June 27, 2015

This Week In Noe Valley: Pride Week And #LoveWins - Plus Some Ridiculousness

News from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs:
[Photo: Happy Pride and raising money for Glacier National Park sipsnacksweatsf]

Approved: Tom Rai Restaurant And Bar

On Thursday the Planning Commission voted 6-0 to allow Tom Rai Restaurant and Bar to open on 24th St.

While adding 2 additional units to the building at 4022 24th St is a bonus, neighbors were concerned about plans to expand what used to be Bliss Bar to a full service restaurant with amplified music. The handful of neighbors who spoke at the Planning Commission's third hearing restated their prior objections to noise, loss of green space, lack of parking and an unwillingness of the project sponsor to work with them. They especially decried having a "nightclub" on 24th St.

The Commissioners expressed disappointment that a more collaborative solution wasn't reached, but once determining that the rear yard modifications met guidelines it was obvious that they were most concerned about hours of operation and whether to allow entertainment. The project sponsor reminded everyone that the current operating permit allows for a full bar open until 2am everyday, and that regardless of permits Bliss Bar regularly had loud music, outdoor access and didn't maintain the green space.

Commissioner Moore led the charge to simplify hours granted in the conditional use permit so that Tom Rai and neighbors would know what to expect. After debate, commissioners approved the permit with the following conditions added:
  • Permitted hours of operation and entertainment shall be 9am-10pm Sunday - Thursday, and 9am-1am Friday and Saturday.
  • Tom Rai is required to install a noise limiter (automatically cuts power to amplifiers if sound levels are too high)
  • Tom Rai will return for an informational presentation to the Planning Commission 6 and 12 months after opening to report on adherence to permit restrictions. Public comment will be allowed.
  • The Zoning Administer will approve the necessary rear year modification, but Tom Rai will have to work with him to improve the design and sustainability of the green roof.
In the end, neighbors succeeded in assuring green space (in the form of a green roof and trees). But the project sponsor was granted a full restaurant with live entertainment open for longer hours than originally asked for. One of the sponsor's final comments: "Please give us the opportunity to succeed."

[Video: 6/26/15 Planning Commission Hearing, Item 16]
[NVSF: This Week At The Planning Commission: Tom & Rai Will Move Into Rebuilt Bliss Bar (3/25/15)]

[NVSF: Revised Proposal For Tom Rai Restaurant And Bar]
[Planning: 4022-4026 24th St (PDF)]

June 24, 2015

This Week At The Planning Commission: Revised Proposal For Tom Rai Restaurant And Bar

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.

Originally planned to be heard (again) on June 11th, the proposed project at 4022-4026 24th St to replace the burned out Bliss Bar is on the docket for approval tomorrow. To recap, project sponsors wished for the moon - a full service restaurant with live music open until 2am that would occupy the entire lot right up to the property line. In exchange they'd remove the bar scene and add 2 additional units of housing to the mix. No parking is on the table.

Predictably, neighbors were upset and all sorts of issues - noise, loss of green space, noise again and of course the lack of parking. Here are the details of issues addressed (and not addressed) so far.

The Achilles heel of the project turned out the be the lack of green space. The Zoning Administrator went so far as to say there was no way he would grant the required Rear Yard Variance. However... if enough green space was provided he could consider approving a rear yard modification because the "yard" would essentially be scattered across the property - decks, etc. The project sponsor was sent away with a warning to make a stronger effort to listen to neighbors' concerns.

The schematic above shows the proposed solution. Here's the description of the revised project:
In response to the Commission’s direction to redesign the rear area and scale back the project, the sponsor has revised the project to set back the ground floor of the building three feet from the rear property line to allow trees (Wax Myrtle) to be planted at the rear property line. The usable open space on the roof of the ground floor extension has been replaced with a green roof and all of the usable open space for the dwellings has been relocated to the roof. Because of the relocation of the usable open space the project now requires a rear yard modification from the Zoning Administrator and not a rear yard variance as originally requested.
They've also proposed new hours:
The sponsor’s proposed hours of entertainment have been revised to: Wed 4pm – 10pm / Thu 4pm – 12am / Fri 4pm – 2am / Sat 9am – 2am / Sun 9am – 10pm.
Of course it remains to be seen if neighbors will continue to oppose the project, or if the sponsor has done enough reworking this time to assuage an irritated Planning Commission. And as far as we know, the new owners of the $7M house out back haven't weighed in yet. Stay tuned.

[NVSF: Tom & Rai Will Move Into Rebuilt Bliss Bar]
[Planning: 4022-4026 24th St (PDF)]

June 22, 2015

In Memorium: Vicki Rosen

Vicki Rosen, president of the Upper Noe Neighbors and longtime community activist, died on Thursday June 11 after a long fight with cancer.

We received this note from the Upper Noe Neighbors mailing list today:
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It is with great sorrow we announce that Vicki Rosen passed away Thursday, June 11 and was buried at Eternal Home Cemetery in Colma on Friday in a small graveside service. She led our community for over two decades, inspired a sense of civic duty, and left a legacy of public service. 

