind of the point. And the trial will find out of the patterns are an improvement or not. None of us really know how many trips start south of 24th with a destination that is best served by Noe. A lot of the traffic using this block of Noe may be local traffic that will easily be spread out, without disruption, onto other streets.

cr said...

RD, Please be patient. I'm listening to you. I understand that you don't think the street should be turned into a plaza on a permanent basis. I've heard many reasons for this, from you and others, and I understand the logic, even if I don't agree with it. We're clear there.

I also understand that you don't think the street should be turned into a plaza on a temporary basis (in this case, so that your neighbors can gather more data to make an informed, democratic decision about how they think the street should be used in the future). I've only heard one reason for this, which is that an "important cross-town street" should never be turned into pedestrian space, even on a temporary basis.

I assume you don't oppose street festivals, parades, or the Castro Farmer's Market, which blocks Noe St. once a week. So maybe what bothers you in this case is that the closure will last for more than one day? Or maybe what bothers you is that people will be sitting, rather than shopping or parading?

Sixty days just doesn't seem like a very long time to put up with something that a large number of your neighbors want, even if you find it inconvenient or philosophically objectionable. I know you're someone that cares about the neighborhood. I'm trying to put myself in your shoes, and I can't see why I would be so opposed to a sixty-day trial unless I thought the plaza would become permanent.

If I'm opposing the trial because I think the plaza will become permanent, I'm either saying, "I think 60% of my neighbors will oppose the plaza after the trial, but the city will make it permanent anyway" (which is extremely unlikely), or I'm saying, "I think 60% of my neighbors will support the plaza after the trial, but I don't think they should have the right to decide how the street is used. It's a STREET."

If that's indeed what you're saying, we can let it rest there.

rocky's dad said...

@CR: I'm actually quite tired of YOUR ranting.

And your arrogance to assume what I do or do NOT oppose. And your arrogance to assume what bothers me or doesn't bother me. And your arrogance in assuming what I find convenient or inconvenient. And your arrogance in assuming what I find objectionable or not.

I've stated my opinion here many times in this thread and other threads related to this issue. If you really have the need to find out more how I feel and think, then re-read all of my comments, ok?

I won't go so far as to tell you to shut up about me, but I could.

Like you just said: "let it rest.."

Anonymous said...

RD- it is high time you found paid employment. Your talents are clearly being wasted by spending all of your time clicking away at your keyboard shooting off your sage advice into the blogosphere without any real power to make the constructive changes you are advocating for. You must want to contribute to this city in more meaningful and constructive ways! Surely your wealth of knowledge about how streets should best be used would be greatly appreciated by the city planning department?

Chiming said...

Easy Anon! I think many of us here have spent more time than expected on this blog. Too much time away from my full commission job :)

Yes Tom, we agree to disagree and I think we are talking in circles myself included. We all keep re-stating our opinion but everyone has their position fortified.

There's been some clear reasons given against the trial idea but let's fire up those BBQs and I look forward to the meeting on June 23.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be great to have a community BBQ somewhere in the heart of Noe Valley every Memorial Day?!

Talking about a unifying place and time...

Chiming said...

Not me, I prefer to grill in the privacy of my own backyard while enjoying a cold beer. I'd have no desire to grill in the middle of a street.

Today I was in Union Square and looked around and thought - now THIS is a plaza. Well done, not silly looking and utilized.

born to shop said...

at last. a new area for my little snookums to "relieve" himslef. cant wait for it to happen

streetblockingsucks said...

blocking off of the street for a few busniess egos?? wow. thats dumb.. but then again so are the neighbors for buying into it.
maybe we should rename it
NO-WAY Valley

Anonymous said...

Um, wouldn't "NO-WAY Valley" (clever!) imply the exact opposite of what any rationale person would read into the first part of your diatribe?!

To illustrate clearly:

NO-WAY Valley = NO Public Plaza

Noe Valley = Public Plaza

WHEREAS sez said...

what a joke. . but a very clever one on the blind idiots who cant see how clever and deceptive the truth can be twisted .

sure it was UNANIMOUS. but did that include ALL the members of the association he represents or just the ones at the meeting?
if 5 people voted and there were no others there, then he is correct it was unanimous. ..
WHEREAS. when you fool some of the people some time.
WHEREAS logic dictates you CANT fool all the people all the time.
WHEREAS. that is truth and fact.