Noe Valley Voice June 2000

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

CONGRADUATIONS go out to the class of 2000. The graduation ceremonies at James Lick Middle School must have been bittersweet for Principal Michael Eddings. It was his last year at Lick.

He is being transferred to district headquarters, where he will work with the new school superintendent. Mr. Eddings will also be returning to school himself, to work on his doctorate.

The new principal coming to James Lick this fall will be Janice Daniels, who has been an assistant principal over at Aptos Middle School for the past five years.

The Voice confirmed this news with James Lick staff, as well as with Laurel Turner, president of the Parents Teachers Students Association.

Laurel says she and the kids will be sad to see Eddings go. "He was a great principal because he had really good rapport with the students," she says.

Laurel is also moving on next year, now that her daughter Jordan is graduating with the class of 2000. She says the incoming PTSA leader will be Rachel Hahner.

I asked Laurel if there was any one thing she wished she wasn't leaving behind for the staff and students to deal with. "Fixing the bathrooms! They are disgusting," she says with exasperation. "We have been working with the custodians to keep them clean, but they are truly in desperate need of repair, and the district should do something about it now."

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IN THE MEANTIME, the James Lick kids have published a book of poetry that will be available for $5 at Cover to Cover Books this month. The book, called The Equity Collage, has 160 poems written by the school's sixth- and eighth-graders with the help of their poet-in-residence, Brenda Nasio.

Brenda, who has lived in Noe Valley for almost 20 years, spends about 60 hours a year at Lick as one of the California Poets in the Schools. "It has been a very successful program because the kids get very enthusiastic and creative," says Brenda. "The principal, Michael Eddings, has been very supportive of our program."

She says this year's poems were inspired by a series of collages the students made and exhibited at the school. "The theme was, what is diversity all about and how do we view each other and get along in society." During the year, students in classes taught by Donna Werra, Corky Kern, Vivian Alcalay, and Matthew Podwoski studied collage by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Robert Rauschenberg. Then, with Brenda as muse, they wrote poems as an accompaniment.

Brenda says she was very impressed with the poems. "They were all really good," she said, "and we are even submitting one to the California Poets in the Schools statewide anthology, which will select the best 70 from the 30,000 students involved in the statewide competition." That one, titled "Twilight," was written by Lick eighth-grader (and Noe Valleyan) Frances Grimstad.

Another student, Jennifer Duong, read her poem at the Main Library in a special citywide event in April. "I felt happy to see my poem in the book," says Jennifer.

By the way, proceeds from the sales of The Equity Collage will go toward Lick student programs, art supplies, and study trips. I would suggest that you buy early and buy often. Maybe you can forgo next week's State Lottery ("and the kids win, too") and give directly to the school.

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SUPERVISOR MARK LENO showed up at Fire Station 11 (on 26th Street) Saturday morning, May 20, to personally take a hand in his campaign to rid us of those evil mercury thermometers.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Department of the Environment, and San Francisco Fire Department are all participating in the effort to phase out mercury thermometers, which, when broken, pose a threat to our water supply. During the month of May, the city allowed residents who turned in their old mercury thermometers to the fire station to receive new digital ones for free.

Mark has authored legislation "that bans the sale, manufacture, or importation of mercury" in the City and County of San Francisco. "We are the second city in the United States to ban mercury -- Duluth, Minnesota, being the first -- and Sweden banned it in 1992," says Leno.

"The mercury thermometer is the largest single contributor of mercury pollution in our landfill. Although each one contains only one-half to one gram of mercury, that is enough to contaminate, for example, 220 Olympic-sized pools," warns our supervisor.

According to Leno, the "mercury-free May" campaign was a major success. "We doubled our goal in the thermometer exchange."

If you missed the May trade-in, you should take your mercury thermometers for safe disposal to the San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility at 101 Tunnel Ave. (near Candlestick Point), or call 554-4333 for further details and maybe some discount coupons.

Hopefully, this thermometer danger will pass with the speed of Mercury.

