June 29, 2012

This Week In Noe Valley: Free Cream Puffs, Town Square Gaining Momentum, O'Greenbergs Sold

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Bethany United Methodist Church reborn in stucco, AD 2012]

June 26, 2012

Photo: Play Ball!

Addison Brewer-Hay, daughter of Elizabeth Street Brewery owners Alyson and Richard Brewer-Hay, announces "play ball" at the June 25, 2012, Giants/Dodgers game at AT&T Park. The Giants won 8-0, but Addison brought home a night for the record books.

Also: video.

[Photo: Richard Brewer-Hay]

What's Up With Noe Valley's Angry Little Birds?

Lots of angry birds in Noe Valley these days. We first heard from Lenny over the weekend:
Ok, what's the story with these dive bombing birds in Upper Noe Valley?! They're tiny little black sparrows that sneak up behind people, fly into their head and then flee. It's nuts. I was attacked and then watched, one after one, they kept going like clockwork. We saw them in two places: 24th between Castro and Diamond and then on 23rd and Diamond.
Then on Twitter yesterday: "Birds attacking peeps just past Barney's on 24th btw Diamond n Castro. Happening since May. Prob springtime babies."

And then today Curbed pointed out this post on Boing Boing: "I spotted this somewhat disconcerting sign at a playground yesterday." The sign from the Upper Noe Rec Center shown in the above photo reads "Beware of attack birds! Incidents of small black birds pecking at public."

We don't have a photo of the offending birds, but we're guessing it's the European (or Common) Starling. First introduced to the US in the 1890s they are now the "most hated bird in North America." Yes it hurts when they peck at your head while defending their nest, but consider this: they've been known to take down airplanes.

We'd still like a photo if anyone has one.

[Update 7/7: @oddnoc believes he knows what they are: "They're not sparrows, but Brewer's blackbirds. They're not being "bizarre," but are defending their nests."]

June 25, 2012

Witnesses Wanted: Party Poopers On 24th St

This from the Noe Valley Parents email list:
Did anyone notice the drunk/messed up couple who wreaked havoc in Noe Saturday night? They were trying to find parking by waking up residents and crashing their car into a parked vehicle and a garage door on 24th street between Noe and Castro.

They were generally very loud and threatening and possibly attending a party in the area. I am looking to figure out the licence plate on their Ford (which had a big Giants sticker on the rear window) which also is missing a rear tail light.

Any help appreciated.
See something? Know the perps? Are you the perp and feeling guilty? Send us what info you have and we'll pass it to the originator of the above plea.

[Photo: Babble]

June 21, 2012

Construction and Community Garden at NV Branch Library

We received an email from Michelle Jeffers, the PR officer for the SF Public Library that DPW is going to be doing some construction work on the rear retaining wall behind Noe Valley Branch Library.

A flyer is being distributed to neighbors [PDF] - this bit caught our eye:
"This project will improve the safety of the Library’s rear retaining wall. Once construction is completed, the community garden project at the Noe Valley Branch Library will resume."
According to Michelle, there was some clean up work behind the library about two or three years ago with local neighbors and a Boy Scout troop. Then because of the retaining wall work, it was put on hold. The idea is that a community garden project can get back on track once the retaining wall is repaired.

Stay tuned for more details on the community garden.

June 14, 2012

Open: Olive This Olive That

The coming soon sign is gone, and Olive This Olive That opened for business today. From the company website, er Facebook page:
Purveyors of the freshest and most flavorful extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Sourcing over 50 single and blend varietals and infused extra virgin olive oils, dark and white traditional method balsamics from Modena, Italy. All available for tasting and pairing. We also offer Papperdelle's hand-crafted pasta with over 50 flavors and types to choose from. Many are gluten-free. Exquisite sea salts from the Philippines enhance flavors of fresh produce, meats, and fish, used by many well-known chefs around the world. Beautiful reuseable gift bags also from the Philippines and also supporting cottage industries and families make a perfect gift for a hostess, a friend, a family member, or yourself.
Inside, the former nail salon space has been completely remodeled into a charming olive oil and balsamic tasting bar. Owners Janelle and Mary say they'll be open Thurs-Sun through June, and then 7 days a week starting in July.

It's nice to see a new food retailer find a foothold near 24th St.

Olive This Olive That
304 Vicksburg at 24th St.

June 13, 2012

More Changes on Outer Church Street

A reader tipped us that Cece's Consignment shop at 1781 Church St is closing -- at least temporarily -- in order to comply with yet another ADA lawsuit threatening Noe businesses.

For those unfamiliar with Cece's, it's a well-curated consignment shop that the reader reports is "pretty great, despite its humble appearance from the street." This note is currently posted in the window:
Dear Friends and Amazing Clients,

Due to ADA/wheelchair accessibility requirements our shop has to close for renovation. We hope to be able to re-open our shop in three months.

