April 4, 2015

This Week In Noe Valley: Easter Egg Hunt Cancelled, NIMBYs Out In Force, And True Love SF Style

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Bom Dia via no_barkin]


Anonymous said...

"Is Noe Valley losing it's charm?"

Several years ago the Victorian Alliance had a house tour in Noe Valley. I went to it and was kind of surprised at the few Victorians on the tour. I was told by a docent that the Alliance could not get as many homeowners to open their homes for the tour as they would have liked but the bigger issue was that so many in the neighborhood only had Victorian facades with the interiors gutted and remodeled into modern styles that looked like they could have been anywhere. From the photos on the front cover of the latest NVV I would say that yes, Noe Valley is losing it's charm. Most of the new structures would look right at home in West LA or Sacramento.

Anonymous said...

So "charm" is defined as a warren of cold, dark rooms balanced on a brick foundation?

Anonymous said...

"Charm" is nothing more than an antiquated term used to describe remembrance of their grandmothers little cottage, over the river and thru the woods, they went to for thanksgiving.

"Charm" also is defined as resistance to change, and the desire to live in the past.

Noe Valley is not losing any "charm". What people don't understand is that the CURRENT ZONING in place allows for ANY property owner to build within those limits. It's not illegal and it's not immoral. It's their right.

Don't like the current zoning code? then petition to change it. And by the way, Scott Weiner is opposed to making special restrictions for Noe Valley.

Anonymous said...

Wow, such vitriol! I keep seeing our old housing stock being remuddled and permanently destroyed by people who want a modern (soulless) interior and a quaint, 100 year-old facade for their house. It's sad, really. But it's been happening for a long time - My house was poorly remuddled in the 80s so when I bought it in the early 90s it was all I could do to restore the facade to some of its former "glory"...the interior is a challenge and is somewhat unrecoverable. Our neighbor, on the advice of a real estate agent, painted over the original stained internal woodwork, thereby destroying it forever. Why? He'd get more money for the house. So there's a driver for this senselessness.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if all that was happening was the re-imagination of interiors while keeping the exteriors the same. Unfortunately, the reality is over 100 homes in Noe Valley being replaced in the last five years with (effectively) new structures that are 2-7x the size of the original houses and, stylistically, completely discontinuous from the surrounding houses. Does sticking a 6,000-square foot glass and steel block in the middle of a row of 2,000-square foot Victorians change the feel of that block? You betcha. And, if you thought the block was charming before, obviously you will agree that the charm is being degraded. (If you didn't think the row of 2,000-square foot Victorians were charming, why are you living in Noe Valley?)

Anonymous said...

I'm living and owning in Noe Valley because I love the neighborhood. Period.

So, let me get this right: "new" Victorians that began filling up the empty lots around 1900, mixed in with the farmhouses and chicken coops was "destroying the charm of the neighborhood"?

Any complaints here about losing the "charm" are merely complaints about change and the future. Yes, many wish to "freeze" Noe Valley in various periods of time: the time that THEY most look back on.

Noe Valley is neither charming or UN-charming. It's a dense, livable, walkable urban neighborhood, and very desirable.

Again, I would offer this: If you don't like the current homes being built/remodeled in SF, you can become an active citizen and work to change the EXISTING planning and zoning codes. You can pay a fee and file a D/R with defined paperwork to attempt to enact changes to a particular project under review.

Otherwise, just complaining here is just complaining.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to assure those of you who think we’re just complainers that such is NOT the case. We are active community organizers who are committed to protecting the architectural integrity and natural habitat of our neighborhood. We are the silent majority who will no longer stand by and watch the wave of mega development wrecking our habitat and to that end, we are in active dialogue with the city officials to come up with solutions that would balance the needs between the development and preservation.

We are not against sensible development, remodeling, or change. We just find the recent wave of tear downs and supersized structures out of place and wasteful. This is not about a beauty contest between the Victorian and Mid Century Modern architecture. This is about the “face” of a neighborhood that is known for its modest yet harmonious structures that have been homes to generations of families. Why move to a neighborhood of 100 plus year old homes only to replace them with supersized and out of place structures? Is there a shortage of affluent Bay Area suburbs that would be more befitting the opulence of these McMansions? Then again, regardless of our penchant for organic farmers’ market and eco-friendly initiatives, we do need that 5000+ square foot home to raise our 1.5 kid!

