December 31, 2010

Noe Valley 2010: Year in Review

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

More Restaurants

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

More Green

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

Quieter Trains

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

Orange Wins

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

Crime Files

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

Storefront Changes

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

Lively Debates

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

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

December 29, 2010

PSA: Noe Valley Tree Collection Schedule 2010

If you bought a live Christmas Tree or Hanukkah Bush for the holidays, don't just toss it on a random corner when no one's looking (we've already seen a few sad castoffs this season). Do the right thing and recycle it. Sunset Scavenger will haul it away for free starting next week.

Via the Sunset Scavenger newsletter:

Christmas tree collection will take place January 3-8 and January 10-15. Please place clean, unflocked trees next to your carts when you take them to the curb for your regularly scheduled pickup. Be sure to remove all tinsel, decorations, plastic bags, stands, and lights. If your tree is over 6 feet, please cut it in half.

If you're wondering what happens to your tree once Sunset Scavenger picks it up: it's fed to a wood chipper. The wood chips are then trucked to Tracy, burned to power turbines and create electricity – and then sold back to PG&E to power that iPad you got as a gift this year. In 2009 San Francisco recycled nearly 500 tons (!) of holiday trees, enough to power 20,000 houses for a month.

December 28, 2010

What Noe Wants: Next Mayor of SF

With Gavin Newsom on his way to Sacramento, San Francisco Supervisors will select an interim Mayor in January and voters will get to weigh in for a full-term mayor in 2011. Who should run the City? Should the interim Mayor stick around after the election? So far the only serious candidate to announce is former D8 supervisor Bevan Dufty, but many names have been floated for the interim including Tom Ammiano and current Board President David Chiu.

Enter, to "keep you informed on the process for selecting our next mayor and to give you a forum to express your thoughts on who the next mayor should be and the direction they should take the City." So far the site features a handful of videos of people you may recognize from the hood, and the shorts are filmed (mostly) in the park on 24th St across from Martha & Bros.

Hmm.... Bufty for Mayor. We've seen him in action this year... is that what we want?

December 14, 2010

Parking, Parklets and Other Backroom Deals in Noe Valley

Yesterday we learned from the Twittersphere that "new angled spots have arrived on Castro Street" between 24th and Jersey Streets. A fly-by and quick check on Mapjack confirms there is a gain of four parking spots on this block of Castro (there were six, now ten). Four spots were lost to trial of the parklets on 24th St. Coincidence?

Interestingly, earlier diagonal parking on Castro took years. But when Isa Muhawieh moved his salon to Jersey and Castro in 2005, he pushed through a "trial" that easily became permanent. With the parklets taking away 4 spots on 24th Street, the Noe Valley Merchants Association is rumored to have brokered a back-room deal to add this new parking to Castro St at 24th. The parklets are a six month trial with no guarantee of permanency, but it's unclear if the parking spaces on Castro are a trial or a done deal.

In other words plazas and parklets are controversial, but apparently adding parking places is just fine. For previous opponents of the plaza who objected to the NVMPA making decisions by fiat, where's the outrage? And for fans of the parklets, are you OK with this horse trade?

December 10, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Pop-Up Store: LOLA

In addition to the 24 HoliDAYS on 24th Street, a local artist/ entrepreneur is seizing the moment and opening a 12-day pop-up store for the holidays in the former Apple Blossom space.

Lola Herrera writes:

I am "Popping Up" a Boutique for the 12 days before Christmas. I am a self-taught Artist and designer and will be showcasing my work in the Boutique. I have been designing for the past 7 years, working in my Studio in the Mission, by appointment only. This is my first Retail Store and Noe Valley is "my neighborhood." ... Hope you can make it by for a toast!

Grand Opening Toasting Party

Sat. Dec. 11th 5-7 P.M.

LOLA San Francisco Pop-up Boutique

1303-C Castro (Corner of 24th Street )


[Lola San Francisco]

Noe Foodie News

Looking for gifts for the foodies on your list for the holidays? Noe Valley got two mentions in the NY Times' A Very Foodie Christmas story today:
On a recent ham crawl through Spain with Jose Andres, Chris Cosentino was appalled to learn that back fat of Iberico de Bellota pigs is used as sausage filler. He decided to rescue the misused treasure, import it and render it the best lardo possible. At Incanto, he wraps the velvety tissue around Asian pears and adds red clover, a sprinkle of sea salt and good olive oil. His wife, Tatiana Graf, suggests you simply apply a cool sliver to a grilled slice of crusty bread. $49 per pound.

When cookbook collectors or obsessive readers of food literature want to find obscure gems or culinary heirlooms, they hit up Noe Valley’s Omnivore Books. After much nagging on the part of her devotees, the owner Celia Stack [sic] has finally conceded to running a cookbook-of-the-month program, with a welcome twist: each pick is signed by its author. $120 annually.

[NY Times: A Very Foodie Christmas]

December 7, 2010

NVV December 2010: We Read It So You Don't Have To

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

December 2010

Front Page: "This is the last edition you'll see until the first week of February 2011." And a pretty picture of fog.