We cannot thank you enough for all your support and amazing friendship. We truly enjoyed the past 14 years working and serving you. This has been a great lifetime experience.

For our consignments clients we will calling to schedule a pickup appointment. We are doing this in alphabetical order. Thank you for your understanding.

We look forward to keeping in touch and see you soon! Thank you! Gracias! Merci! Hasta Pronto! A Bientot!

Cece's closet.
Cecy xoxo
The building, which also houses Napra-Back & Muscle Treatment (1785 Church St), has two active permits on file:
A neighboring business told us that although Cece's has to close, Napra will likely be open during the work - and that Cece really does hope to return in 3 months, if she can.

Good luck Cece's – hope you're back in business soon.

June 11, 2012

This Week At The Planning Commission: First Republic Bank Redux

A look at Noe Valley projects in front of the Planning Commission this week. Information is provided by the Planning Commission, and taken from its published agenda. All hearings are on Thursday at 1:30pm, Room 400 in City Hall.

June 14, 2012

3901 24TH STREET
- on the southwest corner of 24th and Sanchez Streets, Lot 001 in Assessor’s Block 6508 - Request for Conditional Use Authorization, pursuant to Planning Code Sections 303 and 728.49, to convert a vacant ground floor commercial space into a financial service (d.b.a. First Republic Bank) within the 24th Street - Noe Valley Neighborhood Commercial District and a 40-X Height and Bulk District.

Preliminary Recommendation: Approval with Conditions
The application is now online in PDF. Included is Planning Staff analysis and drawings. Not included this time is letters for or against. However, under "Public Comment" the analysis says this: "The Department received a number of e-mails, letters and telephone calls that expressed opposition to the Project. The Department received a number of letters that expressed support of the Project." So there's that.

[SF Planning: 3901 24th St (PDF)]
[NVSF: Announced: First Republic Bank]

June 7, 2012

This Week In Noe Valley: La Bou Is Assimilated, Tombstones, Noe Shoals And More

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Construction at the future site of Mill, NVSF]

Closing: Design Quarter

The small, locally-owned furniture and antique store at 1478 Church is closing at the end of the month. Not a victim of the ADA lawsuits plaguing businesses along the Church and 24th St corridors, Design Quarter tells us the landlord is raising the rent. Combine that with a down-sizing of the space (the landlord wants part of the space) and the business is untenable. Design Quarter won’t be looking for a new spot in Noe Valley, but it will be selling items on consignment in the garage part of Decor Galore on Sanchez at 24th (formerly the Garage Store). Sad to see DQ go – it was a nice addition to the Church Street corridor.

Town Square Funding Update: $150k And Counting

Call it currying favor or good karma: First Republic Bank has just stepped up with the largest donation pledge to date for the Noe Valley Town Square. From Todd David:
I'm happy to announce that First Republic Bank has made a pledge to help make the Noe Valley Town Square a reality. First Republic has requested that we keep the pledge amount confidential; however, I'm pleased to report that it is the largest single pledge we have received to date.

Once First Republic gets final approval to move in to its new location on 24th and Sanchez, look for a "Save The Noe Valley Town Square" poster in its window.
Todd has received assurances that the pledge is not contingent on Planning approval.

Yesterday the BJ Droubi team pledged $10,000. [Ed.--The amount of BJ Droubi's pledge has not been disclosed; an error on our part] It seems fitting to us that the Town Square is funded by realtors, title companies and banks. And nail salons.

Also per Todd, The Town Square has raised approximately $150,000 so far. "Whether you are a neighbor, merchant, or simply a lover of open space, please make your pledge to the Noe Valley Town Square today at http://www.noevalleytownsquare.com/p/donate.html."

Only $1.85M to go.

[Noe Valley Town Square]
[NVSF: All Town Square Posts]

June 6, 2012

Volunteers Needed: Neighborhood Clean And Green

The San Francisco Department of Public Works is organizing a Community Clean Team event for Districts 8 and 9 this Saturday, June 9th. From the DPW:
Volunteers can expect to do a variety of cleaning and greening activities such as – planting, weeding, wood chipping, graffiti removal, and picking up trash.  The event will take place from 9am – noon and will kick off at Fairmount Elementary School (65 Chenery Street).

Volunteers are encouraged to RSVP to volunteer@sfdpw.org.