Anonymous said...

Annon @ 3:14 PM wrote:
"Any complaints here about losing the "charm" are merely complaints about change and the future.'

You changing the definition of charm and then reframing the whole conversation. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Quite a few of the new modern homes I've seen in the neighborhood look really great. In my opinion though, some of them miss the mark and are dark, hard and cold looking. Or they just don't fit in well with their surroundings. Eg: the one just finished at the NE corner of Elizabeth and Castro looks like a maximum security prison.

Change is inevitable in a city and there probably was at least one person in 1900 (or maybe an evicted cow) that was upset with the early structures in Noe Valley. People here have always had strong opinions about their surroundings (freeway revolt in the 1960's, fear of Manhattanization in the 80's) and compared to a lot of cities I've been in SF does have charming neighborhoods (Alamo Sq?) and architecture. One reason why SF is one of the most visited cities in the US and Noe Valley in the guide books.

Anonymous said...

Charm is not a euphemism for reluctance to change. It is recognition of the value of a particular heritage. Architectural preservation is practiced throughout the world. Obviously there will be disagreement over what should be preserved, but the desire to protect the irreplaceable is valid. Reasonable minds can differ.

Anonymous said...

@Anon at 6:58 --

You obviously represent a group so why not ID yourself? Lots of "we" in your post.

But whatever. What I don't understand is what exactly are you angry about? Is it that you don't like modern design mixed in with the Victorians? Is it that you feel that in this part of the City in this part of the country 3000+ sq ft is too big for "family sized housing?" Are you mad that people only have 1.5 children? Are you saying that you only want neighbors who think just like you do? If that's the case, why don't YOU move to a suburb and set your own CC&Rs?

People move to Noe Valley for many reasons - weather, smalltown feel, proximity to transit, proximity to jobs, and many more. Who cares if they want to live in a modern structure with modern amenities? Not everyone wants to live in an old house.

Finally, what do YOU stand to lose if this trend of modernizing continues? How does it hurt you?

Anonymous said...

Excellent comment from anon@8:13.
Very good and direct questions to the complainer at 6:58.

Yes: The group should identify themselves. Are they the "Protect Noe's Charm" group? Are they the (very nosy and meddlesome) Upper Noe Neighbors? who are they?

Bottom line, as I have said in my previous comments: Don't like the changes, then work to create new legislation.

But the complainers simply want others to live just like them. The so called "recent wave" of new homes has really been a part of Noe for the last 30 years or more. Change is part of the evolution of the city.

I'm sure none of the complainers are whining about the value of their precious little Victorian now worth $2 million or more.

And all due to our neighborhood evolving and BECOMING very desirable.

Protect Noe's Charm said...

I should point out to those of you who complained about my posting under Anonymous that it wasn’t intended to go as such and you can clearly see that Anonymous is hyperlinked to our URL, protectnoescharm.com. Alas, this time, I’ll make sure that the name will also pop up as Protect Noe’s Charm.

Once again, we’re not arguing against modernizing a 100+ year old home and neither are we against sensible development. It is misleading to present the case for protecting the architectural integrity of the neighborhood as just another anachronism. Anyone who has ever lived in a Victorian knows damn well that they don’t have to live with lathe and plaster or old wiring and plumbing. There are plenty of Noe Valley Victorians that have maintained their façades while having undergone total renovation and even expansion. Our case is against demolishing the face of the neighborhood for the sake of “over developing” a city lot to make room for a Monster House.

What is a “monster house?”

A monster house is a structure that, due to excessive mass, placement, or aberrant architecture, threatens the heritage, character, and well-being of surrounding homes, their residents, and the neighborhood.