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TEMPERATURES WERE RISING at the Friends of Noe Valley meeting last month when the topic shifted from a new YMCA in the neighborhood (see this month's front page) to the so-called "Manhattan-ization" of Noe Valley caused by the rampant construction of "monster homes."

According to FNV's Claire Pilcher, who presided over the meeting, "we had over 40 people attending, some of whom were developers and architects and others who were homeowners or renters. We had a great, lively meeting."

Claire says many people are reporting demolitions of smaller houses, which are then replaced by much larger structures, usually three stories over a garage. "They limit their height to 39 feet 6 inches, a half a foot under the 40-foot limit with what is essentially a four-story house."

It looks like a "planning committee" of 10 people has been formed by the Friends that will set out to create alliances with other Noe Valley neighborhood groups. "So far, we are working with Upper Noe Neighbors, the Noe Valley Democratic Club, and the East & West of Castro Street Improvement Club, and looking for more groups who might want to join us."

Their main beef, says Claire, is: "When are we going to start following the residential guidelines of Prop. M?" (Prop. M, passed by the voters many moons ago, says new construction in S.F. should conform to neighborhood character.)

Meanwhile, Supervisor Leno (who lives in Noe Valley) has also taken great interest in this problem and has called for public hearings on what he describes as "the phenomena of monster homes."

The hearings will be held on Tuesday, June 6, at 10 a.m. at City Hall under the auspices of the Board of Supervisors' housing and social policy committee, chaired by Leno.

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SEVERAL NOE VALLEY businesses were monster winners in the "Bay Area Favorites" poll, conducted by the S.F. Chronicle this spring. Barney's, a chain which has long had a Downtown Noe Valley outpost, came up number one for Bay Area hamburgers. In the sushi department, Hamano Sushi, only in Noe Valley, was among the top three restaurants, along with Ebisu over on Ninth Avenue, and Kirala in Berkeley.

Second only to Oakland's Grace Bakery was our very own Noe Valley Bakery and Bread Company, on 24th Street. Manhattan Bagel (a chain) came in third Baywide for their holey specialty. Double Rainbow Ice Cream (now available at Fountain of Youth on Church Street) came in third behind Ben & Jerry's and Baskin Robbins (excuse me?). The third best yoga studio in the Bay Area was Yoga Shala. It's at Castro and 25th.

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NOE VALLEY BAR OWNERS have been reeling from the recent crackdown by City Hall against smoking in ye olde public houses.

In April, notices and inspectors from the Department of Public Health (DPH) and demands from the city attorney's office were sent to many bar owners across the city (and to all bar owners in Downtown Noe Valley), warning that there would be strict enforcement of the smoking ban in their drinking establishments, and fines of $2,500 per day for any proprietor who failed to enforce the ban.

Tom Rivard, senior environmental health inspector for the DPH, says he wants "to bring all the bars in the city and county into compliance with a law that has been in effect for over two years." Because of the recent crackdown, Rivard says, "the compliance levels are very, very good at this point."

According to 24th Street bar owner Vince Hogan, the Dubliner is in full compliance, but not in the way you might think. When Vince's business dropped dramatically last year after he started 86'ing people who lit up inside the bar or restroom, "I had no choice but to redesign the bar so that I could accommodate both smokers and nonsmokers," Vince says.

His "redesign" has just been completed, with approval by the Health Department, and the Dubliner now has a three-sided "smoking room" in the front of the bar. "As far as I know, we are the second bar in the city to install a 'smoking lounge,' the first being Harrington's downtown," says Vince.

Wayne Basso, who owns Noe's Bar on Church Street, says his solution has been to set up tables and chairs outside for patrons who want to smoke. "But I am seriously thinking about creating a smoking lounge," says Wayne.

Over at the Peaks on Castro, bartender Steve Niles says he has posted the Health Department's notice on the wall, and the bar is already in full compliance. Still, the city recently sent out its inspectors to take a sniff.

Maybe a smoking lounge, Steve? I think I see a trend.

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THAT'S THIRTY, folks. See you next month. Remember to buy the books of poems at Cover to Cover. Thanks, kids.