December 31, 2012

This Year In Noe Valley: The Big Stories Of 2012

For the rest of the world this might have been the year of Gangnam Style, Call Me Maybe, Superstorms, "the most important election of your lifetime" and the fiscal cliff. But in Noe Valley we were obsessed with local issues. Here's a look back at some of the major themes and top stories from 2012 that resonated in our little village:

It Was a Year of Cool Meteorological Events…
The end of the Mayan calendar barely registered among NV residents, but who cares about that when you've got the awesome transit of Venus, a solar eclipse and a blue moon. While not a meteor, the space shuttle Endeavour buzzed Noe on the way to LA, which was also pretty cool.

Unreal Estate…
Facebook went public this year feeding a frenzy of real estate action in the hood, including the rebirth of the Blue Church on Church St as The Luxe, trust fund house lust, and average home prices of $1.5+ million and counting. And even as a former crack house sold for $1.3 million, Mark Zuckerberg bought a pied–√†–terre close by.

Natural and Unnatural Disasters…
The wild weather around the country didn't spare Noe Valley as a fluke thunderstorm and lightning strike zapped transformers on 24th and Hoffman in November, causing more than a few locals to leap out of bed in alarm. The strange weather may also have been the culprit behind this naked car stomper. Granted we did not have extreme weather events, but the bigger threat this year was fire: After the 2-alarm 2011 conflagration in the Radio Shack building, our little hood experienced not one, not two, but five house fires and one case of arson in 2012. Fire and Victorians don't mix – be careful out there.

Changes on 24th and Church Streets…
Lots of businesses closed or relocated this year including Urban Nest, Ladybug Ladybug, Kohler-Jones, Design Quarter, La Sirena Botanica, Heliotrope, and more than a few business were also scared away by the obnoxious ADA lawsuits. Even the oldest store in the neighborhood, Tuggey's, vacated after decreasing sales and the realization that the real money was in renting the space to...One Medical Group. Meanwhile, First Republic bailed on 24th St after merchants and locals objected, Real Foods of course remains blighted with no resolution in sight, and La Boulange was assimilated by Starbucks. Fortunately there was good news including the addition to 24th St of Loft 1513Saru Sushi Bar, Easy Breezy, Mill, Olive This Olive That, Philz, DAVIDsTEA, and Pressed Juicery. Coming very soon: CraftCaskHouse and MF Chicken. All of this added up to AAA naming Noe one of the best window shopping areas in SF.

Crime and Punishment…
Despite NV's reputation for being a yuppie sleepy bedroom community, we had plenty of crime to worry about this year. Bike thefts were rampant, there was DEA action on Chatanooga, upper Noe became a dumping ground for stolen cars, joggers were harassed, iPhones were snatched at gunpoint (and in broad daylight), crime continued on Fair Oaks and a package thief made life hell for residents. Fortunately there was also some justice served: the Fair Oaks rapist of 2011 was sentenced to 373 years to life, the notorious bad neighbor and copper thief was sentenced to 3 years after "his" house was sold, and a brave local resident caught the package thief in action with some bear spray, a bokken and…some serious chutzpah. Huzzah!

#FirstWorldProblems …
In addition to crime, we had some whining too: The city installed an electric vehicle charging station at Walgreen's that prompted some outrage and a few cheers; Whole Foods had to close the parking lot for a nanosecond in August to resurface the pavement (the horror); and a few neighbors complained about the SFPD availing themselves of "entitled" parking spots. [It's parking folks, that's all.] Another hot button was the Noe Valley Town Square – which crossed the $430,000 fundraising mark in October (the last time there was an update - is it losing momentum?). 2012 was also the year that the outside world took note of the Google Bus phenom.

There Are Lots of Reasons to Celebrate...
We live in a beautiful neighborhood, in a beautiful city – with lots of cheer around us. Here's to a safe and prosperous 2013. Happy New Year, Noe Valley!

Open: Pressed Juicery

Just in time for the end of the holiday season and the beginning of the New Year: Pressed Juicery opened today at the corner of 24th and Sanchez. Judging from the foot traffic it's getting more than a few Noe Valley neighbors will be cleansing in early 2013.