Ten key points about monster houses:

• They don’t add to the housing stock.
• They don’t provide affordable housing.
• They don’t fall under the heading of traditional home renovations.
• They aren’t being undertaken to meet the needs of growing families.
• They don’t fit the character of surrounding structures and the neighborhood as a whole.
• They jeopardize the area’s air, light, open space, and vegetation, and place excessive demands on neighborhood infrastructure, including fire protection.
• They stand to devalue adjacent properties.
• They don’t contribute to a vibrant neighborhood, as they typically are undertaken in a philosophy of “demolish, develop, and depart.”
• They don’t improve a property but merely wring every possible dollar out of a lot at the expense of nearby residents and the community.
• Virtually all are being pushed by persons who don’t have any commitment to the area and who have shown no interest in working with neighbors!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Protect Noe's Charm (though I do think it's tragic to strip the insides of our Victorians while leaving the outside effectively unchanged). The changes referenced in the previous commenter's (4/6 9:24pm) post have certainly not been part of Noe for the past 30 years. The advent of "monster houses" is a far more recent phenomenon - under 10; as I said above, "remuddling" certainly has been around for a long time but that is very different from a 98% tear-down/rebuild that changes the square footage from 1500 to 5500 and destroys the continuity, feel and - yes - views.

And yes, my house is now worth over $2M. Honestly I could care less and all I see is downside to that; I see it as a bubble, driven by entitled middle-class wannabes further gentrifying our already gentrified-enough neighborhood. Like earlier crashes, the next one will weed some of them out, but not until the damage has been done.

Anonymous said...

Yea, right. I'll call any homeowner out as being disingenuous when they say they could "care less" that their precious little Victorian is now worth $2m or more.

Next: The contrived 10 key points about "monster houses" (their term not mine) are bogus, false and full of dramatic hyperbole.

And clearly they won't address the issue that I brought up: that of the current existing planning and building code in place that at the LAW. They don't address how they intend/or not to legislate new change. They merely don't like change.

Here's what they really want, so I warn you: It's not genuine.

1. Preserve all facades. Create a fake "Disneyesque" type of neighborhood.
2. Disallow ANY architectural style, modern or otherwise that does NOT mimic Victorian architecture of 100 years ago.
3. Require any new home to have Victorian trim applied to the front façade.
4.Force all new development to fall within THEIR definition of "traditional character".
5. Keep out all new residents and property owners who have no "commitment to the area", which essentially means "keep out of Noe Valley, unless you have lived here as long as we have".

The vision and ideals of Protect Noe's Charm simply smacks of elitism and exclusiveness, in a great city that is know for openness and tolerance.

Shame on them.

J said...

@ anony 10:17 - This is a neighborhood which means we must live together. One would hope that this issues could be talked out and there would not be a need to involve the supervisors. Yes. Change happens and not everyone needs to agree on what makes a beautiful house but it would be nice if reasonable give an take could occur (e.g., if people living in the valley could understand that there are different architectural styles - even if they secretly think some of the houses bear a striking resemblance to the an apartment complex and people moving in realized one of the trade of living in the city is less space.) I do thank you for your mocking tone and generally inability to understand and engage in a reasonable discussion of others concerns (yes you have your right to your views on what the neighborhood should look like but that does not mean that they are worth any less than mine or the views of anyone else) as it led me to sign the petition and I will now take continue to take further actions regarding zoning in the valley.

Anonymous said...

No prob. Your welcome.

But it gets into a very slippery slope when we want to "legislate" what a neighborhood LOOKS like. That smacks of elitism and narrow-mindedness. Check out the Residential Design Guidelines from the SF Planning Code. Those are the guidelines that we, as citizens of SF have chosen our supervisors and planning professionals to initiate.

Don't like them: then, by all means petition to change them. But good luck. Not likely to happen.

Even our supervisor Scott Weiner has gone on record saying he does NOT wish to enact "special legislation" for Noe Valley, but rather work within the existing codes and rules.

That makes sense and I support that. I may not like every architectural style that new/remodeled properties take on, but I support the owners right to develop and design their property their way, WITHIN the existing codes.

Anonymous said...

April 7, 2015 at 10:17 AM, I'm not moving so why should I care how much my house is worth? What difference does it make to me? Is that all you noobs (learned that word from my kids I'm raising in Noe Valley) think about? Is that all that matters? What it will enable me to do is to move away from the likes of you. Go destroy the thing that made you fall in love with San Francisco: the charm. Such foolishness.

