January 1, 2015

This Year In Noe Valley: The Big Stories Of 2014

Nationally 2014 was the year of Sochi, the World Cup, Ebola, ISIS, the Ice Bucket Challenge, Ferguson protests and Serial madness among many other things. Bay Area residents will remember 2014 as the year the drought got scary, a big one hit Napa, Robin Williams died, the Giants again took the Series and the Niners moved to Santa Clara and canned Harbaugh.

2014 was also the year of the God View - the word longtime Noe Valley resident and linguist Geoffrey Nunberg picked as word of the year.

In that spirit, here's a God View of Noe Valley for 2014 - the stories that preoccupied us, made us smile and that sometimes drove us crazy in our little village.

Endings, Beginnings and Coming Soon
As usual, the only constant this year was change and we saw plenty of it. In February Café Ponte closed and reopened as Diamond Café. Around that same time we were saddened to hear of the death of Josh Epple of Drewes Meats - RIP. Incanto closed in the spring, was reopened as Porcellino in the summer – and then abruptly closed again in November. Mike’s Shoe Repair was replaced by Rare Device. Be Yoga closed after just a few months (with a controversial awning) and was replaced by the clothing shop Lola. Joshua Simon closed and will be replaced this spring with a lunch spot called Lazeez from the same folks who run Savor. Pasta Pomodoro closed abruptly and a new American/Mediterranean restaurant will move in once a seismic retrofit is done. Global Exchange closed and will be replaced with a café in 2015. Hooters? Not replacing Bliss BarIndependent Nature was evicted, Blue Ova moved into the former FIMA Photography space, and Peekaboutique closed only to be replaced by Mapamundi Kids. The UPS store changed hands and is going through an ADA upgrade; an artist collective called L’Atelier moved in next door. Ambiance consolidated into one store in the old Streetlight space. Decore Galore closed and was replaced with Martin Mattox. Upper Noe got a new market called Bom Dia on Sanchez St. And finally, after a brief fakeout early in 2014, there appears to be some possible real action on the Real Foods front (maybe).

Art, Art Everywhere
Noe Valley got several new art installations this year. The first one was completed in April and commemorates the fish that used to swim in local streams. Cardio-Tone on outer Church commissioned a mural from local artist Amos Goldbaum. Shawn Bullen plied his craft to create a giant mural on the Radio Shack building as part of Shop Small Saturday. There was a wanna-be-Banksy sighting. The delightful Wishing Tree returned. As for Bini? They're turning up everywhere.

“Wow, It’s Expensive to Live Here.”
That’s been a common refrain for years but this year made previous years look sane by comparison. First there was the Duncan St. home that sold for $7 million (the most expensive in Noe history - and may get even bigger soon), followed by 465 Hoffman for $5.1 million, and most recently the $5 million sale 50 feet from the J Church that includes a 5 car garage. Even fixers are so hot no one knows how to price them. Overall home prices crossed $1100 per square foot this year and rents in the neighborhood are up 29% year over year – and Airbnb renters are cleaning up.

Package Thieves, Bank Robberies and Big City Problems
Noe Valley might feel like a little village but we had plenty of big city problems this year – many caught on film. Brazen package thieves. Grinchy santas stealing poinsettias. Car break ins. Tree killers. Yikes. Not caught on video were an attempted child abduction, a foiled armed robberypistol-whipping and bank robberies. Stay alert and be safe folks.

Noe Valley Bakery started a trend (and a firestorm of criticism - see comments) when they asked local patrons to fund their Kickstarter “because we went to Paris last summer and saw how incredible the cookies look displayed on marble counters and we want to bring that experience home to our neighbors.” Of course the campaign was funded. Spin City also ran a Kickstarter to expand (which was better received) and also funded. The owner of the Jeep that was torched in a recent arson rampage in the Castro/Dolores neighborhood has so far been less successful.

You may have heard CA is experiencing a bad a drought. But finally in December it rained. And rained. And rained. And yes it knocked out power and other things. But bring it… we need it. The more rain the better in 2015. #stormdoor

What's Ahead In 2015?
There’s so much to look forward to in 2015 in Noe Valley. Two new pedigreed restaurants are opening on the edges of Noe. The Town Square is due to break ground in August 2015 for a projected opening in the Spring of 2016. Real Foods might finally see real change (here’s hoping). The towering retail space across the street from Shufat on 24th St will likely see tenants this year. And construction of the green areas and bulbouts on 24th St will start in January.

Here's to a safe, fun and prosperous 2014. Happy New Year, Noe Valley!

Feeling nostalgic? These were the big stories in 2013.