Meeting: Upper Noe Neighbors June 2012

Vicki Rosen sent the agenda to this month's meeting, and also a call to arms. Emphasis ours:
We have a good meeting planned for June and hope many of you can attend. Here's the agenda:
  • J-Church effectiveness study and proposals--MTA's Transit Effectiveness Program will present options for improving service on our favorite streetcar line including suggestions they've gotten from people in our neighborhood so far. Also, MUNI reps will be there to discuss other issues we've been having on our line like the continued shuttling of non-J streetcars and excessive use of air horns.
  • Police report focusing on the break-ins we've been having recently that aim mostly for expensive bicycles. Bad people are getting into garages that folks think are secure.
  • Friends of Upper Noe Rec Center have applied for a grant to put an outdoor classroom on the Sanchez St. side...see the draft plans!
Wednesday, June 13, 7:30 pm
Upper Noe Rec Center (Day & Sanchez)

ONE MORE THING: We need volunteers to help Upper Noe Neighbors by being on the Board. It's very little work. We need ideas and a little bit of commitment. If we don't get people to step up to the plate, we'll have to reevaluate how UNN will operate in the future. Please help YOUR neighborhood group!

Photo: Transit Of Venus From Noe Valley

A Noe Valley neighbor sent us this great photo of the Transit of Venus. Have one of your own? Send it our way and we'll add it to the post. Also check out this awesome video from NASA.

[Photo: trophygeek]

June 5, 2012

NVV June 2012: We Read It So You Don't Have To

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

June 2012

Front Page: Noe Valley author Sonia Faleria has a book about life in Mumbai; electric cars get a charge out of Walgreens [Ed note: no mention that even non EVs can park there]; SummerFEST is coming; white dots around Noe = sidewalk replacement.
Letters: A reader wants to know why not more police downtown; more hate/love for the Examiner; another plea for a Town Square angel; realtors: get a parking clue.

Cost of Living in Noe: A mini mansion sells for $3.4 million; buyer crowds resemble the "dot-com boom of the late 1990s-early 2000s" (and we know what that got us).

Store Trek: Noe Valley Wine Merchants (3821 24th St.)

Rumors: Real Foods may - or may not - have new plans to make the building safe for retail without adding development; NV Town Square has raised over $100,000 - and needs more money asap; some restaurants for sale [Joe's on 24th St, and another: "owner retiring"] ; Chris Cosentino of Incanto has a cookbook; Chloe's turns 25; First Republic not so popular; Sirena Botanica closes; more Facebook zillionaire puffery. 

[The Noe Valley Voice]

Closed: La Sirena Botanica

"They're going to renovate the building" stated owner Maria when we spoke to her by telephone. We called after hearing from neighbor merchants that the whole building needs an upgrade - the foundation is crumbling.

Currently working in Redwood City, Maria plans to reopen when construction is complete. But while the space is empty now, there are no permits for 1509 Church St on file with the DBI. Given the projected timeline, it's unclear if La Sirena Botanica will reopen on Church St.

[NVSF: Not Closing: La Sirena Botanica]

June 4, 2012

Forget A Cup Of Sugar From This Guy

You think you hate your neighbors? A notorious 24th Street resident made the news again today in a Chronicle story about copper thieves getting away with it. But this bit of info caught our attention:
His fortunes changed in 2010 when a friend died, leaving a home on a fashionable block of 24th Street in Noe Valley. McGuire produced a will showing he had inherited 60 percent of the house.

Less than two years later, McGuire owes more than $138,000 in property taxes that date to 2005, records show, and another friend of the original homeowner is contesting the will in court, saying he was deeded the house.

"The house is full of drug addicts," said the would-be homeowner, 51-year-old Al Heinicke of San Mateo, and McGuire is "charging all of them rent. The next thing that's going to happen is that the house is going to catch on fire."

For now, the home is the subject of a campaign by neighbors to persuade the city to file a nuisance lawsuit. In a recent letter, they asked Supervisor Scott Wiener to intervene.
His neighbors really don't like the many-times-over convicted felon with all the drug users en suite and the bizarre behavior (never mind a lack of flushable toilets).

FWIW, multiple sources place McGuire at 4267 24th St.

[SFGate: SF man provides window into lucrative copper thefts]