But you're right - the law allows it so, of course, unrepentantly you must take advantage of it. We're idiots, babe. It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves.

Anonymous said...

No one said you have to move. But let's be clear. Those of us who were fortunate to buy years ago in NV know our high house values now.
And that's BECAUSE of the desirability of our neighborhood. The remodeled and re-built and new homes has NOT reduced our desirability, but only enhanced it.

I like the entire city, not just our little area. You seem very threatened by the changes that every thriving city goes thru. I see these changes as a good thing.

Again, our current planning codes allow for change. And that even includes YOUR right to make changes to your property.

Not sure why you choose to call someone "babe". Serves no purpose.

Be the change you want our neighborhood to be.

Unknown said...

We can argue about "charm" or what the law allows, but the real issue to me is that the last thing this city or Noe Valley needs is Monster Houses that cater to the astronomically rich at the expense of everybody else.

Marc Norton
30-year resident
29th Street

Anonymous said...

I've been to a number of 311-Neighborhood notification meetings about new project or remodeling, and there are typically no more than 3-4 neighbors who show up.

People don't want to get involved, yet they complain and complain later on when the project is done.

Anonymous said...

Someone doesn't know their Bob Dylan lyrics...babe.

Robert Blaylock - Church/ Elizabeth said...

It's so easy to say what you want to say when you're hiding behind an " anonymous" moniker and a computer screen.

My input, Noe changed for the worse. Why buy a house built in 1900 and rip it apart? Do you really need those T1 lines and a/c units? If you want new and modern, maybe buy a new and modern house. These neighbors that are complaining about the demoing of these Victorians have every right to be upset. This isn't just a neighborhood to them; its a piece of their history and their heart. It's not just a house close to a shuttle stop. It's a home that they walked by as kids.

I moved to Noe about 4 years ago because of the charm. I loved the neighborhood feel as I walked down 24th street. It felt very much like a community and I hate to see that changing.

Anonymous said...

And I moved to Noe 30 years ago, bought a run-down Victorian, and slowly watched thru the years as the graffiti went away, more trees got planted, lots of new stores opened, the farmers market blossomed, and soon the Town Square.

And I love seeing the changes.

Hating change means you are afraid of change. And fear can stop everything from growing.

Steve V said...

I moved to Noe Valley in 1974 when expats from the Haight and North Beach (and elsewhere) mixed in with widows and widowers who were living out the ends of their lives in large flats and small homes where they'd raised their children (who'd all moved out years before). 24th St was kind of dumpy and quiet and the opposite of the exciting new "Castro" just over the hill. The gentrification of the neighborhood started then with the arrival of merchants who wanted to see the commercial strip more viable - Ron's Plants, Double Rainbow Ice Cream, Streetlight Records, restaurants, clothing stores, etc etc. Rents also started climbing in the late 70's and by the early 80's the speculators had descended on the City buying up buildings and then selling them at a profit just a few years later and in the process displacing tenants, threatening SF's new rent control laws and causing rents to go even higher. I've seen (and am still seeing) quite a bit of change here and I think most of it has been for the good. There will always be people in the City (and in Noe Valley) who could care less about the architecture, the ambience of the neighborhood, their neighbors. Some horrible architectural crimes have been committed in this city - the loss of most of the Fillmore and JTown neighborhoods by SF Redevelopment and WW2 fear of Japanese, the erection of double deck freeways that took out blocks of homes and blighted Hayes Valley and the Embarcadero, the loss of the City of Paris and the Fox Theater. On a smaller scale I think it is important to be vigilant in your own neighborhood and stand up to those who could care less about what the neighborhood looks and feels like (often for the sake of profit). It doesn't mean that change cannot occur. But people who want to help protect the fabric of the neighborhood help keep a balance. Imagine what the Richmond Dist would look like today if neighborhood groups there had not stopped the proliferation of "Richmond Specials" (60's and 70's 2 story stucco boxes that replaced "charming" homes of the teens, 20's and 30's.