| June 2013
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Room for Everyone
Here’s a nice story of local government in action. In mid-March, I emailed Supervisor Scott Wiener about the private commuter bus passengers who line up against the wall of Cotton Basics directly behind the bus shelter on 24th Street at Castro Street. I pointed out that, given how large that bus shelter is, the passageway behind the shelter is already quite narrow and the line of commuters makes it even more difficult to walk through, especially for people with bags or strollers.
I suggested that it would be a simple solution if the commuters would line up in front of Gallery of Jewels, where the sidewalk is not compromised by the bus shelter.
That same day, Supervisor Wiener forwarded my email to a manager at SFMTA, who reported later that day that he had contacted Google and that Google would email its employees who use the stop asking them to line up as I suggested. Within a couple of weeks, the line had moved.
I want to publicly thank Scott Wiener and the SFMTA for their incredibly prompt and effective responses.
Thanks also to the Google commuters for making that portion of 24th Street easier to navigate.
Idling Cars Also Trashy
There were two egregious problems brought out by “Blue Bin Bandits Identified,” the letter from Sherry Coveney in the April issue of the Voice. First the theft and second the idling of the car.
According to an Environmental Defense Fund study, unnecessary idling in New York City every year causes as much smog-forming pollution as 9 million large trucks driving from Hunts Point in the Bronx to Staten Island. Additionally, curbside idling costs NYC drivers over $28 million annually in wasteful fuel.
What is needed is more education on this issue, as well as an anti-idling law like the one the New York administrative code provides.
Garden Tour Review
The annual Noe Valley Garden Tour is over, and organizers Jana King and Linda Lockyer have succeeded in pulling off another great event.
To start with, the pre-tour Thank You Party for volunteers was a delight. Being in the garden and home of last year’s first-place winner is always a plus, and the refreshments from Noeteca and the 24th Street Cheese Shop were an excellent touch. Best cheese selection I’ve ever encountered and the Noeteca frittata was to die for. The garden packet instructions were concise, with all possible necessities included, along with change for cash sales. Lovely happy people in a lovely happy place with nice wines and great food…what could go wrong?
To begin with, my replacement at noon in the On Lok 30th Street Senior Center garden was a no-show and did not bother to let anyone know, nor did they reply to urgent telephone calls. It would never occur to me to make such a commitment and not find a replacement if I were unable to perform.
A lovely lady, Ruth Maginnis, who volunteers at the Senior Center on a regular basis, was nice enough to step in and take on the greeter table/ticket sales for me so I could visit some of the other gardens.
I saw 5 of the 11 gardens and was very impressed. A lot of people went to a lot of effort to present their properties in the best light, including offering unnecessary but well-received refreshments at some.
Not a superb weather day in Noe Valley, but definitely an improvement over the days before, and all in all I think the tour was a great success and probably raised more money than expected for the Noe Valley Library garden, which, by the way, is California-native-plant-informative in the sunny east garden and just plain beautiful on the shaded deck portion. J. Charmain Giuliani, who is a noted local horticulturist and professor of Environmental Horticulture at CCSF, gave wonderful container gardening demonstrations. The woman is a master!
I can’t wait for next year and hope to be able to volunteer again. Thanks, Jana and Linda and all you lovely garden people who opened your properties to all us strangers…and to those of you volunteers who did show up to help.
Lady Finally Painted
Good news for Noe Valley neighborhood preservationists! The uninhabited eyesore property at 1220–22 Church St. near 24th Street, has been restored as a “painted lady,” i.e., a Victorian painted in at least three colors that highlight the details of the building’s facade. Now the house sports a white, light green, and light brown color combination, replacing the previous dark brown/dark pink veneer.
Unfortunately, there is no word on when the building will be occupied with flesh-and-blood tenants.
Wary of Utility Box Clutter
The article about the new AT&T utility boxes to go up in Noe Valley describes the size of one of the boxes [May 2013 Voice]. But the Voice article from May 2011 quotes an AT&T spokesperson as saying that to make the system work an additional box must be installed. An accompanying photo shows a box that is even bigger in dimension than the first.
AT&T has a one-size-fits-all solution for the entire country. What goes unnoticed in the suburbs has a large impact in a city like San Francisco. If competitors, as mentioned in the May 2013 article, wish to install similar systems, Noe Valley could be looking at double or triple the number of these boxes in the same areas. We just have to look at what is happening to our power poles to see the potential clutter these devices will leave. I think cost per device is more likely the reason the boxes can’t be subdivided, partially put underground, or made to be lifted from below ground when servicing is needed.
Not mentioned is the question of money. Does the city receive fees for the use of the rights of way?
Currently, PG&E, who owns all the power poles, is paid a fee for each item or line attached to their poles—all these new transmitter boxes, for instance. In turn, the city gets higher revenue in the form of taxes. I don’t know but I’d hazard a guess that AT&T pays the city fees for the use of rights of way for these boxes.
Seems to me it’s worth asking if this is so, and if the city does get money, maybe we should get more than free plants.
Name withheld by request
Reporter Tim Innes Responds: According to AT&T spokesperson Lane Kasselman, the company is required to pay various permit fees to the city for the construction of facilities in the public right of way or any time it must dig, trench, or excavate in the right of way.
Also, AT&T pays DIVCA (Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act) franchise fees and PEG (Public, Educational, and Government Access) support fees to the city. Comcast and Astound also pay these fees, which are passed along to subscribers.
Regarding those companies putting their own big cabinets on city sidewalks: This is less likely because Comcast and Astound don’t have the same kind of infrastructure that legacy carriers like AT&T have. AT&T is essentially piggybacking new services atop its existing landline telephone network. But if Comcast and Astound did have to use the public right of way, they’d be subject to the same permit and franchise fees.
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THE NOE VALLEY VOICE
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San Francisco, CA 94146
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