Breaking: Starbucks Buying La Boulange

There was a collective shudder from foodies local business boosters around the Bay Area this afternoon as this news hit the wire:
Next World Group Sells La Boulange Café & Bakery To Starbucks Coffee Company for $100 Million
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – (June 4, 2012) – Next World Group (NWG), a privately-held global investment firm, today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to sell La Boulange Café & Bakery to Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) for $100 million in cash.
The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012 (Starbucks’ FY 12 fourth quarter). Next World Group is the majority investor of La Boulange, a rapidly growing San Francisco-based, fast-casual restaurant chain that embodies the authenticity of the French bakery experience.
Founded by Pascal Rigo, La Boulange has grown to 19 Bay Area locations and has more than quadrupled revenue since NWG’s investment. NWG is a long-term, growth investment firm headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Brussels and Paris. 
“We have worked closely with Pascal over the past six years to build an artisanal bakery brand with a track record of profitable growth – exactly the kind of enterprise we look for in our investments,” said Sébastien Lépinard, founder of Next World Group. “La Boulange and Starbucks share similar values and a common vision for creating premium products in a socially responsible way. 
We have confidence that Starbucks will stay true to the ‘La Boulange’ brand while bringing the romance of an authentic French bakery to consumers across the United States.” “Our long-term partnership with NWG and Sébastien brought solid financial management and strategic vision to help La Boulange through its growth and success over the last few years,” said Rigo, founder and CEO of La Boulange. “Their involvement and commitment attracted the caliber of management and financial partners we needed to achieve our potential.”
Next World Group invested in La Boulange in 2006, beginning the implementation of a focused strategy to sell distinctive, high-quality products and develop a local cafe-bakery-retail concept under the ‘La Boulange’ brand. Since then, the business has grown geometrically as the strategy to bring enjoyable products to an ever-growing customer base has remained intact.
InsideScoopSF talked to owner/seller Pascal Rigo and broke it down this way:
  • Within 12-14 months, there will be La Bou-branded goods in every Starbucks’ pastry case 
  • La Bou will expand to 200 to 400 units nationwide within the next four to five years
KQED's News Fix rounds up the Twitter reaction (lots of: Ugh, Nooooooo! AYEEE) here.

What do you think Noe Valley? Good thing for Starbucks or will you be taking your business elsewhere?

June 3, 2012

Crime Beat: A Close Call On Fair Oaks Street

From the Fair Oaks Street Group email list, this description of an incident early Saturday morning on 6/2/12:
I thought it was important to let the Fair Oaks Community know what happened to me last night.

Sometime between 12:15-12:45 a cab dropped me off outside my apartment on Fair Oaks Street. My cell phone was stolen this same night so I'm not 100% sure of the time. The cab left me off in the middle of the street and as soon as it drove away I noticed a man hiding behind a tree next door to the entrance of my apartment. All I could see was his head peeping out behind the tree. I decided to wait because I did not want this man to follow me in. As soon as he realized I had seen him, he made a run for me. I screamed as loud as I could down the middle of Fair Oaks Street between 23rd and 24th running towards an oncoming car. The car stopped and four complete young strangers saw how distraught I was and let me inside their car. The man from behind the tree ran to his volvo station wagon and took off within seconds. The police came about 5 minutes later after my next door neighbor heard my scream and came outside to check on me. The police said a similar incident happened on 22nd and Bartlett. I really would like all of the women in the Fair Oaks Community to know what happened. My next door neighbor where the man was hiding has absolutely no lighting and his trees have been marked to be cut down. I think it's time we start to take action and have people install more lighting on the street. I have no idea what this man looks like because it was so dark. All I could see was the outline of his body.
In addition to all the usual advice for how to stay safe, one Fair Oaks resident had this great reminder:
Supervisor Scott Wiener has called a hearing on street lighting with PGE and various City departments in attendance on Monday morning (TOMORROW!) June 4, at 10 AM at City Hall – either Room 263 or in the Board of Supes chambers. Scott invites all Fair Oaks folks to attend, to make our needs known to the authorities, and to press for improvements. The more neighbors who show up, the sooner we’ll get action on our street. Please try to attend – and spread the word, too.
Scott's official announcement:
What: Hearing on streetlight reliability in San Francisco, including problems and delays fixing burned out lights and plans by PG&E and PUC to improve the system.

When: Monday June 4, 2012, at 10 a.m. (Note that the hearing was originally scheduled for two weeks ago but was delayed.)

Where: Board of Supervisors City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee, City Hall

Details: Supervisor Scott Wiener called for a hearing on streetlight reliability in San Francisco, so that the public can better understand how the system works, how streetlights are maintained and by whom, how requests for maintenance are processed, and why there are frequent delays in getting streetlights fixed. Persistent burned-out streetlights are a significant source of frustration for the public. The PUC, PG&E, and other City departments will be present to address the issue.

Contact: Supervisor Scott Wiener, (415) 554-6968, scott.wiener@sfgov.org
[Photo: sfist]

June 1, 2012

This Week in Noe Valley

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: A love letter to downtown Noe signs via LivsPlusGibs]

311: Did You Know?

The photo above shows excrement and toilet paper flowing from a street-side sewer vent. Seriously gross, and a health hazard. What to do? A simple call to 311 to report the address and DPW will respond with a cleanup kit. 3 minutes of your time.

Getting the owners to fix their sewer line may take longer, but at least you won't have to worry about risks to you.

More info at http://www.sf311.org/.