Pressed Juicery
3901 24th Street
Mon-Fri 7:30am-8pm/Sat-Sun 8am-8pm

December 29, 2012

This Week In Noe Valley: Google Bus Scrutiny Goes National, Copper Thief Is In Jail, And Another Fire

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:

[Photo: A Girl and A Camera Photography]

December 27, 2012

Crime Beat: Daytime Phone Jacking On Church St

From the Ingleside District San Francisco Police Station newsletter:
December 19

-- 11:21am Duncan/Church. Officers Rueca and Elton went to investigate a robbery that just occurred at Church and Duncan Streets. They met with the victim who was visibly shaken up. The victim said she had just parked her car and began walking on the sidewalk while talking on her Apple Iphone, which was described as Black in color with an Orange and White striped phone cover. As the victim arrived at her destination, she saw a suspect crouching down on the sidewalk who appeared to be tying his shoe laces. When she walked past him, the suspect quickly stood up and pushed her, knocking her off balance and snatched her cell phone right out of her hand. The suspect then pulled his hood over his head and fled the scene. After the units searched the area, Officers Hurwitz and Canales located and detained a subject matching the physical and clothing description. The victim was transported to view the subject and she immediately recognized him as the same suspect who just robbed her. The Officer then searched the suspect and found a Black Iphone with Orange and White striped cover, just as the victim had described. The suspect couldn’t deny it and admitted to taking the phone. The suspect was booked accordingly for the robbery.
Stay frosty.

December 20, 2012

Photo: Sutro Tower Work At Night

If you were up late last night you may have noticed some activity on Sutro Tower. Noe Valley resident trophygeek sent the above photo with this explanation:
Was headed to bed at 3am when I noticed strange lights coming from Sutro Tower. Guess they were doing work up there. The shot is of the mid-platform all lit up. First time I've seen it since moving to this neighborhood 3 years ago.
So what sent workers up the Tower on a cold night in December? Trophygeek heard from friends around the City that "they heard a massive bang last night from all over town. I think it was related to this work." Can anyone point to more info or speculation? Google isn't helping.

Regardless, we think the comments posted about this GIF provide the most likely explanation: epic lightsaber duel.


[Flickr: trophygeek]

December 13, 2012

DEA Action On Chattanooga Last Night

We received a few emails today about DEA action on Chattanooga St last night. This email from johnnyawe best set the scene:
In the middle of the night last night we heard pounding noise and angry voices, "open the door", not our house but nearby and loud enough to wake us up. This morning at 8:15am - 3 SUVs and 1 town car marked "department of justice" parked on the sidewalk and also in the driveway of 283-285 chattanooga. Several DEA agents (wearing all black with yellow letters "DEA") loading stuff into the cars.

This Tweet from KCBS reporter Ted Goldberg only adds to the mystery:

Nothing else from any of the neighborhood email lists or local news sources. Can anyone provide more info?

Update from the comments:

[Photo: Street View]

Update: Why Crafthouse Became Caskhouse

At least one reader questioned why the restaurant named Crafthouse has awnings advertising Caskhouse, so we contacted partner John Dampeer:
We received a cease & desist letter regarding a trademark on the word 'craft' being used in any food service business. We were familiar with the company using 'craft' but didn't think our neighborhood bar would be an issue... Live and learn, I guess! It was unfortunate, but we believe in our new name, Caskhouse, and how it represents our bar.
Still no set opening date, but John says "hope to be serving you soon!"

3853 24th St

[NVSF: Interview: John Dampeer Of Crafthouse]

December 10, 2012

Announced: Pressed Juicery

A small sign in the window of 3901 24th St reveals the mystery behind the paper and construction since First Republic abandoned plans to open there. With five locations in the Los Angeles area, Pressed Juicery appears to be opening in Noe Valley. So what is it?
At PRESSED JUICERY, we have created a comprehensive cleansing program designed to work with your everyday life. You will receive a daily supply of eight, 16 fl. oz. beverages straight to your doorstep each morning. Our juices are produced on a hydraulic press which extracts straight from the pulp, minimizing the changes that juices undergo during typical juicing processes, and releasing essential vitamins and minerals into each beverage.
Good timing for post-holiday purging, but the opening date is unknown. The Department of Public Health permit to operate is still pending, but there should be no problem as the space has been used as a "retail grocery or specialty food store" before (Belgano's, Stonehouse). Stay tuned.

Pressed Juicery
3901 24th St

Announced: Kitami Ropa

Update (1/4/12): The original details posted in December have been removed at the request of shop owner Tara Kitami pending evolving details and negotiations. Tara says to expect the shop to open under a different name at 1478A Church St in mid-February. We'll update with details when they're confirmed. Meanwhile, the paper is off the windows and merchandise is on display. Stay tuned.

December 9, 2012

Package Thief Relief: Amazon Locker In Philz

The package thief is in custody, but there are still some reports that parcels may be disappearing from doorsteps around the holidays. Enter Amazon delivery lockers. A tweet alerted us to an Amazon pickup locker in in Philz Coffee. If you're worried about delivery thieves, order your package from Amazon and you can have it delivered to the secure locker in the back of Philz for pickup.

Opening: Spark Creativity

Just a few weeks after Little Folkies opened, another oh-so-Noe kids' class is taking up residence next door in the space vacated by Loft 1513 in February and Reality World last month. Spark Creativity offers "art classes for children ages 2-6 where we encourage exploration, celebrate effort, delight in mess making, and guide children toward discovery of their creative spark."

The website is still just a splash page but the Facebook page is live. Classes start in January 2013 – call to enroll.

