December 31, 2020

This Year in Noe Valley: The Biggest Stories of 2020

Good grief. 2020 GTFO. This was the year the pandemic and Covid-19 ate the world and Noe Valley was no exception. Mid March introduced us all to a string of new realities. Lockdowns. Social distancing. Blursday. Zoom everything. Long lines at the supermarket. And a run on toilet paper and kombucha. Noe Valley had it all and for the most part people seemed to do their part to (eventually) wear masks, bend the curve and not be super spreaders. 
On the bright side: Trump lost the election and a vaccine is here. We’re not out of the woods yet but the end of a hellish year (or 4 years if you’re in that mood) is in sight.

Here’s a look back at the biggest stories of 2020 in Noe Valley: 

A Slower Pace Needs Slow Streets 
One of the silver linings of the lockdown and a mass WFH effort: Slow Streets. Suddenly whole swaths of streets in San Francisco are blissfully closed to through traffic and open to bikes, pedestrians, hopscotch and outside time. The slowing down of Sanchez between 23rd and 30th Streets became a gathering place for group art installations, to march for BLM, celebrate Halloween and an impromptu (and distanced) celebration when the election results were official. Also – those tiny porch concerts and mini recitals on Sundays slapped. Here's hoping Slow Streets becomes a more permanent way of life in the city forever.

The Gutting of Small Businesses and Retail Continues Unabated
As the pandemic ground on this year and retailers were forced to close and then refactor for the virus, many small businesses decided they couldn’t – or wouldn’t – hang on. Both Rabat stores hung up their shoes. Cotton Basics retrenched to the East Bay (reportedly the new occupant will be a bridal shop). And Charlie’s Corner turned the page. Storefronts were boarded up to deter looting and vandalism. Some stores went above and beyond: Barron’s, Noe Valley Bakery, Plumpjack, Noe Valley Wine Co and all the local corner stores did their part to keep their shelves stocked and us fed. Just for Fun, Folio and Omnivore worked to keep us in entertainment. Thank you all. Church St. Produce also returned just in time this summer to keep Upper Noe patrons stocked. Douglas SF rebooted as a store and was a godsend during the early days of lockdown, but lost its lease and had to close in August. There are still many empty storefronts on 24th Street and with the rush to etail precipitated by Covid, that’s likely to get worse in 2021 and beyond. 

It's Really, Really Hard to Run a Restaurant in SF
Some restaurants like Savor and Noe’s Cantina threw in the towel in January and exited Noe Valley. It is ridiculously hard to run a restaurant in this city, but in a pandemic? It’s downright brutal. Every restaurant in the neighborhood suddenly had to master pivoting to 100% takeout just to survive. The restaurants that saved the day included Hamano, La Ciccia, Uma Casa, Firefly, BistroSF, NoVY, Little Chihuahua, Saru and just about every other restaurant up and down 24th St and Church St who did what it took to stay alive and keep us all fed. Special shoutout to BistroSF that not only served takeout, they opened a small store and they donated free meals to seniors and anyone who couldn't afford to pay.

Meanwhile, other former restaurant spaces have languished: Chez Marius, Pomelo, Toast on 24th, and Le Panotiq which was supposed to become Wallflower are still empty. The owners of Novy still haven’t been able to reboot Noe’s Cantina as something new (can’t wait). Chloe's shut down after 30+ years and a new owner plans to take over. Meanwhile, Savor threw in the towel and Bacco decided to move into the Savor space with a streatery in tow. 
Speaking of streateries (the little parklets that extend outdoor dining to the curb), Novy, Valley Tavern, Saru, Bernal Pizza and Lovejoys all added outdoor space for distanced dining al fresco until even those were suspended with this latest round of shutdowns. Outdoor dining in reclaimed parking is another trend we hope sticks around once the virus is under control. 

Other silver linings: Billingsgate, a retail fish market and (someday) a small eatery opened and has been a welcome addition to the 24th Street corridor, and Noe CafĂ© on Sanchez, which when we’re not in lockdown became an essential meeting point in Noe Valley. 

Climate Change Is Apocalypse Now
Yes, there were heatwaves. And there was really bad wildfire smoke and terrible air quality. But then one Wednesday the sky turned dark orange, day became night and ash fell from the sky. If this is the future we’re all doomed. The orange skies only lasted 24 hours but if that doesn’t convince you climate change is real nothing will.

The Housing Market Is Still White Hot Here
The rumors of San Francisco’s real estate death have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, rents dropped slightly (which just means everyone who has wanted to trade up can finally do so) and people who were thinking about leaving suddenly had the perfect excuse to relocate. But single family homes actually gained value this year. Just remember: This has all happened before and it will all happen again.

All Kinds of Crime Is Waaayyyy Up

Once again, Noe Valley had its share of people behaving badly in 2020. Robberies at gunpoint. Burglaries. Vandalism. Be careful out there and consider donating what you can to help others in need during these trying times.

And Yet... So Many Reasons to Be Thankful

Yeah, 2020 was a bummer – which means 2021 can only get better right? Here’s hoping. But as bad as 2020 was, there was still lots to love about Noe Valley and lots to look forward to. It’s gorgeous here! The views! The hills! We have accomplished musicians and artists who live among us (the late artist and Noe Valleyeon Ruth Asawa even has her own postage stamp). We have incredible restaurants and new ones are on the way. We have our own Farmer’s Market. We get double rainbows on Christmas. And we have a community that has pulled together in spite of it all. And soon, we’ll be able to get out and about again and put this crazy year firmly in the rear view mirror. 
On that note, it’s a wrap for 2020.

Happy New Year, Noe Valley! We made it! Pour yourself another quarantini and get ready to hunker down some more in 2021, but with luck it should be a better year than this one.

Stay safe and healthy and see you in the neighborhood in 2021.

This blog turned 12 this year and although we don’t always have time to post weekly, it’s still a labor of love and we always appreciate news tips. Thanks for reading both here and on Twitter @NoeValleySF.

Yearning for simpler times? Here were the top stories of 2019201820172016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

[Photos: Sutro lights via thestevebayes, Slow streets via nomadic_mama_uk, Boarded art storefronts via merredithj, Saru streatery via Saru, Orange skies via @erik1966lutig, Jersey house photo via SocketSite, Crime photo via SFGate, Sunrise before the rain via NVSF] 

December 12, 2020

This Week in Noe Valley: A Rash of Crime, Holidays Calling and Billingsgate Opens for Real

The latest news from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs as we all weather the coronavirus fallout. Wear a mask, wash your hands, don't touch your face and stay safe out there, Noe Valley.
[Photo: Spotted on 24th Street via shaketini]

December 6, 2020

This Week in Noe Valley: Full Lockdown Returns – Let’s All Stay Home

The latest news from, about and for Noe Valley from around the interwebs as we all weather the coronavirus fallout. Wear a mask, wash your hands, don't touch your face and stay safe out there, Noe Valley.
[Photo: Stay at home vibes via @tmsfphotography]