The community is discussing a memorial plaque in her honor to be installed at Upper Noe Rec Center. Later in the year, there will be a dedication and celebration of her life. If you would like to help plan or donate to the dedication please let us know. Donations can be sent to Upper Noe Neighbors at 205 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131.

Upper Noe Neighbors will carry on the tradition of hosting presentations and public discussions of current events, and welcome all neighbors to participate. Join us on July 8 at 7:30 pm at Upper Noe Rec Center at 295 Day Street. We will be discussing the changes to the San Jose Avenue off-ramp of 280 Northbound.

Marianne and Olga
(with grateful help from Tom, Eileen, and Chris)
You can read a community profile of Vicki in the Dec 2012 Noe Valley Voice, and a longer memorial page is set up here. RIP.

[Photo by Beverly Tharp via Noe Valley Voice]

June 21, 2015

Happy Solstice Noe Valley

Today is the Solstice – the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. And while thousands of people marked the pagan event at Stonehenge today, a small group of devoted Noe Valley neighbors celebrated in a delightful and much more intimate way at Noe Valley’s Solstice Sun Crack!

That’s right, the Solstice Sun Crack - a narrow passage between 2 houses on Sanchez at 30th Streets that the sun shines through completely for just a minute at around 4:27pm on the summer Solstice (June 21 this year). Each year a dedicated group of neighbors come out to renew the paint on the sidewalk that marks the spot – and welcome the sun shining through the crack with drums, noisemakers, laughter and hugs.

This year a few dozen people of all ages showed up, plus a few pedestrians who got an unexpected treat. The Solstice Sun Crack is “hosted” by Jenny Badger Sultan, a longtime Noe Valley resident and artist who also created the blue bottle tree and painted the mural on 30th around corner with her family and husband, painter Henry Sultan.

Jenny welcomed visitors to the Solstice Sun Crack this year with fragrant burning sage. While records are sketchy, Solstice Sun Crack appears to have been celebrated at least as far back as 2002 and possibly much longer. Also, did we mention the whole event is awesome?

If you walk or run down Sanchez you’ll see the painted marker for the Solstice Sun Crack near the corner of 30th and Sanchez, next to the brightly painted school on the corner. It’ll be back in 2016 at 4:27pm on June 20.

Flowers and paint mark the spot 
Jenny bathes in the Solstice Sun Crack light
Which side do you want to be on?

June 17, 2015

La Boulange Is Closing - Is Anyone Really Surprised?

Here’s a tone-deaf announcement that slipped out last night while you were enjoying the Warriors win: Starbucks is closing all of its 23 La Boulange locations by this September, most of which are in the Bay Area.

Starbucks bought La Boulange in 2012 ostensibly to improve the foods options at $SBUX. While La Boulange’s pastries and breakfast sandwiches have reportedly helped grow it’s food sales (yes, the stock is up), the net result was that the food options at La Boulange also became very La Boring shortly after the Starbucks assimilation.

Still, Noe Valley residents are already mourning la Bou's passing (and Starbucks' questionable timing for the announcement):

So …Noe Valley will be losing a café in September. Here’s hoping an inspired new coffee shop or eatery moves quickly into the prime corner location that used to be a pizza joint.

Related: Speaking of cafés, earlier this year La PanotiQ announced it would be moving into the former Global Fair Exchange at 4108 24th Street in Spring 2015 and the location is still listed as coming soon on its website. But so far there’s been zero activity to revamp the space and no sign of progress. Perhaps they’ll look at the La Boulange space as a quicker fix.

June 12, 2015

Rumors Of A New Parklet On 24th St

Here's a fun bit of info we received recently: the owners of the building housing Patxis Pizza have informed residents that Patxi's will be applying for a parklet permit "soon." Can't imagine the auto repair shop or realtor on either side will care, but this looks like a nice place to park oneself and enjoy a froyo or slice.

There's no guarantee it will pass, though. A little history: in the aftermath of a failed campaign for a Plaza on Noe St culminating in a...uh...disappointing community meeting, SF City Planners proposed and approved two trial parklets on 24th St in 2010. They were deemed a huge success, and they're still in front of Martha's and Just For Fun. You can see a map of all parklets in San Francisco here.

The application deadline for new parklets was May 31st, and a decision is expected July 10. Patxi's rumored parklet doesn't show on the map.

Meanwhile here in Noe Valley, parking has always trumped street life for the merchant association. No word if they support this parklet, or if there will be a battle this time around.

[NVSF: Pavement To Parks Says No To Plaza Trial, Yes To Parklets]
[NVSF: Noe Valley Plaza: Tea Party Filibuster Hijacks Community Meeting]
[Pavemet to Parks]

Closed: Isso

Fans of funky vintage clothing that is made, found or designed in the Bay Area will now have to go a little bit further afield for their fashion fix. A sign in the window of Isso at 3789 24th Street (just down the street from the much tonier Mill) announces the store is closed and consolidating to its other location in Mission Dolores called Nisa.

While the 24th Street Isso store has plenty of 5 star reviews on Yelp, the last review of any kind was in 2013 – which may explain the decision to consolidate.

No news yet on what will replace Isso - or the painted sign around the corner on Church Street.

3610 19th Street at Guerrero

[Photo via Yelp]