Letters: Dismay over smoking in the parklet at Martha & Bros. (Ed.--illegal to smoke in SF parks since 2005 [pdf]); some poor soul can't figure out how to find a print copy of the Voice.

Features: Interview with Bevan Dufty on his eight years as District 8 Supervisor; City Guides has been offering Noe Valley tours since 2008 (with fun sketches of Victorian era "bric-a-brac" like sewer vent grates); Giants fans celebrated on 24th St; brief blurb on page 15 about 24 HoliDAYS on 24th St.

Cost of Living in Noe: 16 Single Family Homes sold in October, 11 of those over asking.

Short Takes: A few events in Glen Park, Scottish dancers at the Noe Valley Ministry, fun at the Randall Museum in Corona Heights, a workshop for public artists at the SF Arts Commission on Van Ness, a show at the Marsh Theater on Valencia, and Paxton Gate in the Mission turns 18. Also a bit about upcoming changes to Cesar Chavez.

Crime Beat: Turns out there were two bank robberies last month.

Store Trek: Design Quarter; Re:Construction Salon.

Traveling Voice: Not.

Rumors: Election results; Wiener sets priorities (like the Town Square and Real Foods); Town Square moves ahead (for more info the Voice suggests "googling 'Noe Valley Town Square'"); the Tech Search Party raised "just over $17,000" for Alvarado Elementary School; Delano's is closing its "Eureka Valley" location; Parklets hit 24th St; and this excellent tidbit about the Noe Valley Association:
The NVA, and the 10 members serving on its board of directors, has an annual budget of $230,000, funded by a parcel tax on each of the 179 property owners in the 24th Street/Castro Street shopping area. The board has been quite active this year improving Main Street. They steered the Pavement to Parks process that brought us the parklets. Seven new benches were installed on 24th Street. Few people realize the NVA spends $10,000 a month keeping 24th Street trash-free, maintaining the miniparks in the public parking lot and the Ministry parking lot, tending the many planters and flower baskets and trees, as well as regularly cleaning the Downtown Noe Valley sidewalks. The NVA sponsors, or co-sponsors - in addition to 24 HoliDAYS - the Harvest Festival, the Noe Courts Easter Egg Hunt, and the Summer Solstice.
[The Noe Valley Voice]

December 4, 2010

A Month of Fun on 24th Street in December

There's lots going on in the neighborhood December 1-24 -- also called 24 HoliDAYS on 24th Street. For instance, did you know there's a hayride today on 24th Street and Santa is here too? Plenty of merchants are offering food, champagne shopping, discounts and other surprises throughout the next few weeks. We know this because of a few flyers sitting in the parklets (in the rain) on 24th Street, and a teeny tiny link [and hard to read PDF] on the NVMPA site.

Or if you want the full lowdown on the fun, you can also see the list of events for the next 20 days by clicking on the image above. Happy Holidays, Noe Valley.

December 3, 2010

Rumor: Urban Cellars Vanishes?

A reader tipped us to this item about Urban Cellars (a.k.a. the wine store with the usually corny signs):

Did you see that the wine shop on 24th (between Chuch and Vicksburg) has a notice of uncollected rent from the landlord. Looks like they moved out in the middle of the night?

Urban Cellars has had a rocky year including getting its liquor license suspended in February 2010 and in Sept 2009 for selling alcohol to minors. And we saw a firesale happening there last weekend (50% off most merchandise) that didn't look like it could be good for business.

Anyone have any more details?

[NVSF: Urban Cellars: Closed By ABC]
[NVSF: Urban Cellars: Busted Again]

December 2, 2010

Congratulations Noe Valley Pedestrians: You Suck On Yelp

One star, FWIW:
Most pedestrians on 24th Street (Noe Valley) orbit in their own galaxy. These ipod listenin, blue tooth talkin, crackberry squeezin, stroller pushin aliens like to truck right into the crosswalk in front of autos already making a turn. Or they blast off the curb clueless to the autos that have been waiting (...and waiting) to get going to where they're going.

OK, pedestrians have the right of way. But this is not a right without expiration. 24th Street pedestrians will be better off applying the normal rules of generally keeping to the right (unless you're a Brit, Irish, Australian et al) and yielding to whomever arrives first. This universal law of motion applies to all moving objects like autos, people, aliens, strollers, bikers, boarders, skaters...

"But why would I ever yield to an auto?" the 24th Street pedestrian ponders. Because if the autos can't get going to where they're going, the "solution" is a traffic light. Hello? Can we agree the universe doesn't need more traffic lights?

Next time I'm crossing the road, I'm letting the waiting auto take its turn through the intersection. Not because it's about equality, but because we agreed (at least I did) that we don't want more traffic signals with their lighted Walk (white) and Don't Walk (orange) figurines from outer space. Some signals are outfitted with unnatural high-pitched sounds that warn aliens the sign is about to change.

Don't Walk? Yes We Can!
[Yelp: Pedestrians / 24th Street]