Spark Creativity
1513 Church Street

[Click the image to see the flyer posted in the window]

December 5, 2012

This Week At The Planning Commission

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.

December 6

- on the west side of Castro Street between Elizabeth and 23rd streets; Lot 006 in Assessor’s Block 2804 - Mandatory Discretionary Review, pursuant to Planning Code Section 317(e), requiring review of Loss of Residential Units Through Merger, of Building Permit Application No. 2012.07.19.5186, to merge two dwelling units into one dwelling unit, changing the existing two-family dwelling to a single-family dwelling in an RH-2 (Residential, House, Two-Family) Zoning District and a 40-X Height and Bulk District.
Staff Analysis: Full Discretionary Review
Preliminary Recommendation: Do not take Discretionary Review and approve
It's rare that Planning Staff recommends approval of a Dwelling Unit Merger (DUM). It's very rare to place the application on the Consent Calendar. What makes this project special? Hard to know.

This project meets only three of the five criteria established for mergers. But since "neither of the two existing units is family-sized housing" and "the proposed unit merger would create a family-sized single-family dwelling," Staff concludes this project "would bring the building closer into conformance with the prevailing density, which is single-family dwelling." Sounds good. It also doesn't hurt that no one is opposing the project.

There is a bit of legal maneuvering in the application we're hoping someone can chime in on. The application states:
The property was sold with 1146 Castro vacant and 1144 Castro was tenant occupied. 1144 Castro has been owner-occupied since it was legally removed from rental housing use in May 2012.
The application also states:
As a matter of state law, this building is not residential rental housing and should not be considered as such since it cannot legally be used as rental housing under the Ellis Act. Merger will result in creation of new affordable housing for a family in a single unit home.
Is it really that simple? Buy a 2-unit building, Ellis Act the tenants and apply for a DUM? If it's that easy, why are these projects so rare?

The full staff analysis is here (PDF).

Update: Approved 4-3.

[SF Planning: 1144-1146 Castro St (PDF)]
[Photo: Google Maps]

NVV Dec 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.

December 2012

Front Page: Life at the local Fire Houses (the kind that still have active crews); A profile of Upper Noe Neighbor's Vicki Rosen; A profile of local bars, bistros and wine shops that seeks to dispel the belief that Noe Valley is full of sleepy old people.

Letters: One resident is unhappy with the NVV's recent "good report card" for Scott Wiener; Another appreciates coverage of families dealing with recent fires.

Feature: Local senior centers keep their doors open through tight times.

Cost of Living in Noe: "There's not of lot of [sales] difference to report this month." Still expensive. Solution: "Buy a condo."

Store Trek: DAVIDsTea.

Rumors: A promo for 24 HoliDAYS on 24th St; A promo for the recently released Noe Valley Guide to promote the neighborhood to tourists; Cliché Noe owner wants to create a Noe Valley Museum and bring back the Pioneer - "the first motor car built on the West Coast" to the shop where is was built on 24th St and that could house it permanently [Ed.--cool!]; Someone cleaned Harry Aleo's plaque; Election results ("Maintaining an Election"); The Tech Search Party is February 2nd; Bidding farewell to Claire Pilcher, founder of Friends of Noe Valley, who died recently at the age of 73.

[The Noe Valley Voice]

December 4, 2012

Coming Soon: MF Chicken Replacing Hahn's Hibachi

Inside Scoop shares the news today that another new restaurant/take-out venue is headed to Noe soon – and it will replace the Korean BBQ restaurant Hahn's Hibachi. Called MF Chicken, it will be a Mexican-inspired rotisserie chicken spot from Joe Hargrave and chef Telmo Faria, the team behind Tacolicious in the Mission. From the writeup:
"The emphasis is going to be on takeout," says Hargrave, adding that he and his wife (San Francisco Magazine's Sara Deseran) live with their kids three blocks away and are always looking for easy weeknight dinners. "The idea is that people can pop in for lunch, or a mom can stop by after picking up kids from school and get a whole chicken with sides for dinner."

Faria, who will be the chef, explains the MF Chicken concept: "You can order a half or whole bird and pick your sides and you'll get your salsas and La Palma tortillas … The food will be fresh and quality, but it will be approachable and it will be affordable."

MF Chicken will be beer and wine only, and there will be an emphasis on the aguas frescas and horchata. Since it's a small space (25-30 seats), it will be a relatively quick build-out; Hahn’s Hibachi is currently still open.

Noe Valley residents that live within 2 blocks of the current restaurant are likely to be happy about the change, and they can still get their Korean BBQ fix at the Hahn's on Polk or Irving.

MF Chicken
1305 Castro Street at 24th Street

[Inside Scoop: MF Chicken, from the Tacolicious crew, headed to Noe Valley]
[NVV: Residents Fuming Over Odors from Hahn's Hibachi]