Noe Valley Voice June 2004

Letters to the Editor

THE VOICE welcomes your letters to the editor. Write the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Or e-mail Please include your name, address, and phone number. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) Be aware that letters may be edited for brevity or clarity. We look forward to hearing from you.


Survey Neglects Old and Infirm


The story in the May issue on the Friends of Noe Valley survey raises some troubling points about fairness. The Friends' survey was handed out to visitors at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market. But the market is a crowded place, filled with jostling, unsupervised toddlers and uncontrolled dogs. Anyone who has trouble walking will think twice about going near the market. I'm able-bodied, and I don't go there even though I'd like to. And of course, some folks don't go shopping on Saturday, the only day the market is open, for religious reasons.

I'd like to see more restaurants in Noe Valley, too. But the Friends' survey discriminates against the elderly and the infirm, against Jews and some other religions. The final quote in the article from the Friends' Ms. Niemann, smearing old people as unreasoning opponents of change, doesn't help restore confidence. Perhaps some opponents of change aren't old. And perhaps some, of varying ages, just don't want to be trampled, metaphorically or literally.

Elihu M. Gerson

29th Street resident

More to Chew On Than Just Restaurants


I am writing in response to the article in the May issue, "Friends' Survey Provides Some Food for Thought," by Corrie M. Anders. Since being quoted as a representative of Friends of Noe Valley, I have received a lot of feedback, both pro and con, regarding the vitality of 24th Street and the role restaurants play in Noe Valley. I'd like to clarify my views on several key points.

First, the main issue here, based on the survey that Friends conducted this spring, is the overall vitality of 24th Street. Respondents voiced concern about several factors affecting the pleasantness, health, and prosperity of the street, including vacant storefronts, litter, graffiti, parking, and limited restaurant choice.

Restaurant choice is not the primary issue. It is only one factor among many that affect the 24th Street commercial district, and we shouldn't tear ourselves apart as a community over this issue. But restaurant choice is connected to the broader challenge. Here's how:

As everyone knows, the economy is still very shaky. Merchants on 24th Street have seen their foot traffic and revenue fall sharply over the past couple of years. Several have failed, and others are struggling. When merchants see their revenue decline, they often reduce worker hours, reduce store hours, reduce the selection of products and services, or take other steps that harm people who depend on those merchants.

The closing of Real Foods caused a big drop in traffic to other stores in the area. Food stores are "magnets" that pull people to an area, and those people then shop at other local stores. The loss of foot traffic affects all stores--those that serve daily needs, like the hardware and shoe repair stores, as well as the boutiques.

Restaurants draw traffic to other merchants as well. Restaurants make Noe Valley residents come to 24th Street more often, and they also bring people from outside the neighborhood to eat and shop. People who responded to the Friends' survey said they'd like to see different restaurant choices available to the public. It's not a question of long-standing residents vs. newer residents, or old vs. young, or rich people vs. those living on fixed incomes. It's simply that if the range of restaurants better fit the preferences of the community, 24th Street would have more foot traffic and the local stores we depend on would be better off.

There are several options for providing more restaurant choices. Tweaking the ordinance that prevents new restaurants from opening is one option. There are others. All options need to be considered.

Second, people asked me, "Who are the Friends of Noe Valley, and who does the survey really represent?" Friends of Noe Valley is a volunteer organization of people committed to the well-being of our neighborhood. It has supported many local causes over its more than 30-year history. The organization welcomes all Noe Valley residents, and costs only $20 a year to join. It meets every other month and publishes a monthly newsletter.

The survey was distributed to all FNV members and made available at the farmers' market. The sample was not perfectly representative, but it was the best we could do as a volunteer group with few resources. We welcome those who would like to help get a larger and more scientific sample of people for the survey.

Finally, I want to emphasize that in this small and wonderful neighborhood of ours we all need to work together to preserve its special character, while taking steps to keep it economically vital so the stores we need and want can survive. A prosperous 24th Street helps us raise money for other civic causes, like renovating our local library and neighborhood parks.

Issues are connected to other issues in ways that aren't always obvious. Each of us in the neighborhood depends on other people in ways that we don't always recognize. That's what makes it a neighborhood. Let's all join together and "breathe a larger air," so we can understand and address the challenges facing Noe Valley.

Debra Niemann

President, Friends of Noe Valley

Farmers' Market Prices Too Steep


On Saturday, May 15, I bought one garlic, 11/2 pounds of fava beans, and two pounds of red potatoes for $11 at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market. I think the prices there are getting out of control and are as ridiculous as those at the Embarcadero.

Were those farmers "handpicked" for their expensive produce? Buying direct from farmers should mean cheaper prices. I am going back to Whole Foods.

Roslyn Lee

Noe Valley resident

Sidewalk Parking Rule Too Strict


I would like to suggest that when the supervisors increase our sidewalk parking fines from $75 to $100, they allow an exemption for parking in private driveways, provided at least half of the sidewalk, or a minimum of five feet, remains unobstructed.

The way things stands now, when police receive a valid complaint against a car blocking the entire sidewalk, they often cite all the cars in the area, even when they're blocking only a few inches of sidewalk, in order to "uniformly apply the law."

If you ever park in your driveway, please contact your supervisor. You may spare yourself a $100 fine.

Steve Jacobs

22nd Street resident

Flag in Tatters


I have noticed for many months the deplorable condition of the American flag outside of Noe's Bar. As a veteran and a patriot, I really object to the pitiful condition of this flag. It's in tatters and a mess.

If the bar owner is trying to take a political stand by allowing the flag to fall into such condition, it seems like a strange way to make a statement.

I'm asking: Please, do the decent thing and spend a couple of bucks to replace the flag, or at least take it down. It only seems like common sense.

Bob Gates

25th Street resident


1021 Sanchez Street

San Francisco, CA 94114

The Noe Valley Voice is an independent newspaper published monthly except in January and August. It is distributed free in Noe Valley and vicinity, on or before the first Friday of the month. Subscriptions are available at $25 per year ($15 for seniors) by writing to the above address.

The Voice welcomes your letters, photos, and manuscripts, particularly on topics relating to Noe Valley. All items should include your name, address, and phone number, and may be edited for brevity or clarity. (Unsigned manuscripts will not be considered for publication.) Unsolicited contributions will be returned only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

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Sally Smith, Jack Tipple


Laura McHale Holland, Features Editor
Olivia Boler, Last Page Editor

Karol Barske, Calendar Editor

Corrie M. Anders, Heidi Anderson, Rosie Ruley Atkins, Sue Cattoche, Helen Colgan, Sharon Gillenwater, Dodie Hamblen, Suzanne Herel, Liz Highleyman, Florence Holub, Jeff Kaliss, Doug Konecky, Janis Cooke Newman, Erin O'Briant, Peter Orsi, Elliot Poger, Pat Rose, Roger Rubin, Jan Ruiz, Karen Topakian, Chris Wiggum


Pamela Gerard, Photo Editor
Beverly Tharp, Senior Photographer
Ed Buryn, Najib Joe Hakim, Leo Holub,
Charles Kennard, Ken Newman


Jon Elkin, Jack Tipple


Karol Barske


Elliot Poger


Steve Steinberg, Advertising Manager


Contents q2004 The Noe Valley Voice